Ecumenical Uses for the Internet

Ecumenical uses for the internetFor some Christians the internet can be seductive, drawing them into all manner of activities, perhaps not all of them terribly constructive. For others, the internet is anathema and should be avoided at all costs. We suggest that by following a few simple principles, the internet might be a good place for ecumenical conversations.

  • Web networks are about relationships, and can become very deep. People often share more on the web than they would in other circumstances. There are also dangers as well as benefits in this.
  • Accessibility - not all people in the church have internet access - some don't want it. It is important to make anything as accessible as possible.
  • Can older people successfully initiate new IT and reach younger people this way (or vice versa)? Age is not revealed on the web but Christians need to maintain their integrity.
  • There is a need to be 'light on our feet' in trying new things and close down unsuccessful things quickly.

    Some Useful Resources

    To find out more about the Methodist Church's policy about use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), go to Technology and the Church.
  • Websites can be constructed page-by-page, using a word processor or dedicated program such as Dreamweaver. These produce relatively "static" sites where new content can only be added by editing the whole page or creating a new one.
  • A more complex setup, but one which can be much more flexible, is based on a "content management system" (CMS). A CMS holds each article, link, FAQ, etc in a database and assembles pages dynamically on your server. This approach is used not just by larger organisations (BBC, national newspapers, The Methodist Church, Churches Together in England) but by community groups where site visitors can add to forums, news items or wikis. There are many free-to-use, open-source CMS systems available, such as Joomla!, Drupal, or Moveable Type. Some require a fair amount of IT expertise and a preparedness to get your hands dirty.
  • Alternatively, get your information onto part of someone else's pre-installed CMS, such as Facebook, Blogger, or Yahoo Groups.

    Examples of IT use by Christians

  • Churches Together in England has a monthly E-news and you can sign up to receive an email alert.
  • Ekklesia - Christian think-tank website
  • Facebook has a variety of Christian groups
  • Second Life has an island devoted to Christian issues
  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you