Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

A minor example of the social web facilitating the gospel

July 16, 2009

This past Sunday (July 12) we had a excellent sermon on Habakkuk by one of our elders.  This particular elder is a high school and college history teacher and has many “friends” on Facebook, including myself.  After I published the sermon Sunday night I posted the link on his Facebook wall.  I was hoping to see a bit of a bump on the web stats.

Habakkuk stats bump as of July 14, 2009

Habakkuk stats bump as of July 14, 2009 for Word of Life Christian Fellowship

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the bump we received.  A bit under half of the hits were referrers from the Facebook post. I pulled the raw stats and found the number of clicks on the PDF sermon notes was about the same as the Facebook referrer count (as was the sum of the hits against the audio format hits).  I’m not going to say that each referrer from Facebook clicked on the PDF and listened to the audio, but I will say that a fair percentage appear to have.

I post our sermons to our Facebook group every week and we receive almost no hits from Facebook normally.  Those associated with our Facebook page typically have already heard the sermon in person.  It is the diversity of his “friends” that, I think, is the difference here.  It is an interesting enough difference that I think I need to reconsider how I’m using Facebook a bit.

How evangelistic is your church web site?

April 24, 2009

Shouldn’t it be obvious?  I’ve seen many that are not, just like many churches are not.  It is good to have pastor’s blogging and current events showing a living church with real people.  It is good to use social media to connect the congregation with each other and the church leadership.  But what are you doing with “the web” to bring people to Christ?  My church site is doing a fair job of bringing existing Christians to our church.  But as I consider the content I have on the site, to be honest, it is not doing much to reach out to non-Christians.

With this in mind this year’s Internet Evangelism Day is April 26, 2009.  We need some strategy and plans for how we want to do our outreach.  It provides some resources to start.  I personally think we should be considering the web and our sites as a missions field.  Does anyone else treat their sites (or the web in general) in this way?

Adwords and Blogging for Churches

March 28, 2009

Paul Steinbrueck recently wrote “Why AdWords IS Worthwhile for Churches” over at OurChurch.com. It nicely pulls together things I’ve been talking about and trying to encourage my church to do:

Adwords costs real money, but if used as part of a larger strategy I think it can serve as a cost effective tool.  Blogging is also important as it is “moving content” for better search engine indexing and provides more information about the chruch than a simple list of events ever could.

Interesting Church Tech Links for March 22, 2009

March 22, 2009

I seem to be in a planning and strategy mood these days…

20 Tips for Success in Church Technology Projects
All good things to remember
A Social Media Strategy for Ministry
People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology
Is Your Church Social?
“The physical church is limited by time and space. The social web has no limitations on time and space.”
Church Website Design, assess and improve your website to reach outsiders
There are so many aspects of church site content and design to consider it is hard to remember them all

More “interesting” content: Youth Pastor Blog

March 13, 2009

Our church has a growing youth focus and we were recently able to bring on a part time youth pastor to oversee and develop the youth programs.  This is exciting as he has a huge heart for the kids and has some great ideas.  I think that just like having a senior pastor blog it is also valuable to have a youth pastor blog.

A Youth Pastor Blog

Like the senior pastor blog, a youth pastor blog creates the opportunity for new attenders to gain some insight into who it is that’s teaching their kids and what topics are important to him.  Also, like for the senior pastor, a blog provides a platform to extend and discuss Sunday’s (or Friday’s) youth sermon.

Using technology to our advantage

A youth pastor has some very unique opportunities these days.  Technology and social media is allowing us to see into areas we once had difficulty.  Consider a youth pastor who has “friended” his youth charges.  He’s going to get an opportunity to peer into areas he might not have been able to see before.  With that opportunity, he can offer affirmation or gentle correction as he see the need. Maybe, he doesn’t even do that.  Maybe he instead crafts a message for another time that might subtly address something he observed.

Further, through these technologies he gets an opportunity to provide a model of Christ-like behavior.  His charges will see how he interacts with others, what kinds of things he’s posting or watching. Much will be learned from these situations as well as potentially creating opportunities to discuss all sorts of topics that might not have been approachable before.

In our specific situation, our youth pastor organizes mission trips – the latest going into Mexico.  If he were to write about his experiences he will have a powerful platform to showcase needs, ideas, people and the love of God.

I’m looking forward to a few months from now when we can get both pastors writing, and maybe even using Twitter.

How do church sites promote the goodness of God?

March 6, 2009

I have an RSS feed from Twitter that monitors the use of the word ‘church’.  I periodically review it to see if I find anything interesting.  Mostly it is boring “I’m going to church now” type things.  A while back I ran across this one:

This caught me a bit off guard.  How does a site promote God’s goodness? I’m not sure I can answer that question, but I think it is found in the spirit of the communications of the site; the sermons, the event announcements, etc.  Is there a theme coming from the content of the site, from the photos, the videos? Is the site a place to build and edify a community?

Any thoughts about how we should be promoting God’s goodness through our sites?

More “interesting” content for the church site: a senior pastor blog

February 14, 2009

Now that the  comments are open on the church site, its probably not going to be sufficient to have only bulletins, some key announcements, and some sermons to comment upon.  Sure, the sermons might start some, but being primarily audio, I’m not confident that they alone will generate interest.  No, what we need is more “interesting” content.

A Senior Pastor Blog

The first area I’m trying to develop is a senior pastor blog.  The senior pastor is the face of the church.  When I was visiting churches a few years ago I would have loved to have had a chance to read the thoughts of the pastor before attending.  For potential visitors, this gives them an opportunity to understand who he is and what he’s concerned about.  For church members, he has an opportunity to continue the discussion of Sunday’s sermon expanding it in ways that are not possible at the pulpit.  Plus, he can use it as an alternative pulpit to write about other topics and target the local community (or even the larger web community).  If you can get him to use Twitter, there’s even more possibilities, but that’s for another post.

I find myself fortunate that my pastor agrees that this is a valuable and important concept.  He is busy finishing his M.Div right now, but in May has committed to start doing this.  I know many churches have their senior pastor writing, but I know many don’t.   I hope it soon becomes automatic. Building your site over a good CMS (like WordPress) can go a long ways toward facilitating this.

I have several more ideas that I’m going to be moving forward.  I’ll write more about them soon.  I’m curious about  how well pastor blogs are working out for others.

Allowing comments on the church site

January 21, 2009

In my post last week of “Tim Tebow and lost opportunities for the local church” I said I had some ideas for some changes in my own church’s web ministry. The first change I’m considering is to open up comments on the church’s site.  Given that I’m now using WordPress, this becomes much easier than it would have in the past.  However, in my current template design I have removed the comment links since I was intending to use WordPress as a CMS – though adding them back in will not be hard.

Allowing comments probably seems like an automatic to some, but its actually a challenging step. I’ve not run into any church sites lately that have any sort of comments allowed on them.  I’m sure there probably are some, but I’ve not seen any.  I suspect that we’re a bit too over controlling and worried about having to police it.  However, I believe that we need to take that risk (and the required effort) to allow our sites to be used by the Lord to positively affect others.  Have you ever prayed for your web site?  Have you ever considered how the Lord wants it to be used as an outreach ministry other than as an event calendar?  I’m not thinking that just because we open up commenting that a huge new community will suddenly develop.  But I am thinking, that its a start – a start in a direction with some very interesting possibilities.

Online Missions Trip

January 17, 2009

I ran across this site promoting doing an Online Missions Trip February 1 – 14, 2009.  It is encouraging teens to use social media to evangelize.  There’s not much documentation (as far as I can find) though there seem to be a number of churches involved and a couple of guides for youth leaders.  I think this is an excellent idea.  Maybe your youth group can make use of it.

Tim Tebow and lost opportunities for the local church

January 16, 2009

In Tim Tebow, John 3:16, and the local church Frank Johnson wonders about a lost opportunity for local churches to have capitalized on a bump in the search engine traffic on John 3:16.  His thoughts painfully forced me to admit that I failed to see that opportunity.  It also makes me wonder what others I should be seeing but have not.

However, I do not believe this opportunity is completely lost.  A quick Google search still shows no local hits for John 3:16 in my area and its not very expensive to get into it.  Someone will likely do something like this again and we may well see another bump.  Will it be as large?  Probably not.  But are you going to let an opportunity like this pass by a second time?  I don’t like operating in such a reactionary fashion, but I think there’s real potential here that we should be carefully considering.

Part of what bothered me about this post was that I think it points out that we, as stewards of church web minitries, are often not making the most effective use of this medium.  I have a few plans for changes in my own church’s web ministry that I’ll be writing about shortly.  Some of these changes are likely going to challenge me but hopefully they will encourage you in a way as to extend the reach and relevancy of your own web ministry.  I’ll also be interested in any changes you might be thinking about to grow your ministry.