A recent post on the CTUK Facebook in relation to church websites promoted a brief discussion on how we choose the church we attend. Part of the comment made was
“I identified the style of churches we wanted to try out via the internet and then chose the ones to try out based on their site.” Now the user does say that, this was not the way they settled on their church and actually it came down to various factors including Word, Worship, Welcome.
In a time where more or less everything is on google, searching for a church can be fairly easy. The question though is, should you choose a church based on its website and technology and ignore the ones which aren’t so great at it? I hope that this post will unpack my answer and thoughts on this.
In July 2015 my wife officially moved from Watford to Sheffield. Although we had lived in Sheffield before, and been apart of a church there we decided to look around and see what else there was. we didn’t want to just go back to the place we left before. We therefore did a Google search and over several Sundays we looked at various Churches. I will freely admit that if the website looked good I would be more likely to pay a visit.
As we had both been involved in many churches over the years we had in our mind what we were, and were not looking for. One key aspect was community, a place where we could get to know others and join a cell / home group.
As mentioned, over the years I have been to a wide variety of churches. From traditional and evangelical Anglican, a church in a cinema, warehouse based churches, independents and many more. I have seen ones with amazing web and tech and others which you think, ‘seriously’ and ‘get me outta here’! Their is a saying that the perfect church does not exist and this is true. As none of us are perfect that means a church will never be perfect! We all have our own idea of what church should be and how it should look. So how should you choose a church? Well I would say this, ignore the media and tech and focus on the church itself. If you choose a church purely on its media and tech aspects then are you really choosing it for the right reasons?
In the book of Acts we read,
‘And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything with each other, selling their possessions and dividing with those in need. They worshiped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for Communion, and shared their meals with great joy and thankfulness.’ Acts 2:44-46 Living Bible (TLB)
As ‘disciples’ / believers this should be our the main aim when choosing a church, to share life, to be in fellowship. It maybe that the church you attend has a good media and tech setup but that should be 2nd. The issue is that Church tech can turn into tech church. We can end up going to church just for the tech which leads to the tech taking over and being the dominant importance. From experience when I am on sound or visuals, I am never as focused on the preach and listening to what he or she is saying as I am in techie mode. I know the same is probably true for many of you.
The question above could also be asked for musicians and should you choose a church for the music and the worship team. The danger of choosing a church based on tech, media, or music, is that unless you are serving all the time you won’t necessarily be happy.
A recent church podcast I was listening to, the vicar speaking was talking about his last Church he was at. When he went there it was not a cool church. He said that around the same time each year when things were not good he would get a job offer from what would on paper be so much better. He said how he would decline and stay put. He felt that he was called to that church. The same may be true for some of you that the church you are called to might not be the best. Nicky Gumbel tweeted ‘Stop looking for a perfect church. It does not exist. Join an imperfect church and serve in every way you can to make it nearer perfection.’
So my wife and I ended up back at the church we were at the last time we were in Sheffield and not because it has the best website or tech. The biggest draw was the community aspect, which in fact found us. I will publicly say that the community we are part of is awesome and very much like Acts 2:44-46.
So when that new hip church opens down the road with all the latest tech and that awesome website, stop, think, and pray. Maybe you should try not just using www. instead try word worship welcome.