5 Lies About Church Websites
I’m taking a little break from my usual blogging topics to focus on something I see churches failing in all the time. Websites. I don’t know why, but churches have fallen way behind in online ministry. If you just read that sentence and thought, “What’s he talking about we have a website?” Today’s post is for you. It’s not enough to simply have a website for your church or ministry. It needs to look good, sound good, and reach people well. Yet, many churches tell themselves it’s not that big of a deal. They lie to themselves.
LIE #1: DESIGN DOES NOT MATTER.
Some ministry leaders will say that the website design (meaning logo, colors, fonts, and layout) don’t really matter, after all people are looking for a church not a graphic design program. Wrong. People care about the design of the website. If you were looking for a plumber, would you rather call the number from a vague website that looked like it was designed on a Windows 98 Dell or would you call the number from a good looking site that showed you the plumber’s past work and had essential information like prices and availability? Church websites and visitors are no different. Logos, colors, fonts, and an understandable layout are necessities for grabbing people’s attention and helping them see that the church is active and cares about their visitors.
It’s often been said that the church website is the new front door of the church. People will go to your website, look at the front page, if nothing grabs their attention, they will click on the next church link. You do it for restaurants on Google, right? Think about it this way. The design and content of your website is your virtual testimony to the world. It matters how your website looks because it represents what you’re about as a church and how you will treat newcomers. Don’t know anything about design? That’s fine. Do you have any artistic teenagers or college students in your church? Ask them for their help and work with them to build something great. You might even get some discipleship opportunities.
LIE #2: WE DON’T NEED A SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE.
Your friend from college, your second cousin, your great aunt Mildred, everyone is on Facebook. Most likely they are also on Twitter and Instagram too. Why would your church ministry not go to where the people are? Social media is not just a necessary tool for the online ministry of the local church, but also an advantageous one. If you set up a Facebook page, you can get notifications of how many people visit that page. This could be extremely helpful for projecting event attendance or even planning for visitors on Sunday morning. Another avenue opened through social media is advertising. While people are not reading their local newspaper, they are definitely on social media and you can use it to target a certain area or demographic for Good Friday or that big youth event. Plus a Facebook page or Twitter profile are free.
LIE #3: IT WILL COST A FORTUNE.
No, it won’t. Well at least it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For years, you either had to make the website yourself or hire a developer at an extravagant cost. Those developer companies still exist today and some churches choose to work with them, but you don’t have to anymore. Today there are plenty of website companies that have awesome templates for churches to use at a minimal cost. Perhaps the easiest way to make a website today is also the biggest name in the game today - Squarespace. Squarespace has plans starting at $12 a month and gives you the freedom to build a great looking website with unlimited storage for sermons and blog posts. It’s basically a website in a box, but you can customize all of the important parts of the site. Ask yourself how much you’re paying right now for an inferior site (domain, hosting, and other services) and if it is more than $150 a year then maybe it’s time to switch.
LIE #4: WE DID OUR WEBSITE 5-10 YEARS AGO, IT’S FINE.
It doesn’t matter how much money you spent on your website, if you have not given it a major facelift in over 7 years, I can tell you right now it looks bad. We all know trends change, but online trends change even faster. What looked great even 3-5 years ago, could look terrible today. Back in 2012 I made a website for the church I was pastoring. It looked good at the time, but after a few years and no one to update the site after my departure the website looked dated. Now that church wisely gave it a fresh look and it’s back to being an advantage rather than a disadvantage. My point is that even when a site looked fantastic at its conception, after a few years it loses that wow factor unless it’s maintained and sometimes even then it needs to be refreshed.
LIE #5: IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE UPDATED WEEKLY.
Many church websites might as well be made of stone, because they never change. They are desert wastelands with no signs of life anywhere. The calendars are not updated, the newsletter or bulletin is from 2014, and the latest sermon is from 14 months ago. Does that look like a church that is full of life? No, it looks dead. And for the visitor looking for a church, that’s exactly what they will think of your church - dead. Every week, the site needs to show life. This is not just for your visitors, but the rest of your church needs to be able to access critical information without calling the church secretary. The church website should be a place where the church can be made aware of the week’s/month’s events, listen to the latest sermon again, and find resources to pass along to their friends. Yes, this will take a little time and dedication, but it’s minimal in relation to the benefits of these updates.
STOP LYING TO YOURSELF.
Your website is a big deal and I would argue just as important as maintaining your church building. Don’t neglect this vital part of your ministry. Don’t stunt your ministry’s growth by avoiding the website. You can’t afford to neglect it anymore. No church should have a terrible website. It's a problem of stewardship. So put in the time and effort to create something worthy of your church name and the Savior you represent. There are so many benefits of having your church’s vision, mission, and purpose displayed in a visually engaging way. It’s worth it. If you need any help in designing a logo or branding advice, let me know. I’d be happy to help your local church for no cost.