On April 21st, a new update from Google will bury your church website from MOBILE search listings if your website isn’t ready for their new requirements.[Read more…] about How Google will bury your church website
Today, Yvon Prehn allow me to share her guest post about your church website.
Yvon is an excellent writer and shares frequently on church communications – in fact, that is her ministry.
I’ve benefited much from my conversations with her and her regular newsletter provides all sorts of great snippets. She also runs a membership site that is extremely affordable for churches and ministries.
Guest Post: Is Your Church Website an Open Door or Barrier?
Today, if we have a question about anything, where do we look up information?
If we want hours of operation, products offered, staff bios?
If we want to know what movie is playing, what time a concert starts, what classes are offered at a college where do we do to find out?
Obviously, we go to the website.
It’s the same whether we are looking up information about what computer to buy or what church to attend.
We judge the organization, its people, and its products based on the website.
If the website gives us winter hours and it is spring; if the sale has been over for weeks or if the hours of operation are incorrect, we aren’t likely to visit the business or have confidence in it.
If the business is a franchise and the website is an obvious template, with little local personalization, we won’t think much about the technical skills (equated with competence overall) of the staff.
Again, we judge a church the same way.
Unfortunately many church websites don’t meet the minimal standards.
Though lost customers may be bad for a business, the consequences for a church are much more serious. Following is an example of what can happen and then some suggestions for change.
Excellent Church Website Tips
The article goes on to give excellent tips to keeping up your church website.
- Keep it current.
- Learn how to create one in wordpress
In my experience, I still see a lot of churches that make dumb mistakes on their website – stuff that should easily be fixed:
- Doesn’t say where the church is located (no address, not even a country)
- I visited another church website and couldn’t find the time of their Christmas Eve services.
- Church website without service times or address.
- Simple questions that every church website should answer.
Help your church visitors find you this coming Easter
Easter is right around the corner.
Does your church website reflect your Easter services?
Does it promote the post Easter sermon series to help your visitors decide to return?
This Easter, some people might want to visit your church.
This Holy Week, some out of town guests may want to visit your special services for holy week.
You don’t know who they are.
They don’t know where they want to go.
God has given these first time church visitors spiritual thirst that propels them to seek a church.
So what do they do?
They likely search the internet first to find a church website.
Take a good look at your church website.
Would a potential Easter visitor find the basic information needed to attend your services?
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.
I recently put this question out some of the networks I am a part of:
What sorts of things do you put in your visitor welcome packet /folder to give to first time church visitors?
Here are some of the answers.
Add your helpful suggestion of ideas for church welcome packets in the comment field below.
What do you put in your Visitor Welcome Packet?
Justin – When we create Welcome Packets for churches we recommend including information about your beliefs, a list of ministries/opportunities your schedule of services, and pictures of your pastor/staff.
Deborah – Hi Chris, We ask for info such as: Are you just visiting or looking for a new home church, or have a prayer request. Basic info, address, phone number etc. Would you like to be contacted by the pastor or home visit. Office hours, service and Sunday School times. Phone numbers etc.
Lawrence – The gospel of John, welcome notes with the pastor’s and church leader’s address and phone numbers to contact in case of needs, the church activities and motto. A gift token and hope to see you again note with Jesus love you.
Matthew – When I was at one church we made a DVD that had people if church talking about the missions vision and values of the church. We also showed pictures and videos of other things we did in the community.
Christopher – Tracts, a contact information sheet, and a church events schedule for the current month.
Nodela – We give our first time visitors gift bags that contain: visitors card to fill out and return, ministry brochure, church administrator business card, pen, pad, candy, monthly calendar, a thank you and invitation note card, prayer card written by my Bishop, a sermon CD and one of my Bishop’s books. On the outside of the bag I place a portion of our mission statement. I then follow up with more information about our ministry and then a “hello” note card for those that do not have a church home. Many have been receptive of this method and pleasantly surprised to receive it. Some have come back and purchased additional CDs or DVDs.
Richard – I’m partial to the Pocket Testament League’s Gospels of John which have the plan of salvation on the first few pages. They’re especially good for New believers Packets.
John – We used to put in a magnet with the church’s name and address and church times for the fridge. Some good candies (Wurthers), a $5 gift card to Tim Horton’s ( or Starbucks for some of you), and a church pen (only use good quality), and a simple short relevant tract.
Nick – I wish churches would include the pastor’s theological positions so you can determine at the front end if you’re a good fit.
Tom – Our packet includes the Folded Cover with Welcome on front, Church Name & Location, Inside: Information card for visitor to fill out and a Thank you card is mailed later for visit. Also, card inviting them to a Daily Telephone Scripture Message, A Bic Clic Stic pen. Many churches give imprinted pens to their visitors.
Lisa – From the perspective of someone who has visited many churches, I appreciate when the packet includes a current church newsletter (so I’m aware of events), a statement of the policies of the church, a bulletin, a name tag, and a snack (one church I went to, Sts. Martha and Mary Episcopal Church in Eagan, MN, offered a snack of M & M’s, perhaps a play on its initials).
Michael – Besides the usual items describing the church, CD of the message and some fun things like coffee mugs and pens with the church logo and some goodies one church includes a $5.00 visa card so the visitor could buy gas for a return visit. This church also hand delivered the welcome packet to the home the next day after the first visit
What sorts of things do you put in your church visitor welcome packet? Add your comments or ideas for church welcome packets below in the comment field.
This question came across my twitter feed (@EvangelismCoach) this past Sunday:
“It’s 2nd Sunday .. I’m visiting a new church .. Heels or Tennis shoes ? I never know how to dress when I’m a visitor”
This brings up the point:
Can potential first time church visitors find out the information they need on your church website landing page?
- Where is the church?
- What does the building look like so I can recognize it?
- Would I fit in with these people?
- Who is the pastor?
Church websites lead people to your door.
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 didn’t go.
That shouldn’t be.
How is your church represented on your church website?
Here are some quick questions a potential church visitor might want to know:
- What are these people like?
- What is appropriate to wear?
- Will I understand the message? (Do you have your sermons easily online for people to hear examples of what they might hear at a service?)
- Where is this church located?
- What does the building look like so I will recognize it?
- What is done for my children?
You can fix some of these issues quickly by:
- Sharing photos of church life, of some worship settings
- An frequently asked questions page for church vistors
- Address and service times on every page.
- Real life photos of pastors vs formal studio photos
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.
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.
Church press releases are remarkably simple to do once you understand some basic points and setup a distribution system for your church press release.
How First PC Englewood Uses Press Releases
I recently spoke with Richard Hong, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Englewood NJ, about what they have learned over the last few years in using press releases to build up and shape the reputation of their church in the neighborhood.
Churches has asked me how to add some effective marketing to their outreach campaigns, and press releases are one way you can garner free publicity for your church.
Press releases are more than the little program announcements that some churches still make in the Saturday paper.
Regular press releases by your church can call attention to your church and increase your church’s visibility and reputation in your community. This may help attract people to your church who want to participate in your programs, and hopefully grow in their walk with Christ.
Church Press Release Interview
I’ve seen some awful church press releases, and some good ones, so I’ve asked Richard to share
- what their church is doing,
- how they do it, and
- lessons they’ve learned from using press releases
Listen in as Richard shares
- on different types of press releases
- what makes for useless press releases
- how his church distributes press releases
- How they get free professional videos made
- How to effectively position your press release in community newspapers.
- The nuts and bolts of formatting a press release for your church.
Finally, he wraps it up with some specific action steps you can take if you want to develop a press release strategy for your church.
Grab the EvangelismCoach.org podcast feed to get more podcasts automatically
Image source: MorgueFile