September 18, 2011

The One Where I Rant About Church Websites

We still haven't found a home church here in El Paso. Not because there aren't options - oh, there are. We've tried quite a few. But it's been a difficult process.

For one thing, we're not Catholic. So, there's that.

Next, we don't speak much Spanish, and many, many of the churches here are iglesias. Yes, I know that's just "church" in Spanish, but they are Spanish language churches, and we don't speak enough Spanish to attend one.

Plus, it would be nice to attend a church on this side of the city, if at all possible.

So you whittle that down, and you're left with few choices.

And many of the ones left are fundys, which for many reasons are at the bottom of the list. Like, below "English-speaking."

And the churches don't really make it easy for you to find them, either. Only a fraction have websites, and the ones that do don't help much. They have a very nondescript name ("Main Street Church") with a bland subheading ("We love everyone") and an indeterminate statement of beliefs ("God and Jesus are awesome!").

They give you their address and their service times and that's basically it. And well, it has gotten us to visit several of them. Once.

Truth be told, this isn't unique to El Paso. I'm seeing this more and more with church websites. They try to be as broad as possible, obviously because they are trying to appeal to as many people as possible. I understand that. But there's a line between being "all things to all people" and losing your identity. Because some of us want to actually be part of a church, not just a super-friendly community service organization.

If I can't tell from a church's website who they are, what they believe and whether or not we're compatible, I don't even want to bother and find out if I will feel at home there. I know I won't. If they don't believe what I do about God, Jesus, the Bible, humanity, redemption, all the essentials, then I know we aren't going to mesh.

Unfortunately, many church websites don't really go into that. And it's discouraging.

The irony is, many of these same churches offer online streaming "worship services," since, ya know, it's possible to participate in the assembly by watching TV. :p (No, it's not. You can pretend it is, but it's not. This comes from a social media-addicted introvert: You're still at home, by yourself. It's not the same thing.) So it's not like they're worried we'll read the last chapter and not buy the book (proverbially).

So, please, dear church website admins, make your church websites actually say something. If your church isn't "about" anything, then it's fine if your website isn't either.

But if it is, if you really feel like your church has something to say, say it there.

Next time we'll talk about the actual experience of visiting churches. Probably on Thursday. Bring a snack.

8 comments:

  1. I'm not quite sure why this exact post hasn't come out of my brain yet, but ditto, Amen, and ditto.

    I've given up for the past few months, which doesn't please me. It just got so frustrating. Have you tried Cielo Vista yet? That's on my list for next Sunday. Mainly because it's one I haven't tried and they have three different times for Sunday morning service. Which helps with Drew.

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  3. I think this is something a lot of military families can relate to! It'd hard to find a new church in each new town, and you're right - the websites are rarely any help. Your post reminded me of the blogger who did the big church experiment a couple years ago - went to a new church every Sunday for a year. If you haven't seen it, check it out! http://churchexperiment.blogspot.com. I'm looking forward to what you have to say about visiting new churches later this week!

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  4. As a Catholic...This is probably one of my favorite things :) I can go to any Catholic church in any city in ANY part of the world and know that the mass will be exactly the same as it is in my home church :) Even if it is in a different language, I know all the prayers and I can always follow along with the scripture readings in English.

    I also know that the Catholic church is united, universal, and I don't have to worry that the church in Podunk, Kentucky is teaching or preaching anything contrary to my huge cathedral here in Houston.

    Maybe you should look into the Catholic church ;)

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  5. Have you tried searching for church facebook pages? It seems like a lot of them are switching to that format and because of this are updated more frequently. Just a thought...

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  6. We had a really hard time finding a church in EP too. We tried several different Lutheran congregations around the city before *SETTLING* on Mt. Hope on the eastside. Granted we drive "oh so far" (20 mins) each Sunday, but the congregation has welcomed us with open arms. After leaving an awesome church back home (that we drove an hour each way for), we finally had to lower our expectations and go with the best of the rest.... Good luck! I'll pray you find a church home soon!

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  7. Bring a snack...hahahahaha =)
    Have you heard of Calvary Chapel? They are a "chain" of churches, if you will, we found one here by us after over a year of looking, and I AM SO THANKFUL! I wonder if their is one by you. They are a verse by verse preaching church that began back in the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s when a man started sharing the Gospel with a whole bunch of surfers and drug addicts along the beach in California. It has grown to the point that they have Calvary Chapels all over the world I guess. I don't much care about that and any hype associated with it, but I LOVE the church. The people are SO real, the preaching is so Biblical, the doctrine is so sound.

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  8. I pray that you will find a great church where you can worship... just curious if you have tried any Methodist Churches in the area? I don't live in El Paso, so don't know any to recommend specifically... :)

    Patrick Steil

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