Ever since I was a kid, I've been an information geek.
It all started when I was about eleven and decided to start my own newspaper. So, I wrote some articles and presented it to my teacher which then published my newspaper. I was so proud of being able to get the word out.
That love of information and journalism stayed with me throughout grade school and high school and into college, where I graduated with a degree in journalism from Michigan State University.
When I entered seminary, I thought that maybe my dream of being a star journalist were over. Little did I know that I would find something that would meld my love of the church with my love for information.
When I am not preaching, I work full-time as the IT/Communications Specialist for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, where I keep their webpage up to date and put together to presbytery newsletter. This is the best job I have ever had. I get to write, design webpages, work on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and the like.
During the year that I've been in this position, I've started to think a lot about the changes in technology and how we communicate and how this all relates to the church. (Note: I might start drifting into “techspeak” so just bear with me. I think you will understand where I am going.)
One of the things I am learning about is something called “Web 2.0.” You are probably wondering what was “Web 1.0,” huh? Well, when the internet first came online, you had websites, but those sites were kind of static. They presented the information they were designed to present, but they didn't do much more than that. The person looking at the page couldn't do anything to the website other than look at it.
Then, Web 2.0 came along. Web 2.0 is different in that the websites are more interactive. Now, someone who didn't create the site can change it by adding something to it. If you here someone talking about “blogs” or looking up something on Wikipedia, or if your grandson is talking about their Facebook page, well, you've encountered Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 has really changed the internet, in that now anyone can become an editor. If someone has a concern about an issue, they can write about it on their blog or create a podcast, or post a video on YouTube. For better or for worse, Web 2.0 has democratized the Internet allow the common person the power of a web developer.
Web 2.0 is affecting the church, but I don't want to get into how churches can adapt to Web 2.0 as much as I do about how churches must become Church 2.0.
The church of 2008 isn't the church of 1958. Culture has changed dramatically in those intervening 50 years. Back then, we lived in a culture that was at least nominally Christian and where going to church was the social thing to do.
That was Church 1.0. But times have changed. We are a more diverse society in many ways, including religion. The Church finds itself in a culture where the church is but one option among many for people. So, it's time for the church to allow the Holy Spirit to do an upgrade.
In Church 1.0, the church was the place to be. The church offered programs for children and a social outlet for adults. Church 2.0 is not a social outlet but more of a sanctuary, a place of mystery and community, a place that is somewhat different from the outside world.
In Church 1.0 the pastor was the “expert” that ran programs and was the person in charge. Leadership was top down. In Church 2.0, the pastor is a facilitator, one that empowers the church to do its mission.
In Church 1.0, the church was ruled by reason. Rituals such as communion are played down, while the sermon is lifted up.
In Church 2.0, mystery takes more a center state. Reason hasn't left the church, but now dances with mystery, church becomes a place where the mind and heart are fed.
In Church 1.0, mission was a program of the church. The church was focused more on itself than on the outside world.
In Church 2.0, mission is the church. The church is focused outward towards the needs of the neighbor.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
In the past year, I've seen Lake Harriet make steps from becoming more a Church 2.0 kind of place. I've seen the people come together and shine. I've seen a deeper spirituality take hold. The Holy Spirit is truly working on this community on 50th and Beard, giving us an upgrade like we've never seen.
The process is still taking place and the Spirit is still moving. Lake Harriet is on it's way to becoming a Church 2.0 congregation and I am enjoying the journey. We are truly an Easter People...in 21st century kind of way.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
-Rev. Dennis Sanders
Postscript: In November of last year, the magazine Presbyterian Outlook did an issue on "Church 2.0." Here is a commentary by the editor, Jack Harberer.