While running on Old Charlotte Road in Nashville recently, I was struck with the scene: seven mailboxes and eight Yellow Pages® books. They had been there for some time. They were weather worn. Why haven’t people picked them up and enthusiastically started using them?
Fewer people are using Yellow Pages®. We threw ours away. I recently talked to a brother who used his new Yellow Pages® book for starting a fire.
We shouldn’t change the message of the gospel but we must update our methods if we are to reach the world with truth.
Two areas came to my mind as I was running and observing the lonely Yellow Pages® books.
Websites[tweetthis]For many people, the first contact they’ll have with your congregation is your website.[/tweetthis]
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
- When I visit a church website, I want to see the address, phone number, and times of services on the front page, easy to find. If you want me to visit, let me know by providing essential information quickly.
- I like to see the elders, deacons, and preachers: their pictures, perhaps with their families, a short bio. and contact information. Let them look human. What are their interests? Where did they grow up? Are these people who would be easy to approach? How do you communicate that?
- Keep it current. When I visit a church website, go to the calendar or bulletin posts and the latest date is July 21, 2012, I wonder if the church still meets. If you aren’t going to keep these things current, take them down. Pages are easy to delete. Someone’s ministry can be to keep the site up-to-date. That is valuable!
- Are you interested in serving more people? Is it clear on the website? When all the news, articles, and events are for “members only,” I hate to intrude. When I read of what the church is doing to make it easy and helpful for new people to come, I am encouraged.
Some good questions to ask:
How does your church communicate? What do you communicate? Why do you communicate it? Who’s your audience? What’s the best way to reach that audience? What are your goals? How are you going to reach those goals? What’s your style? Who’s responsible for the communication? Who makes the final decisions? Is communication a priority? [Church Websites 101: Don’t Start with the Web]
- Facebook. Worldwide, there are over 1.55 billion monthly active Facebook users. Age 25-34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic [Zenphoria Digital Marketing]. Are you concerned about young people in the congregation? Are you advertising in the Yellow Pages and/or do you have multiple Facebook minister in the congregation who minister intentionally help others and relay opportunities for others to serve? Do you have a Facebook church page besides your website? Does it appeal to outsiders as well as insiders? Are you Facebook friends with members of your congregation? Do you watch for opportunities to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, NKJV)? Do you pick up on concerns people express on Facebook and respond in an appropriate way?
- Twitter. According to their website, Twitter has 320 million active users. There are 1 billion visits each month to sites with embedded tweets. If this isn’t making sense, recruit some of your teens and twenties to help.
- There are many others: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus+, Tumblr, Instagram. Paul said, “to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Brandon Edwards has taught me about the power of the internet and it’s blessings. I heard him two years ago at Freed-Hardeman. I was encouraged with what they were doing in Buford, Georgia to evangelize with a good website and Facebook. He has moved to Lewisville, Texas and continues to lead the way in reaching out to people who no longer use rotary pay phones.
You can read about some of his work on his website: Hidden Bridge Media .
Years ago, I heard a man say, “I don’t mess with those telephones. If I want to talk to somebody, I let my wife dial it and hand it to me.” I wasn’t impressed with his conservatism. When I hear leaders in the church make similar observations about computers and the internet, then lament the fact we are not attracting and keeping our young people, I hear a disconnect. That is not conservatism. It’s neglecting the powerful tools God has given us in 2016.[tweetthis]Don’t mess with telephones. If I want to talk to somebody, I let my wife dial it and hand it to me.[/tweetthis]
Thank God for printing presses, telephones, horses, buggies, cars, trains, airplanes, radio, TV, computers, tablets, the internet, and smartphones and for the people who are using them to the glory of God by telling the Good News. These devices are neither good nor bad but tools that can be used to carry God’s message. There are many free tutorials on YouTube . I’m using paid classes taught on www.lynda.com to help me improve my skills. I found “mustard seeds” in these courses:
There are many opportunities to get the message out with reasonable investments.