January 3, 2004. That was the day that I decided to change my life by giving it over to Christ. While I know this decision was paved out in the book of life for me, I can tell you that, save for one very important resource, I may have had to take a much longer and harder road to get here. That one resource was the Internet.
Then I remembered that church I'd been to a few times with my friend. The church where all those friendly people were around waiting to pass out hugs and warm greetings. It was different, sure, but I always felt welcomed there. I wanted to call my friend and get more information but my pride wouldn't let me. I wanted to ask her when and where they met but I was embarrassed. I was such a sinner! How could I dare call someone to ask questions about Jesus. But wait! That church had a website. I could check it to see where they were meeting. I could then go, on my own, and not have to bother anyone. Perfect. And so, that's exactly what I did.
I would log on every and Tuesday night to find out where service was being held the following day. It was at one of those midweek services that a wise man by the name of John Brush approached me and challenge me to get serious about my faith. It was at those services that I forged relationships with brothers and sisters that I am still close to to this very day. Services that I would have known nothing about had they not been posted, and kept up to date, on a church website.
I can't tell you how discouraged it makes me when I'm visiting a new city and look up their church website to find either outdated information or worse, dead links to their worship services. A calendar marked August when it's January, a link that says "click here" that leads to nowhere, or content that's completely not user-friendly. All I can think of is the lost soul that, like me, was too afraid to reach out to a real person for more information and who relied on a website to inform them of church activities. A soul who was looking for an open window and was met with locked bars -- or in this case, inaccurate information. I can attest that it is not an encouraging feeling.
I am so grateful for sites like Disciples Today and the Church Locator that have remained consistent over the years. I'm grateful for the webmasters, designers, and for all those that work diligently to keep our churches websites updated. It takes work, but it is so needed in this age of instant information, hashtags, and retweets. The same warm hugs and greetings we give people in the fellowship can be extended to our church websites. We would never turn our back and ignore someone tapping on our shoulder in an attempt to get our attention at church, but in essence, that's what it's like trying to get information from a dysfunctional website. People are lost and seeking, even if it is just for an updated HTML screen.