7 Ways to Evangelize and Catechize with Your Parish Website
Long before Pope Benedict XVI was pope, he was Cardinal Ratzinger. Early in Ratzinger's theological career, he had an experience that changed his preaching.
Ratzinger sent one of his theological essays to his colleague, Hans Urs von Balthasar, for Balthasar's review and comment.
Balthasar replied by return mail on a correspondence card, and, after expressing his thanks, added a terse sentence that made an indelible impression on Ratzinger:
Do not presuppose the faith but propose it.
In other words, continually propose the essentials of the Christian mystery - the Gospel - in season and out of season... never presupposing that your audience believes or, much less, has heard of the fundamentals of Christianity.
This principle can be translated into the realm of parish websites with this dictum:
Evangelize and catechize by means of your parish website.
Often, parishes will spend most of their time populating their website with contact information and short blurbs about various ministries, Mass times, uploading their parish bulletin, and giving staff contact information.
All of these things are definitely necessary for any parish website, but they are just a starting point.
Go further, beyond the idea of an online phonebook, and create unique content that is meant to capture the heart of the visitor (evangelize) and lead the visitor deeper into an understanding of the Christian mystery (catechize).
So, what would this look like in concrete terms?
1. Create a page on your website with the essentials of the Gospel message. Then, create a block of text on the front page of your parish website asking visitors if they have heard the fundamental, essential Gospel of Jesus Christ, with a link to that page!
2. Create a unique page for each of the 7 sacraments with explanations, quotes from the Catechism, and embedded videos from YouTube, such as Bishop Robert Barron explaining "the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist".
3. Create a "Frequently Asked Questions About Catholicism" section that answers common misunderstandings that people may have about what we believe.
4. Provide links to awesome online catechetical resources such as:
- Catholic Answers
- Lighthouse Catholic Media
- The Understanding the Scriptures Podcast
- Ascension Presents
- Word on Fire
5. Create an online contact form so visitors can ask any question they wish about the Catholic Faith. Send your response directly to them by email and post the answer on your website.
6. Use your parish blog to tackle a different topic of the Faith each week.
7. Upload audio recordings of presentations on topics of the Catholic Faith, for quick and easy listening on a webpage.
It's really that simple.
You can do it!