iCampus – What type of format?

This is a series of responses to questions about an internet campus from a previous series of posts. Do you have any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to respond to each one. Thanks!

I received this question from Jim Morrow via Facebook.

What kind of format and approach really excites you? 2nd life? a website w/streaming? something else?

Currently, Clif Guy, is working with developers to prototype an interface for what I think will be a website with streaming. It will likely be similar in experience to one of our physical campuses. We are not currently thinking about utilizing Second Life.

I am most grateful to my mom for suggesting that maybe internet campus worship would feel different than physical campus worship. Until she made that suggestion a couple weeks ago, I had thought primarily of an internet campus experience closely mirroring the experience of a physical campus. It would not have to be and may be more effective in the online community if it did not. Some ideas that I have rolled around in my head since then:

  • A visual prayer time, something like what you get at Wordle.
  • Shorter, more frequent teaching content – no longer than you could upload at YouTube.

Distinguishing the online experience from a physical experience would have pros and cons, but is quite intriguing for me right now

What do you think about my responses? How would you respond to this question?

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7 replies on “iCampus – What type of format?”

having spent considerable time in second life and other avatar based environments, i don’t see the learning being a hard concept. i think for the folks that are there regularly it is as real as any of their other relationships. i’ve had some good learning times and have led prayer a number of times. it is different, but it still seems to happen.

i think video works, especially in a ustream type environment where people can talk back or chat with the main video hub. you sacrifice a lot of quality in that spectrum though. depending on what you are working with, that might be an issue.

i think the avatar based environments will become more and more prevalent and relevant as generations of gamers cover the whole population.

Gavin – Thanks for your thoughts on second life and other avatar environments. I have never experienced second life, so not something with which I have a lot of familiarity. I will take a look…

Sorry it has took me so long to look into this (seminary and youth ministry can be a hard combo!), Andrew and thanks for speaking to my question.

I am interested as I think that this has great possibilities in every community of faith even if they aren’t doing an “online service”, per se.

I think that interaction is important and I have experienced some of that on 2nd life–it was really neat.

I think visual is important too.

I don’t think I am interested in simply posting video. I wonder sometimes too if streaming a service would even be effective. There has to be some way for there to be an online, possibly real-time, meaningful “liturgy (taken in its definite sense as “work of the people”)

I don’t know how this works either but I am thankful to you and many of our colleagues for enjoying the creative conversation.

Currently, our church doesn’t have a lot of web presence partially because we don’t have any one that is able offer the time. We have developed a relatively substantial Facebook community. I wonder what possibilities lie there.


jimmorrow – No worries, I think that online community is definitely a good thing. I think that you are on to something with the real-time meaningful liturgy, although I am not sure how this could be facilitated. I do think that this is a place that the internet could facilitate interactions that are not otherwise possible.

I think that Facebook would be a good way to continue to facilitate interactions with the community, certainly messaging the entire group from time to time could be one effective use of that tool.

I don’t think an Internet church should pick one format over another but to utilize the variety of formats to reach different audiences. By posting videos of sermons (COR) or entire services (New Spring) it is already possible to experience worship online. The problem becomes how to connect those viewing the video into a community and build a church. Perhaps sites such as Facebook and Second Life could be utilized for to develop the community aspect of the church.

The potential for an Internet church is huge – not only from an urban setting but also from a rural setting. The creative use of the Internet and other technologies may help small rural churches stay open.

Marcia – I think that you are right on here with the challenge of connecting people into community. This can be a challenge in digital or analog church (to borrow the terminology of a colleague) Interesting thoughts about rural ministry. Any specific thoughts in that regard?

In terms of reaching rural communities, I think that this could start with small groups meeting in homes. This would be easy to accomplish with current resources available from COR. The only drawback to COR resources is the need to wait for the video to become available. However, there are a couple of attitude problems that would have to be overcome. One problem stems from inexperience and lack of exposure to resources available on the Internet.

The other problem I’ve experienced is a sense of competition between churches. As an educator, I’m used to the concept that if it is a good idea or resource that will work in my situation, I’ll use it without worrying about whether it came from a bigger school. However, I don’t feel that openness to resource sharing in the church community (particularly rural). Until the church culture readily accepts the concepts of all churches being equal – no matter the size – and that ideas and resources can be shared – no matter the origin – the use of Internet resources to reach small rural churches will not become a reality.

Along those same lines, I would suggest that you watch Michael Wesch’s video on the history of YouTube – Michael teaches cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. This video is thought provoking on how YouTube has changed culture and on how YouTube might be utilized to spread God’s Word. After watching it, I pondered why the church (in broad general term) is segregating itself by utilizing GodTube instead of YouTube. Since many Methodist leaders now have Facebook accounts, I think the Methodist church may have discovered that such segregation didn’t work in social networking.

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