Reaching The Online Generation

An Initiative of CityTeam Ministries

Eight Signs of Online Community

Posted on | July 22, 2008 |

When I hike around the internet, I’m looking for one thing - community. Gospel planting is most effective when you work with existing communities. The alternative - extracting people from one community and cobbling another - creates loads of problems that consume chunks of time. Many problems in the church come from people figuring out what it means to live and work in community. When you start with existing community - while it doesn’t fix everything - it does get rid of a lot of the community related time-sappers.

I’ve started a running list of things I look for in my search for online community. Here is what I have so far:

  1. Frequency: How often do people talk? The higher the frequency, the more likely they are community. I look for multiple points of contact throughout the day.
  2. Give and Take: Are group members exchanging information that is valuable to them? Is there give and take, or does one person do all the giving and another all the taking?
  3. Encouragement: Do they encourage one another throughout the day?
  4. Authenticity: Do they talk about screw-ups and successes? Do they share excitement? Frustration? Disappointment?
  5. Evidence of Offline Activity: Are they meeting offline? While online community can happen without offline interaction, I’m learning that more mature communities will meet offline once or twice a year, if they are spread across a continent. If they are in the same city, they might get together at least once a month.
  6. Absence = Loss: Do they notice when other group members aren’t there? Do they express loss with their absence?
  7. Conversation in Multiple Platforms: Emerging technology is often unreliable. While this isn’t a primary indicator of community, if a group makes the effort to stay in touch across multiple platforms, they could be a functioning community.
  8. Interaction Between Members: Do the members talk amongst themselves, or is the conversation between a group leader (expert) and the rest of the group? Communities talk amongst themselves all the time.

Well, that’s what I have for now. What do you think we need to add to this list?

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    Who is God?' was one of the top three sentences googled in 2007, according to Google Zeitgeist. According to Alexa, the top two religious websites are Muslim, with BibleGateway coming in at a close third. The Online Generation is spiritual. They are seeking. And the church is the last place they would go to find spiritual fulfillment. This site is dedicated to those walking with The Online Generation and living lives of obedience to all the commands of Jesus Christ.
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