Saturday, August 04, 2007

Virtual Pastors Please Picky Church-Goers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Don Lawrence preaches three times a week to an appreciative congregation at Life Baptist church. His sermon tapes often sell out, and this year he is leading the people through a study of Matthew’s gospel.

But Lawrence is not a real person. He is a virtual, on-screen pastor whose sermon topics, personality, even mannerisms are chosen collectively by his congregation.

"We’ve never been happier," says head elder Louie Francesca. "We finally got the pastor we all want."

Virtual Pastor, a UK company, began pioneering the "virtual pastor model" in 2005, and has created a dozen lifelike, on-screen avatars which preach, joke and give personal anecdotes as if they were real people. All their sermons and personal stories are scavenged from the Internet.

When a church subscribes to Virtual Pastor, each person in a congregation helps "shape" their pastor by entering likes and dislikes into a response box during services. This live feedback is fed into the company’s servers and helps to change the pastor’s sermon topics, hair style and more in following weeks. The result is a pastor perfectly tailored to the will of the congregation.

Story Link

3 comments:

Mark Winter said...

John's going on a lark again.

the reverend mommy said...

No. Way.
Oh, Lark.
OK.

John said...

The best part of the article is this:

McReady and his programmers also like to throw random events into the pastor’s life, such as an unexpected crisis, decision or funny occurrence. A virtual pastor might walk on-screen one day and announce he is going on a diet to lose 35 pounds by Christmas. That theme plays out for the remainder of the year as he announces his progress week after week.
"People like surprises as long as it doesn’t impinge on their basic control of the pastor and his message," McReady says.