Social networking is one of the big six web 2.0 categories and we're seeing more sites targeting specific niches. The big boys on the block are of course MySpace and Facebook but beginning next week there will be a new social networking site dedicated to Christians. MyChurch.org is scheduled to launch in beta next Wednesday with the goal of being a site dedicated to social networking centered around church communities. As with any good web 2.0 social networking site, MyChurch provides all the necessary tools.
I've had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at MyChurch.org over the last week (thanks Joe) and have been impressed with the clean design, clear function, and an upgrade in tools and speed for those familiar with MySpace.
MyChurch has some broad feature areas like the blogs, podcasts, church bulletins, event calendars, photo galleries, and group areas. One of my favorite features is the ability to incorporate the syndicated feed of a non-MyChurch blog into a MyChurch blog. This is one of the more frustrating things to me about MySpace so I was happy to see the MyChurch team take care of business in this area right from the start.
Although MyChurch does not set out to replace church websites, they do hope to provide a better alternative to churches than custom or template-driven websites. It's obvious the technology is there for MyChurch to get going successfully. The next step will be to deliver some skins or layouts for churches and individuals to incorporate into their pages. Churches in particular will want to create unique images for themselves and when MyChurch begins to incorporate that into its feature set it will be even stronger. The old adage that form follows function is generally true. In this case the "function" is there with the tool set, so now it's time to move toward the "form" that will allow churches to present themselves uniquely.
The future seems bright for MyChurch and perhaps this is the beginning of the next wave of church websites as they try to connect more closely with their congregations and communities. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of church websites 2.0.