Decades ago when many of us obeyed the gospel, no congregations had web sites, the obvious reason being that there was no internet at that time. I know that sounds so ancient to some of our young saints, but, believe it or not, we did manage to live and survive without the internet.
I want to state clearly that I am writing specifically about web sites which are operated by a local church. I am not speaking in this instance about those web sites which are operated by an individual, a family, or a different group of people. I am focusing in this article only on what the title says: “church” web sites. For what it is worth, here are some of my personal viewpoints about such sites.
A congregation can be scriptural and do its work well without having a web site. It is true. There are an untold number of congregations which choose not to have web sites for reasons that are obvious to them (insufficient funds, minimal population in the area, no one to maintain the web site . . .). Having a web site is not required; rather, each self-ruling local church must decide if maintaining a web site is expedient for it, a helpful way of carrying out the work which God has given the church to do.
What is the point of a congregation having a web site? What purposes and goals does a church have for its web site? There are some potential positives in having a web site. Churches use them to provide certain services. Churches use web sites to teach the gospel to lost people (Mark 16:15,16). Church-operated web sites can provide Bible instruction to edify the church (2 Corinthians 12:19). At the same time, they can be used as a communication tool to provide the local members with information about upcoming activities, opportunities to serve, reminders about deadlines, prayer requests, and much more. For non-members or brethren from other areas, church web sites also can provide clear information about the times of Bible study and assemblies, as well as driving directions.
Let me state the obvious: no one in the whole world would describe me as tech or computer savvy. That is not me. But, I have seen a bunch of web sites operated by local churches in quite a few nations. In my judgment, some of them are quite good. Others, well, they are more in the category of “basically worthless.” Worse yet, some web sites are a disaster because of the content which they contain (false teaching, immodest photos, or worldly appeals).
Church web sites are a reality in the 21st century. Please consider the following heart-felt appeals from an old-school guy who just wants to be helpful. If a congregation is going to have a web site, then:
1. Let us put forth our best effort to do it effectively. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). If we take great care of our pets’ health, in running our family business, or servicing our vehicle, should we not be interested in doing a web site properly?
2. Let it be up-to-date in its announcements and information provided. It is a pitiful sight to see a congregation’s web site still announcing an activity that took place months or years ago. Brethren, our God and His Cause deserve better!
3. Let it be operated by appropriate people: those who are faithful in God’s service, sound in teaching, mature in judgment, having the technological know-how to do what needs to be done, and having sufficient time to maintain the web site well.
4. Let it contain endorsements of only those teachers and activities that are sound in the faith. Some links need disclaimers. If a church does not put a disclaimer on some of the sites to which it gives links, then it appears to be giving an open endorsement of those other sights. Be careful (2 John 9-11).
5. Let it be focused on the work and activities of the church and not on fun or personal matters. Brethren, let us not portray ourselves as “the play/fun church,” “the eating church,” or “the we-will-do anything-to-draw-a-crowd church.” Let our web sites show allegiance to God and His word.
6. Let it be free from photos that show people dressed indecently or even in questionable clothing. Please, no bare bellies, bare backs, half-exposed thighs, or cleavage showing. That is not the image that God’s holy people need to portray for the whole world to view (2 Corinthians 6:17).
7. Let it not contain appeals for financial assistance. God’s arrangement is for a local church to finance its activities. How? Through the weekly contributions of its members (1 Corinthians 16:1,2).
8. Let the leaders of the congregation see to it that the web site is being maintained properly. It is called “accountability” – both for the web master(s), as well as the leaders of the church. If a web site is done in the church’s name, then the leaders are indirectly responsible for every single thing that is on it – each article, link, and photo; yes, every word.
9. If we offer some type of service via a web site (such as a Bible correspondence course), then we need to do the necessary follow up. When a service is offered, we need to be ready to serve in a kind and timely fashion. Responding to a request for a Bible course only after two months have passed already does not sound like we take that task very seriously! Brethren, we can, and must, do better than that.
Before anyone asks, the answer is, “No, no I did not have any particular congregations in mind when I penned these words.” My Christian life and work as a teacher of the gospel has been blessed by good web sites. Let us make ours the best ones possible.
— Roger D. Campbell