If you are the pastor of a church who needs to persuade your leaders to invest in a good church website, what can you do to make your case?
I know how I use church websites when I travel.
I look for service times and addresses. Churches without that information won’t even get a visit from me.
Then it took me several pages to discover what time was their meeting.
I visited another church website and couldn’t find the time of their Christmas Eve services, so we did not go. They accidentally kept us away.
That shouldn’t be.
One approach is to quote statistics about how church visitors use websites.
- 50% of church guests under the age of 40 will check out your church’s reputation with their friends on social media.
- 75% of first-time guests have already formed an impression of your church based on your website.
- Your “greeters” are no longer your first contact with your guests. According to one poll, 80% of people who visit your church visit your website first.
But I can’t find the data sources behind these statistics, so take them as background information.
It’s now considered a fact that a potential visitor to your church will check out your church website before they visit your church. I’ve found all sorts of unsourced claims that show that fact. So while the percentages may vary, the point is likely very true.
So, if you are the pastor of a church who needs to persuade your leaders to invest in a good church website, what can you do to make your case?
You connect how they use the internet to a find answers to your need for a church website.
Church Website Conversation Starter
When you have gathered your decision team together, do this exercise.
Your advance preparation:
- Find out about a big event that is coming to your town and pick detail you want your team to find (like how to register, time of the event).
- Identify a church fellowship in your town that doesn’t have a website, or a church of an unfamiliar denomination.
Ask your team to tell you:
- The nearest Starbucks and give you directions on how to get there, plus their operating hours.
- The Sunday worship time of the nearest church fellowship of an unfamiliar denomination.
- Details on how to attend a big conference coming to town. . . . (you’ll need to pick one ahead of time).
- Add your own interesting questions that have a level of detail (like phone number, address, operating hours).
- How many churches of your denomination are in your area.
I bet most of them will pull out a smartphone and try to answer.
Give a cookie or something to the one who finds the answer the fastest.
- Who breaks out a smart phone and starts searching for answers.
- How many smart phones get pulled out to find those instant answers.
- Frustration when you can’t find simple information like an address, phone number, or operating hours.
Connect how they used the internet to answer their questions to the same things that potential church visitors do to learn about your church via a website.
Then ask them:
- If someone wants to know what time our service is, what would they find?
- If someone wants to attend a denominational church in our town, what would they find?
- If someone wants to know what church in town has Christmas Eve services, what would they find?
For example, if you are the leader of a Presbyterian church in Small Town, North Carolina, what results do you get when you type in:
- Churches [name of small town] north carolina
- Presbyterian churches [name of small town] North Carolina
- Christmas Eve services [name of small town] North Carolina
Discuss the words that your leaders or elders type into a search engine.
- How many of them use your church name instead of “Presbyterian church, name of town”?
- Don’t assume a visitor knows your church name.
- Discuss the results that come up when you type in your church name.
Discuss how your current webpage answers the following questions quickly:
- Where is the church located?
- What times are the services?
- How can I listen to or watch the last few sermons?
- What do I do with my children?
- What does the building look like so I can recognize it?
- Would I fit in with these people?
- Who is the pastor?
Can potential first time church visitors find out the information they need on your church website landing page?
I’m sure you can think of additional questions about how a church website should answer the questions in the minds of potential visitors.
I think personal frustration of not being able to answer those questions by asking Google will give the a-ha that you want in your leaders, more than statistics.
Let me ask you this
Do you have any personal stories of searching for church websites when you are visiting family?
Share a story either about ease of getting the information, or frustration at not finding it.
Do you need help with your church website?
Look into Clover for your church website. This is an affiliate link which will benefit our ministry work in Latin America.
I subscribe to a email list of church administrators and this one has been highly recommended in that list. I don’t use Clover personally, because I know how to handle my website, but my friend Rich uses Clover for his church as he describes some of the investments he made in his church (Tip #1 in that article).
We just switched to Clover Church Websites Sites last month. Our Youth Pastor maintains it and loves it. They even have a live person that answers the phone if there are any questions!
We compared Clover to Bridge Elements which had a cheaper upfront cost, however the Clover Church Site was much easier to work with and edit. They are also going to be rolling out an on-line giving platform we may also switch to.
We use Clover Church Websites for the exact same reasons that you mention and absolutely love it. I have been responsible for many different websites over the years from designing them from scratch to taking over other people’s designs and Clover has made web site administration a joy again for me.
Very easy to use. I have several different staff who have no web experience updating various content. I mainly make sure that it stays within our graphic standards and make changes to structure when necessary.
Very good support from Clover. Extremely helpful and friendly and responsive. But I’ve had very little to call them about everything just works.
Definite limitations due to the fact that they’ve designed it for easy use by non-web designers but the benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh the limitations. We haven’t been backed into a corner by any of the limitations. Most have an easy work around.