Church Websites

Sansepolcro_church_steepleI’m working on how to redesign our church website and came across an article today that really got me thinking.

So many times as we design (or redesign) a church website, it’s very colorful, nice fonts, pictures, etc.  But it’s not really content-first, which is really the direction it should be.  We put up an image for this week’s sermon.  We put in complementary background, a pretty picture up at the top.  But if you really think about it critically, isn’t that just a lot of fluff?

Don’t get me wrong, I think that there should be balance.  A church website shouldn’t look ugly, especially if you have a professional web designer that goes to your church.  However if the professional isn’t available to continually work on the site, it shouldn’t look like someone threw it to the dogs.

At church, we have content.  Lots of content.  Different things are going on all the time.  At our church, every week we hear about how we are a “church on the move”.  However that doesn’t seem to translate to the website.  So many times (and it VERY much happens at our church) you have one or two people that can post things up on the website but that’s it.  A few things happen in those situations.

  1. People expect the people in charge of the website to magically post anything and everything that’s given to them immediately
  2. People then start expecting the web people to be posting more content in general
  3. They also expect more content even though they themselves aren’t giving any content to the web people to post up

A different approach

Maybe what we need to do is to have people share what they do.  Instead of the website being this static thing have it to where at least 2-3 people a week are sharing what’s going on in their area.  If we were to split it up to where each department posted at least one thing per month, we’d have gobs of content.  Instead of just having a single page for women’s ministries, give them their own blog, allowing them to be able to throw stuff up on the website whenever they want to promote what they are doing or just want to share something encouraging.  It’s crowd-sourcing.  Kinda.

If we give everyone the ability to have a voice, would it help people to build better relationships?  I’d argue maybe.  Either way it would make the website a destination for people to go to so that they can keep up with the things that are going on.

The hard part isn’t the technical side though.  It’s the motivational side.  Getting people to post up on the website has been the hardest thing for me in all of this.  Do I have an answer to it?  I wish I did.  However I truly believe that if a church is going to have a meaningful website, it takes more than just the designer to do it.  It takes people posting real content rather than fluff.  It takes dedication.  It takes time.

So this is where we are at.  I really want to see our church website as a tool to help spread the gospel, to help evangelize rather than just looking pretty and sitting there possibly a bit outdated in our content.  I want it to be current, not have the newest story / article / post be from 2009.

Any thoughts?

By Chris G. Clapp

Chris is a computer teacher at Horizon Middle School. He also works with Pathfinders and Adventurers in the Texico Conference as the English area coordinator for the Southwest Texico area. He is happily married to Aimée Clapp.

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