:: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 ::

Content with our content? Today's posting on Heal Your Church Web Site has gotten me thinking again about the issue of "content" on Christian sites. Wouldn't it be a terrific idea to get a few non-Christians, or unchurched people, to conduct an on-the-fly usability analysis of our sites -- especially our content -- before we start dumping our Christian cliches all over the place? Really, who are we targeting with these websites? Other Christians? Then fine. Go ahead and call your church seeker-sensitive, or Bible-believing, or trans- or multi- or interdenominational. Go ahead and talk about your doctrines of atonement or justification by faith. Go ahead and post your statements of beliefs. But don't expect too many people from outside of our tribe to understand what the heck we're talking about.

By relying on our jargon, are we alienating people whom we might want to reach with our message?

This has been a bone of mine for some time. Jason Steffens recently rechristened the site formerly known as News for Christians as Antioch Road in hopes of reaching beyond the Christian ghetto. "[T]he title 'News for Christians' implies that I am only writing for people who are Christians," Steffens wrote in his explanation of the name change. "What I mean to be doing, though, is writing for anyone who wants to read this. I just happen to write from a conservative Christian perspective." An admirable goal. But how many non-Christians will have a clue as to the new title, Antioch Road? Time will tell, I suppose.

As for the title of this site, you can't really tell from the title whether it's a Christian blog or not. Some people may not like that, but it was a deliberate move on my part to come up with a blog title that has no Christian overtones in hopes of drawing readers of all faiths, or of no faith at all. While most of the readers come here from Christian sites, I do get a fair number of non-Christian visitors. I continue to get hits from people searching for Christina Silvas nude because of a post I made about the stripper mom way back on May 27. For a couple of days there, I was getting thousands of hits. I doubt many of those visitors were devout Christians. Yet some of them stuck around for a bit and mulled around the content. I don't know whether a more overtly Christian title would have kept those seekers of nude photos from clicking onto my site or not. My hope is that while these were here, the Holy Spirit worked on them a little bit. The Holy Spirit -- not I -- is the One Who draws people to God. The best I can do is try to stay out of the way.

When Words Get in the Way. An excellent article from On Mission about communicating the message of Jesus in today's language. This article, and the sidebar Unlearning the Lingo, should be required reading for any Christian blogger or webmaster.

On the subject of messages, I recently received my copy of Eugene Peterson's Bible paraphrase, The Message. I've been reading from the Psalms in The Message and find them awkward and unpoetic, even moreso than the Contemporary English Version's Psalms (see this post). But Peterson did a fantastic job translating/paraphrasing the New Testament, especially Paul's epistles, the essence of which I think he captures beautifully. (I've had the New Testament version of The Message for years now, and read it often.) Besides, it's Bono's favorite version of scripture, so it can't be all bad, can it.

:: Andrew 09:50 + ::

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