Hello, welcome everybody today we are going to be talking about building your church website. Last time we were talking about Facebook, and hopefully your Facebook page is now up and running. This post will be talking about church websites in general terms in relation to the content, the building of the website and lastly how to maintain one. Never think of your website as a static thing, it needs to be maintained. Maybe back in the nineties, web pages would be unchanging institutions that had five pages of content that was never altered. That is not how it is now. The content on your web page needs to be fresh, compelling and shareable.
We will look at how to make your content high quality and emotive, as well as being the best evangelist in your community. The main purpose of your website is to reach the people–to reach the whole community, not just the members of your church. Your website will also be the face of your church, where people who are interested in your church will properly visit your site before visiting your church. So it is important that your website is high quality as it is the first impression of your community.
Church Websites: What You Need to Know
What your church website needs to be able to accomplish is to be the mouthpiece of your church as well as give guidance. It needs to make people feel comfortable as well as welcome. It needs to build a relationship with people in your community. If they are asking questions, you will need to answer them through your website. You don’t need to wait until they are in front of you physically, you can answer them online. These will be common questions which are easily forgotten, for example, times, directions, phone number, if transportation or childcare services are available. All this information which will be sought after by people in your community, you need to make sure your website shows it. It needs to build a relationship that is founded on clear information on your church’s environment and habits.
It can be extremely daunting to visit a church for the first time so it is important that this information is clearly displayed. The layout of your church may also be considered, as I have on occasions turned up to an unfamiliar church and ended up walking through the door that leads to the stage rather than the seating area. That was not exactly the best way to start things off, as it was quite apparent that I was the new kid at that church. We don’t want to create uncomfortable situations like the one I found myself in. A person coming to your church for the first time doesn’t want to walk in and have 300 people staring at them because they walked behind the altar. So just make sure all the useful and valuable information is clearly displayed on your website.
Now let’s talk about how to have a great website. I am going, at a later date, to show you how to build a website for under $100. If your budget is a little bit larger than you can opt to get a professionally built site for a price, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Why get something for $600 when you could get it for under $100 and still have a high-quality product? If you did decide to the more expensive route, there are a few church building vendors that are okay. One is ekklesia360.com, where it is $500 for a template alongside a monthly charge of $60-300. Another one is faithconnector.com, which has a $250 design fee and then $167 per every three month period. Siteoraganic.com is another one, wich has a $500 setup fee $49-249 per month in fees. If you go for the $249 a month agreement they will waive the $500 setup fee. Outreach websites are properly my favorite if I had to pick simply because it is so cheap at only $39 a month. There is no design fee. But you are kind of getting what you paid for with this system as the websites are not that great and the content management is clunky though they are nice and they are cheap.
Clover sites have a setup of $1000 and you then pay $20 a month. The thing that I don’t like about this vector is that they use a lot of bells and whistles to make their websites look cool, so you get a flashy website but the content management system is really clunky to work with. But if you wish for a pretty website then you can opt for this website building site. But I am going to show you how to set everything up for less than $100 and end up having a really nice website. It will take a little learning on your part, but I will walk you through it step be step. And you will own it and control it without being under someone else’s thumb. It will be your hosting account and domain name and you will have very low monthly costs, think around $5 a month.
I recommend WordPress, which powers over 70 percent of all websites. It is very easy to maintain and very easy to use. So use WordPress, use your own hosting account and don’t use a free WordPress website. Spend the money as it is inexpensive and it is ultimately worth it.
What Should Be On Your Church Website:
- Service times
- What you believe: This can be optional, but it is always a good exercise to include this on your website in order for people to know.
- Online Bible lessons or teaching material: Wouldn’t it be nice to teach 50 people without even being aware of the fact.
- Contact information
- News section
- Church calendar
- Descriptions of your ministries
- Information on what to expect on their first visit to your church
So answer worries and concerns that you expect people to have in relation to your church. What would a new person, a person who has never been to your church, want to know? Be open and transparent in your approach–let people know everything.
This is really easy to implement on your site though some people don’t like to use them.You can set this up with PayPal and plugins.
About us/history section:
This will be your church’s unique story. When I was in Bible college I had a group of friends I interacted with on a daily basis. We were a close-knit group. But in one class we had to give a personal testimony. I sat there and listened to the friends who I thought I knew so well tell their personal story which I was completely clueless about. They told tales that I would never even think to believe if it wasn’t coming out of their mouths right in front of me. Every time each person stood up and told their story it was compelling and emotive. It ended up causing me to build a stronger and deeper connection with these friends. Your church also has this unique and dynamic story that you will need to share on your website. You will need to tell it well and share all sides of the story. So the emotional aspects, the interesting history, and the miracles. These stories need to be told and they should be told on your website.
Social media interaction:
You will want people to be able to share your blog posts and news. You will want social media integration on your site.
Livestream your events:
This is an optional feature but can be good to do. This can be done for free and the videos are embedded right on your website.
A website can be so powerful if taken advantage of in the right way but unfortunately it seems very few churches are actually utilizing this internet opportunity. So hopefully through these lessons, I can start to encourage people to start to utilize this powerful tool.
I started a small website when I lived in Tennessee and I was faced with the conundrum of getting people interested in it. I observed that the local radio station was not covering the local baseball team, even though they were winning state championships. So I decided to do an internet radio station and performed absolutely cringeworthy baseball announcing.
One amusing thing that occurred while I was doing this show was when I was listening to the playback I noticed there was a man’s voice in the background going on and on about his bad quality hose that it hot from home depot. The pitfalls of amateur radio hosting I suppose. In the middle of this baseball radio adventure, I noticed that someone from Iraq kept tuning in for every game. I found out that this was a father of one of the players on the baseball team. He couldn’t watch the game so he tuned into my little dorky radio show to listen to his kid play baseball and to me that was important It was important to him, the family and the kid playing baseball. The message that was hidden under all that is to make sure that you put yourself out there and connect with the community. There are people out there who are not comfortable enough yet to come to your church, but they are interested in your church and its stories.
Your website can also help evangelize your city using SEO. For Dyersburg, where I am from, there are 30-40 people a month searching for “ churches in Dyersburg” on Google. Personally I would love to get 30-40 new people in my church and my bible studies every month. That is just one search term. I will show you keyword targeting strategies, where you can get people to your website through your keyword usage on your page.
The last thing that I will mention is that you need to remember to keep your website compelling. It needs to be interesting, shareable and have an impact. For example, if you just posted Jesus Wept it would not be too compelling whereas if you added a cool graphic then it would draw more people in and if you added context it could become relatable It is actually easier to add context to your site as well as keep it compelling than it is on Facebook.
With Facebook, it gets increasingly more difficult to come up with compelling posts and normally you have to stop for a while and brainstorm ideas. On a website, there is more room for context and compelling posts compared to Facebook or Twitter. So with your web page you will need to take every potential post on your blog or news page and think of ways to make it interesting and dynamic and not dull or repetitive.
Everything that you post online you are directing to a certain person or audience. For example, if I was advertising for a church picnic I would spin it around the idea that people need a time for relaxation and this church picnic will achieve this. It may take a while for you to create compelling content quickly, but once you have it down it will show in the quality of your website as well as your Facebook and physical word content, like overheads at your church. I have been doing this for years and sometimes even I get in a rut where all my content is dull and lifeless. So, effort and persistence is definitely needed.
On an end note, if you have a really good website already that is great make sure you stick with it, but if you don’t go with WordPress. That wraps up this post if you have any questions please contact me and I will try to help.