Could Your Church Start An Online Community?

st-matthew-community-logo.pngThe Internet seems to be all about communities these days. If you follow what's going on with Internet companies you can't escape the names like Facebook or Myspace. What's more interesting to me is how many small community sites have started to pop up. There are open source sites like which is a community site surrounding the development of and with drupal. There are sites like which help churches build communities around their individual church while being part of a slightly larger yet still not huge community of other christians. And, there are individual church community sites around churches like mine.

Over at Geeks and God we are in a series of podcasts about building a church or ministry community site. We are talking about this because we feel it's really important. According to the bible, the church is called to be a community of believers doing this thing called life together. Is your church enough of a community to have a community website? This isn't just a matter of how many members in your church use the Internet but a matter of what kind of community your church has if it really has one at all. I think this can be a test of a church community if your church membership uses the Internet.

This coming week we hope to start testing our church out with a community site. We have a membership that uses the Internet. Do we have a community that will be more than that on days not named Sunday? Stay tuned, I'll post updates as we test the waters.

My church website

I came across your site from a comment you left at Techcrunch. This blog post caught my eye because I am working on setting up a community website for my church using Joomla. Our tentative launch date is the beginning of January. E-mail me if you are interested in seeing it.

I'd love to...

I'd love to see the site. I'm, also, curious what version of Joomla you are using and what extensions you have installed.

church community sites

It would be great to have an area where people can discuss what is working and what is not for church community sites. Maybe a part of geeks and god or another forum somewhere.

Good idea

That's a good idea. Let me take a look around and make sure that isn't already out there. If it isn't let's see if we can come up with the best spot to have that.

If anyone knows of a place out there discussing this or of a good place to host this forum (maybe on G&G) please let me know.

Sadly not for all

Our church launched with a web portal style community website. There is a forum section and the ability to comment on posts and events. These features, however, are rarely used and the result is that the site 'feels' stagnant. In redoing the site, I have to ask the question, "What will serve my church best?" I am now building a podcasting postcard site to focus our communication on who we are. My hope is that if we can keep up on posting events, sermons, and photos then the site will 'feel' more alive. Perhaps the comments and forums can return later, but right now I don't feel that a community site is right for my church.

Marketing and Community

One of the things I've learned recently is that you can't just put something out there and expect people to use it. No matter how good the technology is or how spot on the implementation is. You need to do at least 2 things:

1) Market the site to the church. Not just that it's there but what it's intended for, why they will like it, and how it will serve them. They need to know it exists, what they can do, and why they should bother.

2) Lead by example. You need a core group of people who will lead by example. That will comment where commenting is needed. That will be involved.

A community site isn't right for every church. But, I think we need to ask ourselves if the reason it's not succeeding is how we have done things or whether the concept is right. I say this being someone who has worked on a project or two that has bombed. Not because of the idea, the technology, or the need but all those other areas we failed at.