Church 2.0

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Two of my friends from high school, Brady Anderson and Dale Braswell, are packing up their families and heading West to begin a new church congregation in Seattle.  The Seattle area has the lowest church-attending population in the US, so needless to say, this is an uphill climb.  But, it occurred to me, Seattle is also a very tech-savvy community.  Could they use social media to help them reach more people?  

Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson

I went to Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Tennessee.  Pete is an avid twitterer and blogger, so who better to ask about the benefits of deploying social media in a church?  

Pete said that as his church started growing, he felt increasingly disconnected with people.  “I felt as if the vast majority of people in our church had less access to my thoughts, vision and life.  Blogging was a great way to help them feel connected to me and also give me the opportunity to hear what’s going on in their life.”  And, it’s catching on.  Including Pete’s wife’s blog, there are eight other active bloggers at Cross Point.

Pete has three primary objectives for his blog.  First, to cast vision.  “Blogging is a great way for me to find creative ways to cast and recast the vision of Cross Point church.  I’ve found it’s very effective.”  

Second, Pete wants to empower his congregation to do ministry.  In the past, he said his community had many opportunities to sign up to do missions, give to the poor and serve in the church, but apparently the word wasn’t getting out.  “People often felt like we didn’t inform them about all the opportunities that were out there, and they were right.  We just couldn’t fit it all into the 60-minute service once a week.  Blogging now allows us to extend our communication time with them.”

Pete also uses the blog to get feedback.  Since starting his blog, Without Wax, in January, he has received 6,782 comments.  And, his visitors aren’t just from Cross Point.  Looking at the cluster map on his site, he’s had visitors from all over the world.  “Blogging and twittering have been a very effective and sometimes immediate way to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not.” 

Social media tools aimed at churches are all over the web.  Sites like Sermon Cloud and Blogs4God act as content aggregators, similar to Digg.  You can submit content, tag it and vote on the content you like.  And don’t think that traditional social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook are out of the question, either.  Since churches are a gathering of people with a common belief – think of social media as a way to extend your reach.  In fact, the possibilities are endless.  Post pictures of retreats using Flickr, record your sermons for podcasts…Believe it or not, in doing research for this post, I actually found a church that Twittered during the sermon.  

“Start somewhere,” says Pete.  “I know you won’t be able to do it all at first, but just start somewhere.  It’s an incredible way to connect with the people you are trying to establish relationships with and eventually lead into a life-changing relationship with Christ.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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