Your church website – a resource for spiritual growth

Today I’m finishing up our series on the purpose of a church website by focusing on the third purpose, a resource for spiritual growth.

A lot of Christians seem to think that spiritual growth happens only within the four walls of the church.  Whether it’s the pastor’s sermon, the music of a choir, ensemble, or soloist, the study of God’s word in Sunday school or a small group Bible study, they rely on spiritual leaders to feed them spiritually.  While sermons, worship, and group Bible study are an indispensable part of a Christian’s walk with God, our relationship with God is also a personal one.  Our personal relationship with God is dependent on personal communication to and from God.

People who are seeking God, new believers, and even veteran believers can feel distant from God at times.  We all have seasons where we struggle with doubts or have spiritual questions.  Sometimes our relationship with God can become stagnant and we need some advice on how to get out of a spiritual rut.

Why leave the people of your church to struggle with these issues on their own?  Why leave them to search for answers on Google?  The Internet is full of people, resources, and books offering a wide variety of spiritual insight, some of it good and some terribly misguided.

Every church has the ability to serve as a resource for the personal spiritual growth of its members through its website.  Here are some ways you can do that.  (And yes, if you haven’t noticed, I do like lists. :) )

  1. Explain the gospel.  Every church website should have a page that explains why and how a person can receive God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  This can be a simple text page, written in simple English without Christian jargon.  There are also some great graphics and Flash animations that provide an audio/visual presentation of the Gospel and which can be incorporated into your website.
  2. Spiritual questions.  Why is there suffering in this world?  Isn’t it enough just to be a good person?  Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?  Isn’t the Bible full of errors?  A page that includes common spiritual questions and answers with scripture references can be very helpful. 
  3. Spiritual resources.    Obviously, you can’t answer every spiritual question people will have on your website, so it’s a good idea to point people to other websites that provide Biblically-based answers to other questions.  Here’s a good example
  4. Christian search.  On your spiritual resources page consider adding the interface to a Christian search engine like OurChurch.Com.  This way people when people do want to search the web for other resources they are guided towards Christian sites.
  5. Bible search.  On your spiritual resources page consider adding a Bible search interface.
  6. Daily devotionals.  Help the people of your church spend time each day with God by linking to daily devotionals or putting them directly on your site.  Some sites provide a free JavaScript that will put a new devotional on your site each day.
  7. Seasonal/series blog.  Writing a daily blog for Lent, Advent, or a special series can encourage spiritual growth.  A devotional can be posted each day and then people in the church can post their thoughts and comments.  My experience is that this can work for 4-6 weeks but any longer than that and most people will lose interest.  Here’s an example of a Lent blog.
  8. Podcast sermons.  Podcasting or placing audio of sermon messages on your church site can be helpful for people who are not able to attend that particular service as well as for people who were moved by God through the message and want to hear it again.
  9. Sermon blog.  I discussed the idea of sermon blogs in detail a few weeks ago.  Essentially the idea is to put audio of each Sunday message online along with text sermon notes, a list of additional resources on the topic (scripture, books, links), a list of action steps a person may want to take in response to the message, a place to post comments, and a way to contact the church for help or more information.
  10. Address today’s events.  What is the truth about “The DaVinci Code”?  What is “The Chronicles of Narnia” all about?  You can help people in your church to understand today’s spiritual issues and events so they are better able to discuss them with their neighbors, coworkers, and friends.

Be deliberate not to crowd out information and resources that are helpful to visitors and unbelievers by being overly focused on the spiritual growth of believers.  Jesus always gave priority to reaching out to lost sheep over tending to the needs of the flock, and so should your website.

Do you have any other ways a church can use its website as a resource for spiritual growth?

What websites do you recommend for Christian search, Bible search, devotionals, or finding answers to spiritual questions?

In His Service,
Paul Steinbrueck
OurChurch.Com

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

3 Responses to “Your church website – a resource for spiritual growth”

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