Smaller churches are sometimes reluctant to embrace technology and take their churches online. However, having an online technology strategy helps boost member engagement and new church visitors.
Odds are, at least part of your church family uses social media and mobile devices often. This means that part of your potential visitors are online too.
Connect on a wider scale by getting your church online. It’s easier than you might think and the rewards are well worth the effort.
Keep Consistent Branding
One thing to always remember throughout your online technology strategy is to keep consistent branding. From having the same logo to maintaining the same personality, a church’s brand is what people connect with. If you’re always serious on Facebook but humorous on Twitter, people might not be able to get a good sense about your church.
Start With A Website
Your church’s online strategy has to begin with one key ingredient – a website. Think of it as your virtual home online that happens to have its doors open 24/7. A few elements to include on your site are:
- Images/videos of your church
- Short description and mission statement
- Service hours
- Contact information
- Calendar of events
- Forum for members to interact
- Social media channels
Obviously, your site can as big or small as you want. Some churches upload their services online, while others only upload a video now and then. The key is to have a place for visitors to learn more about your church.
Plan A Website Content Strategy
With a website comes the need for a content strategy. A church website helps people find your church through search engines, but to rank higher online, you need to keep your site current. This is where a blog comes in handy. To keep visitors coming back, create a content schedule to ensure you’re posting regularly. Even if it’s only one blog per week, it’s enough to stay current in search engines.
Also, plan what types of content you’ll upload. Will you use text, video, images or a mix (which works best)? Will you talk more about church activities, tackle current issues or answer questions from members and site visitors? Having a content strategy in place will make maintaining your blog much easier.
Choose At Least Two Social Networks
It might seem like there is a new social network every week, but your church doesn’t have to maintain a presence on every network. However, your online technology strategy should include at least two social networks. Facebook and Twitter are often the most popular choices because of their large user bases, but you could also choose from sites like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. You could even get creative and use Medium since it’s part blogging platform and part social network. No matter which two you use, stay active to help build your church.
Get Members Involved Online
If you want your online technology strategy to actually be successful, you’re going to need some help. Get your members as involved as possible. For instance, ask them to connect with the church on social media and share their favorite posts. At one small church, the pastor encourages members to use tag the church on Twitter when mentioning events to drive more people to the church’s social media profile. This same church even encourages members to use Bible apps on their phones if they want.
The lesson is to embrace technology, even in a small church. It’s an easy way to better engage members and bring in new members.
Offer E-Giving On Your Site
If tithing is down at your church, make e-giving a part of your online strategy. Online giving providers serve as a modern way for members and even non-members to tithe. Incorporate a giving form on your site or as a mobile app. In an age where many people only have credit cards on them, it’s easier to set up payments online versus remembering to get cash before church.
While getting a professional service to design your website is a good idea, you’re still left with maintaining it, uploading content and managing social media. Ask for volunteers to help manage it all. Meet with them weekly to discuss strategy and review what they’ve been doing. After all, it’s overwhelming for just one person to do everything.
Follow The Lead Of Other Churches
Not sure where to start? Search for other churches online and see what they’re currently doing. You can even learn from large churches. Don’t be afraid to send a message to any church you admire to ask questions or see how well their strategy is working for them.