“Wealth is now defined, at least in part, by the ability to be offline whenever you want” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Thoughts
November 29, 2005

Church 2.0

Andrew Jones has some very interesting reflections on the Idea of Web 2.0 and what it might mean for churches today and into the future. Web2.0 suggests that we are seeing a significant, collaborative and social shift in internet usage, perhaps most evident in the move from personal pages to blogs, as well as more […]

Andrew Jones has some very interesting reflections on the Idea of Web 2.0 and what it might mean for churches today and into the future. Web2.0 suggests that we are seeing a significant, collaborative and social shift in internet usage, perhaps most evident in the move from personal pages to blogs, as well as more particpatory forms of publishing and the emergence of wikis and tagged image sharing (i.e., Flickr). Andrew writes,

“Anyway, the ideas of collaboration, participation, distributed power etc, are all very similar to what we are seeing in the newer crop of churches started by media savvy, web-native people and bloggers. That makes me want to suggest . . .

Church 2.0 . . . a missional ecclesiastic response to a culture influenced by the values of Web 2.0

Emerging Church 2.0 might be those emerging churches that are shaped by new media values rather than old media. They write blog posts rather than articles, PDFs rather than books, start churches without buildings, and lack a vertically hierarchical leadership structure. Hierarchy is modular and dynamic, rather than vertical and static. I am not talking about cyberchurches that migrate to the web. I am talking about alternative faith communities that emerge online and then seek physical meetings, new aggregations of believers that connect with each other and the world through the complex networks that make up their World 2.0”

Looking at the chart Andrew quotes, highlighting the supposed shift immediately makes me pause. Web 2.0? Well them myspace.com must be web 3.0…

…as for church 2.0, I’m also not sure what that means. If Web 2.0 is the web as people imagined it back when we had web 1.0 (a statement I agree with), doesn’t that just mean church 2.0 is just church as it was orignally conceived? Hardly a departure from those who always call us back to the 1st century church (and a hoary call that is). Or are we just talking about church for early-adopters? I hope not.

Not that I don’t like the idea of thinking about church 2.0 in the light of web 2.0. In fact, I think it is a great insight and I thank Andrew for it. For me where it seems most productive is not starting with Web 2.0, but in starting with the discontinuities between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Consider again Andrew’s statement,

“The idea behind Web 2.0 is not new at all, although much of the tech now available to pull off Web2.0-sized dreams is recent. Web 2.0 is how some of us initially viewed the internet in the 90’s when we chose to start journalling our lives rather than creating static vanity sites or commercial storefronts.”

Leaving aside the final statements (after all is a dynamic vanity page any better than a static one?), if Web2.0 was the “vision,” why did we get Web 1.0 in the first place (aside from technological constraints)? It fascinates me that we got something that people didn’t quite want, the we had a mutuation (or revolution) into something more useable, but ultimately more useable for the kinds of social relations we have always longed for, even pre-Web.

Of course, the use of “vision” here is misleading. I don’t think anyone really conceived of Web 2.0 as it is today back in 1994. Rather people had an intution, a hunch if you like of what it could become. Maybe they could see some uses, maybe they could sense how the technology could evolve, or maybe they could spot a trend based on the evolution of previous technologies. Whatever it was, the hunch arose from something more unviersal in the human experience that just Web-Surfing. The potiential of Web 1.0 to become Web 2.0 lay in its utility, it’s usefulness, the things it could be used for. The way it mutated, the pattern it created and trend it will continue to follow were driven by these desired uses.

It is those human desires that must also form our excavation if we are to build Church 2.0.

In the end we shouldn’t just look as Web 2.0 to understand what Church 2.0 could be. Rather we should try to understand the process that led from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and see the trend that will take us to Web 3.0 and maybe even Church 3.0. Remember, the trend is your friend.

Technorati Tags: Emerging Church, Theology and Culture/a>, Missional

Responses
Toni 14 years ago

From my interaction with ‘normal’ people over 20 years old, I’d say the concept of church 2.0 operating through the web is elitist and exclusive (in that it shuts out people).

I also believe the concept of a ‘fluid’ church where people meet up with other Christians as the see fit to be a dead end. It lacks biblical leadership and also human nature being what it is, when people don’t belong to a specific body, commonly they stop belonging at all after a time. And people, being what they are, neew both close contact on a regular basis to establish warmth and love AND at times correction and guidance in a way that on-line life cannot provide.

I have friends that, after 25 years of house-church leadership, have planted a non-church church. Their experience is that without a formal structure, people drift in and out with no committment to anything but their whim and fancy. Personally I see this as a deviation in the road to producing a mature and righteous church, but better men than me have been wrong, so who knows?

andrew jones 14 years ago

toni

everything has structure – even the web –

and church 2.0 is not cyberchurch

church that is non-elitist, participatory, interactive, open to change and emergent behavior is similar to

1. the early church in teh book of acts
2. the way we are using the web (web 2.0)

and Fernando, for a good explanation of what went wrong with Web 1.0, see Douglas Rushkoff’s Open Source Democracy (PDF)

peace

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