SWARTZ CREEK, MI – There are so many ways to connect people to churches. My wife and I traveled to Florida to escape the dreariness of a Michigan winter in January 2019. After renting a home in Lake Alfred, we started investigating a place of worship. We searched the SBC website and Google to find Southern Baptist Churches in our area. There were many choices available for us. Most factors didn’t matter to us with the exception of an early service on Sunday mornings because we are early risers.
Being close to our rental property, First Baptist of Lake Alfred’s website gave us all the information we needed. We were able to electronically “meet” the Pastor, see pictures of many gatherings, see Worship times, beliefs, post offerings and get directions. The site also offered a phone app to see prayer requests. We could request prayer through a link and it would be posted after verification. One of the benefits for the snowbirds or visitors like us, this app gave us the opportunity to participate not only in prayer for needs, but also to participate in church functions and church needs. We enjoyed the time we were there. By the way, I still have the app on my phone and regularly pray for those on the list even though in most cases, I have no idea of who they are. You see, through the app I am still connected to this church. They are on my mind and in my prayers every time a notification hits my phone!
We are back in Florida in a new area, and we have encountered a different story. Our goals did not change, but discovered a few close churches in our area using SBC.org and Google. Only one said they had an early service so that first Sunday we headed there to find out they no longer have an early service. In fact, we met another couple from Indiana that happened to be there in the parking lot waiting for the early service too. We had a good visit and we both left. Strike ONE. The following Sunday we tried the same church again only to be “late” for Sunday School because they started at 9:30 instead of 9:45 which was on their website. Strike TWO. Sadly, I did not see the Indiana couple in Sunday School, or at their 11 o’clock service. I hope they found a church.
Our second church choice did not fare any better. The 9:30 AM start of Sunday School contradicted their website’s 9:45 start, and so we were late again. Strike ONE. Worship started at 10:45 instead of 11 as posted, and experienced by another snowbird couple. Strike TWO.
The third church had an old website with nothing updated since 2016! So we drove to the church on Saturday to see if worship schedules were posted on their sign and they were. I was a little sad that they felt it was unimportant to have a website to connect with people seeking a place of worship and service.
All of the churches we visited were small to medium churches, 80-250 in size. I cannot imagine it would take much time to update a church website and attach it to the SBC.org web page. There are far too many benefits to having an up-to-date web page for members and prospective worshipers in this electronic age.
Power of the Internet can point people to your church. Is your church taking advantage of every opportunity to connect with new people in our community? When was the last time you looked at your church’s website? Take a minute and see what your experience would be if you were looking for a church. Not everyone might be at tenacious as we were in Florida.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terry Whitehead serves the Lord at First Baptist Church of Swartz Creek as Chairman of the Deacons, Sunday School Teacher and Men's Ministry. He is married to his wife, Joanne.