Today is Internet Evangelism Day. I remember when I volunteered to create a website for our church in the late 1990s. At the time our congregation was small and composed mostly of older people. The vestry (the board in charge of managing the non-spiritual aspects of the parish) was skeptical.
One member said, “No one will ever go to a website to find out anything about a church!”
The vestry decided it was acceptable to have a website as long as it didn’t require any money or any time from anyone except me. I agreed to pay for the domain registration and hosting and to provide the labor to create and maintain the site. That first site was just a few pages created in Publisher. Through the years I learned more about web design and updated and expanded the site a number of times. The Wayback Machine has snapshots of the site as far back as 2001.
Even that first little unsophisticated, almost amateur-ish site was effective. For many years, the Internet was the major source of visitors and new members to the parish. We also reached out to people around the world through our prayer ministry and through the extensive information and links to other Christian resources on the site. A few years ago, I had to resign as webmaster to care for my husband, so I don’t have the current statistics, but I’m sure the website is still serving the parish, potential members, and those who need prayer or who want to learn how to become a Christian.
Our parish has grown and we have people of all ages, and many of those individuals are active in social media. We have a public page for All Saints Anglican and several private pages for prayers, slides and material from discipleship classes, and more. Our rector, Father Chip Harper, uses Facebook as a tool for ministry.
The Internet Evangelism Day website states:
The Internet has become a 21st century Roman road, marketplace, theater, backyard fence, and office drinks machine. Web evangelism gives believers opportunities to reach people with the Gospel right where they are, just as Jesus and Paul did. The Web is an open window to the whole world.
The Web’s explosive growth has been remarkable. In ten short years, it jumped from being a minority hobby for computer enthusiasts to a communication medium used by over 1000 million people worldwide. If your visit to this website lasts ten minutes, in that period 460 people will have used the Web for their very first time.
Our church started doing Internet evangelism many years ago, but there is still more we can do. If your church isn’t evangelizing online, maybe it’s time to start.