11 Sep The Website is Your Church’s New Front Door
People expect certain basic amenities in a church. Indoor plumbing. A roof. Chairs to sit on. Telephone service. And now–a website. The younger generations, at least, expect a website. If you don’t have one, then to many people, you don’t exist. Like it or not. That’s just a new reality.
When young adults look for a church, the first place they go is Google, which is pretty much the new Yellow Pages. People will type in the name of a city and state, and perhaps a zip code–“church Huntington IN 46750”–and see what turns up. They can then anonymously research churches at their leisure, 24/7, and decide which one they’d like to visit. By the time they physically attend a church, they’ll feel like they’ve already “visited” five (or more) churches by checking out their websites and reading about them.
So you need a website. But not just any website. You need a good one. Increasingly, a church’s website is its front door, the way people first learn about you. It’s also the first impression people have of you. A poor-looking site will scare people away, just as surely as a sagging roof. If your website looks cheap and thrown-together, then surfers may draw similar conclusions about your church. Bitmapped headings, cheap clipart, gimmicky animations, counters, gaudy background patterns, blinking or scrolling text, broken links–none of those impress potential visitors.
My own church often receives visitors who say they learned about us from our website, and they comment favorably on the website. It’s not that we have a particularly fancy site, but that our site compares well with the other church sites they view. Since so few churches have attractive sites, it’s not difficult to stack up well.
Currently, our denominational database shows websites for 65 of our 200+ churches in the United States. A good number of them are linked on the UB website. There are good ones, bad ones, and everything in between.
I’m fully aware that your church may have severe limitations. Perhaps nobody in your church knows anything about designing a website, and you don’t have money to hire someone. I just want to make sure the web is on your radar. It’s important, and will become increasingly important–if not crucial–as the years pass. If you have any questions or want any advice about websites, feel free to contact me. I want to know what the internet-related needs are among our churches.