22904_000_014The Church now offers a new way to share the gospel using the Internet.
I was at my computer. Just two days earlier, I had been sitting in the hospital with my friend, his wife, and their young son, Paul. I remembered how Paul had grimaced with pain as he waited in his hospital bed for his emergency appendectomy. The operation had gone well, and now Paul was recovering. I wanted to let my friend know I was thinking of him and his family, so I decided to send an electronic greeting card from the Church’s newest official Web site, www.mormon.org.
From the welcome page, I clicked on the “Send a card” icon and selected the category of “Inspiration/Hope.” I chose a picture of the Christus statue from the six or seven images provided. Then I chose a quotation from John 14:27: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” There were other scriptures to choose from and quotations from President Gordon B. Hinckley and other General Authorities, even one from Abraham Lincoln. I added a personal message to my friend’s greeting card. It was a quick and easy way to let him know I was concerned.
A Web Site for Everyone
Sending such greeting cards is also a good way to introduce people—especially those who are not members of the Church—to the Church’s new Web site. Once there, users can explore at their own pace and interest, without any pressure, a wealth of information about the Church. The site is specifically designed to explain the basic principles of the gospel, to answer questions, and to clarify misunderstandings about the Church.
In the Church’s continuing efforts to utilize the vast power of the Internet for good, this site adds a simple alternative to the other Church sites: www.lds.org and www.familysearch.org. Each page of www.mormon.org has an easy-to-use design but still contains sufficient information to give clear and basic explanations of the doctrines.
The welcome page introduces guests to the site’s six major content categories: “The Church,” “Families,” the “Nature of God,” the “Purpose of life,” answers to “Frequently asked questions,” and “Ask a question” of your own. Elder Dennis E. Simmons of the Seventy, Assistant Executive Director of the Missionary Department, explains, “We’ve tried to do everything we can to make this site as simple, as understandable, and as attractive as it can be.”
Web Site Successes
Numerous comments from site visitors suggest that the site has been effective.
“I just wanted to say how great this site is!” one writes. “What a perfect opportunity for investigators and new members to find out more! I have been a member for 14 months, and this site helps me share the gospel and learn more myself.”
“I am not a Mormon,” writes another site visitor, “but I recently learned I descend from many, many generations of Mormons. … I am fascinated by the history of the LDS Church, and your Web site has answered many of my questions. … Your Web site has certainly helped to broaden my perspective.”
Members can share any of the 300-plus pages of the site with friends and family via e-mail. “This site makes it easy for members to provide answers to gospel questions through the Internet,” says Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Missionaries can also benefit from the site by referring their investigators to it as an additional teaching resource.”
“The site has been a wonderful blessing to those who are not members of our faith,” adds Elder Simmons. One reason the site appeals to people of other faiths is that a great deal of feedback from scientifically selected focus groups went into its design and refinement. Furthermore, responses and questions received at the site have been used to further improve its effectiveness in explaining the basic teachings and doctrines of the Church.
Web Site Usage
Since the site’s announcement in October 2001, more than two million people from all over the world have visited it. They have sent nearly 150,000 electronic greeting cards and requested almost 8,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. Elder Simmons points out that visitors spend on average more than a minute viewing each page. “You don’t see many sites that keep people on a page for over a minute. That’s really substantial.”
In addition to finding information and requesting literature, almost 360,000 visitors have used the meetinghouse locator page. They simply enter their home address or postal code to find the nearest meetinghouse and worship times. A detailed map, complete with travel directions, can also be printed.
This new Web site has the potential to inform many people about the Church. Because the Internet is able to reach people’s homes directly, it is proving to be a potent way to teach gospel principles in a less threatening manner. Says Elder Oaks, “We believe that using the Internet will open a whole new world of opportunity to share the gospel for members and missionaries.”
The ultimate goal is to put interested site guests in contact with local members. In this way they can discuss what they have learned with someone in their own community. Elder Oaks points out that the Web site needs member participation to be truly effective: “No electronic site will replace the testimony or personal interest of a member who can offer friendship and support.” During the first six months of operation, almost 2,100 people requested member or missionary visits through the Web site.
One such visitor recently wrote: “Just a few weeks ago I became closer to a friend who is Mormon. He started to tell me about the Church and its beliefs, and I became interested in learning more. He gave me a Book of Mormon, and I started to read it. When something didn’t make sense, he cleared it up for me, and when I couldn’t talk to him about something I turned to this Web site. I have learned a lot in this last week from the site and from my dear friend. Now I’m going to meet with the missionaries. … Thank you so much for having this Web site!”
Whether you are sending a card, clearing up a question, finding where to worship, or inviting a friend to learn more, www.mormon.org can help. With its warm and accessible approach, it is like a friendly, unintimidating knock on the door. It is another way we can help our neighbors find the joy and happiness the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has brought into our lives.