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Community Portal Pages – a powerful outreach strategy

Touching your town, city or region

Community pages are an amazing strategy for online outreach which very few people are yet using. The concept is to create a site based on the local community – town, local area/county, state, even a small country. The site must offer the best secular links for the community in a range of categories. It must be a genuinely useful resource at this level. But it also contains appropriate Christian links in various categories. The more comprehensive it is, the more that people in the area will use it as their one-stop local neighborhood site, maybe even setting it as a ‘start page’ in their browsers, and become frequent return visitors. For a more detailed look at the concept, read Frank Johnson’s discussion paper Community Pages (PDF file – needs Adobe Acrobat to read). This portal concept can also be applied to other subjects.

Use a search engine to check on your town name – you may be surprised at how many local organizations and groups have sites which could be part of a Community Portal.

A community site can offer links, news and features, in categories such as:

Naturally, the church section links to churches in the area. Under ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ are links to appropriate sensitive evangelistic pages. Other categories also offer the chance to include evangelistic pages – particularly women, teens, and health, for which there are a number of good resources you can include.

Some Christians might worry about the number of secular links compared with Christian links! However, the whole strategy is based on having secular links which really are well-chosen and useful. A good site based on this strategy could become the definitive resource for a town or area – thereby getting potentially thousands of hits a day. The Christian links are there when people wish to look at them, and precisely because they are not preachy and in your face, they have credibility. The page should not ‘look’ Christian at all.

There are many other creative ways that a Community Portal could genuinely serve people in its catchment area and build popularity:

Ready-made community portals for your area

There are other options available, than designing a website from scratch:

Examples

This strategy has long been used by some Christian radio stations, who have realized the importance of involvement and identification with the community, and of offering genuinely useful secular information relating to the area.

Publicity and promotion

Handling the work

One person does not need to do all the work. A big community site can be time-consuming! Here are some ways that work could be delegated among a team:

A powerful strategy

This strategy has great potential to be powerful and effective. It can work in any language or culture – even in CAN countries. Sadly, in many languages there is a shortage of evangelistic sites to link to. Here are some. We also encourage church websites to identify strongly with their local community, and include a page of community links within the church site.

Please tell us of other sites using this strategy, or any suggestions you have about it.

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