Our church is just getting started. We are still a small community of believers who are trying to reach a city. We have never averaged over 100 in attendence. We are one of the newest churches in Suffolk. However, online, none of that matters. I have worked hard getting our church online credibility. When you search “church suffolk” in google in our area (google knows your location) our website is number 2 on the first page. This is a direct result from our site being linked heavily, optimized for search engines and thoroughly prepared for google’s spyders. I encourage you to search church in you area and see where you rank in the page results. I say all of that to show you that online your church isn’t limited by location, number of pews, age of the building, etc. People looking for a church in Suffolk don’t know we aren’t the biggest, best, etc. They just know we are one of the first sites recommended by google to visit. I’d love to tell you we have thousands of people visiting, but we don’t. We have had over 600 visitors in just over 2 years. Many come from invites or postcards we send, but I guarantee many check us out online before coming the first time. Here are 3 benefits the internet affords the modern church today.
It enables churches to have a 24/7 billboard for little to no cost. We started our website before our church launched in 2008. Every month our website gets between 300 and 700 clicks. Sadly only aout half of those cicks are unique visitors. But that’s still 150 people checking out our church. The website allows them to see where we are located, what our services are like, what we have for children, etc. People want to know as much as possible before they visit a church.
It gives people who can’t make it to church anymore a way to still watch/listen as if they were there. Undoubtedly your church has people who are nearing retirement. Many people love their church, but as their bodies age they can’t come as frequently as they’d like. Our sermons are online for anyone to watch, but older church people especially love to feel like they still have a way to be connected. Of course many older poeple have a hard time with computers, but as time goes on the population (even retired peopl) will have more experience with computers.
It gives churches a global reach unlike anything else in history. The other day I was looking at the stats for our videos online. We host at vimeo.com. Their site allows me to see how many times a video was loaded, played, and finished. A video is loaded any time a webpage with our sermon video on it is visited. Our sermons are embedded in my personal blog here, on our church website, and on a few smaller sites. It is played any time someone presses play, and it is finished when someone actually watches all of the video. Since we started uploading sermons, they have been loaded 26,715 times, they have only been played 1,485 times, and the saddest number= only 107 finishes. Now those are pretty sobering numbers when I consider how much time I invest in our website and it’s video content. However, there is a silver lining. Our videos have been played in South Korea, Germany, France, Japan, India, Canada, Romania, Great Britain, Philippines, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Taiwan, Indonesia, Barbados, Moldova, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Costa Rica. Now, we are a small church, and our website isn’t even a blip on the map compared to many large churches in the world and online, but just think, if our little church can have any impact in that many countries (however small it may be) how much impact is the church as a global community having online!
So I guess my conclusion is: the internet is allowing us to expand the impact of the church far beyond our walls, our community, our state, and even beyond our borders. If our small church can have a little impact, how big an impact can a church of 200, 500, 1,500 have? What if everyone in your church posted a link to your church on facebook? Technology has allowed us a unique opportunity like never before. May we embrace every opportunity to make much of Christ.