A Parish Attentive to Its Audiences

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on February 4, 2014

in parish, website

Parish WebsiteOften parishes limit the audiences that they address on their websites to the active members of the parish community–the insiders.  They forget that visitors, new comers and inactive Catholics also visit the site and may not get any further than the home page depending on what they find.

There are two questions we need to ask when we want to create or recreate some aspect of our web presence (website, Facebook or Twitter), who are the audiences we want to serve and what do the members of those audiences need/want from us.  The answer to those two questions need to govern the decisions that will be made going forward.

Recently, I discovered the website of St. Thomas More, Sarasota, Florida.  CatholicTechTalk selected this website as the second place winner of their 2013 Parish Website Contest.  CTT wrote:

Right away you’ll notice the website’s layout and clean graphics make it extremely easy to navigate. The personable imagery is welcoming to both visitors and parishioners, and the home page has a call out for visitors to sign up for their eNewsletter and bulletin—great idea!

I agree with their assessment and I found three things especially attractive about the website:

1) A section called “I am New to the Parish” which is a very friendly invitation to register in the parish.

2) A video called Welcome to Our Church and

3) A link to directions

These elements are clearly for visitors and new members.  Kudos to them!

Take a moment to view their 2.5 minute video below and please share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have examples of welcome and outreach on other parish websites, please share those as well.  Thank you.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sister Pat Sylvester, SND February 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

Really like this video. It’s real and relevant and reaches out to people who have been away from the church and affirms those who keep coming. Thanks for sharing this!

Frank Wardega February 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

I probably would not post a link to fingerprinting instructions on page one of my website, focusing on newcomers.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND February 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

You make a good point, Frank.

Marc Cardaronella February 7, 2014 at 11:31 am

Thanks for highlighting this website. I missed this one. Got some great ideas from them.

Char March 3, 2014 at 2:54 am

The video is well done; however, their use of the phrase “girly men” is perjorative and blatantly homophobic. It reinforces the belief in the “less than” nature of women.
From Wikipedia: “In an article in the journal American Speech, linguist Edwin Battistella analyzes the development of the expression from ironic mockery of bodybuilding culture to an overt connotation of weakness and a covert connotation of effeminacy. He writes:
In all this usage, girly-man is implicitly contrasted with such terms as
he-man, macho-man, or manly man. These terms bring together images of physique, strength, courage, and will in an image of comic-book manliness. The controlling male stereotype is that of the muscular action-hero male as manly and of other men (non–weight lifters, nonmacho straight men, gays) as lacking courage, strength, and decisiveness. As critics of the usage pointed out, referring to someone as a girly-man requires adopting this stereotype as an instrument of either humor or derogation. And it further entails adopting the complementary stereotype that women are not so strong or decisive as men.”

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 3, 2014 at 6:08 am

Thanks for your comment. What type of resistance to Church do you think that they were trying to convey with that expression and how could they have done it better (i.e. without using this stereotype)? Your answer might help to get a video remake.

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