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My Predictions for the Online Church in 2011

Ok, I am still here and still focusing on church websites. I wanted to start off this new year by laying down my predictions for the online church in 2011. I think 2010 was a great year for the online church, lots of innovation, churches moving towards real design, and integration of social media. This year will be more of the same, but I think there will be a few standout items. Check them out after the break.

Flickr Photo Credit: just.Luc

Live online services will fail miserably.
Most of the big churches in 2010 launched live online services. Most notably Lifechurch.tv has made a major push in this technology. I think 2011 is going to be the year the rest of the mid-size churches follow suit and sign up for live sermon services. Not only this technology fail miserably, but churches are going to waste a lot of money and time investing in these types of services in 2011. Call me pessimistic, I prefer realist, but I just cannot recommend any church investing heavily in live online video. This technology is a flashy new toy for the church and I fear that pastors will sign up with little to no thought.

Online community for churches will become popular, will fail almost as much as live online services.
I keep going back and forth on this, but after looking at a few options like The City, online communities for your church just seem like another waste of money and resources. The problem I have is not with the concept of the service, but more with how a church has to use it. I always promote churches to go where their members are at and right now, that place is Facebook. I would recommend that churches take a look at tools to grow your Facebook community and presence rather than a social network that will attempt to pull users out of places they are already visiting.

League Gothic will continue to be the new black.
This has been a running joke in the design community for awhile now, but churches will see it much more in 2011. League Gothic, a great font, and one I use on a regular basis, will continue to be used to death over the next year. Will will see it in everything from websites, letter head, and Powerpoint slides. League Gothic will be like the Tom’s Shoes of 2010.

Sermon video will grow and move to the TV.
I really think churches are going to get with the video movement this year. While I do think that live internet services will fail, sermon video will be well accepted as more users take Internet content to their TVs. With the push of Google TV, Boxee, and Apple TV I see a real benefit to churches adding their content to services that will allow users to download and use this content on their TVs.

Someone will develop a CMS for churches that blows our minds.
Wordpress, Drupal, Expression Engine, and LightCMS are only a few of the content management systems I use for websites. There are hundreds of choices, all varying in prices and function. I think 2011 will be the year that someone realizes the churches are still in need of an easy to use system, has features built for the church, that is great for designers, and is affordable. This might be wishful thinking on my part, but I really want this to happen in 2011.

I will get my act together and make the Church Website Ideas awesome.
My life has changed so much in the last year that I have been too busy for some projects, and unfortunately CWI has had to take a back seat to my main projects. No more! 2011 will be the year this blog really makes an impact on churches.

8 replies on “My Predictions for the Online Church in 2011”

Hey there,

I liked this article a lot and agreed with most of your points. I totally agree with your comment on online communities. Churches need to stop trying to “reinvent the wheel” and instead roll with it (pun intended!) by finding how to effectively use what’s out there to spread the gospel, and right now the best (FREE!) avenue is Facebook. And for crying out-loud, it reaches 500 million people! Churches will be STUPID not to take advantage of that (no offense…)

I too have “gotten my act together” to start helping ministries (and sinners too LOL) this year with their online presence. I wish you much success and blessings on your venture. We all have a place in this “market” and we were raised up for such a time as this. So lets step up and do this!!

Peace out πŸ™‚

Interesting post. Not sure I’m 100% with you on the online community. I think to some extent you are right, but I do know that The City is pretty slick. Thea – your point is valid when thinking about outreach. But The City is less about outreach and more about in-reach. Some churches (i.e., Mars Hill) are using The City fairly successfully.

Unlike Facebook, which owns all content you post there, The City allows churches to build safe, privacy-protected online communities where people can network and communicate with others in their church, not worrying about the 1 billion + people on Facebook seeing their “dirty laundry.” Facebook gets really annoying when people post irrelevant and useless info like what they had for breakfast. The City is like Facebook with a purpose.

I don’t know – just thoughts.

Andy,

All great points. I do agree that the City will work for some churches. I am from Seattle and have used Mars Hills version of The City, it works amazing for them. But I think they will be an exception. I mean, they created it. πŸ™‚

I agree that these communities help foster in-reach, but I honestly don’t think most churches are large enough to even need these features. Heck, I am still convincing pastors online giving is a good idea.

Thanks for your thoughts! I appreciate them!

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