Gerry McGovern, one of my favorite web gurus, had the following observations on how documentation for products is shifting. I think his thoughts present a challenge to the disconnect between what the picture of Christianity presented on Sunday morning and the reality of what it means to live out the Christian faith.
We need to evaluate our Sunday morning service, website content and everything else we produce to see if it is clear about the content of our gospel--in other words, does the product of our lives and worship back up the documentation of it in God's Word?
First his comment and then why I think this applies:
This is why we go to the Web: to make better decisions. Some offline marketing or advertising message might have gotten our attention. We want to check up. We want to verify. We want detail. We want facts. Particularly for technical, complex products, we want to know what happens AFTER we buy this thing.
The “technical documentation” used to be hidden in the oven. It had no impact on the sale. It was a cost to be minimized. Now, the technical documentation is making or breaking the sale. The fluffy throwaway content that so many marketers produce has little or no relevance on the Web. If anything, it drives customers mad with its vague, meaningless branding waffle. Customers want the good stuff.
Web content is not a cost to be minimized but rather an asset to be maximized. Technical documentation is the new sales. Wow! Think about that. Big implications.
To read the entire article, go to: http://www.gerrymcgovern.com
In many churches today, what a casual visitor sees on Sunday morning communicates very little about the reality of the Christian faith (the documentation, what’s in the Bible is often hidden). This isn’t intentional—it’s often a matter of time and priorities, but if churches aren’t aware of the potential dangers, the message communicated on Sunday and the reality of the Christian faith communicated in the Bible result in a confusing sort of bait and switch.
Here are our challenges:
The Sunday church experience: a visitor attends a church service filled with decently dressed, mostly intact families. Almost half the service is enthusiastic singing and professional-quality music and stage productions. The message is designed to make the person feel good or at least better than when they came in the door. Happy, friendly people invite the visitor to coffee and donuts after the service.
The Biblical reality: the center of the Christian faith is the cross of Jesus Christ and his burial, death, and resurrection.
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matt. 16:24
The Apostle Paul echoed the self-denying nature the cross of Jesus demands of his followers:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal. 6:14
One way to avoid bait and switch
Your website can help solve this challenge by offering a careful explanation with blog entries, articles, links and who to contact for more information that explains the meaning of the Christian life. It needs to show that though Christians may gather on Sunday to praise and encourage one another that life as a follower of Jesus is not always one of happy singing.
Our best life isn’t now, but our only hope for eternity of true joy, is to trust in the one who conquered death by his death on the cross.
To create the content for your website that presents a true and complete picture of the Christian faith is a huge amount of work. Your denomination probably has many resources, and below is a list of resources from our training site, www.effectivechurchcom.com that are free for you to copy and use.
A listing of websites for those who want to explore the Christian faith, as well as for those who want to grow as a Christian:
An explanation of what it means to become a Christian
A different approach (using the idea of “closing” on a house) to show what it means to become a Christian.
Many of the seasonal entries on the www.effectivechurchcom.com site have more explanations of what it means to become a Christian and materials designed for people to check out the faith are in this overall section:
One of our most popular bulletin inserts/Christmas tracts for the Christmas season is this page:
Share what you use:
If you have other sites or web resources you have found useful, please share them in the comment section below.
Yes, we want our websites to get people to church on Sunday, but even more important, we want them to clearly explain what it means to trust Jesus as Savior and to experience eternal life.