This is the fourth in a series of posts on Church 2.0, applying the ethos of Web 2.0 to the church in the context of a missional ecclesiology (that’s a mouthful). The series is especially based on this Web 2.0 Meme map.
Web 2.0 is all about rich user experience. This means there is, more than ever before, a focus on how your website/product/book/podcast/whatever will affect the user. No more arrogance in assuming you just have to put something up there and people will mindlessly feed on it, no matter the quality.
In Church 2.0, we’re not necessarily talking about simply "putting on a great show" from the platform. There are plenty of places to go and see a great show, and if we think the church is simply supposed to mimic a great entertainment experience, we shouldn’t wonder why the spiritual life of our congregations is thin and tepid.
Experience is different from entertainment, especially when you’re talking about experiencing God. Entertainment means I watch the show, I consume the offering. Experience means I participate in the show, I am the offering.
So rich user experience for Church 2.0 relates to making a concerted effort to help people actually experience God. It’s not enough to preach really well, sing really well, or have a tightly-rehearsed band. If people do not have opportunity and space to encounter the living, relational, creating and redeeming God of the universe, we’re just putting on another dog-and-pony show. Experiencing God has to be the basic goal.
This involves getting hindrances out of the way instead of thinking we can somehow "bring God down" by our own efforts. The truth is, God has already come "down" (Jesus Christ), and continues to be "down" (Holy Spirit), enlightening, invigorating and empowering his people. The presence of God fills the atmosphere around us, but there are things that hinder us from walking in the knowledge of this reality. The task of the church leader is to recognize these hindrances and work to provide space and time where those things are removed for a time, point the way for people while they engage with God, and train them to remove those hindrances themselves so we can walk in a more constant understanding of God’s ever-present presence.
Rich user experience in Church 2.0 means we realize worship isn’t some religious game we play. It is heaven actually mingling with earth; the true and living God revealed in Jesus Christ, really speaking to and working in his people, comforting and confronting, cherishing and commissioning. In this way, you could say the church actually has the richest user experience of them all: the killer app is Jesus.
Next up in the Church 2.0 series: emergent behavior/chaos theory