During a recent church social media Twitter chat, the discussion drew its theme from Matthew 7:7. Specifically - seeking, or searching. and the technological manifestation, search engine optimization (SEO).
Seeking and finding on the Internet! How do people find you and your church or judicatory?
T1: Do you track how people find your digital presence?
T2: Thinking digitally, how are people finding you? Ads? Keyword search? Linksharing?
T2a: Do you use AdWords or Facebook ads to help people find you?
T3: Where is search on your radar/priorities?
T4: Time to share your #protips. What are your best practices for search optimization?
TBonus: Forgetting the rules of search, what keywords would you want people to use to find you?
Over the course of the chat, some things started surfacing that are worth further examination. Mainly - Who are the seekers and what are they seeking?
It's amazing how many things the book of Genesis holds. A lot of 'Firsts', that's for sure. In just a few short chapters, we read the story of God creating the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, including Adam and Eve. In chapter 3 - well, remember the first time as a child you realized you had done something wrong and 'ran away' (I made it down to the corner of the block)? What happened? Someone who cared a great deal for you came looking for you, right?
Genesis 3:9 - Then the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"
Adam and Eve had separated themselves from God, but it wasn't them who went seeking out God, it was God seeking them out.
With that perspective in mind, review the stories of some of the more familiar people in the Bible - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, the disciples and Paul. Who was the seeker? How did The Seeker go about finding?
Luke 15:4 - "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"
Luke 15:8 - "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?"
Luke 19:10 - "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
If we shift our paradigm from being sought by everyone (God and seekers) to being sought (by God) and seekers (for God), what impact does that have on our communication strategy and content? Are we still obsessed with 'church', denomination, ecclesiology, mission statements, liturgy and worship styles? Do we start to see others as God sees us? Do we seek them out instead of being sought by them?
Part of your online communication strategy should list your desired outcomes - what actions do you hope to occur because someone has visited and read something you have posted? And, just who is that someone? What will compell them to do something? These are questions we need to ask ourselves, not just for our online communication, but for our daily lives.
Matthew 25:35-36 - "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."
How can your church's online presence help you feed the hungry, quench thirsts, welcome strangers, cloth the naked, and visit the sick and in prison? Does your online information and updates have anything to do with being hungry, thirsty, alone, naked, sick or in prison? Your church is where it is for a purpose - leverage the web to fulfill that purpose.
Christ gave us some very clear instructions in Matthew 28:19
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Who is the subject of that last sentence? You are. Not Someone. Not Anyone. Not Them. You are. Now answer the bonus question: Forgetting the rules of search, what keywords would you want people to use to find you? I am very interested to hear how you are responding to this question.