It has been two years since Fig Tree Christian launched online! Wow, what a crazy two years. It has changed so much here. For those who are new, or have been around since the beginning, let's take a quick look back:
The evolution of the header: Like any new website, we began with a written header. There was also another version of the logo, as shown on the left.
I visit at least a dozen or so Christian websites a week. The images immediately sets the mood for the site. Think of logos and images as the wrapping paper for the message. What mood do you want the person opening present to be in? There are certain colors, fonts and physical cues that speak to our brain, and tell us things about the thing we are looking at. Unless we are explicit about what we want to say, and find the right visual combo to say it, we implicitly began picking our non-verbal cues.
Usually, websets non-verbally tell me, "We don't have a budget for this." Let me let you in on a secret: Over two years we've spent under $400 for everything. (We pay for yearly web hosting, purchasing our url and occasionally purchasing images that can't be made from scratch.) Photoshop elements cost $60. Find a creative person to begin researching color and fonts and let them play with the program. No, you won't have professional illustrations, but you will have more than a blank header. Eventually, you will have someone who understands the program.
The evolution of the message: When this first began I, Melissa Fain, was a dumper. In other words, I cut and pasted Sunday morning sermons into a blog format. No one listens to to the message or reads a flat sermon written for someone else. If you want a resource for your congregants to find previous sermons, you are doing a great job just pasting messages in. If you want to reach out to others, rethink what you are doing.
When I see some of those early messages get clicked, I cringe. The visuals were horrible. The message was great on a Sunday morning, but terrible for an online audience. I had to get to know people online. What were their issues? What were they dealing with? Once I knew that, I could begin to connect the need to the people.
Still, if you feel your sermon is gold and deserves an online audience, make it suitable for an online audience. Add images that help tell the story. (Purchased, made, or credit is given if it's royalty free. Never just take someone's work.) Separate the text so people can see the points. Cut it down. Forty-minute reads are not read online. Sorry.
Evolution of support: When Fig Tree Christian launched it was me, myself and I... by the grace of God. Looking back, it was rather sad. Every meditation was mine. I had a few cheerleaders, but overall, it felt like I was yelling into an echo chamber. It was like I was crying out in the wilderness when everyone was still in the city.
When this all began I immediately saw the possibility of a devotional app. It became one of those milestones I saw in the distance. I couldn't do it right away, because it required help, and I didn't have support.
Now, this ministry is highlighted by those who support it. I'm just the schlub who calls herself the minister. There are monthly guest meditations. You might not realize this, the past three guest meditations are from people I have never met in person. I know them online. This and going to monthly guest mediations is a celebration. At first, I had a guest meditation about once a quarter, and two contributors wrote more than one! I will forever be grateful for those who saw the potential so early, and wanted to help.
So what is next? You tell me? The truth is, God's plans happens within the Body of Christ. Fig Tree is only as awesome as the community that supports it. It is so exciting to see how far we've come in two short years. I can't wait to see what happens in two more! You should stick around and see what happens.