Church Online Chat Room Faux Pas

Don’t be like the creepy guy in high school who wanted you to wear his class ring moments into your first date.

Recently I attended a new online church that’s based in America for the first time. The message was excellent, and I was moved to share a comment in the chat room.  But…when I tried to type a comment I discovered I’d have to register a new account to participate.  Suddenly I forgot what I’d wanted to say and was a little put off…and I’ve been part of The Church for decades now. Imagine if someone who is far from God were met with a registration form. I bet she’d close the experience widow just like I did, perhaps never to return.

The irony here is that church online critics say it exists for lazy people and that community really can’t occur via online evangelism. My experience over the past 5 years – starting at then planting online churches in other languages through – is those accusations are totally false. People want to talk with you and discuss what’s being shared in your online messages.  They have questions.  Your online church might be the only honest attempt a person makes at seeking God.  Don’t turn them away and risk ruining the opportunity for community by asking them to give you information before interacting.

It’s been explained to me before that some online churches require registration as a means for opening the door to relationship with casual attendees and not letting them slip away without contact. I say if you’ve launched an online church to add peoples’ names to a registry or e-mail list you’ve missed the point. They may never attend your local church. I encourage you to plant spiritual seeds in their lives when they give your message the time of day and leave the rest up to God.

The bottom line is registration signifies commitment, and that’s asking a lot from the people for whom I believe online church exists.  Let’s all consider changing our platforms or processes in order to lower the barriers to entry for our church online attendees.

Agree or disagree?

Check out yesterday’s Online Ministry poll results on Facebook about registration at online churches to learn more.


3 Responses to “Church Online Chat Room Faux Pas”

  1. @jmillerjr October 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    WOW… Being in the customer service business, this is a BIG “NO NO”. Purely from a customer experience perspective it screams I care more about your information than you; a notch in our church registry; a number we may never get to know intimately or build a relationship with. Great post. Keep the door open and the light on always. They will surrender their information willingly once a genuine relationship has been established.

  2. Dana Byers October 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I didn’t know you’re in customer service, James – but I agree that great service opens the door to relationship better than most any other elements of an initial meeting.

    • @jmillerjr October 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Isn’t ministry customer service? It’s my tent making, bill, mortgage & college tuition paying gig. ;-)

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