Has La Vista's site helped the congregation's visibility?

Question:

Hi Brother,

I really like the La Vista's website and have been trying to convince our men that, in order to increase our visibility and effectiveness in the area, we should do something similar. I've suggested we include God's word on subjects such as baptism and various sins in general, and then invite those who read them to comment if they disagree. The idea is to possibly open some avenues of study. Sadly, my idea was not met with much enthusiasm, though I've never heard exactly why. 

So that I don't keep offering the same suggestion; have you found that the Questions and Answers, and Morality links on the La Vista site have increased visibility to the denominations round about? Have people contacted the church in order to continue discussions based on what they read? Also, has the church there suffered any local backlash by teaching from God's word, by offending those who do not hold to God's teachings?

Our congregation is smaller, maybe 20 people plus visitors, and we're in a city with a major, and highly liberal, university. I could see some student group packing our assembly and disrupting the service, based on teaching against any kind of sin. I'm not sure how well our brethren would hold up to such an assault.

If your format is working, please let me know. I'm reluctant to say too much about us because some may feel I've crossed some line. All I know is, it's one weapon from the arsenal which we haven't tried. Handing out literature, mailings and knocking on doors is rarely productive. I think we should try to reach those in the denominations who claim God's name; yet, really know nothing of Him.

Any comment you may offer will be appreciated, thank you brother!


Answer:

Thank you for the kind words. La Vista is not a large group. We currently have about 30 attending. We are in the Omaha metropolitan area, which has just under a million people. We try different things to see what is most effective in reaching people in the area.

Strangely, it is only recently that the web site has been drawing visitors. You have to remember that the Internet is really an international medium. By far, most of the interaction is not from local people. For example, while we have had 14,676 visitors in the last week, only 9,894 are from the United States and only 51 are from the Omaha region. What I've been finding is that when it comes to personal issues, people would rather talk to someone whom they are not likely to meet on the street. However, the congregation here, while we want local contacts, knows that it is our duty to spread the gospel wherever that may be. Still, 51 contacts per week is not bad, even though few will show up at our doors.

A second thing to keep in mind is that material on a website can remain available for people 24-hours a day. It takes effort to create good content, but once it is there, you grow it.

I strictly control responses to the web site. I don't allow direct responses because so many people out there will post trash for no other reason than to cause problems. That is why everything is emailed in and I then respond after cleaning up the questions and comments. What I've noticed is that while people are quick to make nasty remarks when they believe they are relatively anonymous, they rarely will do something that will get them into personal trouble -- and disrupting a church service is illegal in most places. But never let fears of what might happen stop you from teaching the Gospel. "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God" (II Timothy 1:8-9).

What I generally see is that most people aren't willing to do the continuous work of generating good content for a website. It takes effort and commitment. I suspect that in your group they are worried about the cost, but more so who is going to be doing the work. The cost actually doesn't have to be all that high if you are able to do most of the work yourself.

In regards to visibility, the web site has far exceeded my expectations in that area. I have literally gone to the other side of the world and when someone realizes that I'm the one behind the web site to start telling me how much they enjoy learning from the information found there. I'm not out for fame, but it is fun to know that people have heard about a small congregation in the middle of the United States.

Thanks Jeffrey,

Oddly enough, I used the La Vista website to demonstrate what I had previously suggested a number of times, and the response was better, so much so, that we talked about it for about 30 minutes. We also have a new member who was once an elder, and he seemed to tip the balance toward better use of the website.

I also read the La Vista "mission statement" about what you are and aren't, and everyone agreed that it provokes thought without being offensive. The point I wanted to make is that, unlike other websites that use the "we're Christians only who follow the bible", or "we're God's family, full of hugs and kisses", you go right to the point, that God's church isn't a social club, a food bank or some hallelujah family.

May God bless your work, and the brethren there. Thanks Jeffrey!