In the developed world, having a church website is a given. Most of us instinctively know this.
But why? Why are church websites important, and how does the answer inform how you construct your site?
These principles spell the difference between inviting someone to join your church’s mission and communicating (accidentally), “Please don’t come here.”
Here are three reasons church websites are important—and corresponding takeaways for building your site.
1. Church websites establish credibility
Google churches in your area (or any city), and open a few of the results. Just try it.
What impressions do you have before you even read a word? You probably regard some churches as being more established or relevant just based on how their site looks.
Now, churches aren’t about pretty websites. They’re about worshipping the Lord, fellowship, and spreading the gospel.
But a well-designed website communicates a certain responsibility and care, and it forms an impression that the church takes itself seriously. If you were to have coffee with someone who was new to town and wanted to chat about your church, you wouldn’t meet them wearing a loud plaid suit, jelly stains on your tie, and no shoes.
The same concept applies to your website. We’re so accustomed to quality media that a site with bad fonts, outdated design, and typos leaves just as bad of an impression.
When you see a well-made church website, you subliminally think, “This church cares about excellence. I bet they care about doing ministry well, too.”
Again, a church can have a terrible website—or not even have a site—and be the most loving, warm, gospel-preaching church in town. (The opposite is also true: a church’s website can be the best thing about it.)
But if a lousy website turns people off from visiting the church, then that warmth and truth misses out on an opportunity to bless someone.
In a time when people Google just about any place before getting in their car, your church’s website is your first impression. What does it say about you?
Takeaway: Have a professional-looking site. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, and you don’t need to hire a professional designer. In fact, you can get a professionally designed website free through Faithlife Sites. It even optimizes your site to make it easy to find on Google.
2. Church websites inform visitors
Once the first impression is made, your church website is still responsible for the second, third, fourth, and fiftieth impressions.
People will poke around.
They’ll look at your What We Believe page. They’ll look at your Staff page. They’ll look to see if you have a ministry for children or youth. They’ll check out your small groups.
They’ll try to find sermons to watch or listen to.
In short, they will try to form an impression of your church in just a few minutes.
And that’s not necessarily bad. Some people will ask, “What can this church do for me?” (not so good), but others will ask, “Can I genuinely grow here and join this church’s mission?”
So tell people who you are. If you’re not the right fit, that’s fine. It’s your job to be accurate, not give a sales pitch.
I went searching for a new church after moving across the country. One church’s website caught my attention because of the language it used to describe its mission and values. It resonated with me. And then I noticed they had a “Good Books” section, and that it featured many of my favorite authors and books. “These folks are kindred spirits,” I thought. It was confirmed when I visited, and it’s still being confirmed. Their website was accurate.
Takeaway: Provide the information people are looking for, and make it easy to find. That’s harder than it sounds. Lean on people who design websites for a living, like the makers of Faithlife Sites, who specialize in creating affordable technology for churches.
3. Church websites encourage engagement
After someone has visited your church, your website is still a helpful resource.
In fact, whether they’re first-time visitors or regular attenders—even if they’re part of your church’s communication group—they may still turn to your website.
When they do, it’s because they want to engage.
- An announcement in the service catches their ear. “I’ll look into that on the church website.”
- Something in the sermon really moves them. “I’ll go online later and listen to that again.”
- They want to grab coffee with the pastor. “I’ll find his email online.”
Often when someone wants to get more involved, their first thought is, “I’ll look online.” Sometimes the most plugged-in members will look to the church website—church elders, too.
And when they land on your website, they expect information to be up-to-date, as all credible websites are. (And as a new person eager to get involved, the less I have to chase down information myself, the more likely I am to jump in.)
In the internet age, we are conditioned to look online for just about everything. That is why you need a church website.
Takeaway: Get a church website that keeps itself updated. That’s how Faithlife Sites works. It takes the work you do every week—like creating bulletins or keeping a calendar—and automatically pushes it to your church website. You have total control, but you don’t have to write a line of code.
In the developed world, church websites aren’t optional. Without one, you lose credibility, miss an opportunity to engage visitors, and block efforts at getting more involved.
With one, you throw the doors wide open for someone to visit your church, find community, and join you in worship.
For more church website building tips, download the free ebook Church Websites 101. You’ll learn more principles for visitor- and member-friendly church websites, how to get your church website to show up higher in Google searches, and more. You can also get started with a free church website now through Faithlife Sites.