Monday, January 12, 2009

Sharpening the Church's Welcoming Skills

I am resolving this week to do a series of posts about sharpening the church's welcoming skills. I claim absolution now because often times I have blogging ADD and though I intend to do a series on a subject it ends up being a series of 1. Time will tell.

Jesus demonstrated radical hospitality to the people he came into contact with and as his hands and feet today, we are to do the same. We do so recognizing that the person who is coming to the church for the first time or for the first time in a long time or from a different tradition is nervous and it is our job in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to do all in our power to alleviate man made stumbling blocks so they can experience the saving love of Jesus Christ. God have mercy upon us if we do not do all in our power to remove man made stumbling blocks.

The first thing I wanted to write about was websites. Do you know that are welcome, or lack thereof, starts well before any guest to the church darkens our doors? For most guests, their first impression is going to be the church's website. Gone are the days, especially for anyone under 60, when someone is going to pick up the phone and call to get service times or get information about the church. They can now do this anonymously on the church's website.

Much has been written about making church websites welcome. In fact, I may have done a post on it before (I am just too lazy to look it up and link to it- sorry). But let me give you few things I think church websites should include.
  • An easy to remember URL. For UM churches get rid of that crazy "GBGM" stuff in your url. Even if you use them to host buy your own domain- its $10.
  • Speaking of buying, if the website is the first impression many have of your church, pay somebody to do it professionally. Unless you have a professional web designer in your church, and this doesn't include a teenager from your youth group or the self-appointed expert in your church, spend the loot on this important first impression. Don't say "we want young people and children"and then refuse to spend money on a professionally designed website. Put your money where your mouth is.
  • Don't put a picture of your church on the website. I don't care what your church looks like on the outside. 9 times out of 10 it looks just like the other thirty in my town.
  • Do put information I am seeking. Such as the worship times, location linked to a map and driving directions, how I check in my children, what worship is like etc.
  • Do make the site easy to navigate. Cut out the clutter and make it simple. I do not need a link to the Upper Room or the parent denomination.
  • Speaking of that do decide the primary audience for your website. Is it guests or is it your members and those who already attend? Hopefully, it is primarily for guests. This is not to say you shouldn't have info pertinent to members, but I suggest you do not make that the primary purpose of your site.
  • You can find more tips for church websites by doing a google search for "Design Tips for Church Websites."

Tomorrow I will tackle signage. One of my favorite things!!

1 comment:

church website tips said...

Hey Rob,
Thanks for the tips. I did what you said and did a google search. Came up with this site: church website design tips. Wow that was a helpful thing to find.
Thanks for the blog. Looking forward to info on signage.