Many churches today are not even an alternative to the lost people of their community. It is unfortunate, but a fact that many Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in general, do not appear on web searches or have websites, let alone have websites set up for mobile devises. Some church leaders will stop reading right there, and will not modernize the way they communicate. They do not realize that the ear of young people in their community has been lost.
This is despite the fact that of the 77 million Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) in the US, 85% own smart phones. This information comes from a Nielson poll taken in the second quarter of 2014. Not only that but 71% of all adults 18+ own a smart devise.
Keep in mind that these devises are not just toys but tools as many young people are using their phone to make important decisions. A June 2014 study by Mitek and Zogby Analytics, revealed that Millennials attempt to access a business's mobile site at a very high rate: 24% - Multiple times a day, 20% - once a day, 27% - few times a week and 12% monthly. Churches are not a business, however this reveals Churches have been behind the curve in this mission field. What if a young couple looking for a church, used their tablet or phone in their search? How would you do?
Don't worry I am not letting church members off the hook, personal evangelism is the most important aspect of spreading the gospel. However, just like the printing press forever changed how we interact with people so too has electronic communication.
So, are you an alternative to those looking for a church or a deeper relationship with God? Here is a simple test to find out. Don't worry, everyone can do this as it is no more than a simple search with a few caveats.
1. Turn on your laptop, mobile devise or desktop computer. If you don't have one borrow the youth minister's or a friend's.
2. Empty the cache of the browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari, etc.). Have you ever been shopping for a new drill on the internet and then later in the day all the ads that pop up seem to be from hardware stores? Your "cache" is the reason why. We need to empty it before you do your search otherwise it will skew the results. This website can help you if you don't know how. Click Here
3. Open your browser that you just cleared the cache for and type in the search space "churches in ____________" fill in the blank with your city or town and hit enter.
4. Examine the results. If your church appears on the first page of results multiple times congrats! If you are on there once, good job but there is work to be done. If you are on the second page, you have a lot of work to do. If you are on page three or more, you will not even be considered and you are not an alternative to many in your community.
Don't get discouraged. Many of you didn't even know to check on this before today. Second, take control. Website builders often can make a great looking site, but lack the knowledge and expertise to drive traffic to the site. If they have the knowledge, they don't have the time. Find out how willing they are to help by requesting a plan to increase search engine optimization that involves volunteers from the church. Also, your site may have been built by someone that did not understand the goals or purpose. Re-think why you have a site.
Third, find help. To increase your search engine placement (move you up on the list) it takes an organic effort with several people pulling their weight. You need to have an effort that is consistent and in place for the long term. This means developing content, posting links to social media, commenting on subjects posted and generating interest in the social media/website campaign. It can be done. A church that did not even appear in the first twenty pages of the search is now on the first page, with our help and a steady effort in just six months.
Last, every church can do this regardless of size! And we need to start right now. A generation may be slipping through our fingers.
If you need help to get started or for more information, take a look at our website at www.speirocom.net or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.