Archive for website content – Page 2

What member info to post on the site?

See Heal Your Church Web Site: HIPAA (HIPPA), Disclosures and your Church Website for some thoughts and warnings about both website information privacy and prayer chain privacy.

Some basic guidelines are:

  • Photos on our site is considered a privilege, and we respect and honor that privilege.
  • Photos are almost always of people at public events.
  • Embarrassing, objectionable or hurtful will not be used. If someone is shy, we ask them before posting the photo.
  • We don’t put full names of children or youth with photos, we minimize the use of full names of adults.
  • Credit is given for those who took a particular photo if desired by the photographer, and we would certainly honor any copyright wishes or restrictions.
  • We will gladly remove any photo immediately upon request.

Getting Started

Step One: Plan
You will need to describe your audience, define your purpose, prioritize your needs, inventory your assets, and garner organizational support. Develop a set of Web content guidelines that meet the needs of your members for privacy and confidentiality, and also adhere to copyright law.

Step Two: Design
Define the content you’d like to start with, and design site navigation with growth in mind. Do an inventory of site features (e.g. congregation e-mail devotional, calendar with different views, private chat for youth, photo albums for congregation events, blogs for reports from congregational trips, private congregation directory, etc.). This will help when you approach the next step.

Step Three: Select
It might be a good idea to use Web site management software or a “content management system” to develop and maintain their site. Depending on the software or system you select and the features you’ve described in step 2, there may be advantages of one Web hosting plan over another.

Step Four: Maintain
Some things to keep in mind when developing a congregation Web site: If you develop a Web site and never update it, this can reflect on your congregation. You can develop procedures for getting the latest information and making sure old information is updated or removed. Maintenance also means promoting your site by registering in search engines and publishing your Web address everywhere. Maintenance also means checking your site for broken links and missing images. Review your site periodically.

Objections to a Church Website

1. We have other priorities:

The purpose of the church is not to build Web sites. Nor to build sanctuaries, purchase organs or projectors, build buildings, or any of the many activities we regularly take part in. The purpose of the church is to reach those who do not know Christ with the message of salvation and transformation, teach them to live a life of obedience and discipleship, and prepare them for their eternal home. A Web presence, like the other things mentioned above, is simply a means to this end. In that regard, a strong Web presence has the ability to strengthen the church’s evangelism efforts, support its discipleship efforts, and engage congregants in works of service for the sake of the kingdom. It has the power to strengthen community and develop strong communication among its congregants. It can be utilized by the stewardship emphasis, to the missions committee, to the worship team, in order to better serve the Kingdom of God. Just as the printing press made the Protestant Reformation possible, the Internet has give the church at tool which makes it possible to live out our mission to go into all the world and make disciples.

2. It costs too much:

Often this is objection raises its head in the discussion of what particular service to use. Many times it leads to an attempt to find a “free” service. Unfortunately, like anything else, you get what you pay for. The cost of a strong, professional Web ministry depends on a number of factors including type of services sought (do you want audio and video streaming, database enabled services, etc.). As a general rule, a small to medium size church could expect to spend about $20 to $30 a month for web hosting. Consider that over 25 million Americans pay $23 a month for basic Internet service through AOL,, and it’s easy to see that the costs are minimal for a congregation. The cost of not having a high quality Web presence can be much higher. Considering the potential of a high quality Web site to attract new membership, the “reward” of reaching one new member will more than pay for the site in his or her tithes and offerings. Of course, the financial rewards are secondary to the kingdom task of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

3. We are a small church:

Today, a Web presence is an equally essential communications tool. The shift to electronic communications has occurred at every level of society, from rural West Texas, where I recently e-mailed a set of pictures of my new house to my mother, to the largest of cities. Even the smallest churches can receive the benefit of using the Internet for communicating to the congregation. Properly used the costs savings alone can pay for the services. Beyond this, the Internet affords small churches the ability to make themselves known to the community without spending outrageous amounts of money for publicity and advertising. For an example of a small membership church which is using the Web to grow see http://stpaulsgaylord.lutheranweb.net/. This church of under 100 members is actively reaching out to the community in a dynamic way through the use of the Web as a communications tool. Using the Web even a small church can have a large impact on the world.

4. We want our church to stay small:

This is an objection which is almost never verbally expressed, but it is often the root of many objections. There are simply a number of church members who do not want to see their part of the kingdom grow. I mention this here primarily as a warning for what can be lurking behind many other objections. The antidote, of course, is a combination of discipleship and leadership.

5. Our congregation is mostly older:

While it is certainly true that a “Grey Gap” does exist in the use of the Internet, the number of older adults accessing the Internet is growing rapidly. This can be attributed, at least to some extent, to the availability of health information on line as well as the desire to communicate with their children and grandchildren. Furthermore, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the Internet is becoming a more prevalent tool among older adults. It is true that a site designed for older adults would require a different set of priorities and foci, but it is certainly not something that should retard the development of such a site. In fact, the very development of a Web ministry presence could be used to educate older adults in the use of communications tools which could keep them connected with family members Potential younger members will not be able to find your church if there is no Web presence. They do not use the yellow pages to look for anything anymore, they use the Web. If you want to exist in their frame of reference, the Web is essential.

6. We don’t have anyone who knows how to program a Web site:

This is something that can be overcome. Probably the two most difficult elements of Web site design are the graphical interface and the organization of information. Don’t let a lack of programmatic expertise stop you from using this powerful communications too to its fullest potential. Leiturgia Communications will certainly help you program and organize your website.

7. We tried it once and it never stayed updated:

A common experience among churches who have delegated their Web ministry to one volunteer is that they become either overburdened or underappreciated. As a result the site suffers and eventually becomes out of date and unused. Several issues must be addressed in order to sustain a strong presence, the first of which is the building of a Web ministry team. Just like any aspect of ministry it is seldom possible for one person to have all the skills necessary to produce excellence. Have you ever heard a choir of one person? Likewise, a team of people working together is essential to keeping a Web ministry presence updated and current. Beyond this, an appreciation of the importance of the ministry presence throughout the leadership is essential to keeping the site current. Ministry units must be trained to effectively use the Web site as a communications tool; likewise the site must be well publicized and repeatedly promoted in order to keep folks coming back. All of this, of course, requires a team of people to accomplish.

8. We don’t want the Internet to replace the church:

The need for human contact is universal, and the importance of corporate worship, discipleship, and spiritual formation is central to the vision of the Kingdom. Simply put, there is no technological innovation that can never replace the communal power of the church. What a Web ministry presence can do is enhance the ongoing work of face to face ministry by connecting and informing people throughout the week. The Internet cannot make a pastor’s sermons better, but they can allow traveling congregants to listen in when they are away. A Web presence cannot transform a ministry team into a group of strong leaders, but it can extend the reach of the ministry team by allowing them to communicate to each other and the congregation more efficiently. In essence a strong Web ministry presence has the potential to strengthen the already existing ministries of the church bye extending their reach, influence, and efficiency.

9. What about privacy and legal concerns:

Another objection that comes up now and then is the issue of protecting people’s privacy. This is an important thing to consider when establishing a Web ministry presence; policies and standards should be developed to address congregant concerns. For example, if you are going to post pictures it is wise to establish standards for picture use, especially when minors are involved. Policies do not have to be complex; they simply need to express how you will protect people’s privacy. While these issues are important and it is important to work through them intentionally and strategically, they are not enough to derail moving forward.

10. The Internet is not personal:

The Internet is by its very nature an impersonal medium. Even when engaging in activities such as instant messaging and chat rooms, there is a wall of separation between the people communicating. That having been said careful planning in developing a Web ministry can maximize the “personality” of the church and help establish connections which can be made in the “real world”.

The basic goal of all of this should be to move people from an introduction to the church to connection with the church.

PROMOTE YOUR CHURCH WEBSITE


Here are a few suggestions that will go a long way.

1. Get a Facebook account and register your blog at Facebook’s Networked Blogs page. You can encourage other Facebook users to share your blog posts.

2. Use Google’s webmaster tools to ensure that Google will spider and list your blog.

3. Have Facebook, Twitter and other social networking options on your website.

4. Use tags and descriptive titles for your page header. Search engines love lots of dialogue.

5. Create a Facebook Fan Page for your blog. Then invite your Facebook friends to become fans. Be careful how you choose to classify it. When you have 25+ fans, you can go to
http://www.facebook.com/username to choose a shortened username for the fan page.

Some thoughts on Pastors who blog

Develop  Associations. A blog is basically an opportunity to exchange ideas and interact with those of similar interests. Blogging encourages feedback, questions, and discussions where everyone feels free to share. Pastors find blogs helpful, they begin to appreciate and comprehend what’s going on with those they’re trying to get in touch with.

Embracing the common. You don’t need a masterpiece. Blogs support posts about everyday experiences and help others to center on the important parts of everyday life.

Pastors are like the rest of us. Pastors have the opportunity to share their persona, wit, and passions. A pastor can be seen as someone who loves to help, write and visit.

Contact the lost. It often is very difficult to attract people to church; blogging is a different story. Many are in search of answers and are comfortable doing so blogging. The fact is: blogs are within society accepted.

Outside the stain glass. Blogs as available world-wide and a pastor can gain a following independent of the local congregation. While many members may subscribe to the blog there is an opportunity for new subscribers from beyond the church.

Many want help and advice. Confusion reigns, advertisements and untrustworthy sources are the norm of the day. Clergy are often in a situation where they can recommend literature, studies, counsel, and behaviors that will help others. Blogging is a wonderful way to exchange helpful recommendations.

A diversion. Blogging can provide an opportunity to decompress and a great way to release emotions and express feelings.

It is a process. Writing for a blog can help you organize your thoughts.  Without a time schedule blogging provides an opportunity to journal thoughts.

Virtual benefits. Blogging is concerned with substance and the interactive experience. Personal interaction can be distracted by appearance, first impressions and even mannerisms.

Objections to a Church Website

1. We have other priorities:

The purpose of the church is not to build Web sites.   Nor to build sanctuaries, purchase organs or projectors, build buildings, or any of the many activities we regularly take part in.  The purpose of the church is to reach those who do not know Christ with the message of salvation and transformation, teach them to live a life of obedience and discipleship, and prepare them for their eternal home.  A Web presence, like the other things mentioned above, is simply a means to this end.  In that regard, a strong Web presence has the ability to strengthen the church’s evangelism efforts, support its discipleship efforts, and engage congregants in works of service for the sake of the kingdom.  It has the power to strengthen community and develop strong communication among its congregants.  It can be utilized by the stewardship emphasis, to the missions committee, to the worship team, in order to better serve the Kingdom of God.  Just as the printing press made the Protestant Reformation possible, the Internet has give the church at tool which makes it possible to live out our mission to go into all the world and make disciples.

2. It costs too much:

Often this is objection raises its head in the discussion of what particular service to use.  Many times it leads to an attempt to find a “free” service.  Unfortunately, like anything else, you get what you pay for.  The cost of a strong, professional Web ministry depends on a number of factors including type of services sought (do you want audio and video streaming, database enabled services, etc.).  As a general rule, a small to medium size church could expect to spend about $20 to $30 a month for web hosting.  Consider that over 25 million Americans pay $23 a month for basic Internet service through AOL,, and it’s easy to see that the costs are minimal for a congregation. The cost of not having a high quality Web presence can be much higher.   Considering the potential of a high quality Web site to attract new membership, the “reward” of reaching one new member will more than pay for the site in his or her tithes and offerings.  Of course, the financial rewards are secondary to the kingdom task of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

3. We are a small church: 

Today, a Web presence is an equally essential communications tool.  The shift to electronic communications has occurred at every level of society, from rural West Texas, where I recently e-mailed a set of pictures of my new house to my mother, to the largest of cities. Even the smallest churches can receive the benefit of using the Internet for communicating to the congregation.  Properly used the costs savings alone can pay for the services.  Beyond this, the Internet affords small churches the ability to make themselves known to the community without spending outrageous amounts of money for publicity and advertising.  For an example of a small membership church which is using the Web to grow see http://stpaulsgaylord.lutheranweb.net/. This church of under 100 members is actively reaching out to the community in a dynamic way through the use of the Web as a communications tool.  Using the Web even a small church can have a large impact on the world. 

4. We want our church to stay small:

This is an objection which is almost never verbally expressed, but it is often the root of many objections.  There are simply a number of church members who do not want to see their part of the kingdom grow.  I mention this here primarily as a warning for what can be lurking behind many other objections.  The antidote, of course, is a combination of discipleship and leadership. 

5. Our congregation is mostly older:

While it is certainly true that a “Grey Gap” does exist in the use of the Internet, the number of older adults accessing the Internet is growing rapidly.  This can be attributed, at least to some extent, to the availability of health information on line as well as the desire to communicate with their children and grandchildren.  Furthermore, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the Internet is becoming a more prevalent tool among older adults.  It is true that a site designed for older adults would require a different set of priorities and foci, but it is certainly not something that should retard the development of such a site.  In fact, the very development of a Web ministry presence could be used to educate older adults in the use of communications tools which could keep them connected with family members Potential younger members will not be able to find your church if there is no Web presence.  They do not use the yellow pages to look for anything anymore, they use the Web.  If you want to exist in their frame of reference, the Web is essential.

6. We don’t have anyone who knows how to program a Web site:

This is something that can be overcome.  Probably the two most difficult elements of Web site design are the graphical interface and the organization of information. Don’t let a lack of programmatic expertise stop you from using this powerful communications too to its fullest potential. Leiturgia Communications will certainly help you program and organize your website.

7. We tried it once and it never stayed updated:

A common experience among churches who have delegated their Web ministry to one volunteer is that they become either overburdened or underappreciated.  As a result the site suffers and eventually becomes out of date and unused.  Several issues must be addressed in order to sustain a strong presence, the first of which is the building of a Web ministry team.  Just like any aspect of ministry it is seldom possible for one person to have all the skills necessary to produce excellence.  Have you ever heard a choir of one person?  Likewise, a team of people working together is essential to keeping a Web ministry presence updated and current.  Beyond this, an appreciation of the importance of the ministry presence throughout the leadership is essential to keeping the site current.  Ministry units must be trained to effectively use the Web site as a communications tool; likewise the site must be well publicized and repeatedly promoted in order to keep folks coming back.  All of this, of course, requires a team of people to accomplish.

8. We don’t want the Internet to replace the church:

The need for human contact is universal, and the importance of corporate worship, discipleship, and spiritual formation is central to the vision of the Kingdom.  Simply put, there is no technological innovation that can never replace the communal power of the church.  What a Web ministry presence can do is enhance the ongoing work of face to face ministry by connecting and informing people throughout the week.  The Internet cannot make a pastor’s sermons better, but they can allow traveling congregants to listen in when they are away.  A Web presence cannot transform a ministry team into a group of strong leaders, but it can extend the reach of the ministry team by allowing them to communicate to each other and the congregation more efficiently.  In essence a strong Web ministry presence has the potential to strengthen the already existing ministries of the church bye extending their reach, influence, and efficiency. 

9. What about privacy and legal concerns:

Another objection that comes up now and then is the issue of protecting people’s privacy.  This is an important thing to consider when establishing a Web ministry presence; policies and standards should be developed to address congregant concerns.  For example, if you are going to post pictures it is wise to establish standards for picture use, especially when minors are involved.  Policies do not have to be complex; they simply need to express how you will protect people’s privacy.  While these issues are important and it is important to work through them intentionally and strategically, they are not enough to derail moving forward. 

10. The Internet is not personal:

The Internet is by its very nature an impersonal medium.  Even when engaging in activities such as instant messaging and chat rooms, there is a wall of separation between the people communicating.  That having been said careful planning in developing a Web ministry can maximize the “personality” of the church and help establish connections which can be made in the “real world”. 

The basic goal of all of this should be to move people from an introduction to the church to connection with the church.

Benefits of a Church Website

Benefits of a Website

A church website is  the finest tools for attracting new members. Current studies have revealed that when people move to a new area they seek out churches they would like to attend by searching the web. Having a church website you will make it possible for visitors to find you,  get service times  and location of your church.

Have you printed letters, brochures and suddenly noticed a misprint? The church website is easy and quick to revise. The community accessing your website get the most current and up to date information.

Your church website is one of the best ways to connect to the community and congregation. The number of people using the internet has increased exponentially!

Those on the internet write email, engage in social media, enjoy games and video’s and use  applications for all types of activates. It’s particularly essential congregations embrace the social elements of the internet. Your church website can provide  photos, audio, video, useful links and the latest news and surveys to engage the membership.

Your ministry could be very exciting! The methods the community is  communicating today, church websites will play an important function of the congregation. Church websites connect with the membership , the community, shut-ins, college students, those  traveling and are now alumni of the church. Touching lives every day of the year.

Improve Content

Improve your content: give users the information they want.
Review the information presented on your site with your purpose and different users in mind:

  • Those who don’t know you – they will be looking for general “about us” information, service times, directions, and general contact information.
  • Those who attend your ministry will be looking for event information, involvement opportunities, and contact information for ministry leaders.

Look at how the information on your site is presented.  Generally, it should be brief, clear, and easy to navigate.  Content should be up-to-date.  (Remove last week’s announcements!) 
Making sure your content is fresh and focused isn’t expensive; it just takes some time and attention.

Church website content that is a must.

Visitors’ page

 It will save them trawling through pages of information to piece together the bits they want and it will make them feel special and welcomed.

Explanation of the Christian faith

Let people know what the church believes, in simple jargon-free language.

Sunday services

Every church website should contain basic information about the Sunday services.

How to find you

Show where you are so that people can come and find you!

Contact details

It is easy to provide contact details for your church minister and church office

Church website ideas that need to be thought about.

Long download times

Websites filled with graphics may look appealing when you view them on your own computer, but when users access them they can take ages to download. Although more and more people are getting fast (broadband) Internet connections many people still use slow modems. Remember, most people won’t hang around on a slow website.

So, if you want people to find out more about your church then make sure that the website runs quickly. The best way to do this is to avoid too many graphics. Photos are fine, and they help to show who you are, but if you have lots then place them on a special “pictures” page so that people can choose whether or not to view them.

Special effects

Some ‘cool’ features of websites, such as day-glow flashing text, ‘hilarious’ whizzy animations or innovative menu systems, are just irritating. It has been shown that most visitors ignore all these special effects, and will leave your site if they can’t find what they want quickly.

Ugly site design

There is a common misconception that a ‘techie computer person’ or someone with a degree in computer science is the ideal person to make a church website. This is so often far from the truth. Making a good website requires a range of skills including artistic design, communications and technical abilities. In truth few people have all these, which is why there are so many truly ugly church websites. If you don’t have someone with a flair for artistic design to work alongside your technical people then you may come unstuck. Ugly site design can be solved by using a template-driven site development system (as long as they have a good range of templates and one suitable for your church).

Homebrew navigation systems

For some reason technical people often think it would be really clever to do something no one else has ever done before. Every once in a blue moon this new idea is fantastic, but more than likely the reason that it hasn’t been done is actually because it doesn’t work well.

Why make things complicated for your visitors by forcing them to work out how to use some unique menu system? A simple menu  is the best standard.