Friday, September 30, 2011

Online Jesus Shopping

Okay, I admit that the title for today's blog is a bit misleading! It is prompted by some conversations over the past year, two in the past week. I chatted with a young couple who got married here earlier in 2011 and happily have joined St. Paul's. We have a shared interest in Creation care and I mentioned that I often write about the subject in my blog. They replied that they were aware of this. When they were looking for a place to get married they checked out church websites and the blog convinced them that we have shared sensibilities.

Last week I met with another young couple who are new to St. Paul's and are seeking baptism for their adorable daughter. They mentioned that when they started looking for a Bowmanville church, being new here, they looked online and our website listed the worship time prominently and other churches didn't. They have found St. Paul's to be friendly and a good fit for them as a couple but something as simple as listing the time got them through the door.

A few evenings ago I spent an hour with another young couple who have decided St. Paul's is the place for them and their two little ones. Sadly their church closed its doors and they started a search for a new place of worship, again looking online. And again info on the website and the blog helped them take the first step.

I can't tell you how pleased I am to have these three couples in our midst. One couple actually participated in our Exploring Your Faith classes to join, and the other two are transferring memberships from previous church homes. I have enjoyed talking with all of them, and all have a great deal to offer us.

They are part of a generation which assumes that information will be available through the internet, so we need to provide it. I'm just relieved that when they went looking they found something helpful. I find that some people who are a generation or two older assume that word of mouth and signage are enough to bring people in. Not any more, and it is important to make sure that our website is current and that we have the resources to maintain it. We are fortunate to have committed volunteers in this regard, but we know we can do more. When we put up our excellent new sign in front of the church we chose to include our website URL rather than our phone number.

We have readers of all ages. What are your observations about all this? Does this just make sense or are you still making the shift in perceptions about how we "sell" our faith community?

I suppose if you are reading this you have already bought in!


Nancy said...

For someone who is in that inbetween age, I have bought in. I have to, it's the way that we have to go, to stay connected with our younger generation. You've talked of them earlier this week, and the web is where they get all of their information. They need our guidance in sifting throught that info, but that's where they are. (I hope that our teens have read your blog this week and the wonderful things that members have said about them).

I am taking things one step further in our house in that all of our schedules are going into the computer and we are using that as our reference point now, no more "diaries". Getting there, but the 50+ member in the house is still somewhat of a hold out, but is slowly, "getting it".

Not Alone said...

Strange enough, I never thought I would use the Internet to find a new church community other than to Google an address. Yet I recently have found myself doing just that and being dismayed and impressed by the websites I have come across. It is a daunting experience and although I won't let my Internet experience stop me from checking out various churches, I am sure of the ones I am going to check out first.

Thank you for your ever enlightening, thought-provoking and also entertaining blog. Available on the internet, this will help me stay connected to my well-loved St Paul's family.

Laura said...

We found St Paul's on the web, while we were still living in Winnipeg. Being able to read the sermons helped us to know the theology was one we could embrace.
Interestingly, the other United Church in town didn't have a website at that time. We gave St Paul's the first try, and never looked back.

Nan said...

I just shared this blog with my husband who spends a lot of his time working with other congregations. It is often a tough sell to get them to move into the 21st century, but like you David, he knows that this a primary means for the techno savvy generation to gather their information. Thankfully, we at St. Paul's are using this technology as it is obviously resulting in the addition of new families to our congregation. When we travel, I don't miss the sermon, because I read it online, and I always look forward to reading your blog, David, and what others who are reading have to say. Way to go St. Paul's!!! Keep up the good work.

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