The church I go to now and then, Gateway Church, is pretty cool. It’s non-demoninational and way non-preachy, but that’s only part of what makes it so appealing. The pastors are real people, just like anybody else, and understand what it’s like to live in the real world with the Internet, Blackberries, iTunes, podcasts…you know…technology! But rather than ignoring the technology, or even worse, fighting against it, the folks at Gateway put it to good use! They seem to really get it when it comes to using media (social and otherwise) to reach out to people and get their message out.
Gateway has two separate campuses…the main one is in north Austin, and the one I go to is here on the south side of town. That doesn’t mean one group of people gets left out in terms of hearing a good speaker though. Instead, the folks at the south campus are able to see a simulcast of the Pastor at the main location. They also combine music and videos into their sermon when it makes sense…it can be a real treat actually. Today for example, the Pastor chose excerpts of the Nicholas Cage movie, Family Man, to help get his point across. (And, unlike the church going I remember as a kid, I haven’t heard any snoring during the services at Gateway!)
Gateway uses online media too. They have an eye-catching website, a few blogs, podcasts of the sermons, and Yahoo groups where people with similar interests can connect with each other. They even have a Facebook page! They’re all about helping people reach out to each other both online and off and they use all these tools to get to their goals.
Gateway certainly isn’t church like I grew up with, and I appreciate that. The fact that they understand what life is like in today’s world, and use tools that I use in my every day life (and how they use them) really makes the messages more relevant for me. And from the size of the congregation I don’t think I’m alone…they seem to be reaching quite a few people by living in the 21st century and using 21st century tools.
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