Connecting Your Church - via the Web

by Jeff Love

In Part 1 Pastor Love began describing the benefits of making the church Web site truly interactive. The principles employed to connect people to church and church to community are contained in the acrostic C.O.N.N.E.C.T. We continue with… #[The “O” in C.O.N.N.E.C.T. ]# The O stands for “offer.” Offer ministry services. One of the ministry services that we can offer everyone in our church through our interactive on-line community is free email and their own free Web page. Imagine what co-workers, friends and neighbors think as our people say that their church is giving them free email and a free Web page! Recently my wife and I were listening to CNN one morning. The commentator seemed so impressed as he reported that Houston, Texas, was offering free email service to the entire city. It was a wonderful feeling as a pastor to think “big deal, our church has been doing that for a year now through our on-line community.” One of the ways that we have made email a ministry service is by using it in creative ways to connect people in our church. For example, we sponsored a “mystery guest” contest that had church members emailing a “spotlight” member each day for clues to the contest. This fostered new relationships through email between members that otherwise wouldn’t have sent each other emails. A ministry service that is important to our people is our sermon notes area. All of my notes are posted for them on a weekly basis. This way, if they are out of town they can catch up on the sermon they may have missed in a series. They can also listen to my message through our streaming audio. E-cards are nothing new. But usually when I get an e-card sent to me it is full of banners that have ads about things I am not interested in. So, we decided to offer e-cards as a ministry service through our online community. My staff and I have found this to be a wonderful way to connect with our people. For the congregation, this is perfect. They can send one another cards with no ads attached! This is a perfect ministry tool for our church. If someone is sick, we can simply announce this and ask people to send a few get well e-cards to them. For missions emphasis, it is so easy to print a missionary’s email address and encourage folks to send an e-card! They won’t have to wait three weeks to get it! Another ministry service we offer within our online community is in the area of contributions. All who contribute to our church can view their contributions online. This is a wonderful way for them to make sure that their giving was recorded correctly and to make sure that they are up to date with their giving commitments. Not only can they view what they have given, but they can also give by using a credit card! As a pastor, I have always encouraged our people who give donations to the church to take the tax deduction because it is good stewardship. Another form of good stewardship that we have discovered comes from those who are acquiring air miles or rebates for using their credit cards. Many people are giving their tithes and offerings online and receiving these added benefits. Soon, I will have families taking vacations from the air miles they earned by tithing or using their rebates to take their families for a needed break! I love it! Just a note for all of those concerned with security: we made sure it was very secure. The system we use employs the same security system that online banks use. It is very secure with not only the financial information, but with all of the information. To be continued Jeff Love is senior pastor of Alive Church in Tucson, Arizona. He has been in full-time ministry for eighteen years. More information on the Web system used by Alive Church can be found at myflock.com