Religion 2.0

July 25, 2006 | In Church, Tech

I’m finding more and more churches are starting to move into the Web 2.0 space. With bandwidth costs getting cheaper all the time, production costs for video becoming lower with new digital equipment and software to make it easier for everyone to do, video content on-demand is soon to be one of the things we take for granted when we log on to the internet. But did we expect to see churches branching away from their traditional Sunday morning services and launching a whole new way of getting into homes across the world? One of the things on the table for the new St Faiths website im working on is a weekly podcast of the sermons, but thats in the future. Internet CampusOne church group that I really think are leading the field in the Religion 2.0 space is They have their own Internet Campus where they have 3 weekend online services, various mission activities (including one on MySpace) and various podcasts and vidcasts for download, which I really find helpful and interesting. The Internet Campus (seen left) is basically a traditional church service streamed over the internet, with a few minor differences but the same level of participation avaliable as if you were at the service in person (the image below). The campus has it’s own pastor who introduces the stream, and finishes it at the end with a friendly invitation to hang around for the next ‘experience’. When I recently participated, about 170 people watching the stream with probably a few more besides – I’m sure glad I’m not paying for the bandwidth! There’s also a chat room for viewers before and after the service which is a great way of getting to know people watching the stream with you. LifeChurch seems to be pushing ahead in the distribution of content over the web, as the online services and the Internet Campus in its current state has only been online for a month or so. I’ve been watching the progression of their online presence since the beginning of the year, and they seem to be moving ahead in leaps and bounds with some really good things in store, and a good plan of where they want to go with their presence Internet Campus
Another church, with less of an internet focus, but still with a great web presence is The Rock Christian City Church, from Greensboro, North Carolina. The Rock is a member of the CCCI group of churches based out of nearby Oxford Falls in Sydney, Australia. While this church doesn’t have the Internet Campus like LifeChurch, they’ve still got a fantastic looking website, and a podcast which is improving in production over time. The Rock also started doing vidcasts recently, but I haven’t had a chance to check those out yet. One thing that I thought was a really good idea was their “Google Map Us” feature where you can put in your address, and then get directions to their church – a simple way of making the user feel invited to come along.
Also be sure to check out Ditty Talk, a Christian version of MySpace (no relation to the people who run MySpace though) with less spam and ads, but with the same amount of flashing stars and other insanely designed content on peoples profiles.
As the web moves forward, and bandwidth costs become lower, the internet is going to become a really important medium for spreading the gospel and for the media as a whole. One potential problem with these religion sites is that of spam and hacking, but I think with the right amount of care and precausion this will not become a problem. LifeChurch had someone who seemed to act as a moderator in their chat rooms, but had no higher authority than anyone else, or so it seemed. Perhaps, like other websites like Digg and the new Netscape homepage, the bad content and spam will be filtered out by the people and will leave the spammers and the like to post amongst them selves.

There are pleanty of other churches with a good online presence, but the two I’ve mentioned are ones with a strong foot in the door of the Web 2.0 space. As time goes by, I’m sure other larger churches will step into the space and start producing more audio and video content for consumption by Christians and non-Christians alike. The only problem I have now, is not having enough time to watch all the content I download from day to day!

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