Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

Is this the front door to the church in the 21st century?

with 4 comments

I read this interesting post from social media/PR guru Brian Solis about the future of the news industry, and I couldn’t help thinking that he may also be describing the 21st century “front door” to our churches.

Solis’ imagines the new news industry as personality-focused, community-based, and distributed through the network.

An information producer, passionate about his “subject,” will cultivate a network of people who will help him create content and ultimately publish it through his network’s statusphere and its viral effects. Content serves as the supply of “social objects” around which conversations occur and networks build.

As a former media exec, turning the focus away from the industrial model of news organizations to individual “information evangelists” was almost exactly the blueprint for the future of news I was trying evangelize myself inside the E.W. Scripps Co. beginning in 2005.

Why wouldn’t the “good news” industry work the same? Isn’t this proved by the rise of the pastor personality who uses online social tools to proclaim the good news and gather and “care” for a flock? (And also the decline of the denomination and the church-as-institution?)

Rarely a day that goes by on the NewSpring Web Campus that someone doesn’t say they first heard about NewSpring through NewSpring Senior Pastor Perry Noble’s phenomenally successful blog or the NewSpring podcast.

I think there are a lot of opportunities for traditional church pastors, online pastors and thoughtful church members to serve as a new breed of online evangelist.

And if that’s true, we need to pay for more attention to and what information people receive, process and pass using social media, as well as why and how.

I fear that most churches’ current emphasis on promoting invites and interest in church in our ambient friendship networks online aren’t really all that effective, and worse, may actually be turning people off.

Maybe the news industry can teach the “good news” industry something. At its most successful (online or offline, professional or amateur), journalism delivers information that’s useful, easy to understand, and easy to apply. Some of it is practical, like how to save money, raise good kids etc. And some is just ambient knowledge, so you can be part of conversations and build friendships around what you know and like.

When it comes to evangelizing Jesus “in the network,” the new front door of the church, we need to start with first principles, not assuming that anyone who reads us knows anything about Christianity.

We need to embrace seeker-sensibility by making our message less about church, or even the Bible. We need filter everything we say so that it’s useful, easy to consume and more relevant to everyday people who don’t care about “religion” and are just trying to live life the best they can.

What if the “new evangelist” did what great teachers and preachers, just like Jesus, have always done: Take the stuff of life, the stories of our culture, the news of our world, and the practical challenges and felt needs we daily face, and offer spiritual insight, practical wisdom and life modeling to help people live better.

Maybe that way they’ll earn the equity to point people to Jesus as the true fulfillment of this crazy, beautiful life, and then be able to invite them to taste and see that the Lord is good.



Written by NickCharalambous

April 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm

4 Responses

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  1. This is absolutely vital. We need to demonstrate to the wider church how this can best be done, with actual examples.




    April 13, 2009 at 4:56 am

    • Yes. The actual application is going to be key … I’m already trying to transform my twitter stream along those lines.


      April 16, 2009 at 8:29 am

  2. […] the changing online environment. But I believe some of what I wrote may have been written with prophetic force that may remain useful to church leaders and pastors who are only now engaging in this […]

  3. […] Is this the front door to the church in the 21st century? […]

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