Unlike businesses where website ideas, processes and platforms are guarded secrets; it should be the opposite for churches. Sharing ideas and best practices will help further the Gospel. We are not in competition with one another, but should provide a united front against our true enemy. In this article I will discuss a few ways you can help churches around the world make better websites.
Just like member testimonies helping demonstrate Christ's love in their life, your church website's testimony can show other churches how they can strengthen their online ministry. Below are 5 pieces of content you can create to help other churches with their online endeavors.
Although this may feel boastful, showing the evolution of your site may be very helpful. Do not just talk about what you did; incorporate what pitfalls you encountered and what got you out of the mess. Did a volunteer step forward to fill a vacancy, did you recover from a PR nightmare, or did God step in with a miracle? Much like a believer’s testimony, your website’s story may inspire someone else to persevere through a similar tragedy.
I press churches to create web strategy and content strategy documents; so why not post them for all to see? Show them why the content on your website exists, what message it is supposed to convey, and who maintains it. Although I previously said no to PDF documents, this is a good place to utilize them.
Do you use a content management system (CMS)? If so, which one? What programming languages do you utilize? Do you account for mobile or tablet layouts with responsive design? Do not keep your methods a secret. Although many visitors will see this as “techno garbly gook”, your website developers will eat it right up!
What social media platforms does your website integrate with? Do you post photos to Pinterest, status updates to Twitter, and testimonials on Facebook? Many CMS’s us API’s to connect to these social media outlets, so tell the world what ones you utilize. If you have a specific strategy about what content you send out on what channel, or even what time you schedule these updates; do not keep them to yourself.
Do you use paid applications like Adobe Photoshop for your graphics work, or have you learned how to use the much cheaper GIMP? Do you schedule tweets and Facebook posts with TweetDeck, or does a staff member publish them at certain times. Some web developers live and die by Adobe Dreamweaver, but have you found a cheaper HTML editor like Notepad++? Another money saver might be using Google Docs or OpenOffice instead of paying for Microsoft Office. Be sure to pro and con your decision so users know what they are getting into.
Dedicate at least one small section in your About Us to tell everyone about your website. Be sure to include content from at least one of these bullet points. You never know what emerging church can glean from your story to help it gain momentum.
Note: This article was inspired by Mars Hill Church and the great history section of their website.
Photo courtesy of Bob Smith