MySecret.tv is No Secret
All sorts of things are happening on the Internet these days, everything from shopping and college courses to online dating and travel planning. Thanks to an Edmond church, finding a closer relationship with God is part of that list too.
LifeChurch.tv has always embraced technology and found new ways to minister. The church has nine locations in four different states, linked together with satellite and video technology and drawing 18,000 people to weekend services. In addition, 35 LifeGroups around the world meet strictly in cyberspace and LifeChurch.tv’s Internet campus brings together worshippers with web-cast services. A summer addition to the church’s online presence garnered international attention and landed Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel on the Today show and in the pages of the New York Times.
Mysecret.tv is the online companion site to a five-week message series on secrets that began in August. Part blog, part confessional, the site allows people a place to share their secrets anonymously
“We don’t think the website is a solution, but a catalyst,” said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor/innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv. “We believe that if we confess to one another, healing can begin.”
The inspiration for the site comes from 1 John 1:9, “If we admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“When someone posts on the website, they are actually making a confession to God,” said Gruenewald.
By mid-October, more than 5,000 people had taken that first step of posting their secret. The site has brought in 1.5 million page views.
"We can’t say that is 1.5 million people, because we don’t track users of the site – it is completely anonymous," Gruenewald said. The team at LifeChurch.tv trusts that reading the secrets will provide hope to others in similar situations and let them know they are not alone.
The postings on the site are navigated by category and include: addictions, double life, eating disorders, gambling, pornography, adultery, hurt, lying, stealing, relationships, sexuality, past humiliation, regret, shame, abuse, lust, substance abuse and self harm. The site has warnings on each page that the content is for adults only. Many of the secrets contain scandalous admissions.
LifeChurch.tv also has organized prayer groups who pray for those who have posted on the website.
The idea for the site surfaced during a creative planning session earlier this year. It came together very quickly and resonated very well with those in attendance. Gruenewald said the church has developed websites to complement sermon series in the past. “But they were never this interactive,” he said. They’ve also never had as many visitors.
“We always knew there was the potential for things to grow online,” Gruenewald said. “But we were really amazed by these results.”
Within a few weeks of starting the site, the LifeChurch.tv team began to see spiritual fruit growing from their efforts.
One section of the website is titled, “Your Stories of Life Change.” The postings there come from people who have experienced healing by confessing their sins. Summing up the mission of the site, one woman began her message, “I am only sharing this information to hopefully bring peace to those who have been through what I have gone through.” She goes on to describe being a victim of sexual abuse and suicide attempts and how coming to know God allowed her to forgive her abusers. “There's a peace that consumes you when you let Him have control and you give up the sickness that's eating at you inside,” she wrote at the end of her post.
“We have seen a change as a result of people coming clean,” Gruenewald said. “It gives us hope in the process of confession and what God can do in someone’s life.”
In addition to the national media attention, the site has also been featured on radio shows and in articles around the world.
Following an interview on Columbian radio, the site received several secret postings in Spanish. Much of the media attention has focused on the sensational revelations posted on the site, but Gruenewald said that is missing the point.
“For us, the sensational thing is how God has changed people’s lives.”