Personal invitations apart, web-sites are surely the most effective way in which churches can attract visitors. My experience is that a well-designed and well-maintained web-site will bring in visitors most Sundays with little difficulty – then, of course, the challenge is retain the visitors!
Recently I went on to the web-site of Trinity Church, Harlem, a lively Pentecostal church in New York, led by a young pastor, with some 150 members. My reason for doing so was that I discovered that my American niece, Amanda, had become a member. What a fascinating web-site it is! The Home Page is formed of a series of headings, all in capital letters
The first bold heading is: ‘YOU BELONG’. In a world where so many people are lonely and long for community, I think that is a powerful statement to make. It reminds me of the notice which some churches display: ‘There are no strangers here, only friends who have yet to meet’. At my last church we adopted as our strap line: ‘ Central Baptist Church – a place to belong’. But on reflection the bold two words ‘YOU BELONG’ make the point much more effectively – and thus more attractively.
Under this heading are photos of people with the times of the Sunday services (10 a.m., 12 noon and 6 pm), and then comes a mission statement. ‘Our mission is simple: to win the lost, help the poor, and teach the abundant life’. What a great definition of holistic mission. This is a church clearly committed to its community.
The second bold heading is: CONNECT. This is followed by an invitation to come and be part of the church: ‘No matter who you are, where you came from or what you’ve done, we believe that God has a purpose and destiny just for you and we would love to help you find it. We are passionate about building a team to help us serve our community and build the kingdom of God. We would love for you to join us.’ Again, I find this a very attractive statement: this is a church which is seeking to bless individuals – and also its community.
The third bold heading is VALUES. It is followed by a series of seven statements:
- JESUS IS OUR MESSAGE. We are most committed to the preaching of Jesus. Our message is everything. We are Jesus people, not religious people. Methods will come and go, yet our message will remain the same.
- PEOPLE ARE OUR HEART. Our heart is for ALL people. All people are loved by Jesus. We make no apologies for being specifically focussed on reaching the lost. We desire to bring the broken home at all costs. We believe that our light is best seen in the night.
- GENEROSITY IS OUR PRIVILEGE. Generosity is about giving more than what is required. We see generosity as a privilege. We are generous with our time, talents and treasure. We go first in our giving. God has given richly towards us, it is our honour to give back to Him
- EXCELLENCE IS OUR SPIRIT. We are always going to do the best with what we have. We are on time, engaged and prepared. We do not do things half-way. If we are going to do it, we are going to do it to the best of our ability.
- SERVANT LEADERSHIP IS OUR IDENTITY. If you are too big to serve, you are too small to lead. Every leader is a servant first. From the parking lot to the pulpit, everyone serves. If you ain’t helping, you ain’t helping!
- HONOUR IS OUR CALLING. We are vocal with our honour. We submit to leadership and are thankful for spiritual authority. We choose joyfully to submit to those God has placed over us. We honour and care for those God has placed under us.
- PASSION IS OUR PURSUIT. Everything we do, we do it with passion. From our worship to our service, we do it with Holy Ghost energy. Passion drives us. Passion for Jesus. Passion for people. Passion for His church.
Again, I find this an attractive list of values. True, if I had been drawing up a list of values of a Jesus-community, I would probably have written differently the section on ‘Honour is our calling’ and would have spoken about a desire to honour the callings of one another. And yet I liked the overall thrust of this value statement – and not least the section on ‘Excellence is our spirit’, with the line ‘We are on time, engaged and prepared’!
Of course, every church is different – and rightly so. There is no one pattern for being church. Nonetheless, Trinity Church, Harlem, through its website, does challenge other churches to draw up, in their own way, their own website in an equally attractive manner.