Ekklesia 360

Church Website Strategy: 7 Reasons It's a Game Changer

Posted by Ekklesia 360 Team



Ministry happens at such a breakneck pace that it’s sometimes hard to invest in the planning that it deserves. The very nature of ministry often feels reactive and ad-hoc. So we have to be very intentional about prioritizing the things that we pour time and energy into by focusing on the areas that offer the greatest potential returns. 

Website strategy is one of those areas. 

There’s no question that your church needs a website. But it’s more than an online placeholder where folks can look up your service times. Your website can (and should) do a multitude of jobs:

  • It’s how many local people will discover you exist and discover your story. 
  • It’s a hub for your congregation to learn about upcoming events.
  • It’s a library of ministry content (sermons, curriculum, podcasts, blogs).
  • It’s a tool for introducing your community to your staff and leadership.
  • It’s a showcase for your community involvement.
  • It’s an instrument for receiving donations. 
  • It’s a communication platform that you control. You’re not at the mercy of changing algorithms like you are with social media platforms. 

These bullet points are just the tip of the iceberg. Your website can be one of your most essential and valuable assets. But the key to unlocking its potential is found in the strategy process.  

Let’s examine why a strategy is so important and how it can level up your online presence.


1. Strategy makes your website an extension of your goals

When it’s time to create or redesign a website, many churches fall into the same trap. A subcommittee looks at a whole bunch of church sites and then designs a website including all their favorite elements. But they often miss out on the “why” discussion. 

It’s easy for people to misunderstand what they like about a website. For instance, they might be drawn to the way the navigation on another church’s website looks, but it’s just not the same when it’s implemented on their own site. What they didn’t realize was they were attracted to the clean simplicity of the design. Once they added 20 pages from their site into the navigation menu, it just wasn’t the same. 

Another reason that this tactic doesn’t work is that you can never know what’s really successful. You might like the way a page looks but have absolutely no idea if it’s encouraging visitors to take critical next steps like clicking through to another page or watching a “welcome” video. 

When you start with a strategy, everything springs from what you’re trying to accomplish. Every page has a point and attempts to move visitors to take important next steps. It’s great to identify and employ elements from other sites, but a functional strategy based on your mission and vision must come first. 

Some questions that can help identify your website goals might include:

  • In what ways does our website overlap with our mission statement?
  • What is the most effective way to use our web presence to communicate our mission?
  • What’s the right balance between form and function? 
  • What overall steps do we want people to take on our site? 
    • What do we want people to do on each page?
  • What goals do we want to accomplish with this site, and how will we know we’re successful?
  • What strategy do other churches seem to be using on their sites?
  • What’s the most effective way to arrange our web content?
  • What kind of media will help us reach our goals?    


The Ultimate Guide to Church Website Strategy

This eBook walks you through the entire process of developing a website strategy. Download your free copy today: 




2. Strategy helps you speak to your audience 

The most effective churches know who their audiences are and have a plan for filtering them to separate sections of their website. They understand how to speak to them and have a plan for encouraging specific behaviors. 

For the most part, you can pare your audience down to one of three groups:

  1. The member: These are people who already attend your church. Over time, they’ll be bypassing the home page to land on specific pages. Maybe they’ll click on a link for an event on Facebook, head directly to the sermons page, or visit the calendar page they keep bookmarked. 
  2. The church shopper: This person might be new to your town, or they’re unhappy in their current church. Either way, they’re familiar with church culture and probably have an idea of the kind of information they’re looking for, which probably includes things like leadership and staff information, service times and parking info, core beliefs, and children’s ministry information. 
  3. The non- or marginal-believer: Before a nonbeliever visits a church, you can pretty much guarantee that this person has visited their website. In fact, it’s almost impossible to know how many people with questions about faith have visited a church website but never followed up with a visit. How will you draw this audience in? 

It’s helpful to have a path in mind for each of these groups. Once they land on your home page, how will you prompt them to journey deeper into your site? Remember, all of these questions are guided by your larger goals. 

For instance, let’s say that your driving mission is to turn visitors into members and members into volunteers. How is that going to be reflected in your website journeys? Maybe you want to start the church shopper and non-believer out on the same path. And it could start with a button in the middle of the homepage that says, “New to Grace United? Welcome.”  

From there, they go to a page with a brief video about who you are and two buttons: “What we’re about” and “Why Jesus matters.” This could split the two pathways, but then you could bring them back together again with an invitation to visit a service. 

The point is that you want to give some real thought to the people you’re trying to reach and consider how you can offer them a catered tour through your site. 


3. A strategy helps you structure your site

Being intentional about crafting a website will result in a logical site structure. We sort of hit on that in the previous section. If you’re deliberate about your goals and your audience, it will impact your site’s anatomy.  

All of these discussions coalesce into decisions about things like: 

  • How will our navigation menus work?
    What are the essential things that people will be looking for? How can we ensure that we keep the number of menu items down? How will we order our navigation? How will our navigation choices impact someone’s mobile experience? 
  • How will we arrange information?
    There are a million things we could communicate about who we are. How will we prioritize that information? What will the tone be? Who are we talking to on this specific page? 
  • What types of pages do we need?
    What will our “about us” page look like? Fun? Serious? What ministries need their own pages? What tone will we strike on our giving page?
  • What will be in our footer?
    Is this where people will be able to contact us? Service times? Social media links? 


4. A strategy guides you through crafting pages

Once you have started thinking through site structure and audience-oriented paths, it’s time to prepare these pages. This is where you start getting more specific about what you want to communicate to users on each page, what you want them to do next, and how you can encourage them to take that action. 

All the strategy work you’ve done starts to become really obvious here, as it helps you pare your vision and message down to its bare essence. Without a good plan, you end up with too much copy on your site, confusing buttons and messaging, or a structure that doesn’t lead people anywhere.

Again, this is all about thinking through particular questions:

  • Who is this page for? 
  • How did they end up on this page? 
  • What were they looking for when they landed here? What information do I need to give them? 
  • What can we communicate with images rather than text?
  • Is this page the right place for a video? 
  • What do I want them to do next?  
  • What prompts do they need to follow through? 

Questions like these can help you craft pages that deliver on your goals and feel like part of a cohesive journey instead of a disconnected set of flyers. They also help you weed out pages that seem like a good idea but don’t really contribute to the overall strategy. 


5. A strategy helps you be discerning about your features

You don’t run across them much anymore, but there was a time when churches intentionally chose to have terrible sounding midi organ music auto-playing on their sites. Like glittering cursor trails, it was a feature that absolutely no one needed. 

You can do all kinds of things with your website. But just because you can add something doesn’t mean you should.. There are must-have features that can improve a site’s functionality or impact the experience. Some capabilities are cool but will bewilder users and slow down your loading speed. Others should simply be avoided at all costs. 

Thankfully, when you have a master plan in mind, you’re less likely to get distracted by unnecessary features that are ultimately unhelpful. You can ask yourself: does this feature contribute to our goals, or is it a distraction?


6. A strategy informs how you choose your images 

The images on your site often do a better job of informing your visitors about your church than the text. With this in mind, how do you pick the pictures you feature on your site? Do you choose some of your favorite photos? Do you try and copy the imagery from other websites? Do you use stock photography?

When you’re thinking about the big picture and making strategic decisions along the way, you start asking yourself the right questions. What do you want the first picture on the home page to communicate? What kind of feelings do you want to solicit? What do you want to communicate about your age and ethnic diversity? What do you want to convey about your community involvement? Your church website strategy should help you answer these questions.


7. A strategy changes the way you think about giving

The financial landscape is changing. Most workers’ pay is directly deposited. People are relying more and more on digital mobile payments. Banks are transitioning away from traditional tellers. And charitable institutions are relying on text-to-give and mobile app solutions. Meanwhile, churches have been slow to prioritize digital giving. 

Being more intentional about your web presence can help your church transition away from depending on physical offerings as you move your congregation toward giving electronically. It’s one thing to have a digital giving option on your site, but is there a path that leads people there? And once they’re there, are you making it easy to give?

Maybe that means including a short video demonstrating your preferred giving method. Your strategy could include a couple paragraphs explaining the virtues of recurring giving. Or you might want to share some of the benevolent work your congregation is involved in to encourage donations from non-members. 

Try a Free e360 Giving Demo


Changing the way you think about your website

You are in complete control of your church’s online presence, and the potential is so much greater than you may have imagined. Your church website can achieve far more than informing people of your location or storing your library of past sermons.

As you strategize about what you want to accomplish, you might discover that your website inspires content that you hadn’t ever considered. Maybe that’s a podcast, video series, or congregationally driven blog. Once you’ve identified your goals, new ideas and opportunities begin presenting themselves. 

The great thing is that your site isn’t static. You’re not making a plan, putting together a site, and then hoping you got it right. You can watch the data, see how people are making their way through the site, and make adjustments as needed. If they’re not taking the actions you hoped, you can make incremental changes (remove text, add a video, etc) until they do. 


The Ultimate Guide to Church Website Strategy

This eBook walks you through the entire process of developing a website strategy. Download your free copy today: 




You don’t have to figure it out on your own

Realizing your website’s potential is exciting, but it can be overwhelming, too. You don’t have to stumble around in the dark. Ekklesia360 can help you develop a winning strategy to accomplish your online goals. We have a number of packages and plans available to ensure that you put together a website that draws people into your story. 


Check out our strategy options, or reach out and let us know how we can equip you to reach your online ministry goals. 

Topics: church websites, Strategy


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