Church Websites and The Great Divide
There is a divide in the church in America today. Actually, there are many divides in the church today, but the one that this article is about is technology. Yes, I’m talking about church websites, bible apps, Spotify playlists, Facebook groups, online giving apps, and many more.
There are those that see great value in focusing on technology as a means to enrich their members and reach the lost in their area, but there are others that find it to be more distracting than beneficial.
Winning the War
No matter which side of this fence you fall on, you can’t ignore the fact that there are people who search the internet for the phrases “Jesus”, “God”, “Who is God”, “What is Church”, and “Where is the closest church to me”. What’s more is that Mormons are winning the internet. This means that when people search these phrases online, lds.org (note that I did not link to their site since external links increase search engine rankings) is almost always in the top 10 hits on Google. In fact, go ahead…try it for yourself.
In light of this unfortunate fact, one way that evangelicals can confront it is by publishing high-quality, well designed, and properly configured websites for churches and church networks. But, too many churches out there either don’t have a website, have a poorly configured website that doesn’t show up on Google searches, or have a website that looks so terrible that people leave immediately in confusion and frustration.
The Real Reason
Having a good church website is NOT about being “relevant” or “cool”. Rather, it’s about expressing who God is, how beautiful God is, and how creative God made us as humans.
When a church has a bad website, it gives a bad impression of who God is. Think about verses like Genesis 1:26-27 and Colossians 3:10. We were created in God’s image and we are being continually molded into God’s image. So, what does it say about God when we create ugly and confusing websites?
By the same token, what happens to all the people who are searching for Jesus online but can only find what the Mormons say about him? Well I’ll tell you what happens, they learn about a false god. And it’s our fault because (in general) evangelicals don’t know how to create quality websites.
Tent-making and Church Websites
Now, I usually like reading articles from The Gospel Coalition, but this time I have to disagree. I don’t think pastor’s and church leaders need to be experts in seo (search engine optimization) and web design. At least, not any more than they need to be experts in plumbing, electrical wiring, or construction. In the same way that pastors leave the lights to the electricians, I think they should leave the church website to the web designer (granted, I’m slightly biased). But seriously, pastors have too many other things to think about, let the tent-makers make your tent.
However, not all tent-makers are equal.
(Brace yourself for a quick sales pitch or just skip to the next paragraph)
Not only are there plenty of church website companies out there for you to choose from, but some are even cheaper than Goby. However, as far as we can tell, they all only offer a limited number of templates to choose from. That is neither creative nor original! God created us to be creative and are we going to only create a few different options and then just sell the same thing to different organizations? This may work for t-shirts, but not for websites. In reality, templates are restrictive, overused, and can never give you what you really want. Goby is the only affordable website company that will give you a custom web design and use the profits to plant more churches.
(Phew, glad that’s over with)
The Obligatory List of Stats and Why’s
There are tons of articles out there that offer ample reasons for having a good church website, but highlighting them here, in the context of what we’ve just talked about, seems appropriate. So here are 7 reasons why your church needs not just a website, but a good website.
What a Good Church Website Does
- A good church website let’s people know you exist. In 2012, 46% of church attenders said that a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit. Also, 33% of people said that the internet was the first place where they learned about their church. That means that almost half of the people who want to find a church in your area will go straight to Google.
- A good church website gives an overview of all church events. Church websites help people stay up to date with your church’s events—from Holiday parties, to small groups, to Sunday services.
- A good church website saves money on advertising. If you currently have a budget line for advertising, consider taking some of that and applying it to your website because it is more visible and less expensive than any other type of advertising.
- A good church website stores your media. A good church website allows you to retain a considerable digital media library. Storing sermons, podcasts, images, and videos online is a great way to increase your longevity and reach.
- A good church website can increase your church’s income. People pay their bills online, invest their money online, and read their bank statements online. Can they also give to their church online? With a good church website, yes. With Goby this comes standard.
Facebook Can’t Substitute a Good Church Website
- A good church website quickly answers questions about your church. People have all kinds of questions about churches. Music? Nursery? Denomination? Bible version? How can you answer all these questions? Two words: church website. Yes, Facebook pages have an about section…but try navigating one of those sometime and let me know how much you learned. Their terrible and you can’t change how it looks. With a website you can put the most important information front and center,
- A good church website makes you trustworthy. 46% of people say that a websites design is the number one criterion for organizational credibility, and website visitors will decide to stay or leave the page within 10 seconds. Your online presence matters, so you better know the ins and outs of UI/UX if you want your users to trust you. Relying solely on Facebook for this significantly reduces your credibility and trustworthiness to users…whether you think it should or not.
So, where do you go from here? I’d say you need to go get a website if you don’t already have one. And if you want to be of any value at all then you need to know what you’re doing. So you should either start spending several hours a week learning how to build a website that actually produces value for its visitors (like I did back in 2012) or contact us and let us keep your lights on for you.
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