Tuesday, August 08, 2006

MySpace for Christians?

Just read this piece from Vanessa Mendenhall, in USA Today's Generation Next blog. The blog examines the interests, views and opinions of America's 42 million 16-25 year olds and can be very insightful for those of us that are youth pastors and campus ministers. Check out this article on Christian networking communities:

"The media world has been abuzz this year over the predatory risks facing teens on social-networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook - prompting Gen-Y U radio hosts to refer to MySpace (in jest) as the “Gateway to Molestation.” A Monday story in the Los Angeles Times suggests that September will bring a new round of online sexual-predator legislation. But what if social-networking sites open not only the fiery gates of hell, but also the gates of heaven?

In the rather niche world of Christian television programming, teens can choose to watch Christian reality shows and Christ-inspired animation, or Christian hip-hop and rock music videos. So it was only logical that the wildly popular framework of personal profiles and user-generated content would be brought into the fold. On BattleCry.com, a site sponsored by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, teens are “working together to save a generation.” How? By building personal profiles, networking online and blogging about their battles to convert the “unchurched” and avoid corrosive music and media.

On this new MySpace-esque site, friends are known as “Trench-mates,” comments are “Battle Shouts” and one’s notebook is a “Battle Cry Blog.” Yet, despite this deft
harnessing of teen-popular technology, many of the “Warrior Disciplines” and “Battle Tactics” suggested by the site point toward a distrust of technology. For instance, two declarations that users are encouraged to make include: “I will commit to only using my computer for God’s glory” and “I will commit to spending time in the Word before I watch TV or go on line.”

Browsing the profiles, one also notices that many members write their own “Warrior Disciplines.” In Virginia Beach, Va., Gideon, an African-American Battle Cry user made the commitment that “me and the Holy Spirit will pray with at least one youth every day.” A Caucasian teen who goes by the screen name SuperDog87 in Picayune, Miss., rewrote the suggested commitment to declare: “I will be intentional about using my technology gadgets to further my personal Battle Cry and His cause.” A girl in Dallas going by the screen name ChurchPunk89, however, adopted a suggested Warrior Discipline, saying, “I will recommit to be submissive to my parents.” So far the site boasts 61,109 Battle Cry Coalition members …”and growing.”


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