Launched very very quietly about a week ago. It’s hardly content-ready but that should hopefully come over the next week or two. We’re keeping busy and hopefully there’ll be blog thingies going eventually. It’s currently built around WordPress, which is a choice I made a few months ago [and now… you finish this sentence]. The content was taking ages to get perfect so our staff team decided it’d be best just to launch it and replace the old thing. So now we’ve got an incomplete new website! ;-) But it’s getting somewhere, praise God for the gifts of technology for communicating!
The upcoming events thing doesn’t have anything yet (and should), and will be incredibly interesting. I think the calendar system is probably still too counter-intuitive (it’s a WordPress plugin designed to link to blog entries) so I probably need to look at other options for that. There’s also a distinct lack of media library aspects that could mean more work when graphics or other documents need uploading, but we can address that in good time. By address, I mean change to a real content management system. Sigh, no-one but myself to blame, really.
Speaking of church websites, I found one in the Sydney Anglican diocese that I actually like! Shock, horror! It belongs to St Peters Church Cooks River (located in St Peters the suburb, that is). I’d probably make the navigation square on the corners and if I were to use anti-aliased text make it something legible, or just plain HTML nav, but other than that I quite like the feel of the site. The less I say about markup the better, I think. It’s all done with Dreamweaver templates, which is an awesome option I’d be tempted to embrace but for the cost which we really can’t afford for the flexibility it doesn’t give compared to a multi-user CMS. One other new website of note is Moore College’s recent update. Semantically beautiful, solid design, okay CSS implementation (it… really doesn’t work too well at higher resolutions in Opera at least, I can’t be bothered opening another browser right now)
Anyway. Ours is good for the minute. It’s getting better, promise. And we’ll have half-decent creatives for it sometime in the hopefully-not-too-distant future once the one or two graphic designers in our midst are politely roped into creating such things :) I’d love to see more blog content, publication of more material we produce internally (most recently is the sheet on “How to choose a good church”, but there are plenty of others), a high-quality kid’s/youth ministry section (not just for youth — Dave Blowes is trying hard there with the JAM website — but for sharing what we’re doing with parents and childrens/youth programmes at other churches), greater multimedia stuff (mostly for those who aren’t regulars at Matthias and want to see what we’re doing, but also for archival purposes), electronic giving to make that easier, and online partner database that would effectively be a searchable church directory (secured, obviously).
I’m just praying we don’t slide down the slippery path into technology dependence along the way, because it scares me so much. I’m not afraid of us turning into a church that embraces technology and uses it effectively and extensively: I’m afraid we’re going to wake up one day and will be playing a video that’s all about a passage from scripture instead of actually reading the bible itself in a meeting. I’m not afraid of the power of media under God: I’m afraid we’ll see the power of media and slowly God could slip from the picture as we think we can evoke a response using it without turning to His word.
This is the single most difficult thing for me about being involved with technology implementation in an Evangelical church in Sydney. We’re new to this stuff. The difficult thing is that it hasn’t been done before (except in Pentacostal/‘charismatic’/AoG circles, which are slightly different — I won’t comment further for fear of saying anything divisive here), and even where it has been it’s not been done holistically. Approaching media is approaching the world’s way of communicating, which is so deceptive and shallow and often ill-informed. The challenges that face us are relatively new, though their essence is not. We must hold onto what we believe whilst trying to communicate those beliefs as clearly and effectively as possible — but our communication is nothing without the growth provided by God.
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
– 1 Corinthians 3:5 – 9
Planting and watering can take the form of a DVD or a website or a sermon in MP3 format as readily as it could a book or an evangelistic sermon: none of these things are anything without the growth provided by God.