My mother always told me, “Son, don’t work on Sundays. It’s the Lord’s Day.” Naturally, I became a preacher, and I’ve worked almost every Sunday ever since! Many of you know I am looking for a new church to work with right now, allowing me to visit many different congregations. Today, let’s think about visitors and the challenges they face.
The first challenge is just finding the building and learning the time for services. Believe it or not, many congregations don’t have a sign with that information posted. (You’ll get extra credit if it is large enough to read without getting out of the car.) I have also discovered that those churches with signs may not have a phone number printed! (You’ll get even more points if it is a cell phone number and not just a landline that rings and rings and rings.) So if you have a phone, does it have a voicemail inbox that at least announces the service times?
Of course, most people looking to visit your church will try to find it on the web first to learn more. If you have a website (and I’m sure you do, right?), has it been updated? Who cares about a potluck that was three months ago? Privacy is another consideration. The internet is open to anyone. “Prayer lists” are notoriously guilty. Health care professionals are very, very careful about guarding a patient’s confidential information. Still, we freely give out all the juicy details about Brother Smith’s colonoscopy (and often include phone numbers and addresses). At the very least, please don’t include last names! “Please pray for the Jones family, who will be out of town for the next three weeks (and the key is under the mat).” I’m sure you understand.
On the other hand, it has never been easier to create and maintain a beautiful website! There is no excuse for ugly, boring, static sites. (A great place to begin is on WordPress.org) Even if you have a beautiful site, how can you be sure visitors will find you using a search engine. Your visitors will probably use a Search Engine like Google to look for your webpage. Search engines aren’t logical. Try finding “St. John Church of Christ.” We’ve optimized our site (see articles about “Search Engine Optimization,” also called SEO), but we still don’t appear at the top of your search page! Imagine how hard it might be to find us on the net if we didn’t use SEO! (Andy Williams has a great resource that I highly recommend at https://ezseonews.com).
You’ve called or searched and found when and where the church will meet next week. So in our next devotional, let’s talk about what people expect when they visit. Meanwhile, take time today to pray for those who are searching. Lord, help us connect!