Internet Discipleship

What’s your favorite web tool for doing church?  My church just opened a facebook page.  I know plenty are doing twitter.  Many others are coming up with social networking and discipleship tools specifically designed for church cultures, for example Monvee and The City.

I often feel overwhelmed with the options as a church leader, but I am excited to see what comes out of the outreach and discipleship potential of internet technology.

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13 responses to “Internet Discipleship

  1. Brian, I was just talking about this via Twitter and my Facebook page (laugh) with a variety of people.

    At the very least, we need to be engaging with these opportunities as they com on the scene, even though it can be confusing to decide which way to go because of the options.

    Brooklife does have a facebook page, but we don’t use it much. We don’t have a twitter page for the church yet, but I am exploring that myself now.

    I watched the two videos above. I like the fact that The City is connected with the local church. I cannot tell from the video whether Monvee is connected to a local church or not. It seems too that Monvee’s output is more up to what the Monvee developers and individual user decide is for them. Too me, it’s a bit too individualistic without local church connection.

    Of course, that latter part raises the question of whether or not one’s “local church” must be local in the sense of geography or can be local in the sense of connectedness, even if that is geographically disconnected.

  2. Monvee is a lot more driven by its producers than its users, but the program does learn and adjust to user response/feedback. Although it really doesn’t do any social networking, I like that it is more intense on the discipleship.

    I’m worried Monvee is a little too good at what it does. There’s the risk of turning to Monvee instead of the Holy Spirit for your next step!

  3. Have you used Monvee yourself either personally or at the church?

    I do agree with you about the fine line between using great tools and relying on the Spirit. I think that part of what we want to develop in people – including ourselves – is reliance upon the Spirit. That must come through practice. Software can help that, I suppose, but also can, as you said, replace that learning and development.

  4. The dude in The City promo thinks he’s Steve Jobs :).

    I’m cautious about combining church and the web, only because I don’t think anything replaces real person to person contact. That said, knowing that Mars Hill utilizes The City, and knowing they strive to be missional in their focus (think Ed Stetzer), I’m more hopeful that this tool might actually enhance rather than detract from the church community. I agree with Matt E in liking the local church connection. At least they have testimonies of people using this tool.

    “I like to think of Monvee as the E-Harmony of my spiritual life” and “A wikipedia of spiritual growth resources” ?? See, I feel like this blurs the lines a little. Here I would refer back to having a good old mentoring relationship for finding my plan for life. Not sure I would trust a program for spiritual guidance.

  5. I sampled a trial version of Monvee for prospective pastors, as well as watched all their info videos. It appears to be very helpful, but something didn’t seem quite right.

    The City on the other hand really resonated with me. I know less about them though, so I’m still trying to dig up more info.

  6. Pingback: New Media and Ministry « Renovate

  7. Brian, could you unpack that gut feeling you’re mentioning a bit more? I do understand that general feeling but am hoping you could hang some more tangible things on it.

    What was it that didn’t seem quite right about Monvee?

    What is it that you resonate with in The City?

    Or is it too intangible to say?

  8. Well, my gut says there will be a clash between Monvee and the Holy Spirit. Certainly to no fault of Monvee’s program content; I just think users may lean on Monvee more than the Holy Spirit.

    For the Monvee system to work optimally, the users have to update it at every spiritual turn they make. They use a series of self assessments, resource recommendations, and feedback evaluations. Here’s the flow: 1) you start with a self assessment (it’s very visual and interactive), 2) it gives you some recommended exercises/resources based on your spiritual state and personality/learning type, 3) you use the resource, 4) you report back on whether or not the resource helped you, 5) Monvee changes it’s resource recommendations for you and/or others based on your feedback, and finally 6) you take another self-assessment, and then start all over. If you don’t keep Monvee up-to-speed on your changes, it won’t work as well… thus default in people’s mind may be “I need to make a change, therefore I need logon to Monvee.”

    Regarding The City, my initial glance is very favorable in that it appears to give voice to individuals within the congregation. Most congregational communication runs with staff at the center of the hub. Events need to be approved before promoted, “needs” need a matchmaker to find the right helper, prayer requests need to be added to the prayer chain. A social networking tool that cuts staff out of the middle-man role, allowing members in the congregation to serve and share with each other, without hijacking the central vision/direction of the church, would be a very useful tool. This is exactly what The City seems to be aiming at.

  9. That is really helpful, Brian. I haven’t had time to look at either one in-depth myself (preaching the next two weekends), but hope to soon.

    I really like what you’re saying about The City. I do think that a lot of congregational communication is stymied by the church staff. While Facebook and Twitter do seem to have potential here, I think a more unified tool could help with unique make-up of a church.

  10. I just registered for an informational webinar on The City, 7/30, 2:00 EST. Maybe some of you would like to join me? http://www.onthecity.org/webinar/

  11. Sure, I joined it. Pending another meeting, I should be able to participate in the webinar. I’d love to debrief it afterward if you have time.

  12. Well, after attending The City Webinar, I’m less impressed. It’s a discussion board, online giving, add posting, spiritual gifts matching service. It’s nice, but not necessary. There are all sorts of free tools out there that do that… no need to pay $1/user/month.

    I was hoping for something that would turn people lose to gather the needs of their city, notify the church body, and initiate the ministry teams, conversations, and/or partners necessary to fulfill that need. I was also hoping for a few more discipleship resources and self evaluations built in. Finally, I was hoping that this tool would give a greater voice to the average member, but sadly only staff gets to make church-wide posts.

    To the average user, The City won’t seem like much more than a small group discussion board. In the end, it seems that outreach functionality is non-existent, the discipleship minimal, and the church pays a pretty penny for staff to have the ability to observe your contact information and small group discussion board.

  13. I just learned of another church social networking tool called circle builder: http://www.circlebuilder.com/

    It looks fine, but I’m still not sure the learning curve and subculture mentality involved is worth deviating from widely accepted tools such as facebook.

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