It is odd, encouraging and a bit scary to me that more people all over the world that read occasionally on the internet have a better idea of what’s going on with our church plant (theStory) than my neighbour does. In fact, I don’t think my neighbour knows that I’ve started a church. There are people in Sarnia who are interested in the church plant but know less than most people on the internet because they aren’t avid internet users.
This is odd because this is a church plant for God for Sarnia. So if people from all over the world can be encouraged and inspired by what we are doing in Sarnia then praise God. We are trying desperately to put on our true face on the web, but I think it’s easy for us all to say that we want to look better than we really are (whatever better really means). It’s odd because I’m worried that I’m more concerned about what we look like on the internet than I am in real life. I am a internet junkie. This is my age group. All my friends are obsessed with community building websites like MySpace. This is part of who I am. However, I can’t allow an internet identity to interfere with my real identity here in Sarnia. So yes we are a new church plant. Some may call us emerging. We are tied with all kinds of web-based organizations like Resonate, Epiphaneia, The Daily Scribe, Thinker Labs and other great ideas and organizations. So with that comes some sort of weird fame in these circles. It’s a fame that is strictly within the circle. But its there. All of sudden you start seeing your church or your name linked on big blogs and you get a bit happier. You check your web stats more and you want to be successful in this little internet world.
This is encouraging because it means that we have support coming from all over the world. This is support that we never would have had a few years ago. Connecting with Resonate and the Free Methodists put us in contact with church planters all over North America that have been encouraging us and walking us through the initial steps. These relationships are essential to moving forward as a church plant. We are one of many that God is using to spread his kingdom.
This is a bit scary because I’ve always used the internet to promote things that I’m doing. We advertised The Evolving Church with Epiphaneia 90% through the internet and sold out our tickets a month before it started. We advertised Cultivate on the internet and hit our target. My blog is something I’ve been keeping up for two years now on the internet and its becoming something I’m comfortable with and can use as a tool to get he word out about something new. theStory though is an entire different world. I can’t and don’t want to advertise theStory on the internet. I don’t want to use all my graphic design and web design techniques to make the biggest impact. It’s just not the way you start a church.
So here I am on my first project in 4 years where the internet really isn’t that useful. In fact my graphic/web design skills have sort of just been pushed to the side. Honestly, who really cares if our calendars look good or not? We aren’t drawing people in with them; we are sending people that show up home with them. We kept our website as simple as possible and we are hoping to make it a useful tool to bring the community together by having the user-updated calendar, a book library and a blog. We are trying to be transparent. After all, as of now we are just twenty people that sit in a living room and talk about what it means to be a community that follows Jesus. Hopefully we can use the web as a tool for our community not a tool to highlight or put us on a pedestal