United Methodists are no longer bound by the church walls. Now they can connect globally through a new social networking feature at www.methodistnet.com. And it's all thanks to 16-year-old Tyler Best, creator of the site.
Best, a member of the Lighthouse UMC in Elizabeth, Ind., created the Web site this past month as a way to connect Methodists online.
"People all over the world are using Web site social networks to connect with people they don't normally talk to on a daily basis," Best told Together in an e-mail interview. "I really think The United Methodist Church and Methodist denominations need a place where they can share ideas and get to know fellow Methodists."
Best said the site's purpose is not only to connect current members, but also to invite people who are exploring their faith.
"I also created it to help spread the Good News. Eventually, I would like to make it a place where people who are exploring our faith or are considering becoming Methodist can come and talk to a pastor and get questions answered. Then, they could use Find-A-Church at www.umc.org to find a church near them," he said.
At MethodistNet.com, users can create a profile, add other users as "friends" and leave messages on one another's "pages." Members can add photos, share songs, instant message and promote upcoming events at their churches.
The site currently has around 20 members, but Best said membership increases each week, with some members from beyond the United States.
"We actually have a Methodist member who is in the UK on the site, which is pretty neat," Best said.
Most of the feedback has been positive, Best said.
"[Users] say they like the site layout and how it flows together," Best said. "They also like the 'Metholist,' which is a list of most features on the site. Other members have said they like the idea of the site and think it will be a great way to help communicate with other Methodists and share ideas. There is a link on the site for members to submit feedback to me, which is always appreciated."
Best, who also runs the Web site for his local church, said Methodist Net requires very little maintenance.
"Unlike other social networks, Methodist Net was created for the purpose of bringing others to a relationship with Jesus Christ."
To learn more about Methodist Net, log on to www.methodistnet.com.