Put On Your Best Digital Face

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis)

In continuing with the digital theme of yesterday, I readthis post from Tony Morgan a couple of weeks ago about church websites.

Tony warns against church websites becoming “traditional.” His definition of a “traditional” church website is one that is simply used as an extension of the church bulletin. While that may be useful, Tony states that in order to influence culture via online means, churches need to invest in taking advantage of the interactivity that is available through the web now. Here’s what Tony says:

“Rather than looking at the Web through the eyes of a Facebook and YouTube and Twitter user, though, we’re still looking at the Web through the eyes of a Sunday bulletin reader. That approach works for the people who are already attending our churches. It completely ignores the people who we are trying to reach.

And that’s the problem. We view the Web as an add-on. After we’ve figured out how we’re going to do ministry, then we want to know how to use the Web to promote our ministry.

Instead, the churches that have influence within our online culture look at ministry differently. They assume the people they’re trying to reach are online. They assume the people who are connected to their ministry are online. Rather than looking at the Web as an add-on, they consider their web strategy as a fully-integrated part of how they help people take steps toward Christ. They are a church online as much as they are a church in a building located on the corner of First and Main.”

While I do agree with Tony’s assessment that churches desiring to influence online culture really need to be “a church online as much as they are a church in a building,” I don’t know if every church should take on that role. It takes a lot of time and money to do what Tony proposes, and there aren’t a lot of churches with the resources available to pull it off. I do think churches need to look beyond making their websites repositories of church bulletin fodder, but they need to take those steps carefully and intentionally.

Maybe it’s putting up a form where people can share their “God story,” which might get posted up on a page for “God stories.” Maybe it’s putting up a fun poll that people can vote on. Maybe it’s posting a podcast or videocast of your weekend service and allowing people to post comments like on a blog. It could even be as simple as setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account for your church or ministry…

I want to reiterate that churches need to take doable baby steps when it comes to utilizing all the tools available to us for social networking and such. It is just as easy for a church website to become tacky through the misuse of all the tools as much as it is to become tacky by remaining an extension of the church bulletin.

What is your church doing on its website? Is it simply a place for info, or is there some interactivity built in?

Who keeps your website up and how often?

Any examples of really good church websites?


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