Earlier this year Christian technologist Steve Kryger conducted a survey of 100 Australian churches and asked a very simple question:
What are the times of your Christmas church services?
It's a telling question, one that is more than likely to come from Australians attempting to connect with your church this summer. The email addresses were taken from church web sites, 58% of which were not displaying Christmas service times. The response to Steve's inquiry was staggering in its level of disappointment:
- 4% – Email bounced
- 39% – Did not reply
- 57% – Replied
Take stock of that for a moment. Just over 4/10 Australian churches polled did not respond to a simple cold inquiry. From amongst those who replied Steve discovered that 14% did not actually hold Christmas day services, several had closed their offices altogether during this period, and some because the ministry team members had chosen this time to go on holidays. Steve also discovered that there was a disturbingly high correlation between those churches that didn't put service times up on their website and those that didn't reply at all. In short, both seem to be an indicator of the heart of that particular ministry for the lost surrounding them.
This isn’t a surprise – I would expect that churches that haven’t served visitors to their website are also less likely to serve people who get in touch via other channels.
This may sound harsh, but I believe that responsiveness relates more to convictions than technological abilities. Let me explain.
If you are convicted that most people will visit your church website before ever setting foot in your church, you will make it a priority to serve these potential visitors with the information they require.
If you are convicted that serving potential visitors to your church is important and God-glorifying, you will adopt the necessary practices and invest in the skills and platforms to serve these people well.
If you are convicted that you are an ambassador of Christ, you will adopt high standards in your communication. As Paul Tripp puts it:
“We have high standards because we know who we’re representing.”
You can read more of Steve's findings in his article What Happened When I emailed 100 Australian Churches. But in the meantime, what's the practical upshot for churches wishing to connect with unchurched and dechurched Australians this Christmas?
- Don't go on holidays or limit office hours
- Run a seeker-sensitive Christmas service
- Ensure the details are displayed clearly on your web site
- Make sure there is a clear email link for people who want to find out more
All part of the call to witness to summer-soaked Australians!