Check Your Website Immediately

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Many people can remember when the telephone Yellow Pages or the sign outside your church were likely to be the first places people looked to find information about your church or other congregations in your community. No more. People of all ages go first to your website “to check you out.” This is one of the biggest changes for churches in the last 20 years, and yet most churches seem oblivious to this central fact.

What messages is your website sending to those who are seeking a vibrant and active congregation?

As a group, churches may not have the poorest and most neglected websites of all organizations, but we are close. Believe me. Here are recent examples out of my experience. They come from various websites I have had reason to visit.

  • The “read our latest newsletter” led to an April 2011 issue.
  • The “pastor” had been replaced six months earlier.
  • There was no address or telephone number.
  • The worship times were not easily accessible.
  • Outdated announcements were still featured.

There are, of course, exceptions to this claim regarding poor church websites. But, unfortunately, neglected sites appear to far outnumber those that are kept carefully up to date. What a wonderful opportunity this offers for a host of churches with no website or one that is poorly designed or maintained. Often these churches have few active younger people, but they may have several among those younger persons who would find updating the web site to be a welcome challenge. Bringing your website into the 21st century could be an exciting opportunity even if the younger people are only peripherally engaged now. Many church members and staff can help them with the content, but the younger people will need to identify well done church websites to discover clues about what they contain and how the information is presented.

Give your web team some freedom, but stress that two things are imperative for all their work: First, always view the website and its layout and content through the lens of someone who knows nothing about the church. There are many ways to communicate with existing members, but the website is your window to the world. It is primarily for others. In fact, having some of those less involved working on the site can be an advantage since they bring a more distant perspective. Second, the website needs to be updated at least once a week. Waiting any longer can easily lead to those long seasons of inattention that result in the examples shared above.

What messages is your website sending to those who are seeking a vibrant and active congregation?


 

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About Author

Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., is senior consultant at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of several books on leadership.


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