Our Church leadership is on the right track in its emphasis and effort to fully embrace new media. It’s an exciting time. But in some ways it still needs a significant nudge in that right direction. And that nudge is this:

Even though the Vatican, some bishops and many priests have started using new media technologies, most all of them are still using them in a “Web 1.0” world. They need to upgrade to Web 2.0. The difference between these two vague, technical sounding terms is significant.

To sum it up, Web 1.0 is simply the traditional use of the internet. It was largely a one-way mass communication tool. Web 2.0 is about interaction. The web became social. It became personal. It became as much about listening as it did about speaking. Less lectures, more conversation.

Web 1.0 was the 10 Commandments. Web 2.0 is the meal with the sinners. Both are important.

Even the Pope’s new media site Pope2You.net reflects this point. It’s got the “Pope-2-you” working (very, very important and they did an impressive job!). But what about “you-2-Pope”? The pope has personal audiences with regular people in real life all the time. How cool would it be for them to work out a way to do that very same thing using new media technology? How many more people could have that same opportunity. And how many more people could the pope get to listen and relate to?

As much of a challenge that may seem to be for the pope, it’s inevitably coming. And how much more practical would it be for your bishop, or your priest, to do right now? More and more business leaders are using new media to interact and build relationships with their employees. Why can’t Church leadership do the same?

For example, how neat would it be if your bishop (or the pope) had an online chat session with some of the laity once a week? Or if your bishop used his Facebook profile to leave a comment on your status one day?

Let’s face it, any good relationship involves two sides. And any effective leader does a lot more listening and responding than they do commanding and instructing. In a Web 2.0 world, the days of only participating in one side of the conversation online are dwindling fast. Our leaders must continue to adapt to that. I have great confidence that they will…and it’s gonna be really, really cool when they do.

And who knows, maybe one day the pope will surf on by my blog and leave a comment.