Last Saturday I attended the launch of Fervr: a website to encourage young Christians to live Christ-centred lives, encourage non-Christians to think about the values of our society, a resource for Christian leaders who are teaching young people, and also a place to connect people with Christian groups in their area.
The Fervr mission:
Using new media to help local communities of Christ proclaim His gospel to the next generation.
The launch was great. It was challenging for us to think through how we connect with people and to think about how we can or should do this in a rapidly evolving society. It was also encouraging to hear about what is planned for the website and what it can be used for.
Fervr went live in November or December last year, but since then it has undergone a massive overhaul of the user interface. You can see the old design in the back of a video of Al Stewart talking about Fervr — it’s the red and orange one. It is still undergoing an overhaul of the underlying structure, which you can read about on the development blog.
Eugene Hor spoke about how we can use social media to encourage people towards Christ. He spoke about how a significant proportion of people have established their online presence. They are connected with so many online networks, social circles and interest groups that they spend much more time absorbing information from them than some of their in-the-flesh connections. The fact you’re reading this probably means that’s of no surprise to you, but judging by the speed at which most churches have come to the party you’d think it was a brand new revelation.
Eugene challenged us in how we might encourage people towards Christ-centred living through our interactions with them on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. He gave a few examples of the kinds of things he does, including praying for the points he sees in Facebook status updates, befriending people on Twitter who are doing similar work across the world, and even using tokbox to run a bible study for young fathers who find it difficult to find a time when they can all get out of the house and meet up.
We were also exhorted to
declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light 1 in our statements and conversations on the internet as well as in our in-person interactions.
I really appreciate the point Eugene made:
The genie is out of the bottle. You can’t go back to a time when things did not exist.
We are already living in a society and world (a good chunk of the world at least) revolving around the internet: it has become essential (or at least the norm) for learning, communications and business. If you want to connect with people, you need to go to where the people are. It is no longer a question of whether your church or group should be on the internet or not, it’s a question of how you are going to be an effective, godly and encouraging voice on the internet and in social networking circles.
Rich Beeston moderated a panel discussing using new media to connect with young people and in ministry.
Members of the panel were Nick Hood from Crusaders, Dave Miers, Alison opdeVeigh, Dave Parker who works at EMI and Dave Symonds 2 a Googler (no one was representing their employers, but speaking from their own experience).
Some great points were made:
- You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. You are already creating resources like bible studies, fliers, possibly recording talks, taking photos, recording videos… So use an easy and established tool like Blogger or WordPress and distribute the things you’ve worked so hard on, making it easier for people to access, remember and use. — Dave Miers
- Kids are more honest online. Connect with them on Facebook (or wherever they are) to pray for them and to understand them better, to talk to, teach and encourage them. — Alison
- Consider the medium you will use to connect with young people and facilitate community interactions among them. The medium will determine how things can be moderated, which is important for remaining above reproach and to reassure parents of the transparency of your relationship with their kids. — Nick
- (In response to the question, “Will Google Wave replace Fervr?”) Google Wave connects many modes of communication. It doesn’t need to replace Fervr, but (as shown on a blog with photos and comments in the Google demo) it can enhance it with its transparent integration. — Dave Symonds
- Fresh content brings people back. — Dave Mier
- Music online has evolved so quickly and it took a while for record companies to catch on . They’re working hard to catch up now and people move through music much faster than they used to. It’s important to grasp technologies (that your audience/communities are using) and use them thoughtfully and effectively before they leave us behind. — Dave Parker
- In response to the question, “Do you still need youth groups?”
Yes. It’s not that youth groups can’t happen online, meeting online is better than not meeting at all, but people want to meet/see/talk to people.
Online interaction helps foster and build existing relationships. — several of the panel had their say
Another highlight of the launch was the beautiful cupcakes made by Jordan‘s lovely wife.
Check it out
I have really liked what I’ve seen of Fervr. They publish really thoughtful articles, and the groups 3 are great for publishing photos, videos and articles for your group to see.
As part of generation Y 4, even though I’m no longer a teen, I find many of the articles on Fervr also challenge me in godly-living. For example, Take a hammer to your downloads, But I don’t know any non-Christians! (okay, so it’s obviously geared to a younger crowd, but it’s a good reminder that not everyone in church is a Christian), and Worship — not about Sundays.
I’d love to know: How are you using new media to encourage people to live Christ-centred lives and glorify the name of Jesus?