Heal Your Church WebSite

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

What’s in a name? Try Heaven’s Gate!

Heaven's Gate Kitchy Rainbow Colored Keyhole LogoWhat is the first thing you think of when I say Heaven’s Gate? If you’re like me, the phrase “suicide cult” leaps to mind, as Heaven’s Gate was the brand-name for a cult who literally killed themselves in an effort to obtain eternal life. Which is rather sad when you think about it, as the Bible clearly proclaims Christ the final sacrifice, dying once and for all for our imperfections, rising from the dead, and now serving as our advocate when it comes time for the final judgment. Alas, to some, such thinking is too “old age” … so instead they dressed themselves in black, slipped into their Nike’s and drank a fatal brew … perhaps even reciting another infamous ‘sui-cider’s’ fatal incantation of … “Let’s get gone.

With this horrible image in mind, why-o-why would ANY ministry in it’s right mind name itself “Heaven’s Gates?” Yet sure enough, through the miracle of the Internet, a site bearing a pluralized version of this name dedicated to sharing Christian poetry and prayer requests exists. Yes, I realize the “s” on the end of this para-church ministry site’s name probably makes all the difference in the world to its owner, but not to search engines, and certainly not to visitors hearing or reading the name for the first time.

Of course it also doesn’t help that there is nary a clue as to what this site is about until after you click on the unlabeled mouseover animation of the not-so-intuitive, takes forever to load, cheap imitation of Thomas Kinkade splash page. A link which in turn takes you to yet another not-so-intuitive, takes forever to load, cheap imitation of Thomas Kinkade splash page. Which in turn offers the easy-to-distinguish choices of “Index” and “Home.” The former leading you to a site map containing links to the poems, the latter taking you back to the original not-so-intuitive, takes forever to load, cheap imitation of Thomas Kinkade splash page.

Further down there is also a link to a guestbook one almost misses because graphics are used to represent text … dark graphics against a dark background … which you miss because because between this, and the embedded MIDI files, and the kitchy artwork, you’ve got your hands over your eyes and are screaming “Enough with the Jesus Junk! … Where did I put my purple Koolaidtm?

Heavenly histrionics aside, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least 13 times, don’t hide your ministry’s light under a bowl. In other words, anything that gets in the way of your ministry’s personality and purpose should ‘get gone’ on your web site.

So what would I do to help this site shine before men as a bright glowing star? First I’d get a different name. Then I would get a domain name and open up a TypePad account. Using that account, I would post the poetry under a category entitled “Poetry.” Then under a category named “Prayers” I might post concerns and allow people to issue comments. No, it’s not the same as a guestbook, but I noticed the guestbook is getting a bit spammed lately.

But if I could only change one thing … it would be the name … that horrible name. And if given an hour and no budget, I’d at least move my poems over to a Blogger account and hyperlink over to a more robust and customizable free guestbook, until I figured out which content management solution was best for me.

And then people wonder why I refer to so much of the Body online as “that great cloud of witlessness.

For more information on the Heaven’s Gate cult, may I suggest a short article by Gretchen Passantino at Answers.org or a longer series of links and articles by Rick Ross?

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. – Hebrews 10:12-14


  1. Kathy’s Kreations seems to be stuck in ’96 or so with its design sensibility. You forgot to mention that the site is also “music intense”. I tried to get to the designer’s site and wasn’t successful. Maybe Kathy is no longer doing web sites.

  2. Greetings, I am John, webmaster of Heavens Gates. Thanks for the nice review?
    I chose Heavens Gates as my name to try and take away the horrible things people have in their minds and try and give Heavens Gates back to God where it belongs, (Rev. 21:25) not with some cult. My brother is a minister and also my uncle and this was my way to try and help make the gates Holy again. In my 1 1/2 years on, 1600 people on my mail list disagree with you.
    God Bless,

  3. Where is your Christianity? Do Christians badger and pick on others? I thought Christians loved one another as God and Jesus want us to do and help each other instead of stabbing them in the back. John has a beautiful site and so does Kathy. I have used her backgrounds myself so now I suppose you are going to pick on my site also. Well go for it as I do my site the way I want and not the way some critic site is going to tell me how to do it. Is your purpose to chase all the Christian sites off the Internet unless they meet your standards? Well then you can have your smut, porn, nudity, and all the filth that is on here. All of us are trying to do what we think is right to express ourselves and show others our Christian love and that is more than I can say for what you are doing. You are trying to destroy it! You should all be ashamed of yourselves as I don’t think anyone in heaven is smiling down on you right now.
    In God’s Love

  4. Sorry my url did not show up and I want to make sure you get it! I would hate to see you miss out on picking on another Christian site!

    In God’s Love

  5. From the House of Many Glass Windows…
    .The “**Dial-up users…” instructions at the bottom of the homepage should be a flag to the webmaster… if you have to explain a workaround for your visitors to use your homepage, you might consider making it mopre accessible. (Don’t know the impact on visually-impaired users…)
    At least give your visitors the +option+ of a “music and graphically intense ~ please be patient” experience or simply access to your content/information.
    As for the name, you’ll probably snag some cult-curious investigators by keyword search, so a gospel presentation or good reasearch link might be a good idea…
    - Frank
    - Fellow Webmaster!
    - http://burtonsvillebaptist.org (feel free to critique!)

  6. Hi Judy,
    >> Where is your Christianity? Do Christians badger and pick on others? I thought Christians loved one another as God and Jesus want us to do and help each other instead of stabbing them in the back.
    How should have http://www.healyourchurchwebsite.com critiqued this website? Silent, different tact?
    It’s okay to offer mature criticism of Dean’s style… (maybe we need a “www.healdeanpeters.com” website! ) it’s sharp, but I’m proof that even a sword can be used to sharpen a website…)
    - Frank Ramage
    - Don’t hate me!

  7. Thank You Frank Ramage for your suggestions. I will give all this much thought over the next few days. The review just caught me off guard and I was very hurt after all the time and love I have put into my site.
    God Bless, John

  8. Just because a cult usurps a Biblical phrase does not mean that we can’t take it back. A good analogy is the word “gay”. Prime example of a word whose meaning has changed over time. Yet, if I were to somehow register the word “gay” as a domain name, would I be wrong to develop a site which is nothing more than an online Gospel tract? No; in fact, it would be pretty cool if I could somehow pull that off.

    We are commanded to build one another up, but we are also commanded to speak THE TRUTH in love. Dean does that all the time. The sites we develop are NOT for us – even though we all develop a personal stake in whether or not people like them. It’s when we lose site of that fact – that what we do is completely for the benefit of others – that we begin to be offended in even the tiniest sense. I’m very sure Dean’s tongue is, many times, planted firmly in cheek when he writes these reviews. Can’t we just learn from each other, politely disagree when it’s warranted, and move on?


  9. Wow, what fun we’re having tonight!
    Rich is correct, it’s not my intent to hurt, but to keep your attention while discussing the same issues, over and over and over again.
    That said, I do disagree with usurping any word or phrase. For example, why not rename our teen ministries the “Hitler Youth” in an attempt to dissipate the wretched memories of the mid-20th century?
    Furthermore, NO WHERE on the site reviewed today is there ANY mention I was I able find of this noble purpose of retaking a phrase once associated with cemeteries. Which is exactly what my point was … this site is so chock-full of gizmos and cliche’s that the real message gets lost.
    Frank … don’t worry, I’ve been meaning to use you as a good example of someone who took the criticism and ran with it. There are a couple of such sites who by not taking my critique of the technical issues personally, are able to reach a broader audience with the message of Salvation.
    John … I was driving home. The solution that I would apply would be a Weblog/Content Management system called pMachine. It would allow you to post your poetry as easy-to-read, seach-engine friendly text w/out having to deal with a ton of HTML. The pro version, which you can get at a discount because you’re a charity, includes a BBS which you could use for your prayer requests. In fact, if what they offer in the way of Content Management (CMS) is too techie, you can sign-up for their web-hosting service which includes their CMS product in the price …. http://www.pmachinehosting.com/
    Judy … I’ve been looking for a site to compare against Jakob Nielsen’s 135 Heuristics for good web design … thanks for volunteering!-)

  10. >Sorry my url did not show up and I want to make >sure you get it! I would hate to see you miss >out on picking on another Christian site!

    Here’s my URL Dean! Pick on me! Pick on me!


  11. John, Judy and Kathy … Just want to say I love your sites. I believe this is what a lot of our people are looking for and need – inspiration and spirituality … and to know God is Love !!!

    ~keep on keeping on` as Michael Combs sings in his beautiful song … They can’t take my Jesus out of my heart~


  12. No Dean I did not come back and put my url on to say “pick on me, pick on me! I did it for the fact I wanted you to know who was doing the post other than just a name. If I have something to say I want people to know who I am and not hide. So go pick on someone else as I don’t have time for your foolishness. Now I will get back to working on my site the way “I” want to do it! Thank you and have a good night. God bless. And also thank you Janie for your comment on our sites.
    In God’s Love Judy

  13. … For example, why not rename our teen ministries the “Hitler Youth” in an attempt to dissipate the wretched memories of the mid-20th century?

    Already taken.
    Sheesh, are there any domain names left?

  14. Dean, be of good cheer. Some people prefer to shoot the messenger rather than taking care of the mess.

  15. Hi Dean,

    Yeah, chin up. We (ie people who get paid to do this web thing) get so caught up in it sometimes that it’s easy to forget that Joanne Public probably doesn’t get what Jokob, Vincent et al have to say. You can’t make them see the rational arguments, so it comes down to personal preference and ‘taste’ for particular styles of web sites.

    Ho hum.

  16. hallo and dear good greeting with heavenly bless and good feel to you,may the Lord use to heal and weake up the death and open the eyes of blind, for this possible to you make to all who believe in the name of Jesus.Pray for holy revival.Thanks and bless.keijo sweden