The Profound Importance of a Local Church Website
The other day a friend’s call went out across Facebook: “Help! My husband and I have moved and we don’t know what church we should join. Does anyone know of a church in our neighborhood?” Friends responded with different churches’ names and website links, but none of the suggestions were Adventist. Seeing an opportunity to connect her and other Facebook contacts with a link to a Seventh-day Adventist Church, I googled for churches in her neighborhood. Even though I could find the Adventist church listed in the phone company on-line white pages, I could not find an Adventist church website for that area. An easy opportunity to evangelize was missed . . . how many of those chances do we, as a church, miss out on?
The church, commissioned by Christ, is called to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” We are to spread the gospel of love. We are to become fishers of men. Over the years, the Seventh-day Adventist church has found many ways of doing that: door-to-door evangelism, tent meetings, mission trips, church planting, radio and TV programs and stations, health institutions and educational facilities. A relatively new method of evangelism is the World Wide Web – the Internet.
Your Local Church Website is a Valuable Evangelism Tool
Lito Moran, of California was surfing the Internet in his area when he found the Norwalk Seventh-day Adventist Church website. Browsing the site he found general information about the Norwalk church, and also encountered concise, explanatory information about Seventh-day Adventists as a whole. After reading about the Bible-based beliefs of the Adventist denomination, Lito and his wife Emily decided they would like to actually visit the Norwalk church, which they did. As a result became Seventh-day Adventists. Lito is now a lay-webmaster and videographer, overseeing Norwalk Church website and the maintaining the streaming video sermons webpage. He has also launched his own streaming video ministry on the Web called Ministry 33 Media.
Internet access to businesses and education is booming, and miraculous stories are emerging of people using the Internet to make vital connections with Adventist churches and schools. But not all our churches are on board. While most churches have faithful work committees or well-attended work-bees that mow lawns, paint buildings and clean up areas for an attractive “curb appeal,” many fail to realize the “curb” has changed. These days people typically don’t drive by churches or look in the yellow pages anymore, instead they google for churches in their area and view websites that inform them of the beliefs, activities and contact information for congregations in their area. They look for a welcome via the Internet.
Will a Seeker Discover Your Local Church Site When Doing a Google Search?
How does your local church website welcome guests? Go ahead, google “Christian churches” in your area and see if yours is on the first page. Where does your church website come in the line-up, and how attractive does it look? How well does your website represent your church? Is it hard to find, or not even there? Is it bright and catchy, or pathetically sparce? Is it easy to navigate, or is it messy and even out-dated? Is there an obsolete old website that still comes up in a search with your church’s name? Does your site portray an active, loving community serving the Lord?
Some may shrug their shoulders at these questions, thinking that the Internet is irrelevant to our church. However in this day of iPhones and iPads, Mapquest and GPS, advanced digital displays and up-to-the-minute technology, people look for churches and spiritual information in different ways than they did even 15 years ago. If there is no website, seekers might assume there is no church. If there is more that one website for your church, it is as if you have moved to a new church building, but have neglected to take your sign with you. If the website is out-dated and untended, the viewer might suspect that the church members care little about their church. If the website is cluttered and messy, it’s as if the building has weeds growing through the sidewalks, paint chipping off the building and garbage left in the parking lot from the last yard sale. Visitors judge your church by what the property looks like, and they view the website as if they are sitting at the curb of your facility. If the website is not user-friendly or inviting . . . well, you get the point.
So look again. Google for Christian churches. How is your area doing? Is your church reaching out to modern parishioners and computer savvy seekers? Is your church fishing with the Net?