It is time for a paradigm shift among most churches when it relates to the web. This starts with the very nomenclature that is used to describe it.
Most churches “have a website.” That is great! Who doesn’t? Most churches look at their “website” the way everyone did about 15-20 years ago, Web 1.0. They have a site that includes some information about the church. This is so that people who find the site will know what time the service is, how to get there, and maybe some info about how to dress and etc. This paradigm looks at the site as a thing, sort of like a yellow-pages ad (really bad idea!) or a billboard on the freeway (in most cases an even worse idea). It is a thing that displays information.
Might I suggest an idea that really came into my mind while preparing to speak about this very subject at a national conference last summer? We need to stop thinking of church websites as a thing, and instead as a place.
As long as your church website is a billboard (or as we in the industry call it, an “ebrochure”) it will have no life, few visitors, and will be a waste of your resources. Even with a free site donated by someone in the church, you get what you pay for. I have talked to hundreds of pastors, and I have yet to hear one tell me that the free site donated to the church a year ago has been a great source of life and growth.
Instead, look at your website the same way that you do part of your building. You church website is the sign out front, the foyer where people first make their impressions of who you are as a body, the Fellowship Hall where people gather, the sanctuary where people meet with God. If you change your paradigm from thing to place, you have started in the right direction.
But that leaves one little detail unanswered. You can’t really call it a website anymore. A website is a thing. To me “web ministry” better defines what churches end up with when they start thinking this way. I will continue calling it that. This blog is really meant for those who want a web ministry. Folks who are looking for a website would do well to look up angelfire (do they still exist?).