Five years ago we arrived at the church building on Sunday morning to discover graffiti and smashed eggs across the frontage of the church. As a church community, we mobilised to remove the marks and the eggs on the same day that they were discovered. No problem.
Now go to your church website. Are you embarrassed by poor web design, stale content, and the promise of new features in 2006? Here are some suggestions to be the change for a vital element of your church’s public ministry:
- Be gracious. Most church websites are designed and maintained by volunteers. You need to treat their time and effort sincerely. Offer to work alongside them if there is someone who is currently maintaining the website.
- Use established technologies. For small to medium-sized churches, I believe that a church website maintained through Facebook or WordPress is more appropriate than a church website built from the ground up. If you are a large community, pay a development team to design and implement your website. Budget for $5000-$10,000 (that’s the price of a church sign and you’ll get much greater exposure from the website).
- Build the website for the people you are trying to communicate with. I like dividing the church website into 1) a site that explains faith and the mission of the church for all visitors and 2) a site that informs people in the church community.
- It’s time to use video. In the Youtube era, using video to communicate the message of the church is a great way to consolidate your information and to emphasize relationships. Here’s a thought – in addition to your statement of faith – why don’t you produce a podcast with the minister talking through the statement and its relevance to daily faith and practice?
- Quality over Quantity. Not introducing a new feature on your website is better than promising and not delivering. One quality web page is better than several mediocre pages. Death to the animated gif!
- Explain the terms. Christianity is full of words that only Christians understand. A glossary (or wiki) would be helpful for the unchurched looking for a church and for Christians looking for a new church.
- Understand and implement major trends. You would create quite a stir if you came into church wearing polyester bell-bottoms and lamb-chop sideburns. An aesthetically pleasing website informs visitors that you care about communicating clearly with them without distraction.
- Keep the “basics” prominent. Visitors need to know the basics. What’s the contact phone number & email address? When are your services? What time are you meeting? This information should be current and prominent on your website.
- How do I find you on Google? Make sure your website is optimised for search engines. If Google & Bing can’t find you – your visitors won’t be able to either.
There are many reasons why the church website can be neglected. Don’t be another reason why it hasn’t been updated.