Communications Toolbox: The Church Website
by Janis Greenbaum, Director of Communications
The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri
Churches have a variety of tools at our disposal to communicate our message to the public. But perhaps no tool is as important as your church website. Your website serves as a front door to visitors and a resource for members. I encourage all of our parishes to make your website the center of all your church communications.
Here are a few reasons why websites are so important:
- Nearly everyone looking for a church will search online before ever stepping foot into your building. Newcomers will make judgments about your church within the first few seconds of arriving at your website.
- The website serves as a source of news, a connection to community, and a giving portal for all attending your church.
Here's the catch: a good church website must be well-maintained. As Lisa Brown, Director of Digital Ministry for Membership Vision says, "Your website isn't just a chest of drawers -- it's NOT static, it's dynamic." Keeping your website updated with current and accurate information is imperative.
So how do we build and maintain an engaging, honest, and useful website? Here are some best practices to consider:
- Your website must be mobile-friendly. A responsive design automatically transforms your content to fit whatever tool your viewer is using. Responsive websites move your content from desktop or laptop computers... to tablets... to smart phones.
- Your home page must have vital, accurate information. Make sure the following info is obvious to find:
- church name (be sure to use "Episcopal" in the name)
- church address (include city and state)
- phone number
- email address
- worship times
- Your website should be relational, not transactional. Use pictures of people and tell real stories about your parish. What is your parish known for in your community? What do you want the community to know about your parish? What makes your parish special?
- Update your website regularly. If your worship times are changing for a holiday - make sure you list the correct time. If you offer online worship, make the latest videos available. If you change your contact email, make sure you you edit your site. Feature special seasonal events or opportunities. Don't give out bad information!
- Please mention our Diocese and The Episcopal Church. We are all part of a larger community! Please provide links to the following on your site (not necessarily on the home page):
- Offer an online giving opportunity. There are many companies that provide online payment services you can easily embed in your site.
- Decide on your content first... then let the content help with your design.
- Look at other church websites as examples. What do you like... what don't you like... what ideas might work for your church?
- First Fridays workshop: Websites, January 7, 2022
with guest presenter Lisa Brown, Director of Digital Ministry for Membership Vision
If you are looking for a professional website company, I can personally recommend the following:
- Membership Vision: https://www.membershipvision.com/ contact Lisa Brown: [email protected]
*Run by people who understand the Episcopal Church!
- WebSanity: https://websanity.com/ contact Jans Carton: [email protected]
*St. Louis-based company
Here’s a great series of posts by the Rev. Scott Gunn from Forward Movement with really basic, but important website design tips – the articles are a little dated (2017), but still have a lot of important ideas:
- Thirteen Commandments for Church Websites: http://www.sevenwholedays.org/2017/02/15/church-websites-1/
- Make great websites for cheap! https://www.sevenwholedays.org/2017/02/18/church-websites- 2/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+seven wholedays+%28Seven+whole+days%29
- How to kill your church by misusing the internet (what not to do!): https://www.sevenwholedays.org/2017/02/23/church-websites-3/
This article is part of a series of resources for communicators in The Diocese of Missouri. For additional information or assistance with your church website, please contact Communications Director Janis Greenbaum.