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Christian Alternatives

Christianfamilytube logoLast night I got an invitation to put all of our church videos on a new Christian-only version of YouTube. First there was GodTube and now this.

I laughed at GodTube’s claims that they were the fastest growing site on the internet… totally a joke of a statistic if you ask me… not like GodTube got bigger than Facebook did in 2007.

As far as interface and design go… could this new site be any more cheesy? Technically speaking… a lot of the videos don’t even work!

Let me share my opinion about “Christian only” content sites. I don’t mind sites that are geared towards Christians networking… heck, I own one. But I am against the idea that there should be a differentiation between the “Christian internet” and “secular internet.”  Both GodTube and this new video site claim to be “family safe.” While that isn’t a bad thing in and of itself I always wonder why people like this don’t just create channels of “family safe” stuff within the existing structure of MySpace, Facebook, or YouTube. Christians were never commanded to separate from the world or form our own sub-culture… we were commanded to penetrate the culture for God. Ephesians 5 teaches us to bring “light” to “dark” places. These sites are trying to do the opposite.

I don’t plan on moving content to these new sites. If they offered services that were better than YouTube’s than I might consider it. But I’m not going to pull content off of a great delivery channel only to put it on a weaker and sorry to say cheesier delivery channel. That completely misses the point of using the internet for ministry.

Plus, I don’t know how YouTube doesn’t sue these companies for trademark violations. That’s for another day.

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Church Leadership Current Affairs Funny Stuff

The Preference Wars of Church

Perry Noble of NewSpring Church has a couple of funny, yet serious, points about heaven and the preference wars of church today.

I was reading through Revelation a couple of weeks ago and I had this thought, “I really think that some people might not like heaven!” Especially when I got to Revelation 7:9-12…seriously, take a second to read that passage and then come back here as I share a thought or two about it. If people approach heaven the same way some approach church then here are my fears… 🙂

#1 – For Some People Heaven Will Be “Too Big.” We have people that say, from time to time, “I really do like your church–except that it’s too big.” My reply is always the same, “Heaven isn’t going to be a small group/house church!”

#2 – The Focus Will Be On Jesus…And That’s It! Apparently the music in heaven is going to be loud…and will not be sang out of the Baptist hymnal. (See verse 10–they cried in a LOUD voice…apparently they didn’t get the “reverence” memo!) No one will be asked in heaven, “Did you like the music? Was the sound too loud? Were you totally comfortable?” Nope–the focus will be on Jesus Christ…NOT consumeristic ego maniacs who church hop because they think everything exists for them. 🙂

I think Perry is right. And I think he brings about the new battle in churches, personal preferences. If 1990-2005 were all about music wars 2005-present are all about preference wars.

Should church be like Burger King and the parishioners be like Frank Sinatra?

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Current Affairs news item Politics

Dear Detroit Media: Leave Kwame Alone!

kwame kilpatrickThe last 3-4 days the local news in Detroit has not left the mayor alone. There are some allegations about him surrounding whether or not he lied about an affair he had with a staff member a few years back.

And the Detroit media is having a field day. It’s completely disgusting that they have nothing better to do than stalk this guy 24 hours per day. Television stations have sunk to new lows by flying their traffic helicopters over his house to see if his car is there. They are giving updates on his families movements, and virtually any other disgusting detail they can reveal.

I have some advice for the Detroit media: Go back to covering lost dogs and stalled cars on the freeway. And don’t forget about your helpful segments, helping single moms get free cars or tracking down bad contractors to shame them. Those are things you are good at. Treating the nightly news like it is Access Hollywood is disgusting? Cut it out.

Sure, he is a public figure. But this is too far. This story is not worth 24 hour coverage. It’s simply not news the people of this city want to hear.

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Church Leadership Current Affairs hmm... thoughts Politics Sports

Battles that are Brewing

Battle_3It seems like there are some interesting battles brewing. I don’t mean like nations that are about to start new wars, I mean within the culture I live in, there have been and will be some gauntlet’s thrown down.

Here’s a summary of the ones that I’m watching.


youversion vs. Gospel.com
Youversion
I happen to be a beta user of both Web 2.0 utilities and while they are significantly different, both will be battling for the attention of Christian internet users. So far, I see the power in both of them. Youversion is a little more "open" as anyone can bookmark things. The flipside is that Gospel.com is only allowing Alliance members to bookmark content which means that all the content on Gospel.com will be more trustworthy.

Emergent vs. Evangelicalism

Robbell
This recently heated up in what I’ll call "The Battle for Mars Hill." Jonathon Herron talks about Mark Driscoll calling Rob Bell a heretic. A few weeks ago Doug Pagitt and John MacArthur tangled on Headline News. Go ahead and grab a box of pop corn and get ready for fans of all sides to listen to the artists drop some game and scream, "Oh no he didn’t!" As Doug points out today, it’s already getting personal. Come on boys, no shots below the belt.

Iran vs. America
Iran
OK, so this one isn’t as fun to watch as the rest. This could get really ugly really fast. Iran’s president is either completely oblivious to the fact that American’s don’t like him very much or he thinks he can win the American people with his charm. New story. The Scott Pelley interview that was on 60 Minutes last night was quite interesting.


Lloyd Carr vs. Charlie Weis

Charlieweis
Who is in the hottest water with their team? Michigan fans have been quieted… but both groups of fans are not happy with how the season has gone. Lloyd Carr lost 4 games in a row before beating Notre Dame and Penn State. While Charlie Weis has list 5 in a row including 3 games where his offense failed to score a touchdown. That said, neither is in as imminent danger as 2006 Super Bowl quarterback Rex Grossman.

Anyone else see battles brewing?

Categories
Current Affairs hmm... thoughts Marketing YMX

Managing a virtual community

Designing_online_community
Or congregation for that matter.

I’m trying to sort out the meaning of three things I’ve read this week. All three have to do with the big question, "What is community?" and "How do you help people form balance in an online community?" From a 10,000 foot perspective the question doesn’t really become "What is it?" or "How do people find balance?" It becomes "How do I manage to maintain an community in a healthy, productive way to become something enduring and profitable?"

Here are the three articles/posts I’ve read that have me trying to connect the dots.
Virtual Reality = Virtual Community = Virtual Relationships by David Garrison
Jobs of the future, #1: Online Community Organizer by Seth Godin
Second Life and Multiverse by Bobby Grunewald

On one side of the discussion Garrison, a youth pastor, is questioning the value of virtual relationships in comparison to online relationships.
He says that online communities are morally neutral, yet are often being used in unhealthy ways. That’s a good point but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all online relationships are somehow more or less dysfunctional that real world ones. My experience in more than 13 years of using online community is that it’s just as possible to form real relationships online as offline. You can be just as fake in real life, you can block people out of your life just as effectively, and dysfunctions in your personality will always evidence themselves in all areas of our lives.

Lifechurch
From the perspective of Lifechurch.tv, Grunewald lives out an attitude that online relationships are not only "real," but they can also be redemptive to reaching people for Christ. 
That’s why Lifechurch.tv, one of the most innovative churches on the planet, operates a campus on Second Life. As the article mentions, a lot of "virtual people" who experience church at their internet campus, eventually reach out and make one-on-one connections with a local church or even one of their locations. In my experience with online communities this is a natural outgrowth. A sign of a healthy online communities is the "meet-up." Converting online friends into offline friendship has been an amazing experience for me. Online communication has some limitations as it fails to capture many of the nuances of language. After all, how much of our communication is non-verbal? How much depends on you knowing me personally so that when you read my words your brain says, "I can see Adam saying that, I know what he means despite his ability to articulate it clearly in writing." And in my role with Youth Ministry Exchange I can verify that nearly 100% of disagreements that occur in that online community have to do with misunderstood context and things that wouldn’t have caused conflict when combined with non-verbal communication.

Sethgodin
I had all of this swirling around the grey matter (Is it good? Is it moral? Can it last? Is it enduring and helping the trade?) between my ears when I read Seth’s Godin’s post.
In Seth’s opinion, forming, managing, and growing trade-based online communities is one of the big jobs of the future. See, it’s one thing when you feel like the only guy on the block who thinks your idea is worthwhile. It’s another thing when one of the premier business minds out there says the same thing. (Hey, when is this guy going to appear at the Leadership Summit?) See, I think places like YMX are valuable to people in Youth Ministry… but I am just one person and a nobody. When other people start saying that trade-based online communities are important now and will be super important in the future, I start to believe it!

Ymx_nofullname
I know online communities are important.
(Why else would I operate one?) And I know they can be redemptive. (Why else would we have joined the Gospelcom Alliance?) The hard part of managing an online community is this: Creating an online place where everyone feels valued, feels like they can contribute, and is still narrowly focused enough to effect growth and change in a specific sub-culture or trade. Put that in a bottle and you will make millions.

Questions: When it comes to online communities from YMX, to Facebook, to the now dead and dying MySpace, what is the community value? How does an online community keep out of the grave? How does it keep going and become something enduring for an entire tribe of people?And how do I manage a community for long-term and not short term profit in the way MySpace did?

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Current Affairs hmm... thoughts light force

Sex!

College students talk about sex. Some interesting thoughts here. Some that are thought provoking, stupid, and…

What do you think?

HT to Jeremy DelRio