Amy Levin: The days when the telephone created a sense of awe-inspiring enchantment are long gone. And our excitement over whatever we mean when we say “new media” – twitter? ipads? – has a decreasing shelf life of about a week. But we can still gawk at those using new media to meet their religious needs, and I’m not talking about the Pope tweeting (so last summer). There’s a new social media creation in town, and this one is for Christians only: the tableproject.

According to Jason Wenell of The Table Project, “The Table is a relational, online web application, custom-tailored for the church. Our mission is to engage the community, empower leaders and move people beyond the pews and into authentic, life-changing friendships.”

Watch the instructive, simple, and savvy video which explains that the Table is inspired by Jesus and builds community and relationships within the church. According to the narrator, “in Jesus’ time, church happened around a table.” The rhetoric is infused with the language of “the real,” “authentic,” and “relational” to differentiate from church websites and past social media attempts that failed to produce action and remained on the cold atmosphere of cyberspace. Here are the tenets of the platform:

  • Everything within the Table is built for the local, physical church.
  • Group Interaction, not self expression.
  • Sharing, not broadcasting.
  • Personal, not anonymous.
  • Intimate, not public.
  • Physical, not virtual.
  • Local, not global.
  • A gift, not a product.

Peruse the features tab on the project’s website, and watch an overview of the Table. The platform looks like a distant religious cousin of Google+, and includes a prayer wall, discussion board, and celebration worship. There is a “Serve App” and “Prayer App” which the Wennell clams is meant to help “live out the gospel in our communities.” Wennell also claimed that the Table is not meant to replace facebook or twitter, but serves as a compliment. The lead developer of Table, Josh Lewis, claims:  “There are things that are appropriate for my small group or for my church family that I would not say into the mic on my high school intercom (Facebook and Twitter).

Read the fascinating interview with Wennell at Church Marketing Sucks, along with a number of enthusiastic comments on the initiative. The Table plans to go public on February 23rd, and Wennell proclaimed that, “In the next 5 years, I would be very surprised if the majority of churches didn’t have a platform like the Table for their community to engage in.”