Blog

The peaceable kingdom is one of my favorite Biblical images. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could say the web could be an example of the peaceable kingdom? How awesome if we could say, “The world wide web is not the church, but the church is doing its thing there.” ...

March 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Hello! My name is Mavis Moon and I’m taking over as guide of “Church and Web.” I’ve been a fan of this network since its beginning and my goal is to explore ways to use technology as a part of God’s kingdom work...

February 28, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

Over the last year I have had the chance to share with you what's on my mind, write some useful how-to guides, and even almost go off on a couple of rants. I've enjoyed the chance to share these items, hear your feedback and try some of your suggestions myself!

February 21, 2011 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

For those working with their home church website 

Do you have your church library hooked up with your website? 

Do you have a discusion forum about library materials? 

If you do these things could you share with me. I am head of the Church Library as a Ministry Group and would...

February 21, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Years ago my church switched from mailing church items (newsletters, flyers, forms, and more) to putting mailing a mailbox at the church where with the idea that each home could pick up their mail each Sunday. This took a lot less time for church staff since they didn't have to stuff envelopes and address labels, and they didn't have to pay postage.

February 14, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

While it is easy to debate the importance of some social media sites like Linkedin, Myspace, and Last.FM for connecting with your community, I believe it's almost impossible to argue that Facebook is an important platform to use in communicating and connecting.  Church Marketing Sucks explains how and why to connect with your church through status updates on Facebook.

February 7, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

If you have any doubts that technology is helping people and communities in ways that haven't been done before, check out this story. A preacher cancelled the Sunday worship service because of inclement weather. However this didn't stop him from having a service since he streamed the service from his house onto the church's website via Ustream.

January 31, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

An advantage to working in a large office or in a large company is that you are usually part of a team that has overlap in responsibilities or knowledge. This makes it easier to collaborate and to seek out advice and ideas. Unfortunately this isn't the case in most churches which makes it more difficult to get fresh new ideas, and sometimes just get it all done! Here are some great resources if you're stuck.

January 24, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
 

 The One Year Bible journey in 2011! 

Should CRC start an Internet Bible study journey similar to The One Year Bible Journey http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/2011/01/january-21st-one-year-bible-readings.html 

This blog has currently  over 12,300 people in 73 countries around the...

January 21, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

Imagine having an additional source of funds to help your church. On top of that, imagine you don't even have to do anything once it's setup in order to receive a check each month. You could do this by adding text or banner ads to your church's website which could bring in money that could be used to help pay bills, fund programs and more

January 10, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I would like to give a very much appreciated Thanks to whom ever is responsable for the change in the Captha thingy. That was very difficult at times to read when my vision varies daily.

Thanks Guys

Ken

January 7, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

My previous blog post focused on using Google Voice at your church to minimize costs, and provide important features, especially in small churches. Now we'll talk about ways to save money and provide functionality usually only found in large telephone switches (PBXs).

January 3, 2011 0 0 comments
Q&A

Looking for an affordable Christian Web Host and content management software, etc.  Who does your Church use?    Have reveiewed several but seem to be fairly expensive.  We are currently using MS Frontpage but would like something more user friendly for staff.  Any suggestions?

Thanks,...

December 28, 2010 0 9 comments
Blog

If you are part of a small church or even run one, there's many ways that you can leverage technology to save money, be more efficient and provide consistent service at the church. This is part one of a two part blog post focusing on telephones and telephone service to help your church. This first part provides tips to using Google Voice at your church.

December 21, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

There is a feature that almost every church has on their website, is difficult to navigate and doesn’t integrate into other services easily. This feature is a calendar or listing of events. Services like Google Calendar allow you to embed a calendar easily into your website. ..

December 8, 2010 0 3 comments
Blog

I'm sure at some point various titles of blog posts or articles on different networks have piqued your curiosity and caused you to click to read the full post; it has for me. Even though this Network focuses on your church's website and online presence there are some posts on different networks that involve areas relevant here. I'd like to point out several different posts that would be valuable for you to read, or would be great areas for you to provide your insight and experience.

November 22, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

Do you expect your website visitors to know how to do Boolean searches? What about expecting them to search your site using the built-in search tool of your CMS? To help visitors search your site, you can use the power of the big search engines (Google and Bing) to provide custom search boxes for your site.

November 15, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

I. Using projectors during worship services
A.  Background and color contrast

It is easiest to read projected text when the contrast is a solid, medium-blue background with plain, yellow letters. A darker background, (black, brown, or darker blue) with white or yellow letters creates...
November 4, 2010 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Hi fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,

   I hope this doesn't sound narcisstic, but the captcha is a frustrating impedment to those of us with issue's of vision and brain dysfuction. Just writing that last statement requied about seven correction on my part.

   Maybe we could...

November 3, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

I just became aware of the site www.TakeThemAMeal.com which is a "free online tool for coordinating the delivery of meals to someone in need".

Has anyone used this site? It seems like it could be a real time-saver compared to doing it all by phone.

October 26, 2010 0 1 comments
Blog

One of the most common reasons to visit a church's website is to find the church's address, worship times, or phone number. In fact, it is probably on the home page of your website so that it is easy and quick to find. It should not only be listed on your website but on Bing Local Listings, Google Places and Yahoo! Local as well.

October 25, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I'm interested in following a few active (at least 2-3 posts/week) church Facebook pages. Is your church on Facebook? Please post a link so I can check out the page. Thanks!

October 7, 2010 0 17 comments
Blog

Even if your church doesn't have a website or will never start using Twitter or Facebook, I'm sure your church records sermons. With tape players obsolete and CD players common, it would be good to make the switch to recording your service digitally if you haven't yet. Not only will this be more compatible with your church listeners, but will allow you to easily podcast your sermon.

October 6, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I'm wondering what other churches post on a "members only" section of their church website.  Online directory? Prayer updates? Bulletin? Newsletter? Any other suggestions?

September 30, 2010 0 8 comments
Blog

A while ago I wrote an article detailing several items that every church website should include no matter the size of their church or website. Mick Mel's recent post "Don’t be like a “University Website"" details many of the items I mentioned along with several items that are unnecessary on your church's homepage. Most of the items are aimed at presenting a good impression for your church, but also help with not frustrating return visitors.  

September 23, 2010 0 2 comments

Pages

RSS

Hey guys, What your talking about is fair-use of copyrighted materials. YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A LOT OF LATITUDE with fair -use. Go to wikipedia under fair- use it explains how it works in the USA and Canada. Basic rules are not written in stone, but are based on common sense.  Wikipedia is completely free so Quote away.

To be honest, it is still not clear to me ho the laws work and it may be different in USA compared to Canada, which where we are. Currently we record the entire service. Members can get a copy on CD/tape/mp3 upon request. The sermon part is posted on the internet. We currently do not post the entire service behind username/password anylonger and it seems to be OK. I am to afraid to run in to trouble with copyrights etc.  You can see it at www.fellowship-church.ca

I've been thinking about the copywrite issue.  Do the requirements change if you don't do a general broadcast, but only do one that is available to members through a login\password?  If the goal of the webcast is to reach a broader community, both local as well as remote, then getting whatever licenses you need makes sense.  However, if you are limiting your broadcast to a selected audience, your shut-ins for example, would you need to meet the same requirements?

Schedules - volunteer schedules for greeters, coffee, nursery, children's church, sound booth, etc., etc.

posted in: Member Only Section

Thanks for the comment Stanley.

I’m glad you raise the issue of aesthetics and/or colors. It is a valid question that I believe has not
been asked or answered in regard to computers and projectors, simply because they are so new in the church. Do we just go with the latest program, in this case Mediashout? Do we just put up pretty pictures of scenery with words in front of them? Is whatever the younger generation wants, the way to go? Do we ask for everyone’s opinion about their preferred colors?

Do we need to reinvent that wheel, or re-establish our moral rational for what we do in church, and what is the nature of Christian art? I think not, but I may be wrong.

In my outline I am conveying what has been researched on using projectors. These are not my opinions. The color scheme (yellow letters with a plain medium blue background) is the optimal contrast and optimal color scheme. If what you want to do is insure that the most people can read your message, that is what you will use. That is what the best and latest research has come up with.

Yes, there are personal preferences. Yes, variations can be included, I find it most amusing, and telling that on the website of the American Foundation for the Blind (afb.org) they allow you to change colors very easily and they use a variety of color combinations on their first page EXCEPT on the box that says DONATE NOW. Guess what colors are used for that important message - yep, medium blue background and yellow letters. That want you to read it, understand it and apply it and not simply enjoy the colors!

If you want people to get the message, do not use fancy effects or personal aesthetics, instead, imitate what God created when he gave us a blue sky and a yellow sun. He wanted us to get the message too! He also wanted it to be appropriate for our nervous systems which he also made and we scientists are slowly coming to realize. What a surprise. Yes we have grey days and black nights, but there is hope - joy comes in the morning!

I looked at the slide you made with 36 point Trebuchet font using grey letters and dark blue background using half the screen and wondered how best to explain this.

On the slide sample I gave I used Arial 80 point and Arial 54 point font and filled the entire screen. Those were two additional points in my outline, so, if you want to try other colors and fonts it would be better not to leave out using the largest font size possible with a meaningful chunk of words and filling the entire screen.

Are those two aesthetic points to be discussed as well? Maybe, I do not think this dialogue has been carried out in church with ALL the elements I offered in my outline included in the discussion, so maybe it needs to be.

I still wonder how much needs to be taught, tried, and re-invented. There are a lot of details in the outline I wrote and I guess it will take time to try them all out. At my church, I’m wondering when they will get to the part about large print bulletins!

John 

Of course, there's something to be said about aesthetics. Frankly, I think the bright yellow text on the blue background in the projector sample looks very unpleasant. To avoid glare/car headlights effect, perhaps a black or dark blue background with light grey (as opposed to bright white) sans serif text would work? Something like this perhaps... https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0ATmyBsyV0TpjZGNzZHJ0MnBfMDduMmN2c2dr&hl=en&authkey=CPaTorIM.  (Feel free to edit it.)

Respectfully,
Stanley

[quote=al.kuiper]One more tip: use 72 dpi resolution for web display. For printing, link to the high-resolution version at 300 dpi.[/quote] Actually, you can set your mind at ease about this one! When creating web images, DPI doesn't really matter as there is no such thing as an "inch." A pixel will be different sizes on different monitors and browsers don't account for that when displaying images. So if your thumbnail is 150x150, it will always display at that size regardless of the DPI setting.

Admin Note: Closed because this topic is already being discussed here.

posted in: Captcha

One more tip: use 72 dpi resolution for web display. For printing, link to the high-resolution version at 300 dpi.

How about live video feed of the service on the net to member shut-ins? You could take this to you tube also which would be a great way bring the Word to internet masses.  Another is a closed church net (The World) like my wife's clinic uses in the medical field.  Thanks for the dicussion.

great idea! I know friends who are expecting would love this, so I'm not sure this really fits under "deacons."

Love the concept of common.org

Try http://www.christianvolunteering.org

I haven't used it, but have heard others who were very impressed and pleased.

At Synod, I heard about a competing service being run by a relative of one of the delegates (if I remember right). It sounded like that service might have some advantages over theCommon.org and it would be nice to be able to compare them. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the other site. Does anybody know what it might be?

I think that amateur photos are fine, as long as they are in focus! Candid shots make it seem more authentic. 

You mention photos of the building vs. the people of the church. I completely see your point. But here is the dilemma ... if the church has a small (or even medium-sized) budget for the website, where are the photographs of people going to come from?

Photos of the building are easy for an amateur photographer to take. But as soon as you put any people in those pictures, you can tell pretty easily that they were not done professionally. Everything from lighting to posing and framing becomes much more difficult to do right. And my thought is that amateurish photos don't belong as design elements in an otherwise professionally-made layout—they stick out like a sore thumb. (A church photo gallery would be a different story.)

So if it's too expensive to hire a real photographer to take quality photos of "real people" for the site, and amateur photos don't look right ... what's left? Stock photos.

And those pose another problem. I remember one time that my church of maybe 100 people switched to a pre-made bulletin design that had photos clearly meant to promote or reflect racial diversity at the church. And while we would have loved to have more diversity in our congregation, the fact was that those photos didn't really match what our congregation looked like, and so it was immediately obvious that we had picked those bulletins out of a catalog.

Meanwhile, I saw a similar bulletin when I visited a large church closer to the heart of the city, and yet I had a feeling I was looking at photos of people that actually attended that church.

All of that to say ... stock photos can end up having a really weird effect when used in church materials, since a church is supposed to be a community where you know and recognize lots of other people. And yet the smaller communities that know each other best are the ones that would least be able to afford their own professional photography.

So I think it's a dilemma! I completely agree that something is missing if you only have church building pictures. Any thoughts on a solution?

Don't know the exact link but here's ours from SD

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Corsica-SD/Corsica-CRC-and-Grace-Reform...

Post almost daily. How do you get more people to interact with it? It feels sometimes like a one way conversation

Thank you! I appreciate all the links, it's helpful to see what churches are doing with their Facebook pages.

As a regular Facebook user, I connect with a lot of news outlets and other websites on Facebook. Although I find the information very helpful, I almost never comment on those links and pages. Based on my own experience, I'm not sure that interactions are the best measure of success. I think, like Stanley said,  it's greatest usefulness may just be in having an online presence where people are anyway.

facebook.com/telkwacrc
Usually something gets posted at least once a week. Same as New Hope above, "there's not a lot of two-way conversation on our page," but it's helpful for having an online presence and for alerting people to upcoming events.
Stanley

Our Facebook page is doing all right. We have a good number of fans. But, like others have said, we don't get a lot of back & forth conversation. I try to post something at least once a week.

http://www.facebook.com/sjcrc

Yes, it was started by a church member (not church 'official') and it was quite a while ago...so for both those reasons it was a Group instead of Page. When someone has time, we might switch it over...

I really appreciate that link about Groups vs. Pages. I hadn't come across that one before...it's a nice summary with up-to-date info about both.

[quote=tim]

My church has a Facebook group but it doesn't get used too much.[/quote]

Why do you think they opted for a "group" instead of a "page"? I think groups predated pages, so perhaps it's just a matter of when it was started.

I found a post on the Facebook blog that talks about the differences. (HERE: http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=324706977130 ) I think one advantage for a group is that you can set some areas to be private if you wish, although it looks like your church's page is public. Groups can be created by anyone. Pages, on the other hand are public by definition, and should be created by "the official representatives of a public figure, business or organization." 

Anyone want to chime in about the group vs. page question?

 

[quote=tim]I also post to the CRCNA Facebook page which, of course, EVERYONE should "Like" :-) [/quote]

Thanks for promoting this thread, I appreciate the extra visibility!

My church has a Facebook group but it doesn't get used too much.

I also post to the CRCNA Facebook page which, of course, EVERYONE should "Like" :-)

Thanks so much. Great church website, too.

The more the merrier! I'll be posting up a storm there later today :)

Thanks for the link. I'm the random Californian who just "liked" your page!

We have a relatively active Facebook page at http://facebook.com/NewHopePowell. It's been quiet this week because I've been too busy to post (!), but normally I post at least once a day.

Although I post frequently, there's not a lot of two-way conversation on our page; I've tried a number of things to get people to participate more, but apparently haven't hit on the right strategy.

This sounds intriguing. From my experience everyone has a way to collaborate but is on a different platform which makes it difficult for everyone to participate without learning something new. I'm curious if Wiggio solves this. It seems that when deciding how to collaborate you need to choose between a platform that is feature-rich and one that is familiar or used by a high percentage of the group. I would usually go with the option that more people are familiar with, otherwise participation can be low. So, Facebook or email groups are becoming / staying a easy way to connect and have good involvement / participation even they they lack important features. 

I use JW Player for Flash on the church website to play the mp3 files

We at the Duncan Christian Reformed Church also use Audacity. We upload the audio files to our website: two sermons morning and evening. No archiving of sermons. Works great!

our website is located at http://www.duncancrc.org

Sharon makes an excellent point here.  For a denomination with some shrinking churches in some remote areas who struggle to find pastors who will view them as more than a stepping stone and who face budget concerns, this is a fantastic solution.  The Church of God (Anderson, IN) denomination is experimenting with this across the rural areas of northern Michigan right now - Mio, Rose City and others have the messages piped in.

Sharon also points out another astute obervation - we've often assumed through our history that the majority of pastors have the spiritual gift of public speaking.  While many do, this could really be a blessing by giving smaller or planted churches top-notch preaching as well as top-notch giftedness in other areas if they were to, say, use video messages from a gifted preacher and hire a gifted campus pastor.

posted in: Video Church

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add something in the article about recommended ways of recording or link to some posts describing it and with tips. I see you found the forum too and discusses this. Maybe some people will be inclined to share their setup there.

There are some good devices out there for recording straight from the board, but I believe the cost increases dramatically when it records in more formats than just mp3. I'll see if I can remember them.

Some great thoughts. Thanks, Sherick! A simple line out from the sound board to any kind of digital recorder would save us the time-consuming task of having to join the disconnected chapters our audio folk create to assist listeners who like to skip forward or back within a sermon.

I am suprised there was no suggestions in the article as what hardware or software might be used to record the podcast with. Perhaps that is due to the many possible choices.  However I will mention some free things that work for our Church.  We use a linux PC running ubuntu (free OS) with Audacity as the software to record from the soundboard directly.  Audacity is free for both linux and windows PCs.  We record the whole service (our sound person does the recording as well so starting recording before service makes sure they don't forget)  save project then edit down to sermon only.  Now you can remove humming with audacity as well and export to mp3 for upload.   However I have found exporting to a wav file and then using a program called Foobar2000 (also free) produces the best sound quality small file and I tried ALOT of programs of all kinds.  Recently for personal work I was doing I had to get the Adobe sofware suite for video and sound editing.  I find that Soundbooth from Adobe does a great job of tweaking the audio for podcasting, but it is not free and quite expensive.  So I take the wav on USB jump drive from Church and run it through soundbooth at home and then use foobar2000 to make the mp3.  I have been thinking of using a good quality dedicated MP3 recorder instead of the computer, but I wonder how reliable they are as well as possibly needing to edit it and losing quality.  Editing a mp3 and resaving as a mp3 tends to degrade its quality.  If anyone has ideas on it I would like to hear them.  Here is a direct link to a recent sermon which is 41min long and about 13MB in size if you would like to hear.  feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossroadsCrcSermons/~3/LgzOGkxSQ1E/9122010am.mp3

I'm very intrigued by this idea.  We recently visited a church that had several locations linked by video feed.  We were at the main (live) service, so I don't know what it felt like in the other venues.  I understand that each venue in this church has its own identity -- some use more traditional worship music, some more contemporary, some are smaller, some larger.  The things I like (in theory) about the idea: it allows for a variety of worship styles while still having the message and discussion in common; it allows for smaller communities within a very large community; it allows for greater flexibility of space.

An extension of the idea -- video (recorded) messages -- might also be used for churches that are between pastors or that struggle with quality pulpit supply during a pastor's vacation.  Could that idea also be useful in churches where a pastor's gifts are geared more toward community care than to preaching, or perhaps where they are overwhelmed with other duties?  It seems we expect an awful lot of pastors; this may be a way to play to their strengths while still offering good, solid preaching.

 

posted in: Video Church

 Personally, I do not like Intuit products. They are designed to expire in a few years causing you to reinvest the same amount to get the networking features again.  Organizations using their products better have an exit plan or have deep products!

 In a large church, exactly who is supposed to do the jumping in? and under what authority?

Usually those that are supposed to approve the project like to see a plan:  What are you going to do, how much will it cost, what will you say about us?  Are privacy concern been met?  May we see some of the proposed pages?

A Smaller church can go faster... once a volunteer has come forward to do it!

I find it rather interesting that the Acuff blog actually had more to do with judgementalism and theological bickering than "avatarism".  I fully expected it to be about Christians disregarding their beliefs altogether and becoming a online terrors.  Which happens regularly, in gaming or in communities.  Christians shurk off any "religious censorship" they would normally heed to and run amok because no one is the wiser.

The problem, in either situation, comes down to not being personal relationship.  It is easy to treat someone poorly when there is no personal give and take or, more importantly, love.  And this carries over into offline communication as well.  I'm sure many of us have known non-Christians who have been completely turned off by the faith because a Christian that they barely knew treated them with finger-wagging and condemnation rather than the love of Christ.  Which then puts up a wall for future interactions.

I've been involved in a number of internet communities in the last decade and I've always tried to approach it with authenticity of character and of faith.  Most of these communities have not been faith-based, but I've walked away from some great relationships and very positive experiences.  And, of course, I've had to put up with a number of jerks.

Our church - Heritage in Byron Center has done this in our ark/ gym ( we call it Worship in the ARK) It first was an experiment, but now has become part of our culture. Alreaqdy several community families have joined the church due to this alternative worship. It really is primarily a simulcast of the sanctuary Worship. However, we do it around tables, with coffee and an extended time of mutual greeting while the offering and other portions of worship take place in the sanctuary. We have a lay person facilitate or lead the group. We have only recently added live music. We have been pleased by how many appreciate this more relaxed atmosphere. We have a volunteer tech team and a number of roaming greeters to welcome people and make contact. It has really unleased a participation spirit in worship.

One elderly woman joined us for the last months of her life. She was so appreciative of the effort, as she felt she otherwise could not have worshipped with the congregation due to her physical condition. Many do not realize that a formal worship setting is so intimidaitng to many. We have many drop in visitors from the congregation who are impressed by the worshipful tone. Obviously the message is the same.

This is a great cost effective way to Advance our Redeemer's Kingdom - ARK

posted in: Video Church

A church I attended for a while had live video going to different 'venues' in the building and now has different video campuses around town.

A couple of things that they did that were:

  • They had the people that were going to attend the new campus meet first at the current location for several months but in a different room with live video. This prepared this congregation so it was ready and accustomed to this type of service so that when the time came to move they were just get used to the new space not the people around them and the format.
  • They had a live band and a pastor in each room. Only the sermon was on video
  • The rooms were intentionally not marketed as overflow rooms. In fact, participation (singing, litany) was the same. Over churches use the video rooms as overflow the people in these room don't participate and leave very early.

The costs for the equipment for doing a service like this are dramatically less than the past. Also the difficulty of setting it up has followed the same trend.

posted in: Video Church

I'm not an online gamer at all, but I do once in a rare while check out "comments" that appear with an article or blog.    I'm often "yucked out" by what I read....    OK, I'm on this side of 60 (yrs, not mph) but still.....   some things are just over the top no matter what age you are.    SO - I found this post by Angela to be a really helpful perspective.   There IS a way to engage on the web and not be stampeded by other peoples' behavior - I mean stampeded into being like them, or stampeded off the web.   Thanks so much for this! 

 

Duane, great questions. Most of these questions will be answered in part ii that's coming out soon!

Interesting article.  I've used Salesforce at our company a few years ago, but not that extensively.  How would I sign up for the free version you're describing?  Is it the "Force.com Free" described on their web site or is there another version?

What about reports like directories, or membership reports such as what the denomination asks for every year, have you been able to extract that type of information?

My husband and I have been playing games and communicating on the internet before it was even cool (over 17 years). We are actually customers of Blizzard as we play one of their games and run a guild (a group of like-minded people working together in the game). We too have noticed that people seem to think that because no one knows who you really are its ok to do and say whatever they want. Our guild is a family guild that is Rated G, where kids are welcome and safe from the vulgarity in other parts of the game. When new members join quite a few of them (sadly a lot of the young teens) are shocked that we enforce a no swearing, flaming, or taking the Lord's name in vain policy. There is a certain 3 letter acronym om* that we do not allow and it blows their mind, even the Christian kids are confused why we don't allow it. The seem to think that acronyms aren't "really swearing" and so they are ok. As aguilla1 stated earlier, we teach our members to think before they type.
I was actually hoping Blizzard would follow thru with that threat as it might really clean up or at least inhibit some of the nastier things about the gaming world. As someone who plays an MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) I have witnessed a lot of that behavior. I admit that even I do act differently online than in real life. I hold true to my values as a Christian, but I am much more outgoing online. In real life I'm fairly shy and prefer not to lead things if I can avoid it. Online I am the Co-Founder of our guild and end up training people, leading events, and policing our chat and when necessary punishing people who rule break. I have had to counsel teenagers in our guild when they were having problems at home, a young girl who was considering killing herself, adult friends who's teens are out of control or who were considering divorce and we have even befriended a few veterans who try to escape their PTSD online. I joke around a lot more online and have an easy time making friends, not something I do easily in real life.
In the last couple years my leadership skills and online character has started seeping into my real life. My husband and I are going to be leading a new SMall Group this fall, I have many many more "real" friends now then I did before, and we are both involved in or leading committee's at church now. So while I do agree that there are some HUGE dangers to be had in the online world and the anonymity it provides, I think I can also hold myself and my husband up as examples of some of the benefits. Being anonymous allowed me to grow into a better leader and to gain self-confidence I never could have in the real world alone and luckily we have been able to translate these new found skills into our lives.
I think that if more Christians were to live their faith in their online interactions that we could use the web as yet another tool to bring people to Jesus and even someone who lives in a tiny town of 500 people (me) can reach out to people all over the globe!

Thanks for the great post, Dave. So far, the Network has had over 1,100 comments and, of those, only 2 have been pulled (both because the person disclosed too much personal information, not because they were mean).

Maybe the "My Church" feature helps as it encourages people to identify their congregational affiliation. Or that people know CRC bingo can get them identified in a jiffy.

Whatever the reason, it hasn't been much of an issue for The Network as for some other sites. I guess grace is not only preached, but practiced in the CRC. It's been nice to see.

Think before you write Should I write this or not? is still a valid thought on-line as it was before when there was time to do it before you could answer. Now we have to be more deliberate.

Motivated by the poor level of discourse on the Internet, I wrote up a 'Bill of Rights' for people who write on religious topics online. http://www.giffmex.org/blog/?p=80.

To be fair, though, a big part of the problem is that in my experience, churches are not safe places for people to be vulnerable, share freely their doubts and frustrations, and work through their differences. There are so many taboo topics and taboo ways of expressing oneself, and so people feel stifled. We seem to be more concerned with appearances and status and politeness than we are with 'speaking the truth in love'. For this reason, feelings get bottled up in church, and come to expression on the Internet under the cover of anonymity. And many of the people speaking their mind are the people who felt repressed in our churches. So I think we owe it to people to be patient with the excesses of both Christian and non-Christian 'jerks' online, while still pushing everyone toward excellence and charity.

Sorry, I mis-spoke when I said "tab." It's actually a link on the Main Page of the Church and Web section, under "Topics." Hope it helps!

Mavis

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