Granted, in a world where a cat falling off a table can get a million clicks, a million views doesn’t seem a huge target. But considering the South Pacific Division’s (SPD) HopeChannel website had a paltry 17,930 views in 2012, setting our goal for 1 million views felt like shooting for the moon. We would need to grow 5577 per cent to reach a million views a year!
Well, we didn’t do it.
We are just at the start of having all segments of our ministry working together harmoniously in a way that advances the message God has given to us.
Instead, we grew 7818 per cent!
In 2015 our four main SPD websites had a cumulative total of almost 2 million views—1.4 million of which were at the hopechannel.com site. And the numbers continue to grow rapidly.
And it’s not just the number of views but the quality. Hopechannel.com has managed to attractively incorporate video, text, audio and interactive Bible lessons into a package that’s not only attracting people to the site, but keeping them there. The average visitor views almost six different pages on every visit.
“When we set the million views goal it was ambitious,” Adventist Media CEO Kalvin Dever says. “But apparently not ambitious enough! God is doing great things. People are online searching, and hopechannel.com provides us with a platform with which to reach them. And it’s only just beginning—our digital team has a plan to roll out a much more integrated site with new products and substantial improvements.”
“This isn’t a coincidence,” notes Jared Madden, the head of the digital team. “We have a great group of professionals working to bring all of our evangelistic media and services together online and make them easily accessible. We now offer visitors much more in a single website than we ever did in the past. The growth has happened even though the website is still very much in development and even though we haven’t spent anything on advertising it.”
Signs of the Times and Diggings articles have been added to the site. “While this means that (visits to) the Signs website have waned, we are now getting many more views on hopechannel.com than we ever did cumulatively as little stand-alone websites,” Signs editor Lee Dunstan says. “Teamwork, works.”
HopeChannel director Pastor Wayne Boehm says it’s all part of the vision to “meet our societies where they are”.
“Where we can reach people affordably and effectively through TV—like New Zealand—we are,” he says. “Where we can reach people via radio—like Fiji—we are. Where we can reach them online, we are. Where we can reach people with print, we are. And the beauty of hopechannel.com is that it also supports all the work on TV, print and radio by providing a place for viewers and listeners to come to learn more. We are just at the start of having all segments of our ministry working together harmoniously in a way that advances the message God has given to us.”
“You need to reach people where they’re at, and where they are is on the web,” says Linden Chuang, who recently took on an increased role with the Adventist Media digital team. “Thus, it is in this digital space where we need to introduce people to the love of Jesus, whether that’s through high-quality articles, videos or other content. Don’t dismiss the design element too. If the message we share is attractive, there’s no reason the presentation of that message shouldn’t be too.”
Mr Dever says they have tried the “everyone do their own little website model” but it is not as effective as working together. “Our new model is already kicking goals. Online visitors are active by their nature and can click over to find out more about God. And they tend to be younger. There’s none of this ‘send us a card in the snail mail or use your old phone’—it’s instant with a click. That’s what people expect today—if anything, we’re a little late in providing it.
“Our progress so far is just the start. Our goal isn’t to have two million views or five million views. Our goal is to have in the range of 100 million views per year, and much more importantly, to assist our church family in making 10,000 new disciples for Jesus per year. We’re here to support you. And, under God’s grace, it’s our goal to work together with our entire church family to light up our region for Jesus Christ!”
There’s still a huge amount of work to be done. The website is being substantially improved and integrated with the Adventist Church websites. Soon relevant Adventist Record articles will appear on the hopechannel.com site, and HopeChannel video, text and audio will appear on the Adventist Church site. And both sites will connect visitors to online Bible studies and details about where they can find a warm, friendly, loving church family—yours.
James Standish is communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.