Happy birthday, nacworld!

For a theologian who wants to explain the kingdom of God, ten years is no time at all. For a social network in the twenty-first century, however, ten years are ages. nacworld has made it! Congratulations!

“Facebook overtakes MySpace” was a headline in 2008 that caught people’s attention. A few weeks later, on 1 November 2008, nacworld was launched, another social networking site. It was in good company with existing sites such as Netlog, Jappy, Stayfriends, and SchülerVZ. In the meantime, some are no longer operating and new ones have been launched, such as Snapchat and Instagram.

A place to meet

As early as 2006, during a service in Johannesburg (South Africa), Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber spoke about the importance of young people actually being able to meet each other in order to make them proud that they are New Apostolic. He said this in view of the 2009 European Youth Day (EYD) that was being planned at the time and stated: “Our vision is to offer all New Apostolic young people in Europe and across the world the opportunity to establish and maintain lasting contacts beyond national borders.”

A great deal of work was done to this end—not only at the exhibition grounds in Düsseldorf (Germany), where the 2009 EYD took place, but also on countless computers. Many things were under discussion at the time and had to be decided: functions, design, programming language, data protection, marketing. Everything was developed in-house and from scratch.

And nacworld provided the basis for web contacts already in the run-up to the event—across municipal and national borders. At the start of the 2009 EYD, the network already had 5,000 members from many countries. And many of them met in person for the first time at the EYD.

A Church with its own social networking site

At the start of 2010, half a year after the EYD, the International Church took over the social networking site from the EYD gGmbH. Several months later, there was a first major change: the network was opened up to all age groups. Not only young people, but also children and adults were to benefit from the site.

No advertising whatsoever, extensive protection of personal data, no indexing by search engines such as Google, SSL encryption, understandable privacy settings on one page … that was something special in 2010 and still is so partly today. Then a sponsorship program for underage members was started: the Church has always taken its duty of care seriously, and not only since the publication of its Social Media Guideline or the Chief Apostle’s comments on the use of social media.

A personal touch

The nacworld team grew over the years. Up to 30 New Apostolic members from Europe and overseas volunteer on the social network. They program, promote, moderate, provide assistance, and essentially maintain personal contact with members. Communication occurs at eye level.

In 2011, the entire nacworld team met for the first time. The meeting in Germany was spread over several days and included workshops dealing with development, expansion, and extensions. A sister from Brazil had the longest trip to the meeting. Shortly afterwards, the largest link directory was created, with over 3,400 entries for websites containing New Apostolic content. This was followed by chat functions, an online dating service, a virtual marketplace, and much more.

Interviews with the Chief Apostle, theologians, and charities

In 2012 the network started to publish its own editorial contributions. Almost daily, the nacworld team reported about congregational life all over the world. Highlights were interviews with Chief Apostle Leber in 2012 and 2013, which were broadcast live on the network from his office in Hamburg (Germany). In the run-up to the interview, nacworld members had come up with more than a hundred questions, which the Chief Apostle answered in a five-hour marathon. There were other interviews as well with District Apostles, church historians, theologians, and the Church spokesman.

From time to time, there were also personal conversations between the nacworld team and nacworld members. For example in live chats or during personal meetings at church events, youth days, or the 2014 International Church Convention.

Successful interaction

Starting in 2015, the media landscape of the New Apostolic Church started to change. In addition to the website nak.org—the official website of the International Church leadership—the news magazine nac.today was launched, featuring news from around the world six days a week. The social network nacworld now covers the social networking aspect: communication between Church members on the Internet.

The Church’s websites—as well as the international member magazine community, and apps for mobile devices—are maintained by the Communication Services group. Moderators of the nacworld team keep in direct contact with nacworld members

Interaction, friendships, marriages

nacworld, the faith-based social networking site, has more than 41,000 registered members.

It is a large community that could not be more international or diverse. The whole gamut of characters can be found on nacworld: conservative as well as progressive Christians who love a good discussion, those who pray for each other, and compassionate people come together here. And some stay together—even in real life: as friends, as partners, as married couples.

Congratulations on your tenth, nacworld! And compliments to all who are involved!

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Oliver Rütten
1.11.2018
Media, Congregational life