Checking In On Church Sites

Over the weekend, a couple of correspondents pointed me to church-oriented sites. Congregational and Diocesan Development Issues uses a Blogger interface to outline the author’s perspective on Congregational Development. I give high marks for recognizing the value of a blog for web communications; next, the writer needs to let go of the board-room PowerPoint prose style and actually communicate. There’s no better model in Blogaria than PR blogger extraordinaire Jeneane Sessum, whose professional work you can see over at the Content Factor — but notice that the heavyweight names who get invited to address snazzy-sounding conferences with influential presentations don’t write this kind of ponderous jargon on their websites. I wouldn’t be surprised if church clients prefer their consultants to sound like this — disappointed, but not surprised — but this blog sounds like a pitch, not a conversation. (I haven’t read the blog itself closely; I can’t assess the soundness of the cong-dev proposals here, but then it’s not up to me to fight through the marketing-speak.) Oh, and the blog should get a more digestible name, and it wouldn’t hurt for you pay the modicum it would cost to get a domain name and hosting.

Over at Subversive Influence, Brother Maynard gives a useful counterexample of web-based communication. He’s linking to others, and quoting from them. He’s writing in a dialect of English that non-marketers can easily apprehend. Even though his post is quite as long as the posts at Cong and Dio Dev Issues, it’s infinitely more readable. If I wanted advice about sizing up a congregation, I’d turn to Brother Maynard in a heartbeat, but I’d procrastinate a long time (something at which I’m an expert) before I got around to contacting Congregational and Diocesan Development Issues.

Now, the point of Brother Maynard’s post (which I actually read, because it’s clear enough to read) involves a comparison between “The Purpose Driven Life” and Windows. (Why would anyone compare something about which they feel unambiguously positive to Windows? Rick warren has to know that there’s a significant constituency of people who mistrust Microsoft and dislike Windows; even if they’re entirely wrong-headed, does he think he’s gaining rhetorical yardage by comparing his version of the gospel to their least favorite operating system, an OS that they perceive as letting them down,, that they resent for having been forced onto their machines, that they imagine as an impediment to productivity and happiness? It doesn’t matter whether such people grossly undervalue the crystalline perfection that is Windows — just by making the comparison, Warren has stepped on their tows and insulted their mother. No matter how oversensitive their toes or degraded their parents, you don’t win people over that way.

I admit that I’m grouchily unsympathetic to the whole Purpose-Driven Remedy For What Ails You megaplex of books, products, seminars, and coming soon to a desperate impoverished nation far away from the USA, but I’d be much more apt to listen patiently if Rick Warren didn’t take the bold first step of unembarrassedly declaring himself to be out of touch with my interests and perspectives. I have a long way to go toward Getting Things Done, but I’m radically more receptive when exponents of effectiveness show that they have a clue.

One thought on “Checking In On Church Sites

  1. Colour me flattered… thanks for the link, and the nice words. And by the way, for the miniscule amount I’ve learned about communicating online I blame The Cluetrain Manifesto. Any blogger who gets more than a few hundred hits a day or who blogs “commercially” (whatever that means) should have to read this book before being issued their blogging license. My off-topic $.02

    Gratia vobis et pax

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