Today every church has a website, which gives its church tremendous potential to reach its community and world for Jesus. However, few church websites accomplish all that their churches wish they did. Because of that, churches sometimes jump from one software system to another hoping that THIS time the church website will be all they want it to be. After many years of helping churches communicate with their websites and other communication channels, below are a few comments that you may not and elsewhere and may be useful for staff discussion.
#1 What isn’t important: What system you use to create it
There is an abundance of systems and software you can use to create a church website, and it really doesn’t matter which one you use. Nearly any system can create an extraordinary site that represents your church well and that touches, and changes lives for Jesus.
Every few months it seems, some new system comes up with great advertising fanfare that this is the system that will revolutionize your church and have people flocking to the website.
Probably not. A church may work intensely on a new system for a few months, but after a time, no matter how flashy or new the system, if it is not continuously updated and/or the people tasked with doing it look at the website as the last task in communication importance, it doesn’t matter what system you use.
However, no matter what the system, if the person working on it cares passionately about reaching their community for Jesus and the importance of keeping the site updated, it will be a successful site.
#2 What isn’t important: How it looks
Many people would not agree with that, and though we certainly don’t want to intentionally create an ugly-looking site, any system advertised today will create a good-looking site.
However, looks alone are not enough. It might be a website that looks extraordinary but has all the warmth of a high-end fashion magazine. Perhaps it’s beautiful in every way and typo-free, but if it is lacking in humanity and real spiritual content, it won’t connect with or serve your audience. I recently did an extended critique of a website (no identifying of the actual church) that was part of a church rebranding that illustrated this situation. Check out this article: Are you still telling people to “Call the church office for more information”?
If the system and looks aren’t the most important, what is?
Important characteristic #1 — Content on the site
The most important thing on any church website is the content. As I constantly emphasize in my teaching on church communications, contrary to the popular saying that “the medium is the message,” that simply isn’t true.
People don’t think you are a great church because you have a good-looking, smooth website.
The medium (your website as a communication channel) is not the message. The content of the message is the message. It’s the content that is important, not simply the fact that you have a website. Or that you have a gorgeous website with a banner of people singing with arms raised in enthusiastic worship. People do not go to church websites to be entertained or to get their multimedia thrill for the week or to play the latest exciting video game.
They go to have spiritual needs met — how does your content do that?
Important characteristic #2 — the most important content on your site
The most important thing your website can and should have is how to become a Christian, how to get saved, and the meaning of salvation.
This is not the same as a Statement of Faith — that is important to include along with who you are as a denomination, but the Statement of Faith is something that primarily people who are already part of a church and perhaps new to your area will access. The terms and jargon (traditional and wonderful words they are) mean little to nothing to a post-Christian explorer of your church website.
In discipleship planning, we are reminded that “what you win them with, is what you win them to.” Meaning that if people come to Jesus thinking he is the easy to solution to all their problems, that life will now be one big joyous celebration, and like everyone else in the church (according to the pictures on the website anyway) they will be happy, it can be a big challenge when the demands of self-sacrificing discipleship and unavoidable human tragedy God can use to refine them is brought up.
Some might look at that as “bait and switch” in the Christian message.
Carefully evaluate your church website — is this most important content on it, and not only on it, but top-level accessible?
How to become a Christian, have your sins forgiven, have a relationship with God, explained clearly and in a way that is appropriate to your denomination and location?
A way to contact and interact with someone to respond to this message of salvation and any questions about it?
The questions above and the content to explain them are THE most important content you need on your site. In addition, as I looked at many sites, I didn’t see, but would have liked to see, these questions answered.
What is a church? Why is it important for people to attend? Why should people attend other than it looks cool, and offers great coffee and fun things for kids?
To paraphrase a Bible verse, “What does it profit a person to be wowed by an upbeat, exciting website, but lose their soul?”
Concentrate on the most important content for your site — the message of eternal life in Jesus — and to paraphrase another Bible verse, “Then all the rest of your website will be successful as well.”
Additional advice and FREE e-book: The church website is not the only key church communication that often does not have the most important content, a presentation of the gospel. Church bulletins also frequently omit this essential information. For a free e-book that has examples of how you can include a presentation of the gospel of salvation in Jesus in your church bulletin, and that would also work on a website, go to: The most important content for your website or church bulletin — the good news of salvation in Jesus.