God’s Call Comes by Cellphone | Chicago Tribune

Those groups formed the Internet Evangelism Coalition, which offers advice on using the Web to spread the Gospel. The coalition’s top tip: Don’t sound preachy. Avoid “churchy jargon” ? words like ministry, salvation, redemption, even faith. Draw nonbelievers to Jesus (or attract “unchurched” Christians to your specific congregation) by presenting the church as an upbeat, uplifting community of friends.

Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., posts zany video blogs on his website; one shows him tap dancing in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Other pastors post MTV-worthy clips of church bands. Many offer free downloads of their most popular sermons, including PowerPoint presentations.

“People often think the church is boring, judgmental, not relevant,” said Richard Reising, president of the Dallas firm Artistry Marketing, which specializes in church advertising. “New media’s a great way to reposition ourselves.”

Nearly 60% of Protestant churches have websites now, up from 35% in 2000. More than half use e-mail blasts to communicate with their congregation ? and 12% let the faithful tithe online, according to the Barna Group, which conducts research for Christian ministries.

This probably wouldn’t be a good fit for Holy Innocents, because we’re pretty traditional when it comes to music and liturgy. However, I can see it happening for an occasional informal outdoor prayer service, at least with music a la iPod and a boombox. And occasionally Father Ted would like to post sermons here.

And altough projections of light and color on the ceiling at Holy Innocents might be pretty and evocative, I don’t think we’re quite ready for a slide show.

Although you never know, I’ve seen some pretty impressive and contemplative slideshows with images of the Earth from space, Greek icons, and so on.

Speaking of “occasional informal outdoor” services, we’re going to hold some Eucharist services on Wednesdays during the summer season in a nearby park. Times and places will be posted here. Watch this space!

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