How are you using your church website to get your members more active and engaged? Is it a tool that can help mature their faith and become a part of their lives? If it’s not, don’t you think it should be?
Darrel Girardier, the Digital Strategy Director for Brentwood Baptist Church, sums this idea up beautifully:
Use the following recommendations and guidelines to create a more engaging and compelling church website.
"The question to ask is 'How is your church a part of people's daily digital habits?' Every day your church members are allowing other organizations to enter into their lives on a personal level. What are you doing to provide a way for people to include your church as a part of their habits?"
Evaluate the Current State of Your Church Content
Your website can make it easy to get the word out to your congregation about upcoming events or sermon series. You might already post your previous sermon online. But it’s not enough to simply place these elements on your church website and forget about them.
Engage church members by offering useful and compelling content (and never stop creating it). You’re trying to help guide them toward more involvement, right? Being helpful, and meeting them where they already are is a great way to start.
Think of things like articles, podcasts, book recommendations, photos of events, a community directory, bible reading plans, inspirational verses and quotes, or anything your congregation will find helpful.
Show that your church can be a vital part of members' daily lives, by being a great source of information—not just a website.
Here are four important ways to use your website and increase your impact within your congregation—no matter what day of the week it is:
1. Pastor’s Blog
As the leader of your church, you likely have members who are interested in hearing what you have to say more often than just on Sundays. Starting and maintaining a blog is quick and simple and most websites already have the functionality built in, you just need to set it up. A blog allows you to post your personal and professional thoughts across a variety of topics.
You can address local or national news items, discuss literature, or share more stories or information about your sermons.
TIP: While your congregation is always interested in your vision specifically, if you can't personally keep up a blog, open it up to the rest of the church staff. Have others on staff share what God is doing in and through their ministries.
2. Posting Sermons
Does your congregation like to catch up when they miss a week? Wouldn't it be neat if your sermons could help people who aren't able to physically attend church?
Posting weekly sermons online is a nice way to keep in touch with your members. It can also help prospective members decide if they think your church would be a good fit for them. A pastor's blog is a simple way to expand your ministry reach beyond the members sitting in your pews.
Also, if you are trying to reach younger families with your sermons, this is an important statistic to consider:
While most Americans prefer their pastor to preach live, today a staggering 37% of young adults are indifferent to whether the preaching is live or by video—as long as they get to hear it.
TIP: Also, consider adding category tags to make your sermons more useful and searchable. People often directly “seek” information as opposed to just digesting what they are spoon-fed. When someone is curious about “prayer” they can go to your website and filter to see all the sermons you've preached on that topic and see if related topics were covered.
3. Upcoming Events
Your website is the perfect tool for announcing upcoming fellowship events and service activities.This is perhaps the lowest barrier to entry and is oftentimes a great place to start since volunteering and socializing are some of the easiest ways for new people to branch out into your community.
From bible study times and locations to volunteer project details, your website can help you inform, and encourage members to participate. Is the church softball season coming up? What are the children’s activities that relate to this week’s sermon? Go ahead and post the schedule on your site so no one misses any of the action.
TIP: Just make sure that all of these items are current and that they are removed or archived when the event is past. There is no quicker way to lose engagement than providing inaccurate or irrelevant information when someone is looking for something. We simply don’t have the patience for that in our busy lives.
4. Social Sharing
Let’s start with the reality:
90% of all young adults (18-29) use social media today—and 43% of all Internet users over the age of 65 have turned to social media.
These statistics show a great potential to expand your ministry’s reach, but for many pastors and church communication teams, learning how to approach social media is a struggle. Are you looking to build relationships or simply inform your congregation of upcoming events? How will you use social media to connect with your community?
While the answers to these questions are no doubt part of a deeper messaging strategy for your church, there is one easy thing that you can do to make your presence felt on social media. Adding social share buttons to your website is a way to help your congregation become more involved with your content and potentially draw people from your community into your church.
When a member of your congregation enjoys an online sermon or blog post on your church website, will they share it on Twitter or Facebook? Why not make it easy for them to share by adding social share buttons to all of your online content? Remember, you are looking to become a part of their digital habits and the easier something is for someone, the more likely they’ll do it.
The mere inclusion of these social sharing buttons also act as a reminder to your members who otherwise would not have considered sharing their church’s content.
TIP: Features like “Add This” or “Click to Tweet” can help lower the barrier, making it more likely that members will share your content with their neighbors and friends. As an added touch, you can also create an Evite page like Whoisgrace.org to simplify the invitation process for events and sermon series.
Make Your Website More than the Church Bulletin
We hope this article has given you some good ideas—hopefully you've even come up with some of your own. Remember to keep it simple. If your website is too hard to use, people won’t use it. If the content is outdated, people will lose interest. If your blog is updated irregularly or not at all, people will think you don't have anything to say.
Making the process easy and systematic can help make a positive impression on visitors and can keep current members engaged with your church every day of the week. The busyness of modern life can influence a person’s ability to get involved, but if you create a source that can naturally fall into their daily digital rituals, you will create a congregation that is engaged with your online presence.
Focus on your congregation and create a resource people want to use, when and where they want to use it.
Interested in learning how to create a church website that serves as a helpful resource for people? We've helped churches across the country build beautiful websites. Download our Buyer's Guide Kit to learn how to take your church website to the next level.