I have been looking for a position at a church for quite sometime now and as a result I have been looking at a lot of church websites. When I look for a position at a church I am not just merely looking for a job, but I am looking for a church that I would want to attend. So I have been pretty picky in which churches I send a resume to and if they are a church that is far away I can only learn about them from their website.
As a result I have become a self proclaimed expert on church websites. There have been many churches that may have been great churches that I did not send my resume to simply because of their website. In essence I have become a church shopper and their websites are telling me whether or not I want to attend their church. The reality is that there are many people out there that are my age and younger that the web has become their main source for choosing a church, so it is important for churches to produce a good website that has updated information if they want to attract young families and young adults.
A couple of things that I would like to see on a church’s website would be as follows.
1) Pictures of the staff and blurbs about the staff members as well. This helps the staff people become more personal and gives you an idea as to who is running the church. The photos should be fun and not too formal. Even a group shot of the entire staff would be fine.
2) Give us a FAQ page about the church that answers questions like what kind of style of dress is expected. What things are offered during the main service (i.e. kid’s ministry, youth ministry, etc.). What about the offering or communion?
3) Video samples of the music service and a sermon sample, so that you can get a flavor of the service.
4) There is really no reason why a church that has a website does not also podcast their sermons, so you can get an idea of what it is like before you go. Even if it is only the audio.
5) A listing of the different ministries you have to offer and what they are for. Not everyone knows what all those titles that the church places on things means, so make it clear as to whom it is for in the description.
6) A simple statement of beliefs as well as a link to a more in depth version on a separate page or that is downloadable as a .pdf would be nice.
7) Pictures of you facility is always a plus, because when I am driving there it would be nice to know what I am looking for. Also a map that links back to Google Maps is always a plus and Google makes this really easy for you to do.
8 ) This may be a personal thing, but I would love to have links to blogs that some of the staff people have. It is always nice to see their thoughts on current events, Bible studies they are currently doing, or whatever they want to blog about.
9) But the most important thing is to make your site really easy to navigate. Have someone you know that does not attend your church check it out and give you feedback. It would even be good to have someone who doesn’t even go to church at all check out your site as well and give you feedback.
10) Make sure it is updated. Nothing looks worse than to have outdated information about events at the church. I saw some churches that still had Christmas stuff on their sites under events and it is February.
11) There are many great tools out there that can help you build some really great websites. A really easy way to build a site and keep it updated is by using WordPress. It is designed for blogging but can easily be adapted for a general website. I saw a larger church that is close to me that has a website and it was pathetic. It looked like something that you would have found back in the Web 1.0 days. That is sad. In a church that size there has to be someone that can build a decent website. Heck, ask one of the teenagers there to do it for you. And, for the record, sites build solely around Flash are kind of lame.
Those are my thoughts as someone who is using the web to church shop. What do you think?