I try to keep the mgpc website fresh by visiting other websites and
stealing borrowing and tweaking features I like.
Over time websites have become more streamlined and now assume that people know how to use them.
Trevin Wax and Mikey Lynch offer some observations:
Wax provides five ‘essentials’ for church websites. (and I know our ‘Staff’ page is empty.)
1. A clear, easy to find “Statement of Beliefs”
In our pluralistic society, people will be accessing your church’s site from every imaginable background. Whether they are well versed in doctrine or confused beyond description, they should know what your church believes. It might be best to have a simplified statement of faith (for unbelievers) as well as a link to a more robust statement of faith (for long-time Christians). You want to communicate what you believe in such a way that the gospel is clear and not obscured.
2. Basic boring information
- Contact: Make it easy for people to know how to contact you. I suggest having the church’s address, phone number, and generic e-mail in the footer of every page. That way it’s easy for visitors to figure out quickly how to get in touch with someone.
- Schedule: Let people know when and where you meet. Give them an entry point. I wouldn’t put every single church activity, program, or event on there. It’s best to keep it simple. (Just make sure you keep the schedule up-to-date.)
- Directions: Use Google to make it easy for someone to figure out where you are located. Most people won’t recognize where in the world your street address is until they copy/paste it into a maps feature online. Why not do this for them anyway?
3. Staff and leadership page
Before people get interested in the specifics of the programs offered by your church, they will be interested to see who is leading. I’ve seen some churches that list all their staff on one page, with their titles and an e-mail address to contact. A long list of names is not the best way to introduce people to your leadership, especially in a Facebook society where we are used to information and pictures. Instead, provide a picture of the staff member, a brief bio, and his or her role at the church. This will go a long way in helping people get a feel for your church.
4. Podcasts and/or sermon videos
Anyone seriously considering your church will be helped in the decision-making process by providing opportunities to hear the weekly teaching. Because of the sometimes extensive differences in church teaching styles and content presentation, it is helpful to make these available online to anyone researching your church. A number of churches use a video welcome from the pastor. That’s okay, but a simple welcome will not reveal as much as full-length sermons.
5. Social media buttons
A website is only part of communicating your church’s presence to your online community. With nearly a billion people worldwide on Facebook and 250M on Twitter, these tools ought not be overlooked. Decide how you will make announcements, share devotionals and Scripture verses, and then use them wisely.
If your pastors like to blog, link to their blogs from their individual staff pages. This is true even for—maybe especially for—children and student pastors. Many parents want to “get a feel” for the leaders to whom they will entrust their children. The more they know about a leader, the more confident they may be about that ministry.
Lynch tells us to ditch our Contact Form pages. I am strongly considering this.
If the only way I can contact you on your church website is a web
contact form, I won’t contact you.
- I worry that I will spend time typing out the message and then I will get an error message and it won’t send.
- I worry that no one regularly checks and replies to these messages.
- I hate having to fill out all your fields.
- I worry that the person who does check and reply to these messages won’t really help me and will not forward my message on to the relevant person.
- I worry about getting auto-subscribed to the church’s newsletter.
- I rarely get given the opportunity to send a copy of this message to my email account – so I have no record of the message being sent.
Just don’t do it. Give me a phone number. And give me an email
address. Your web contact form sux.