This is idea #1 in my series on web ministry. Follow the trail to #2 here.
Much of what is required in web ministry is creating new channels with which to connect with people. I am of the opinion that you must go where the people are. Like the roots of a hardy plant should our projects in web ministry be.
One root I have discovered and predict will grow in popularity and traffic is the Squidoo lens. Squidoo’s own definition:
A lens is one person’s view on a topic that matters to her. It’s an easy-to-build, single web page that can point to blogs, favorite links, RSS feeds, Flickr photos, Google maps, eBay auctions, CafePress designs, Amazon books or music, and thousands of products from hundreds of other trusted merchants. You can pick whatever content you want to put in your lens to bring context to your topic. Then, when someone is looking for recommended information, fast, your lens gets him started and sends him off in the right direction. It’s a place to start, not finish.
This means you can leverage a platform that receives more traffic and has more credibility with the search engines than your own ministry site. It is a way for people to initially find your ministry distinctives (speaker, programs, beliefs, unique attributes) and become more familiar with your organization over time.
As an example, I created http://www.squidoo.com/chuckswindoll/ in order to promote Chuck Swindoll. The page was created on 07/12/2006. As of 09/22/2006, the page is listed #14 when googling “Chuck Swindoll”. In ten weeks the page has risen above 120,000 other results to be listed in the top 20. This puts my Squidoo page over his own church and the seminary where he was formerly the President and is the current Chancellor. This kind of success isn’t through some magical content formula, but simply by leveraging a platform that already exists and has the respect of search engines. The results could be improved even further if I took the time to draft some original content, rather than repurposing content from wikipedia, Google RSS feeds, and Amazon book listings. Now, it is unlikely the Chuck Swindoll Squidoo page will convert anyone into a Christ-follower, but it is a great mechanism for connecting people already familiar with the man but not so much his ministries.