Archives For Digital Ministry

Many of you know that I had the privilege to be in Istanbul earlier this year speaking at the TIEN 2010 (Turkey Internet Evangelism Network) conference.  My goal was to help ministries in Turkey start to focus on being strategic and intentional about their online ministries. I also introduced the idea that we are now in a post-website world. The conference was a big success and there a great things going on in Turkey.

My friend Paul Weaver, one of the organizers of the conference, has put together an Animoto video highlighting the online work being done in Turkey. It is an entertaining three minutes and really summarizes some of the great efforts going on to reach Turkey for Christ. Please watch the video, “Like” it on Facebook (see button on page), and pray for BCC Turkey and all the ministries there.

Link to BCC IT Ministry video on Animoto

Rethinking Facebook

May 13, 2010 — 4 Comments

It seems that there is starting to be a groundswell of, shall we say, “concern” around the use of Facebook. Most of this has to do with the privacy issues, but I think some of it also has to do with the independent spirit of those on the front edge of the Internet.  Just as a backlash against Microsoft has led to the Linux/Firefox/OpenOffice user, I think we are starting to see a Facebook backlash. No one likes to be told what to do – the Internet was built on open standards and Facebook (just as Microsoft did) is trying to become the standard.

There are a range of reactions to the current situation from the “digital elite”. Some are canceling their accounts. Others giving up and opening up their privacy settings to be as public as possible.  I personally have not taken any action – yet – but I am starting to understand the concerns.

We all will have to make our decisions about what we will do with our personal Facebook accounts. But a bigger question that concerns me much more is how churches and ministries respond. Many ministries (such as Lifechurch) have begun to heavily commit to using Facebook. I am working with two organizations right now who are considering heavy work inside of Facebook.  I, myself, keep this blog as a page on Facebook. But if you do heavily use Facebook, what does that imply? If the “medium is the message”, are we then giving implicit approval to the use of Facebook and its terms of service? And if our use of Facebook encourages people to create accounts and/or begin using Facebook more, should that concern us?

So, will this all blow over?  Just as Facebook was starting to be seen as more important than Google, will its decline begin? What do you think? What will your church or ministry do?

I am working with a church on an upgrade to their web presence.  Using my strategy framework, we have come down to a choice between two different solutions. The first is the top of the line, “Mercedes-Benz” of church web presence management software. It is expensive (though within the church budget) and feature rich. It will give us the ability to manage our full Internet presence, including integration with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo. On the other hand, we have a lower-end, less expensive solution that will give us a good church web site, but that’s about all. If we want to do the rest of our “Internet presence”, we will have to manage them separately.

It seems obvious to me, at first glance, that we want to go with the first solution. After all, we are now in a “post-web site” world, where we need to be “getting in the stream” of our audience. But I have a real dilemma: the culture of this church is not web-centric. In other words, there is very little excitement, except with just one or two of the staff members working with me on this project, for doing more on the Internet. So is it a good use of church resources to recommend the more expensive, more involved solution?  The Internet Ministry Framework shows us that a successful online ministry combines equal parts technology, people, and process. So I can recommend the best technology, but if the people are unwilling, can it work? I can develop great processes to use to manage the site and keep it updated and relevant, but if the people are ambivalent, does it make sense?

When I was studying for my information systems doctorate, one of the things we studied was “what exactly is ‘information systems’?” One of the things we looked at was which other fields combined together to make up our field: computer science, business, sociology, and psychology, among others. Going through this process with this church has helped me to understand the psychology side, something I have not had to deal with directly before.

So, what would you do? Would you recommend the best solution, given a high probability that it would site unused? Or would you go for the lower-end solution? Or would you wait and try to change the culture?