The conversation has begun and connections are being made since the launch of The Network, a new website where Christian Reformed Church members can connect with each other about the nuts and bolts of ministry.
“Over the first eight weeks, we had about 15,000 visits and 85,000 page views,” says Tim Postuma, web manager for the CRC. “That will continue to increase as search engines pick up the site. So far, visitors have added over 600 comments and discussion topics.”
The Network is a practical tool people can use to learn about ministry topics in which they have an interest, as well as to discuss various issues related to ministry. The site currently covers 49 ministry roles and topics.
“We’ve created these networks for every role and ministry we could think of,” said Postuma, “and if we forgot some, we’ll add more. We know there are people across the CRC doing similar ministries. We wanted a way for them to connect and compare notes with each other.”
“We have found that The Network resonates with people,” says its director, Michael Bruinooge. “They’re also interacting with us and giving us good feedback about what to add or change.”
That input has already resulted in new features, including the option for users to see who else in their church is using The Network and to receive email alerts when new content is posted. Another popular feature allows people to log in using their existing accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or other services.
“I feel very pleased at what The Network exemplifies and how it has been built,” says Bruinooge. “I definitely see this as an open system that will grow and adapt.”
The website is part of a broader effort to connect members and churches in new ways.
“The Network operates on the premise that the best help often comes from peers and neighbors,” Bruinooge says. “We’ll also be working behind the scenes to help connect us all better for ministry—churches, classes, agencies—in various regions around the U.S. and Canada.”
Each ministry area includes an open discussion forum where people can ask questions, share stories, and give input to each other. Eleven networks are designated as “Guided Networks,” led by volunteer experts, who also offer articles, resources, and blogs.
“The Network represents a new way of being a denomination together,” says Bruinooge. “Our hope is that this is something people will use, helping them feel less isolated.”
Visit www.crcna.org/network to browse The Network or watch a five-minute video introduction.