categories: LifeChurch.tv, church
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August 2nd, 2007

by Bobby Gruenewald

32 comments (+ Add)

Facebook Church

facebookYou can tell from my 1, 2, 3 posts about Facebook last week that I see great potential in it as a platform to connect with people. At a minimum, it is an important phenomenon that you should at least experience to understand.

One of the things about Facebook that we have not discussed is that Facebook uses what is called an API (application programming interface) to allow developers to build applications that leverage its technology. This feature was recently announced and has been a significant catalyst to the explosive growth that Facebook has recently seen.

As I’ve proclaimed several times before…at LifeChurch.tv, we desire to meet people right where they are at. Today, we are announcing that we will be doing that in Facebook by building the first Facebook Church. It is an application that will leverage our new Internet Campus technology to allow people to “attend” and be a part of a church community in Facebook.

We are extremely excited about the opportunity to connect with people inside this explosively viral environment. We are planning to launch this in the next two weeks, and I will be sure to announce when the app is available so that you can install it in your Facebook and share it with others.

UPDATE:  This application has launched 

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there are a total of32
  1. Aug 2, 2007 at 11:54 am

    I’m not sure what most of that means, but it sounds pretty sweet.

  2. Aug 2, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I am super excited to see what this will look like.

  3. Aug 2, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks Facebook is about to be “so last year?”

    The reality is there’s a handful of churches who have the tech budgets, the “digerati’s” and the staffing ability to move fast enough to take hold of facebook and create any sustained ministry with it. And even more realistically, by the time my church has moved to get on Facebook, it will be “so last year…” just like myspace is now.

    So my suggestion to lifechurch…do the legwork, bring people in, and direct them to local congregations to get connected to humans without a digital front…

    The church needs to connect people with where they’re at, though not every local church needs to take hold of the latest 2.0 community app that will soon be the former latest 2.0 community app.

  4. Aug 2, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    [...] Just today, Innovation Pastor Bobby Gruenewald of LifeChurch.tv announced that their Internet Campus is pioneering the first Facebook church. [...]

  5. Aug 2, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Jeremy-

    You are so right about MySpace. And you may be right about Facebook - but the reality is, Facebook IS so right now (statistically speaking, it’s growth in the past couple of months is tremendous!)

    We can’t predict the future, but the current status of Facebook says, “Hi. I’m a tool that is easy to use and growing exponentially…”

    If a church does have the resources and the church is being obedient to what God is calling it to do, to not take advantage of it RIGHT NOW when we have an opportunity would be undoubtedly regretful, IMHO.

    More than likely many churches have students or young adults who are familiar with Facebook already (I’ve been on it for several months and I’m still a newbie compared to all the students I used to work with who have been on it for a while!) That could also provide an area in which those people can serve whereas maybe they had trouble finding a fit say, volunteering in the nursery or something…

    You never know if you’re gonna end up with a Dogpile or a Google. But if it ends up being a Google, wouldn’t you want to be utilizing it to its maximum potential, and growing with it instead of jumping on the bandwagon too late and having to make up for lost time?

    Just some thoughts.

  6. 6Jimmy Paravane
    Aug 2, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Dana Kidder- “I’m not sure what most of that means, but it sounds pretty sweet.”
    Exactly!!
    Oh wait..you were just talking about this Facebook stuff. Nevermind.(grin)

  7. Aug 2, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Jeremy,

    While you would probably be right if you had said that MySpace is about to be “so last year,” I wouldn’t make the same assumption about Facebook. Facebook recently passed the 30 million user mark and it is the 7th most visited website among U.S. audiences, according to Alexa. For a comparison, Facebook was the 19th most visited website among U.S. audiences three months ago and “only” the 60th most visited website among U.S. audiences a year ago.

    Facebook is not just limited to U.S. users, of course; it is currently the 12th most visited website in the world, with a global user base that has increased by 77% in the past three months. All of that adds up to an incredible opportunity for ministries like LifeChurch.tv.

  8. 9Nick Carnes
    Aug 2, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    As a member of the LifeChurch Internet Campus and a regular defender of the virtues of online church (I’ve seen lives changed), I love the idea of building a LifeChurch add-on for the facebook.

    However, one objection to online church (that comes up a lot in conversations with people who study religion) has been nagging me lately: Does engaging people “right where they are” carry the risk of _leaving_ people right where they are? Do we face the risk that members of the Facebook Campus will think of the Almighty–like much of facebook–as just something to entertain them while they procrastinate on a term paper? Are we just making it easier for people to be lukewarm Christians?

    I’m not saying that I think the answer to these questions is “yes,” but I would really like to hear what you think about these issues. I’m personally a big, big fan of online church, but I’ve been wondering about these issues a lot lately. Maybe I’m way off on this one, but I’d love to get your opinions.

  9. 10Jimmy Paravane
    Aug 2, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I just wish Google would hurry up and buy Facebook so I can have my Google, Facebook, IM and email all in the same login.

  10. 11Garry
    Aug 2, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    I signed up for Facebook a couple of days age and never received a reply. Should i go back and sign-up again?

  11. 12Nick Carnes
    Aug 3, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Garry,

    That happened to me too the first time I signed up for facebook. I just did the whole sign-up process over again and got a confirmation email in a matter of hours.

  12. 13DA
    Aug 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Nick,

    So glad you are a LifeChurch member online. From my perspective you raise a great question. However, I think it is the same question pastors ask themselves every week when they look out at their congregation and ask; are we just here entertaining our people while they procastinate on life?

    Lukewarmness comes from people not choosing to be hot or cold for that matter because being cold is a choice also. Engaging people where they are is the very thing Jesus did. That’s why so many religious people were mad at Him. He went where they would not even consider going. People will stay where ever they want to unless the Spirit moves them. And that is the Spirit’s job. All we need to do is engage and pray.

    D.A.

  13. Aug 3, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I copy Jimmy on that.

    I wish google bought everything. Maybe? :P But I think Google has its own facebook kinda thing.

    Great venture, I’ll be sure to add the facebook app! :P

    God Bless ‘_^

  14. 15Kemper
    Aug 3, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Nick-
    Great point. “Does engaging people “right where they are? carry the risk of _leaving_ people right where they are?”

    I, too, have struggled with this concept when identifying and trying new ways to reach those who do not know Jesus. Let me elaborate, as a member of LifeChurch, I have embraced the mission of leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. To that end, I have been involved in many mission opportunites particularly in homeless centers in Oklahoma. In the past, I was always troubled by the fact that if our team was fortunate to witness someone accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior then we would have to have a “plan of attack” after their salvation.

    In my mind, we had to provide this homeless man or woman resouces for job training, addiction recovery etc. My fear was that if these individuals were bold enough to proclaim their faith in Christ then it was up to us to ensure that we keep them on this path moving forward. In other words, I did not want to risk leaving them right where they were. I was holding on to what “I” could do in His service rather than knowing and understanding that He held and knew the plans already for those who would follow Him.

    We are but messengers of the Good News and it is incumbent upon all of us to use any means necessary to reach those who do not know Him. Whether it be Second Life, Facebook, or the internet campus, we have been blessed with many avenues to tap into the lost. As DA put it, we engage, we pray, and then we bear witness to the power of our Lord as He changes lives forever.

  15. 16Adrian
    Aug 3, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I think it’s great for to be concerned with idea of enabling lukewarm Christianity. The way I see it, the church/leadership has a large role in determining this. If all their efforts is to attract people to church and just keep them entertained, they we’re just playing church and the devotion will just fizzle away. But if a church is intent on challenging the people in how they live their lives, some great life change can occur. That’s why I’m very excited to see how LifeChurch and other churches live out this comfortable/challenging atmosphere. Let’s bring people in, but let’s not take this too lightly… eternal life is at stake. So, as long as a digital church shares those concerns and addresses them, I can believe great things can happen.

    Jeremy - I can’t completely agree with you. If a church has the resources to introduce people to church in ANY medium, how can we not go for it. If a person who had never considered stepping into a physical church but finds his/her way to discovering Jesus as a result of checking out the digital church, that’s awesome. I think behind what you’re saying is that we shouldn’t just buy the hype of ‘facebook’ for the sake of doing the cool thing. And you’re right, we shouldn’t do it for that. But if the intentions are right and the love for God’s people is there (AND you have the resources for it), go for it.

  16. Aug 3, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    [...] This week the team was very active! Launched a new series website, 30 Days To Live. Finished scope, wireframes and started developing Facebook Church. Launched a new Finding your Fit Volunteer web site tool. Preparing to launch Alpha of YouVersion.com really soon! I officiated Josh and Savannah’s wedding Friday evening. [...]

  17. Aug 4, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    [...] Now that LC.tv has let our Facebook Church slip out, I can give some more details. [...]

  18. Aug 6, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Here’s a further breakdown of my perspective:

    I would love to see Lifechurch and other churches that are devoted to having church online, to do a great job and create great experiences.

    My church doesn’t need Facebook. We need 20 people who live and breathe the vision, who are already on Facebook, who have a natural symbiotic relationship with their ministry life and their daily life, to be sharing Jesus, making connections, and pointing people to the church website, or whatever else might be coming up…

    Lifechurch has a tremendous presences on the web, and does a hell of job not making everything look churchy. They should keep doing it. And when they make a connection to someone outside their local campus reach, their should be some natural inclination to connect them up with local churches where they are from.

    Over-saturation kills every market. That’s why Krispy Kreme’s stock hit the tank last year. I’m willing to drive 10 miles for a donut when they first open in the area, but once their stale donuts are in every grocery store or gas station, it’s no longer remarkable and I don’t want it.

    Facebook will have a greater reach before it gets over-saturated with a page for every one of the 10 million churches in america. Once you’re there, the message begins to get ignored.

    If you’ve created a church that your people feel connected to, they will do the work of getting people there for you…If Facebook stays organic, it will have greater reach. Pretty soon, with over-saturation, it will be so last year…

  19. Aug 7, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    To quote a co-worker of mine from a local radio interview we collaborated on:

    Interviewer (asking): “Is cyber-church valid church?”

    Jason Wendorf (responding): “Is cyber-sex valid sex?”

    I’m not saying I have the answer to this question. Color me undecided… Hopefully this will continue to stimulate the conversation. It’s one worth having amongst The Lord’s people.

    RE:Adrian, I first stepped into a church on account of joy riding my hot rod in the church parking lot the day before out of mere curiosity because the parking lot was enormous. I couldn’t fathom what that many people did in the name of “church” on a Sunday. Should that church therefore build a drag strip out front? Just in case some fool like myself should decide to see what happens inside the building on Sundays?

    Personally, I rest securely enough in the sovereignty of The Lord that he would have brought me to church by whatever means necessary if he so decided. Death could not hold Him, nor could his will be restrained even if the church didn’t have a big parking lot to make me a Christian. The angel Gabriel said to Mary “With God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37), and Jesus later confirms, “With God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26) so long as it is consistent with his nature…

    I guess you can see the same glass half empty, or half full, yet we are all looking at the same glass perhaps? May the 2nd commandment via the Great Commission propels us all toward one and other for the purpose of sharing The Gospel.

    Best,

    Sam Barrett

    Full disclosure: I’m the Director of I.T. at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. The above comments are my own views and are not those of my employer.

  20. Aug 9, 2007 at 7:04 am

    Facebook Church?

    Interesting…

  21. Aug 11, 2007 at 8:13 am

    [...] Bobby did a great job talking about Facebook Church here. You can install the Facebook Church application here. Enjoy! Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  22. Aug 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    [...] It’s not new news, but this last weekend we launched our first Facebook application: Church [...]

  23. Aug 19, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    [...] In other Facebook news, I discovered that LifeChurch.tv is attempting to start a church through Facebook.  Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and “Innovation Leader” writes, “As I’ve proclaimed several times before…at LifeChurch.tv, we desire to meet people right where they are at. Today, we are announcing that we will be doing that in Facebook by building the first Facebook Church. It is an application that will leverage our new Internet Campus technology to allow people to “attend? and be a part of a church community in Facebook.” [...]

  24. Aug 21, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    [...] I feel old when I hear about things like Facebook Church. I’m no Luddite. I’m on Facebook, where I have more than two friends (take that, Josh Harris!*). I’ve got this blog. I’ve set a couple of churches up with community forums and groups. I was one of the earliest adopters of email (told you I was old!). I see advantages and opportunities in Internet use. I’ve got credentials in IT and in ministry. And like Ricky Mokel, I think about stuff. [...]

  25. Sep 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    [...] I really love what Seth says about social networks which is funny because sometime after reading some posts on LifeChurch.tv I bit the bullet and created a facebook account. Even after the posts I fought it but when they started a facebook church I was so curious about the platform I signed up. [...]

  26. Sep 8, 2007 at 10:21 am

    [...] Hillsong Powerhouse har haft en grupp där ett tag och visat att det är en effektiv metod att informera och pusha för events i verkligheten, samt såklart underlätta för nya och gamla relationer. Lifechurch.tv nöjde sig inte med en grupp utan byggde en egen applikation. Precis som med så mycket annat tror jag att det är viktigt att vara där folk redan är. Facebook är ett sånt ställe just nu. [...]

  27. 28Barrett
    Dec 31, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I am at a stand-still when it comes to things like this. I attended a Christian college and there were a few guys on my floor who, instead of going to a church service at one of the 50 churches around town, stayed in their dorm room and listened to a sermon online. Upon return from church, people would ask, “So, Ken…you just sleep-in this morning.” “Yes” would have been a fine answer and an understandable one at that. Everyone is entitled to miss a church service here or there. I don’t believe in the legalism that states one has to attend church every time the doors are open.

    However, Ken’s answer was “No. I didn’t skip church. I attended my home church in Colorado.” This caused many a baffled look because Ken’s home church in Colorado was about 10 hours and a whole state away from our college campus. After further inquiry, it turns out that Ken merely listened to the church service online. That is what he considered “going to church.”

    All that to say: I am uneasy about the idea of a facebook church or an online “community.” I realize more interaction can take place through a medium like facebook than by merely listening to a sermon. However, it still seems like a clever masquerade to me. I cannot bring myself to say that church can be experienced over the internet. I cannot bring myself to call that community. Can you learn from that? Yes. But can you grow personally and spiritually from never having to interact with real people in real settings. People are very capable of portraying themselves as whoever they want to be over the internet, and there’s no accountability there.

    I think the challenge of the “Facebook Church” will be to connect people with a tangible community of faith–other people in the same room/house/building/, who can see and touch and connect on a personal level as opposed to an electronic one.

  28. Mar 19, 2008 at 9:23 am

    [...] While I might not agree with its use, Lifechurch.tv has actually created a Facebook Church. [...]

  29. Jun 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Facebook is a great tool for connecting and collaborating with your audience. As well it can be another outreach tool. Many Web 2.0 have the same affect as described by post 26. For many people they resist so much, but then once they actually do it, they find it to be quite useful. There are many tools available that can be integrated with one another to create a “always connected” network.

    Justin
    - Check us out http://koinoniasolutions.com/ -

  30. Jul 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Barrett, I can see how you are concerned that people can portray themselves in a false manner on the internet. However, I have found quite the opposite. People find it easier to share their thoughts and opinions on their Facebook or Blog than to get up in front of 50 people and say your opinion about the Scripture that was read today at church. The reality is that online just as you and I are interacting, other people can interact and learn about God. However, there is a very thin line that we must be cautious of. Is Christianity going to church or having a relationship with God?

    We need to develop and strengthen our relationship with God and if that is done with a group of friends online talking about Scripture or watching a satellite church online or going to a physical church the goal is to grow closer to God. Just a few things to think about.

    Melissa
    Check us out…
    http://www.koinoniasolutions.com