Church Dashboard a Window into Church Life

March 15, 2007

Battle Mountain’s features a postcard-perfect likeness of the church facade on West Second Street in the northern Nevada town of Battle Mountain. The artist’s rendering of Grass Valley UMC’s web page gives the church a woodsy, cozy feel. And on the web page for San Francisco’s Pine UMC, the photos displayed for an upcoming event provide guests with a glimpse of the warm surroundings that await their worship experience.

 

Churches in the Nevada-Sierra District were among the first to rev up the new Church Dashboard located on the www.cnumc.org and take it out for a test drive, adding church photos, upcoming events and worship times to pages designed with them in mind.

 

The Dashboard is one of the “gifts” given to each church in the California-Nevada Annual Conference through the newly re-designed web site. For each of the nearly 400 churches in the conference, there is a page devoted to their information, the kind of facts that first time church guests may need before coming to worship. 

 

“I grew up with this kind of technology and had my first computer when I was eleven,” says Rick Griffin, a member of St. Paul’s UMC Reno, who took part in a workshop to help newcomers get familiar with using the new site. “When my family and I were new to the area and looking for a church to join, we didn’t go to the yellow pages. We went to the internet and looked around at churches until we found one that seemed a comfortable fit for us.”

 

That’s the reason Griffin says churches need to pay attention to their websites. The days are gone that potential church members check out newspaper religion sections to find the church they want to attend. “Church websites are important. You can tell a lot about a church’s personality from just viewing a few pages,” he says.

 

On the redesigned conference website, all churches have a page that provides directions to their location, courtesy a Map Quest link; a place to provide information about worship times, including special services and the summer schedule; whether a church has handicapped access; and a place to add events, classifieds and prayer requests. Churches with existing websites have already had their web URL (address) added to their page, taking viewers to a more extended view of their church life.

 

All the pages of the password-protected Church Dashboard are designed to be updated easily and simply, without the need for HTML coding. An access code and user name (provided to each church in a letter sent February 23) gives church staff the ability to keep information current, as well as provide updated information to the conference and districts. The web information will also be generating information used in the next conference journal.

 

“The cnumc site is designed to help churches realize their connection to the larger United Methodist community,” says Communications Director Jeneane Jones. “The conference website isn’t the only way people will know about our United Methodist churches, but it is one way they will find them, and we want the church information to be helpful and up to date.”

 

Saturday, March 3, Reno First UMC hosted the Nevada-Sierra District training day and the workshop introducing the Church Dashboard. It had more participants than the room allowed, but those who did grab a laptop and instructions said the 90-minute session was time well spent.

 

New Church Dashboard workshops are being planned for San Jose and Shasta districts. Jones wants to schedule workshops throughout the conference and when necessary gather churches in cluster groups to make sure everyone is dashboard-ready. If one isn’t being planned in your area yet, give the Communications Office a call to get on the list.

 

In the meantime, if you're the “Designated Driver” for your church's Dashboard, you can also pull down a copy of the Church Dashboard instructions by going to “Resources” on the home page of www.cnumc.org and click on “Church Dashboard Instructions.” If you have questions about accessing the Church Dashboard, contact the Communications Office at (916) 374-1518 or 374-1529 to talk to Jeneane or Administrative Assistant Cate Monaghan.