The Internet Is Not Your Delivery Boy

November 17, 2009 by

The Internet is more than a delivery method.

As I was reading a report on the meeting of the European bishops and reps from Facebook, Google, YouTube and Wikipedia, one of the quotes really grabbed me. It points out why so many miss the power of the internet.

From the article:

During a press conference, [Bishop di Falco] described the Internet “as important as the invention of the printing press,” saying just as the printing press helped make the Bible available to everyone who could read, the Internet can make the gospel accessible to everyone who uses the Internet.

Too many times this is how we’ve viewed the Internet, as another delivery vehicle and why we see so many sites as nothing more than electronic brochures. While the Internet certainly is great at delivering information quickly and does make that information accessible to millions what makes it so much more is people.

The Internet isn’t powerful because it connects you to information, but because it connects you to other people.

A great example of this can be seen in LifeChurch’s YouVersion. If they had looked at the internet as a delivery option, it would simply spit out scripture. Instead they looked deeper and created something that’s about interaction with the scripture and each other.

This lesson is true for all of our marketing. It’s not about delivering information, it’s about making a connection.

Post By:

Michael Buckingham

With the goal of making the church the most creative place on the planet, Michael founded Holy Cow Creative, the church’s creativity and design studio. He is the former creative director for the Center for Church Communication and Church Marketing Sucks, and is currently the experience pastor at Victory World Church in Atlanta.
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10 Responses to “The Internet Is Not Your Delivery Boy”

  • Jesse
    November 17, 2009

    I don’t know, Michael… I think you might be missing it with some of your points. The statement you pulled from the European bishops isn’t incorrect just because it doesn’t mention the social aspect of the web. On the contrary, the Internet did indeed revolutionize the way people obtain information, much like the printing press hundreds of years before.
    “The Internet isn’t powerful because it connects you to information, but because it connects you to other people.”
    The Internet IS powerful because it connects you to so much information. The major social boom of the Internet is a recent advent (years, not decades) and natural evolution of the Internet, but it’s still largely information about people–albeit highly dynamic information.
    The problem is that you’re painting the picture as if merely “spitting out scripture” isn’t good enough, when in many cases, it really is.
    I agree, YouVersion is a fantastic innovation, as are Facebook and Twitter. I’m just not sure it’s fair to say with absolute certainty that marketing is never about delivering information.

  • Cliff Seal
    November 17, 2009

    I love reading the CMS blog because you’re all never afraid to challenge what’s going on with regard to being good stewards of the resources God blesses us with. My one reactionary opinion is this:
    Any time we say ‘the internet is/isn’t…’, we’re limiting what can and is done with the internet. I definitely see your point; one day knowledge will pass away, but (some) people won’t. However, I don’t think knowledge and connectivity necessarily make an intrinsic duality. Besides, online connection is based on information until we act on a personal basis.
    Keep creating conversation! You guys are rad.

  • Michael Buckingham
    November 17, 2009

    Good points, and maybe I need to add the word “just”. Spitting out information maybe fine, but there is more that you can do with it.
    If the folks at life church stopped at their to do list: deliver scripture, and didn’t push it to do more they would have produced a nice tool and not a tool that has changed how many people and now even churches interact with scripture.
    The problem isn’t that we are delivering information, it’s that we stop there instead of pushing the tool further.

  • Ryan
    November 17, 2009

    However, people really haven’t capitalized on the interactivity of YouVersion yet. It’s a brilliant site, but just another place to read the Bible as far as I’m concerned.

  • Michael Buckingham
    November 17, 2009

    Just look at Facebook…they delivery 0 content. They connect people…the content is certainly there, but only through connecting people.
    When people have tapped into the internet as more than just a data stream, we’ve seen schools built, raincoats handed out…you name it.

  • Stuart
    November 17, 2009

    Very valid point, in fact I think you have ‘nailed it’ with ‘connecting people’.
    Too many folks do seem to opt for a boring, static, impersonal, brochure style, web content.

  • Simon Cozens
    November 18, 2009

    This is the sort of thing I’ve been ragging on of late – that social media is only a medium, not a message, and you still need an actual message appropriate to the medium. This was my rant about how most people’s understanding of new media marketing and evangelism just doesn’t get it.
    Then I went positive and came out with a strategy for churches for how to make computer-mediated communication work for them. Have a look.

  • Jesse
    November 18, 2009

    Good stuff, Michael. Keep challenging.

  • John L
    November 18, 2009

    Life Church connecting people? Video mega-sites “connect” an image of a CEO-style religious-guy-on-stage with passive butts in seats. When I made this point on the Life Church web site, they removed my comment.
    Constantinian religious models (like Life Church) are being increasingly shoehorned onto the Internet, but its a temporary trend. Emerging generations are flattening their communities.
    So, perhaps you’ve got it half-right. The Internet connects people. But operations like Life Church seem more about top-down power and control than releasing and facilitating broad empowerment and peer-to-peer connection.
    Over generations, Constantinian / attractional models will likely die off, as true peer-to-peer virtual ecclesia emerges.

  • Wei Osso
    July 29, 2011

    Respect to article author, some wonderful entropy.

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