December 26, 2013
By Phil Maynard
Did you know that as many as 90% of people looking for a place to worship will visit the website of a church before making a decision to attend?
The website of the church is today’s equivalent of an advertisement in the yellow pages a decade or two ago. It is a “must do” and “must do well.” Websites must be easy to navigate: invitational and full of pictures, stories, and white space.
Current research indicates that as many as 90% of people will visit a church’s website before making a decision to attend. That’s huge! If the website is going to be such a primary tool for extending hospitality, it is important that the site represent you well. The following are some suggestions about providing a welcoming site:
- Invest the resources to create a professional-looking site. The quality of your website is considered a reflection of the excellence with which you do ministry.
- Keep the website current. I worked with a church a couple of years ago that had a pastor’s message from the previous pastor who had moved two years earlier.
- Have worship times clearly identified with a description of the style of worship included.
- Provide clear directions to your church location. Many websites now include a link to Google Directions.
- Provide information about childcare; without this you may lose young families.
- Include information about your staff. The best sites even include a personal statement from staff members.
- Include a place to listen to current messages from worship services.
- Share stories about lives that are changed and the difference the church is making in the community rather than just announcements about upcoming events.
Many sites I have visited actually include an itinerary for newcomers through the website. Information is provided about attire for the service selected, availability and location of childcare, and a time frame for activities the newcomer could experience.
PS: Want more insights into being a hospitable congregation? Check out Phil’s new book: Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry. Click www.shift-book.com for more information.