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January 22, 2014

THE “CORNERSTONEOFCHURCH WEBSITE

Grace and peace to you from Church Plant Media. A few months ago we shared some thoughts here about how A Church Website = an Online Building. In that post we encouraged people to consider how certain aspects of a brick-and-mortar meeting space can help people understand the form and function of a church website. To illustrate our point we described 5 items that make up every building: Cornerstone, Foundation, Floorplan, Exterior, and Entrance.

For the next few installments of Web Stuff Wednesdays we would like to unpack these 5 items for you. Today, we take a look at the Cornerstone. Here is how we defined this important element:

The cornerstone determines the position of the building. Its location is mission critical because every part of the foundation is positioned in reference to the cornerstone. The cornerstone of every church website should be the gospel of Jesus. When you clearly articulate your belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the sinless substitute for sinners like us, you are positioning the cornerstone of your online ministry presence. If your website does not share the gospel, then that is where we suggest you start. When you get the gospel right, everything else will be able to line up accordingly.

We can never share the gospel too much, especially on a church website. The good news about Jesus needs to be the heartbeat that drives the lifeblood throughout your content. It is the North Star that will guide what you need to say and how you need to say it. In another post we explained How to Share the Gospel on Your Website. We exhorted churches to share both the problem (law) and the solution (gospel). This type of proclamation serves both the believer AND the unbeliever. Pastors need to be regularly reminding their congregation about the gospel through sermons, blogs, and social media. We all forget the gospel and we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus.

Many churches see their website as an online billboard while other churches see it as an online tract. But we think it might be more helpful to see your church website as a vehicle for ongoing gospel conversation. Reflect on questions like these: What is happening in your life and how are you bringing the gospel to bear on your situation? What opportunities or challenges has the the Lord put before your church and how does the gospel inform your understanding of those things? In the same way that a compass is always pointing to true north no matter where you turn, your church website should always be pointing to the gospel no matter where you look. As Mark McCloskey has put it, “Tell It Often — Tell It Well”.

May these 480 year old words from Martin Luther kindle your content:

Here I must take counsel of the Gospel, I must hearken to the Gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do (for that is the proper office of the Law), but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me: to wit, that he suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The Gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the Gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth. Most necessary it is therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.
(Martin Luther on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians)

Gospel blessings from Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

Web Stuff Wednesdays

January 08, 2014

CHURCH PLANT MEDIA ~ A LA CARTE

Happy New Year from your friends at Church Plant Media! Now that we are several days into 2014, we wanted to take a brief look back at some posts from 2013. We also wanted to ask you, the readers of Challies Dot Com: how can we serve you in this New Year? What topics would you like us to cover in future “Web Stuff Wednesdays” posts and what questions do you have about websites for church & mission?

In our 1st post: Introduction to Church Plant Media we shared the following.

After 15 years of building websites for churches, we have learned a few things about the web and our hope is to serve you with what we have learned… But in order to do so, we need your help. We would love to hear what challenges you are facing with your church website and what hurdles you would like to overcome.

Thankfully a number of people posted their church website questions. The following links will take you to the sponsored posts that answer those questions. If you don’t have time to go read them, we did a brief synopsis of each post below. We would love to get your feedback on what you found helpful and what questions you still have. Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Counting the Cost of a Church Website
Carl asked about the advantages and disadvantages of sites you build and host yourself vs. sites that are built and hosted by a company. We explained that with any building project you usually “get what you pay for” and it just depends on how much you know or who you know. Usually if you do more of the work you will be paying less in dollars but you end up paying more in time and vice versa.

A Church Website = an Online Building
Joanna asked how to graciously but persuasively make a case to church leadership that a quality website is really important. We encouraged her to help her leaders think of the website as an online church building with a: Cornerstone (determines the position), Foundation (needs to be big enough), Floorplan (maps out every room), Exterior (the outer expression), Entrance (the first impression).

Whosoever Will May Read Your Content
Dan & Denise asked if church websites should target researchers, skimmers, visitors, or members. We answered yes and suggested the acronym D.R.O.I.D. as a handy content strategy: D = Disclose (who, what, when, where, why), R = Retrieve (get them in and out quickly), O = Organize (find it in 3 clicks or less), I = Increase (from simple to complex), and D = Disciple (shepherd the flock of Jesus).

How to Keep Church Website Content Fresh
Brett asked how to keep his content fresh with limited time, resources, and staff/volunteers. We understand this may be easier said then done, but we think you may be sitting on content you have not even thought about. We shared what we like to call the ABCs of fresh content: A = Ask and you shall receive some help, B = Batch and your burden will be light, C = Catch and it will not go to waste.

How to Share the Gospel on Your Website
We wanted to encourage churches to share the gospel online knowing that Christmas time is when people are the most likely to attend a church service and visit a church website. We recommended listening to a sermon from our friend, Dr. Voddie Baucham, and we encouraged churches to share a gospel that explains both the problem (how we broke God’s law) and the solution (how Jesus paid our fine).

Using the www for Winter Weather Warning
Tim asked us to help readers put together an inclement weather strategy. If you have wondered how to announce the news that the Grinch stole your winter gathering, we explained how the acronym S.N.O.W. is helpful: S = Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), N = News Channels (Radio, TV, & e-mail), O = Outdoor Signs (Signage “just in case”), and W = Web Homepage (Banner & blog post).

If you have a website question, please post it in the comments below. We want to continue bringing you helpful content, and we need your feedback to do so. Thanks for your help!

Blessings from your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

Web Stuff Wednesdays

December 18, 2013

USING THE WWW FOR WINTER WEATHER WARNING

Christmas greetings from your friends at Church Plant Media! Before our various holiday celebrations, we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Due to all the recent snowfall across North America, Tim has asked us to help you put together an inclement weather strategy for your church. A few of our team members live in the Northeast, so we have some first-hand experience with this topic. So if your leadership team has been wondering how to announce the news that the Grinch stole your winter gathering with a blanket of white, consider the following.

We have found the acronym S.N.O.W. to be helpful:

  1. S = Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  2. N = News Channels – Radio, TV, & e-mail
  3. O = Outdoor Signs – Signage “just in case”
  4. W = Web Homepage – Banner & blog post

1. SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook and Twitter may be the fastest ways to spread news about winter weather warnings. Social Media is where people “live” online so it can be very effective. In June the Barna Group did a study called The Rise of the @Pastor where they found that over one in five churches (21%) use Twitter and 70% of churches use Facebook. Both of these numbers grew around 10% in the past 2 years.

The Barna study also stated, “In fact, more than two-thirds of pastors (65%) say they think social media will be a significant part of their ministry over the next two years alone. Comparatively, about one-third of Protestant pastors say they think social media is overrated and not necessary to their ministry.” If you are reading this blog post we are guessing that you are in the ⅔ majority.

2. NEWS CHANNELS

Getting the word out about your weather related response should include news outlets like local Christian radio stations, local TV news, and church-wide e-mails. This usually depends on the severity of the weather, the size of your congregation, and your location, but many radio stations will be happy to run an announcement about your closing or cancellation. Often TV stations will do the same.

Usually a church-wide e-mail will reach most families before they try to travel in the snow. Whether folks read their e-mail on their computer, smart phone, or tablet, a majority of people are connected enough that they will get the update. One tip is to mention in the e-mail that people should call their prayer chains and small groups with the news, along with anyone who may not have access to e-mail.

3. OUTDOOR SIGNS

Depending on where your church meets and how easy it is to get there, you may want to consider posting some kind of signage “just in case” people make the trip. This can be as simple as a handwritten note on paper that is taped to the front door. Or if you have a church sign out front with moveable letters, that would be the ideal place to post a weather advisory for those who brave the cold.

Regardless of when and where you meet, most likely there will be someone who does not see the notes on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, the radio or TV, and they won’t bother to check the website. They may think that if they can drive, so should everyone else. If you can make it over to your meeting place, you may want to serve them with a note to politely tell them to go back home and stay safe.

4. WEB HOMEPAGE

To round out your action plan, you should make strategic use of your website homepage and blog to let people know about the cancellations or closings. As a website company with over 15 years of experience, we have seen first hand how a website can be an effective weather warning tool. The homepage “hero image” (banner, rotator, or slider) will always “save the day” with your big announcement.

In addition to creating an eye-catching graphic for your homepage, the church blog is the next best place for this kind of breaking news. It would even be wise to link the “hero image” to your weather related blog post, so your website visitors will get the news fast with the graphic and they will be able to click to learn more about when and if the meeting will be postponed or cancelled.

We hope this strategy helps you sing: “Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW!”

Merry Christmas from your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

Web Stuff Wednesdays

December 12, 2013

Logo

After a year-long project, it is our delight to unveil to you our newest iteration (or upgrade) of Monergism.com. We have thankfully, with no small effort, reached our goal of making significant user-friendly technological improvements to the website which, we know, will greatly benefit you and Christians around the world. During this time, many of you have stood along side us – making this ministry possible by upholding us in your prayers and your financial contributions.

Monergism.com began 14 years ago as a simple one-stop hub to promote free online resources that strives to be (by the grace of God) both consistent and Christ-honoring. The Lord has taken our simple HTML page with a handful of visitors and morphed it into a massive database-driven index of resources for hundreds of thousands of unique monthly users all over the world.

We realize that, to many, change is not always a good thing, especially when you are used to the previous way of doing things. But Monergism.com has undergone a major change, not in theology, but has made a vast improvement in the way we deliver content to you. Although it may take a day or two for some to get used to the new streamlined interface, but we know that once you embrace the change, you will never want to go back. Our engineers did some amazing work, and I thank God for them. May the Lord richly bless this site to all who utilize it for research, personal study and devotion.

7 New Features

The site has too many new features to list, but we think you’ll be especially excited about these 7:

  1. Scaled-down simple, clean, user-friendly interface
  2. Smartphone- and tablet-friendly interface
  3. Vastly improved search
  4. Automatic broken link removal
  5. Daily blog
  6. Browse by topic, author/speaker, or scripture
  7. RSS Feed

Here is a little bit more about each of these new features:

New Monergism.com1) Scaled-down simple, clean, user-friendly interface. Although many people expressed an affection for the old site, we found that during some user-testing some people expressed being “overwhelmed” or “intimidated” by the sheer amount of data before them. So one of the main goals of the new iteration was to make the site as usable, the content easy to navigate and clicking as intuitive as possible. This gives the visitor a better subjective experience and an overall sense of control and peace of mind when navigating the site. See the new home page here.

smart phone view2) Smartphone- and tablet-friendly interface. Greatly enhances the experience for those who frequent the site on mobile devices. No need to download an iPhone or Android ap. Simply log on to the site at Monergism.com and it will automatically shrink to conveniently fit whatever device you navigate the site with.

This is one of the most promising aspects of the upgrade and will prove most useful to those love sermons and frequently download Mp3 files. My recommendation for these users is to either do a search and select “MP3” as the format OR (EVEN BETTER) to click-thru and navigate the Old Testament and New Testament sections, which are filled with sermons and lectures on every chapter of the Bible. The website perfectly collapses into the shape of your smart-phone or tablet screen and you will be able to download the MP3 file directly to your device.

This will also be useful for those who are reading our blog and other resources posted on our website, but it may not work for written resources from links that take you off-site, with the exception of .pdfs files.

search3) Vastly improved search. The old search tool wasn’t bad at all … but this new one hits it out of the park.

The new “Discreet Vocabulary” developed by Travis Carden shows up on the left edge of every search and gives the user dozens of options which enable the user to dig deep with minimal effort.

  • You can “Sort by” Newest, Editor’s Rating, Title or Relevance
  • You can “Filter by” Scripture, Topic, Author/Speaker, Series. Format, Website or MP3

But trying to explain this to you with language is really inadequate. You have to actually try it out for yourself and see how amazing this new feature is. Searching has never been easier or more intuitive. Try it.

broken link check4) Automatic broken link removal. Our new site software sweeps the site daily to automatically remove broken links so your user experience will be greatly enhanced as finding good links will be your usual experience and broken links will be rare. After the links are removed the server will send me the list of the links it has removed so I can 1) repair the link if it is still available in a new folder or somewhere else on the the Internet. or 2) delete the link altogether if it is no longer active anywhere online.

Blog5) Monergism.com will now have its own daily blog. In the previous iteration of the site, the homepage had a “Weekly Features” section which highlighted some great content from around the web and linked to some of our own articles, eBooks and MP3s. Now this content and much more will be available from our blog. Here we will feature the best links from around the web, free eBooks, new MP3s, guest posts, and our own theological musings on the sufficiency of grace in Jesus Christ. 

In our most recent blog posts we are highlighting 1) an excellent 9-part MP3 lecture seiries by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson on the doctrine of sanctification and 2) a new free eBook of 12 sermon manuscripts by Dr. Tim Keller and 1 by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on A Vision for a Gospel-Centered Life, 3) among other things.

Browse by Topic6) Browse by topic, author/speaker, or scripture: the option to click through and browse content in a format similar to the old theological directory with quotes and a hierarchy of sub-topics.

Although we have an Amazing new search engine with discreet vocabulary, many people still like to navigate our site by clicking down through our topical heirarchy. All the quotes from the old site have been retained and, in our opinion, this is still the best way to search for a sermon on a particular chapter of Scripture.

RSS Feed7) RSS Feed: For those of you who would like to track our daily blog posts or would like to be notified every time new links have been added to the database, you can click here to sign up for our RSS Feed.

If you are a business and would like to advertise on Monergism.com, please click here for more information.

Go to the Monergism Homepage or if this is your first time visiting Monergism.com, start here.

***

“The Word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the Word cannot penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his enlightening power make an entrance for it.” - John Calvin

NOTE: This is a sponsored post.

December 04, 2013

HOW TO SHARE THE GOSPEL ON YOUR WEBSITE

Hello again from your friends at Church Plant Media. We’re here with a few more ideas for your church website content. With Advent upon us and Christmas quickly approaching, we wanted to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to share the gospel online. As we all know, this is the time of year when people are the most likely to attend your church service and visit your church website.

In his book, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus, Pastor Jared Wilson writes, “The gospel’s content—Jesus’s sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection—is deep and multifaceted… Or we may say that the gospel is a diamond—it is… one precious jewel with many different facets, each with a brilliance and vision of its own.” With this in mind, we acknowledge that there are as many different ways to share the gospel as there are facets on a diamond. But even the beauty of a diamond can be conveyed with simplicity.

Although we thank God for all of the church websites that clearly articulate the good news about Jesus, we are also very aware that not every church takes the opportunity to tell it often and tell it well. Sadly, many churches preach about the law (God’s commands) as if that were the gospel (God’s gift). Many other churches don’t even mention the law when presenting their version of the gospel. We want to advocate for a proper use of both law AND gospel when telling the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

In order to share the gospel on your church website, you first need to understand what the gospel IS NOT before you can rightly share what the gospel IS. To understand the difference, we recommend listening to the helpful sermon What Is The Gospel? from our friend, Dr. Voddie Baucham. You can also view the transcript and read along while you listen. To save you some time, here are all of his main points:

  • Romans 9:30-33 is about a difference between works and gospel.
  • #1: The gospel is not just how we get saved or a plan of salvation.
  • #2: The gospel is not the commandments to love God and people.
  • #3: The gospel is not the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospels.
  • Romans 1:16-17 is the thesis statement for the book of Romans.
  • #1: The gospel is news and we cannot live out front page news.
  • #2: The gospel is God-centered and it is not man-centered.
  • #3: The gospel is Christ-centered and is not just theological.
  • #4: The gospel is cross-centered and is not about your worth.
  • #5: The gospel is grace-centered and is not a result of works.
  • #6: The gospel is eschatological and is not psychological.
  • You look at everything though the prism of the gospel.

Dr. Baucham summed up his message with this exhortation:

We can remember that… can’t we? It’s news. It’s God-centered. It’s Christ-centered. It’s cross-centered. It’s grace-centered. It’s eschatological. We can remember that. What is the gospel? It is an announcement of what God has done in Christ through the cross by grace to give eternal hope to those who have faith in him. That’ll do in a pinch.

This is the kind of gospel that churches need to be sharing on their websites. A gospel that explains both the problem (how we broke God’s law) and the solution (how Jesus paid our fine). The father of the Reformation, Dr. Martin Luther once said, “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin. Why? Because it will act as a schoolmaster and bring him to everlasting life which is in Jesus Christ.” Three centuries later, Charles Spurgeon the “Prince of Preachers” taught his congregation a similar truth:

I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man’s heart unless you first send the needle of the law to make way for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are sinners. And if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the sin offering. There is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no making him alive till the law has slain him.

We urge you dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please share both the law AND the gospel. Don’t mix them up and don’t preach one without the other. Both are needed. Think about them like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in the same manner that Goldilocks considered the Bears’ food and furniture: the first was “too hot” and “too hard” (the law by itself), the second was “too cold” and “too soft” (the gospel by itself), and the third was “just right” (the law and gospel together).

Here are 2 creative videos that share the law/gospel in less than 5 minutes.

We hope these ideas help you proclaim the glorious gospel on your website.

Your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

Church Plant Media

November 27, 2013

HOW TO KEEP CHURCH WEBSITE CONTENT FRESH

Greetings from your good friends at Church Plant Media. We’re back with more thoughts about church website content. For this installment we will be answering one of the questions that Brett shared via a comment on our introductory post. He asked the following:

What’s the best way to keep site content up-to-date and fresh with limited time, resources, and staff/volunteers?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the USA and many families are getting ready for their big meal. Sometimes it can be a difficult challenge to keep all of the food fresh, heated, and ready for all extended family to eat at the same time. Just as you never want your Thanksgiving turkey to get cold, it is never a good idea to let your church website get cold without fresh content. We understand this may be easier said then done sometimes, but we want to encourage you that you may be sitting on content you have not even thought about.

We like to call these the ABCs of fresh content:

  1. Ask – and you shall receive some help
  2. Batch – and your burden will be light
  3. Catch – and it will not go to waste

1. ASK

Ask and you shall receive some help. Jesus said it best, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, ESV) Ask God first and then ask others. If you do not tell people about the need, no one may volunteer. But if you ask, your volunteers may surprise you.

It is wise to ask those who serve on Sunday mornings to take a few extra steps and help with the website. If people help with your audio ministry, those same volunteers should know how to record the sermon. Once the audio is recorded, it is only a few small steps to get the sermon posted online. You may also have a blogger in your midst who is waiting for you to ask them to do testimonial interviews for a church blog.

2. BATCH

Batch and your burden will be light. If your volunteers are tapped but you still need fresh content, try to think about ways that you can kill two birds with one stone. If you prepare a bulletin every week, the content from that bulletin will make a great blog post to remind people of upcoming events, people to pray for, and any number of things that you communicate in print each week. Plus the reminder couldn’t hurt.

It would also be helpful to do a weekly recap of your worship set or liturgy. Even if your church has bulletins, many people misplace them (or place them in the circular file when they get home). Once your song leader knows what songs will be sung and what prayers will be prayed, they can take one more step and draft a blog post with your order of worship, linking to songs online to encourage singing after the service.

3. CATCH

Catch and it will not go to waste. This is another way to keep content fresh without creating something from nothing. Every preaching pastor spends at least 15 hours each week to prepare their sermon and it would be a shame for any of it to go to waste. When the sermon is preached not everything fits into the time allotted. We suggest that pastors do what they can to catch those “sermon crumbs” and post them to a blog.

Although the following verse is a little out of context, we can still learn from it. A Canaanite woman responded to Jesus by saying “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:27, ESV) Why not take a minute on Sunday afternoon or evening to catch those crumbs? They don’t need to be new ideas. Even these “crumbs” can be used by the Lord to feed a hungry soul.

We hope these ABCs will help your content to stay fresh and ready to serve.

Your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

Church Plant Media

November 06, 2013

Whosoever Will May Read Your Content

Hello again from your good friends over at Church Plant Media. We’re here again with another installment of church webology. This time around we will be answering two of the commenters who posted questions to us via our introductory post in September. Dan Alger commented, asking the following:

Do you think it is best to have a website that contains LOTS of information (long history of the church, long doctrinal statements, blogs, resources, worship explanations, etc. etc. etc.) so that people who tend to be “researchers” can get all the information they need to make decisions about your church, or is it better to be thorough, but simple to make the site more accessible to those who do not want to sort through a ton of details? Or perhaps some hybrid of the two is best? I’ve seen websites that pursue each of these philosophies and I’m not sure which practice is most effective.

Then Denise W. commented after Dan, asking the following:

Thanks for letting us ask questions! Should a church’s web site be primarily visitors (believing or unbelieving) who may be interested in visiting the church? Or should it primarily be a place to put information that will benefit the members of that church?

Dan & Denise: The answers to your questions are: yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! As mentioned in our last post, we encourage people to consider that a church website = an online building. If you seek to serve both believers and unbelievers along with researchers and casual visitors in your brick-and-mortar meeting space, then you should seek to serve them all with your website.

Another way to think about this is to ask the question, “who is the target audience of the gospel message?” The Apostle Paul provides us with a helpful answer, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them… I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23, ESV). With a church website we should endeavor to serve all types of people by all means of content, in order that Jesus might save some with the gospel.

This may seem like a daunting task, but as the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” So let’s take a few small bites together to better understand how to focus your website content strategy.

The acronym D.R.O.I.D. may come in very handy.

  1. Disclose – who, what, when, where, why
  2. Retrieve – get them in and out quickly
  3. Organize – find it in 3 clicks or less
  4. Increase – from simple to complex
  5. Disciple – shepherd the flock of Jesus

1. DISCLOSE

Who, what, where, when, and why are the questions you need to answer up front. If this information is not presented clearly, you might as well pack your bags and go home alone, because your visitors may never find you. Serve people by answering these five questions that every visitor needs to know: Who are you? What do you believe? What can I expect? When and where do you meet? Why should I come? This is your baseline.

October 23, 2013

A Church Website = An Online Building

Greetings from your friends at Church Plant Media! We are back with another response to the questions posted to Tim’s blog in September. Joanna commented, asking us the following:

My question is how do you graciously but persuasively make a case to church leadership that a reasonable quality website is really important? Our website has out of date info, mismatching colors and the design looks like it came out of the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I’m concerned that it is alienating people, especially young adults newly arrived in the area to attend college, who are googling to find a church in the area. I don’t want to give the impression that the website is a magic bullet to anything but I do need to work out how to appropriately explain the impact of website quality on people trying to find a church to people who are less embedded in the digital world.

Joanna: This is a great question that we get asked from time to time. We all hope that people will be looking for a church where the gospel is preached every week, regardless of what the church website looks like. However the unfortunate reality is that many people still do “judge a book by its cover” before they decide to open the pages to see what’s inside. For most churches, their website is the “functional” front door before people step foot through the “literal” front door. This reality can be hard to understand if church members live most of their life unplugged. “Out of sight, out of mind” is the hurdle that you have to overcome.

You can overcome this communication barrier by using word pictures that the unplugged church member can understand. A helpful illustration that we have encouraged people to use is to compare the church website to the building where your congregation meets. Explain that most people will visit the church online before they visit the church offline. So if your church invests money into maintaining or improving the look and feel of your brick-and-mortar meeting space, they need to understand that an unkept, outdated website is similar to chipping paint, crumbling concrete, stained carpet, and a leaking roof on your physical building.

To put this illustration into practice, we can think about different parts of the church building and how they compare to the church website. If we can help you understand the website in the context of an online church building, you can help your unplugged members do the same.

These 5 items are important when considering a church building.

  1. Cornerstone – it determines the position of the building
  2. Foundation – it needs to be big enough for the building
  3. Floorplan – it maps out every room within the building
  4. Exterior – it is the outer expression of the building
  5. Entrance – it is the first impression of the building

1. Cornerstone

The cornerstone determines the position of the building. Its location is mission critical because every part of the foundation is positioned in reference to the cornerstone. The cornerstone of every church website should be the gospel of Jesus. When you clearly articulate your belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the sinless substitute for sinners like us, you are positioning the cornerstone of your online ministry presence. If your website does not share the gospel, then that is where we suggest you start. When you get the gospel right, everything else will be able to line up accordingly.

October 09, 2013

Counting the Cost of a Church Website

Hello again from Church Plant Media! In our Web Stuff Wednesdays Introduction we asked you, the readers of Challies Dot Com, to comment on that post with your church website questions. Carl asked the following:

If I understand correctly, there are two kinds of web sites: sites you build and host yourself and sites that are built and hosted by a company (which is what I think Church Plant Media does). Can you talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each kind? Why would it be best to use a solution like yours?

Carl: In one sense, you are correct. All church websites must be designed, coded, configured, and then hosted someplace on a server. If your church has a pastor or members who are tech-savvy, then you may be able to do all of the website building and hosting in-house. Or you may choose to outsource some or all of the website development depending on your level of expertise. But just like any in-house building project, you usually “get what you pay for” from whomever is involved.

To help you understand the advantages and disadvantages, let’s “build” on this analogy. If your church building has a leaky roof, in order to get it fixed you could go all old-school and start the project by smelting and crafting your own hammer and saw. Then you could cut down your own lumber and tar your own roofing tiles from scratch. Then you could climb up to the roof yourself and rebuild that leaking section up to code on your own. In this scenario if you do not have the skills of a blacksmith, lumberjack, carpenter, and roofer, then you’ll probably need to buy the tools and materials or hire the manpower to get the job done right. Or you might have a volunteer in the church who will work for free and you hope he can fix a roof as well as he says he can. But only time will tell if the roof starts to leak again.

September 25, 2013

Introduction to Church Plant Media

Hello readers of Challies Dot Com! Tim mentioned the following in a recent post: “For the time being I have begun a partnership with my friends at Church Plant Media, so you will be seeing their ads and getting to know them better.” Over the past few years you may have seen our Monthly Desktop Wallpaper Giveaways or our link at the bottom of Grace Fellowship Church where Tim is a pastor. Either way, we are thankful for this opportunity to connect with you.

Earlier this year we spent some time with Tim at The Gospel Coalition National Conference (TGC13) in Orlando. After talking, laughing, eating, and praying together with Tim, we grew in our friendship and appreciation for how much he loves Jesus and the gospel. Tim is the real deal and we are grateful to be partnering with him. While we were together at TGC13, Tim shared a few thoughts about Church Plant Media that we recorded on video. If you are interested in what he had to say, we’ve posted the video at this link: churchplantmedia.com/challies. Enjoy!

After 15 years of building websites for churches, we have learned a few things about the web and our hope is to serve you with what we have learned. Every other week for the next few months at least, we will be bringing you several “Web Stuff Wednesdays” posts. In that time we hope to answer a few of your church website questions. But in order to do so, we need your help. We would love to hear what challenges you are facing with your church website and what hurdles you would like to overcome. Or maybe you are a seminary student that the Lord has called to plant a church and you are not sure where to start.

To help us serve you, please post in the comments with your questions about websites for church and mission. We will glean from your questions and come back with our first answer in a few weeks. Thanks in advance for your help! If you can’t wait that long, feel free to give us a call at (800) 409-6631 x 1.

Your friends @ Church Plant Media

Church Plant Media

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