I was going to reply to Unitarian minister and blogger Stephen Lingwood, who recently wrote “Church Planting and Church Renewal: The Way Forward” on his Reignite blog, with a very pushy and American alternative plan. (And shall still do so.)
But in lining up my arguments, I researched where some British Unitarian churches were physically located and discovered that the addresses and directions given on the national and congregation websites very often failed the newcomer test. In other words, the address was adequate if you already knew the church was there, but wasn’t if you were coming over from another neighborhood or village, or were new to the area. (And people who move, at least in the United States, are more likely to look for a new church than those who have been there all along.)
So I’m prescribing the following three solutions (and one action) that I would like for every church welcome publication like pamphlets or websites.
- Clear directions for the worship location, including cross streets and landmarks. Bonus points for offering a phone number to call before the service.
- Satnav coordinates — that’s GPS for us Americans — plainly shown. And where to park.
- Likewise, the location and code for the nearest public transportation stop — or a plain disclaimer that there’s no (Sunday) service nearby. In which case, bonus points for taxicab advice, even if that’s only a goodfaith offering and not a genuine transportation plan.
- And to act: take ownership of your congregation’s “business” listing on Google. This is onlyÂ germaneÂ to congregations with buildings, but it will help your visitors when they look for you. Be sure to watch this video: it’s less than 2 minutes long. (And mull on the “sister restaurant” reference therein.)
When you’ve done all those, I’ll move to inexpensive online promotion, and The Big Pushy American Plan.
This is a good example of some of the points above; indeed, a congregation (that shall go nameless) meets in this hall.