Because I don’t have any duties at the Palo Alto church this Sunday, I checked the Web for worship services at other Bay area Unitarian Universalist congregations. I did not feel welcomed by several Web pages.
One congregation’s Web site made me click through the home page and still other page before I found Sunday morning information, and even that page didn’t tell me how long the service lasted, what else might be happening on Sunday morning, what most people wear, what kind of music I might hear, etc. Another congregation prominently displayed information from last Sunday morning, including a reminder to set my clock ahead. Another congregation’s Web site didn’t display properly on my just-updated Firefox browser; I eventually found Sunday service information in the monthly newsletter, which was a huge PDF file.
Then I found the Oakland Unitarian Universalist church’s Web site. Right at the top, it tells me that I’m welcome. There’s a prominent link for newcomers to plan their first visit to the church. There’s a big picture of Sunday’s preacher smiling, and a short description of what the worship service will be. (Please note that the San Mateo Unitarian Universalist church, just a few blocks from our house, also has a good Web site, but I wanted to check out one of the other congregations in the Bay area.)
Peter Bowden likes to say that a congregation’s front door is not the door at the front of your physical building, it’s the front page of your Web site. Your Web front door doesn’t have to be snazzy, but it does have to be open and welcoming to all. Homework assignment: go check out the front page of your congregation’s Web site. Come back and tell us if your congregation’s front door is open and welcoming to newcomers or not.