As church communicators we’re constantly looking for ways to make the ministry better not only for visitors, but for our church members as well. There are always little hints and quips here and there that our church family members say that give us a not-so-gentle nudge toward what we should be doing to better the ministry and further the mission.
Some hints aren’t really hints at all—it’s your congregation making it clear that something needs to change! Here are some things that your congregation may be saying that are clear indicators that you need a new church website.
“I didn’t know we had a church website.”
Every church that has a website should be letting people know about it. There is no harm in having someone mention the website at any point during the Sunday service. This will not only serve as a reminder to current members but it will also let visitors know about the website as well. A good time to mention the website is during the announcements. Whoever is giving them can say something like, "for upcoming events check out our church calendar on our website." As soon as visitors realize the church has a website, chances are that will be the primary way for them to gain information about the church.
Besides mentioning the website verbally, it should always be included in the church bulletin and in the e-newsletter. Other ways to promote the website include:
- Hosting a "sign up Sunday" where members are able to set up their account on the church website
- When creating memes for Facebook and other social media, include the website
- Include the website on every piece of printed media that gets sent out including postcards and brochures
Once you get in the groove of promoting your online ministry it'll become second nature.
“The hours/information/dates/staff is wrong.”
When someone tells you this, your church website can't be updated fast enough. If information on the website doesn't get updated in a timely fashion, people will stop relying on it. Keeping the website as up to date as possible means always ensuring all photos are current, there are no events still listed from the previous months, and all contact information is correct. Besides being a reliable source of information, keeping it updated is also important when it comes to integrity and credibility—two things that your church should take very seriously.
“I didn’t tell my friends about the website.”
If members of your church aren't referring to the church website when inviting their friends or acquaintances to church, it might be because they're embarrassed about the quality of the website. Other reasons they might be refraining from telling people about the website include:
- The website looks like it's stuck in the 90's
- They feel potential visitors won't find any value or see any reason to check it out
- They feel like it doesn’t accurately represent the church, as in “we are way cooler than the church website!"
Your website should be an integral part of the ministry and should be seen as a way to further the mission of your church. It's also something members should be excited to share with others and when that's not happening, it's definitely a red flag.
“It’s hard to find information.”
Websites exist for one primary reason—so that people can find information they need. If people are coming to your church website and are getting frustrated because they can't find what they're looking for, chances are they won't be back. If your website isn't functional or intuitive, you need to update it or get a new one. Some bits of information that should be especially easy to find include:
- Church location
- Service times
- Contact information
- Page for new visitors
This important information should be clearly visible on either the homepage or the "about us" page.
“I don’t use the website.”
It's pretty sad when members aren't even using their own church website! If people who attend your church, or who are involved in your church in some way, aren't using the website, someone needs to figure out why and then do something about it. In order to get people to use the site, consider adding the following features:
- Staff names and titles, along with a professional-looking photograph of each
- An opportunity for online giving
- A blog
- Church calendar
- Sermon archives (audio or video)
- Major announcements
- Social media links
If you make your church website fun and interesting, chances are members and visitors will be checking it out on a regular basis.
“It’s hard to find the church website.”
If a person doesn't have your website address, they will try to Google it. If your church website isn't optimized to show up on Google, people won’t be able to search your church, let alone its website! When it comes to finding a website by using Google or other search engines, you need to try a strategy called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You want your church website to be one of the first ones that appears when someone is doing a search. In order to achieve this, you should:
- Put high quality content on each page
- Make sure your pages load smoothly and quickly
- Build pages that are easy to navigate
The easier it is to find the church website, the more likely it is people will visit your church.
Maybe you've gotten the hint and realize it's time to make some changes to your church website or build a whole new one. If you need some help doing it, simply download our eBook, Getting Your Church Website Back on Track. Click below!