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Websites: Reaching the lost

Joined: 02/27/2007

We've seen & heard different lists of essential website features, like must-have Drupal modules. Most of them are calendars, blogs, etc. So here's my tough question:

When a church wants its website to focus on bringing the Gospel to the lost, what features, elements, structure, design, modules, etc. provide the best tools to do so, both for their local community and to a global audience?

Every congregation is different and in a different community, so the details will change from place to place, but are there certain features that are nearly critical?

I would contend that interactivity (comments fields, etc.) is essential—that and contact information. But both of those are for those who come looking. It's a start, but only a start.

Joined: 11/28/2008
Ask them...

Rambling comments from me...

Asking people on this site how to reach the lost has one problem; we're not lost. Some of us can remember how we were brought to Christ, but it happens in so many different ways...

The first thing the website needs is a target; so, do you target mature Christians, young Christians, youth, or the lost. You can't really do all that on one website, so you may need a set of related sites. Make your target reasonably local; don't even consider a global reach unless you can support it - and the vast majority of single churches can't. They always put it in the marketing plan, but when the figures come back for implementation, it's the first thing to be dropped.

Back to the 'lost'.

I put that in quotes because really, *we're* the people defining those other people as 'lost'. But who are we to judge? They don't have the same beliefs as us (we think), but it's not for us to disparage them. Jesus never did; he just reached out to others.

Your question talks in terms of 'How will they find us', when really, it needs to be 'how will we find them'. And it certainly won't be by a website. Create the website for the 'lost' as a central resource for them. Make it useful, local, and easy to handle. Let your outreach people actually FIND the 'lost' by going out to homeless shelters, shopping centers, workplaces etc, and then use the website as backend support. Don't assume that 'lost' people have access to the internet, or that they'd want to visit your website if they did have acesss - provide material in several forms.

In terms of what should be on this supporting website; ask some people who you recently considered 'lost'. Find out what information they found most useful, and what information was a waste of time to them; a list of several local churches is useful (don't assume that they'll feel comfortable in yours just because you are there). Service times, and contact details for a Shepherd Pastor who will be prepared to link them with a suitable person who will encourage them to go to church, give lifts if required, etc.

How do we do it?

We work at a local homeless shelter once a month, and we give out free 'New Testament' books which have local churches, times and contact details on a label in the front. Our target audience don't have computers, and we can't even give them a King James bible because the language is too complicated for them. We keep the messages simple, and let the Lord do his work. We feel that a website would just be a waste of time and money for our purposes.

Peter Connolly
Technical Director
KP Direction LLC

Joined: 02/27/2007
I think I can, to some

I think I can, to some degree, answer my own question. As always, content is king.

Earlier this year, we did a "Responding to Atheism" study that was recorded and podcasted. It's gotten a lot of traffic, and all of the interaction so far has been from atheists who have listened out of curiosity.

That said, they're pretty adversarial, and most of the comments are one-shot instead of dialog, so it's hard to build relationships.