Monday, October 26, 2015

The Ecclesial Ethics of Google Ads

Technology advances faster than ethics. We are often confronted with the reality of being able to do something thanks to a technological achievement without being given sufficient time to consider whether or not we should. And though there are examples with significant social impact, there are smaller instances that are worth considering.

For example: Should a congregation purchase a Google ad? We are able to, but should we?

A congregation can pay Google to bump their website to the top of the list when someone searches for a church in a particular area. And since Google is the place almost everyone goes to find stuff in general, it is going to be the place we go to find a church, also. So I move into town, I’m looking for a church, I just google “churches in such-and-such” and take a look at the list. Top of the list hits tend to get more attention, so a congregation can pay Google to get that extra attention.


- Is it good evangelism, a wise use of congregational resources?

- Is it bad ecclesiology, infusing an attitude of competition into the church’s mission in the world?

- Is it actually bad practice, since there are many who intentionally skip the “paid for” hits in a Google search?

- Is it an act of hospitality in that it makes it that much easier for a newcomer to find the “front door” of the congregation?

- Is it an unjust practice that favors large, wealthy congregations over small, struggling ones?

I’d love to read your thoughts. It may not even be that big of a deal, but it’s something I’m thinking about this morning, so I thought I’d put it out there.

What do you think about a congregation purchasing Google ads?

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