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Church Website Wednesday Communication Web

Personalize Your Church Website

I’ve been working through a series of posts on tips for your church’s website. I have been making appeals to everyone involved in church leadership to not only get a website, but make it a good one. Visitors are far more likely to check out your website BEFORE they step foot in the door of your church. Many of them will form their opinion and perception of your church from that interaction.

[quote align=”center”]What perception are people getting from your website?[/quote]

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church technology Church Website Wednesday Outreach Web

Open Your Doors to the Web World

Church Website Wednesday

[quote align=”center”]85% of first time visitors are looking for your website BEFORE they step foot in your doors.[/quote]

I use that statistic a lot, but only because it is one of the most valuable stats I have found to reveal the importance of a quality, well-designed church website.

If 85% of first time visitors are coming to your website, you can also assume that they are developing a perception of your church. They want to know more. They are used to going to websites and finding every answer they are looking for, without having to leave the comfort of their home.

Does your website explain who you are?

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church technology Church Website Wednesday Outreach Web

Your Church Website as a Ministry Tool.

Church Website Wednesdays

After looking at hundreds of church websites, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I am going to attempt in a weekly series to provide tips, ideas and examples to help you better utilize your website as a ministry tool.

I’ve already written several posts about the necessity for a church to have a website. Some of those can be viewed at the links below.
Church Web Presence Checklist

Top 10 Reasons to Redesign your Church’s Website

What does your website say about your church?

Today, I am going to focus on what content should you put on the website. This is a huge topic and will take several posts, but I will start with an big picture overview.

Your website is one of the most valuable outreach tools available to you outside of the people in your church. Visitors who visit your website should be able to come away with a good idea of who you are, what they can expect from the church and know whether or not your church would be a good fit.

I’ll concede, we all want the people to visit our building before they make up their mind. Unfortunately, in our digital age, the perception is already decided BEFORE they step foot in your door.

[quote align=”center”]So what kind of content should you have on your website?[/quote]

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church technology Communication Social Media Technology Tuesday Web

Church Social Media

I was talking with a new client over the weekend about their new website. Quickly, the conversation took an obvious shift to social media. We set their site up to utilize some blogging software so that they can update information and keep their site current. I was also able to provide a couple ideas in addition to their site on how to utilize social media for their ministry.

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church technology Communication Technology Tuesday Web

What’s in an… email address?

I know there are many things about technology that seem intimidating.  I will attempt to explain the simplicity and reasoning behind having email addresses setup with your domain.  In general, I realize that most people go to gmail, yahoo or the others and just get an email for simplicity sake.  I’ll admit, it is very simple to get a gmail address with something like mychurch@gmail.com.

[quote]

But is that really the best way to set things up?

[/quote]

Email is beyond becoming a primary means of communication.  That matched with Facebook and it is just one of the many reasons our USPS can’t stay in business.  Most people are pretty savvy with email and I’ll attempt to offer several points on best practices for setting up email at your organization.

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Church Money Saving Ideas church technology Communication Web

Church Web Presence Checklist

Just like the picture suggests, your church’s website needs to be a piece of your ministry.  The advantages available on the web to your church are so vast and inexpensive that churches not taking advantage of them are really missing out.  The list below is not comprehensive, but gives a good starting point for your church when thinking about starting or re-developing their web presence.

  1. Don’t overcomplicate your domain name.

    – If it’s your churches name, use it, even if it’s long.  Most first time visitors or people looking for your church are not going to know the “inside names” or nicknames you have for the church.  They are also not going to know your church’s mission or other statement you use.
    – Now there is nothing wrong with purchasing those other names and forwarding them to your main site, but the main URL needs to be your churches name spelled out.

  2. Use caution when hiring a relative, close friend, high school student or church member who says they can do it.

    Every church has dealt with it, contracting with a member or friend. While in theory it’s not a big deal, when it comes time to a problem, it becomes a big deal.  Don’t give your website development project to someone without experience.
    I’ll admit there was a day when we were there. Scrapping along for and building sub-par websites.  What that taught me was that your churches web presence is too important to entrust to someone with no credentials.
    But Sue needs a job. That’s fine, give her benevolence, make her do odd jobs around the church.  The church’s website is often the first impression people will get of your church.
    Bobby built a site using Website Tonight (or insert another free tool here), he says he’s a web designer. There are tools that make building a website fairly simple and give some people an over-inflated sense of ability.  Just because someone has used one of these tools doesn’t mean they will be able to meet your needs.  Speaking of tools…

  3. Use free tools sparingly.

    – We are all very well aware of the amount of free and inexpensive church web tools that are available.  Just remember, like everything, you get what you pay for.  Just because it’s free and does the job, doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for you.
    – Often, these “free” tools come with introductory offers, restricted abilities and other issues that will end up being more hassle than you would have had if you’d paid up front.  If you must use free tools, use them sparingly and do your homework.

  4. Consider the website an investment

    – The website of your church is many times the first impression someone will get of your church.  You take pride in your building, make sure the grass is cut before Sunday Morning, take out the trash, clean the windows, and make sure there is no paper in the pews.  Why do you neglect what most people will see before that?

    – I am shocked at what some churches will spend for buildings and still have a cheap template website.  I’m also shocked of churches that have budget struggles that are not taking advantage of the vast potential on the Internet for ministry communication and opportunities.

  5. Utilize your website as a ministry of your church|

    – I meet with numerous pastors that have told me that they are struggling to see value in their website.  When I ask how they utilize the site, its usually the same answer.  They put basic info on it and let it sit.
    – Take advantage of the communication opportunity.  Link your site to Social Media and utilize it for your church.

  6. Create a Web Desination

    – This is a relatively new trend in web development, however it makes great sense.  A website is boring, bland, static, and virtually useless unless handled perfectly.

    – Why not create a web destination where people can get engaged and connected with your church.  Make it a resource, a place to become part of your church community.

If you’re interested or looking at finding some new ideas for your church’s web needs, I’d invite you to check us out.  We are here to be sure you are taking advantage of the huge potential available on the web for your ministry.  And just so you know, there is no church too small to not need a website!

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Church Management church technology Communication Web

Top 10 Reasons to Re-Design your Church’s Website

Top Ten Reasons to Redesign Your Church’s Website
by: Josh Henry

10. Your current site is utilizing outdated technology.

Unfortunately, trends on the web change faster than most of us can keep up with.  However, it is possible to build your site in a way that keeps it open to changing trends.  For a site to be relevant today it must take advantage of social media. Period.

9.  Your site was built using a template builder.

There was a time when churches could get away with a simple website that didn’t look professional, however, that time is now gone.  People looking to visit your church are looking for a website BEFORE they step foot in the door of the church.  What first impression are you delivering?

8.  Your site is not updated.

Websites are a very valuable source of information about your church.  Take advantage of the capability and make your website part of your ministries.  It is probably the most effective communication tool you have.

7.  Updating your site is too complicated.

Every web company advertises the ability to update and edit your site.  Unfortunately, most of the systems require a degree in computer science to figure out.  Be sure the company you choose offers a simple CMS system and has the support structure to back it up!

6.  It was designed by a volunteer.

Volunteers in your church are a great blessing.  However, they can also create problems when it comes to website.  Often, the church’s website becomes a second priority to them and getting updates and changes made is difficult.  Keep it simple, have volunteers help, but also have a back up plan.

5.  Your site is not an accurate representation of your church.

Perception is often reality.  Be sure you are providing an accurate representation of your church through your website.  Be real, don’t try to look bigger than you are, but also, don’t sell yourself short.

4.  Your site doesn’t have vital information for visitors.

Let’s face it; people don’t need another reason to not go to church.  Visitors especially are in a very vulnerable position when they visit a new church.  Alleviate any questions by having relevant visitor information available on your site.  Where do I go, what time do I show up, where is the worship center, what do you have for my kids are all questions that need to be answered on your website.

3.  Your site doesn’t show up in Search Engines.

Most people are going to look for churches in your area through Google or another search engine.  Make sure your church is at least on the list, if not first!

2.   Your URL makes no sense or is hard to remember.

We’ve all been there, trying to remember a website address so we can go back.  Make it simple for people to find your site.  You may have to be creative.

1.  You don’t have a website!

This should speak for itself.  If your church doesn’t have a website, you MUST get one.  No questions asked; you are missing a huge outreach tool without it.

Categories
Church Management church technology Google Apps for Church Web

Google Apps for your Church – UPDATE

As a followup to a previous post about Google Apps for your Church, I recently found out that on May 10, 2011, Google will be limiting the amount of users for the Free Accounts from 50 to 10.  If you were wanting to implement the free version with more than 10 users, you’ll need to set your account up by May 10, 2011.

After that date, you will still be able to use the Apps, but will be limited in the number of users.  Check back as we continue to update ways to make Google Apps work to make your church more efficient.  We will provide resources and examples that will help you utilize the resource to its fullest potential.

Categories
church technology Communication Web

What does your website say about your church?

The question is very simple.  When someone visits your church website, what impression are they getting of your church?

We visit church websites from around the country trying to get a pulse on what people are doing.  We see some great, some good, and many terrible!  In a day where the Internet is so prevalent, churches must keep up with the times and have a website that accurately reflects who they are as a congregation of believers.

Are you using a free, or cheap stock template?
For many churches, this is an unfortunate reality.  What a cheap template says to your visitors is that you don’t care about reaching new people and you really just want to have something online because a guy like me posted something in a blog.  Hogwash!  Take into account that 85% of new visitors are looking for churches on the web BEFORE they step foot in the door or will look in the phone book.  What image is your website giving potential visitors about your church?

Relevant Content?
One thing that will kill a church website faster than anything is a lack of content.  People want your site to be a resource.  Think of your website as a secretary/receptionist that works 24/7, doesn’t take breaks or ask for days off. Train your congregation to utilize the website as a source of truth for answers.  Keep the content on the fresh and current.  Put links to articles or other sites you find online that you think may be of interest to your church members.  Oh yeah, GET YOUR CHURCH ON FACEBOOK!

FACEBOOK
While some may say that Facebook is just for kids, I’d beg to differ.  Did you know the average age of facebook users is 38 years old and 61% of facebook users are over 30?  Also, where else can you have direct access to share your message with people who have given you permission to tell them, any time, for free?  Get our free article on ways to use facebook for your church.

A Web Ministry
We meet with pastors everyday, and I repeatedly tell them that the website has to be used as a ministry of your church.  You can think of it on the same level as your student or adult ministry.  It is, after all, a major communication tool for your church.  In many ways, if used correctly, your website can be a major ministry tool for your church.

Let me suggest this.
We have years of experience getting churches online, and utilizing the web as a ministry tool.  Take a minute to contact us and tell us a bit about your church here and one I will call you personally to discuss how to increase your web ministry presence.

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Communication Visitors Web

10 tips for church Facebook pages

10 tips for church Facebook pages
By Diana Davis
INDIANAPOLIS (BP) | Take this quiz:

— If your church could make free public announcements to thousands of your own members’ friends, would you do it?

— If there was a simple way to help members and guests feel more connected to your church, would you use it?

Small and large churches across our nation are effectively using a Facebook organization page to enhance in-reach and outreach. Should your church have one?

Do the math. Ask for a show of hands to find out how many church members use Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 registered “friends,” so if just 20 church members use Facebook, that’s potentially 2,600 people who could read posts about your church. One hundred members with Facebook could touch 13,000. This is multiplication at its best. Convinced? I interviewed several churches to compile these Facebook tips to help you get started.

— Tip No. 1: Begin well. Study other churches’ pages for ideas. Use tips from Facebook’s help section (http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php) to create your church organization page. Then ask church members and guests to “like” (join) your page so posts will display on their newsfeed.

— Tip No. 2: Keep it short. Want posts to be read? Keep them very brief. Give basic info to ignite interest and provide a link to the church website for more details.

— Tip No. 3: Add a graphic. Attract more readers by attaching your church logo, event logo, a photo or graphic to posts.

— Tip No. 4: Post regularly. Consider allowing several leaders or members to post. Two or three posts per week would be desirable.

— Tip No. 5: Keep it positive. Never forget that thousands of people may read posts. This is no place for whining. Positive posts convey the emotion and reality of true fellowship and confidence in God.

— Tip No. 6: Connect. Announcements help readers feel connected with the church. Tell about the upcoming men’s breakfast, kids’ camp or Easter celebration. Announce a new Bible class, staff member or benevolence project. Communicate weather cancellations or disaster relief.

— Tip No. 7: Develop a relationship with the reader. Be authentic and encouraging. Tell the story of God at work in your church and in individual lives. Encourage readers to comment or add photos. Their personal enthusiasm and involvement will add excitement and draw readers to your church and to God.

— Tip No. 8: Use video clips. Professional video isn’t necessary; a Flip video camera will do. Record one- or two-minute clips of members sharing life stories about God’s power. An Indiana church posted a hilarious video of a tithing rap. Introduce the upcoming sermon series, peek into a youth Bible class or show senior adults exercising.

— Tip No. 9: Different groups, such as a Bible class, worship team or youth group, could have another Facebook page for communication. My neighbor noticed an announcement from our women’s ministry on my Facebook and asked about attending a Bible study.

— Tip No. 10: Wait a minute before posting. It takes seconds to write a post, and it’s online immediately. Before submitting, re-read carefully to check tone, grammar and spelling. It represents God and His church, so do it very well. Pray for God to use it to touch lives, then hit “post.”

Of course, this doesn’t take the place of face-to-face outreach and fellowship, but it may enhance your church’s impact. Half of active Facebook users log in on any given day. If your church members’ Facebook friends log in tomorrow, will they learn something about what God is doing at your church?

Diana Davis is author of “Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry” (B&H Publishing) and wife of the Indiana Baptist Convention executive director. Visit her website at www.keeponshining.com.