As someone in search of a church, I have spent a fair amount of time reviewing the websites of churches in my geographic area. Thankfully most include a calendar that displays what is (or, in some cases, what is not) happening right now and in the near term future. Since I have no real connection to these communities of faith, I assume that all activities (or at least all that they think important) appear on the public calendar.
- The size of a church (both the square footage of a church campus and number of actively involved people) does not appear to be correlated with the number of entries on the calendar.
- The vast majority of calendar entries are for activities or other happenings that occur on the church campus (in many cases 100% of entries are assigned a physical space on the church campus).
- Insider speak. Overuse of acronyms and words with unclear meaning.
- Incomplete information. Entries don’t offer enough information for newcomers to know how to participate.
I developed a list of all churches within a reasonable driving distance that met certain basic criteria (e.g., part of an historic Mainline Protestant denomination), and have been working through that list week by week. To date, I have not removed a church based on a troubling calendar. I have, however, used that experience (along with my overall review of the congregation’s website) to better know what to look for and what questions to ask during my visit.
- How helpful is your church calendar? As it exists today is it more friendly to newcomers/outsiders or to involved folks/insiders?
- Review your church calendar and compare it to what you know of your congregation. What is missing? How well does it communicate what your congregation values?