Most churches today have a web site. Some are quite elaborate with every bell and whistle imaginable. Some are very simple with basic information about their church. Web sites have become as common as a business card. They are static sites that are usually updated anywhere from once a month to few times a year. However, more and more churches and pastor’s are beginning to see the value of a blog. In the past, some thought blogging was just a passing fad and some thought it was something else to soak up more of their time.
I believe a blog is a tool that can become a integral part of a ministry. They are more versatile than a web site and much easier to manage. If your ministry already has a web site, your web host probably offers a blog as part of your package at no additional cost. I’ve had websites hosted by Yahoo, Hostmysite.com and Bluehost. Each of them offered a blog as part of the hosting package.
Blogs are designed for easy use and multiple users. The pastor can blog and other people can be designated as blog contributors. Your blog can be designed for members to ask questions or make comments on what is posted. Depending on how your blog is set up, comments can be limited to church members who sign in with a password, or comments can be accepted from anyone; which makes it a good tool for people who are looking for a church. It gives them the comfort of anonymity to ask questions while they have a casual voice giving them information about the ministry.
A few reasons your ministry might consider a blog:
- Blogs establish a sense of community
- Blogs give you a world wide presence
- Blogs are interactive
- The church doesn’t need a web designer or an IT person to update the blog
- Special events can be easily publicized without printing extra inserts for the church bulletin
- Changes to the church calendar can be made in just a few minutes
- Emergency messages such as closings for inclement weather can be posted from any location
- Blogs can replace the need for phone trees and calling posts
Pastor Eric Stillman of NewLife Church in Glastonbury, CT made three very insightful observations about church blogs. He started to blog as an opportunity for feedback and discussion and to open up his church to a wider audience on the Internet. The quote below is just a small portion of his post, The Benefits of Being a Blogging Church:
For those who are still wondering what the benefits of a church having a blog are or aren’t convinced that it is worth it, let me share three motivations that I see behind a church blog:
1) Discipleship and conversation – In many ways, blogging is online discipleship. I have always used the blog as a forum in which to theologically reflect on something in culture, from the format of the evening news to the motivation behind the millions of people on MySpace. Hopefully, my reflections are encouraging readers to think and act more like Jesus. In the same way, I am able to read the blogs of many pastors, professors, and theologians who are way more skilled at their job or knowledgeable about the Bible then I am and gain lots of wisdom without ever leaving my chair. At the same time, because there is an opportunity for readers to comment, it opens up an opportunity for dialogue, questioning, and, occasionally, correction. Check out the “Homosexuality and the Church” post for the best example of the sort of online dialogue that is possible.
2) Hospitality – Most of us can agree that visiting a new church is not always an easy thing for people, especially checking out a church the doesn’t meet in a traditional church building called “NewLife Christian Fellowship” in a town where the typical church name is “St. Peter’s” or “First Congregational.” A church web site allows an inquirer to learn what a church is like and what they value before they even step in the door. The blog is one of the best ways to offer hospitality to a seeker, because it offers a window into the sort of things a church talks about as well as how they discuss those things. For example, one can get a sense of whether the church encourages dialogue and the expression of different opinions or whether they say things with a “and that’s the way it is, period” attitude. At its best a blog, as well as the rest of a church web site, allows a visitor to walk around the church in anonymity, checking it out without fear of feeling like he or she doesn’t belong.
3) Marketing and Outreach – Let’s be honest – more people are looking for a church on the Internet than in the Yellow Pages these days. In fact, just about every new visitor to our church in the past six months found us on the Internet. With millions of sites on the web, and many churches bigger, older, and more prominent than ours, how is it that people find our church? The answer is largely due to the blog. There is a whole secret science to which churches appear first on Google when you type in, for example, “church in Hartford county,” but two of the most important factors are how often your web site is updated and how many other web sites have a link to your site. Having a blog means that our site is updated often with new material, and every time another blogger links to something I’ve written, it helps the popularity of our web site. For example, if you Google “Evangelical church CT,” NewLife is the third church on the list, behind a church in Monroe and one in Wilton. So, in the end, for hundreds of dollars less than advertising in the Yellow Pages, we are able to reach more people with more information about our church and what we believe.
If you are interested in learning more about blogging, The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey with Terry Storch with a forward by Pastor Ed Young is the best book I’ve read on the subject. I’ve read several books about blogging, if I could only purchase one, this would be it.