Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Harvest Time Tabernacle – Fort Smith, AK

* UPDATE – 09-Dec-02 * The site critiqued in this post has made some dramatic improvements. While the techniques discussed here are still valid, the example offered is no longer relevant. Please make a note to read the post entitled “Harvest Time Tabernacle Revisited” after reading this post.

* * *

Kensington, Maryland, not only infamous for banning Santa Claus, but a near-tragic train derailment today (09-Dec-02 … and also now the sniper thing). In fact, I live just a few miles away from where it all happened. Close enough that my house was once considered part of Kensington. Gerrymandering aside, my family is still protected by a heavy engine and ladder company which fortunately is located less than a mile from the crash-site. Moreover, the incident occurred near an industrial part, which mean volunteers with ladders, ropes and heavy equipment on the scene in an instant.

Not that anyone wanted this, but if you’re going to tip over, mid-Montgomery County is the place to do it. With a population of over 850,000, it is able to support several well equipped rescue companies, many of which were on the scene within minutes. I also have the honor of knowing some of the brave and capable men and women working for both the Fire and Police Departments. The unfortunate victims were in good hands.

Interestingly enough, you would think sucha huge area could host a mega-church or two. And while there are a couple two and/or three thousand person churches here, you would think such an overgrown metropolis so near Washington D.C. would have enough of a population to support one on every corner. Instead, we have a lot of little churches with congregations in the quarter to half-thousand range (that’s 250 to 500 for you victims of an outcome-based education system). Much of it has to do with the transient nature of the residents.

So what’s your point Dean ?-! – Glad you Asked !~)

Recently my attention was directed to a church web site located in Fort Smith Arkansas, who’s population is a mere 1/10th to Montgomery County’s (that’s about 85k for those of you who haven’t enjoyed the intellectual benefits of home schooling). Which means any church in that town with a 2k+ population has got to have something compelling to write home about. If that is the case, then it should be reflected in compelling content of the church’s website. Take for example the Harvest Time Tabernacle in Fort Smith Arkansas.

This church hosts a congregation of about 3,000 which means you can probably expect 2,000 there every Sunday. That’s a big church folks – at least for this big city guy used to churches 1/10th the size. Which means you might expect BIG CONTENT on their web site. On the contrary. While I do give them credit for offering detail about their Sunday School Curriculum there isn’t much else there online. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, this lack of text does not accurately reflect the flurry of activities that probably go on at such a large church in such a small town.

Yes, there are some technical issues here, the biggest two being a pair of pictures on the front page that come in at around a bandwidth gagging 40kb. That and white text on the sandpaper background can get lost in a hurry. But I digress, because the singular issue I’d heal on this site first is content.

Churches of all sizes make this mistake. They don’t quite understand that the internet is no longer just a place for a pretty online brochure. As I’ve said before you need to determine your target audiences and shoot for them, all the while conveying your church’s personality and purpose in a two dimensional format. As the population continues to become more internet savvy, they are going to depend on their surfing to help them determine if a particular church is their cup of tea.

A church the size of Harvest Time Tabernacle simply needs more compelling conent. Anything less is hiding one’s light under a basket.


  1. check the source of this page for what i’ve posted :O)

  2. I’ve been looking at Dan Benjamin’s app to suggest to my clients, but you make a good point about Javascript. Are you interested in sharing the code for your form, or alternately, would you mind if I suggested your site to folks to obfuscate their email?

  3. Aha!

    I’ve been wondering for a while why I had problems with your email address on your page, Dean!

    Because I use YahooMail from work, I generally cut-and-paste email addresses rather than clicking on them. The one drawback I see with your (very clever!) method is that this doesn’t seem to work.

    Using either IE or Mozilla, I get the raw hex characters, rather than the actual address, if I do a copy-and-paste.

    Quite possibly an acceptable drawback, all things considered, but something to take into account…


  4. Thanks Dean, for the Obfuscator. It’s a useful tool I hope folks take advantage of. I’ve done a little write up of it on my site to help spread the word.

  5. maybe-H.T.T. is a little behind on the web. But I have gone to this church. and it is a good one. But besides this I dont think anyone needs to be judgeing any church that belongs to God. And if you are so worried about this church or any other about not having a better web site. maybe you should be praying that God will send them someone to work in that minstry. You may not know the whole story.

  6. Greetings In The Name Of Jesus,

    My name is Taira Baughman and I am the director of the Silent Witness Mime Team. I am emailing you because our mime team will be traveling from Southern California through Nashville, TN. We will be traveling through your city and would love to visit with you and your church. Please visit our website and let the Holy Spirit lead. We will be traveling the last two weeks of July. We are hoping to get a few more churches to sponsor us on our trip. We do not charge. We would just love the opportunity to minister to your church on a love offering basis.

    Our group is combined of teens and adults that love the Lord. This is a wonderful experience for all involved to help promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope to hear from you soon. Visit our website at http://www.silentwitnessministries.org for more information about us. Have an incredible day!

  7. i love church so much in my life