For anyone who has ever purchased something through Craigslist, you know it can be one of the greatest and yet most terrifying experiences you’ve ever been through. You search the website looking for some used item, such as a couch, at a cheap price and then drive to meet the seller at an agreed upon location, usually somewhere public. You meet them in a public place because lets face it, we’ve all heard about the Craigslist killer and we feel more at ease meeting a stranger with other people around.
However, my wife and I have furnished our entire apartment through Craigslist and have met lots of wonderful people, so we usually agree to meet the seller at their house; which can sometimes be a scary experience… depending on the house. The most terrifying experience I have ever had was going to a seller’s house to pick up some modern green lamps.
When I pulled down the neighborhood road and stopped in from of the house my first thought was, I’m about to buy some lamps from a drug dealer. The yard was a wreck. There was trash everywhere. There were old destroyed kids toys, cardboard boxes, a broken screen door, and an entire fridge sitting on the front porch. I debated even going up to the door, however, once I did something unexpected happened.
The seller, probably in his late 20’s, opened up the front door to his house and I was met with the most beautifully restored and modern looking home I’d ever seen. The furniture was in perfect condition, the floor was a beautiful cedar hardwood, and the owners had obviously just finished painting the walls. I just stood their in amazement and thought, this guy obviously loves the inside of his home, but couldn’t care less about how his front door looked to others.
Sadly, I think many churches can find themselves in the exact same boat if they aren’t careful. They care so much about what people will see once they are inside the church, they forget to make sure that the outside of their church, their front door, looks just as nice.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “We take care of our church building. We make sure our lawn in cut, our parking lot is clean, and our signage is clear”. I believe you. The problem is, in the world we live in today, your front door is not attached to your building anymore. Your front door isn’t even located on your property. Your church’s front door now exists on the Internet. Your church’s new front door is your church website; and in order for people to be able to get through your front door, your website must be effective.
Monk Development, a website design agency did some research and found the following statistics in regards to church websites.
The percentage of church attenders who said a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit:
In 2012, 33% say the internet was the first place where they learned about their church.
These statistics are pretty amazing. It means that if someone in your area is looking for a church to attend, one-third to half of them will go to Google first to find it. What does that mean for you? If your church does not have a website, one-third to half of the people in your community have no idea that you even exist. It's as if someone new came to your church on Sunday and couldn't find the front door to get in to the building. And since they can't find the front door, they would go somewhere else.
Bottom line: If your church can't be googled, it doesn't exist. No matter how nice your building is, how effective your programming, how great your sermons, one-third to half of your community can't find your front door.
If your church can't be googled, it doesn't exist
"But wait, our church does have a website". My question to you is, how effective is it? Is it up to date? Does it look nice? If it user-friendly? Can people find it easily online? Does it work on a phone? Is the information correct? All of these questions must be asked and evaluated constantly in order to make sure that your website is effective.
If your website doesn't have the information people need in a clear professional looking way, they will not stay on your site and they will not come to your church. If your website is ugly, they will run from your site. It's the same thing as when I went to visit the Craigslist seller. I was terrified to go inside because the house looked scary from the outside and the same occurs whenever your website doesn't look professional and doesn't have the information people need. NOTE: A bad website has the potential to scare off more people than having no website at all.
A bad website has the potential to scare off more people than having no website at all
And what about people who are already in your church. Those who have already found the front door. Does the website need to cater to them as well? Look at these statistics.
64% of church goers say the church website is important in facilitating participation in church.
What features do people say they use most (in order):
- Listen and download sermons.
- Serving opportunities at the church.
- Finding service information.
- Forward content to others.
- Read visitor's information.
Bottom Line: Church goers are turning to your website in order to get more connected in your church. So we need to help them! Your website has the ability to provide immediate information, resources, and content that will help your members grow spiritually, and if we are not doing an effective job of using this tool, we do a serious disservice to our members.
"How do I go about creating a good website?" Sadly, one post isn't long enough to go into detail on making a good website.
I can however offer some suggestions on next steps.
- Look at other church websites to get ideas
- Look at hiring a web developer who has a background in website creation
- Read books about web design
The truth is, building a website on your own is very difficult and the senior pastor doesn't have enough time to take this project on by himself. I am happy and willing to help in any way I can to make your church's website the most effective it can be, so feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions. My heart is to see God use the churches of the BBFI to most effectively minister to the world in which we live and anything I can do to help, let me know!
- Nick Mills
Nick is the IT Administrator at High Street Baptist Church in Springfield, MO. He has a BS in Missions from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO and enjoys reading, teaching, geocaching and spending time with friends and family.