Ed. note: I’m posting this as many churches are planning for Easter and though the material here applies at any time of year, it is especially important for this season when most church do the most outreach of any time of year.
Obviously, today almost every church has a website, but sadly many church websites are little more than a newspaper or yellow pages ad for the church (the basic facts and little else) posted online. Unless someone is already interested in your church and is only looking for an address or service time, there is little to engage them. There is even less reason for a person who is not already a believer to linger at your site. Information might be provided on how to get to the church, but little outreach or any other kind of ministry is done.
The reasons for this ministry challenge are not because of graphics or design short-comings, but of organization and content. Below are four suggestions to take your site beyond being an ad only to become an effective ministry tool as you prepare for Easter outreach and for the rest of the year.
1—Don’t rely on your home page to draw people to your church
Many churches put a great deal of time and emphasis on their home page with the mistaken assumption that this is where most people will enter your website and based on that, they will decide if they want to attend your church or not. This focus on the homepage has increased over the last few years with the advent of sliding header images, the “flat design” movement, and the redesign of many church home pages to look like the landing pages of secular companies.
There is nothing wrong with any of these design trends and many church sites, because of the templates used to create them and take advantage of these trends, are very attractive. However, for your church site to be ministry effective it needs to be more than a home page for two key reasons.
One: Not everyone comes into your church website and sees the home page first. More and more visits to church sites come through search engines links of topics searched for. BE SURE all your pages have clear menus, in the headers or sidebars that let people know what else is on the site and how to get to it.
Two: The graphics, illustrations, and photos used to label ministries or church programs on your home page seldom make sense to anyone but insiders and don’t appeal to visitors unfamiliar with your programs. Be sure each image or ministry label is a clickable link that explains the program in more detail if you want it to involve people, particularly those outside the church. Invite visitors to click on the links and to find out more.
Three: add a consistent footer to your site that is visible no matter what page a person enters your site. Be sure it has all your location and contact information. Also have links that made sense to an outsider, for example say “Children’s Programs” not “Minnow’s Ministry” or some other cute insider name.
2—Add depth to the site
Following from the point above, though your home page needs content to link to. Explain, profile your church ministries and work hard to add content to your site so it becomes more than an extended newspaper ad online. Think about what will make your site more of a resource and evangelism tool for people looking to find out more about the Christian faith.Continue Reading