A new Ellison Research study shows that 90% of U.S. churches use email, and many others have a presence on the internet. According to the research, the larger a church or the younger the pastor, the more likely the church was to have a website.
"It's not necessarily a cause and effect, but I definitely think that a well-thought-out Web presence can be a factor in effective church growth," said Robbie Richardson, director of Internet ministries for Gospel Communications International.
"We've actually come to the point today that people, if they go to try and find you on the Internet, and either don't find you or don't like what they see, they're never going to actually walk onto your church property."
The churchs use of the internet has steadily increased over the past several years. Several years ago, the Christian internet was primitive at best, with only several larger sites comparable to the growing number of secular sites. However, the last year has seen a great development of church sites.
In 2004, the Methodist Church of Great Britain sponsored the Church of Fools an online church that provided an interactive online worship service in 3-d. Even traditional church websites have been enhanced with multimedia, providing the pastors sermons in text and stream-able audio format.
In an era that is becoming increasingly digital, the official church website will be an important factor to a congregations viability. Congregants will increasingly tune in on a sermon before deciding whether or not to attend. Even having a clean and nice website may move interested congregants to attend a service.
The survey also found that opinions of whether the internet was a good evangelistic tool was split those surveyed said it was either a great evangelistic tool or it hat a value yet to be decided.