MyGrace: The Other Blog Evangelists

by Marianne Richmond on May 17, 2006

Inspired by a member of his congregation that used MySpace to attract listeners for his rock band, Rev. Patrick Gray, am Episcopal priest from Boston set up a MySpace profile, the Advent, to attract listeners to his sermons. His site includes reminders about service times as well as audio files of the choir. The graphics are very cool and the Advent has 671 friends. The WSJ reports that churches across the US are using social media such as blogs and podcasts and on line social networking to connect with members and potential members.

Church Unplugged, according to the WSJ, attributes its growth to its MySpace profiles, saying that the church profile can be found while searching for music, television, or local MySpace users. Unplugged has about 100 church attendees and over 2000 MySpace friends. 

The evangelicals are leading the way with blogs such as Outside the Box Ministry and Church Marketing Sucks that provide "how to’s" for churches to improve their marketing and their messages.Church Marketing Sucks has a  Squido lens and posts with titles such as, "What Web 2.0 can mean for your church." Outside the Box Ministry is a little less "in your face" than Church Marketing Sucks but the message is similar. Their language is about engagement, connection and recognition that if people are on MySpace or Facebook that’s where they need to be.

The Vatican is podcasting and has a web site and according to Businessweek is hard at work on a faith based social networking site which is referred to as MySpace for Catholics. Sister Judith, the nun who is responsible for the web site and the upcoming social networking site, says that "the Net is the ultimate way to reach millions of people and to connect… it’s about something much bigger than myself…you can touch it, you can change it, and you can touch people with it." Spoken like some other evangelists at a different church.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project (2004) 64% of online Americans use the Internet for faith based acclivities. The study said, "Faith-related activity online is a supplement to, rather than a substitute for offline religious life. The survey found that two-thirds of those who attend religious services weekly use the Internet for personal religious or spiritual purposes." Sounds like online out reach is reaching the target.

But what about the MySpace environment for delivering the MyGrace message? Businessweek recently reported of the growing campaign to protect children from online predators that may close space on MySpace. One church education group mentioned in the WSJ article that the challenge was to reach teens without exposing them to inappropriate content. I think he may have the equation backwards, teens and actually most people, are probably not on MySpace to find a church but rather may find a church while they are MySpace.

As Ross Dawson writes about the MySpace generation, on Trends in the Living Networks, " The way I see relational technologies such as mobiles, chat forums, multiplayer roleplaying games, video sharing and so on, is that they extend our capacity as humans to relate. People have a built-in drive to connect with others, and now that has a far wider canvas across which to express itself. We can now discover many of the latent propensities and characteristics of humans, because we have been given new tools to explore our human identity." Or our spiritual side.

Outside of the Box Ministry has a post titled Blogging is Similar to Spiritual Multiplication which is a pretty good explanation of word of mouth marketing with blogs. If you want your message to be heard, as Businessweek notes, OClick All Ye Faithful.

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