Thursday, September 17, 2009

Googley Church in Church

The newest issue of Church magazine just arrived, and is now online as well. It features the article Dan Mulhall and I wrote together, titled "Building a Google-y Church," and I am including the link here:

I find it interesting (though none of us should be surprised, if we pay attention to developments in other segments of life and experience) that the article found its way into what turns out to be the last issue of Church. Jarvis notes in "What Would Google Do" and in his blog entries ( the frailty of traditional print media. Pastoral ministry journals are not exempt from the growing need for electronic communications as a means for reaching people today.

It is encouraging to see universities, seminaries and diocesan offices utilizing distance learning to reach those who are miles away from their campuses. Web sites like serve as a central point for finding quality resources, in ways that might have been limited to conference exhibit halls in the past. Most youth ministers use Facebook or have their own web-based social networking mechanism. We seem to be learning how to use technology to enhance the personal relationship-building that is at the foundation of ministry. Still, there is much more to consider, for example, building electronic communications that are much less one-way "me talking at you" and much more "could we talk about this?" in nature.

What do you think? What are you doing to enhance or build ministry within your parish or diocese through effective utlization of contemporary communications media?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meeting Spiritual Needs

When I first talked with Al Winseman about the studies on engagement, and later, when I read Growing an Engaged Church book for the first time, I was struck by the knowledge that when people are coming into a relationship with a parish one of the first things they are asking is "Will my spiritual needs be met?" This makes sense, of course, particularly in people who are accustomed to discerning among a plethora of choices for everything from the mundane to this most important element of life. Surely this question among those who are seeking a parish (whether due to a move, as the person is coming out of a time of active disengagement, or when an individual is coming to faith for the first time).

We have an abiding belief that no matter what the need, a relationship with Christ, lived out in the community of the Church, particularly in regular participation in the Eucharist, will satisfy any hunger or spiritual need. The question is, would one who is coming to your parish for the first time recognize there what (Whom) they seek?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Learning from Google and Others

My last entry introduced the article Dan Mulhall and I contributed to the latest (and last) issue of Church magazine, in which we apply the rules Jeff Jarvis developed in "What Would Google Do?" to the Church. A question that seems to be unspoken in the article and in conversations with pastoral leaders in the last few months is, "Is there any value or potential benefit in listening to the experience of Google, Gallup, or any other business? We're talking Church, not business. We think theologically, not in terms of 'the bottom line." Or as one person noted recently, "we're talking souls, not sales."

Sure, our bottom line is different from that of a business. Still, we have much to learn from those who observe the way people respond to organizations, whether for-profit or for-faith. We don't throw theology out the door, but we do allow learning from contemporary research and observation in the window, to inform our dialogue as we seek beneficial pastoral practice.

What do you think?