Many churches experience the same problem when it comes to keeping their pre-teen or teenage members involved in church activities once they begin to grow out their parents’ influence and start making decisions for themselves. It’s easy to keep young children engaged in church. Songs, and the communal nature of worship are a easy for kids to relate to, but when they reach a certain age, keeping them involved is a different sort of problem.
In this day and age, it’s important to speak to kids in a language that they understand, and communicate with them in the way that they are comfortable. The internet has bridged gaps between countries and generations, and continues to be the primary method through which our children communicate with each other, share their feelings, and learn about the world around them. Because of this sea of change, it’s important to have a presence online for you to stay relevant with your church.
We recommend that in building an online presence, you begin with a website. Many churches and Christian communities get by with having a Facebook profile or some other form of social network site, but when it comes to centralizing content for your community, having a webpage is the best way to do it. Once you have built a website, you can link it to a social profile such as Google+ or Facebook to build a social following. With a website, your young churchgoers will know where to go for updates and information, can send their friends links to your pages, and, in combination with a social profile, can “Like” your church to show their affiliation and faith on their own Facebook or Google+.
To many older church administrators, it seems that websites and internet interaction are secondary to the old-fashioned way of doing things, but it really cannot be overstated how online interactions have, in many ways, strengthened communities rather than weakened them. Many people are concerned that building a website requires a church administrator to know “code” (HTML) or have some familiarity already with the process of web design. However, it has never been easier than it is today to build a website from the ground up. Many web hosts offer packages to purchase a domain name and a pre-set amount of hosting resources. For a simple church website, one rarely needs to move past the bottom tier of hosting plans in many cases. With the advent of Youtube, sermons can be added and embedded into your site without even using storage space, and then can be easily viewable on computers, tablet, and phones. The resources to build a dynamic, professional-looking site are really only a few clicks away, despite the intimidation that many feel when they set out to build a website.
When it comes down to it, speaking to our young church members in a language that they understand (and through a device that they’re using anyway), is really a great way to bridge the gap between older community members who may just be getting started with a computer, and those who have been using one since they were in diapers. A basic website, even one that is built by a church volunteer with little spare time, is an invaluable tool for engaging members of your church and creating a strong community.