Rethinking Church websites

When this article is published, I should be safely on a Delta flight somewhere over the eastern part of the US on my way to Atlanta and then on to Dothan. In other words, it may be a bit before I can interact with your thoughts here but I wanted to get this up anyway. When you think of churches you typically think of steeples, hymns, preaching and offerings. How often, though, do you think of websites? Chances are, if you do think of a website what you have in your mind is not very good. In fact, according to research I've read recently from Richard Reising, only 5% of church websites could be considered as very good. This is a huge problem when you consider that the very same research tells us that somewhere between 80-85% of all 1st time visitors are choosing their churches based on church websites. What does that tell us? It tells that if you will dedicate time/energy/money to your website, you can become an attractive option for 1st time visitors. It also tells us that if you have a top quality website, chances are you will set yourselves apart as one of the only churches in your area with one. In other words, you should be spending as much time/money on your website as you do on your church's appearance (i.e. new carpet, new pews, etc.) Now many of you will argue that websites are too expensive and/or too difficult. I would argue quite to the contrary. Consider, if you will, the website options that are available using Wordpress as a platform. This is a simple to modify option that can create dynamic looking websites that cost little to nothing. As an example, here's a link to the website from my former church. John Stickley and I put this site together at a cost of $95 per year. We managed it ourselves using Wordpress software, which is almost just like using Microsoft Word. Not only does it look good, but it features an audio player, a free podcast, and great interaction between membership. All of this at the ridiculously low cost of less than $100 a year! Not only that, before using it I had almost no experience with Wordpress. My point is that it's easy for a novice to manage. No experience necessary with this option.

Really, though, even if you spend "big dollars" and go for the high end website option, you may spend $5,000 for the site to be built and another $600 a year for the site to be maintained, consider that you are paying for the Content Management System and you are maintaining it yourself. Even then you are spending less than you would spend on a roof or new carpet and when you figure that 85% of your community who is looking for a new church is looking at your website, is that really an expensive option? I know many churches can't/won't spend that money on the high end site but my point is that you don't have to, but if you do it's worth it. Webdesign is going to have become an important value to churches if we want to be accessible to those looking for a place to worship.

What does your website say about you?

Examples of Good Church Sites:

High Cost Sites

Low Cost Sites

Examples of Bad Church Sites: