Change More than Your Website

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Churches are in the communication business. We tell people about Jesus, explain the relevancy of the Bible, communicate prayer needs and joys, publish the where and why of our fellowship gathering, and beg people to give. Few things have changed so dramatically in the last thirty years as the ways people communicate and how they prefer to receive information. From the time of Martin Luther down to the time of Martin Luther King, people went to the church and looked at the church door or church bulletin to see if there was anything happening this week. Today, those that faithfully read the bulletin or the church newsletter are few and gray. Even the idea of regularly going to the church building or calling the secretary for information seems quaint. 

How do we buy tickets for an event? Most of us go online, unless it is something happening at the church. There we have to track someone down and fill in a printed form. Even the IRS gave that up years ago. What if a father goes home from church and gets into a discussion with his son  about some point that was made in the sermon (I know, this never happens). Neither one was paying attention enough to remember the scripture and both have lost their bulletin. No problem. The father whips out his smart phone and goes to the church website. Why does he do this? Because every other argument he won this week, he settled by going to Wikipedia.
Churches have found a number of stupid ways to adjust to this new reality: 1) Ten years ago we hired a web guru company to make us a website and today it is still there. Someone, sometimes, gets around to updating it. You can even read the church newsletter on it if you don’t mind turning your head sideways. 2) After much debate and delay, we asked one of the teens to do it. He’s having some problems with it that we don’t understand. 3) The price of print and postage is going up, so we voted at the last meeting to email the newsletter this month. The pastor and secretary have spent the last three weeks trying to figure out how to make it work.

We need to remember that the church is in the communication business. If we fail here, we fail everywhere. Rather than thinking website, you need to think communication system. Today, the internet is the key platform for the non-face to face church communication.Every church, no matter how small, needs to design a communication system that provides the information people want in a convenient and familiar package. This means that if a stranger is looking for a church home, they should have multiple ways to discover, not only your worship times, but also the things that make your congregation unique. It means that if a church attender hears of something interesting that is scheduled, they can find the relevant who-what-when-where, as well as, a convenient way to register or ask questions. It means that each person on the worship team has a place to go to discover this week’s theme and who they’ll be working with. It means that everyone doing an outreach project or serving on a committee has a source for both the upcoming planning meeting’s agenda, as well as notes on what has been already been decided. It means that how they do this, whether by Facebook, Texting, Twitter, or the church website, won’t matter. What matters is that you first design a means for church leaders to post current information onto the internet and then develop multiple ways for people to access that content.