If you’re a church communicator, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you how many Sundays you are away from Christmas and the ever-ominous Christmas Eve Service. By now, you’re probably mumbling in your sleep the service times, their corresponding childcare options, and which service will be the candle-light service.
But maybe you’ve lost some sleep lately thinking about how to get your church website ready for Christmas this year with all the uncertainty that a global pandemic induces. Here are our top 6 tips for how you can be ready.
1. Build a visitor-centric Christmas landing page.
While this idea might seem obvious to many, it’s often that churches — who are used to interacting most with their attendees and members — have a blind spot when it comes to what information visitors actually need.
When building out this content on your church website, try to remember what it was like the first time you came to this church. What info did you need? (Think about what to wear, where to park, what door to enter, how to get kids to childcare.)
Next, ask someone who doesn’t go to your church to look your website over. Does it make sense to them? What things are missing?
2. Lead your people in Advent devotionals.
In this season where people are engaging with your church community more online than in person, it’s important to think through ways you can still disciple them. Whether or not your church follows the traditional church calendar in celebrating Advent, this is a great year to think about how you can connect with your people in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s a great way to feel like everyone is together in preparing their hearts for celebrating the coming of Christ. Advent begins on Sunday, November 29.
Making a weekly video or every-other-day video for your people and posting it on your website and social media accounts is a great way to inspire them to keep their focus on Jesus and help them navigate their way through one of the most commercially saturated holidays of the year.
And don’t forget podcasts! More and more web searches in the US are happening through voice interfaces (like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri). Set your church up for success, so that your people can simply say, “Alexa, play XYZ Church’s podcast” and be inspired by your words.
3. Tune up your ChMS.
If ever there was an important time to make sure you can capture visitor information, this will be it. Christmas services are typically more attended even than Easter, so having a solid online visitor form will be crucial for your church’s success in this online setting.
Set up an online form that can input new user information into your Church Management System (ChMS) — a.k.a. church database — so that you can reach out to them after Christmas and help them get connected to the life of the church.
Place a button linking to this form on your livestream page, as well as any other visitor-centric pages (i.e. your What to Expect or Plan Your Visit page). Also, when you record/livestream the service, be sure that someone mentions this form on camera and the link is SUPER easy for people to get to (best to display it on the bottom of the screen and drop the link in the chat).
But be careful not to ask for too much information on your visitor form. Remember, this is a first contact. Like a first date, you wouldn’t ask about where the wedding should be unless you wanted to scare the other person away! Don’t ask for details on committing when the person simply wants to find out if your church community would be a fit for them. (E.g., Just ask for first and last name, email, and maybe phone number.)
4. Rev up online giving.
Equally as important as capturing visitor data is offering your people an easy, intuitive way to give online. With so many people coming to celebrate Christmas Eve, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to welcome people to give that end-of-year gift and to set up recurring giving. Make sure that your online giving solution can handle the things your church will need for the long-run, like sorting funds into the right church budget, making year-end reporting easy, and integrating with your website.
If you’re using e360 Giving, for example, you can frame in a giving form on the giving page of your website, so that users can navigate there and give right away.
And make sure the link is easy to type in, so that users don’t have to remember a wonky URL. Keep the barriers low to encourage greater success rate.
5. Make it easy to volunteer.
It might look different this year, but it will still be important for your people to be able to put some skin in the game by serving. If your church isn’t meeting in person, think through what volunteer opportunities exist during the live-streamed service (audio/tech crew, musicians, online chat moderators).
Make sure these opportunities can be registered for via your website. Again, if you’ve tuned up your ChMS (database), this is a great opportunity to deploy it for getting sign-ups and recording who is doing what.
Invite people to serve through a shoulder-tap, or, if it’s appropriate, you can also put a link to serving opportunities on that Christmas landing page (see #1).
6. Plan for an amazing livestream production.
You might be solely responsible for this or you might be working with a team to pull this off. Whether you’re pre-recording your service to stream the day of (simulated live stream) or if you plan to actually stream it live, be sure you have a livestream landing page that is easy for users to find. It should be no more than 2 clicks from the homepage. Make sure your livestream has that online visitor form easy to find (make it a button), as well as the link to online giving (another button). It’s also a great idea to talk about your regular service times and to let people know where to go if they need prayer.
And the key to a great livestream production? It happens before you get to your website: Good lighting, good sound, good transitions!
Lead your people through this time with excellence, and this Christmas promises to be a meaningful time to offer hope in a season where there is so much uncertainty.
Your church website is your online headquarters for engaging with visitors and existing members, alike. With so many churches seeing their online traffic and engagement on the rise this year, it's more important than ever to make sure your website clearly communicates your message and makes it easy to connect from afar. What do you do if you're not sure where to start? The team at Ekklesia 360 provides a free Mission Online Assessment with one of our expert Strategy Consultants who can look at your church website with you and help you uncover areas of opportunity to improve your website in time for the holidays this year. Schedule a free appointment at your convenience and our consultants will give you a call!