Before I get to some of the things that make Newsong’s website “full-featured,” I’d like to point out their mission: “Newsong is a community of misfits transformed by Jesus to be a catalyst for loving people on the fringes of our culture.” Puts it right out there, doesn’t it? Obviously Newsong wants you to know that they have some expectations for you if you get involved with their community: that you be transformed, and that you share God’s love with the disenfranchised and the dispossessed. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a Unitarian Universalist congregation with that succinct of a mission. Have you? And it’s not that we don’t believe similar things. Our second source talks about “the transforming power of love,” and the fourth source reminds us that we are called “to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.” But this post isn’t about mission, per se. It’s about websites the rock.
So. While Newsong’s website has a lot of similarities with the other websites we’ve looked at so far (Ginghamsburg and New Hope), there are a couple of differences that immediately stand out. First, they’re pushing social media a little more heavily: both Facebook and Twitter are prominently displayed at the bottom of the page. Actually, there at two places to connect via Facebook, and there’s a live Twitter feed so you can see what folks are saying about Newsong in real time. But wait, there’s more. If you click on the “Global” link at the top, you’ll find that Newsong has both an Android app and an iPhone app. Clearly the folks there know the importance of connecting via social media, not just via the internet, but through the mobile web as well.
Another difference is the number of ways Newsong encourages visitors to connect with them. There’s an “I’m New Here” button right at the top of the page, and if you pull down the “Locations” menu, you’ll see that there an not one, but two opportunities to connect online (“Community” and “Global”). If you do check out one of the bricks-and-mortar locations, you’ll find things like an virtual “Connection Card” to fill out (just like the ones some churches have in the pews), or an opportunity to RSVP for a quarterly “Connections Dinner.”
One thing that surprises me about Newsong (or maybe it shouldn’t) is just how conservative they are. For all their “Third Culture Community” hipness, they get right down to some good old-fashioned creedal statements pretty quickly. All y’all misfits better be ready to believe what the church has been saying about God and Jesus for last the couple of thousand years, including that “at the end of time the redeemed will go on to eternal life whereas the unredeemed to eternal hell.” Might as well be reading a Chick Tract.