At one of my church meetings yesterday, we were talking about how church members use websites. It’s general knowledge — from what I’ve heard — that our members don’t use the church website. It’s visitors looking for a church home that do careful research on the church website they are considering attending.
That’s my experience as a local church pastor. We worked really hard to launch this new site — and members are still surprised that there is a new site. In my other role as co-convener of The Young Clergy Women Project, I find a totally different reality. Our website gathers clergy together. I’ve heard various people make claims recently about young clergy and that this is just one of the weird ways we share in ministry. Maybe. I think the important part is that we share in a way that our mentors were not permitted. Still, there’s something about our web presence that is meaningful and even incarnational. I was delighted to share these thoughts through a guest post on The New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary entitled A Shelter on the Web. It’s given me lots to ponder and I look forward to the conversation it allows.
It would also help if I could cite where I read these general assumptions I’ve just made. Alas. The good news is I’m trying to stay fresh and engaged, right? Let’s hope.
2 thoughts on “Do Websites Matter?”
Elsa, I think you're exactly right. Websites work best when we understand our audience, and for church websites, that's potential visitors, not members. On the other hand, in my work with the Vermont Conference UCC our website is geared toward our pastors and church members, except for a shout out to visitors with a “find a church” box.
I agree you are right. I think if pastors/ administrators of churches thought this way or websites might be seen as more important means of outreach.