Jeffrey MacDonald wrote an article in USA Today a couple of weeks ago regarding church websites and their use in attracting people to different faith communities. He pointed out all the numbers that show more and more churches are using websites — 20-percent of one California-based provider’s clients today are churches as compared to just five percent five years ago — and relayed mostly anecdotal evidence to say more people use websites to go “church shopping.”
The article quotes a webmaster at an Arizona church who says their website helps people feel a connection to the church. “Just like people do a lot of car shopping and major purchase shopping online, they see what they can find out about the church online before their decision to come.”
He also quotes a religious sociologist, Scott Thumma, who says websites are the number one tool today for churches. “Having a website allows the religious consumer to be a much more informed consumer. If people can find a congregation that fits their needs and their interests, they’re more likely to make a commitment.”
When did we begin referring to church and religion and Christianity in the same ways we refer to buying a TV or making a decision to join a health club? Why isn’t that notion challenged? And isn’t it that notion that’s killing us?
John West has done a tremendous job of remodeling and updating our church website at Legacy. If you haven’t been there in a while, please, take a couple of minutes and tool around http://www.legacychurchofchrist.org/. If you’re a ministry leader or teacher at Legacy, or if you just have some great pictures, I encourage you to please contact John or Suzanne here at the office and let them tell you how to be involved in updating your specific area of the website. Our church website is, indeed, a valuable tool. It keeps us informed as a local body of believers. It aids us in connecting to each other as a church family. It provides that basic information visitors need. And it sends a powerful message about the Christ and his church to a desperate and dying world. I love our website, especially now. I urge you to visit it. Get involved with it. They’re updating it every day. Use it.
We’re hoping to, very soon, put audio sermons on the site. Maybe even someday stream live video of our Sunday assemblies. The sky’s the limit.
But may we never view the website or our programs — even Small Groups Church — or our ministries or our assemblies or our fellowship dinners as something to be bargained or negotiated when choosing a church. Or when choosing Jesus. Finding a congregation that meets my needs and serves my interests is not Christianity. It’s something else. It’s how we choose a restaurant or a movie theater, not a church. God’s church, the one he purchased with the blood of his Son, is a community. It’s a group of people united by the blood of the King helping and encouraging each other in our walks with Jesus. Christianity, discipleship to our Savior, is about submission — submission to God and to each other. Religion is an act of courage. It’s surrendering and being vulnerable to others and to Christ. It’s difficult. And it’s messy. And it’s uncomfortable.
If it’s entirely pleasing and simple and satisfying and comfortable, I’m afraid it’s not real.
You have to read Mike Lupica’s column today to get a real feel for what the people in New York really think about A-Fraud. You can read it by clicking here. And if you click on that chart to the left, you can read more numbers and quotes that further illustrate the ideas in the column. He points out Pay-Rod’s postseason numbers — 4-15 with one RBI this season, 1-14 last year, 2-15 in ’05. But he also speaks to Rodriguez’ demeanor and personality in the clubhouse that alienate him from his teammates, his coaches, the media, and pretty much all of baseball. Kinda like Barry Bonds, but in a different, maybe more subtle, way. I’m convinced there’s absolutely no way Hicks brings this clown back to Arlington. No way. He couldn’t give this guy even more money and then sell it to Rangers fans. The A-Fraud experience here was that horrible. We don’t have to worry about it happening again. But Lupica’s column is pretty good.