If your church has grown to "large" status, it's obvious that a lot of things are going right. While there are different theories as to how a church gets from small to large to mega, there are certain factors that seem to have an impact on church growth. Some of these include: empowering leadership, inspiring worship services, an emphasis on serving, a focus on relationships, and a mission that focuses on preaching the Gospel message.
Of course, something else that helps a church to grow is for people to know the church is there. It sounds dumb, but it's true. :) You know your church website is important, but do you know how important it is?
We found a fact that 33% of churchgoers of people in church said they first heard about their church online. My gut says that number is higher, but we have to go with what the survey says. Regardless, I'm sure it's climbing over time. But, keep in mind, not just /any/ website will do. If you're a part of a large church and you're trying to build a great website, beware of these ways /not/ to do it.
If you are a large church and need some advice regarding a church website, beware of ways not to do it.
Here is some of the worst church website advice for large churches.
If you're looking for actual good advice for your large church, talk to Ashley—she'll give you a free Mission Online Assessment. Learn more here!
Focus on Social Media First
It's great that as a church, you have active Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, but while social media is super important, it should only be a supplement to your church website. When it comes to communicating via the Internet, your website should be the primary way to communicate—think of your website as a communications hub. For instance, people shouldn't be turning to your Facebook group to catch all of the latest announcements - they should instead be turning to your website.
Don't worry, we're not dissing social media. On the contrary, it's pretty awesome and it deserves your time and effort. BUT, if you start using it as the main way you communicate with your church, your website won't get used.
Keyword Stuff Your Church Website Content
Adding relevant content is a great way for people to find your church website. However, putting “Kansas City church,” “church in Kansas City,” and/or “churches in Kansas City” a gajillion times isn't going to help your church get found.
So instead of keyword stuffing, you may want to focus on doing stuff outside of your church website - that is if you want to get your church ranking on Google. A few ways to do this include adding your church to Google maps, getting testimonials (Google calls these reviews), and encouraging people to give positive ratings on Google.
If you want people to be able to find your church website by using Google, using good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices can help immensely—but don't use the same keywords over and over.
Let Everyone Manage Different Parts of the Site
We get that sometimes a few people will have to help manage your church website, but it’s a classic "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation. If there are too many people managing different parts of the site, it will be hard for everyone to stay on the same page. If you do go this route, make sure there is a branding style guide, and rules and structures that everyone should be following. If you don't have these things in place, you risk your church website end up looking messy and incoherent. It's a best practice to always have one, maybe two, "keepers of the website," and they can delegate if needed.
If for whatever reason you do need multiple site administrators, you'll need to make sure the permissions are set correctly.
Focus On Members First
It's vitally important to nurture and strengthen your current church families, and it’s also very cool to have your own specific culture within your church—but don’t forget about new members. If your target audience is your church members, you'll be prone to fill your content with acronyms and inside jokes. Doing this could end up up alienating a new visitor to your site.
You should strive to make your website as clear as possible, which means putting your visitors first—you can have more pages that focus on current members and get more complicated. But you need your primary pages to focus on being welcoming and easy to digest. Do you remember how we talked about church growth at the beginning of this post? Visitors are the ones who grow your church.