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A Graceful Reconsidering of the Ministry Website

The problem with our assumptions, someone once noted, is that we tend to assume they’re true. (This, despite that old quip about what assuming does to you and me!)

But if, as Einstein posited, most of our assumptions are wrong — why don’t we question them more?

Maybe it’s because we’re caught in a feedback loop of how we think the world should be — surrounded by what’s comfortable for us. Why ask a fish about the water, right?

But what we’re blind to — or maybe don’t want to see — can lead us down some unhelpful paths.

Take your ministry website and messaging, for example. 

As the main doorway for seekers to explore what you do, your site content may unwittingly communicate some misleading messages:

1. “Our website is really about us; become like us too.”

I know saying “our website” is unavoidable, but is it really for you?

If most visitors to your site are those exploring your church or ministry, will they interpret your site as a member or believer would?

Why does that matter?

It matters because if your site assumes a universal understanding of Christianity — using only words that even Christians sometimes find fuzzy, like “atonement,” or even “sin” — you might not be meeting visitors where they actually are.

Why not rather assume that they don’t understand these terms — which, culturally speaking, is much more likely the case — and seek to bring clarity to them?

Please understand — we’re not saying you shouldn’t retain good words or have Statements of Faith or “What we Believe” sections on your site. 

Those are definitely helpful — but mostly for those who are already believers, or transferring from another church.

But when surveys are showing that the average person today can’t name even half of the Ten Commandments — the law which reveals to us what sin really is, and our need for a Savior – why should we expect them to understand redemption?

2. “People will come to faith because we tell them to.”

There are lots of reasons why people doubt. Do you know them? (Take a moment to ponder some of your own). 

Further, did you suddenly believe in Jesus one day because someone gave you a list of truth propositions, and told you to accept them? Or was it rather love — worked out relationally — that wooed your heart to him? (John 13:35)

Instead of focusing on why people should believe — or assuming they will just do it because you said so — why not help them to believe?

We can start by remembering that Jesus didn’t approach everyone the same way — just read the gospels. He knew each person’s heart, and what they needed most.

We can seek to do the same, by getting to know people first. We do this by deeds of love — as we said — serving and asking good questions — not in order to trap them but to honestly learn their story and meet their needs.

You may come to find that they’ve been deeply hurt by distorted or abusive religious experiences, as many have. Wouldn’t this be good to know?

Learning about their struggles can bring a more sympathetic approach and an honest admission (where needed) that Christians often lose sight of grace (see Galatians 1:6–9).

Practical Tip: Including video clips of “Gospel testimonies” on your site is a great way to bring sin and grace “down to earth,” and let visitors know they can be real about their own stories.

3. “We know your concerns.”

Maybe you think everyone is concerned about life after death, or how the world began (evolution or intelligent design?), or even what you think are the most perplexing moral and political issues of our day.

Or maybe you think they should be concerned about those things — so you’re going to make sure they are.

Here’s a news flash: those things may not be anywhere near the forefront of their minds. So are those issues going to be your best points of contact?

You won’t know until you get to know them.

Maybe you’ll find their deeper questions are more like “Can I really be loved?” and “Does God (if he exists) even care, since he seems so remote?” or “What do I do with my shame?”

Those are deeper heart questions that are common to us all — even believers! Wouldn’t it be good for our seekers to know they’re not alone, and that we struggle with them too?

At the very least, they will feel heard — and loved — instead of steamrolled because you assumed you knew what they needed.

So ask yourself: does my website effectively acknowledge an unbeliever’s concerns and questions?

Does it address real struggles, and seek to meet people where they’re at — instead of assuming we know, or making them pass some kind of knowledge test to enter our “club?”

In short, does your website offer them a “hospital for sinners” where the healing balm of Jesus is applied?

These are important questions for ministry in general, but also as we seek to effectively use our sites to connect with real people with real struggles, as ambassadors of grace!

 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.

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Seven Passages of Hope

“The resurrection is not a stupendous magic trick but an invasion…” – Timothy Keller

In Jesus, God has broken into time and space; the future into the present. As CS Lewis said, “a cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world.” Nothing will ever be the same.

As ambassadors declaring that “invasion” of love, we must always return to the well to be refreshed. Here are seven earth-shattering passages to read and meditate on this Easter, reminding us of our source of true life and hope.

May your love and ministry be fueled anew by the self-giving, death-defeating love of Jesus – the God who took on flesh to make “all things new”:

1. John 20:19–23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

2. Ephesians 2:4–7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

3. Isaiah 53:11–12

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

4. Genesis 22:9–14

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

5. Romans 5:6–11

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

6. Romans 8:3

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

7. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480-8791.