K Town Design BlogSmall Church Solutions
Website Planning for Churches Part 3
This is the final part of website planning for churches series. Following this I will be making a video reviewing various church websites and see if they meet the needs that we have established in this series.
In the first two parts of this series we talked about the need for a church website and what a visitor is looking for when they visit your website. Are the basic rules of design there? Who am I? Where am I? and what do I believe, what do I offer and a call to action.
Today we are going to talk about our members and attenders. They already know the answers to the above because they are already members or are attending on a regular basis.
So, what are members looking for on a web site, basically falls into two basic categories. They are either looking for information or resources.
What events are coming up, what time are the events? What groups or ministries are available that I may be interested in participating in? For example, the small group for young mothers meets on Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM. They have a devotional and this month they are reading a book on how to teach your children to pray. The men have a Bible study on the Book of Mark and then they are going to talk about how to be a better husbands and leaders. They meet on Thursday night at the Chick Filet on Highway 150 at 7:00 PM. You get the general idea. When is the next mission trip, what will it cost, and who do I see for more information? I need to get in touch with Bob Smith, what is his email address and phone number. Is there easy access to the church directory and is personal information secure.
Another thing is for facility reservations or asset reservations. I need to use the Fellowship Hall on Saturday afternoon for my daughter’s birthday party. Is it available and how do I reserve it?
Another thing members need is access to resources. Do you have the church bulletin for next Sunday available? Can I find a copy of new and past newsletters that I can review? What is the nursery policy? I want to study the Westminster Confession, where can I find it? What does the Book of Church Order say about officer nominations and where can I find a copy? I want to download a copy of my small group study guide. I want to watch or hear the sermon from last Sunday when I was out of town.
Suppose the Pastor wants to expand on a topic of his sermon last Sunday. A pastor’s blog is a wonderful place to do that. A pastor’s blog is also a great resource for visitors too. Blogs also, rank well on search engines because they are usually specific on a certain subject that people search for on the internet. It establishes credibility on the internet for your church and your pastor.
Much More to Consider
There is much more to designing websites that is important, such as keywords for search engines, back links and internal links and external links that affect your Google ranking. I would be happy to talk to you about it if you have any questions. As I said earlier in the series, I feel God has called me to a ministry to serve Him using the technology that He gave us. My advice is free and if you want to talk just give me a call or book a time and I will call you. You can book a consult at https://ktowndesign.com/contact-me . It is free and I would be happy to help you any way I can.
God Bless you my Brothers and Sisters and let’s grow His Kingdom until the Return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Church Websites For Visitors
In Our Previous post, we talked about your focus, does your church have a well-defined mission. We also discussed the need to know who is in your community and who you are trying to reach. Today, we are going to talk about the beginning the planning of your website.
Matthew 5: 13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Get A Visitor Perspective
Take a step back and look at your church from the perspective of a potential visitor. What would you like to know about your church if you were considering visiting?
First you would want to know where you are located and what time your services are. Then you would want to know what your church believes. Then possibly the size of the church. What opportunities do you offer to grow my faith and knowledge and that of my family? What is your worship style, here the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies and a video is worth millions of words, is even more true? Who is the Pastor and who are the leaders? How should I dress. Casual or more formal? You probably would want to listen to an audio or watch a video of at least a sermon. Then if I have decided to visit, what can I expect and, don’t laugh, but where are the restrooms?
Give Virtual Tour of Your Church
For visitors, you need a special section or page where you lead a prospective visitor through a virtual tour of your church from the point they enter your parking lot to when they leave. For example, do you have visitor parking spaces, what door should I enter. Where is the handicap entrance and is there a ramp for easy access? Is there going to be someone at the door to greet me and answer any questions? Is there a bulletin available for me to see ahead of time? Then finally you need to guide them to an action. This can be to fill out a contact form for more information, a phone number to call or to click on a map for driving directions. Another consideration, do you want lead them to a signup form for a newsletter and event announcements? An email list is golden. Even if they do not visit your church now, if you notify them latter of a future event then that may bring them to your campus. Then every time they are on your campus gives you another opportunity to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the service is there a fellowship time, is there a meet the pastor time or luncheon. Information allows people to plan and know what to expect and that makes people more comfortable and more likely to visit. Just think of how you felt when you visited a new church for the first time. Wasn’t it a little stressful?
Serve as Christ Served Us
We are here to Worship God and to serve others as Christ served us. We need to welcome the stranger and the lost so that they too may partake of the bread and drink of the feast of our salvation. My brothers and sisters Preach and Teach the Gospel above all other things. Use every tool at hand given by God to make Him Known to the desperately lost and those seeking Him. Share the Good News with excitement and joy!
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
I think to maintain my goal of keeping this short, we will talk about how to serve our members and how we plan our websites to achieve that for next week.
God, Bless You ALL
Church Website Step 1
Pray, then pray some more then have your members pray for God’s wisdom and will for your church. After you finish that then go Pray again, I am serious, that is the most important thing you can do.
Websites for churches are very different than a business website but also have many things in common.
Website for a business?
- A business website is designed to bring people to buy your product
- A business website is designed to drive customers to your location
- A business website is designed to make people aware of your business and your services.
- A business website is designed with a lot of thought and planning
- A business website needs to be well planned and designed so people can easily find what they are seeking.
- A business website targets your customer avatar to those most likely to purchase from you.
- A business website needs to be easily found on Google and other search engines.
Website for a church:
- A church website needs to bring people to seek Christ
- A church website is designed to bring people to your campus
- A church website needs to make people aware of your church and your service and missions
- A church website needs to be well planned and designed so people can find easily about your church.
- A church website should be targeting your community likely to attend your services
- A church website needs to be easily found on Google and other search engines.
Wait a minute, those are not major differences, in fact they are very similar in some respects. The only difference is what we offer has a permanent warranty, is free, but more important than any product or service it will last for an eternity. It will never disappoint you and will never fail you. Our Christ will comfort you when you are sad and He will bring you peace when you are mad.
As I said in my previous post, we need to use today’s technology to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Today almost every person has a computer or smartphone. People under 70 frequently use the internet to search for information. New people moving into town are likely use the internet to find a church before choosing one to visit.
How do I get started?
The first thing you need to do is sit down from the perspective of someone who does not have a clue who you are and where your campus is located. Think from the prospective of a new person, who has moved into town, and is looking for a church home. You need to think like a prospective new member. What groups are available to best serve them and where can they can serve. Do a lot of planning and then do more planning. I cannot stress it enough, planning before you do anything else, before you write one word of content. A church website needs to almost be two sites that are interlinked. One for the potential visitor and another for the member who needs information or resources.
Who are These People?
You cannot get everyone in the world into your front door, so you need to think about who in your community you are trying to serve. You will get an idea by looking at your current members. Are they mostly in their 60’s or are they young families in their 20’s and 30’s. What type music do they like? Do they dress in coats and ties or more casual? Who makes up the community around you? Most people are not going to drive 50 miles to attend your church, so look in a 1-20 mile radius.
What is your message?
The message is already given, Preach and Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If that is not what you are doing, then you need to find your foundation again. Does your church have a vision statement or mission statement that is clear to everyone? At Shearer Presbyterian Church, ours is “Knowing Christ and Making Him Known to Our Community and the World”. Your vision statement is the general focus for your website. Everything on it should lead or point to that vision. It makes you unique from any other church. If you do not have a vision statement, then do one as soon as possible. It gives you focus for all you do in your particular church.
I hope you find these insights useful and enlightening. My point is don’t just throw up a website and hope for the best. It can be a huge asset to your church. I am trying to keep these post short, so, not to bore you too much at one time.
David Christian, RE
Part 2 next week will be on an expansion on planning a website
Feeding His Sheep Through Technology for Small to Medium Churches
The world today is full of sin and evil. This is very evident every time we turn on our electronic devices. The promotion of sin on television seems to be on almost every program. Throughout the internet pornography is readily available at the click of a mouse. Satan is alive and doing well in our society. It seems that Jesus Christ Church is having a less and less influence on society as God’s way is rejected for the ways of immorality and sin.
All Things are From God and are Good
In today’s world, how does Christ’s church compete with such an exposure to sin? Well I only know what the scriptures tell me in Romans 11: 36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” What does this tell me? It tells me that today’s technology is to be used to Glorify God and to carry out the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” So, if all things were from God then so was technology. So, this leaves the question of how does His Church use technology as a tool to “Feed His Sheep”, especially for the small and medium church who only staff is the Pastor and a part time secretary?
The area of using modern technology for the glorification of God is an area to which I feel God has called me to minister to small to medium sized churches. I am a Ruling Elder in a church whose membership is 130 communing members. We depend on volunteers and their families to do the work of the church. My plan is to help share the knowledge that I have gained, through a series of blogs to help you use what has been given to you, by God to reach outside your walls, to your community and the world for Christ. I spent my career as an engineer in the medical technology and since my retirement have started a small web design company. I have been designing websites for over seven years and have some knowledge of IT and video technology. At our church, we have gone from having little outreach other than a small inefficient drag and drop website to one of reaching the community and the world through live stream, video and a monthly professionally done bluegrass venue with sound stage and lighting in our fellowship hall. However, one word of caution, we are Christ Church and everything we do is to be centered around presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If what we are doing is not centered around that, then we have no business doing it.
In my next blog, hopefully next week, I will share with you the proper way to put together a website that is meaningful to both potential visitors and for members. There is a lot of research and thought that goes into producing a productive and useful website. Your website can be your window to your community where you can see the world and the world can get a glimpse of Christ’s Church through your website’s window. It should be an inviting view.
Until then may God bless you and your church and may you serve our Lord and Savior in a way that is pleasing to him.
Matthew 5: 14-15
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. “
When does Search Engine Optimization make sense?
You can spend a lot of money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but does it always make sense? It depends, on the market you are in. WordPress the primary Content Management System (CMS) is already pretty darn good at SEO. The amount you spend on SEO can get rather large if you hire a company that specializes in SEO. Well my answer is yes it sometime makes sense but at other times it is a waste of resources. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and others keep their ranking systems very secret. No one know exactly how they rank websites, no matter what they may tell you. Any good web designer always designs with SEO in mind. Yet I just said that no one knows exactly how they do it and that is true. However there are some general principles that we do know. One is is your site secured by using a SSL certificate. Another is how to design a site that is easily crawled by search engines. Does the site properly configure meta data. It takes many hours of research on just how customers can reach your site. A lot of time is done researching what customer type into a search engine. This is called keywords. Keywords can point to thousands of websites that may be in the in the same business as yours. The secret is to find unique keywords that potential customer may type into a search engine that will lead to your business. Then the kicker is that it may all change over time. SEO optimization is an ongoing and constant process. If done properly it can point new customers directly to your business by giving you a top ranking so that your business shows up on search results on the first page. Results are not instant. It may take from 4 to 6 months before you start seeing results. It can be of great value to you but it does come at a cost.
So back to the original question. Well it actually depends on how much competition you have. If you are one among thousands of businesses in your area, the chance of getting a top ranking right off the bat is pretty small. If you are a business that is very unique then I would say yes it does make sense. A good web design company will research your competition to see if it makes sense to spent your resources on SEO.
SEO ranking usually builds over time. It may make more sense to get a free listing on Yelp or Yellow pages which is quick and free. If you have a unique place in the market and have the resources, then I say go for it.
I hope this helps you decide.