Church Websites

Church Websites (9)

Over the next few weeks, millions of sites worldwide could start seeing a massive reduction in traffic from smartphone search results – an event nicknamed “Mobilegeddon.”

Why is this? One word: Google.

Two months ago, Google announced that it would soon be overhauling its search-ranking algorithms to give significant smartphone search preference to websites that are “mobile-friendly.” That means that sites whose content is more easily viewed and usable on mobile devices will have greater visibility in smartphone search results. (Tablet search results will not be affected.)

Google recently predicted that the number of search queries performed on mobile devices will soon outnumber those done on computers, and they want to ensure these users are seeing content they can easily digest. Now, content and link building are no longer the only cool kids on the SEO block, but usability as well.

If your site currently ranks on the first page of results for a search on Google, and your site does not pass Google's "Mobile-Friendly Test", then your site will disappear and be lost in the mass of millions of other search results on mobile devices. Considering that 92% of all clicks happen on the first page, that's a huge loss in traffic.

The overhaul happened recently: April 21, 2015. If your business or blog relies on Google search traffic to attract users, and your site isn't "mobile-friendly," it will be affected by these changes. Here is the full FAQ from Google.

How do I fix these problems?

You need to make your website "responsive," specifically in the areas listed in the test results. Responsiveness is the term used in web design to describe the process of making a website "respond" to the device its being viewed on, and changing its content and styling to best suit varying screen sizes.

The steps you need to take to make your site responsive vary in complexity and difficulty depending on what's wrong, and how your site is hosted. If your site was custom built by a developer, and there's significant issues, this could cost you weeks, and thousands of dollars in developer time. Making a website responsive once it’s already built is not always easy.

What's involved with making a site responsive?

The overall goal in making a site responsive is ensuring that it is usable on a variety of devices. This can mean modifying your site by: increasing text and button sizes, adding additional space between clickable items, having the page width match the screen width, changing the layout of elements, and speeding up the page (for those on slow 3G connections).

Screen sizes used to access web pages can vary from 3" all the way to 30" and above, and can be in landscape or portrait mode. Having a one-size-fits-all site is definitely not going to work across the board.

Quite often, when a site is not responsive and is loaded on a phone, the content is extremely tiny, and the user has to pinch-zoom and pan to find what they need. This is not an ideal user experience. The first step is to make the site width match the device width.

After doing this, elements that are normally adjacent to each other may become visually cramped. Consider stacking elements vertically on smaller screen sizes: if you have three article summaries side-by-side on desktop, try having only two adjacent articles on tablet, and down to one article per row on mobile, giving each one enough room to breathe.

Defeating Mobilegeddon

Mobilegeddon demonstrates that Google is truly one of the most powerful companies in the world. A simple change in their search algorithms can affect hundreds of thousands of businesses and blogs overnight,

As outlined above, to adhere to the new requirements, it comes down to making your website responsive – prioritize the user experience above all else. Don’t treat responsiveness as an afterthought or a “nice have.” Treat it as a pivotal component of web design, as we do at Webflow.

Whatever way you proceed, act quickly as Google’s changes are live and you could already be losing mobile search traffic.

NOTE: All of our websites are now RESPONSIVE!

freeA number of web hosting services offer good quality low cost web hosting while others offer these services free, so there is no reason why any congregation could not have a website to publicize its activities, no matter how small or however constrained its budget may be.

Even so, some small churhes may still be tempted by the possibility of using free web hosting services.

When you set up a website with a free web hosting company you you are usually allocated a free sub-domainaddress of your choice, a certain amount of free website space and a range of tools and services that you can use for free, or for a small fee.

Most of these sites come with a range of website designs so that you don't have to create a new site from  scratch. The creation of these free websites is usually made as simple as possible, a matter of simply choosing and clicking the options you prefer. Websites can be further customized by adding widgets, pages and other  application as per their needs. You can also add features such as  picture galleries, video and so on.
Free business websites therefore offer an opportunity for small businesses to experience firsthand the benefits that come with an online presence.

Disadvantages of Free Webhosting

However, there are also some quite big disadvantages to running your business on a free web hosting package. These are:
1. Your website address is a sub-domain of your free webhost so people will doubt that you are a serious business.
2. You will not get much web space and may have to "upgrade" if and when you  want to expand your site. You may find that the "upgrade" prices turns out to be more expensive than standard paid webhosting rates.
3. You do not "own" your website. At any moment the web host could decide to pull the plug on your website or on the "free" part of its business, leaving you high and dry with no website at all, or forced to pay to "upgrade".
4. Search engines often give free websites low priority.
5. Although you may be able to use add on features, the amount of space for them is limited. Again, to get full use you may have to upgrade.
6. Some free websites have to carry the web hosting company's advertising.

Finding A Better Solution To Free Webhosting...

A better solution is to start with a reputable web host that offers low cost web hosting packages complete with unlimited web space and the option to upgrade to a bigger package later on as your web presence expands. Paying for web hosting has the following advantages for church websites:
1. You can use your own business name as the domain name. (A vital first step to showing visitors that you are a serious online business.)
2. You will have all the web space you need to grow your site.
3. You will be able to keep control of your own website and domain name. (With free web hosting, you do not actually own your website and so are not in complete control of it.
4. You get to choose whether or not to run an advertising service, and if you do, you get to keep the advertising revenue. (Free websites sometimes feature ads placed by the web host.
7. You can add to your professionalism by using your domain name as your branded email address.

“We need more lodgers,” said Maria Silversmith to her husband Joe one evening. Ten years back, they had bought their large rambling house to accommodate six children as well as two elderly relatives. With only the two younger children now left at home, the house seemed achingly empty, even with the presence of Tim their lodger, who had become like one of the family. “Let’s make a webpage, then people looking for lodgings can easily find us,” suggested Joe.

Their family home was an ideal place for lodgers. They were easy-going and welcoming people. Maria was a caring woman who could be motherly to student-age lodgers or a wise friend to anyone nearer her own age. Joe liked the extra company and was a gracious host, while Sue and Jason (10 and 14) already treated (or boisterously mistreated) Tim as an older brother. Indeed, Tim’s stay with them had been a healing time for him in many ways. Of course, as in any family, there were grumpy times but these usually evaporated quickly.

“Let’s sit down after dinner and list what to put on our webpage,” announced Joe the next day. There were so many things they might have said. How Joe loved fishing and motorbikes. That Maria was a music teacher and played in a band. The way Sue and Jason played a mean game of tennis. Even how Tim their lodger had found healing and acceptance in the Silversmith household.

But somehow, despite their gifts and interests, the Silversmiths found it hard to communicate when not face-to-face. So their webpage ended up looking rather like this:

  • one photo of the front of the house (no people pictured at all)
  • measurements of the rooms available for lodgers, with details of the decor and furniture
  • a list of house-rules and meal-times
  • a short history about the building of their house

And that was it. The Silversmiths could never understand why “the website didn’t work”.

Revamp your website

 

bad-church-websiteWebsites are like art - some are magnificent like the Mona Lisa - they draw you in and make you look deeper. Then there are those that are more like a child's finger-painting - sloppy and hard to decipher. Sometimes you need a little inspiration - or as Picasso put it, 'Good artists copy, great artists steal.' And no, we're not advocating theft, but a quick look at competitors' sites can help you see where you could make improvements. Your website is often the first impression you make to your visitors - so make diatribes about your greatness, typos, or long videos with trippy audio a thing of the past.

Online assemblies reach computer, smartphone users in isolated area

Member Beau Wood helps with the technical side of live-streaming assemblies of the Anchorage Church of Christ in Alaska.
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No longer must Christians working in the Alaska North Slope oil fields miss Sunday services at the Anchorage Church of Christ, even though it’s hundreds of miles away. In central Pennsylvania, residents of the Golden Living retirement center don’t need to leave the premises — or their wheelchairs — to witness the sermon at the Camp Hill Church of Christ. In Russia, 20-year-old Elizabeth Kambonde, a student from the southern Africa nation of Namibia, can’t find a church home, so she sings along with a congregation around the globe — the Northside Church of Christ in Benton, Ark. In an age of digital Bible apps, electronic tithing and sermon notes posted immediately to Twitter, Churches of Christ increasingly broadcast their Sunday assemblies on the Internet. Live-streaming, it’s called. “The streaming is quite consistent, so we worship in sync,” Kambonde said, “and that is an amazing experience.” The Anchorage church invested in a high-definition camera to provide a “real-time connection” to homebound and ill members, elder Darrell Watson said.
  
The Internet broadcasts serve shut-in members as well as out-of-town Christians. (PHOTO BY JACOB SEE) 
“Additionally, many Church of Christ members are scattered across the state of Alaska — nearly two-fifths the size of the United States — and they are isolated from other Christians in the state,” Watson said. “They can watch the live-streaming or replay broadcasts of Bible classes and worship services.” Like the Anchorage church, the Central Church of Christ in Winnipeg, Manitoba, made services available online for its shut-in and out-of-town members. However, in a nation with 35 million people but only 150 Churches of Christ, the online assemblies have drawn interest across the Canadian prairies, minister Wayne Turner said. “Isolated church members who live in more remote places — in Manitoba and Saskatchewan — log on to worship with us,” Turner said. In Pennsylvania, about 10 to 15 nursing home residents watch the Camp Hill church service on a 50-inch television connected to a computer. The congregation’s retired preacher, Randy Pritchett, serves the Lord’s Supper to the residents and leads old hymns before turning up the sound on the TV. “Occasionally, Randy has to deliver the sermon when the Internet gremlins have not been fed,” said Dave Smith, the Camp Hill church’s deacon of communications. “Fortunately, he has years of experience.”
 
Isolated church members who live in more remote places — in Manitoba and Saskatchewan — log on to worship with us."Wayne Turner
 
PHYSICAL VS. VIRTUAL CHURCH
 
A 2011 study, “Virtually Religious: Technology and Internet Use in American Congregations,” found that religious congregations’ use of websites and email more than doubled in the previous decade. Newer forms of technology such as Facebook, blogs, texting and streaming were less prevalent but “nevertheless beginning to transform the ways religious groups interact and enhance their sense of community,” the study determined. “All faith groups in this day and age should be hybrid congregations,” wrote researcher Scott Thumma, who prepared the study for the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Connecticut. “In other words, their ministry needs to be part physical and part virtual.
All faith groups in this day and age should be hybrid congregations. In other words, their ministry needs to be part physical and part virtual. Scott Thumm
Sarah Keyton
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“Nearly every congregation has members who interact with these technologies in their daily lives,” Thumma added. “Religious leaders who recognize this and employ these technologies to connect with and minister to their congregational members have a distinct advantage.” At the time of the study, about 3 percent of all churches offered live-streaming, with larger congregations more likely to do so, Thumma told The Christian Chronicle. “I don’t have any more currentnational data, and I don’t think any research center does either,” he said. “But the trend is definitely increasing, and a larger number of smaller churches are doing it.” Away at boarding school in Virginia, Sarah Keyton’s teenage granddaughter uses her computer to access the Bouldercrest Church of Christ in Atlanta, where her grandfather, Edward Keyton, serves as senior evangelist. “She likes it because she is able to worship with us, and she feels a connection with us,” Sarah Keyton said. “This way, she gets to hear her grandfather preach every Sunday. “The full service is live-streamed, so she is able to participate fully and can also go online to give,” the grandmother added. “We gave her a supply of portable communion.”
 
The full service is live-streamed, so (my granddaughter) is able to participate fully and can also go online to give. We gave her a supply of portable communion."Sarah Keyton
 
‘WATCH US FROM HOME’
 
Hammond Burke
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For Hammond Burke, making the Gospel available via personal computers has been a dream since before YouTube and Vimeo were created or broadband connections replaced dialup Internet. Some church leaders worry that the availability of online assemblies will prompt members to stay home, said Burke, executive director of the Church of Christ Broadcast Network, a Texas-based company that helps congregations build technology/media ministries. For that reason, some churches record services — instead of showing them live — and post the videos online for later viewing, he said. “My personal philosophy is, if you’re skipping church and watching it online, you’re not very convicted, andHammond Burke the church needs to deal with you in a different way,” said Burke, a member of the Central Pointe Church of Christ in Dallas. The Newburgh Church of Christ in Indiana has live-streamed services for years, never worrying about members opting for online worship over actual attendance, elder Tracy Hayford said. “Our emphasis on family and fellowship has helped us not to worry about that,” Hayford said. “The only real concern we’ve ever had was people not wanting the response to an invitation or other ‘private’ things streamed,” he added. “We stop the streaming as soon as the invitation song is started.” While live-streaming serves shut-ins, out-of-town members and isolated Christians, Burke points to an even bigger potential benefit: sharing Jesus with lost people. For a 21st century seeker, the opportunity to acquaint oneself with a church virtually before ever entering a physical building is a giant plus, he said. “It takes away a lot of the anxiety and mystery about what goes on in church for those who’ve never been,” Burke said. The Anchorage church has embraced that idea, producing informational business cards for members to pass out to friends and neighbors. The message on the cards: “Watch us from home — then come meet us.”

- See more at: http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/live-on-the-internet-sunday-worship#sthash.M55w6WwV.dpuf

On a basic level, domain names are important because the Internet's addressing scheme is not very effective without them.

Each computer on the Internet has an Internet protocol (IP) address: a unique string of four numbers separated by periods, such as 165.166.0.2. Since remembering the IP addresses of all of your favorite Web sites would be nearly impossible, a group of computer scientists created the domain name system to assign a unique name to each numeric IP address.

But domain names are much more than just a technical shortcut. A short, memorable domain name can make the difference between creating a successful Internet Presence and getting lost in cyberspace.

1. For one, free websites may not appeal to industry leaders or sponsors.
2. Some have pop ups and/or unrelated ads that is not consistent with your niche
3. You cannot index a free website and place it on Google and bing/yahoo search engine.
4. You have limited control regarding space, html coding, gadgets, etc
5. And most importantly, if you won’t invest in your own business or ministry why should anyone your seeking invest in you.
 
For those five reasons alone is enough to educate you on why you’re possibly lacking in sales or reaching your potential fan base. I’m sure if you Google “What is the benefit to having your own website domain” you will find many more important reasons.

A domain name adds credibility to your congregation. Having your own domain name makes your group stand out. If you publish your site through an ISP or a free Web hosting site, you'll end up with a URL such as www.yourisp.com/-yourchurch. This generic address does not inspire confidence in a customer like a www.yourchurch.com domain name does. And since many people don't yet trust the Internet, you'll want to do what you can to prove that your church is one they want to visit. If you're not willing to pay the money to register an appropriate domain name, why would the searcher think that your congregation is not focused on the important things?

A domain name says you're forward-thinking. Having your own domain name indicates you're part of the Digital Revolution, and it implies that you're up-to-date on emerging technologies. Whether this is true or not, having your own domain name might just put you ahead of others.

A domain name adds mobility to your Internet presence. Owning your own domain name lets you take that name with you if you transfer Web hosts or switch to your own in-house server. If you don't own your domain name, you'll have to take a new URL, which will destroy the branding that you built up with your first address.

The right domain name can attract vistors. If you decide to register a domain name that tells what you believe, rather than the name of your congregation, you might draw Web surfers in search of that topic. For instance, a hardware store that registered Hammers.com might get visitors looking for hammers on the Internet. Also, although search engine results are hard to predict, Hammers.com could show up more frequently in search results when someone searches for information about hammers.

A domain name builds your brand. More than anything else, a domain name can increase awareness of your brand. If your domain name matches your church, it reinforces your brand, making it easier for vistors to remember and return. It will also be easier to support word of mouth because vistors will remember your congregation name and pass it along to friends.

The bottom line is that a good domain name can go a long way toward generating traffic to your Web site and building your reputation. That, in turn, will result in people learning about the truth that you teach.  That is why a domain name is included with every package.

BeautifulSite-375What is a beautiful site design? It is aesthetically pleasing and can serve as an inspiration to churches or ministries that are aspiring to put their face on the web. The Church has a great harvest to meet on the internet and have a great opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ to all nations.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mathew 28:19-20

Just like a business, a church requires some marketing efforts in order to get the word out about its existence and there are several venues to achieve that. One and perhaps the most important one nowadays is a website.

As more and more churches realize the importance of having an online presence, there are still some that doubt whether it is a necessity or perhaps just a movement that churches are jumping into.
You want to grow your church in number so you have to market. You want as many people to know about you as much as possible. You want to reach out to these "prospects". But how exactly do you achieve that?

There are different ways: from the conventional direct mailing to passing out of flyers to TV advertisement or radio announcement. There are churches that are doing a combination of these things for maximum exposure. However, if you are not in a financial position as a church to utilize these venues, a website is the most feasible and perhaps the most cost-effective one.

With a website, you allow your prospects to find you. You are right where they are looking. People do not flip yellow pages anymore. They log-in to the internet to look for information basically about anything and everything and that is why it is important to have an online presence. In your website, you allow your prospects to get to know you more: Who your leaders are, what your mission and vision is, the ministries that you have and so on and so forth. You can also give your prospects a feel of what your Sunday service is like that a flyer or postcard is not capable of doing.

If you have a higher budget, you may also provide your visitors some audio and video materials that will allow them to grow in their walk with God.

You must know though that it is important not to have a website just for the sake of having one. Part of giving your visitors an online experience of what your church is all about is to have one that is visually-appealing. People are visual by nature. They love colors, images, and a combination of both. By having a website that tastefully put these elements together, you are stimulating your visitor's senses and engaging them to explore more of what you are all about and what you have to offer.

Most importantly, your website does not only represent you but it represents God so it must be presented at its utmost excellence.

On a basic level, domain names are important because the Internet's addressing scheme is not very effective without them.

Each computer on the Internet has an Internet protocol (IP) address: a unique string of four numbers separated by periods, such as 165.166.0.2. Since remembering the IP addresses of all of your favorite Web sites would be nearly impossible, a group of computer scientists created the domain name system to assign a unique name to each numeric IP address.

But domain names are much more than just a technical shortcut. A short, memorable domain name can make the difference between creating a successful Internet Presence and getting lost in cyberspace.

A domain name adds credibility to your congregation. Having your own domain name makes your group stand out. If you publish your site through an ISP or a free Web hosting site, you'll end up with a URL such as www.yourisp.com/-yourchurch. This generic address does not inspire confidence in a customer like a www.yourchurch.com domain name does. And since many people don't yet trust the Internet, you'll want to do what you can to prove that your church is one they want to visit. If you're not willing to pay the money to register an appropriate domain name, why would the searcher think that your congregation is not focused on the important things?

A domain name says you're forward-thinking. Having your own domain name indicates you're part of the Digital Revolution, and it implies that you're up-to-date on emerging technologies. Whether this is true or not, having your own domain name might just put you ahead of others.

A domain name adds mobility to your Internet presence. Owning your own domain name lets you take that name with you if you transfer Web hosts or switch to your own in-house server. If you don't own your domain name, you'll have to take a new URL, which will destroy the branding that you built up with your first address.

The right domain name can attract vistors. If you decide to register a domain name that tells what you believe, rather than the name of your congregation, you might draw Web surfers in search of that topic. For instance, a hardware store that registered Hammers.com might get visitors looking for hammers on the Internet. Also, although search engine results are hard to predict, Hammers.com could show up more frequently in search results when someone searches for information about hammers.

A domain name builds your brand. More than anything else, a domain name can increase awareness of your brand. If your domain name matches your church, it reinforces your brand, making it easier for vistors to remember and return. It will also be easier to support word of mouth because vistors will remember your congregation name and pass it along to friends.

The bottom line is that a good domain name can go a long way toward generating traffic to your Web site and building your reputation. That, in turn, will result in people learning about the truth that you teach.  That is why a domain name is included with every package.

What is a beautiful site design? It is aesthetically pleasing and can serve as an inspiration to churches or ministries that are aspiring to put their face on the web. The Church has a great harvest to meet on the internet and have a great opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ to all nations.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mathew 28:19-20

Just like a business, a church requires some marketing efforts in order to get the word out about its existence and there are several venues to achieve that. One and perhaps the most important one nowadays is a website.

As more and more churches realize the importance of having an online presence, there are still some that doubt whether it is a necessity or perhaps just a movement that churches are jumping into.
You want to grow your church in number so you have to market. You want as many people to know about you as much as possible. You want to reach out to these "prospects". But how exactly do you achieve that?

There are different ways: from the conventional direct mailing to passing out of flyers to TV advertisement or radio announcement. There are churches that are doing a combination of these things for maximum exposure. However, if you are not in a financial position as a church to utilize these venues, a website is the most feasible and perhaps the most cost-effective one.

With a website, you allow your prospects to find you. You are right where they are looking. People do not flip yellow pages anymore. They log-in to the internet to look for information basically about anything and everything and that is why it is important to have an online presence. In your website, you allow your prospects to get to know you more: Who your leaders are, what your mission and vision is, the ministries that you have and so on and so forth. You can also give your prospects a feel of what your Sunday service is like that a flyer or postcard is not capable of doing.

If you have a higher budget, you may also provide your visitors some audio and video materials that will allow them to grow in their walk with God.

You must know though that it is important not to have a website just for the sake of having one. Part of giving your visitors an online experience of what your church is all about is to have one that is visually-appealing. People are visual by nature. They love colors, images, and a combination of both. By having a website that tastefully put these elements together, you are stimulating your visitor's senses and engaging them to explore more of what you are all about and what you have to offer.

Most importantly, your website does not only represent you but it represents God so it must be presented at its utmost excellence.

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