Monday, June 25, 2007

Vernon Henson would have known this right off the bat - A Proverbial look at the Grace Baptist Church (Bellingham) website

Let's start with Proverbs 6:16-19:

Proverbs 6:16-19 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

But did the following post (at "Heal Your Church Website") "stir up dissension"?

There are six things that users hate, seven that are an abomination:

1. text that’s hard on the eyes
2. flying content delivered in tongues
3. images that shed innocent bandwidth
4. no dates and times so visitors can plan
5. marquees that make waste of words that run
6. a web address that’s hard to memorize
7. and spinning gifs that sows discord among seekers

The post then links to the website for Grace Baptist Church in Bellingham, Washington, illustrating the deficiencies of the site (and yes, I agree they are deficiencies - music that plays automatically is a particular sore spot with me). Granted, there are caveats:

[W]hile I’m sure the people at Grace Baptist in Bellingham are as beautiful in Christ as any other church body, their web presence betrays this beauty by employing some very irritating and unwelcoming web site practices that have fallen out of favor some ten years ago.

But you have to remember that churches, more than any other organization, are subject to the "we've always done it that way" syndrome. Perhaps Frank (the webservant) is worried that a site update would distress people even more than a change in the parking lot layout.

One could argue that the web design is not optimized for evangelism, but then again, who is Grace trying to evangelize? Perhaps they are purposely trying to attract the MIDI-loving crowd.

And, regardless of what the website looks like, or whether the ushers wear purple ties, or whether amplifiers are ever dialed to 11 on Grace's premises, remember that a website or a tie or an amplifier does not save people.

Plus, Grace has to get brownie points for podcasting their sermons.


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Mean Dean said...

True about the tie - but if that were entirely true, God wouldn't give the majority of us eyes to take in and process information.

For example, a site that hasn't been updated - correction - a site that still rocks like it's 1999 conveys a message that the church is potentially irrelevant, possibly in disarray and certainly not willing to leverage the internet to reach out to its community.

Ontario Emperor said...

Outward appearances may not reveal the inner self. A church with the most outstanding and relevant website could very well be a whitewashed tomb. Similarly, a church with a really bad website may have priorities other than the web page.

Mean Dean said...

If outward appearances aren't important, then why not let the church grounds go fallow, leave the building unpainted and leave the parking lot full of pot-holes?

Consider this, if a church is more concerned with inner-self than outward appearances, then perhaps those already inside not going to have time for outsiders.

There's a balance - and in a day and age of free and cheap blogging tools and templates, rocking like it's 1999 isn't really a viable option for an outward looking ministry.