What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 4a)

I am sure that I will regret posting this.  I weighed the options in my mind: Don’t post-it doesn’t sound polished, there is no main point, I have no idea what I’m saying.  Do post-I won’t sleep if I don’t get this out.  I’m posting.

I just watched a video webinar from Drew Goodmanson and Cynthia Ware that was linked from Drew’s site.  It presents the data from a survey that they helped conduct.  I must say that it is making me re-examine some long held preconceptions of church social networking in my mind.  I am coming to realize that much of what I had thought two years ago is not working out socially the way I expected.  It is one of those slap-in-the-forhead moments.

I am still working out a lot of this.  Here are some things that I learned over the last 45 minutes:

The manin desires that the people in churches who were surveyed have for their church websites:

  1. Church events on an online calendar.  They want to be able to sign up for things online.
  2. Prayer requests online.  They want to be able to post prayer requests through the website.
  3. Serving connection.  People want to be able to find out how their gifts can fit into an area of service at the church.
  4. Home group connection.  People want to be able to connect to and interact with a home group.
  5. Church email/directory.  They want a way to be able to contact the church and church members using the website as a resource.
  6. Bible study connection.  They want to be able to study and connect with a Bible study online.

You know what was missing?  Social networking.  People did not feel that they needed a social network within their church.  Why would they?  Can we do Facebook better than Facebook?  If we could, should we?  Now that I think about it that way, I realize that even my answer is “no.”

Here is what they said they didn’t want:

  1. The ability to blog
  2. Classified ads
  3. A way to post their own photos
  4. A job posting board
  5. The ability to post things to a social media site

I do believe what they said regarding this day and age of new media is correct.  Building upon their base, I believe that Christians are going to have to use mostly existing social networking with excellence, and our success in Web Ministry will depend on our ability to do the following:

  1. Not add an additional network or online activity that church members don’t have time for.  I have been mulling this a lot lately.  It is becoming a full time job for people to keep up with all their networks.  In the very near future either one network is going to beat all of the others so badly that no others will exist, or social networking will completely disappear when everyone gets tired of it (not likely), or a solution will appear to completely integrate all major existing networks so that no one goes to facebook.com or any of the others anymore.  One blogpost will go out simultaneously on all, and these portals will cease to exist in the eyes of the average user.
  2. Make their Web Ministry a completely interactive place.  I can’t stress my belief in this point enough.  I am almost willing to say that an e-brochure style website is almost more of an embarrassment than a benefit.  I stop short though, because if a church doesn’t have their vital info linked online, they should think about shutting their doors.
  3. Provide instant gratification.  Things like podcasting and video have got to be available and accessible.
  4. Be decentralized.  Church Web content cannot be done in a top-down way.  Content has got to be available from more than one direction, if that makes sense.  I’m still working this one out.
  5. I really think that there needs to be an open-source nature to Web Ministry as well.  It needs to be collaborative, and allow some of the more tech-savvy people to do what they do best.

There will be more.  Like I said, I am still working this out.  This has been very stream-of-consciousness, I know, but now I am going to go to bed a little depressed.   I don’t like not having things worked out in my mind.

2 Replies to “What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 4a)”

  1. For the last part of your first point about integrating networks, check out a site called socialthing.com. I currently update FaceBook and Twitter from that service. If they would just add WordPress, I would be set. Well, I also use my iPhone a lot for updates. That may be another option that is emerging as a portal for networking.

    Looking at what people do want from a church website – connecting, calendars, requests, contacts – that IS social networking (“People want to be able to connect to and interact with a home group” – that pretty much sums up FaceBook, right?). Most of the people that took that survey probably didn’t know that social networking existed before FaceBook or MySpace (I was doing it in 1994 through Prodigy). I think that points out that people don’t know jargon, they just know what functionality they want. I’ve seen that other places too – that people say they don’t want a social network on their church site. But then they list what they do want, and they pretty much spell out a social network.

  2. Good thoughts. I am in the process of writing 4b for this article. That should put some structure to these thoughts and progress them.

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