Note: this article was written several years ago. We believe the principles remain valid.
Many churches today see the need to have a website, but don’t know where to start.
Part of the problem is that a church feels it needs to have what they envision as a “complete” website — with service times, staff biographies, ministry descriptions, etc., etc. To create that level of website and also have a site which is graphically appealing normally requires an outside designer, which can involve a significant cost – a cost the church may not be willing or able to incur.
But there is an alternative approach which does not require an outside designer, does not need a fancy graphical appearance, and should also prove to be much more effective (in reaching the lost) than the typical church website.
Here’s the plan:
- Brainstorm a list of the most pressing social needs in your geographic region (unemployment, homelessness, health, crime, etc.).
- Find people within your congregation who have related life experiences and who are willing to be interviewed for your website (for example, if unemployment is one of the pressing needs in your region, someone in your congregation who has undergone a prolonged period of unemployment would be the perfect interview candidate).
- Interview your congregation member, asking them to describe their life experience and tell how their relationship with Jesus helped them to cope with and/or navigate through their experience.
- Post a transcript of the interview (perhaps with a photo of the interviewee) on the web, using a low-cost web hosting plan. This page on your new website does not have to be fancy — black text on a white background will be fine. 2021 Update: If you want it to be a bit more fancy, record a video of the interview, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo, and then embed the video on your website page.
- Consider writing an associated article which shares a biblical perspective on the life experience in question, post it on the website, and link the article to the interview transcript and vice versa. Again, black text on a white background will be perfectly fine.
- At a prominent place on the interview transcript (and on the associated article if you include one), place a simple text notice which says something to the effect of “To ask questions about this article/interview, call First Church at 111.111.1111 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
- Promote your article using no-cost and low-cost advertising methods — press releases to local media outlets, business cards with an intriguing headline and your website address (“Lost Your Job — Help Is Available: http://www.anyisp.com”), pay-per-click ads that are only shown to people in your geographic area, Facebook ads that are only shown to job searchers in your geographic area, newspaper advertising, etc.
- Be sure that someone is available at that phone number and email address to respond to inquiries.
Voila! You now have a website which will be much more effective than a typical church website at addressing the real needs of unbelievers in your area. As you find this approach to be effective, you can add additional interviews and articles regarding other needs in your region.
At some point, you may want to add the more traditional aspects of a church website (service times, staff biographies, etc.), but I think you’ll find that the majority of unbelievers will be much more interested in your interviews than your service times, at least initially! For information on a more expanded version of this concept, see our article: Effective Church Websites.