I was reading through some articles about church websites and came across one at Church Marketing Perspective that I thought made a great point and fit well with our current series of articles about church website design. The article, “Commandment 8 – Thou shalt be relevant and changing”, talks about the need for every church website to be constantly changing. Change is a part of life and our church websites need to change as well.
No church website has been effective with information that is 3 years old:
If you haven’t updated your church’s website in the past 6 months, then it’s probably out of date and not very useful to visitors. If you haven’t changed the information on your church website for more than 6 months and the information is still accurate, then you aren’t using the website to its full potential. Some think of their church website the same way they do the front page of their bulletin. They put the name of your church, the address, the service times, and a pretty picture on the site. What more do you need? But, of course, a website is much more versatile than a bulletin, giving you the opportunity to have schedules, calendars, blogs, interactive discussions, Bible studies, recorded sermons, etc. All this needs to be updated regularly.
At a minimum your website needs to change as much as your bulletin. That means:
- Updating announcements
- Updating schedules and calendars
- Keeping sermon themes or notes current
- Removing old information
- Anything else that’s time sensitive
All this should be done at weekly, just like your bulletin. In my experience, not keeping the website updated is one of the most common issues with the church website, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal, especially if the same person who does your bulletin updates your website. Both can be done at the same time and most information can be copy/pasted between the bulletin and the website. If you have recordings of sermons, online Bible studies, and other more involved elements it may take a little more time, but it’s crucial to keep your website up-to-date both for your members and new visitors. As the Church Marketing Perspective article puts it:
“People on the web are now passionate to make sure that the information on a website is up-to-date — if there is ANY inkling that your website was created a couple of years ago (or more!), and not updated since then, they will flee faster than a cricket when he sees a can of Raid.”
Keep your church site relevant:
The other point the article made is the need to change a church website to keep it relevant. What looked good 5 years ago may not look good now. What got peoples attention 1 year ago, may not get people’s attention today. We’re not talking about changing the message; we’re talking about changing the way the message is delivered.
One thousand years ago, when a person went to church, they would most likely be listening to a service in Latin. If that were the situation today, at least in my case, this would not be such a good thing since my Latin doesn’t go much beyond E Pluribus Unum. Today, when I go to church, the sermon is spoken in English. The message of Christ’s love for us and His saving grace hasn’t changed, but the way the message is delivered has been changed to a means that will be more effective.
Being relevant is done through the words you use, the pictures you choose, the types of features you offer, and everything else. The key is to know the people you are trying to reach through your website and design your site to reach them. That’s not the end of the story, though. Keep in mind that the people you are trying to reach will change and so your website will need to change with them.
Change is a part of life. As keepers of the message of salvation for the world we need to be up-to-date and willing to adapt how we deliver that message (not change the message itself) so that we can reach as many people as possible for with the message of Jesus Christ.