Friday, October 21, 2011

Community Online

Covenant Family Church in College Station, Texas uses their online website as a supplement, rather than a substitute to their local church ( The services are streamed live every Sunday which is evident by the countdown clock to Sunday mornings on the home screen. Right away, Pastor Danny- the senior pastor at Covenant Family’s local church, welcomes the guests to their community to make visitors to the site feel instantly connected. The website is very organized and informative. A newcomer to the site can easily click on the different links depending on what they are looking for- online giving, CFC News and special events, listen to the online services and most importantly learn about the Covenant Family community. They stress being a “come as you are” kind of church where “everyone is welcome.” The name of the church itself describes the community you can expect at CFC- “don’t just be a part of the crowd, join the family,” they say. There is a section where you can hear or read member’s stories and how the CFC community has impacted their life. Their mission statement includes their value of relationships which is “people connect with people” through Life Groups. Life Groups are about creating a intimate relationship with 8 to 12 other people in which you study the bible and enrich your relationships. They offer every type of group from cancer support groups to single mom groups and from the “gracefully aging boomers” to the “CFC Riders” which is a group for motorcycle riders. Their relational community resembles the community of St. Pixels we discussed in class. However, Hutchings described St. Pixels as being more privatized, a key aspect of understanding online community, and CFC doesn’t seem to be concerned with this. They seem to be upfront with everything involving their community and values and offer anyone to become a part of this community. They do, however, seem to buy into another aspect of understanding community online which is being a loose social network with varying levels of affiliation and commitment. They offer Life Groups, ministry and service opportunities but not persuade or force visitors or members to participate in all or even one of these. CFC lives out their online community by presenting it in a way that makes viewers want to attend the local church as well. They constantly reference visiting the information desk “this Sunday” at their physical location. They offer an opportunity for prayer requests, volunteer work, getting started classes and information on student ministry- all of which are present in offline community churches. I think the online community only supports the offline community. Being able to hear the same sermon when you’re unable to attend as your friends are hearing in person helps to keep everyone in the community on the same page. Actively involving in the online world may even stir a stronger desire to interact offline. This seems to be the aim and hope of Covenant Family Church.

Online Community

Local Community

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