To Build or Not to Build Church Websites.
A while back I decided that a great way for me to use my web design and copywriting skills for the church at large would be to design and write church websites. So, I came up with the idea for the “24/7 Evangelist”, which was a website written specifically to connect with that particular congregation’s ideal audience. The ultimate purpose of the website was to get outsiders to connect with the congregation and its ministry in a way that allowed the congregation to transform them from visitors into members.
It was a great idea. After all, it’s safe to say that most church websites are low quality. And even websites with really good design are usually not written to connect outsiders in a way that triggers the desire for more. So, it was obvious that what I offered would be uniquely powerful.
But I quickly discovered that I had a major problem…
I am a progressive Christian coming from a radical or revisionist respective. I believe that more conservative approaches to Christianity have done serious harm to this world. Today, we see right-wing fundamentalists and evangelicals upholding and insisting upon the institutionalization of racial supremacy, gender supremacy, religious supremacy, and sexual supremacy, among other particular stances that repulse me.
What if a congregation were to contact me and ask me to build a “24/7 Evangelist” for them, and that congregation upheld values and beliefs I did not want to promote in this world?
While I do not want to diminish the humanity of those who uphold these views and I will not begrudge them the ability to self-identify as Christians, I personally do not consider such values and beliefs to be faithful to the Christian calling and will not support and promote them.
Bottom line: There was no way I was going to feel comfortable building a “24/7 Evangelist” for just any congregation. I needed to craft my own marketing message so that I could connect specifically with my own ideal audience.
My Measure for Integrity
Nearly two decades ago (and it is hard to believe it has been that long) I began a blog called The Evolving Christian Faith Network. I created it because I felt a personal call to mission: I wanted to give voice to a progressive, Christian theological perspective on faith and life that challenged the normative Evangelical position. I believed it was important for people to hear that there was more than one way to be a Christian in our world.
Nearly one decade ago, when I wrote my book, Drinking from an Empty Glass: Living out of a Meaningless Spirituality, I argued that we needed a new theological framework for our new postmodern condition. For the church to be meaningful for the emerging generations, it had to use language and concepts that connected with them and addressed their existential issues, rather than relying upon old, outdated concepts and beliefs. Theological traditions weren’t meant to become rigid like stone. They became vital when they flowed like rivers, adapting to the cultures in which they found themselves immersed.
Since then, I have learned a lot about business. And I have come to appreciate the importance of identifying one’s “core values”—those things that one holds most precious. As a way of sharing myself and my perspective, I have recently identified the values I want to uphold as a spiritual leader (or, “Faith Practitioner” as Fr. Cathie Caimano likes to say) on my Evolving Christian Faith website. They are…
- Divine love
And that brings us to today. Running Progressive Christian Websites as a business is not just about the money for me (although I do hope to make a decent living). It’s also about extending the reach of ECF.
By helping other progressive Christians get their message out in front of their ideal audiences, I am actually engaging my own mission to get the progressive Christian voice out there to be heard.
Finding My Niche
Since I’ve been studying marketing, I’ve discovered the power of “niching down”. Basically, when selecting a niche, it’s important to resist the urge to cast your net wide, instead choosing to go as specific as possible.
At first, this sounded crazy. Like just about every business owner, it seemed like I would be turning away a lot of potential revenue that I theoretically needed.
But then I learned more and discovered what an amazing business practice it is. I realized that niching down from “church websites” to “progressive Christian websites” would enable me to enjoy a whole slew of advantages.
I Could Focus on Writing What I Knew Best
I get those on the outside of the church as a target audience. I did not grow up in the church, and I didn’t join it until my late twenties. So, I am in a unique position to understand the language and culture of both insiders and outsiders when it comes to church life.
Why do people want to go to church? I get it.
Why do people want to avoid church? Again, I get it.
Because of my connection with both the inside and the outside, I see great possibilities. I believe that we live in a day and age in which the progressive Christian voice has a unique ability to connect the two.
Now that I have niched down to creating progressive Christian websites, I am able to focus on speaking to the audience I know best, and my unique position makes me the best option for those who want to speak to that audience.
Expanding My Niche
Once I moved away from general church websites to focusing on progressive Christian websites, I realized that I had inadvertently opened the door to a natural widening of my niche.
Because I eliminated “church” as a constraint, I started seeing opportunities to work with other spiritual entrepreneurs like myself. I would feel just as comfortable and effective working with progressive Christian spiritual directors, spiritual coaches, and other types of spiritual entrepreneurs.
Do You Want to Connect with Your Ideal Audience?
If you are a progressive Christian community, spiritual director, or spiritual entrepreneur, I would be honored to sit and talk with you about how we can work together to make a difference in this world.
Click and get on my calendar for a Discernment Call. We’ll spend about 45 minutes together discussing how I can help you. During that call, we’ll discern whether we are a good fit.
Since this free call is on my dime and you’re under no obligation to work with me—there is no risk to you. In addition, even if you don’t end up working with me, you will walk away with some great advice on how you can move forward.
So, grab your time slot today and get ready for some coffee and conversation.