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Church Internet Use Decreases

According to a study published a few months ago by The Barna Group, churches continue to lag behind in their use of Internet technology.

The Facts:
Only 56% of churches use “email blasts” or eNewsletters to communicate with people in their congregations. That percentage is unchanged from a similar survey conducted in 2005. Less than 2/3 of churches (62%) have a website. That is up from 57% in 2005.

Among other Internet technology being used – 1/4 of churches have a presence on a social networking site like MySpace, 1/6 podcast, and 1/8 blog.

I can understand why churches – particularly smaller churches – wouldn’t be doing social networking, podcasting, or blogging. Those are more time-intensive and technical tasks and are not as widely used by other churches. That’s not to say that they aren’t widely used by people. Blogs are becoming more and more popular and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are some of the most popular websites on the Internet. In fact Facebook is growing by millions of new users every year.

What I am surprised at is that such a large percentage of churches are still don’t have a website and don’t have an eNewsletter.

At this point, websites and eNewsletters are beyond the late majority on the innovation adoption curve. In other words, the vast majority of people uses websites and subscribes to eNewsletters or RSS feeds and would utilize their church’s website and eNewsletter if it had them. Additionally, a website and eNewsletter continue to be among the most time-effective and cost-effective ways to communicate.

How much does your church spend on sending out a paper newsletter every week or month?

In most churches, if you switched to using a combination of an eNewsletter and putting information on your website, you could reduce the number of paper newsletters you send out to just a handful as most people are online and using email these days. If you don’t want to do away with your paper newsletter, then at least you are giving people another, more convenient option (the website can be accessed from anywhere at any time) and the website and eNewsletter will help to make sure more people are actually reading the information.

There are even Christian website hosts, such as OurChurch.Com and others, that offer free websites with easy-to-use online website builders, eNewsletter features, and even blogs making it both easy and free to have these.

Money is no longer an excuse for not have a website, eNewsletter, or blog.

If time is your excuse, you may want to reconsider that as well. With the online website builders available, you can setup a website in about 15 minutes or less. Updating the site can be done quickly as well online with little technical know-how. If you currently create your paper newsletters in a word processor program like MS Word, when you want to send an eNewsletter, you can simply, copy/paste the information from your paper newsletter to the eNewsletter feature and send out the newsletter. That could take as little 5 minutes.

Time is no longer an excuse for not having a website or eNewsletter.

I’ll throw in one other enticing bit of information in the hopes that it may push a few more churches over the edge to create a website. Consider your church marketing. Search engines now far out perform the phone book as a source for finding information about churches. In other words, when people look for a church, less people use a phone book than use search engines. If your church doesn’t have a website, then the people using a search engine to find a church will never find your church. I know I personally haven’t used a phone book in over 5 years.

No more excuses. It’s time for your church to get a website.
Kurt Steinbrueck is the author of the Church Marketing Online blog. He has been Director of Marketing Services with Ourchurch.Com for over 5 years providing Christian search engine optimization services including services specific for church marketing solutions and private school marketing. Kurt is also a Deacon at his church.

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