Monday, December 2, 2013

Networked Religion, Non-Denominational Churches, and Facebook

My case study looked at how non-denominational Christian churches used Facebook to spread their interpretation of the Christian message to their members and followers. I wanted to see how Facebook was used to spread these messages as well as how members responded to the Facebook posts. Non-denominational churches are very big into allowing their members to make their own interpretations of the message by allowing them the freedoms that are not offered to them through traditional christian churches.
       In lecture, we learned that "Networked religion represents a loosening or re-presentation of traditional boundaries of religious communities to reflect more dynamic and fluid forms of affiliation and practice". The way these non-denominational churches use their Facebook page reflect this idea in several ways.One way that these churches do this is they include their interpretation or what they believe the take away message from different media content about Christianity with their posts. This not only provides the traditional message, but it also offers these church's re-presentation of the content that is being presented so that followers can understand that their is different interpretations of the traditional content, and they are able to make their interpretations as well.
     Another aspect of Networked Religion that these non-denominational churches portray is that of Multi-site Reality or embedded online to offline connections. One church in particular that I observed was Riverpointe Church of Richmond, TX. This church uses media content to portray their message very often, and everything that they include in their sermon, they also post online in case some members were unable to make it to church on Sunday. This not only includes different youtube videos that they have either made themselves or have found online, but this also includes podcasts of the sermon that was presented that Sunday. This brings the sermon found offline at church on Sunday online for those members that may have been out of town that weekend or just weren't able to make it in time for the offline sermon.
    Another aspect of Networked Religion that these non-denominational churches have used is that of a Networked community, or loosely bounded social networks. This can be seen through the use of hashtags that encourage members to participate and discuss particular content that is posted, and allows these members to share their voice with each other. Through these hashtags, members are talking directly to each other, but they are still very loosely connected through the one linked hashtag. When you click on the hashtagged message, you are able to see all of the different messages that have been posted by members based off of the one message that was posted originally by the church.
       Facebook is one of the top social media sites for a reason, and these non-denominational churches have taken advantage of this in several ways. They have brought their message from offline to online, and have allowed members to connect with each other as well as with other christians by allowing them to share their own interpretations of the message posted by the church. This is only one way these churches have been using social media to communicate and build a network within their religion, and has technology continues to grow and evolve, I believe it is only a matter of time before we start seeing certain churches that operate solely online.

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