(In January Cory Miller wrote an article about leveraging social media for the gospel. The following blog is an example of the kind of useful “tool” that the Internet and social media can be for churches and the gospel. I originally wrote this so that our church would understand why and how we engage people on the Internet.)
Why do we tweet, blog, podcast, Facebook, do video and whatever else that will be next? The obvious answer is that people are on the Internet. We are going where the people are, where people spend their time. This is especially important for our church since most of the whole body is only together once a week. The Internet and all the connecting points it affords us is a way that we can influence and hopefully edify people between Sundays. This means of influence is not optimal since the best way to interact with people is face-to-face, but Paul wrote letters when he couldn’t be with people personally. We would do well to follow Paul’s lead and utilize the mediums that are available to us without neglecting personal interaction. For Paul it was with ink and paper, but for us it is through electrical stuff I can’t begin to understand. We would be foolish not to engage people via the Web even though we might not understand it or even like it.
Ryan Smith, our pastor of worship through music and media, does a great job of keeping us current with our website and also with social networking so that we can connect with people where they are. As with all things, sometimes the best thing we can do to influence people is be intentional and consistent. We have always had the sermons on the website but last summer we added the Question and Answer Podcast, which is a time where we answer questions from the previous Sunday’s sermon. This Q and A Podcast in-and-of itself serves a number of useful purposes including a level of feedback and interaction from the congregation on Sunday, and what we have found is that people seem to be connecting with what we are doing. When we first started we had a handful of listeners but it appears that we are slowly building a small but consistent audience (1765 downloads in February alone). Again, I can’t emphasize enough the need for being intentional and consistent. I believe this has been the key to our growing Podcast connection and influence.
Just to give you an idea about how God is using this, I have provided some stats that Ryan has culled from our website. I am encouraged, but not satisfied. I hope that God is using our efforts to edify people to obey the gospel. I hope and pray that He does this more and more for the praise of His Glory.
One other thought. I’m not overly impressed with the sheer amount represented by these numbers. I am impressed and pleased with the progression or the trend I see in these numbers. Rome was built one brick at a time; little by little. It looks like being consistent and intentional is paying off with the help of patience. We must be patient and actively wait on God in all things, even in incarnational Internet ministry.
The following stats are merely to illustrate an upward trend that is the result, I believe, of being intentional, consistent, and patient while working hard at excellence. Again, I give most of the credit to Ryan Smith. The stats:
- In 2010, we are experiencing 35% more web traffic than in 2009.
- This past week was the highest week in web traffic in recorded Eagle Heights web presence.
- Consistently, www.eagleheights.com is falling in the 200+ unique visitor range per week in 2010 and has not fallen below 200. For comparison, in 2009 we only broke the 200 barrier twice.
- Since the launch of our new website in summer of 2009, we have had over 31,500 unique page views.
- 37% of web traffic is from new visitors.
- From April 2009 – Dec. 2009 we had 2039 podcast downloads.
- Already in only two months of 2010, we have had 2790 podcast downloads
- 1765 of those downloads come during the month of February.
- Already in March, we are on pace to break February’s record by over 125 downloads.
- Listens are not unique to new uploads. Rather people who are listening are going back and listening to previous pod casts as well as new pod casts. This shows active and expanding listnership and is not merely indicative of new Core Group traffic.
The whole gospel of Jesus Christ is the point of all our striving in the strength that He supplies, but whether it is with a pen and paper or a computer, we should use every available avenue to get to people with the gospel for obedience to the faith.