October 16, 2007

The Church's Use of Technology

The denomination in which I serve, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is not the largest in the U.S. In some areas of the country you get one of those "What kind of church did you say?" when involved in the sometimes unavoidable small talk of the airplane ride or line at the store. And yet we're not what could be considered small. Despite this fact, I think we're guilty of small thinking in some areas... one of these has to do with our capacity to make use of emerging online technologies in indigenous ways. For example, the denominational web portal has gone through many manifestations. It is a good thing that it stays in flux, but some new technologies remain absent. The news service page is a reprint of a regular news email, but the site has no RSS/XML feed. This fact is an embarrassment. Another example is that they offer some graphic resources for congregations to use, but the graphics are full of flat images. Why not provide some production quality, shadowed images of real use? The web site has many strong points, though I can think of several examples where there is just real missed opportunity when it comes to the Web 2.0 generation. And this of course translates into other areas for our church... you should see how we were doing our "Search and Call" until this year.

I suppose this General level is really a mirror of the congregational level. Our churches, my congregation included, is still so far behind in how it makes use of technology, online and otherwise. Someone came in from the street today asking if we had a typewriter they could use to fill out an application he had. He assumed that the church would be behind the times enough to have a typewriter ready to hand.
Our secretary told him there was one right in our library he could use. But hey... we're installing a new iMac lab this month in our education wing with 7 new iMacs!

Individual ministers and leaders in our denomination have tried to stay on the edge of communication technologies over the years. There was ecunet, and a Disciples List-serv. I see that there is a seemingly dormant Blog-ring for Disciples. I think I'll explore a few of the sites on it, and then maybe go back to reading a bit [from an old fashioned book, with pages and all].


Katherine said...

Welcome to the ring! It is pretty dormant - never really took off as a community as I'd hoped. I've been really frustrated with Ringsurf itself- for awhile I was getting upwards of 100 spams a day from unrelated, commercial websites trying to join the ring. Plus a number of the member bloggers have had a hard time with the technology- getting it into their sidebar in the first place, and then after the beta blogger switch we lost a number of people. I think a blogroll would have been a better way to go. I have met a few Disciples this way, though, so it wasn't all for naught.

Joe Weaks said...

Nice to meet you katherine... I think your effort is a good one. I had the same thought about a blogroll... problem is that it needs to be maintained.
I wonder if the best wouldn't be an aggregated feed of all Disciples bloggers. Feedburner and others can set this up.

Katherine said...

I used Ringsurf because it's what RevGalBlogPals uses, and that is a wildly successful web community. I don't think anyone actually surfs the member blogs using the ring, though; their main website operates as a hub for memes, book discussions, new member introductions, saturday preacher party, etc. Without having a centralized "location" for communication, the loose connection of the ring doesn't really count for much. Oh well. I tried!