This past week, someone asked me to give examples of innovative uses of the web for ministry. As I started to list my examples, I thought that these sites would be of interest to my readers as well. Innovation, like beauty, may well be in the eye of the beholder, so you may look for other things when considering innovative web services. What I look for in innovative uses of the web are first of all the basics of attractive design, user-friendly navigation, well-written copy, good use of photos, video, and other graphics. Then I look for easy to access, rich, creative content that is faith-based and clearly directed to a specific audience or audiences and includes opportunities for interaction with the readers.
In his message for World Communications Day 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said
Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).
I believe that these innovative sites are examples of this approach.
Innovative websites for Catholic ministry (in alphabetical order):
A Nun’s Life Ministry (http://anunslife.org/) This ministry uses a website, blog, podcast, chat and other web-based media to help people discover and grow in their vocation by engaging questions about God, faith, and religious life.
AmericanCatholic.org (http://www.americancatholic.org) This website offers multiple services from daily top stories, to the saint of the day, miniature meditations, greeting cards and much more.
BostonCatholic.org (http://www.bostoncatholic.org/) The very attractive website of the Archdiocese of Boston offers resources for members and seekers, contains a variety of media including a blog by Sean Cardinal O’Malley.
BustedHalo.com (http://www.bustedhalo.com) This website is a creative online magazine for “spiritual sekers” particularly young adults.
CatholicMom.com (http://www.new.catholicmom.com/) This website uses multiple media to celebrate family, faith and fun.
Education for Justice (http://www.educationforjustice.org/) This website helps teachers, social action directors, parish members, campus ministers, and others in leadership roles meet the challenge of sharing Catholic Social Teaching with students and adults and creating greater awareness of social justice issues among them.
TheCatholicSpirit.com (http://thecatholicspirit.com/) This is the website of the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota. It offers news using a variety of social media, including several blogs.
Word on Fire website by Fr. Robert Barron (http://www.wordonfire.org/) This website offers video and audio content, a blog and social media to promote evangelical preaching. It reaches millions of people to draw them into or back to the Catholic faith.
What are your criteria for an innovative website? Please share your examples with us. As always your comments are most welcome.