April 12, 2007 by

There’s been a little experiment going on over at the Swerve blog. They advertised a project to improve Wikipedia’s article on church planting. This was of particular interest to me.

I’ve been frustrated for awhile at the lack of quality in church Wikipedia articles. Essentially, Church Wikipedia-ing Sucks. (Hmm … sister site?) I’d checked out the quality of Wikipedia articles for various well-known churches in my area and in the states as a whole. It’s not pretty. So I thought I’d outline a few things from a Wikipedia amateur that your church can think about.

How To
If you have no one around who knows anything about Wikipedia, you can learn how to edit a page. That’s square one.
Next, take a look at featured articles to see what encompasses a great article. These are the best of the best.

One very important point to keep in mind is Wikipedia’s strong commitment to integrity as an unbiased encyclopedia. Sometimes we, as Christians, feel the need to explicity evangelize in every endeavor we undertake. Wikipedia is not the place for that. It is only for information purposes. Congressmen, corporations, and Wikipedia founders have all taken considerable heat for self-serving uses of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia suggests that individuals not write articles about themselves, to safeguard against bias. They do not, however, make specific mention of organizations. I would advise that every organization stringently observe Wikipedia’s guidelines to avoid conflict of interest. Also, maintain a neutral point of view. Remember that the only reason you are using Wikipedia in addition to your own website is that it presents a format that is more straight-forward and informative–not to proselytize. It would be a marketing nightmare to be the first church convicted in the public “Articles for Deletion” forum and branded as “the lying church.” As with everything you do, go above and beyond in your pursuit of integrity.

What To
There’s some very simple guidelines that I’ve seen in great articles. Here’s a few suggestions.

  • Be thorough. Your passion, your purpose, your mission, your history. Include them all.
  • Use pictures. Show people where you meet, what a service looks like. Maybe include series graphics, just be visual.
  • Divide well. No one wants to read an 87-line block of text. It’s boring.
  • Cite and link. People want to know what the world thinks of you and says about you.

Follow these, add your own, and you should be well on your way to a great article. One more issue, though:

Why To
This is the biggest of all issues. And the answer is that you have to go where the people are. People use Wikipedia. It’s the quickest way to get information about most anything. With nearly 2,000,000 articles in English, it’s a one-stop place for everything. And in a culture obsessed with efficiency and on-demand content, we as a church need to provide that.

Does your church have a great Wikipedia article? Do you choose not to use Wikipedia for a reason? Do you need help with Wikipedia? We’d love for you to head over to the Church Marketing Lab to discuss it.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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2 Responses to “WikiChurch”

  • Akash
    April 12, 2007

    Wikipedia will only accept articles for churches that are noteworthy ( If you create an article for a small church and it is nominated to be deleted, don’t be offended, it isn’t anything personal.

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  • Mean Dean
    April 12, 2007

    Yeah, MediaWiki would be an awesome tool if not for it’s crufty markup!
    There are some online tools to convert HTML to MediaWiki … coincidentally, I just posted an article about converters on my blog that has a link to a series of converter links – including html to mediawiki.
    At least then you can get somewhat of a start.
    The other way to learn how to Wiki is to go to the WikiPedia, create an account, and view the code for pages you like.
    Though it would be nice if OpenOffice (or MS Word) could write a macro to throw their stuff into a MediaWiki format on the “save as.”

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