October 31, 2018 • Floyd Steverson
I remember in the not too distant past serving in a church which did not have a website or social media presence of any kind. Many of the key leaders just could not see the need for it. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in many of our churches still today.
Fortunately, most church planters understand that websites and social media are necessary in the modern world we live in today. But, do we really understand their importance and potential? Are we under utilizing these tools and/or not utilizing them effectively? Do we have the proper content available on our websites?
I would like to share with with you a few simple guidelines to help ensure you are including content that is essential on your site.
Before I share these guidelines, I want to remind us of the importance of having an effective website. Lifeway’s Trevon Wax recently said, “If a church doesn’t have a website in this day and age, it’s as if the church doesn’t exist.” I will take it a step further and say that if your website doesn’t have the proper content or is difficult to search, it may even be worse than not having a website at all. It is critical that any church serious about reaching it’s community not only have a website, but include the right content that is easily accessible to even the most novice internet user.
So what is the essential content that should be included in every church website? To determine what content is essential, we must first determine who will be visiting the website. For most churches, that answer is simple: 1) those who are members/attendees; and, 2) those who are potential members/attendees. Content should include elements that minister to both groups. I’ve broken it down into a handful of categories that I believe are absolutely essential to include in any church website.
1. CONTACT INFORMATION
Location, Service Times, Phone Number, Email Links or Email Contact Form.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of this one. It is shocking to see how many churches don’t have basic contact information listed on their website, or don’t have it listed in an easy to find location on their site. Location and Service Times should be listed prominently on your home page, along with having their own dedicated page with a link available in the menu. If your website design allows for it, Location, Service Times, and Phone Number should be listed in the header/footer of every page. Make it easy for people to find this information and to contact you.
2. ABOUT US
Write a short bio about the church. Tell people who you are as a church and what they can expect the experience to be like when they visit. Share with them your Mission, Vision, and Core Values. You can also include a short history of the church. Be sure to include a photo gallery featuring people and recent events from your church.
3. STAFF/LEADERSHIP BIOS
People want to know who’s leading the church before they become involved. Provide a picture of each staff member, a brief bio, and his or her role at the church. I like to also include links to each staff member’s email, social media sites, and blogs if applicable.
4. SERMON VIDEOS/PODCASTS
Because of the many different styles of teaching/preaching/presenting that are utilized by various churches, it is extremely helpful to include full sermons and also links to archived sermons on your website for anyone researching your church. This is also a great tool to minister to members who are out, or people who cannot come to church for one reason or another.
5. UPCOMING EVENTS
From scrolling banners to online calendars there are several ways to include upcoming events on your website. Providing upcoming events helps members keep up with what you doing and shows potential visitors what all is going on at your church.
6. STATEMENT OF BELIEFS
Each church website should include a clear, concise, easy to find and understand statement of what your church believes. Keep it simple and to the point. Cover basic doctrines and don’t try to get to complex. It shouldn’t take a Theologian to understand it. Links can be provided to a larger and more complete Statement of Beliefs if you feel it is necessary.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS AND LINKS
With over 800 Million people on Facebook and 100’s of millions also using Twitter, Instagram, and other Social Media sites, linking your website to these Social Media sites can be a great way to effectively expand your website’s outreach. Also, if your pastor and/or staff likes to blog, you can link their blog to the staff bio, and/or include a staff blog feed on your website.
There are many other content items that can be included on your website, but these I’ve listed are essential. Remember, your website doesn’t have to include all the latest bells and whistles, or be designed by an expensive web designer to be effective. Following these simple guidelines will help you build and maintain an effective website.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!