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Beyond BrochureWare for Churches

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I have heard people literally say "I think the Church web site should be mainly for information".  They are usually not including things such as online community in the concept of information.   They are thinking "Brochureware".  They're thinking "Kiosk".  This seems to me to be of very little value for current members.  What they need is a variety of ways to be involved,  and how to find involvements which connect with that place within them where visions and calling happens.  To do this,  we need to be doing inventory of "gifts";  to be exploring what it is that God has given us and where God is calling us to utilize and develop those gifts in mission.  To do this,  we need LOTS and LOTS of interaction and I believe databases can help.  I have been writing about this of late using the phrase "Theology-driven, data-driven Websites".

A "data-driven Website" is one which produces information based on searches,  and plugs into a template selected data from each item that meets the search criteria,  such as items in a particular category.  Then when one item out of the list is selected,  then a "Product Presentation" template is loaded with data from that selected item.  Most commerce oriented sites also maintain a session value for that user,  so that the system can always identify who is making this purchase,  so that purchase information does not have to be repeated (unless, of course,  it has changed).   Amazon tracks users behavior throughout a visit,  so that they can record what kinds of product categories are searched,  which individual items are selected for detailed information,  and which ones are actually purchased.   They even provide a way for the user to identify items they already own that may be on a "suggestion list" generated by the system.  KNowing which items people already own gives further information to the system that will be useful in uderstanding their buying tendencies.

"Theology-driven, Data-driven Websites" take this idea further,  in that it applies some measurements that occur to our "theological filtering" mindset within the Church.  Certain theological categories and topics that are of interest to one individual can be closely related to common "sets" of theological emphases.  Churches that are more involved in social welfare tend to be in the more moderate to liberal camp.  Churches that do social welfare work AND also are active in environmental causes are even more likely to subscribe to other things commonly associated with "liberal" agendas. These relationships would most likely be fairly obvious to any detached observer who asesses Sociology of Religion topics.  In the Church Community,  we can see even finer "sets" of theological relationships.   We can use this "theological inventory" to suggest groups and individuals with whom we would likely find the makings of a spiritual companionship;  a group that could quickly move toward particular targeted "needs" and have the personal or professional skills to do something effective about it.    

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Last update: 9/23/2003; 3:38:11 PM.