Friday, November 11, 2011

Authority Online: Church Relevance

This week I have chosen to focus on the case study of Church Relevance and its connection with online religious authority. Kent Shaffer founded Church Relevance in March 2006 to help churches become more effective and efficient. He has also helped out with ministries such as and is opening a nonprofit this year called Open Church that will equip church leaders with free resources to download.

According to Cheong’s theory of "Logic of Continuity and Complementarity," Church Relevance is a vital resource that helps to “complement” offline churches and their authoritative figures within the church. Complementarity refers to “the acts of interrelation of socio-technical developments that co-constitute and augment authority….In this view, offline religious authority is reframed as shaping, sustaining and being sustained by online practices” (Cheong, 2011, pp. 12-13). Church Relevance’s mission is “understanding culture and responding to hurts and needs with the gospel, sacrificial love, and selfless ministering.” Through design, technology, leadership, management, marketing, and ministry Church Relevance has become a valuable resource for all church ministries.

Church Relevance provides church leaders with inspirational resources which include top church blogs, top churches to watch, and top church logos. These all serve as resources to complement authoritative offline figures that might be searching for new ways to keep up with a dynamic environment that could pose as a threat to their authoritative stance in the church. By looking at this case study, it is evident that some digital media resources such as Church Relevance are seeking to help churches grow and maintain authority in the church, online as well as offline.

Works cited: Cheong. (2011). Authority. Unpublished manuscript.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Case Study for Research Paper

Online and offline churches intend to maintain connection of the Christian community, but the question arises as to how the online communities within the Christian church are able to uphold engagement when the online realm is much more individualized compared to the traditional church.

I have chosen Saddleback Church as my research case study. Saddleback is a megachurch located in Southern California with eight satellite locations and an Internet campus. I will be focusing on the community aspects that the Internet Campus has to offer and how they encourage online community fellowship within the church. There are multiple service times that are streamed online on a daily basis as well as online small groups that are available for anyone that is interested in getting plugged in to the community without making the trip to an offline location. Saddleback Church is intent in reaching out to their community, keeping their members well informed about events that are occurring within the church as well as other outside projects.

I am interested in learning more about Saddleback and the effort the church makes to maintain an online community that might otherwise not be as promising as a traditional, offline church community. Furthermore, it will be interesting to discover how the members maintain a common ground without individualization overshadowing due to the flexible boundaries of an online community.