I have found that since I started my position here at the Diocese of Olympia, my focus has changed on talking about church websites. Initially it was all about tools, how to do it, how to maintain the site, etc., real nuts and bolts stuff. When I talk with church groups who are working on websites, they invariably want to know what plugins to use, how many navigation tabs, etc., but they never ask me “what is the best way to show my church?” More and more I believe this is the question that should be asked first.
One of the first questions I ask church groups now is “what do you want people to know about your church?” You have probably heard about the elevator speech. It is used in the context of “what is your product” or “why should I hire you”. You have 15 seconds to sell it. What if you did the same idea when you are working on your website?
Here’s the deal. You come up with a statement about your church. You come up with three points to support your statement. Now with this information you can come up with an overall design for your website. How do you do that?
For example, here is a statement and three points about a mythical church, St. Cuthbert’s. My statement and three supporting ideas are as follows:
“Welcome to St. Cuthbert’s, a vibrant and multigenerational community of faith. We are traditional in worship, active in the greater community and a friend to all who enter our doors.”
Now that we have this 15 second statement, we can use this as the template for the website and its content. How do you show on your website that you are doing what your statement says? Do you have photos of your worship service? What are you doing in the community? What programs do you have in place to welcome the visitor or seeker? Where do these reside (or should reside) on the website?
This 15 second statement is not a mission statement or vision. It is to be a factual representation of your church, not where or what you want it to be. By doing this, you will help to clarify who you are as a faith community and be authentic to those who come to your website. It also makes your website the evangelism tool you want it to be.