Category Archives: Church

Sermons and articles on the ἐκκλησία.

Uppercase or lowercase baptism?

Well, today is the last day for this year’s seniors to work on their ELCA Approval Essays, because they’re due tomorrow. Since the Gospel text for this year is Matthew 3.13-17 (Baptism of Our Lord, Year A), I’ve found myself writing the word baptism a LOT. So, should it be capitalized?

If you’re looking for the official ELCA directions on this, look no further than the ELCA Style Guide. Rather than make you flip through 52 pages of it, though, here’s the one minute version, taken straight from the Style Guide:

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ELCA Congregational Email Turnaround

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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There is nothing more frustrating than asking a question and not getting an answer. Timely communication is critical in the business world, and it’s critical in the church world too. Churches seem to recognize this: as I noted in part 5 of this series, over 95% of congregations posted email contact information on their website.

Just listing an email address isn’t enough, though – someone has to check it.

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Advanced Content on ELCA Websites

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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There are plenty of things that churches can do to make their websites more appealing to visitors and members. I was curious to find out how common some of these “advanced content” ideas were. These things aren’t advanced because they require advanced technology; instead, they are just “above and beyond” a simple brochure-style website.

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Basic Content on ELCA Websites

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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In evaluating 101 websites, I had to pick qualities that were directly connected to website effectiveness, yet for time’s sake were easy to check. The simplest of these were the no-brainers, what I’m calling “Basic Content.” This is the stuff you’d expect to find in any tri-fold brochure, if your church still does that sort of thing.

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Choosing a Sampling Strategy

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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Special thanks to Dr. Marty Smith, a Senior Research Analyst at ELCA Research and Evaluation. His help was invaluable in deciding on a sampling strategy and collecting the congregational demographic data, and I really appreciated his help all the way through this phase of the project.

As I discussed in the last article, I needed a good mix of small, medium, and mega-sized congregations, and I needed them across rural, suburban, and urban settings. Dr. Smith and I decided to go for a stratified sample. To do this, he filtered the 10,000+ ELCA congregations to give just the ones with websites, then sorted by congregational setting (rural, suburban, etc.) and then within those categories by average worship attendance. Then he took every 23rd record all the way down the list to give me 101 congregations.

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Choosing the Demographic Data

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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One of the advantages of being part of a large congregation is that it’s easy to gather good statistics for this kind of research. The ELCA is a large, nationwide denomination with over 10,000 congregations, and with that kind of size comes a great deal of complexity. I identified the two biggest factors as being congregation size and community setting.

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Introduction to Congregational Website Study

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Congregational Website Study

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For years, I’ve been telling people that good church website design will directly translate into more visitors coming in the door. Anecdotal evidence from my work with several different congregations as their webmaster has borne this out. After taking over decrepit old designs and replacing them with dynamic, well-designed sites, my pastors reported to me that visitors were mentioning the website as one of the big reasons they decided to visit.

But could I prove it?

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