“Having an interest in how churches leverage tech could’ve made me more sensitive.” That’s one of the thoughts I had after an experience with a church online. This experience? Because I couldn’t find their website I searched for them on Facebook. I asked for service times until 363 days later. No kidding. Two days shy of a year, I got a response. I chose “response” because it wasn’t an answer to my simple question: “What are your service times?”
If you’ve been here before here before you’ll know that we love the church and do nothing in malice. All I and the rest of the team want to see is a flourishing Church. So what I’m about to unpack is in no way shaming game but a reminder of how, as churches we can do better. Because, in one way or another, we don’t have it all together. We don’t always have it right all the time, and that’s OK.
The important thing is that we’re aware of areas of potential growth. So, it is with this heart that I write and share this.
What if I was desperate to speak to someone about how God sees me and there was no answer from the church I reached out to? What if I was desperate for help and it was a matter of life or death? I’ve cranked the dial to overdrive already, but this is a real possibility.
So, the church I reached out to responded almost a year later with a phone number to call. The time and effort it took could’ve gone into answering my question– Sunday service times. That’s all I wanted.
Despite advancement in web technologies and tools some principles for still matter. They’re still too important to ignore. Not all throwbacks are equal. Ones of this kind are more equal than others. This particular one is still important.
Engage: Respond, Answer.
Being online is like inviting people into a conversation. It is, or at least, should be more than that. Imagine every comment, message or email had the potential to change someone’s life forever. Stop. Imagine it for a moment.
What if I told or reminded you that this is possible? Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and even websites are easier to create now. Because of this, it is easy to overlook the potential impact they can make with people who reach out to us.
Is it possible that we have stopped seeing people behind avatars and names?
It’s time we reminded ourselves that each comment, email or direct message is a person. And, people matter. Also important: these people need a relationship with Jesus. Thus every interaction with people online is that much more weighty.
Having a website or being on a social media platform is like inviting people into your for a meal. Not responding to people online is like ignoring the visitors you invited into your home for a meal. We wouldn’t dare do IRL, why would we do it online? Thinking social media and websites are for one way broadcast communication is a grave mistake. They’re for a two-way conversation.
Engage with people on your website, Facebook page, Instagram and such. There’s a difference between responding to and answering a question. Responding to a question is saying something back to them. Answering the question has to do with giving the information they ask for.
Given, sometimes you’ll need to respond before you can give an answer. When you do that make sure you’re aware that you’re giving a response and point that out to the person asking. Make sure that you’re not only engaging people but you have someone responsible for that. From my experience, I’m sure you’ll agree that a year is too long for someone to get an answer. Time is also important.
Having a social media account and website is important. Making sure you get back to people is even more important. For every platform or point of contact online, is there someone engaging in a timely manner?