Churches without websites: the (small) problem

Unitarian Universalists were early adopters of websites, and even in the late 90s I remember more than 300 or 400 congregations hosting their own site. These earliest available archive is from 1996, with 234 sites and more coming on line all the time.

I also recall — and thinking it wrong then — that someone-in-the-know opined that it was unlikely that many more churches would bother with one. That must have been around 1998 or 1999. (I wish I had written these predictions down. It was, of course, pre-blog.)

Today, only 36 of the 1045 member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association report no website. Most of these are very small (median membership = 11) and are overwhelmingly in New England.

The largest one listed (111 members) is The Unitarian Church of South Australia, but it does have a site, apparently for years.

But that’s not to say these other congregations don’t have a web presence, and that their choice isn’t the best one. But that — and a table! — is for next time.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I just wrote a blog post about the kafuffle at Tuna U. In the process, I tried to leave inquiries and copies of the post with various people at various churches. Thus, there were websites, all right. OUT OF DATE. Small churches, like small towns, like being one-celled animals.

    About this time of year in many small congregations, someone will rise to announce that the “annual church picnic will be held at the usual time and place this year.” They never say where that is, because “everyone knows.” Then they wonder why no new people show up, why there’s no growth.

    Prairie Mary

  2. It would be useful for the UUA to employ, in each district, a web tech. As Rev. Cyn has pointed out, this is where most congregations need support: the hands-on administrative details that Boston dreams up to keep us “cutting edge.”

  3. I agree with Elz Curtiss. Maintaining the web site is a dreadful chore for people who are not web savvy. The UUA could host a back end publishing platform for every congregation that didn’t want to take on building its own site.

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