Google Churches in your area. Compare websites of traditional Churches and sites of non-denominational, “contemporary” Churches. In both groups, you’ll find congregations who update their website and various feeds daily. Others update … uh … semi-occasionally.
Most Churches now have a web presence, but differences between those sites are stark.
Look at Twitter use by Evangelical leaders and you’ll find they are light years ahead of traditional Church leaders.
While there are examples of innovative use of social media websites in some mainstream Churches and by some traditional leaders, in a social media derby, “Saddlebacks” and “Willow Creeks” leave “Trinity Lutherans” in the dust.
Why is that?
It’s because of the demographic gaps between the two movements. Newer, more contemporary congregations tend to have younger members who are more tech savvy.
Traditional congregations are usually more restrained in their public self-promotion. Some older members are more techno-phobic. Many times those members control the purse strings for the church’s web resources.
Ignorance is not a sin; willful ignorance is.
For 100 years, Churches depended on in-house publications for communication. Like newspapers, those print models are dying and as they vanish, people are cut-off from news sources. Without them, it’s tough to keep folks informed, answer questions or include members in talks.
To stay in touch with their “tribe”, older traditional Church members wind up relying on clergy or local word of mouth networks (i.e. – gossip).
Evangelicals love “getting the Word out”. Decades of dealing with all types of media mean they jump to try new “stuff”.
In comparison, traditional Churches are (forgive me) lethargic. Their membership base is often leery of “pushing the envelope”.
They fear change; yet only change can save them.
Traditionalist’s Catch 22
Worship attendance is declining. Denomination bound churches are shrinking fastest.
Younger adults and families with young children make up a disproportionately large percentage of that decline. This group is the backbone of Church growth. Without them, we lack critical mass at the critical Mass.
Fewer followers gain the experience necessary to successfully fill Church leadership positions left vacant when members die or move.
To inhibit that decline, the Internet offers the most powerful communication tools the world has ever known.
We take up a quest – a Great Commission to “Go, ye therefore …” where?
And how do we get there?
We’re off to defeat our ignorance – to get the hang of proper Church use of websites, Twitter and Facebook. Only when we prepare (never past tense) can we best serve.
Here are a few website to help us:
If you know of other sites, add them in the comments.
Know that truth, politics and theology will challenge us. We won’t agree on everything during our digital odyssey. But we can agree to use every tool available to further God’s Righteous Kingdom.
[Image via Firth World Art]