Much of the literature of the sociology and growth of the church focuses on the broad categories of the churched and the unchurched. There have been various definitions of each of those groups. I typically define "churched" as a person who attends a church worship service at least once a month, while any others would be "unchurched." One category of religious identification that often gets overlooked, however, is the religious "nones." Church leaders must understand the trend of the nones, and its implication on church life in America.
Since 1972, the General Social Survey has asked a plethora of questions every one to two years to representative samplings of Americans. One question that has been consistent is: "What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?" From the inception of the study in 1972 to 1990, people who self identified as nones stayed consistent in the 5% to 8% range. From 1990 to today, the number has increased significantly. The nones now represent 17% of all of our population, nearly one in five Americans.
The nones are not all atheists or agnostic, but they are a large part of the category. Nearly one-fourth of the nones believe in the existence of God, so we could surmise that the rest have doubts about the reality of God. So, to a great extent, the nones represent a growing shift away from a belief in God.
So what should a church website accomplish?
We need to remember that tools--no matter how efficient, cool, or helpful--are, in the end, only tools. Having a website and social media accounts does not replace the work of God, but they certainly can give insight to those outside as to how God is moving within His body.
Many churches already have a website at this stage of the online game. That's true. But many of these websites are - to put it nicely - underutilized and underwhelming. Rather than just a series of links to news stories and announcements about upcoming events, the website should be a means of revealing your church.
Even with the advent of social media, websites are still a go-to place for information. As such, the church website should not be neglected in favor of the new social media toys in the room. With those few thoughts in mind, here are a few things that no church website should be without.
1. A clear, easy to find "Statement of Beliefs"
2. Basic boring information
3. Staff and leadership page
4. Podcasts and/or sermon videos
5. Social media buttons
Over the years, I've watched Christians take offense with the Lord. Some of them were passionate followers of Jesus in their youth, but later ended up renouncing Him. Why? Because they chose to be offended by Him.
"Blessed is the person who is not offended by me." This is the forgotten beatitude.
In this post, I want to share three reasons why Christians become offended by the Lord. In part two of the series, I want to discuss the issue of Christians being offended by others. The two are distinct, but not separate.
Reason 1: He demands too much.
Reason 2: He doesn't meet our expectations.
Reason 3: He doesn't show up on time.
We pastors say a lot. From the stage, to the phone, in an email, and in passing conversations, we are communicating with people most of our days. And while much of what we share is (hopefully) helpful, there are certain things that should never be said.
1. "If it weren't for the people, I'd love being a pastor."
2. "This week was so busy, I didn't even get a chance to work on my sermon."
3. "I don't have time for a small group."
4. "And my ninth point, again starting with the letter 'W'..." Seriously, just write a book.
5. "Someone like you is not welcome here..."