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BIBLEtabletWe want you to have access to the most reliable information available for your instruction and enlightenment of the internet, and how to work with it to help spread the Gospel to as many as possible.  Just as Paul and Jesus went to the synagogue to reach people with the word, so is the internet to today's world.

 Your church website is often a visitor's first impression of your church. Is it welcoming and easy to navigate as first-time guests seek to learn more about your church? Appearance is important, but the most important question to ask is, "Is my church website serving visitors to my congregation well?" Having a church website that is easy to navigate is a way for you to be hospitable and serve your congregation.
 
Here are three things I recommend be easily accessible on church websites:
  1. The church address should be on the home page. This seems obvious, but you'd be surprised at how rare it is that church websites list their location on the home page. Do you have multiple campuses? Display each of the campus addresses on the home page and make it easy to identify which is the main campus. If your church's mailing address is different from the physical address, clearly state that on the front page as well.
  2. List a working phone number. I've noticed that some church websites do not list a phone number and simply have a contact form. However, this makes it difficult for a visitor who prefers to call or doesn't have immediate access to the internet. If you don't have someone on your church staff whose responsibility is to answer the phone. It's a huge help to us here at Vanderbloemen so that we can rest easy knowing that the phone will always be answered to assist our churches.
  3. Make it easy for me to email you. Church websites don't have to list the staff's personal emails online, but they should at least have a general email address like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If I am a church member who has a confidential question for a preacher or staff, I may not want to submit my question or prayer request to a general contact form that goes to cyber space. The more personal church websites are, the more comfortable visitors will feel.
Just as you would welcome a visitor into your home, welcome visitors to your church websites by making it easy for them to find their way.
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I will bet you a Dr. Pepper that I spend more time on church websites than you do. And I’ve seen it all.  There is a great range of styles and designs that churches use.
But regardless of style, here is a list of the top ten essentials that your church website needs to remain relevant, inviting, and awesome.

10. Photos Of People

If someone has never been to your church, the thing that causes the most anxiety about that first-time visit is, “What do I wear?” Seriously! Think about it. If they’ve never walked through the doors, they don’t know if you all wear a suit and tie or t-shirts and jeans. Have some photos of smiling church members in their Sunday attire.

9. Good Graphic Design

I’ve said this before, but your website is your stained glass. Make it beautiful. Incorporate your vision and personality into your branding. Let your branding and design cleanly point visitors to the information they are looking for and allow them to experience your church through your website.

8. Easy Navigation

This goes hand-in-hand with graphic design, but make sure your website flows in a clear and simple manner. Have the navigation make sense and the information easy to find.

7. Online Connection – Social Media

Provide a way for visitors and members to connect to the church, ministries, and pastors online. Include links to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and wherever else you have an online presence. If you don’t know what these things are or don’t feel confident enough to use them, ask your volunteer base for help. You most likely have someone in your church body that can help you.

6. Ministry Info

Parents want to know how well their kids will be taken care of while they are in a church service. Include information on your Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, and other large ministries at your church. You can include as many ministries as you’d like, but make sure it is clean and neatly organized.

5. Current Content

Visitors want to know what you’ve been up to, what you are preaching about, and what your worship experience is like. They don’t want to know what it was like 3 years ago. Members who missed out last weekend also want to hear what was preached about. Having current content on your site allows your church to remain fresh and inviting.

4. Staff Photos And Bios

More smiling faces! This is a starting point for visitors building relationships with your staff. Allowing outsiders to know who you are on an individual level humanizes your church. Things that you might want to include: a good photo, a short bio with family info and church history, social media links, contact information, and a fun fact. 

3. What You’re About

This could include a doctrinal statement, your mission, vision, and/or values, or it could just be a statement such as: “What Matters to Us is…” Included in this should be an invitation to join in with what you are doing. People want to be a part of something great. Invite them in!

2. Meeting Times

Now we’re getting down to specifics. Visitors are wondering, “When do I show up?” Do you have services with different styles? Is there an informal time where visitors can talk to a pastor or hear about the church? Visitors (and even members) need to know when and where they should arrive for services, Sunday School, meetings, etc.

1. Your Location And Contact info

I’m not even joking. There are church websites that don’t have this information, or they don’t have it on the home page and easy to find. This is the most essential information for your church website along with your church name. Make your address extremely easy to find. You may want to have a map on the website as well.
 
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“Must” is a strong word, and I realize that. But hear me out.

The two most important elements you need to have on the front page are the church address and service times.
Here are the next eight things to include on your church’s website:

Staff Names and Titles

Most of the viewers on your church website will be visitors to your church, not members. In fact, a church’s website should be more geared to visitors than to the members. Post names and titles of your staff so when a visitor arrives, they at least have a frame of reference for whom they will be meeting. I would also strongly encourage you to list contact info, and include a picture of your staff members if at all possible. Putting a name with a face always helps, and being able to contact a staff member directly lowers barriers with guests who may have specific questions.

Information about Your Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry

Since the front door of the church is now the website, make sure parents will know what to expect when they arrive with kids or youth. Millennials are highly interested in knowing their kids will be safe and cared for well at church. They also want to know they will be receiving sound instruction while at your church. Let them know what their kids will experience before they show up on Sunday morning.

Sermon Archives

While video is best, audio is acceptable as well. Theologically astute guests will do a greater amount of research on a church before visiting. What is being preached from the pulpit on a Sunday is of utmost importance. There should be no hesitation in posting sermons online, not only to inform potential visitors, but also to benefit those who might not be able to make it to the service each week.

Church Calendar

You can only mention so much in your announcements, and only so many things can fit in a bulletin each week. But with an online calendar, you can list as much as you’d like. The key is keeping the calendar up-to-date. Weekly calendaring meetings might be necessary at first, but once a routine is established, your church members and guests will always have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.

Contact Info

This may seem like an obvious inclusion. But if it were obvious, I wouldn’t visit so many church websites that lacked a contact page or contact information. An important follow-up to this item is having someone responsible for responding to inquiries. Every contact to a church should receive a response within 24 hours, if not sooner. We live in a connected society, and there is no reason why a church can’t respond to inquiries in a timely fashion.

Statement of Beliefs

This is not only for the theologically minded, but also for those who move from another church or town. With the proliferation of non-denominational churches, and those with indiscernible denomination affiliation names (e.g. First Community Church), a statement of beliefs helps clarify that for guests. Also, if you are affiliated with a denomination, it’s better to list it than to give the appearance you are trying to hide it.

Links to Social Media Profiles

The inclusion of this item would mean that your church would need to be active on social media. These links do no good if your social media channels are inactive or defunct.  But at the very least, a church should be present where its people are—and that place is on social media.

Major Church News Items

Not everyone is present each at church week. So if you roll out a major initiative, make a major announcement, or just have news that’s really important, put it on the website and make it easy to find.
 
These are just eight non-negotiables I find missing on many church websites. Does your church have these on its site?
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“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”.

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The first place most people will go to learn about your church—before even stepping one foot in the door—will be your website. When they get there, are they excited to join your church community in worship or are they running in the opposite direction? Here are five common reasons that your church website might be keeping visitors away:

Reason #1: It doesn’t provide the necessary information

Church seekers typically aren’t visiting your website to browse your directory or make a donation. According to a 2012 study by Grey Matter, 43 percent of church website visitors are searching for service times. Location details, contact information, and a brief explanation of what to expect will also give people what they need to determine whether or not they’ll be slipping into your pews this weekend. Make sure this important information is always up-to-date and accurate so visitors don’t arrive to an empty building.

Reason #2: It’s all about your news

Even though you want to list upcoming events, you don't want to put every little detail and information about illness and medical details about your members  There is a better place for that in your bulletin, even if you put that online.  But remember it is better to be safe than sorry with possible HIPAA laws concerning the places and means of treatment.

Reason #3: It’s outdated

Does your church website overuse kingdom colors like royal blue and deep red? Or maybe you just haven’t updated it since you adding some clip art in 1997. If your church website looks like it doesn’t belong in this century, visitors will probably feel that your church has no relevance to their lives. Keep your website current and fresh so interest in your church will grow.

Reason #4: It isn’t responsive

With 56 percent of smartphone-toting millennials scoping out churches online before visiting, websites that aren’t responsive will likely deter any mobile traffic. People won’t spend time pinching and scrolling to find out where your church is located or what time the services are. Make it easy for those visitors to browse your website from the technology that’s right at their fingertips.

Reason #5: It isn’t authentic

Your church website should be an accurate representation of your church while putting your best foot forward. If you’re using a bunch of stock photography or painting an inaccurate picture of who your church community really is, people will see through that façade immediately or be disappointed when your church doesn’t match their expectations.

Don’t let a poor website kill people’s interest in your church. A current, mobile-friendly, and informative website will be welcoming to visitors and increase interest in your church.

How are you making sure your church website isn’t keeping visitors away?

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ToolsWe have curated and authored articles that will help you understand how you can build a better website.  Not just what others are doing, but pieces about why you are using this medium to reach the lost.


ChartWhat are infographics? Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. These are chosen for their ability to enhance understanding about certain points about Interner Presence.

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