When I first moved to Chicago to attend school, I started searching the web for churches. There are obviously a ton of churches to choose from in the city, but what struck me is the number of churches that were instantly unappealing to me simply because of their website.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that your website is the front door to your church. If you haven’t taken that seriously in the past, I hope you’ll consider it now… because particularly for younger generations, that statement is undoubtedly true. Picture that for a second. If the front door doesn’t look inviting or appealing to your audience, they probably won’t consider (at least not with much confidence) coming into the building. But imagine what would happen if they felt welcomed even before they opened the door…
“Your website is the front door to your church.”
Millennials have been the focus for many marketing campaigns (both church and business) for quite some time. Their technology habits, along with changing technology trends, have completely adjusted the way organizations interact with them. But Generation Z is also on the rise… and technology is even more a part of their lives than for the previous generation (which is important to know because your church needs to have a presence where they spend their time).
While these trends are interesting, what bothers me is how many churches are still so far behind. While I recognize there is a growing number of churches who are intentional about their website, I worry that group is the minority. And I can’t emphasize enough how much this matters. Young people are literally using your website to decide whether or not to come to your church. What does yours communicate?
Here are 3 messages I find many church websites (unintentionally) communicating:
1) Our church is outdated.
If it looks like your website hasn’t been updated in over 10 years, most people are going to assume your church is the same way. Many church websites are either boring to look at or aren’t mobile friendly. If either of those things are true, it communicates that your church is outdated.
2) Our church isn’t for your generation.
Convenience is key for younger generations. The websites where we spend our time are all clear and easy to use. But many church websites either try to communicate too much information or are too confusing to navigate. If either of those things describe your website, it communicates that your church isn’t for young people.
3) Our church is internally focused.
When a website doesn’t feel welcoming, it tells possible newcomers that your church is fine with the way things have been. It tells them you don’t want to change. And it communicates that your church is disinterested in reaching people outside your congregation.
As a Church, it is our mission to reach the unchurched. We are called to be inviting and welcoming to people of all ages, races, generations and cultures. Your website, though only a piece of that mission, is an extremely important aspect of reaching people outside your church.
So here’s a checklist. Take a look at your website…
- Is it visually engaging?
- Is it mobile-friendly?
- Does it only communicate what’s actually important about your church?
- Is it clutter-free and easy to navigate?
- Is it created with the first-time guest in mind?
Get a second set of eyes to help you if you aren’t sure of the answer to any of these questions. Or read this article for some more detailed information. But if the answer is no to any of these things, it’s time for an update.