GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 20, 2010 — Zondervan, a world leader in Christian communications, today announced that two of the largest and most dynamic churches in the country have signed on to use The City as their software platform for community-building. Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Woodlands Church in Woodlands, Texas, are using this unique software to improve communications and community throughout the week, better engage members, support small groups, gather volunteers and free-up administrative resources.
"The City will help a very large church like Seacoast communicate and live in community like a smaller church. We like to say that it helps us be a large church and small church at the same time" said Greg Surratt, Senior Pastor at Seacoast Church which now has over 10,000 people at nine campus locations across the South East United States.
"The churches who have adopted The City are finding that it is the most creative and dynamic church-building resource they have ever seen," said Zondervan CEO Moe Girkins. "It is exciting to watch these communities blossom, and be a part of the ongoing movement of churches. The positive response from leaders is clear indication that there is a need for technology solutions like The City to help build relationships outside the Sunday gathering."
"We are excited about the potential that The City has to help us build stronger community and more effective communication within our rapidly growing multi-site church family," said Kerry Shook, Senior Pastor of the 12,000-plus member Woodlands Church. "We look forward to leveraging The City‘s innovative ministry tools to exponentially expand our message of hope throughout the greater Houston area, and ultimately to a network community around the world."
Developed for a Seattle-based church by then-Pastor of Technology Zack Hubert, The City was cquired by Zondervan in November 2008. At the acquisition, Hubert joined Zondervan as Vice President of Church Community Networks and The City has been capturing the attention of church leaders around the world ever since, now with 250 churches in 12 countries seeking to connect almost 100,000 people in communities on The City.
The City is a fully-hosted Web service that allows a church to create a private community network to connect people, help them grow in their faith and give ministry leaders in the church the tools to be more effective. The City uses social networking principles to extend the physical relationships that already exist. This allows people to share life, help and serve each other right through the week and not be constrained to a Sunday service connection or a single midweek connection.
Because individuals have the social incentive to keep their information updated, the data quality is extremely high; an issue that has plagued churches for decades and which was previously solved through dedicated administrative staff for data capture and maintenance. The City also gives the church the ability to measure the depth and health of community interaction in ways that were never before possible.
Members of each church’s social network can post and maintain their personal profile, find spiritual resources, sign up for volunteer opportunities, engage with their small group members, join book/study groups, maintain a journal, access news, and connect and share personal thoughts, experiences, needs, and prayer requests with other church members.
Hubert says The City was developed for churches to address some fundamental weaknesses in today’s social media. "Social media has traditionally put the individual at the center and emphasized broadcasting ‘me’," he said. "But the Church is more than a handful of blogging individuals; it’s a groundswell of neighborhood involvement and life change as the community rallies to accomplish its mission. Since I like to think of the Church as the original social network, it’s easy to see how a Bible-oriented view of Social Networking could be applied to extend the experience of the Church throughout the week. It’s about community and it’s about building connections in a way that helps impact people at a very real and local level."
Hubert points out that there is evidence that shows that within broad virtual social networks, there are trends pointing back toward physical, local relationships. "It’s exciting to be able to innovate and leverage the internet to help people, build local neighborhood connections and serve each other and the Church all at once," he said.
About The City
The City was created in response to the Church’s need to improve communication, better engage with members, support small groups, build a stronger church community and free up administrative resources. The City is a division of Zondervan and is located in Seattle, Washington, where a team of talented individuals has been built, drawing from top technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile, Avaya and Arenanet. Find out more at www.onthecity.org.
Zondervan, a HarperCollins company, is a world leader in Christian communications and the leading Christian publishing brand. For more than 75 years, Zondervan has delivered transformational Christian experiences through general and academic resources by influential leaders and emerging voices, and been honored with more Christian Book Awards than any other publisher. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., with offices in San Diego and Miami, Zondervan conducts events and publishes its bestselling Bibles, books, audio, video, curriculum, software, and digital products through its Zondervan, eZondervan, Zonderkidz, Youth Specialties, Editorial Vida, and National Pastors Convention brands. Zondervan resources are sold worldwide through retail stores, online, and by Zondervan ChurchSource, and are translated into nearly 200 languages in more than 60 countries. Visit Zondervan on the Internet at www.zondervan.com (mobile site: zvan.mobi).