Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Three Ways Your Church Website Communicates

In a recent blog post, Thom Rainer states that, "Most church leaders don’t grasp the value of a website." While his emphasis was primarily on how a church website communicates to guests, I don't want you to miss out on the fact that there are three ways your church communicates, or should communicate to everyone.

The Community
Thom covers the importance of this in his blog post. Let me highlight a few pitfalls he states are important to avoid:
  • The website is now the foyer. Guests may never make it through the front door if you have a lousy website.
  • The service times are either hard to find or non-existent.
  • The physical address of the church is either hard to find or non-existent.
  • Not enough information on childcare or childhood ministries.
  • Minimal or hard to find information on the church staff.
  • No place to listen to sermons.
  • Basic beliefs.
The Church Member
While we know that the first place someone in the community will visit is going to be our web-site, we can't forget to use our web-site as a tool for communication with members. Here are some elements you need to consider. I must say up front that, just because these elements are on your site doesn't mean a member will use them. They have to first be made aware and reminded over and over again that these elements are available to them. Secondly, you need to show them over and over again how to use the various elements. Take note that many of these elements will require members to create a login because of confidentiality and security.
  • Online Giving.
  • Calendar.
  • Membership database (only accessible by a log-in through your database provider).
  • Social network connections (Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc).
  • Small group or Sunday School group connection.
The Church Leader
This is usually the last group you might consider communicating with through your website. While most of what they need might be housed in different places, your website should provide some type of leadership page, even if that page takes them to additional links. Here are some elements to consider developing:
  • Include links to your membership database (if applicable). Our Bible study group leaders have access to specific information about their group members so they can communicate with them. This information is only available through a login and password.
  • Include supporting helps for your leaders. An example might be information that helps your Bible study group leaders with organizing their groups. You could include links to Bible study support blogs and resources.
  • Online training. While you can't accomplish all training online, you can certainly supplement training. Be sure to build links to the organization or location of your online training such as ARKEO (online discipleship/training builder), LifeWay's Ministry Grid, or Right Now Media. Or, link to a Baptist state convention training site. Here is a link to a blog post in which I provide a chart of specific groups that provide online training.
Here are some examples from my church, of things we are providing for leaders:
Someone who could help you get started with improving your web-site is GoHooper Web Design Services, the designer of the 4:12 Network. As a full service web agency GoHooper.com provides concierge service for Web Development, Graphic Design, Branding, Social Media, SEO, Marketing, Video Production, TV Commercials, & Print. They will listen to your concept, vision, and goals, and then strategize a game plan to convert them into a modern result-driven online web presence.

Though some web designers and builders are too expensive, it makes absolutely no sense to try to get by with a cheap-looking site. If you don't invest in your website, there is a fourth thing your website communicates - we are not willing to invest in you. Don't let this become what you are communicating.