Your Church Website
    Go Ye Into the World Wide Web - Cord LaFond

The history of the church is punctuated with telling resistance to change. Eventually we saw the benefits of Caesar's network of roads, the printed page, scriptures in Braille, audio recording, video recording. Every church office has a telephone today. These all seem facetious in today's conversation, but each one met with some measure of resistance as it stepped across the threshold onto the pages of time.

And so it has been with the World Wide Web. Fifteen years ago, the Internet was in its infancy and met its share of curiosity, fear, and distain. Faithful to our track record, the church was one of the last groups to venture where angels fear to tread. Today about half of our churches have some sort of presence online and a growing majority of churches have an e-mail address for communication. (see our article in this edition) I have opportunity to visit a lot of church websites. Most are adequate. Some are exceptional. A handful are pathetic.

The goal of this column is to encourage every church to at least have a presence on this vast vehicle of communication. Beyond that, we want to discuss some of the 'how to's of creating and maintaining a church website as well as some of the elements that a church website should have.

The first of these probably seems obvious, but you would be amazed at how many sites don't have basic contact information. This is especially true of rural areas. A phone number and a mailing address just isn't enough. I should be able to know where to show up and at what time on Sunday morning. (or Saturday or whatever day you meet) If I am online and have questions, your phone number means nothing to me. I am a geek and I want an e-mail address. If I am a geek who is church shopping, your website, or lack thereof, is a banner about whether I will fit in.

Ten years ago, I can't tell you how many times I would mention our church and have someone respond, "Oh yeah, you are the church that has a website." I confess, it wasn't even much of a site at that point but we were noticed as the only church in our little town with a website. I was also amazed at the cross-section of people who were aware of it. Some had been surfing the local community site, seen the list of churches and that there was only one with a hyperlink. Today there a few more links and churches are becoming conspicuous by their absence rather than their presence.

A church website should have information to offer seekers as well as information for members to keep up with the activities of the church. There should be some evangelistic and teaching content. If someone does a search about water baptism, for instance, your website is a Sunday School podium to tell people about water baptism, or any other topic which you feel passionate about. This can be your own articles or a simple link to a site which is worthy of your referral.

We will be discussing these topics and more in the issues to come. It is the goal of this newsletter to expose missed opportunities to "Go ye into the World Wide Web" with the good news of our saviour, Jesus Christ. The Internet is a vast harvest field, worthy of our time, energy, and resources. We want to encourage churches to take advantage of this medium.

We invite your questions, comments, and testimonials.

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Carolyn Arends

Asia's Hope

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Prayer For Our Nation