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Monday, September 25, 2006

MyChurch in the Larger Context, with a reference to Joel Osteen 

I now have a MyChurch profile.

If you don't know about MyChurch, go here.

I previously commented about MyChurch here. In response to my "unepiscopal" comment, one of the MyChurch people noted the following:

In terms of theology, we treat the churches as autonomous entities. So the members do rule the roost, but we also have some high-level guidelines. We don't allow for LDS, Jehova Witness, and other church denominations that do not fall in line with mainstream Christianity.

So, for what it's worth, MyChurch is a reflection of the views of the people within the churches, and not specifically the official views of the churches themselves. This in itself is not necessarily "good" or "bad," but it should be noted.

Red Herring published an entire article on the trend:

Launched earlier this month, MyChurch is one of the newer contestants to join the littered playing field of Internet social networks. The site is targeting younger generations in an attempt to dip into the widening pool of Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster dropouts.

But what makes MyChurch different, and what will ultimately allow it to live alongside its larger brethren, is that the site makes the church the central, audience-drawing element, according to co-founder Joe Suh.

“Forty percent of Americans go to church on a weekly basis. We want a large chunk of that,” he said. “We want a lot of those people to come on our site, network with a lot of people at their church, meet new people, and just build a stronger community.”

Still, altruism does not a business model make, and the money’s in the details.

The site divvies its services into free and paid sections. In terms of the former, any church can sign up for MyChurch and enjoy 10 MB (megabytes) of space and 70 MB of bandwidth. Jump to the gold package—2 GB (gigabytes) of space and 15 GB of bandwidth—and it costs $50 monthly.

The advertising possibilities seem like a match made in Heaven. After all, the Christian retail market pulled in $4.34 billion in 2004, according to the Christian Booksellers Association.

MyChurch plans to push demographic-targeting (and family-friendly) advertisements to its 250 participating churches and more than 1,000 members, but hitting the seemingly golden formula has been a slow ramp-up.

“Right now, we’re actually making no money at all,” Mr. Suh said.

Maybe the site should try tithing its users.

BloggersBlog notes:

The article discusses tools like Cross Connector, MyChurchEvents, eBible and People2Pray. The article also mentions social networks like Oaktreeidea.com, MyChurch, MuslimSpace and Koolanoo.

If this is all there is in religious 2.0 then the Church Marketing Sucks blog is aptly named. We do know that they missed Xianz and Christianster, two social networks for Christians we found on our list of social networks. There are actually quite a few blogs discussing the term Church 2.0 including TallSkinnyKiwi, MediaShift, Ben's Blog, Relentless Grace, Subversive Influence, Addison Road and Church Marketing Sucks. There is also a blog going by the name Church 2.0 and a documentary film (in progress) called Church 2.0.

I'm probably stating the obvious when I mention that Church 2.0 is much more of a two-way street than traditional televangelism, in which the only thing that flows back to the televangelists is money.

And criticism. In his last sermon before moving to a new church, one pastor made a point of noting that Joel Osteen's prosperity gospel is NOT the gospel of the Bible.

If the pastor had podcasted this particular sermon, I'm sure that the discussion boards would have been howling on both sides of the issue.

Speaking of which, the MyChurch site for Lakewood Church is here. As of this moment, no one from that church has joined MyChurch.org. At this stage, MyChurch is trying to induce people to get involved in the site - hence the recruiting efforts.

If you're so inclined, and if you attend a church in the United States (sorry, Mrs. Loquacious, no Canadian churches yet), I encourage you to join and try the site out.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Don't worry, OE - I won't be joining MyChurch even if Canadian churches were included. Like MySpace, I find the UI oogly as sin and far too busy for my tastes. I think I'll stick to my humble, simple blog instead (although I appreciate that you thought of me!) =D
Thanks for the mention and fair review. Mrs. Loquacious, I agree Myspace's UI is terrible. But does MyChurch really fall in the same bucket? :) If you don't mind, can you point me to some areas of improvement needed?

Please contact me - we really do want to improve.
joe AT mychurch.org

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