Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Help! What Would You Want in a Church Website?

I need your help. Specifically, I need your comments.

Our church (Chevis Oaks Baptist) will soon be putting together a website. I'm looking forward to this process, but I'm also no expert. We are blessed to have a few members who are technologically savvy. When all is said and done, they will have done most of the work.

As we construct the church website, I want to make sure that it is done well and addresses all important issues. However, I don't want it to be overwhelming. This is a relatively small church that doesn't need a mega-church type of website (like this, this, or especially this).

The site needs to be user-friendly and beneficial for both members and visitors. We will be placing a link entitled "What We Believe" in an obvious location near the top of the main page.

Other than that, I'm not sure what to have on the site. We can get ideas from other church sites, but I'd also like to hear from you. What do you think is helpful on a church website? What do you think is potentially harmful? What is unnecessary?

Please take just a minute or two to hep with this by leaving a comment. Thanks.

14 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

I think the first thing you want to ask yourself is what is the purpose (or purposes) of this web site (this is true for any web site, not just a church web site). Is it informational? Educational? Do you intend for it to be primarily for people who are not familiar with the church? Do you intend for it to be primarily for people who are familiar with the church?

When you answer those questions, you will know what type of information to put on the web site. You may decide that there are multiple purposes. If so, you need to prioritize those purposes.

For example, we do not use our web site much - if at all. There is some general information there. Instead, we wanted to be able to communicate and help build up the church itself. So, we primarily us an email group and facebook so that we can talk about particular service opportunities and share specific prayer requests - things that you may not want on a public forum.

However, if you decide that the primary purpose of your internet presence is to attract people to your meetings, then you may want something geard in that direction.

I hope that helps.

-Alan

Eric said...

Alan,

Thanks a lot. I appreciate the feedback, especially the part about prioritizing.

Jason R. Fisher said...

With some experience in this area I would echo the things Alan said. If you are looking to make a website the outward facing (more for those who are not part of the church already) I would definitely make a podcast part of the site, it allows people to get an idea of what you are all about.

If you are looking to make it for the church private forums for members only can be good, that way people can share. As Alan said you can build in email groups and the like so people can be kept up to date.

just my .02

Eric said...

Jason,

Thanks for the help! I appreciate it. I'll have to see what it takes to set up a podcast.

Pastor Erik DiVietro said...

Our website is more or less a repository for information. Eventually, it will have the "store front" which is the basic info for a visitor (beliefs, staff, contacts, ministries, etc) and then a "back office" for the church members, particularly links to blogs and other churches.

We tried to keep a google group for prayer requests and things; but our culture is not a primarily internet culture when it comes to church (althugh people use it for EVERYTHING else).

Eric said...

Erik,

Thank you for the help. I'll keep the "store front / back office" idea in mind.

Micah said...

Eric,

One of my favorite things about our website at Ephesus Church is the church calander. I can go on the site and see what events are coming up. That way, if I forget what time the men's breakfast is for example, I only need to check the website.

Another good feature is prayer requests. You can submit one to the site and choose whether you want it to post on the site or just go to the elders only.

Or how about links to recent sermons? All the sermons are recorded and posted to sermonaudio.com. The church then puts a link directly to the recent sermons on the church website. This is very useful when you hear a sermon in church that you want to hear again.

Then of course you want all the useful "about us" info such as directions to the church, meeting times, contact info, who the elders and deacons are, what Sunday school classes are available and/or coming up and when and where they meet, who is teaching the classes, church covenant and/or bylaws, etc.

Hope this helps,

Micah

Eric said...

Micah,

Thank you for all the ideas. I'm sure we'll end up using several of these.

Brian said...

Well, if I may say so, don't go cheap - don't use some freeweb deal that can get your site up and going in 1 hour. If your church will allow it - spend some money on a good professionally built website - this will speak well of the church in the long run (at least to outsiders) it could make or break drawing people in.

I suppose if you cannot spend too much if any money I'd say buy a domain name off Wordpress and use that to build a basic site.

Here is one example of a word press based church site: http://www.thenewlifeproject.com/

This guy helps specifically helps churches build websites: http://www.churchhub.com/

RHEA said...

For those that are interested in visiting your church, having the location with a small map and perhaps a Google Maps link is helpful. Also the time of your services and about how long they run. It's also helpful to have a short "run down" of what a service is like...as in what do you DO during a service...do I need to dress up? Things like that. I think that it's also helping having a sort of "our story" type section, explaining the history of the church. If you belong to a denomination or anything like that, it's good to have links to those, and if you support any missionaries and they have blogs or anything, it's nice to link with those too.

When I look at the website of churches that I'm not familiar with, these are all things that I look at.

Booyataa said...

Internet Evangelism Day offers a church website design self-assessment tool which provides a range of ideas and suggestions.

Blessings

Tony

Eric said...

Brian, Rhea, and Tony,

Thanks for all your suggestions. They are a big help. I'm going to keep them all in mind.

Safe Thus Far said...

I don't know if it's appropriate to post a particular example, but . . . this is the website of a very good church near us. Their website is, I believe, the best organized and most useful church website I've seen.

www.gracechapelchurch.info

Blessings,
Susan

Eric said...

Susan,

Thanks! I'll take a look.