Church websites support growth

/ 28 March 2007

Hmmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this report, but I suppose it makes some intuitive sense.

"According to the new report “FACTs on Growth” from the 2005 Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey, written by Episcopal researcher Kirk Hadaway, creating a church website is one of the most effective means of spurring church growth. The FACT report shows that a website alone won’t drive church growth, but an active website supported by an online community will make a huge difference.

Commenting on these findings Scott Thumma, a professor of sociology at Hartford Seminary, suggested that newcomers are particularly drawn to churches that present an outward-looking, nontraditional, future-oriented image.

"At a time when church attendance seems to have an increasingly difficult time fitting into busy people’s schedules, perhaps the road of technologically-enhanced faith will indeed be the salvation of church life,” said Thumma."

It's that last sentence I have problems with -- "technologically-enhanced faith as salvation of church life." I think it's far more likely that churches that use tools like blogs and other ways of supporting community, are actively attending to their members and reaching out in interesting ways. The outreach and the attentiveness are what matter, the digital tools are simply characteristic of those communities. But you can reach out to your community and listen carefully without digital tools -- especially if your community is on the "wrong" side of the digital divide! The key is listening and respect.