One of the trends in Internet usage these recent years has been those sites that support member-generated content . Two of the most popular are Wikipedia, the web-based reference site, and Facebook, the social networking site. Both of these have administrators and "creators" - a sort of guiding hand that helps to grant order and correct usage. However, what I find fascinating is that they carry so much information that comes directly from the users that they serve. Every article on Wikipedia (almost three million in English alone) is open to editing and/or creation by anyone who can access the site. Facebook has as many groups, it seems, as there are users, and then some - all of which are created by the users.
What are the implications of this? I don't know. However, it is something that I am paying attention to. A generation of young people who are growing up today are more and more accustomed to generation areas of their own interest. What this will mean for the Church - and it probably already does mean this - is that our efforts at teaching and sharing faith needs to be more "user-centered" rather than from the top down. What are our parishioners interested in? What would they like to hear talked about? What sort of events are people looking for? For a long time, the Church has focused efforts on evangelization and then nothing more. This fosters a structure of organizing that favors ideas from "on high" that are then passed down and then "tired out" at a local parish level.
Most of the great movements in the Church throughout history have come from the "little ones" - not least of all the center of our faith, Jesus Christ. The "sweeping changes" of Vatican II - most of them - were already in motion, in embryonic form, for many years prior to Pope John. These things continue today. What do you want to talk about in your parish? How would you help your fellow parishioners, friends, children, share the faith that attracted you to the Church? There are great ideas in our Church, and most of them are sitting in our pews. A user-driven Church might be the Church of the future - whether we want it or not.