Is the Church Web Friendly?

I continue to be concerned by the failure of Christian congregations to utilize the Internet to publicize their programs - let alone for the proclamation of the Gospel. A survey of a recent set of church ads only heightened my alarm. The July 14th., 2011, issue of a small community newspaper in the Hamilton Ontario area near where I live included a half page of assorted church worship listings. When I studied these listings this is what I discovered.

The listings included notices for 77 Christian congregations representing at least ten distinct denominational bodies. Of the 77 listings only 12 provided a website address - though 3 others did list an e-mail address. (That's less than 20%.) At least two of the websites listed were denominational or regional in character rather than congregational - and in one case the website was actually listed incorrectly. Yes, and one of the websites listed would surely be a contender for longest and most complicated church web address in Ontario.

Some would protest that I am being too harsh and that rural and small town congregations are well known in the community and don't need fancy things like websites. But, if that was really the case, why bother to advertise at all. In truth, the reality is that these smaller congregations perhaps need to use the Internet even more than larger city congregations. Most of them don't have the luxury of a church office staffed and waiting to handle telephone inquiries. A website actually enables them to provide the public with some basic information about themselves 24/7.

Having a church website gets easier every day but somehow we in Christian community still cannot seem to get connected. Quite aside from the pragmatic benefit of having a website, what is the church that ignores the Internet saying to an Internet friendly age?

The Church and the Internet

There is a separate section of this website that will be devoted to the Church and web design. Material included here, therefore, will be directed towards other aspects of the relationship between the church and the Internet. There are many potential topics and I will restrict myself to just a few.

Page Graphic

For instance, I am eager to see the Christian Church offer practical advice to parents concerning the Internet and their children. The Church should be taking an active part in providing support for parents who are struggling to assure that the experience that their children have with the Internet is both safe and constructive. While many other institutions are able to provide guidance on the educational benefits of the Internet, the Church has an opportunity to shape a specifically Christian vision for the role that the Internet may play in the lives of people of faith in the coming years. At the moment I do not know a single congregation that is offering practical support to parents in this area. How do we develop the resources to change this situation?