Trends // How transparent are we?

This week I want to explore some trends that I see in the general culture . . . and wonder about their potential impact on the local church world.  I’d love your thoughts on my wonderings!

I love this pitch for Jeff Jarvis‘ book “Public Parts”: More than 750 million people (and half of all Americans) use Facebook, where we share a billion times a day. The collective voice of Twitter echoes instantly 100 million times daily, from Tahrir Square to the Mall of America, on subjects that range from democratic reform to unfolding natural disasters to celebrity gossip. New tools let us share our photos, videos, purchases, knowledge, friendships, locations, and lives. Yet change brings fear, and many people—nostalgic for a more homogeneous mass culture and provoked by well-meaning advocates for privacy—despair that the internet and how we share there is making us dumber, crasser, distracted, and vulnerable to threats of all kinds.”

I think Jeff describes the tension well . . . we live in an increasingly transparent world.  We are living in an every more public way all the time.  But there are forces around us that are scared by this new reality and want to push back at all this sharing and return to a more private era.

[See Jeff talk a bit more about his book and this tension.]

This new publicness is having an impact on businesses and organizations all around us . . .

What does all this mean for us in the local church?  Are we living in the public sphere enough?  How can we encourage our people to connect with us in public more?

  • At Liquid we’ve taken to allowing open comments on every single message on our website . . . this gives anyone the ability to tell us what they think about what we’re talking about.  It’s been fascinating to watch some discussion ensue online because of this.  [Check out our library.]
  • What if that smart phone app you’ve been developing for your church had a “thumbs up or thumbs down” button that would appear at the end of the service?  And what if we publicly posted those results to show people what they are thinking about what’s happen at our church?
  • What if encouraged our people to review the classes (or small groups?) at our church on our website?  People could get a sense of whether that class is worth their time by seeing what other people think about it . . . rather than just what our sales machine says.

What about you?  How do you think we could be more transparent as a church?  How can we encourage our systems to be more open?


  1. I like transparency. It may give too big a stage to the “crank,” but that’s probably just my fear talking. But it has given me an idea on how to create more transparency for my church and others.

  2. I guess I’m the generation between never telling anyone anything (sometimes including one’s family) and letting it all hang out. I know that we should tell the truth, that sometimes our own troubles and sins and redemption stories help others. But I sometimes think we’re way too public with some things. But that’s me.

    I personally think it’s good that government and business cannot hide certain things any more. Keeping them accountable, especially when they’re the recipients of your hard-earned money/taxes is good. But again, the cynic in me just wonders if it makes people/organizations learn more creative ways to hide.

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