Giving visitors a glimpse on your website of what they can expect at your church helps make them feel welcome.
“The only constant in life is change.” —Heraclitus
This quote describes our physical world very well. Though we serve a God who never changes, his creation certainly does change with time.
For example, 15 years ago, corporations didn’t have a direct line with consumers, but now we are all connected through our phones and social media. The human race has never had more access, connection or distraction in recorded history.
Yet, our need to experience his divine presence in the community of a church is just as present now as it was 50 years ago. Even with our technology, we are still children of the living God, and as such, we are designed to be in community with him and his people.
But how does a church grow in numbers? How does a church bring in visitors in 2019? And, more importantly, how do we keep them coming to church during the most distracting time in human history?
At StartCHURCH, we have seen thousands of churches thrive in modern times, but one of the best tools they have at their disposal is the use of a website.
We have seen our clients become successful fishers of men, but their nets are different than they were years ago. Let’s talk about how you can cast your net and catch some fish.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
A 2016 Forbes Insights report, which is based on a survey of 250 retail executives (nearly half of them being CEOs or business owners), says that “according to retailers, most customers—82%—conduct research online” before making an in-store visit and purchase.
The report also indicates that “a third of survey respondents believe that their website draws customers to the stores.”
In the digital world, your website is one of the most reliable tools to bring people into your church’s environment. It is your virtual business card, and first impressions are everything to people.
But what does your website need to do to become a great resource? Here are eight steps any church can take to make their website more appealing to potential visitors.
1. High-Quality Photos of Your Church
These photos show the environment that your church creates during services. You work hard to create an atmosphere that is conducive to a worship experience, and potential attendees need to know what it’s like to attend a church service at your location.
By including pictures of your worship service, events and community, you help to connect your congregation to the visitors before they step through the door. They get to see your authenticity as a church, and they get a gauge of how your spiritual environment can enrich their lives.
2. Your Church’s Testimony
Why did your church start? What makes you different? What is your mission?
People want to know what your church is like and where your church is wanting to go. Letting people see your past is a great way to show them their future, and sharing your story and your church’s story shows that.
God gave each of us a testimony. We are his representatives during this life. Your story can make an impact on someone’s life, and it can show your church’s authenticity in a world that can be shallow.
You can create a lasting first impression by discussing your story, and you can inspire others by your trust in the Lord. I encourage you to share your story on your website. You will not regret it.
3. Online Donations
Online giving is one of the easiest ways for members and nonmembers to give. I remember before online giving when I would have to bring my checkbook every Sunday so I could honor God with my firstfruits.
The problem is, I am very forgetful. I would often forget my checkbook, which would cause me to either tithe later in the week, or make a special trip home after service.
Online donations solve this, and they create a way for generous people to give anytime the Spirit calls them to. Tithes are an act of obedience, and by providing a method to give online, you are allowing them to be immediately obedient to God’s calling.
4. Future Events and Previous Sermons
The church is not intended only to be a part of your life once a week. So, any activities that your church is holding should be public knowledge.
We were created to live life together, so by advertising your future events on your website, you are giving an open invitation to new people to come and experience your church in a lighter setting.
In contrast, past sermons will allow visitors to get a taste of the spiritual climate of your church. They will help them connect on a deep level, but as mentioned before, in a completely light, neutral setting in their time frame.
Posting sermons online will also allow your congregation to remain connected when they are unable to attend services. Providing this flexibility can lead to members staying at the church.
This part of your website will need to be updated regularly. It is better to not have this section at all than to have it not be up to date. Outdated information can show disorganization, and can be a significant deterrent for newcomers.
5. Information on Your Children’s Ministry
Appealing to people is fantastic, but appealing to families can help create lifelong members. People often make life-changing decisions because of their children.
By pouring into the next generation, you are not only enriching the lives of the kids, but you are also able to develop a more sophisticated atmosphere during the adult service.
You can discuss matters that are for a more spiritually mature audience, all while knowing that the children are nurtured on their level. A baby needs milk to grow, but they will eventually graduate to a more filling form of sustenance.
6. Staff Information
Staff biographies are great for introducing the executives to visitors. Before the visitor even steps through the door, they understand who the pastor, the children’s care director, and the worship leaders are who will help connect them to God.
A connection like this is priceless, and it breeds trust. It allows the visitor to understand your staff’s roles in the church, and it creates a feeling of connection right out of the gate.
Knowing what you believe is an essential piece of the puzzle for those thinking of visiting your church. If you do not have your church doctrines written out, then you can click here to download an editable template to help you begin the process.
8. Links to Your Social Media
Technology has made the world smaller. We now can be connected all the time. But many would say this is detrimental to our society.
Some people think that the problem with the internet is that it has turned us into self-absorbed people, and it is true that too much of anything can be hazardous. But I would argue that social media can be the church’s biggest weapon against the decline of attendance.
Social media connects your church, executives, members, pastors and any potential visitors in a unique way. The church doesn’t exist only on Sundays anymore; it exists anytime you send out a positive message through social media.
Use the tools that God has provided you. Use social media to show the world what your church is about and what God is doing throughout your congregation.
Okay, so you understand now how to bring in more visitors to your church through an online site, but what do you do now?
Well, having a compelling and authentic service is the foundation for healthy church attendance, but the next steps are relatively straightforward.
A church needs to be able to connect with families that visit the services by creating a way to honor new guests. Many churches start by handing out cards before the service that allow the visitor to give contact information to the church executives.
But, the most welcome that I have ever felt visiting a church occurred earlier this year. The second I walked into the building I was met with a friendly welcome team, and they talked to me for a few minutes before the service started.
Before I was even asked to come back, they poured into my life, and it made me feel so welcomed. I also saw another man come into the church alone, and a member of the welcome team sat with him during the service and introduced him to several steady members.
Then during the service, the pastor made a call to action by asking any visitors to come to collect their welcome gift after service. Afterward, I saw the pastor thank the visitors as he stood by the welcome-gift station and spent some time with each person who came to church for the first time.
The gift was not expensive, but it was thoughtful. I got a cup that had the church’s name on it, some candy, a small version of the New Testament, and a card signed by the pastor, asking me to come back.
That church touched me, and to this day I recommend people who live in that church’s area to go there. There is a spirit of care with that church, and that is the difference between a lukewarm church attendee and a lifelong member.
This article originally appeared on StartChurch.com and is reposted here by permission.