As a part of Lynne’s Ph.D. studies, she spent two years studying websites created by three kinds of Protestant Christian congregations in the United States. She chose these kinds of congregations because they may represent possible future directions for the church:
- Evangelical megachurches, because each year a higher percentage of churchgoers attend megachurches, most of which are evangelical;
- Vibrant liberal/mainline churches, because of the increasing “religious left” presence in politics, which draws attention to liberal mainline churches that are finding their voice;
- Emergent churches, because of their young demographic and the significant media attention they have attracted.
As she studied the websites of these three kinds of congregations, she analyzed the ways the congregations presented their identities on the sites and how they exercised persuasion. She found many significant differences, as well as some fascinating similarities.
Read an Article based on Lynne's Dissertation: Portraits of the Future Church [pdf]
Read Lynne's Dissertation [pdf files]
- Title page, abstract, table of contents, acknowledgements
- Chapter One – American Protestant Congregations and their Future
- Chapter Two – Conceptual Framework: Organizations, Rhetoric of the Web, and Social Semiotics
- Chapter Three – Research Design
- Chapter Four – Worldview and Values: A Descriptive Analysis of 60 Congregational Websites
- Chapter Five – Demand, Diversity, and Community: An Interpretive Analysis of Six Congregational Websites
- Chapter Six – Enterprise, Online Communication, and Community: A Critical Analysis Including Interviews with Website Producers
- Chapter Seven – The Websites and the Congregations
- References and Appendices
Lynne's PhD research led to an invitation to write a chapter for an edited book, Digital Religion, Social Media and Culture: Perspectives, Practices and Futures, edited by Pauline Hope Cheong, Peter Fischer-Nielsen, Stefan Gelfgren, Charles Ess (New York: Peter Lang, 2012). Her chapter is entitled "Toward a Theology of the Internet: Place, Relationship and Sin," and you can read it here.