Digital Church

I’m not religious, but I’m certainly curious. One of my best friends in life is a preacher. My right hand guy in my new company is religious. Heck, one of my top 5 blogs is 300 Words a Day, and Don Miller’s book is one of my top books for 2010.

Today, I went to visit for their live Sunday services. Here’s the screenshot (with the chat room clipped off):

It started with two rocking songs (you have to realize, being raised as a Catholic, I felt that religious music was mostly people repeating very brief verses in horrible singsong with an organ). From there, Pastor Craig Groeschel went into a message where he starts by asking about a lot of modern movies. He tells us that being desensitized by modern movies and TV is like baking “a little bit of poop” into brownies, and then just saying, “What? It’s only a little bit of poop.”

He had me at poop.

The rest of the sermon was interesting, but I’m mostly here to talk about how they got it done.

What Is it? is online ministry. They have a great technical setup. This is full blown church-without-getting-out-to-church. People in the chat room had lots of reasons: broken down van, new kid at home, 3rd shift, etc. All of the reasons made perfect sense to me. Me? I’m home with the kids and they’re occupied, so I didn’t feel bad flipping one earbud in and paying attention to the message.

There are “live prayer” buttons on the site. There are videos. There are links to all kinds of resources. There are links to the Facebook community, and ways to tweet out messages to Twitter. In essence, it’s totally wired up.

There are some call-to-action requests for money. I imagine it’s not cheap to put on a production like this. I think that the kinds of people who’d tithe to a local community church could see paying for this church, too. It helps shut-ins, and spreads the message in a digital way.

Is This What’s Next?

There are lots and lots of online tools for religion. One of the biggest app categories for smartphones (both iPhone and Android) are Bibles and religious texts. In a way, this is the best possible method for distributing religion. It’s fast, replicable, and doesn’t require as much human toil to distribute.

Some of you might be thinking that an online church might feel cold. On the contrary, I felt totally warm and invited. Lots and lots of people were chatting in the live chat window. There were people standing by for live prayer online. There were tons of people on Twitter watching the chatter, too. It was VERY alive.

To me, it’s an alternative, should you have reasons not to be able to engage with your local church, and it’s a model for what others might do for their message, religious or otherwise.

Check out for yourself, should such things be of interest to you. And thanks to Tony Steward for the very gentle nudge to check out the day’s events.

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