Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's on your church's website?

Other notes/reactions from this lecture series ⇐click
First thing: it's better to have no website than one that's out of date. Going to a church's website in September and finding the summer schedule ... that's a message we don't want to send. Basically it says "we don't know what a website is for."

Beyond that, though -- what's on the website? Does it show buildings? If you expect the over-50 set to be the main audience, buildings are OK. Buildings, especially old buildings, say "we've been around, we're going to be here, your donations aren't going to a rented shack somewhere."

But if you want the under-40 crowd (kids!) to learn about you from your website, what do you want them to know? Besides basic information like where you are and what time services start, what meta-message do we want to send? "We care about people"? Then we want thoughtful or happy faces -- faces that are younger than 40. "Community"? Groups. If we want to emphasize celebration, empathic listening, contemplative worship, whatever -- pictures are worth thousands of words. If I were a webmaster I'd consider short video clips too.

But don't forget to keep the website current. Otherwise please take it down.

And one more thing

(This part is really my opinion -- it wasn't mentioned at all at the seminar.)
Please keep an eye on your domain registration; if it expires and people get a Server not found, a 404, or something like "this domain for sale," that makes people wonder if your congregation is still meeting. It's even worse if email to your pastors is bounced because DNS has switched over to some random hosting company :(

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