So, in case you live under a rock (or just not in Canada) yesterday it was big news that the United Church of Canada will be spending some $10 million over the next three years in order to foster greater discussion among its congregants and get some new bums into pews.

Their method of approach is pure Web 2.0 – they’ve set up a social networking space called WonderCafe.ca in which registrants can create a very basic profile for themselves (no ability to add anything more than some text and upload an image – and I found that problematic), create a blog, and join some discussion threads which are seeded with topics at the moment, but which will basically be a free-for-all (there’s already a pretty good thread about censorship on the site – seems some posts were either deleted or they had a data problem – let the conversation unfold!)

There’s also a pretty funny viral element – the EZ Answer Squirrel videos, which the UCC is hoping users will email around to create additional buzz.

At any rate, what’s getting the most press is the use of some pretty cheeky ads to generate discussion – you can download them (also problematic) from the Wonder Cafe media room (I’m unable to give you links to individual pages – is it possible that the developers actually created this site using frames?) And that was partly why CTV News Net was looking for a fresh angle when they asked me to do an interview yesterday afternoon.

ctv_int.jpg

CTV interview with Sandra Jansen

We discussed (the ads) which I re-directed, not really being a media analyst, and then talked about what the UCC has created, how it works, who uses blogs and the internet and whether the market they were after (30-45) was correctly targetted (I feel they’re aiming a bit lower, 18-34′s are the biggest social media consumers, and while 68% of MySpace users are 25+, the numbers start to drop off once you hit 34). I made the point that to have discussion you need to have dissenting viewpoints, and those ads have certainly generated that (personally, I think they’re very thought-provoking and intelligent, once you get past the shock of seeing Jesus in the context of a suburban shopping mall – and why is that offensive, anyway?)

At any rate, as the Rev. Dr. Keith Howard stated in the Wonder Cafe press release,

The Church believes in open, honest discussion. With WonderCafe.ca we’re opening our doors to listen and to engage. The Internet provides the opportunity for rich and far reaching conversation.

So Keith seems to “get” the whole social media thing – let’s hope that their technology co-operates, they’ve got a good plan in place to keep things going, and that the people therefore come to create the content, have a discussion and form a community. We’ll check back on them from time to time and see how they’re doing. High marks for bravery.

Share this post!TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+EmailReddit

5 Comments

  1. Liz

    I have decided to stop supporting the UCC after hearing that it is spending $10 million to get bums in thier pews.
    If the sermons had some meat in them and if they were even a little more than reading the same old, same old Scriptures and then a Minister telling us what it means
    perhaps you would have people eager to fill your pews.
    I now get up early enough to drive forty minutes to an adult education class to discuss different topics such as violence to women ,children our environment, etc. and how we can get involved in preventing it, and that starts at eight thirty on Sun. morning;led by an exstremely knowledgeable well prepared gentleman. It is worth getting up for early Sun. morning.

  2. Anonymous

    I have decided to stop supporting the UCC after hearing that it is spending $10 million to get bums in thier pews.
    If the sermons had some meat in them and if they were even a little more than reading the same old, same old Scriptures and then a Minister telling us what it means
    perhaps you would have people eager to fill your pews.
    I now get up early enough to drive forty minutes to an adult education class to discuss different topics such as violence to women ,children our environment, etc. and how we can get involved in preventing it, and that starts at eight thirty on Sun. morning;led by an exstremely knowledgeable well prepared gentleman. It is worth getting up for early Sun. morning. This is only one example of the topics that are covered.
    Think of how many children could have been fed or educated or housed etc. with $10 million!!!

  3. Maggie – I have experienced WonderCafe.ca and Web 2.0 but not together.

    This UCC site does not reward users nor does its code automatically update submitted links, or promote connectivity. What is your definition of Web 2.0?

    I doubt anyone has spent more than 1 million on Wondercafe so far… its pretty straight forward. I also must question your statistics.

  4. Question away, Roberrific.

  5. This comment has been deleted because it was off topic

Comments are closed.