Monday, January 12, 2009

Church Tech Camp: Dallas

Last week I had the phenomenal opportunity to attend the Church Tech Camp: Dallas. It was kind of funny because a lot of the people in the room knew one another from twitter or facebook, but had never met in person! On more than one occassion, I looked at someone trying to figure out how I knew them only to realize that I had already been following them on twitter for months.

Anyway, there were so many ideas flying around the room that I couldn't take it all in, but I was very impressed with the way this group of pastors and minstry leaders are using web 2.0 to connect with people who are part of their ministries and to connect with people around the world.

Lots of great comments stood out, but I was impressed with some of the ways Paul Watson of described the challenges and addressed the questions of leveraging the web to facilitate the creation of community.

He said that we need to consider using technology in three ways:
1. To develop deeper connections with those we already know in the face-to-face context.
2. To develop relationships with the loss that results in face-to-face interactions
3. To develop relationships with geographically diverse people that may never meet otherwise.

I think these three uses are beneficial when considering connecting with people online, but I would make number 3 up there a little less restrictive. Online technologies can help us connect with people not only separated by geography, but also those separated by social spheres or generational spheres.

One of the best quotes of the day came from someone I would like to give credit to, but I can't remember his name. If you remember, please let me know.

He said, "We've got to stop making the physicality question our focus."

In other words the idea that physicality is somehow connected to being a part of a community may be on its way out. Technological advances will certainly help us achieve stronger relationships online, but as it stands, you can have some pretty darn good relationships with people you've never met in person.

My wife and I both have friends who live in other countries and have never met in person, but consider them good friends nonetheless. I would expect these types of relationships to become more numerous and even mainstream in the years ahead.

I also took part in a good discussion with Brandon Donaldson, Internet Campus Pastor at, about creating online communities and online churches. He offered some great ideas and tools to use for starting online churches and online small groups.

We live in exciting times and it was great to share that excitement with a group of great thinkers at Church Tech Camp: Dallas last week.

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