More than 3,700 churches have created online communities to enhance their weekly services on the new social networking site, MyChurch.org. Pastors and parishioners meet online to write blogs, share pictures, and stay connected throughout the week in an effort to extend church between Sundays.
When church leaders saw their younger congregants on social networking sites like Myspace, they recognized an opportunity to foster community between Sundays. MyChurch.org launched in late 2006 to cater specifically to churches seeking to extend their Sunday gatherings online.
Pastors record and upload their sermons for discussion. Electronic bulletin broadcasts replace paper church bulletins. And members post prayer requests and join conversations through blogs and profile comments.
“Conversations we’ve never had time for are coming together online. The profiles and pictures are revealing things about us that might take years to come out.” says Pastor Dan Beasley. His Calvary Community Church in Maryland has more than 80 members in its MyChurch.org community.
Pastor Beasley goes on to say “We’re seeing folks show their true gifts. People we didn’t know as teachers are emerging in the blogs, and encouragement and mercy are shown in the comments”
Social networking also empowers missionaries and travelers to stay connected with their home church, especially for celebrations like Easter. “I love it that MyChurch makes it possible for our (missionary) members in Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, Dubai, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina to participate in the life of our community” says Pastor Jim Somerville of First Baptist Church in DC.
Pastor Somerville uploads his sermons onto First Baptist’s MyChurch page for members who missed his Sunday preaching, or for congregants who want to comment and discuss afterwards. He plans to post his church’s entire Easter service, including worship music, Scripture readings, and sermon.
Churches have traditionally been cautious to adopt internet technology, fearing that a virtual church might keep members out of the pews. But churches have flooded onto social networking sites. There are more than 100,000 religious groups on Myspace. Churches recognize that social networking enhances the conventional Sunday morning gathering, empowering them to foster community during the week.
As the social network for churches, MyChurch.org hosts free social networking communities for more than 3,700 Christian churches. By exclusively serving Christian churches, MyChurch provides tools focused for a Christian audience such as the ability to embed Bible passages into blogs, and organize and register for local church events. MyChurch.org receives 2.5M pageviews per month and is growing rapidly.