Archive

Archive for September, 2009

Convincing the committee that your church needs a website

September 29th, 2009

So you think your church/organsiation should have a church web site but you need some help to support the idea when you present it. Here are some important points to back you up.

Point 1: The Internet is increasingly the way that people find out information

Research shows that people are using the printed Yellow Pages less and less whilst Internet advertising and usage increases.

See http://searchengineland.com/google-trends-yellow-pages-will-be-toast-in-four-years-12256 if you doubt this.

Some have predicted that the Yellow Pages will be out of business in 4 years – I’m not so sure about that but it is certainly in decline.

Churches need to have an Internet precense to ensure that those looking for a church can find it.

Point 2: Other churches in your area already have a web site

Given todays consumer approach to church going (this is not a judgement on its merits or otherwise) people are looking for a church to attend and want information to help them make informed choices. If your church does not have a website you can be sure that other churches near you do. The information provided by these sites may encourage people to try those churches over yours. Denominational loyalties are dying out.

Point 3: 75% of Internet users are under 54

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Generations-Online-in-2009.aspx?r=1

and Internet usage now equals T.V. watching according to IBM

This means that one of the most effective ways of reaching the very people that most churches want to reach is through the Internet

Point 4: The cost of having a professionally designed web site compares very favourably with other ways of promoting your church

Web site prices start at around £500* (although there are some even cheaper alternatives). A content managed website is likely to cost in the region of £2000*. Getting a brochure designed and printed is likey to cost in the region of £2000+*. Of course a website lasts for years and can reach millions whereas many church brochures sit in cupboards for years and although they are often passed around they are limited in who they can reach.

* Note that these are U.K. prices and folk from other countries will have to adjust these

Any other ideas?

Do you have any other reasons that you could add to the list? Why not leave a comment …

websites ,

Using Moodle for ministry

September 23rd, 2009

14493687I’m really interested in exploring how e-learning can be used to put across the Christian message. There are many sites that seek to create promote alternative views of Jesus and Christianity and I don’t believe the church has responded well to these attacks (with a few website exceptions).

Because Christianity claims to be a reasonable and historical faith it must be prepared to defend its position and it seems to me that one of the important ways it does this is through education.

Anyway back to my point of the post – moodle. For those of you who don’t know moodle is a learning management system (http://www.moodle.org). This means that it is a system for enabling learning over the Internet. It provides ways of bringing information together as well as activities to help learning happen. Moodle is built on the idea that learning takes place best in a collaborative way and so it’s tools provide that kind of approach.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of moodle for Christian organisations is that it is open source. This means that it is free to use. Does anyone know of a Christian site/organisation that is already using moodle? or an alternative system?

So far I like moodle but it does have its limitations.

I’ll keep you posted on how I’m getting along with it and it’s implications for doing ministry online.

Software

Christian apologetics

September 21st, 2009

19392014I love to read philosophy. I can’t say I understand it all and I have trouble remembering all the isms but it doesn’t stop me getting pleasure from the challenge of thinking. But does this process have any part in trying to get the message of Jesus out to others? Is there a need for websites that answer the tough questions or should we just be loving people into the kingdom?

This is a really hard question to answer but I think the answer is that part of loving someone is helping them to understand. I would be a poor parent if I neglected to answer the questions that they ask about the world.

I don’t for a minute think that anyone will ever become a Christian by arguing with them. There is more to being a follower of Jesus Christ than simply understanding the answers. There will be no theology quiz at the pearly gates.

However there are some big questions that keep people away from following Jesus. If Christians don’t take answering those questions seriously then we are failing to help people. It is not enough to tell people that the questions don’t matter because for some people they really do.

One of the places that people go to for answers is the Internet, this is particularly true of those who are growing up with the Internet. The Christian church must take this seriously.

So I want to make an appeal for more and more websites that answer the questions. We must engage with people on the Internet in a serious way.

online ministry, Thoughts

Social Interaction Model

September 17th, 2009

Table of contents for Models of online ministry

  1. Models for online ministry
  2. Does the attraction model of ministry work for the Internet?
  3. Conforming Outreach
  4. Social Interaction Model

Here is another form of ministry that I’ve come across. The idea is essentially that Christians make friends outside of church. This friendship then gives opportunities for others to see the difference that Jesus is making in a persons life. This should lead to opportunities to reach out to them with the Christian message.

There are several good points about this idea:

Christians should be interacting with people outside the church anyway.

Most people who become Christians do so because of a friend and so the more friends we have the better chance this method has.

It gives Christians a way of reaching out to others that is pretty comfortable for most people.

The disadvantages are:

People often give friends who are different from themselves a kind of honorary membership to their social circles. This means that they appreciate someone might be a Christian but they don’t let this knowledge get in the way of a friendship. They still see all other Christians as weirdos.

People still need to understand that you are a Christian. It is surprising how many people are often unaware that friends are committed Christians.

Sadly too often Christians simply conform to fit in which means that they do not have a difference for anyone to notice. If we fit in too well then we have a negative effect on peoples concepts of what Christianity is.

How does this fit in with online ministry?

We have seen a rise in social networking over the last decade or so. This has become a major player in how people interact on the Internet. It is certainly true that this is a great way of keeping in touch with existing friends.

However there is difficulty in using the Internet to form new relationships. Somehow electronic relationships just aren’t the same as personal ones.

The Internet will never replace personal relationships but it can serve as a way to bring like minded people together.

Most Christians (with Internet access) could find groups to which they could belong on the Internet. Then it is possible using links to other sites etc to encourage people to think about faith.

This might prove to be a positive way of promoting the Christian faith.

However it should be noted that putting social networking apparatus on a Christian website is unlikely to have the desired results. Christians will need to make use of sites that people already use to reach out.

online ministry

Turn the other cheek on your website

September 11th, 2009

15614272I have a lot of times that I have to contact churches and so see a great number (in the hundreds) of websites on a regular basis. I’m always surprised by the number of churches that hide their email address or even don’t have one.

It’s always seemed to me that the most important part of any church website is the contact page. People come to your site,  not to look at pictures of your new pew refurbish, but to find out how to contact you or when something is happening.

Now you might be getting all hot under the dog collar (if you are a clergy person – read just collar if you are not) thinking that the issue is all about spam.

“We don’t want to have our email boxes blocked up with offers of herbal wonder drugs and we certainly don’t want to have to read emails about someone called Doris who wants to make contact and so has attached a picture of herself”.

However I think this is one of those times that Christians have to turn the other cheek for the sake of being available.

No-one wants to get spam (I bet even spammers moan about it when they get it from others) and some of it is pretty crude if not downright offensive but sometimes we have to put up with the filth so we can allow those who need us to reach us.

Some sites use forms in an effort to get around spam but if you have a contact form you will know that you get spam from the form anyway – or at least you do if your site is getting reasonable traffic (and if it isn’t then the spammers probably won’t be bothered with you anyway).

All the research I read says that people like to use their own email system instead of a form. People like to have a record of the email they sent and a record of the email address they sent it to.

So let me make an appeal to Christian webmaster – put your email address on your website.

If you are a timid person who is scared stiff that a spammer might get to you then use a spam filter. If you have a little technical ability you can use a javascript that will stop spammers but allow others to email you. If you are still really nervous then use an image with a funny font.

But for my part I think Christians just have to take it on the chin, turn the other cheek, get thicker skinned about the world to give the lost sheep a way to find their way home.

online ministry ,

What you think you write is not necessarily what others read

September 10th, 2009

I’ve spent a good many years now trying to communicate through the written word and I can honestly say that it is very very difficult. I have lost count of the number of times that people have misunderstood what I have written. Writing is not the same as conversation although good writing has a conversational style to it. The time I tend to be misunderstood the most is when I have to write a quick email to someone because quick emails tend to look harsh and aggressive. As we try to shorten something in to as few words as possible we can easily lose the true meaning of what we are trying to convey. Although there is always a fine line between writing too much (which can also get us into trouble) and writing too little.

I think this has major implications for Christians. When we write something for the web we run the risk of being misunderstood. When we respond to a forum or blog entry which we disagree with then we stand a chance of upsetting people without realising it. Of course early emailers understood this problem and invented smilies but these have been so abused that they have now become almost useless and the same with texters and such things as lol.

So I want to make an appeal to Christians to try and find ways of writing in a more sensitive way – especially when touching on spiritual issues with non-Christians.

Thoughts