The Internet is jammed-packed with holiday time marketing campaigns touting stress-free shopping, coupons galore and bargain basement prices. Amidst all of the competition, how are churches themselves getting their Christmas messages across and shoppers’ attention?
Perhaps not surprisingly, most of Chenango County’s places of worship have an online presence in the form of a website. Members find the bulletin for the most recent service, a list of regular meetings, contact names, week ahead calendars and newsletters. Many even have Facebook pages.
And Twitter, if a recent announcement from the Vatican inspires them. Beginning Dec. 12, Pope Benedict XVI himself will begin wooing the global Internet generation with Tweets in eight languages. The first will be answers to questions sent to the pope on matters of faith. The account carries a picture of him waving, and its number of followers rose from around 2,400 at the time of the announcement to more than 24,000 just an hour later.
The Internet has definitely changed the way people think about expressing their faith. They now actually shop for a parish. It used to be that newcomers relied on word of mouth and even attended several services when moving to a new community and before deciding which church to join. Not anymore. A quick Google search of the denomination’s website, for example ucc.org for United Church of Christ parishes, and entering a zip code, produces choices within a 10 to 50 mile radius. Then, users are offered individual church websites to click on for more information.