I want to bring to your attention something that anybody with a smart phone can do today! Something that we have neglected for far too long. Something that would help to make our churches more open, friendly and accessible to all who may be interested. Something to distract you while you should be listening to the sermon (caught!).
Google is offering free advertising for your church . . .
And all you need is a Google account and a camera. It’s true. Not only will they present a picture of your church to the rest of the world, but they also want to display your church’s phone number, opening hours and web address. The cost to you is $0.00. Good deal right? And what will you gain? Existence. People through your doors. Visitors will pop in unannounced. Locals can become familiar with your church more easily.
“But Kyle, we already exist!” I hear some of you say. Well, I’m sorry to be the one to inform you that for many a passing traveller, and for most people under 30 years old, you don’t exist at all. You simply did not appear when they asked their phone about you. They found no trace of you when they searched for a local church.
And if we can’t even feature on the world’s largest free maps platform, then how do we expect people to find us?
The power of Google’s free maps service lies within the collective contribution of its users. You have the ability to add missing information to the map.
May I suggest that the younger generation takes this opportunity as an empowering responsibility and contributes to making their church seen and available to the seekers passing by?
"If we can’t even feature on the world’s largest free maps platform, then how do we expect people to find us?"
Want an easy checklist? OK.
- Make sure your church is listed and the address is correct
- Upload a nice photo of your church
- Update phone and hours details
- Add a review about your church
- Repeat 1-4 for other Adventist churches
Some have even suggested that you all pose for a nice photo, smile and wave. Upload that photo and show the public how friendly you can be as a congregation. Go on, try it out. Open Google Maps and hover a few hundred metres over your church. Type in: “Seventh-day Adventist Church” and see if yours is listed. Is there a nice recent photo of your church for all to see?
Here’s one I prepared earlier: Avondale Memorial Adventist Church (see left).
Posted October 2015, it has since attracted 62,000 views (with 450,000 hits on all local church photos I’ve posted) and is displayed as one of the default photos when searching for Cooranbong on Google Maps. And yes, stories are coming in already about people walking into churches they never knew existed simply by searching on Google Maps.
For those of you needing a somewhat constructive hobby, why not become a “Local Guide” (see: https://www.google.com/local/guides/benefits). Yes, at the risk of embarrassment, I will confess that I am at Level 4 and have earned myself a free TB of Google Drive storage. But at least you can now take a street view look inside Memorial.
Kyle Morrison is an evangelism department assistant for the North New South Wales Conference.