My wife and I recently realized one of our dreams, and moved to an acreage in the country. We are on the outskirts of the same metropolitan area, but completely on the opposite side – over 50 miles from our old house. Too far to commute, we needed to find a new church. Since we are not very familiar with the new area, it’s been a wide open search.
Fortunately, there are lots of options. There are a dozen rural churches nearby, and if we go 15 minutes back toward the city, there are a hundred more in the suburbs. (yeah, we live in the Bible Belt.)
Too many to visit. How to choose?
Hello internet. In a few hours of web surfing we were able to “virtually visit” dozens of churches. From that “shopping” we identified a couple to visit. Yes, a couple out of dozens of good prospects.
We didn’t bother researching churches that didn’t have websites. There are too many churches with websites that we can evaluate, we will never have time to read yellow pages ads or church listing in the local newspaper.
If a church’s website was old, broken down, and out of date, then we subconsciously assumed the church was too. It’s not intentional, but since we don’t know anything about them, all we have to go on is the website, and most of them look pretty bad.
If the website was clean, visitor-friendly and current, then we assumed the congregation probably was too. We are not looking for some young, hip, e-church, but we do want one who is not still advertising last year’s Vacation Bible School on their home page.
My wife uses her phone for a lot of internet searching, and I typically use a tablet outside the office. Sites that didn’t display well on mobile devices didn’t get as much time during our research.
Some of the most impressive websites weren’t that big or fancy — they were just clean, easy to use, and had the information we needed. You would be amazed how many church websites have extensive sections on their theology and mission statements, but don’t include details like service times or exact locations.
From our internet shopping we identified two churches to visit first. We liked them both and will probably end up staying in one of them. The third-best website church may not even get a visit from us. Yes, it’s brutal, but that’s the way it works.
For the other 998 churches in our area, I’m sorry. We didn’t visit you because of your lousy website.