February 27, 2006

Scott Reese on Myspace & Paul

In case you didn't see Scott Reese's post on Myspace & Paul, I wanted to highlight it even though it's been four weeks since he posted it. Scott is doing some very solid thinking here.

Since summer of 2005 I've been thinking a great deal about how blogging and social networking sites (like Myspace, Xanga, and Facebook) can be used for evangelism and outreach. See some of my previous posts on the subject here, here, here, and here.

I've made some efforts to educate management here at Resurrection about the potential, but haven't been able to spark them into action yet. Is anyone out there aware of a church that's effectively reaching out through social networking sites?

Postmodern Olympians

Over the last few days I have been fascinated as I watched Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw try to understand this new crop of USA Olympians. Both broadcasters are prototypical baby boomers having grown up in the era of the Miracle on Ice (that great hockey game that pitted good verses evil, US verses them, The United States Verses the Soviet Union). In those days the Olympics were serious business, the desire to compete was fueled by a nationalistic fervor intended to boost each countries claim not only to athletic superiority, but to cultural and political superiority as well.

With the fall of communism in Europe all sorts of worldview changes began to emerge. Militant Islam has filled a power and meaning vaccuume and willingly provided us with a new bad guy, but Islamic countries haven't ever competed well in the games so the joy of victory and the sting of loss just isn't the same.

Enter America's Postmodern Olympians. Here are some quotes I heard: "If I give everything I have and race the way I feel like I should race and don't come out with a single Medal, I will be just as happy as If I won 5 medals" That general sentiment was repeated over and over by Bode Miller, and though there was something about his attitude I didn't like, it was clear that part of the problem was the complete inability of Brokaw or Costas to even process that kind of postmodern, a-political, a-competitive thinking from a person who is a world class athlete. They can't imagine that Bode actually cares more about hanging out, partying, being with friends, and being in the Olympic "community" than he does about winning and crushing his opponents. Its not that they cant process his behavior, its that their modernist brains simply cannot fit it into their existing worldview as anything remotely ok.

Another Olympian that made a similar statement was Apollo Ono, In one interview he spoke openly about the fact that there is too much emphasis on the color of the medal and not enough focus on the Olympic spirit and tradition. Isn't that interesting, Ono has none of the arrogance or braggadocio of Miller yet he is echoing the same basic sentiment, we come we compete we do our best and were happy with the outcome---its you guys (read modern media) that aren't. Now at the same time watching Ono cross first to win the 500 Gold Medal and his total elation tells you that winning is still important to these new postmodern, but its just that not winning isn't quite as bad as it used to be. They seem to be more focused on the underlying purpose of the olympics to bring people of all cultures together so that they might promote understanding through the use of sport. Seems kinda cool to me...but hey I'm postmodern.

Oh one other thing: Sasha Cohen--not a post modern, Shaun White--Totally postmodern dude you can figure out why!!

February 24, 2006

Church IS Failing - Part I

This evening, my wife and I sat in a Chinese restaurant eating dinner and discussing our church. We attended the contemporary worship service last weekend, the first time in a few months to be completely honest. We stopped attending the service a while back.

A few months prior to today, we were driving home for lunch after leaving the worship service that ends just before noon. The both of us were quiet and unenthusiastic. One of asked the other, "How do you feel about the service now-a-days?" Thus began the journey into realization - that after two years of being a part of this worship service, (my wife singing in the praise band, myself running the sound board,) it was no longer filling us up but leaving us empty. The songs were getting slower, the enthusiasm lower. It just wasn't there any longer. We decided to try out some other local church services.

Here eating dinner out at our favorite Chinese place, we discussed the current condition of the service. It's pretty sickly, down around half from its peak attendance. What used to be an upbeat and growing service filled with 20's to 40's and their children, was now a slow, shrinking collection of 30's to 60's. You can see that many of the praise band members have left. We just learned today that the recent reaction to this decline was - changing to a traditional order of worship. .... !?!?!?!
[insert record scratch here]

Hold on folks! Huh!? Now, let's review that again. A contemporary service that was previously upbeat, enthusiastic, and strong, lost its impact for whatever reason - and a traditional order of worship is the shot in the arm it needs? We're desperate here! We want to worship but you're boring us! This is not a rant, but a plea. My wife and I are disappointed and unfulfilled, and we're quite obviously not the only ones. I can't say this builds a great deal of hope in my heart, from a church that has persisted over 100 years and is struggling to reach a postmodern group.

Why are they failing?

I'll make some suggestions in Part II, but if you're following me here and have any comments, I'm very interested and listening.

Brian Slezak

February 11, 2006

Online community is more than forums

Mark Stephenson, director of Web Empowered Church (WEC), posts here about how "online community" used to mean forums, but now takes many different forms. These days there are many places on a site where users could potentially post their own thoughts, requests, questions, feedback, and so on. Mark explains how WEC already has a wide variety of extensions for TYPO3 that provide church-specific functionality that fosters online community.

February 08, 2006


Lee Grady at Charisma Online posts here about MegaVoice, a company that makes a solid-state, handheld audio player device, similar to an iPod. The MegaVoice is preloaded at the factory with audio that can't be changed by the user, and is capable of running on solar power. Using these devices, illiterate people all over the world can now hear the Bible read in their native languages. How cool is that?

More background here.

February 07, 2006

Integrating CRM and the Web

Duncan Rein, CEO of Silas Partners, posts here regarding how CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) should be and inevitably will be fully integrated with the church's website. This is further fuel for our previous discussion with Tony Dye and others about Church Management Systems (ChMS) and Content Management Systems (CoMS).

To put it in concrete terms, at Resurrection we're using TYPO3 for content management and Shelby for church management/CRM. I'm in agreement that ultimately we need to: A) integrate the two; or B) replace both with something else already integrated; or C) develop an open source church management/CRM that we can natively integrate with TYPO3. Right now we're working on option A, but somewhat reluctantly since this is inelegant and it's difficult to see how well it will work over the long term. Option B isn't a great one for us because we're fully committed to TYPO3 and Web Empowered Church. That leaves option C, for which my heart yearns, but we can't pursue because we have no funding or interest among executive management here.

Hmmm ... Maybe we take Tony's suggestion and sneak this in the back door by gradually building a CRM/ChMS in the form of TYPO3 extensions?

February 02, 2006

Blog Evangelism

Web Evangelism Bulletin has just posted a new article about Blog Evangelism. The article includes a brief but good overview of the difference between a blog and a traditional website. This would be good for anyone in your church who is struggling to understand the point of blogging and how it can be used in evangelism.