Archive for the ‘Web Ministry Changes’ Category

Our “Traditional” Church Web Site

January 3, 2010

In Tony Morgan’s The New Traditional Church: Web Strategy he fairly characterizes how most church web sites are formulated: as bull horns.  He then states that churches that are influencing are assuming people are online.  I’m not sure about your church, but in my church only half the people are “online” and less than that are active internet users.

It has been eleven months since I turned on commenting on the church web site.  It was part of an effort to open up the church site to enable a broader community and to start to engage the church in interactive activities.  At around the same time I took over the church’s stale Facebook group ultimately changing it to a Facebook page to allow updates to be directly in people’s news feeds.

Generally, this effort of facilitating interaction has been unsuccessful, with one exception.  There have been zero comments on the web site and four interactions on the Facebook page.  This is not a function of the lack of opportunity for the church to interact (though we do need to generate better and more interesting content) as much as it is that they don’t interact online right now.  Simply put, a large portion of my church community is not online right now and those who are do not significantly engage in social media activities.  Our web site is being used primarily for its event calendar, pick up missed sermon or bulletin, and to allow newcomers to learn the basics of our church.

But our church is sending missionaries and support around the world (e.g. Amazon River Churches).  And we’re growing.  We are “influencing”.  So, for us (for now), our “traditional” web site is suiting our purposes and is ready for when people (on both sides) start to use online technologies in a more meaningful 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.

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.

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.

Comments are now enabled on the church site

February 6, 2009

Following up on my previous post “Allowing comments on the church site”, I have completed the modifications to the WordPress templates and comments are now enabled.  Let the commenting begin.  Of course, it helps to have some content other than the bulletins, sermons and random events to comment on.  But that is the next step of my efforts to grow our ministry and I’ll explain what I’m looking to do soon.

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.