What if you went to Walmart’s website and couldn’t find any of their products or store locations? How would you buy your detergent, baby carrots, and hedge clippers all in one place?
The same goes for your church website. Think about what a visitor needs to know and would be searching for about your church. Is she going to want to know what you believe, where you're located, and what time your services start? Probably.
There are some basic components that every church—big, small, or in between—should include. Whether you are just getting started, fine-tuning, or completely revamping a site, these key basics should be included or added to every site.
This page is an essential part of any website, but it’s especially important for churches. This page is where you put information that tells people who you truly are as a church. Include things like where your church is located, when you have weekly services, and with which denomination your church is affiliated (and tell viewers what that denomination stands for by including a statement of faith).
A great way to welcome visitors is to tell them what to expect when they arrive at the church. Answer their potential questions, such as “Where do I park? What door do I go in? How should I dress? How long is the service? Whom should I look for if I have questions? Are kids expected to attend the service, or is childcare provided?” Remember that many of your visitors will have experienced a church setting quite different from yours, and some of your visitors never will have set foot in a church at all.
Information about the church staff, particularly the pastor, is another core pieces of information that should be included on every church website.
Pastors are usually uncomfortable admitting it, but they are often the key reason why people choose to attend their churches. It’s very beneficial to have detailed information on your pastor readily available to website visitors.
Information that should be included on this pastor’s page includes how long he has been with your church and his background. It’s also very helpful to have links to his sermons—both in audio and text formats—so that viewers can easily get a feel for his preaching style and tone.
Similarly, a staff page is very important to your church’s website. This page should tell viewers who is on the team, what they are responsible for, and a little bit of interesting biographical information about them. Without a doubt, pictures are vitally important on this page. By putting a face with each name, you provide visitors and new members with a more comfortable experience when they can see a familiar face in the crowd.
Just as you tell visitors what to expect about church when they come, it is equally important to tell them what is expected of them.
For most churches, the expected point of entry for visitors is the Sunday worship service. This is a great time for visitors to come, as there are greeters who can answer their questions, ushers who can show them where to sit, and a time for refreshments after the service to help them get to know someone.
For other churches, the point of entry is something different, maybe a fellowship event or a small group Bible study. No matter what that activity is, it should be made clear to visitors that is when you want them to come.
Expectations of membership should also be stated on your website. Some churches require adults to go through a confirmation program or reaffirmation of faith, while others require them to submit transfer paperwork.
Regardless of how your church handles these expectations, the most important thing to remember is to be open and honest, explaining what actually happens at your church.
This blog post is an excerpt from our ebook “Crafting Excellent Church Websites.” To download this free ebook, which outlines even more ways to perfect your website, click the button below!