Keith Drury thinks so. He lists a number of things that he believes have changed as a consequence of the internet, including greater access to leaders, demand for free information, people expecting to participate.
However, for me, it does not all ring true. In the sense that these things have come about because of the internet. Perhaps it was the change in people’s attitudes that led to the changes for denominations and that the internet merely reflects these.
You could argue that the telephone led to people expecting more access to their leaders, but in effect it only made it easier for the leaders to be contacted. They were contactable before. Just because the telephone was available, it did not mean that leaders felt compelled to be more accessible, it just made that contact quicker.
He also speaks about the ‘long tail’ effect and people have greater expectations of the church to focus more on people on the fringes, rather than the majority. But surely this is purely an issue of resources.
Again we find ourselves considering church as a system of satisfying needs of those who attend, rather than a group of people (the body of Christ) who are living out the great commission.
Maybe, as people who have been actively involved in church life for less than 20 years, it is impossible to be objective about this. Churches and leaders change, and the experiences of one Christian at one church do not necessarily reflect the influence of the internet on that denomination.
The internet is amazing and I agree that it is not just a passing phenomenon, but I just cannot see that it is the internet that has caused these changes.