Church websites are an essential part of local churches’ public profiles to their communities.
Indeed, in some geographic areas, church websites draw more people into face-to-face church activities than any other method. Church sites outnumber all other types of Christian sites on the Internet by a ratio of five to one.
Church websites should be a powerful outreach tool; unfortunately, research reveals a discouraging picture:
- Most church sites are written purely for their members, using ‘religious insider’ content style and religious language.
- Many do not create a sense of welcome to outsiders or include any material that they would perceive as relevant to them.
- Many of them do not provide any hint about the life-changing Gospel; or else they present it in heavy-handed terms which may be ‘too much, too soon’ and counter-productive.
Here are some recommendations that will help you when creating your church website so it is truly welcoming to non-Christians in your community.
- A natural informal sense of welcome, even humor, throughout the site.
- Photos showing not only the church building exterior, but also interior shots including people. These will help prospective visitors feel the church is familiar even before they first visit the physical building.
- Church member photos and profiles prominently displayed on the home-page. These may not be full testimonies in the normal sense. Instead, they may be introductions to some real church members with background to their lives: hobbies, jobs, pets and other personal details.
- Online leading to face-to-face support for recovery from life problems (divorce, alcohol/substance abuse, bereavement etc.)
- Age-specific content (children, teens, seniors).
- Clear directions with an online map to find the church, where to park, and public transportation links.
- A sense of identification with the local community, in terms of secular news, photos and links. This can also draw in website visitors.