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Reaching Out in a Networked World: Expressing Your Congregation’s Heart and Soul

By Lynne M. Baab,

The Alban Institute, 200,

RRP $33.95

Reviewed by Karyl Davison.

EVERYTHING ABOUT a congregation speaks of its values.

Imagine walking into a church you know nothing about.

If you see children’s artwork posted on the noticeboard, hear children singing and playing, and see posters for youth camps or outings you will know that this church caters well for families, without hearing a word spoken.

Alternately, imagine walking into a church where the noticeboard displays faded decorations, out-of-date catalogues for the local Christian bookshop and old-fashioned silk flowers.

Without being spoken to, you may assume that this congregation is old and tired.

The central point is that the way congregations communicate their values and identity is critical.

This is partly because of the explosion of communication technology and partly because of the enormous societal shifts in
our time.

Communities of faith are no longer a central part of communal life – people no longer feel loyal to the religious institutions of their childhood, if they ever were.

Almost every congregation uses some sort of communication technology.

For some it is simply a newsletter handed to those who attend worship.

However, many congregations communicate through websites, email, blogs and brochures.

The question posed by this book is: “Do they all communicate the same message, the same values and identity?”

Reaching Out in a Networked World not only explores the ways identity and values are expressed in communication,
but gives practical and helpful advice about how to communicate more effectively as a community of faith.

I highly recommend this book for ministry agents, church leaders and anyone who is involved in communication in the life of the church.