The Hype of Social Networking and the Church

Lately I’m running across a number of companies that are building social networking sites targeted to the church market. A number that have set their sights at being the ‘church Facebook’. Yet, most of what is called ‘social networking’ is meaningless. They often offer me-too features that don’t add real value. For example, I’ve joined church-targeted community sites that allow their members to blog and even with hundreds of members, one site had three blog posts total. Or how many sites do I need to continue to add friends to? I believe a lot of the problem stems from trying to be all things to all people (a new Facebook or MySpace) or the lack of creative and difficult thinking around building for a specific community.

Zack Hubert a pastor at Mars Hill put it well when he spoke about a community network for Mars Hill that is “geared to build up a community of people and not the community of one.” This is right on. He goes on to say:

A social network is centered around the individual…my friends, my media, my blog, my connections, my thoughts, my experiences, my pictures, etc…whereas a Community Network is centered around the Community, groupings of people, real relationships forge the bonds, not imaginary ties that have aspirations to reality. My becomes our and I think that’s a significant change…

Churches who seek social networking should use existing mainstream sites. You should be missional using these social networks, go join an existing one like Facebook. In fact, you can become my friend at Facebook and I’ll join you. But I do believe there is plenty an online community can do to help promote the very activities that are central to being the church. Serving, community, mercy all facilitated by tools created to these specific needs. And it is because of this we will soon seek churches to use our beta of a Community Network from the people who brought you Ekklesia 360.

What do you think a Church Community Network should be?