I was perusing the news like I do each morning on my Android phone and came across this headline:
Websites Encourage Discreet Adultery
I thought, wow, I have to read this article… and at first I was thinking – what will people think of next… here is a business man who is capitalizing on the fact that people are unhappy in their marriages and so they seek an easy way toward self-gratification.
And then I was appalled as I kept reading to hear that 12.6 million people have created anonymous profiles and 2.3 million people are currently “actively” using the site. Now you may think that this guy needs to shut down this website – he is attacking the sanctity of marriage – but listen, he would have no business if the people weren’t looking for this.
This is not a “problem with the Internet” – this is a heart problem with individuals – some of them live in your community or go to your church. If there are people out there who are so lost and full of despair and frustration with their marriage that they would actively seek out an affair, then these folks needs some real help with their understanding of love and marriage.
Ok, here is where I’m going to get ya… if the “church” (that’ us folks) wants to be all high and mighty about the “sanctity of marriage” and how infidelity and the abominations of sexual impurity of all kinds are slowly eating away at our social fabric – then why isn’t the “church” waging a monumental scale effort to TEACH the opposite?
Why doesn’t every church in America have a standing “Marriage 101” class? Why aren’t we as Pastors and Laity researching and implementing in our churches a whole series of sermons, classes, books, etc to help teach our youth, singles, couples young and old about how to Love unselfishly in the model that Jesus taught us, how to grow in our spiritual maturity into Disciples who spend all day in prayer and learn to love others so much that their “self” takes a back seat. If we invest in these labors, the harvest will be plentiful! Are we even learning about these things ourselves? We need to be come EXPERTS on the subject of LOVE! The good news is that we since “God is Love” (1 John 4:16) – we have at our disposal the master teacher of all that is love.
At ChurchBuzz, in my “10 Commandments for Church Websites” I teach specifically about how Churches need to be adding content to their websites that address issues just like this. Usually I envision it being for people that are looking for help. But listen, people are definitely looking to engage in sexual promiscuity of all kinds. I did the following Google search for “want to have an affair”.
Oh this just goes from bad to HORRIBLE. There are 11 businesses actively advertising (the top 3 links at the top and all the links on the right are paid advertising) websites where people can “hook up” to have an affair. And this whole first page of “organic search results” (those results that have been search engine optimized to show up there) are all about sites promoting how to have an affair and also there were several “discussion forums” where people are going there to ask about how to have an affair, they are wanting to have one and need advice, etc. Here are some startling quotes I found in visiting some of the Top 10 sites.
“I have affairs to feel alive!”
“How To Have An Affair – Guide To Illicit Affairs”
“Having an Affair Doesn’t Always Have to be Negative as it May be Just the Thing That Keeps an Existing Marriage Together”
“What to Look For In a Good Married Dating Site”
“I still love my wife very much, but much of the physical passion has gone out of our relationship and this makes up for it. One of the best things about the affair is that we do not have vested interests in each others’ lives – it really is No Strings Attached; so when we talk to each other about our work, children or problems at home we do not end up fighting about it.”
Wow, there is a whole industry and plenty of people who are looking for help here. Where are WE church? In my quick perusal, I never saw a single mention from a church or pastor, never heard the word “God” (I did find a few people giving advice against having the affairs which is great), etc, etc… Where are we church? Are we just sitting in our church all comfy and cozy? But no doubt there are “people” in your community who are dealing with thoughts of having an affair. When they go search for advice, or help or for a place to “hook up” – are they running into us there? Are they getting sound theological advice (worded in a very approachable, not preachy way?) Are they seeing links to your church website? Can they go to your website and find all kinds of great content there that can help them get back in touch with who God calls them to be rather than simply looking for gratification of “self”?
Yes, your church website needs to welcome and invite people to come down and visit, but it can be so much more. It can teach, pray with people, guide them to be in conversation with you, etc, etc… Oh and I’m not just talking to the Pastors here. How about forming an Internet Outreach Team at your church that would research and find some problem like this and dedicate themselves to addressing the issue by:
- Defining the problem. Pick a narrow niche topic that is a problem perhaps in your community or a more “global” problem that your church wants to address.
- Research all of the information that is currently out there and devise a plan on how you can help – perhaps your team can start participating on discussion forums, contacting people directly, or just getting a good feel for what type of “competition” is out there that you will be countering. Learn about the keywords people use on the Internet to find these things (I can help you do this planning and research).
- Create a plan of attack that would include:
- Creating fantastic resources on your church website for people who need to know about the kind of Love that Jesus teaches us about. And this will take a while… this is many articles, videos, sermons, books, etc.
- Give people a logical way to proceed through this information – as if it was a “class” and give people an opportunity to discuss either personally with one of your “online counselors” or even the Pastor, allow them to download more materials, purchase books, CD’s, videos, etc (but only when necessary to allow you the funds to create more great materials). Measure these responses. When you get people to “take an action” this is called “conversion” and you will want to measure and test and optimize for this.
- Start watching your traffic and search engine optimization reports to learn how people are finding your website and how if it all they are responding to your material.
- Use the findings and reports to continue to build up and grow your content, motivate your church to do more, etc.
Ok, so I hope that I wasn’t too hard on you… as this is all ground breaking concepts that we haven’t really been exposed to, but it is time. It is time that we as “the church” start using the technology to counter and be a voice in our society that so badly needs us!
If we want to be serious about making Disciples for Jesus Christ, then I think we need to take this job seriously, go where the sinners and tax collectors are – sit down, talk to them, eat with them and love them in the best way we can. The Internet can provide a vehicle for this like NEVER BEFORE.
We are here to help. We have a heart for God’s people. And we know the technology and the “marketing” that has to go into projects like this. Let us help. Contact me today, I would love to help!