About Your New Website

Yes, this is about your new website. Why? Because you probably need one. Just like we did. Our church’s website, Mecklenburg.org, just went live with a new design following a complete rebuild that was in development for more than a year.
Like many churches, we had a website that served our needs for years. It provided a nice homepage, helpful links and could be easily updated with new information. 
Then, over time, we added an app. 
Then we added,

… an Online Campus,
… an extensive new database,
… an online store for our Grounds Bookstore & Café
… a ticketing system for large events,
… online classes,
… on-demand seminars,
… and livestreamed events.
We found that our old website couldn’t handle all that we were wanting and needing to offer, and as a result we were having to use separate providers to compensate (e.g., one provider for our app, one for our database, one for our ticketing, one for our bookstore, etc.).
This also worked for a season.
But soon we ran into issues related to integration. Few, if any, of these service providers talked to each other or seemed interested in working with us to have them talk to each other.
So, we went in pursuit of a goal: the seamless integration of all our technology, data, social media, streaming and online offerings through our app and website.
As a leader, I deemed few things more important. We live in a digital world, and a church’s digital footprint and dexterity is central to both evangelism and discipleship.
After finding the right service provider to tackle the project, here are some of the things we are now able to do through our website:

  1. We now have integration of our large, third-party providers such as ticketing, point-of-sale for The Grounds, forms connected to our database, etc. Bottom line, we are better able to understand our attenders and serve them in ways we never could before.
  2. We allow users to create an account, as this creates the best user experience for them. When logged in, they can see all the events they’ve attended, online campus services attended, on-demand videos completed, and more. This is a helpful feature that allows us to determine the content that serves our users best to help with future planning.
  3. We added a number of automated functionalities that allow us to do such things as schedule pages, events, informational pop-ups with a direct “call to action” (CTA) and more, to go live/hide automatically. Our administrative team now genuflects in our tech team’s direction.
  4. We have taken research and insights from our target demographic to create a better and more user-friendly navigation, making it best for our attenders and people just checking us out. This is a subtle, but impactful change. But since the website is the new front door of the church, we have been able to open it even wider than before.
  5. There is new capacity through the site to feature numerous short videos on virtually every page, which is also key to connecting with our culture and our target audience—not to mention a more streamlined way to read and navigate the site. 

I realize that not every church will be able to implement all of these things. The important thing is to make sure you are focusing on the website as the true front door of your church.
So take a look at it from the point of view of an unchurched person: Are they easily able to find events and service times for your church? Are there videos on the pages to help them get a feel for your church and what to expect when they walk through your physical door?
Whatever you are able to do, in today’s digital world what is needed is a vision of truly entering the digital age and maximizing one of the most important outreach tools you have (which is your website),
… and having it be the integrative hub you need.
First published on Church and Culture. Used by permission.

James Emery White
James Emery Whitehttps://www.churchandculture.org/

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, ‘Hybrid Church:Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age,’ is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast.