Should you work with a company that is explicitly Christian, or opt for one that is not? Yes they may understand your situation better, but are you missing out on a great company just because they don't have a cross in their logo? This article will outline several pros and cons of considering any, or specifically Christian web services.
Web agencies can assist you in creating an overall communications strategy; including branding, logos, websites, printed materials, offline advertising, etc. Depending on their size, some smaller shops may just focus websites. Either way, you will be communicating your business objectives you wish to accomplish with your web property. As you can no doubt guess, there are some pros and cons to utilizing a company that caters to churches and/or non-profit groups.
- Goals: A Christian website company should understand your goals more easily than one that is not. They get that it is primarily an organization that provides services, but also one that sells the idea of faith in Christ.
- Price: Typically, companies that cater to churches will have a lower price point. They are often making church websites because they are believers. They want to make a living, and further God's Kingdom as well.
- Prayer: Depending on the comfort levels, the ability to pray with your website agency should be a great benefit. With both groups focused on the same thing, there is no telling the success you can have.
- Skills: Not to say that a Christian company would not have the right skill-sets, but by opening up your employee base to every walk of life; you are bound to attract more talent. There may be talents, technologies, or tools available to you that may not exist anywhere else.
- Experience: Again, while Christian companies may have great experience working with other churches; they are often used to solving only certain types of problems. With a wider client base, other companies may have already solved a problem you consider unique to your church. This will be true if you are trying to create something no other church has thought of.
From social media to streaming video providers, you have many options to consider. These services will help distribute your content and ensure it is delivered to an audience you need to reach. Depending on that audience, that service may be nailing or completely missing your target market.
- Specific Tools: Some mechanisms are custom tailored to deliver sermons and short messages both on your website and on their specific channels. They may be very user friendly and possibly even consider your volunteer workforce.
- Support: Troubleshooting problems specific to a church will be a niche specialty for a Christian service. They should better understand your requests and how to correct any problems.
- Safety: Many Christian services are considered more safe than the rest of the Wild West of the Internet. Parents are more likely to let their child browse a series of kids sermons rather than the random and often unfiltered content that can show up in other spaces.
- Reach: Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have an astounding reach to all sorts of audiences. Despite the best efforts of Christian-based social media tools, they pale in comparison to the reach the others possess. Considering that a common target audience is the un-churched, you need to go where they are; not the other way around.
- Features: Companies that are worth billions of dollars tend to invest more money into their services. They can conduct more rounds of usability testing to ensure they work properly. Plus they have analytics data to justify a new or altered feature that may be just what your church could use.
- Cross Pollination: One of the benefits of being on the major social media outlets is that they tend to play well with each other. You can post an event on Twitter and have it automatically shoot to Facebook. You can have Pinterest posts populate to your Twitter feed. This cross pollination allows users of one platform to enjoy updates posted on another.
Examine the pros and cons of utilizing both Christian and non-Christian agencies and services. All four scenarios have their merits, and it is up to your and your church leadership to decide what to decide upon. Please consider all of these factors, and more, as you craft a web experience that many people will consume. As you strive to reach your target markets; consider the agencies that will build the experience, and the services that will support it over the long haul.
Photo courtesy of Colin Brough