Reporting: For some churches, the Internet clicks; for others it doesn’t
Over at msnbc.com, I have a long piece examining how religious institutions regard the Internet and especially social media:
[T]he Catholic Church has a long history of being an early adopter of new forms of media, going back to the 1920s, when Catholic priests pioneered radio evangelism, Campbell said.
At the same time, other religious institutions, especially traditional U.S. Protestant denominations, are still sorting through the challenges as well as the opportunities posed by the Internet, and particularly social media, according to church leaders and administrators.
“I think there’s a lot of groups trying to figure it out,” said John Davidson, a fundraising and ministry consultant for churchextension.org, which supports the ministry of the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ.
I talked to the Rev. Bobby Gruenewald, the “innovation leader” at LifeChurch.tv, a very sophisticated worldwide online ministry. He pinpoints the divide this way:
Online communities are “more relational” than the traditional church model of communication, which is “viewed by a lot of churches as non-relational,” he said. That is, it seeks only to “connect people with content” through sermons and church bulletins.
That’s because older leaders and more traditional churches view technology as an either/or — “as an amazing opportunity or an amazing evil,” he said.
“I think that’s a total mistake,” said Gruenewald, whom Fast Company identified as one of its “100 Most Creative People in Business” this year. LifeChurch views technology as “something amoral that can be used for good and can be used for evil.”
The idea at LifeChurch, he said, is to use it for good to “connect people with people.”
How does your faith group regard the Internet, and especially social media? Is it still stuck in a “one-to-many” model, or has it embraced the online world?