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.

  • Tom Datema
    Posted at 08:24h, 12 September

    Very true (about the importance of it) but that makes it a frightening prospect for me.

  • Dalton Jenkins
    Posted at 11:08h, 14 September

    Do you have any recommendations as to web developers that are reasonable priced and that will do a good job?

  • Steve Dennie
    Posted at 07:49h, 15 September

    Sorry, I don’t have any web developers to recommend.

  • Darwin Dunten
    Posted at 13:06h, 19 September

    Dalton- We use a free webhost from American Bible Society. I believe the domain name costs seven or fourteen dollars per year. Check out our website to see all that we can do with it. We do all the work ourselves. We played around with it for about a month before we went public. I hope this is what your are asking for.

  • Tom Blaylock
    Posted at 14:22h, 19 September

    Steve, seems like there must be some ministry out there geared to help the typical low-tech, local church in developing a decent website. Are you aware of any?

  • Steve Dennie
    Posted at 15:21h, 19 September

    Tom–I’m familiar with ForMinistry, but not with any other ones. I’d love to hear about any ministries that specialize in developing low-cost websites for churches.

  • Dalton Jenkins
    Posted at 21:00h, 21 September

    Thanks for the suggestions. I am currently using ForMinistry. Here is a suggestion: can we develop a system where pastors can submit a website for review and comment? Most of the time we are producing our own low cost websites with little or no feedback. It would be helpful to have some independent review. Since we are pursuing the same goals, we may be each other’s best critics. Steve you are right that the world has changed; blogs, email, etc. are the new wave. We can help each other develop websites that will do the job.

    Thanks, Darwin. Thanks for the suggestion. My site is Any comment is appreciated.

  • Mike Dennis
    Posted at 13:10h, 27 September

    I am able to access the Bethel Temple of Praise url now. It must have been a glitch in the internet!
    I glad to have you and your church partnering with the UBC

  • Eric Schumm
    Posted at 11:57h, 02 October

    Does Huntington University have students in their visual design, communication, computer science, or similar programs looking for a ministry opportunity? This would be an excellent opportunity for those students to develop their skills, get some hands-on experience, and help some of the churches in the denomination get started on a web site.
    Most churches would find they could maintain and update the content if they had some help getting started and a little training on the maintenance task.

  • Steve Dennie
    Posted at 09:02h, 17 November

    If you are interested in hiring someone to do a website for you, I can suggest a couple of people. I don’t want to use this blog for advertising, especially when I can’t necessarily vouch for people. But if you contact me privately, I’ll be glad to steer you in a couple of directions.

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