Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Connecting People Through the Internet

Linda Yoder has been part of Grace Church since she was a child. Recently she moved up into the great white north of New England. She sent me an e-mail expressing how our usage of the internet has helped her to stay connected. Here is what she wrote:

I wanted to thank you guys for insuring that the sermons on Sunday mornings not only make it to the web but that they are easily available for people to listen to. Since moving up north I've taken the opportunity to explore a number of church websites looking for online services and even general information about how different churches are connecting with people in our Internet saturated world. I think you've got it right. In just three clicks I can be downloading the sermon from the past Sunday. And with a high speed Internet connection I can be listening to the sermon in less than two minutes.

I know there are people who could have their first connection with Grace through the Internet. How easy is it for people to connect to the Sunday morning messages. I don't know if it was by design that the sermon is just three clicks away, but I do know that the "3 click model" has been studied in the retail Internet market. If it takes people more than three clicks to get to what they are looking for, many times they just give up. I look forward each week to downloading the messages and listening to them later in the week. Even though I'm a couple hundred miles away, when I hear Pastor Scott (or whoever is preaching that week) through my car stereo on the beautiful tree lined drive into work, I can't help but think, “It doesn't matter if I'm in the front row Sunday morning or listening in my heated car seat, what matters is that connection to Grace Church and the connection to Christ through the ministries of Grace.”

When I moved up north one of my big concerns was how to stay connected to my local church body at Grace and how to connect with a new local body, knowing that there is nothing up here like Grace. What I have found is the ability to stay connected with what and who I know back in Lititz while learning where and who God wants me to connect with here. In an area that is very unchurched, it's great to have come from a place that believes so strongly about connecting with people where they are. Some of the people I have come in contact with up here may never step foot in a church, but they may hear Pastor Scott on my computer in the office. Or I'll sit across from my boss and talk about whether or not he wants to celebrate Christmas if he's not sure he believes in Jesus.

Thanks so much for helping me stay connected to the ministry of Grace Church, whether it's the Sunday sermon, Pastor Scott's e-mail updates and blog, the WAM update, or just the website in general. Having that connection available has helped me move closer to Christ in a whole new way. The more time I spend outside the walls of a church the more I've connected with Christ and how He did ministry. His life was His ministry. It's in the streets, where the lost and lonely people are. It's rubbing shoulders everyday with the people who need Christ the most. It's showing people in the best way we know how, that it doesn't matter who you are, God wants to meet you where you are.

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