As we’ve begun to look at numerous Christian Social Networks and Private Community Sites there is one test that easily distinguishes two paths that make a large difference in whether a Christian should use them:
Does the Social Network focus on the Community over the Cause?
Let me give two private Community Network examples:
Cause-Focus: I demoed another private Community Network that would not allow you to create a Group unless it was (1) a real group that met physically and (2) if it was a social group it needed to be for the purpose of mission. If an event does not occur (or if there are no needs posted) a flag appears questioning if it is even a real group.
Cobblestone: As we launch this product we definitely are driven by our Calling by God that leads us to be on mission to the world. We want to see the activities within Cobblestone be about creating opportunities for mission that would be pushed out to Facebook and other 3rd party sites. If you have a basketball group in Cobblestone it should be a place for prayer and encouragement to represent Christ on the court but more importantly it should be pushed outside of the system to invite others.
Social Network Example: There are a few Christian Social Network sites as well. How should Christian Social Networks lead people on mission (the “cause”)? In our Church Website research there are a lot of Christians who use websites for discipleship and to facilitate their evangelism efforts. On our study, 73% said the church website was somewhat to very important in sharing their faith with others (friends, business colleagues, others). These social networks should focus on these causes (as opposed to just being a ‘social place’ like a Facebook or Myspace knock-off) to equip believers for the work of the ministry.
(Shape the future of Church web strategies, take the Church Community Network Survey.)
What are your thoughts about Christian Community & Social Networks?
Leon Chingcuangco distilled David & my talks at Vintage 21 down to a chart “Triperspectival Leadership – Fulfilling the Offices of Christ“. In it the offices of Prophet, Priest and King are contrasted to examine Characteristics, Positive Tendencies, Negative Tendencies, Eventual Outworking, Errors of Uni-Perspectival Leadership, Possible Idols and Reductionism. These are from the sessions Triperspectival Leadership & Prophet, Priest & King.
Download: Triperspectival Leadership Diagram (Updated 3/21 – adjusted subtitle and other corrections.)
NOTE: I created a new category for Triperspectivalism if you’d like to click this and find articles that discuss this topic further.
What do people say are the most important features/activities they would like to engage on a church website? So far in our survey of 100 church websites these are what people are saying they want to: (out of 23 activities on the Use of Church Websites by Attendees survey)
1. Find service information (times, directions, etc).
2. Listen to/download Sermons (audio recordings).
3. Learn about the church’s Beliefs/Mission/Values
4. Connect with other members.
5. Read/download Sermons (text transcripts).
6. Join and/or interact with a home/bible study group.
7. View weekly information/calendar/news/events.
8. Find serving opportunities at the church.
9. Post prayer requests or needs.
10. Read articles or other content.
See the Top 5 Church Website Features/Activities Most Frequently Rated ‘Highest Importance’ and Top 12 Church Website Page Destinations at Church Website Guide. [This is where future survey results will be published.]
Lately I’ve been in a couple conversations regarding online conversions. Are they happening?
Yes and by the millions according to sites like GodRev (see Joy in Heaven). Using GodRev as the example, they take people through a process of Knowing God where visitors go through a multimedia rich 7-step engagement towards a final “as easy as a prayer” commitment to accept Jesus with a final suggested prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ,
I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. I ask your forgiveness and now turn from everything which I know is wrong. Thank you for dying on the cross for me to set me free from my sins. Please come into my life and fill me with your Holy Spirit and be with me forever. Thank you Lord Jesus, Amen.”
From hearing the founder of GodRev at a conference, they then try to connect people who fill out this form with local churches and/or Christians.
Often I see two variations of reaction to people when the topics come up:
1. Pragmatists: Let’s save as many as we can by crafting a message and leading them to say a prayer. Often portraying Jesus as Savior but not as Lord.
2. Skeptics: I don’t really trust that there is legitimacy to most of these conversions online. The internet isn’t a place where this should be pursued.
What are the challenges with online evangelism? What is the role of using the internet as a tool for conversion? Should or how should it be done? What would be the best practices if you were to build the ideal circumstances for it to take place?
How many social networks and web 2.0 apps can a person use? What do you do with each of these? I read an article recently about a phenomenon where people who had 100’s of friends on Facebook were committing “Facebook Suicide“. Some ‘killed their virtual self’ because of their loss of privacy and others from a sense of ‘how can I really be friends with 500+ people?’ Some start over with a new identity to do a reboot of who they connect with. Others just go through and unfriend vast numbers of people hoping they wont’ notice.
If I could do it all over again, here’s how I would have executed my personal social media plan:
1. BLOGGING: I would have picked a more singular voice for my blog Goodmanson.com. Right now I step between Church Planting, Missional Ecclesiology, Culture, Church Technology, a bit about my work at Monk Development and a very limited level of personal posts. I hope because there is a unifying factor in seeing all these as part of a calling/mission that it still works. I wonder if church planters who read my blog wish I would do more posting on that and less tech related posts and vice versa. Ultimately, I’ve tried not to create a ‘Cat Blog‘ or a ‘Boss Blog‘ but a Viral Blog that spreads ideas online. This means I don’t really blog personal stuff and reserve those postings to other apps.
2. FACEBOOK: If I could do this over again I would friend only those that I am close with on Facebook. I’m closing in on 700 friends and I know that most are acquaintances and some I don’t even know at all. One challenge with this number is that people I’m close to get lost in the stream of the crowd. I continue to post pictures of my friends & family and update my status with things that I imagine are entirely uninteresting to people who aren’t close to me. If people decide to un-friend me because of that I don’t take it personal. If fact, I wish I had early on used LinkedIn for more of the people I know through work.
3. TWITTER: Twitter is an unstoppable force that I haven’t done much with. UPDATED: After I made this post I began to use Twitter primarily to communicate about what we are doing at Monk, church technology and church planting. In this month Twitter became the third highest referral source to my blog. I now use Twitter as a tool to communicate what I am doing in these areas and other links/ideas that my followers may be interested in.
4. LinkedIn: As I stated in #2, If I could do it over again I would have connected with more people through LinkedIn. It has a more professional, networking focus that I would use to connect with acquaintances I meet at conferences or through work. I am fine with anyone Linking in with me and hope to expand that network rather than Facebook.
5. OTHERS: As of yet I don’t see a need to join any ‘Christian’ social networking sites just like I don’t go to ‘Christian’ malls. I am a part of a few online community sites that are private and allow me to discuss very specific topics with others who are swimming in similar streams. These include private threads for people to discuss leadership, church planting, technology, etc. These niche sites are helpful and allow us to resource others who have experience in areas important to me.
These are just a few of the ways I would re-do my social networking, what would you do different?
I just re-launched Goodmanson.com with a new WordPress theme. I like that it’s fairly clean and simple. I still need to do a bit of tweaking (such as add thumbnails to more posts) but hope you like it. In the process I also upgraded to 2.7.1 from 2.5. Come on over and see the new digs.
Thank you for all who participated in today’s webinar, nearly 80 people signed-up for it. For those who missed it, here was the description of the webinar:
We have all heard about the importance of a church website, the craze of social networking and the need for pastors to blog. But how effective are these strategies really in being missional and gathering people? Learn from a 2009 study on “The State of the Church Online: Websites & Mission” involving numerous church websites & strategies where we learn what really is happening. Answer questions such as: How effective is your church website? What can you do to improve this? Who is visiting your website? Why are they really visiting? Where are these visitors coming from? What are best practices in design and outreach? Learn how to enhance your web ministry and impact hundreds, if not thousands of people. This valuable session will equip you with practical strategies that your church can implement whether you are an online expert or a beginner.
Information about the study:
- 74 churches participating (target = 100) Sign your church up to participate in the study.
- web analytics
- congregational surveys
- phase II : interviews/case studies
- church size range of 5 to 45,000 people
- 27 internal designer & 20+ other designers
We are releasing some of the key findings from a sample set of our research (the full research project will last 2-3 months longer).
- 0% of respondents who were Non-Christians said their going to church was influenced by the church website.
- 6% of participating churches had a gospel presentation on their website.
- 27% of the respondents said the church website was how they first learned about the church.
We looked at 3-case studies of College Park Church, Park Community Church & Kaleo Church. We looked at the content viewed as categorized by activities a New Visitor would access (Service Times, I’m New Here type information) versus Events or Media. (see graph) We compared these to a few other churches who were receiving 4-11% of new visitor traffic and made some design observations. We also looked at where the online visitors were coming from to visit these churches.
We shared research based on segmenting three different profiles: Visitors (attending the church for under 3 months), Beginners (3-6 months) and Regulars (6+ months). Here are some of the findings based on the profiles:
- 77% said the church website was somewhat to very important in my decision to attend the church.
- 83% said the church website was somewhat to very important in facilitating their participation in the church community.
- 45% said the church website was somewhat to very important for their ongoing discipleship and spiritual growth.
- 73% said the church website was somewhat to very important in sharing their faith with others (friends, business colleagues, others)
- 27% said they visit the church website more than once a week.
- Feature Rated Most important: Listen or ability to download Sermons.
- Most requested functionality: Ability to post prayer requests or needs.
Again thank you there was a lot more information from this, if enough people comment below that they’d like to hear it we’d be happy to schedule another webinar.
Future Webinars: Beyond the Web 2.0 Noise: How to use the Internet to Disciple & Create Real Community