The web has become the new normal for interaction. With many people still stuck at home, we rely on the internet more than ever for communicating, shopping, and even church. Without people actually visiting the building, church leaders need to make sure their online presence is as pristine as the pulpit.
The top trend for reaching congregation members right now is Facebook, but churches are missing out on a gold mine in their website. According to Grey Matter Research, church websites are used by 17 million Americans who don’t regularly attend church. That’s not counting all the ones who do. That’s a lot of people! So, it needs to be up to date.
Here are some pages that you will need:
- Homepage – This is the equivalent to Sunday-morning greeters. Make this page welcoming to both members and nonmembers.
- About – This is where you talk about your beliefs, mission and history.
- Staff – Friendly faces are what help bring people to a new place. Since people aren’t coming to church right now, it is still nice for them to see some of the members, even if it is just a picture. They also make websites look more complete.
- Ministries - What ministries do you offer? Nursery, kids, youth, college, men, women? Even if it is just a 2-3 sentence explanation of what the ministry is/does and when it meets. They don't want to walk into a church building unsure or hesitant.
- Online Giving - Especially now that church is out of session, the offering plates are not going around. But your church members will still want to give to their church home. Make sure there is an area where people can give to the church online.
- Contact – Directions, phone number, email and a form. One of the main reasons people are visiting the website is to find out how to contact the church.
- Live – In many places, people still cannot gather for church. Pastors have turned to Facebook Live as a means to continue preaching. But did you know that you can embed those live videos on your website for people to watch? Save your sermon videos on this page (or a Sermons page) for people to go back and watch others. I mean, you’ve got the video, might as well share it.
People are already hesitant to come to a new church. Providing these details on the website helps guests prepare themselves so that they can be more confident when they arrive. It's similar to online shopping before heading to the store. In the Spring 2020 edition of Preaching magazine, Joel Gregory states: "The availability of sermon samples on the Web often will be a greater determining factor for church choice than denomination or location." Everything you can provide online from typical service styles to study topics will help people make that choice.
One day soon we will be congregating again in church buildings, worshiping together. But until that time, we will rely on the internet to get us through.