Churches are ultimately about people and their relationship with God. Yes, there’s some stunning architecture as well, but people primarily will be connecting with others not a building.
So with that semi-bold assertion, let’s begin to look at church website tips in contrast to last week’s post about church website failures. Don’t forget to add your thoughts in the comments.
1. Church people look normal!
Well as normal as normal people look. Christians are all ages, races, sizes, etc – so have that front and centre. Think of your church website as the digital equivalent of putting a glass door on the front of a traditional church – it opens it up, takes away a barrier. If someone can see their community and themselves in the church then you are far more likely to be welcoming them next Sunday.
Tip: big photos of lots of people can be hard to understand/ don’t look great on mobile. Instead try closeups of 2-3 people talking each other over a cup of tea. Of course pay attention to child safety too when sharing photos of people – do include them but perhaps a photograph of their back when doing an activity?
2. Display your denominational flavour
Friendly photos are great, but don’t let that get in the way of showing the type of church you are. If Catholic or high Anglican with a focus on tradition make sure there’s a few prominent photos of your clerics in their garb, perhaps at the altar. If someone is more likely to see hands in the air, guitars and someone holding a radio microphone then show that too. It’s easier to come to something knowing what to expect.
Tip: State up front what kind of church you are because ‘St Peter’ doesn’t necessarily mean a specific denomination to someone new. Also don’t rely on denominational logos, just say ‘Baptist/ Methodist/ Church of England/ Vineyard’, etc.
3. Show the building and a map
It sounds daft, but given you probably meet up on a weekly basis, show people where you do that by having a photo of the front. Even if you meet in a school, show people where they would walk in from the street. This needs to be pared with a map and the full address (including postcode for satnav). It’s very easy to be confused between churches when searching on a map, so spell it out and make it easy.
Tip: Google Maps are helpful, though you now have to setup a billing account with Google. This is unlikely to cost you anything but is a little technical.
4. Keep It Simple
It can be all too easy to plan a church website structure which perhaps follows how you are organised but it ends up meaning finding the basics is tough. Remembering that your website is mostly externally focussed, we would suggest these items need to be hugely obvious:
- Sundays (or perhaps ‘Services’) – if simple enough display on all pages
- About (this doesn’t need to contain everyone in governance, just key figures with photos)
- Music/Organ (if this is a big feature, highlight it – or perhaps history or art)
- Families (especially if trying to attract them, make it clear)
- Contact (put the full address on this page too)
Tip: You don’t need to have everything on your website. If you have a worship group, choir, kids music group there can be lots of detail about how to join but just a ‘Music’ page with a paragraph about each (and ideally a photo) would be sufficient initially on your website. Explain the detail when someone asks about it.
5. Don’t forget your faith
Please excuse our skepticism that people don’t tend to come to Christ through reading a website, however it can be easy to forget to share your faith amongst all the practical details. Remember that people are attracted to your church not because of the tea and coffee but some interest in God/ a Christian they’ve met.
So while your congregation might groan at the mention of ‘prayer meeting’, the fact you have one might actually be attractive. While you may not want to share every sermon online for fear of misinterpretation, do share some theological thoughts – or perhaps the ‘bible verses from Sunday’? Testimonies and even liturgy are often attractive/ helpful in showcasing what kind of church you are. Dare to share your faith on your website’s sleeve!
Tip: the least interesting part of your website is your ‘vision and mission’ page. You may have shed tears to craft it but it reads like a corporate mission statement – instead ask yourself ‘how are we showing the heart of what we do on this part of the website’? Often changing ‘we do this’ to ‘you can do this’ will be a good start.
Of course sometimes you need an external perspective to help separate the wheat from the chaff.
Review your church website
Ps. Please add any tips you have in the comments