I was having a conversation with a fellow church webmaster the other day, and he was discussing placing private church materials (budgets, etc.) on a “roped off” section of a message board for their church. My first reaction was that it wasn’t a very good idea because of security reasons, but since then I’ve found myself continually asking the age-old question: Why?
With all the technology available to us today, it is often easy to lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish with a church web site. In order to regain perspective, I believe that we all need to sit down from time to time and ask ourselves the following four questions:
1. What is the purpose of your church web site?
A church web site should strive towards two goals:
- Build up the members of its existing congregation.
- Reach out to seekers.
If your web site isn’t working towards either of those two goals, it may be time to step back and seriously rethink your approach.
2. Does the church web site fit in with the mission of the church?
Many times the church webmaster and the church pastor start off on the same page, but over time their work leads them down different paths. Your church and church web site should portray a single unified entity. Does your church’s web site depict an accurate portrayal of your church and congregation as a whole? Do your church and church web site work together to compliment one another?
3. Who’s going to be using your church web site?
It’s always important to know your audience. If most of your congregation are not daily internet users, it’s probably not the best approach to push the use of a message board. If you’ve got an Internet savvy congregation, then the sky is the limit. There are some features and plug-ins out there that are really cool to use, but if nobody is going to use them, it might be best to hold off for now. It’s also not a good idea to use features just because you can. Make sure they serve a purpose. Many times simplicity can be your best friend.
4. Why are you working on your church’s web site?
This is probably the most self-actualizing question we have to answer. Are you working on the church web site out of devotion and celebration of God, or are you doing it for personal glory and satisfaction? Most of the time, the answer to this question can be seen in your work. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, or it may be best to step back and refocus.
Remember that we are burdened with the responsibility of being the mouthpieces of our churches on the Internet. Take the time to think through each change you look to make on your church’s web site (remember the Satan tagline?), and re-evaluate how well you are accomplishing the goals you have set out as a church for the web site. You’ll find that it is well worth the effort in the end.