In the real world, preaching to the choir is as effective in outreach as preaching to the choir. Community within church walls is great, but it makes for an easy excuse to avoid outreach outside the church building.
The digital world is no different. 80% of church visitors come because they were personally invited by friends. Now we have a fancy term for it: social networks. And now we have an incredible way to engage our social networks: MySpace.com.
You can choose to believe or reject the latest numbers about MySpace demographics. In taking surveys before creating MyChurch.org, I also found that MySpace users were older than what we originally thought. Social networking isn’t just for teens and twentysomethings. The point is there has never been an easier way to connect with the congregations’ social networks in history.
A year ago, we canvassed church flyers at the local shopping mall. Today we manually post bulletins and church events on Craigslist and blogs. In one year, we’ll be automatically syndicating widgets of the church event calendar and sermons onto MySpace profiles. It may seem ironic, but our purpose of creating online community at MyChurch is to drive content outside of that community. Shouldn’t that be the purpose of every church, both online and off?
Technology will continue to change. The need to outreach and evangelize to the un-churched on their own turf will not. MySpace is the new mall hangout.
Archbishop William Temple once wrote, “The church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of its non-members.” We love our church communities. But it is not just for us to love.