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Web-Empowered Ministry: Connecting With People through Websites, Social Media, and More Paperback – February 1, 2011
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About the Author
Mark M. Stephenson is director of the Web-Empowered Church ministry (www.webempoweredchurch.org) and director of CyberMinistry and technology of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio (www.ginghamsburg.org). Hosting more than 50,000 user visits per month, his Ginghamburg website has received national attention, from The Wall Street Journal and Christian Computing Magazine to Fox News. Known as the "Church CyberGuy," he conducts presentations and workshops around the country and provides consulting support to churches around the world.
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Some churches develop their web presence effectively, while others struggle. In large part, this is because church leaders who are often tasked with the development of a church web-site or effectively developing other avenues for communicating effectively with the web are busy with other tasks. There are pastoral counseling calls to make, sermons to prepare, and meetings to attend. And most churches do not have the resources to build and develop a large staff. They depend a great deal on volunteers to keep things going.
The web continues to grow as a constant presence in the lives of everyday people. As such, there is a continued need for reflection on how we can best use the Internet as an extension of what we do within the ministry of the local church. Web-Empowered Ministry is a ministry manual, and it reads like one. Don't expect a page turner. Expect a how-to guide to web ministry that covers everything from design to utility for various web services. Stephenson covers web development, how to use free online services (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and the basics of how a church website can deliver content (sermons, classes, etc.) to the masses. Stephenson also points his reader to Web Empowered Church, a network of church web development and IT professionals who can help with the development of an online presence.
I haven't read too many books like this since seminary, but as someone who has served in the local church, I know that these books have applicability and usefulness for various ministries. Every pastor will not be a web designer, nor will they have the vision, time, and resources to build and maintain their own web space. But every pastor does, very likely, have a person in their congregation who is passionate about technology and who could manage this as a service to the congregation as a whole. Stephenson even speaks of this, saying that he began his ministry as a volunteer, and, in fact, built his first web site for Ginghamsburg on his own initiative. He forced the hand of other leaders in the church to recognize his passion and create space for his ministry. And he succeeded.
My guess is that there are ministry leaders who want to have a more active web presence, but don't have the energy or the time to build that presence on their own. And I'd bet that some of those same people would equip someone else to do it as part of their ministry if they only knew how. This book is a start. This book is technical, but it is practical. I could see someone handing this book off as a primer for a key volunteer. That volunteer could then begin working to attain the skills needed to build an effective ministry that suits the personality of that particular local church.
DISCLAIMER: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I'd like to alert the reader that I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. However, with that in view, I am committed to speaking truthfully concerning any book that I do in fact review, as I am obligated to my readership to provide a biblically and theologically informed perspective that can help my readers either take up or avoid resources that may prove useful for ongoing Christian reflection and maturity.