The primary objective of your church website is most likely to invite people to join your congregation. You give them times and locations; then hope they come walking through your door. If they show the interest in attending a service or function; have the courtesy to remove all their obstacles. Read this article to get 6 tips on how your website can help facilitate this:
Let us think about all of the obstacles and how to display them on your website. The later is easier with the help of a digital camera or smart phone. Take photos or record video; posting a series of photos on your site, or upload them to YouTube for everyone to view. The obstacles I have thought of are as follows:
What if they do not have a car? What buses or other mass transit service your area? What are the walking directions from the bus stop? Is there a carpool service? What about elderly shut-ins? Many people who are seeking Jesus are down on their luck and may be without many first world luxuries. So do not always assume people will drive to your church. Show photos of the bus stop, and the path they need to walk to get to your church.
Your potential member drives to your church. What do they do with their car? Where do they park? Even if you have clear signs as to where they can park, provide information on your website about the parking lot. Display images of parking lot schematics, or post series of pictures that show what the church and its parking lot look like from the road; or use video as mentioned before. Record footage from both directions of the road, and remember to rely on someone in your passenger seat to record this!
Churches are often large buildings with many doors surrounding it. What entrance do they use? Use the same tactics of photos and/or video to show people what door to walk to, and what to expect. Are there stairs? Do you have wheelchair ramps? Is there an elevator? Map these out as not everyone has two fully functioning legs. A good clear photo of the door may help more people than you realize.
What if they are a family with young children? Do you have a children’s ministry or Sunday school? If so, you might want to show where they can go to check in and drop off their children, as well as the process your church has. Demonstrate the safety and security measures you have in place to protect their children. You may want to also demonstrate the check out process so they understand what will be required of them.
What can your potential member expect once they walk through that door? Is there a welcoming committee? Walk people through the entire process of their first visit and you will be providing the customer service they need to feel welcome and comfortable in their new surroundings. Will they be shown where to sit? Are they given any newcomer literature? Again, you can use a smart phone to record what is like to be greeted, where the service will take place, and where they can sit.
Finally, you might want to outline what will happen once they find their seat. What is the usual order of the service? Knowing when to sit down and stand up may make them feel more at ease. If there if there is a lot of up and down, perhaps some people with bad legs can find accommodations to help them move better. Whatever information you can provide will make it easier and more comfortable for them.
Consider all of the steps a person must go through the first few times they attend your church. You may be very comfortable with all of the processes because you have done it for years. Take nothing for granted, and use the luxury of technology to photograph and video the experience; then post it on your website where newcomers can easily find it. Then watch as new members calmly walk in and navigate your church's geography and processes with ease!
Photo courtesy of Ian Streeter