The Power of a Healthy Web Presence
Timothy Gothra & Tim Gill
Have Excellent Design
In a lot of circles, vintage is currently trendy. Even sock ties and granny florals have made a comeback. But one thing that doesn’t age well, or gain value over time, is your website. Old websites are not trendy, and will not make a comeback! Design elements on the web evolve rapidly, so you must be quick to adapt.
Most people will Google churches in their area before deciding where to visit. Chances are, if your website looks like your church is stuck in 2002, with tacky graphics and bad fonts, they will pass you over.
Understand Social Media
Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking tools can never replace a church website. Consider your website the hub, and social networks an extension of that hub.
Don’t rely on Facebook, with its ads, notifications, and rants, to convey the gospel to the world. The best way to present your church and the gospel online is through your website. There, a visitor can learn what your church has to offer in a distraction-free environment. When the visitor wants to dive deeper, he can check your photos on your Facebook page, watch your services on YouTube, and subscribe to your Podcasts on iTunes.
Know Your Analytics
An analytics system will tell you who is viewing your site, where they come from, and how they landed on your page. Knowing your site analytics is crucial to knowing how to promote and expand your web presence.
What pages on your site are being viewed the most? Make sure these pages present information as precisely and excellently as possible. Are most of your page views from people in other states or countries? Then make sure your site promotes a link to the ALJC website so they can find a church in their area. Are you lacking in local page views? Then know it’s time to step up the promotion of your web page.
How can you maintain constant web viewers? The answer is as simple as it is difficult—work. A good web presence cannot be maintained simply by putting words on a page, and leaving them for the world to stumble upon. Your website must be constantly promoted and kept fresh and up-to-date.
Flow all your information through your website. Are you going to put a new sermon up on your Podcast channel, or upload your latest service to YouTube? Try embedding the material on your website first, and then share that link on social media. People who view your YouTube video directly on your website will be more likely to look around at other pages than those who view the video on YouTube’s site.
There is power in a healthy web presence. I recently worked with New Life Church in Goshen, Indiana. The pastor wanted to completely overhaul their online presence. He created a video describing the church, and I uploaded it on their new, relevant website. I created a QR code (a graphic that can be scanned with smartphones) that linked to the video and designed their business cards with the code on the back. Anyone who was given a church card could scan it and be taken immediately to the video. This resulted in many watching the video, clicking through the website, getting directions to the church, being drawn to the presence of God, and then receiving the Holy Ghost! This was all because a pastor had a vision to expand his church’s web presence.
The internet is one of the most powerful means of outreach the church has ever had. Let’s “go” and spread the Gospel with excellence!
Social media is a powerful tool for sharing insights, opinions, and beliefs. This is especially true for leaders and preachers.
If leadership is essentially influence, then does social posting by preachers harm or help their influence? The harsh reality is that some ministers have weakened their influence through rash tweets and inconsiderate posts. Social media offers great opportunity for ministry, but also requires that one use wisdom while posting.
Words are powerful. Within 140 characters is the force of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). For some, social media has become their bully pulpit where they can pontificate with little regard to how they are perceived.
Jesus warned, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). This warning surely must include written words as well as the spoken word.
Ministers, our job is to use words to spread the Gospel. This includes our posting of biblical interpretations and insights on social media. We will give an account for every hollow and harmful post. This alone should make us pause before hitting the ‘enter’ button.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
Remember, it is called “social” media for a reason. Posts do not remain stagnant on your screen. Everyone that follows you, and everyone that follows your followers, can possibly see your posts.
01. IS THIS POST ACCEPTABLE?
“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable” (Proverbs 10:32).
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable…” (Psalm 19:14)
The word acceptable means “a marker of a spatial extension toward a goal.” What is the goal of my post? As ministers, our posts should be held to a higher standard. They should be centered around goodwill and not petty feelings. Remember, the saved, the lost, the church, and the unchurched see your posts. Make your posts count for goodness’ sake.
02. DOES THIS POST EDIFY OR OFFEND?
James 3:1,2 tells us, “…in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”
The Word of God is likened to a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29), but it doesn’t say what kind of hammer. Do I really need to use a sledgehammer when a finish hammer would do? As men of God, we should seek to build up the body of Christ.
I am not insinuating one should never address tough truths; just remember to temper truth-telling with grace. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV).
Please refrain from pressing the ‘send’ button when you are wounded or mad.
03. WILL THIS POST HARM MY LEADERSHIP INFLUENCE?
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding…” (Proverbs 17:28)
Social media can have a huge positive effect on the church. A minister can reach people almost instantly. It is imperative that preachers, pastors, organization officials, and leaders in general ask, “How does this post make me look in the eyes of those I lead?”
04. AM I REVEALING TOO MUCH OF MY PERSONAL LIFE?
“Set a watch, 0 LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalms141:3).
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:2Z ESV).
Do people really need to know every detail of every meal, or every event in my life? Are my tweets and posts balanced? Revealing too much personal information can undermine one’s credibility as a minister.
Pastor, please don’t post pictures of your family that would harm them or diminish your influence. If the people you lead and those you fellowship with do not think “spelunking” (exaggerated example) is an appropriate behavior, but you think it is okay, don’t post a picture of your kids “spelunking.” Your Christian liberty may allow you to be a spelunker, but publicly sharing photos of your family doing it, in my opinion, is unwise.
05. IS MY POST TOO FOOLISH?
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4).
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
Does my post fall under wholesome words, or foolish jesting? Humor and laughter is wonderful, but should our posts be saturated with coarse and crude humor?
06. DOES THIS POST PROMOTE THE KINGDOM OR ME?
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Are my posts all about me, my ministry, or my church? Do I re-tweet, like, share, and comment on what others are doing? There needs to be balance. Evangelists should promote other evangelists. Pastors should post about other churches.
Social media is a great place to share what God is doing in His Kingdom with the world. There’s a difference, however, in lifting up yourself and lifting up the work of God.
Would Paul post a `selfie’ of Silas and himself in jail, and the hashtag #SufferingforChrist?
07. DOES THIS POST PROMOTE PUBLIC DISPUTING?
“A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Proverbs 18:6,7).
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted…” (Ephesians 4:31,32).
Hey, preacher—stop spewing the vile poison of bitterness on Facebook. Count to ten or a thousand before posting your aggravation. Could it be your tweet is not conviction at all, but rather an angry outburst to get back at someone?
There’s a reason the Bible says we are to be slow to anger (Proverbs 16:32). Evil speaking (posting) can do unspeakable harm. It is the wicked “who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words” (Psalm 64:3).
There is a time and place for discussion and debate, but how convincing can one be in 140 characters or less? For some, “debate” is code for “crushing and rejecting anyone that doesn’t agree with me.”
As ministers of God’s Kingdom, we are to represent our King everywhere we go. There is no better place to do that than on social media, so let’s please ponder before we post!
“Pleasant posts are as a honeycomb, good tweets are sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (my paraphrase of Proverbs 16:24).
The above article, “The Power of a Healthy Web Presence” is written by Timothy Gothra and Tim Gill. The article was excerpted from pages 16-19 of the Apostolic Witness March 2014.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.