One of the greatest blessings we have as a church is that we have such amazing ways to share our faith. In the past, information and stories had to be passed down orally. Later on, with the invention of the printing press, books of information could be produced quickly and shared. At the beginning of my lifetime, we still received information primarily from our televisions and in the mail.
Lutheran schools and churches have always gone hand in hand. Martin Luther, all the way back in 1530, wrote “A Sermon on Keeping Children in School,” and he was quite the revolutionary as he called for the education of not only boys but girls as well.
This desire to educate our children was kept by the Saxon (and other) immigrants who would form the Missouri Synod. In Germany, religious instruction was a part of the public school curriculum. In America, however, the public schools were much more secular, or the Christianity that was taught in them was generic and watered down. So in many places, Lutherans established their schools first and then, a few years later, built their church.
We’ve all gotten them . . . the well-meaning envelope trying to notify us about an important upcoming event or to make sure we’re aware of the can’t-miss deal of the century. And you open the envelope (maybe) and pull out the letter and begin reading the message meant uniquely for you. “Dear Sir or Madam . . .”
Spring is in the air, and the church calendar is telling us Easter is almost here. But you’re not worried because you have done all that can possibly be done. The bulletin covers are ready. The Easter egg hunt went off without a hitch. Information about Holy Week has been shared. This year you even coordinated a Lenten video devotional blog for social media followers. You have a strategy for greeters when visitors arrive. Little cards are out to collect visitors’ information. Postcards are ready to be sent out as follow-up. The elders are lined up to make those follow-up calls. And let’s face it—the website was off the charts with all the awesome graphics. YOU KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK! Now it’s time to sit back, pat the team on the back, and watch the strategy unfold. Or is it?
In February 2016, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. Two weeks later, we were sent into a panic. My wife had recently started a job with a local hospital on an as-needed status. She had basically gone through training and then been put on maternity leave. Two weeks after the birth of our son, she was asked to come back full time at the end of her leave. This meant we needed to suddenly find day care for our child. To complicate matters, the day care associated with our church had eight children already on its waiting list.
Websites have a rather interesting history. At first, they were difficult to create and required a certain understanding of HTML. Then tools were introduced that made it easy to create websites. Then everyone had a website, which made it hard to get traffic. Then social media came along and made it seem like no one needed a website anymore.
That’s a rather over-simplified history of the internet, but the reality is that it’s never been easy to build a website and gain traffic, and today is no different. One interesting thing about today’s internet is that Google is its king. Over 63% of internet searches start with Google, an overwhelming majority in a previously competitive market. That means that while your church website is competing to gain traffic, it’s really only competing in one arena.
Now that you’ve decided on your message and audiences (if not, see part 2 in this series) it’s time to look at where you’re actually going to put the website once you’ve got it perfected. There are quite a few options, so it’s easy to get lost.
So you’ve decide to build a new church website, in spite of all the perfectly good reasons not to do so. Before you rush off to buy a new copy of Frontpage and start working, there’s a few steps before we start actually building a site. A little bit of time now will save you a ton of pain and suffering later.
One of my favorite things on the Internet is horrible stock photos (seriously, just Google “weirdest stock photos.”). Why would anyone ever need a picture of someone wearing space glasses holding an ear of corn? The Internet is a strange and mysterious place.
When you’re picking pictures for your church website, you can either use royalty-free stock photos or images that are of your congregation. There are benefits to both options, so it’s important to weigh your options and choose an option that fits your church website’s needs.