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LifeWay links nearly 500 congregations to cyberspace

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Only two months after LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention began offering Web sites for churches, almost 600 congregations have taken advantage of LifeWayLINK.

As of March 23, 493 churches had chosen the option of a free site, which offers a choice of five templates or site designs. Included are four pages to present information about the church, its services, ministries and events, including a page of contact listings for staff.

Another 78 churches had signed up for one of the three levels of upgraded sites, which, for a monthly fee, allow churches to expand or enhance the site’s capabilities. Enhanced features include items such as e-mail accounts, the ability to add audio files for sermons or performances, online video, in-depth usage reports, more than 150 design templates, additional content pages and others for fees ranging from $24.95 to $59.95 per month.

“The most frequent comment we hear from new customers is how easy the set-up process is. Many sites have been constructed in less than an hour,” said Gary McClure, Internet service provider manager.

For Travis Kerns, minister of youth at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, Greenville, S.C., the advantage in using LifeWayLINK was a saving of time.

“When I built our youth site on [another service], it took me forever to figure it out. I couldn’t even figure out how to change a page. I’d had the same calendar since September,” he said.

With LifeWayLink, Kerns said he was able to create a four-page free site for his church in 45 minutes. He found the tools much easier to use than the commercial program he had tried and he has learned how to changes pages easily.

Five-year-old Shanlinwood Baptist Church in Spencerville, Ontario, Canada, is using a new LifeWayLINK site to establish a presence in a part of Canada that previously had no Southern Baptist church.

Pastor Alan Litchfield said, “For the uninitiated, the LifeWayLINK site is very easy to work with.”

While the Shanlinwood site helps church members know about upcoming events, it also provides a wealth of information through the LifeWay links.

“Few of our people are aware of the resources that are available through our denomination,” Litchfield observed, adding he hopes “the links on the site will expand their knowledge.”

Introducing people to the Lord, posting prayer requests and finding sources for teachers are all goals of First Baptist church, Tenaha, Texas, according to Billy McDaniel, minister of education and site administrator.

With the LifeWayLINK Plus site, members “can post their prayer requests and share the site with their friends,” McDaniel said. “Having the site has energized our people, to know that we can reach outside our town.”

Damon Mays, minister of music and youth at First Baptist Church, Parsons, Tenn., had no previous experience designing a Web site, but said he has found developing and maintaining a 17-page LifeWay LINK site has not taken much time.

“This is another way we can reach our community,” he said. “Even if it’s one person [reached], it’s more than worth the effort to plant the seed.”

Also, LifeWayLINK has improved Internet ministries of churches with existing advanced sites.

“Some Internet-savvy churches have transitioned their large sites and taken advantage of LifeWayLINK’s ease of maintenance and low cost,” McClure observed.

An example is First Baptist Church of Pelham, Ala. Sam Neugent, the church’s worship leader, said, “I love the fact that at my discretion I can edit my site and send it back out instantly.”

McClure said LifeWay LINK capabilities continue to be enhanced. Soon he anticipates a program that will offer free advanced sites to SBC associations.

“This will be an effective tool to help associations support and network with member churches,” he said.

For more information on LifeWayLINK call toll-free 1-888-408-5580. The LifeWayLINK web site at www.lifewaylink.com is available and includes examples of church sites using the technology.

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  • Charles Willis