Googling for God

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More religious organizations are using the relatively inexpensive Internet to communicate beyond their church walls. A review of recently released web pages indicates that faith groups have indeed made significant advancements into the technology world to help people make it to the heavenly world.

With nearly 82 million people in the U.S. having said they’ve searched the Internet for faith related information, it makes sense that more religious organizations would use this relatively inexpensive tool to communicate beyond their church walls. A review of recently released web pages indicates that faith groups have indeed made significant advancements into the technology world to help people make it to the heavenly world.

In some cases, church organizations, offer a one-stop location for all materials pertaining to a particular faith, like the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s resource page. Others, such as the Later Day Saints, are touting their sites as being a safe place for families to conduct all their Internet based activities. And one group has provided an in-depth and inspirational place for people to explore their calling.

The Catholic Diocese of Lexington recently launched an interactive website, http://www.IChoseYou.com, in an effort to help people integrate their spiritual lives with all other areas of their lives to ensure they are in or working toward the roles God wants them to play.

"There are so many options for people today that it can often be overwhelming to make many of the decisions they face--marriage vs. the single life, how and where to raise their family, attending church or not," said the Very Rev. Mark Dreves, who serves as the vocation director for the Diocese.

"We are developing new ways to help people of all ages, and especially those in their teens and early adult years, begin thinking about life decisions as they relate to their relationship with God," said Dreves. "It's a very empowering approach to living a rich and rewarding life."

IChoseYou.com offers original content that helps individuals in their searches for meaning and links to many other resources that may be of interest, such as daily meditations, music, Bible readings, inspirational stories, sermons, and blogs. It also offers personal stories from a variety of people and opportunities to chat with others and ask questions anonymously.

"This is not your father's outreach program, that's for sure. We want to take people by surprise," said Erick Sandstad, a church consultant who helped create the website and serves as vocation coordinator. "We want to create a fun, rewarding experience that will encourage people to feel comfortable, wherever they are in their process."

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s website features One Door, Many Opportunities (http://www.onedoor/pcusa.org) as a resource for learning about and accessing roles and positions within the church. The site says, “. . . .life is a journey of discerning how God wants us to use those gifts.” The main site also posts an exhaustive list of resource materials that are consistent with the Presbyterian faith.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken a comprehensive approach with its new site, http://www.LDSCentral.org. It features online chats, free email that is “clean & filtered,” daily news and weather, special events and advertising opportunities. With the slogan, “All your online needs. All in one place.,” the site even includes an online auction.

Sandstad said the Internet is a natural medium for faith enhancement because many aspects of the spiritual process are deeply personal and private.

“We must share with our brothers and sisters through faith related ceremonies and activities, but it also is important to spend time contemplating and praying about who we are and how we serve God,” he said. “Websites such as IChoseYou.com are becoming valuable tools and will continue to improve as we learn what people want and need.

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Mary Hemlepp
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