Today it’s important for the church to stay in tune with those they long to reach in much the same way the apostle Paul did with those he sought to reach. Paul’s first and foremost calling was to preach the word in the most pertinent ways he could so that he would have the greatest opportunity to win others to Christ. He adapted his teaching to the thought of the culture by using their beliefs and ways in order to get them to open up to the truth. He took the gospel to those he wished to reach, he didn’t wait for them to come to him.
If the apostle Paul were a minister of a church today and wanted to get into the circle of those who need to hear the good news, he would most likely make use of the internet. There are so many tools available that every novice can use.
The Bible says to make the most of every opportunity, yet some churches don’t fully take advantage of the abundant opportunities available to them online. Many still don’t have a website, and some that do have one could use an upgrade.
Some believers may feel there’s no place for the internet or social media in the church. Many don’t pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and so on. But the internet and social media is where to find today’s community. For many, to stay off social media would be like rolling up their neighborhood sidewalk.
Old Methods of Communicating
Back in the 70s, door-to-door witnessing was popular. Evangelist types would stock up with tracts and head out to spread the good news to any who would accept a pamphlet. Some children belonged to mailbox clubs where they’d get Bible studies or cartooned devotional booklets through the mail.
Most church members don’t do that any longer, but just because the methods are a thing of the past doesn’t mean the community is also gone. The community that believers are called to reach are right there all over the internet and social media. To not take these tools seriously, is to bury one’s head in the sand.
New Ways of Connecting
The majority of shoppers today either buy online, or research the brick and mortar retail site they plant to visit. They want to see a website and gather as much information as possible before getting in their cars and following the location map provided on the business’ website.
In the same way, churches need to be found online by church shoppers. Churches need to have a website if they’re really to be a shining light to the community. There are do-it-yourself websites where you can use easy-to-fill-in templates. These might be free or low cost. Alternatively, there are numerous companies that will build a professional looking website for a church.
These days, people’s choice of a church is as important as their choice of employment or neighborhood to live in. For many, it is the first place they will make a spiritual connection to God. For others, it will be the place they hope to have their spiritual needs met while walking alongside other believers. Your website should show potential visitors what they’re in for if they become part of your church.
Tips for Creating Your Church’s Online Footprint
If you don’t have a website or are ready to rebuild yours, start with information gathering. Think about what you or someone you know looks for when researching a restaurant, hotel, vacation site, or even a service provider like a counsellor or dentist. List the questions you or your friend would want answered when visiting a website. Then set out to ensure your church’s website answers the questions a visitor might ask.
Next, think of your target market. Chances are you want to reach those who have never gone to church before, those who have just moved into your area, and also your existing adherents. Your website should include an introduction, location and contact information, gathering times, event updates, and information visitors and adherents would want to know.
Demonstrate What Sets Your Church Apart
Chances are high that your church has its own unique style. Your website visitors will also have their own tastes. There will be those who like formal liturgical church settings. There will be those who might prefer to sit in jeans and drink coffee during a church gathering. There will be those who have their own ideas of what respectable or comfort looks like.
Your target niche might be under 40s, marrieds with young children, or seniors. It’s hard to be all things to all people, so you’ll need to think carefully about what message you want to communicate to whom. To attract the under 40s crowd, you might want to focus on missional, singles, or young marrieds activities you have going on. To reach those with young children, you might want to highlight your children’s programming or parent meetup group activities. Get the picture?
Though you may research what other churches are doing for their websites, it’s okay to make yours unique. It’s not okay to copy something that doesn’t truly reflect your church’s personality just because it looked good on another church’s website. God has caused your church to be the way it is because you’re uniquely positioned to reach a certain group he has in mind. Your website should demonstrate your church’s uniqueness through its photos and wording.
Keep Building and Growing
Building a website is only one step in a number of steps to grow an online footprint for your church. Once it’s created, you can move forward by providing the link to it in a number of places. You can also then create landing pages for a number of social media platforms and perhaps start a church blog.
The apostle Paul was passionate about reaching the lost and making disciples. He realized the importance of communicating in the most effective language he could. Your challenge now is to ask yourself if your church is communicating in the most effective way it can for the times. If not, what changes can you make?