01: Christian futurist Leonard Sweet is practicing what he preaches on the Internet. As the godfather of the postmodern — “Pomo” to insiders — ministry movement, he advocates that Christianity must meet postmoderns where they live and speak to them in their language.
While Sweet is adamant that “a spirit that loves Christ and loves people” is the most effective witness of all, he advises Christians to “be on the forefront of technology. Don’t be in catch-up or put-down mode.” So, as the leading prophet for the growing movement, he has established a beachhead of web sites on the Internet that are among the most effectively designed Christian sites on the web so far.
His home site is at http://www.leonardsweet.com, and his book sites are at http://www.soultsunami.com, http://www.aquachurch.com, and www.soulsalsa.com.
Sweet’s recurring theme is that postmodern ministry must be E-P-I-C — Experiential, Participatory, Image-driven and Connected. One look at his web sites with their animated text and inspirational graphics will tell you that they are designed to be experiential and image-driven.
With prayer walls, message boards, and discussion groups for his book sites, he strives to make his site participatory and connect readers to one another. He weaves information from his and other web sites into his books, thus making his sites an extension of the reading experience for the readers. While one major focus of Leonard Sweet’s web sites is commercial promotion of his books, videos, and audiotapes, he provides enough free content to merit a few repeat visits.
— By Cody Clark, a Houston, Texas-based freelance writer
02: To many people, the phrase “online prayer” sounds like an oxymoron, but when you type it into a search engine on the web, thousands of pages with that reference are found.
With more people spending more time in front of a computer each day, the popularity of online prayer experiences is on the rise. One humble site is emerging as the leader of the online prayer trend. When you type “online prayer” into the Google search engine (http://www.google.com), which ranks its references by the number of other sites that link to them, Sacred Space (http://www.jesuit.ie/prayer) comes out on top of the more than three thousand other sites.
The fact that this site, run by Irish Jesuits, is less than two years old and has accumulated 1.7 million hits in that time makes its ascent on the web a notable one. The fact that this site lacks the fancy graphics and Internet gimmicks that impress most web surfers makes it even more remarkable.
In fact it is the simplicity of the site that makes it most effective. With no distracting graphics or banner ads, the text-only design walks the reader through a ten-minute session of meditation and scripture. It also requires very little bandwidth, which makes it very quick to load, even at peak times. Though the Jesuits run it, the site’s content accommodates all denominations.
Internet ministry designers take note: Sacred Space is proof that a text-only, simple site design with a clear focus can be as effective as any on the Internet.
— By Cody Clark