On Sunday, January 9, celebrating Epiphany in church, we “flipped the switch” to turn on the Web site’s post-Christmas theme, “Reasons People Come to Our Church.” It’s the first step in our next campaign to get neighbors, near and far, to take another look– “church might not be what they expect and may offer more than they can believe.”
What a nice way to mark our celebration of Epiphany– the season church watches in wonder as the Good News of Great Joy that started out tucked away in a manger spreads to reach, touch and transform the ends of the earth.
The Web site theme and the “Reasons” campaign are being built around the real-life faith stories of Old First folks. Right now, only 4 are displaying on the Web site. But in the next few weeks, the others we have already collected will be added. And we hope that you all will contribute more. When we are done, the site will offer a revolving glimpse of our many different faith stories, so visitors can get a sense of the variety of people, beliefs and reasons that hold Old First together.
A word of thanks to the Central Christian Church in Henderson, NV that first created and from whom we purchased the “Reasons” video. Michael saw it when a UCC colleague shared it on Facebook. Suzanne then had the design idea for pairing it (in a slightly edited form to make more sense for Old First) with our folks’ faith stories– our reasons for coming to Old First. And thanks to Zeb working long hours to put it all together and figure out the glitches so we could retire the Christmas theme on time.
We are happy to start getting the message out. In the next few weeks, more Old First folks’ faith stories will begin displaying in a revolving fashion.
The “Reasons People Come to Our Church” campaign, which will also present our faith stories on a new set of signs for the fence around the property, will have the greatest impact if we all get involved and participate. It’s really just an organized version of an old fashioned invitation to church– a more noticeable, but still, we hope, humble, instance of saying, “I’ve found God/faith/church really helpful; maybe you would too.”
How you can participate:
1) If you are a Facebook user, simply post a link to our Web site on your wall, so your friends might see and check it out. On the homepage, right below the video, you will see the Fb share button. Voila! If you are not a Fb user, you can still tell your friends, one way or another, about your church’s new Web site and invite them to visit.
2) If your faith story appears on the Web site, or if there is a faith story you find particularly moving, you can share it by reposting on your Fb page. Or if you are not a Fb user, simply send the link via e-mail to people for whom you think it might be important. The idea is to lead people to our Web site where they might learn more about this faith community, get a better picture of who we are. But beyond that, we’re working at sharing our faith– you can do that in a conversation over coffee too!
3) If you have not yet contributed your faith story, it’s not too late. We want to include as many as possible. The basic writing assignment is “Why Is Church Special to You?” or “What Does Faith Add to Your Life?” The trick is to be personal and specific enough that readers might understand from your story a whole, other aspect of faith. And be concise! Remember, these will also be “fence posters” we want passers-by to read.
4) Check out the rest of the information posted on the website. We’re not finished yet, but there’s a lot of good information there, particularly for newcomers who most often these days visit us us out first from a “virtual distance,” investigating before they dare show up.
5) If you have suggestions of information we still need to add. Or comments or editing suggestions. Or questions. Please speak to Suzanne or Michael. We want and need your input.
6) The latest edition of the site now allows us to begin adding pictures to all those supporting pages. Right now there’s a few photos hastily posted so we get the idea, but soon we hope to add more photos. As you read a page, consider what images might add to the text. Michael, for example, imagines one of Marjorie’s photos of springtime flowers for the baptism page and an artful image of the B. Franklin Bridge to illustrate one of the “Connect” pages. If you suggestions or photos to share, please send them to Suzanne.
7) Look for the next Web site additions: a calendar of events, and a “sign-in” section where we can put info. that is appropriate to share only with our members, for example the church directory, reports from the Elders or prayer requests.
8) Use this “Reasons” campaign as inspiration and motivation: consider why Old First is dear to you. And don’t keep it to yourself! Try telling others, practice sharing your faith, that they might know of your blessing and ask themselves if church might also add to their lives.