Like I’ve already written, people, today, don’t need to sift through large amounts of information. If I want to find out the top news stories of the day I can just bring up my personalized igoogle page and I can see the top viewed news stories according to the search engine, I also have a module that shows me the featured CNN stories and Al Jezeera. I no longer have to go to multiple websites, not to mention a newsstand. I also no longer need to leaf through all the pages of a newspaper or watch an entire news program at 6 or 10. This may make me lazy, but it also makes me a twenty-first century young man.
Hulu has further developed this trend with entertainment programming. I no longer need to be at home at a particular time during the week to see my favorite show, nor do I need to worry about missing an episode. I simply login to Hulu and all of my favorite shows are queued up and ready to go. It doesn’t matter if it is CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Comedy Central, etc. It also doesn’t matter if it is a Monday night or Thursday night show. I get what I want, when I want it.
The newspaper industry is floundering because they are still operating on the old paradigm that people will pay 75 cents to get the news from their paper. Many people, of course, have subscriptions that the paper would come directly to them, but in our information age news the next morning it is already old. More importantly, people have to seek that information through a subscription or going to a newsstand. And it is only from one source for each purchase or subscription.
As a church we still see the world through this old paradigm. We think people will seek out a particular church and only be concerned for what that church’s materials and perspectives. Even more peculiarly we, as churches, still seem to think that people will tack up the calendar from the bulletin or newsletter on their fridge; will surf to the web calendar several clicks into the church site; or, more surprisingly, think that people have a paper calendar they are writing everything on. What people really have in their pockets -many at least- are PDA’s, or more likely internet connected cell phones. What people are beginning to really value is calendars that are delivered directly to them. Our church offices should be using calendars that can be subscribed to directly by our congregants so that our calendars are sitting side-by-side with theirs (such as google calendar)….but I’ve partly digressed from my point. And the whole staff and leadership, more importantly, has to buy into this system.
The church needs to stop using proprietary website stuff. No more calendars that can only be viewed online or need to be updated by one particular person with web design expertise. Videos should not be put on the site in such a way that people must go to the website to see it. Youtube (or vimeo), google calendar and other avenues of communication that people are already using should be implemented, instead. If we do this then, yes, the website can be more dynamic and more up-to-date for people who go there, but more importantly the stories and content are out on the web for people to stumble across, to subscribe to, and to share on social media with friends. Why not setup the church website with “share” buttons so that stories, photos and videos can easily be shared to their facebook, youtube, twitter and email friends?
The church has to get outside of the old paradigm. We have to take our story outside of the new boundaries of church: the church website. …and don’t forget we’re taking stories and faith, not information!