Why have a church website?

Why have a church website - by Church and Technology.caIt’s easy to get a church website up and running. You can either pay someone to set one up for you, or do it yourself for free or using a paid service. While none of this is very difficult, there are a few things you want to think through before you get started. (If your church already has a website, it’s still worth going through this exercise to make sure your church website is accomplishing its goals.)

The first thing to do is answer the question “why does our church want a website?” Do you want a church website just so people can find the basic information about your church when they search for it online? Do you want to highlight some of your church programs and post weekly announcements? Thinking about podcasting your sermons or starting an online discussion group? All this and more is possible but it’s very helpful to figure out what you’re hoping to accomplish before you start. So, why does your church want to set up a website?

Next you need to think through why people will come to your church website. Never mind what you want them to do, or what your website might be able to do, what can you be surethat people will be coming to your church website for? There are three things you can count on that people will come to your site for and they are: the time of your church service(s), your location and how to get there, and contact information like phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure these are easy to find.  I recommend putting your worship time(s) prominently on the homepage to ensure people don’t have to search to find out what time to join you.

There may also be other reasons people will come to your church website as well. If you run a food bank, people will want to know the hours. If you have a well known study series or youth group, you should put up the times for that also. Determine together with others at the church, and some who aren’t part of the church for a different perspective, why people will be coming to the church website. Wanting to provide people with this information is a great reason to have a church website.

Now, if you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to create a church website, you have decided what you want to do with your church website, and what you need to do with it (what people will be coming for). Next you need to determine what you can do with your website. This is not about what is possible, as I mentioned already, anything is possible. This is about your current personal and volunteer resources. Be realistic here. Far too often organizations decide to try and do more then is reasonable or are overly optimistic. I suggest starting by doing half of what you think you can and will do. It’s quite easy to add more elements to a site later, or increase the amount of time you put into it. If you’ve over estimated though it can be difficult to find the time to remove the elements you don’t have time to keep up with. It’s obviously hard enough to do the updates. You want to set your goals high to give you something to strive for, but you need to be reasonable with them as well so you don’t set yourself and your volunteers up for failure as well as create a site that looks like it’s poorly maintained.

There’s plenty more you can think about, but these are important things worth going over. The “why does our church want a website?” question is really important to answer both before you get started with a website, and along the journey of maintaining one.
Are there other questions that should be asked before setting up a church website? What are some of the reasons you’ve come up with to have a church website?

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