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Churches Increasingly Looking Towards Online Tools to Help Raise Money and Strengthen Church Community

Online technology is giving church leaders & congregants new options, opening doors -- "Top Ten Reasons Why Churches Should Go Online" included


Contact: Conor Lee, 510-282-7329, conor@fcpcommunications.com


SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- As an increasing number of church-goers spend a significant portion of their time online, many churches are finding that new tools available online are actually helping to bolster the offline physical church community.


Two different online resources, the Christian social network MyChurch, and the community fundraising service iBakeSale, each function to enhance existing church communities by connecting members online between weekend services and offering new useful services. Rather than taking away from a church body as some church leaders may fear, online tools can help strengthen it. Here's how:


iBakeSale is an online tool that helps people raise money for church and community causes through everyday online shopping. Using a similar model as the successful college savings service Upromise, iBakeSale gives users an average of 4-8% of online purchases back as cash savings. Users can then pool the savings online and automatically donate to their cause of choice, such as for a church group trip, bolstering one's tithes, or supporting a missionary abroad. Through iBakeSale, users can choose to shop at more than 300 popular online retail outlets, including Wal-Mart, Linens 'n Things, Macy's and many others.


"We designed iBakeSale.com as a service that allows people to use their existing social networks such as church groups, schools and families to raise money for the most important causes in their life, and to do it in a fiscally responsible way that doesn't require extra spending," said iBakeSale co-founder Jonathan Treiber. "We're thrilled when people tell us that iBakeSale.com has allowed them to make extra charitable contributions through simple everyday shopping with our service."


Treiber believes it is no mistake that iBakeSale has received strong interest from churches and Christian organizations. The ability for users to set up personalized causes, such as a youth group or a missionary, invite others to support it, and then allow one to donate savings to community causes, which often are not tax-deductible 501(c)3 organizations, is central to iBakeSale's functionality.


MyChurch is the leading social networking website for churches, and currently has approximately 7,000 churches with 38,000 individual members. As a social network, MyChurch is designed to provide a place for church members to connect with each other online. As a result, one of its primary functions is to help keep members of the congregation connected to each other during the week.


There are many functions designed specially for churches, such as Bible blogging, where users can easily drop-in Bible text into a blog and discuss, and the ability for sermons to be uploaded and discussed by the community. Additionally, one of MyChurch's most popular features is the online prayer board, where users post prayer requests that can be viewed instantly by members.


MyChurch's goal is to not re-create communities online, but to take existing communities and give them new tools, which often allows them to connect and share in completely new ways.


"MyChurch was, in part, designed to be a safe alternative to other social networking sites like MySpace, which weren't designed to take care of the special needs of a church community and contained outside elements that many communities did not want," explains MyChurch founder Joe Suh. "I believe we have succeeded in providing a healthy, safe space for churches and their membership to connect in and grow together."


Top Ten Reasons Why Churches Should Go Online to Strengthen their Community:


  1. Social networks help to keep members connected between weekend church services.


  1. Church leaders can connect with many people quickly and easily using blogs and social networking tools.


  1. Online tools like iBakeSale provide new ways of raising money for a variety of different uses.


  1. Technology can help churches, and especially youth ministry, engage with its younger members.


  1. Social networks like MyChurch provide a place to meet online that is safe for the whole community


  1. Online tools can help church ministry to better connect one-on-one with members.


  1. Specialized tools allow church members to connect and share in often completely new ways.


  1. Social networks help to strengthen the cohesiveness of groups located within a church community.


  1. Social networks can connect people in different physical places, such as missionaries working abroad.


  1. Many online tools, games and services for church members are just plain fun to use.


About iBakeSale.com: iBakeSale believes that donating money should be easy and free, and uses advanced technology to turn everyday shopping into cash savings for churches, charities and community causes. The iBakeSale fundraising program represents the next generation of rewards programs, and was specifically designed for local community fundraising. Customers can shop online at the hundreds of merchants that are now available on iBakeSale.com, found at www.ibakesale.com.


About MyChurch.org: As the social network for churches, MyChurch.org hosts free social networking communities for more than 7,000 Christian churches. By exclusively serving Christian churches, MyChurch provides tools focused for a Christian audience such as the ability to embed Bible passages into blogs, and organize and register for local church events. MyChurch.org receives 3M pageviews and 200,000 unique visitors per month and is growing rapidly.