3 Keys to Websites That Work (Part 1)
The world needs your church. Why? Because the world needs to experience God’s love. We worship a God who uses churches to bring hope and healing to a hurting and broken world. The world needs our message because the world needs God.
If we want the world to hear this message, we need a communication strategy that meets people where they are and uses every available tool. In a world that is getting more digital, not less, so must our outreach. This requires a strategy that meets people where they are in digital spaces. Thus, effectively reaching people begins with a digital front door – i.e. your website – that leads people into your church so they can encounter the God who loves us all.
Fundamentals of Websites That Work
We begin here with Key #1 – Purpose. Watch for additional posts on Design and Future.
- Purpose. Everything starts with purpose. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
- Design. Websites need to function with as little friction as possible, with a compelling design that reflects who we are as a church.
- Future. We need a website that can grow and evolve. The last thing we want is to create something that becomes irrelevant or ineffective every time technology evolves or a staff person or volunteer moves on.
The purpose of your website begins with the purpose of your church. For Resurrection, our purpose is to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. This means the purpose of our website is to earn the attention of non-religious and nominally religious people above all else. Your church’s purpose is going to be specific to your context. The point is that the purpose of your website is to advance the purpose of your church.
Some churches have a clearly stated purpose. Others may require some work to define, articulate or simply remember their purpose. These questions can help frame the conversation about purpose – for your church and, thus, your website:
Audience. Who is your intended audience?
The more specific the better. What demographic are you trying to reach? Obviously, as a church, we want to welcome everyone. We aren’t talking about being exclusive but, especially when it comes to digital media, we want to think specifically.
Gap. What gap are you trying to close?
There is a gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be. What are the problems and challenges your intended audience is facing? Perhaps your church is in a community with an under-resourced school. You recognize the school needs repairs and is often running short on supplies. Knowing every kid deserves quality education, your church begins to recognize there is a gap between the opportunities kids at the under-resourced school are receiving and what they deserve.
Opportunity. What ways is your church working to close the gap?
How is your church making a difference? How is your church uniquely positioned to close gaps in your community? What ministries or programs are closing the gap between where the world is and where it should be? Continuing the example above, your church might decide investing in local elementary education is a new ministry initiative. Perhaps you begin collecting school supply donations from your congregation and surrounding community to donate to the school and/or organize a “Serve Saturday” with volunteers who are willing to help with basic repairs and painting at the school.
Invitation. How can your intended audience join you in closing the gap?
People will not act unless you ask them. You know your audience. You know the gap you’re trying to close. You know the opportunities your church is providing to help close that gap. The invitation is about asking your audience to join you.
Purpose is a funny thing. It’s often the shortest to read through and the easiest to skip, but it is the most important step. Creating a digital front door that is both welcoming and engaging requires clarity of purpose. Only then can we intentionally build a website that clearly and effectively reflects our purpose to the world around us.
Matt Williams is responsible for Resurrection's web presence and is part of the Marketing & Engagement Team. Prior to Resurrection, Matt was a baseball coach and entrepreneur. He founded and operated multiple successful businesses in the youth baseball industry. He and his wife, Kristin, are the proud parents of Brayden, Ella and Connor.