Help for Church Webmasters
Issue 9 01/02/02
Internet Users Get God
Did you see the article from Reuters on December 23, 2001? The title of the article screamed, One in Four U.S. Internet Users Get Religion. What?! You mean to tell me 25% of American websurfers are searching for religion!!! That is almost unbelievable.
Let’s assume that the people who did the study, (I am not making this up) Pew Internet and American Life Project, did it correctly and the numbers are correct or at least close to correct. This has all kinds of implications for the church webmaster.
Roughly 28 million adult American’s (this study is only regarding American internet users) have sought religious or spiritual information online. This is huge! Can people searching for religious information find your site? Are you listed in the search engines? Are you listed in the big Christian search engines? Most importantly, do you have any “religious or spiritual information” available for them to find? I am not talking about when services are, or the name of the pastor or the address of the church. These are all well and good, but do you have information about God or Jesus? Things like, What does it mean to be saved?, How do I get saved?, Does Jesus really love me? You are not going to have information about every topic that any websurfer might want. But cover the basics and provide links to other helpful sites.
Each day, more than 3 million U.S. adults find religious information online, up from 2 million last year. Wow! More people are access the religious content all the time. It is important to have new information available. This will hopefully help make some repeat visitors as well as broadening the base of information you can offer to new people.
Those engaged in religious activities online are more likely to search for educational or reference material (69 percent) or research other faiths (50 percent). Now that is useful information! Do you have church library available online? If not, at least provide a link to where this type of information can be found online. Maybe some ‘generic’ Christian documents would be good in addition to any denominational documents that are provided. Does your site plainly state what your particular church believes? So a non-church person would understand? Work to get rid of those big words that sound impressive but only obscure what you are trying to say. We have no examples of Jesus trying to impress by using fancy language. He spoke plainly so all could understand.
Those most active online are also most active offline in their congregations. I have often maintained that there is no such thing as an online church. Churches, by definition, are groups of people. That will never change. However, people in congregations are looking for information. Do you have content for them too? It’s great to have information for unchurch people, but don’t leave out your core audience.
You can read the entire Reuters article online here - http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml;jsessionid=ISUCLMLGBLBDOCRBAEOCFFAKEEARMIWD?type=internetnews&StoryID=475022
Hopefully this article and new information will encourage you and help you make your site be a better site. I know it is making me rethink my site!
On a side note, I am moving (in the real world, not the online world) so it might be a bit before you get another newsletter from me. I hope to have another newsletter out sometime in February.
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