7 Things You Will Never Hear Your Members Say About Your Church Website That You Should

Oh yeah, “about your church website Pastor!” We are all sweet and perfect Christians, right? We all know the answer to that.

None of us are perfect. Ministry and church life can often be very hard. It is a different kind of beast compared to anything else out there. Yet, we are all called to be Christlike even when things are tough, irritating, and not agreeable to us.

One of the things I have found being in ministry for years now is that we choose to error by faking nice, even when we do not want to be. We put on a smile and just say “amen pastor” even though we do not mean it.

As a matter of fact, we all need to work on being a little more candid, direct, and honest. Especially when we have a disagreement or issue with someone, something, poor decisions we see made, our pastor, a lay leader, and more…

Jesus, after all, was very direct. He was more direct with people than we want to acknowledge or give him credit for actually. Are we supposed to be more like Jesus? Yes.

When it comes to getting feedback about your church website, most of the time you will not receive direct, candid, and honest critique about it.

Why?

Mostly because of the above mentioned. Also because it is something that seems to be on the “outside” so to speak. It is not top of mind often in ministry.

We focus on service stuff, worship, and other ministries. We are dealing with people who are actually in front of our face daily.

You will often not get feedback about your church website due to fear that a member, lay leader, or someone on your church staff may have. A person does not wish to hurt your feelings or hurt the person’s feelings who actually designed the church website either.

custom church website buttonThis is big a problem! You need honest feedback about your church website. It is your virtual front door that most people will hit before they decide to visit your church for the first time.

Here are some things you will not hear your members or even your ministry team say about your church website that you should. How do I know these are specific things you will not hear about your church website?

I have consulted with thousands of pastors and ministry leaders over the years. I actually give this constructive feedback. A Pastor then takes it to his or her team only to finally hear that people felt the same way about the church’s website all along.

1. Our church website is out of date.

Ok, so this is a generic comment. But, people know when something is old. A sweater loses color, a car’s paint starts to chip, and your teeth start to fall out!

The same thing applies to your church website. The colors and branding get old. It has old staff photos of what you wished you still looked like as a pastor. It has ministry content that is no longer relevant.

2. Oh yeah, about your church website Pastor. It looks terrible from my phone!

Did you know that over 60% of all web browsing is happening from mobile devices now? Isn’t it crazy? It is a reality now.

I spoke to a pastor the other day who has an iPhone who has never taken the time to look at his church website! He didn’t know that it was not mobile-friendly at all.

A mobile friendly site might be the difference maker in a decision someone makes to not tithe through your website. They became too frustrated trying to make that happen from their phone.

What if a young millennial falling apart because of addiction tried to listen to a sermon you preached on the freedom Christ brings? Yet, he couldn’t get to it from his phone effectively.

What is one soul like this worth to God? I’m not trying to sound harsh but you may need to hear it.

3. I do not find our church website useful at all.

A church website should be an interactive tool still. It is not all about outreach. Yes, we have social media and apps now that can be very useful for church communication.

However, Your website is a hub for members.

Things members will rely on your church website for are: Online Giving, Sermons, Registration, and Events. Are these things up to date on your church website?

Do you want your members to get last week’s sermon they missed? How about that person who is not a member yet? They may want to hear a message from your church to help them decide if they want to come for the first time or not?

4. Our website is a poor reflection of our church.

Do you have quality services and ministry taking place at your church? I hope you are proud of your church and what God is doing there. I’m sure your members are. After all, they are staying for some reason.

Are they proud to give your website address to a friend or someone they meet to invite them? They may not be. Once again, they are afraid to tell you that your website isn’t a reflection of what they love about your church.

5. I don’t even know what our web address is!

I have pastors often tell me they do not even know what their website address is off the top of their head! This is sad. If you as a pastor do not know, do you expect your members to know it?

Do you have it on signage or other marketing material you use? You should be telling people what your website address is during announcements or when preaching a sermon about inviting.

6. I sent a friend to our website and they called me back to get directions and service times!grow your church button

Hard to believe? I still see so many church websites without service times and directions that are clearly visible. You would think this should be a no-brainer to have a front face now on a church website.

Some studies show this is the most sought after item on a church website. Don’t take my word for it but Thom Rainer’s too. I hope you never hear this about your church website actually.

7. Our church website sucks!

Last but not least. You should hear this if it is true. If all the above is lacking, your church website does suck.

Sometimes we need to hear the plain truth bluntly. Sometimes that is what it takes for us to actually do something about a problem.

You love your church, are proud of it, care for your members, and most importantly you care for the unchurched out there. It is time to do something about your church website. It is time to speak up about it.

Lives do actually depend on it.

Are you afraid some of these things listed are on the tip of your member’s tongues? Let’s do something about.

We offer a free website analysis. Just ask us for one!

4 Reasons Why You Absolutely Must Start a Church Blog

Start a church blog
 
Every pastor wants to do a better job reaching their community.  At least I know I do. 
Over the past few years, I have become convinced that one of the best ways to make an impact in my community is by running a church blog.
 
Early in 2015 the church I pastor started a church blog.  At first, it was an experiment to see if we could do it.  We weren’t sure it would have much of an impact, but we had a few team members who loved to write, so we figured we would give it a shot.
 
I recruited 4 people from our church to help me with this project. I knew I couldn’t keep up if I did it alone.
 
We committed to each writing one post per month.  That allowed us to put out a new post each week.
 
The results have been nothing less than shocking. Since we started we have seen thousands of unique visitors to our site.  Hundreds have come out to visit our church and dozens have become members.
 
Here are 4 reasons why you need to start a church blog today.

1. A Church Blog Will Raise Your Visibility

One of the biggest challenges churches face is increasing their visibility in the community.
 
As much as we like to think we are a big deal, no one thinks about our church as much as we do. We need to do everything we can to make people aware of our church if we have any hope to engage them.
 
custom church website buttonAt my church, we had almost no visibility.
 
Like many young churches, we do not have our own building. We are an urban church that meets in community centers.  There is no sign out front that people drive by on the way home from work every day.
 
No one knew about us, but blogging has changed that.
 
When we started blogging, we were quite proud of ourselves.  We found that our blogging team loved to share our own posts on social media. Our friends and church family read our posts, and that was about it.
 
As we became more consistent some of the people from within our church started to like what we were putting out, and they began to share the posts.
 
After blogging consistently for a few months we saw that each post would get a handful of shares on Facebook.   This is where the visibility comes from.
 
A Facebook share is the modern invitation to church. (No it doesn’t replace inviting people to church. Don’t stone me.)
 
Each time something from your church is shared, it is a personal voucher for your church.  The sharer is putting their approval on your ministry and saying they stand behind it.
 
Every person who sees the shared post sees your church name, your branding, and if they click on the link, they get a short encouragement.
 
They are engaging with your ministry. Sure, it’s a baby step, but it increases the odds that they will visit on a Sunday.
 

2. A Church Blog Will Increase Your Reach

 
I don’t pastor an enormous church.  Each week our sermons are only heard by several dozen people.
 
Our blog has allowed us to greatly increase the reach of our church.
 
Our average post reaches 237 people.  That is more than we reach on a typical Sunday morning.
 
I am not saying that reading a blog post has the same value as someone coming to a service.  Corporate worship remains an integral part of every church.
 
Best Church Blog Post We Did
This post gets more traction than any other we wrote.

But there is great value in reaching people with a blog post. It gives them a bite size sermon that they can take with them and apply to their life. It meets them on their terms.

 
This can have an enormous impact on your church.
One post that we wrote caught on and received dozens of shares online. Now it ranks highly in searches and generates about 7 new site visitors every day.
 
We have had several people come to our services and tell us that they had found that particular post. Our blog served as the first step in connecting them to our church.
 

3. A Church Blog Will Increase Your Ranking On Search Engines

 
The biggest benefit to our church since we started a blog has been the change in our search engine rankings.
 
Search engines are the primary way that people make most decisions in their life today.grow your church button
 
Want to see a movie – Search for it and check the review and show times. Need a new mouse for your computer – Ask google which one is best. New to the area and looking for a church – do a quick online search and see what comes up.
 
Search engines have become the most important tool for getting the word out there about your church.
 
Starting a church blog will help you get a higher ranking on search engines.
 
Here’s why: Search engines try to deliver the most relevant results to the searcher.  The content on your site is the primary way that google will judge you. The more good content you have the higher you will rank.
 
There are other factors tied to search engine algorithms, but nothing is better for your search engine rankings than good content.
 
Good blog posts get linked to by other blogs.  They receive lots of social shares.  Google sees all these things and starts to think your church must be very important and will start to send people to your site more and more often.
 
Our church wrote a blog post about porn, and we saw huge volumes of people searching for porn wind up on our site – some even engaging with our church.
 
Side note: It is disturbing how many people were searching for kids+porn, but it is the sick that need the doctor right?
 
Start blogging and I am confident that you will see results in search engines.  Not immediately, but do it regularly and you will reap the rewards in due time.
 

4. A Church Blog Will Challenge Your Congregation

 
Finally, we have seen that starting a church blog was a great engagement tool for our church family.
 
People are busier today than ever before.  Trying to get everyone to show up to mid-week services or small groups is always a challenge.
 
I am a pastor, and it is even hard for me to want to go to mid-week events at church.
 
Writing in a blog has been a great way to provide an extra touch each week.
 
Where many members won’t get out and make it to a church meeting during the week, they will go on Facebook daily.
 
We see members connecting and engaging with the content week in and week out. They read and some even leave comments.
 
We have seen small group style discussions break out online with people who have never been to a small group.  The church blog allows us to make that happen.
 
A word of caution: Comment sections can devolve into unhealthy debate quickly.  We recommend that your church keeps the comment approval system on at all times.  Don’t allow your church blog to become a place for discord.
 

How can you start a church blog?

 
Many church website providers include blogging functionality in their offerings.  We would say that is a must have.
 
WordPress is the best blogging system out there, hands down.  We build exclusively on WordPress and strongly recommend that you do the same. It is easy to use and will help you rank better in search engines because WordPress is focused on content first.
 

Want some help?

 
Do you want to reach more people?  Last year our church saw an increase of 367 visitors by making a few tweaks to how we were doing things online.  We would love to help you make some of those changes to increase your reach.
 

3 Proven Facebook Strategies Your Church Should Be Using To Grow

Church Facebook Strategy - 3 Proven Ways to Grow

How is Facebook working out for you? Seeing results? Yes, no, maybe so… Facebook has been for a while now and still is, the “social media giant”. Most churches use Facebook now. What is an effective church Facebook strategy?

When churches first started to use Facebook more a few years back they were using it in a very basic fashion. An occasional event update, thought or verse of the day, and maybe some pictures of the last outreach. These, of course, are good things to share as a church on Facebook. Are you still just doing these things? You should be doing more now!

Facebook has increased its functionality, features, and offerings. Everyone can take advantage of this now. There is a lot you can be doing now for more effective church Facebook strategy.

custom church website buttonThe Facebook landscape has changed in recent times. It is more competitive. Thousands of organizations and businesses are competing for visibility on Facebook. It costs money now to get the most out of Facebook in some instances too.

What should be your end goal as a church be in using Facebook? What is a proven church Facebook strategy that will help you reach more people? How can you communicate with your members better?

Let’s unpack some proven methods and healthy Facebook strategy.

1. Church Facebook Strategy – Be Consistent

First things first. We have all heard the expression, “if you are not going to do something right, then don’t do it at all.” I do not think this saying holds true in all areas of life, but in this area it does. If you set up a Facebook page and only post something every now and then it is actually going to hurt you more than help you. You will give people the impression that you set one up for the sake of doing so. You will also insinuate that you do not care about relevantly or genuinely communicating with people.

Now the good news is that you do not have to always be posting content all the time. Research and evidence show that you should not be posting more than around once a day. Posting several times in a day or fanatically will cause people to become uninterested or even write you off completely. They do not want constant updates from the same person all day long.

You need to be consistent. Have a time in the day you can dedicate to posting something. Stick to this time or schedule. Becoming disciplined in all aspects of life is a good thing. The same applies here and consistency will yield good results as you will become more visible. Your Facebook friends will start to rely more on your posts and will be awaiting your every post too.

This leads me to the next couple points. Not only do you need to be consistent, you need to be posting things of substance and that are engaging.

2. Church Facebook Strategy -Use Media

Lots of photos and as much video as possible is great for your church Facebook strategy. Posting lots of candid pictures will help you engage people. It helps to make you come off as authentic, reduces apprehension, evokes emotion. As we know, a lot of people will not visit a church for the first time because they do not know what kind people they will come across during a service.

For people who are new or newer to your church, this will help them become more familiar and feel more attached. Take photos of life change, ministry activity, and of your staff that people will actually connect with at your church. This takes people inside of the life of your church.

The more video the better also. Nothing too long. Nobody wants to watch a full-length movie. Video can often be more powerful than photography. People will get to experience your church more this way.

grow your church button

With the nature of limited attention span and how people prefer to communicate on Facebook, you may not want to stream a whole sermon or service. Do a shorter video of an encouraging word for the day, video snippets of your last youth event, and more things of the like.

You can “go live” on Facebook now. Churches are seeing great results by doing this. Asking people to send prayer requests in real-time. Getting to interact with those people right then is powerful. Other members may also tune in at that time being able to encourage people more than they may have been able to do so at an actual service.

This church Facebook strategy takes people inside your church before even visiting. PR Journal put out a great article in 2014 about what fortune 500 companies and non-profits top 3 Facebook strategies were: 1. Openness and Disclosure (showing what goes on within the organization). 2. Access (allowing customers to reach out and interact with a company). 3. Positivity (making the experience enjoyable and pleasant for the customer), so don’t just take my word for it.

3. Church Facebook Strategy – Build Your Brand

Lastly, build your brand for your church Facebook strategy. Your church has a unique vision, identity, and hopefully a positive perception from membership as well as your local community. What are the things your church does best? Always be pointing to what you do best when you share on Facebook.

Share or allow trusted members to share testimonies on your Facebook page too. Businesses do this online all the time to gain trust with their prospective clients. Why shouldn’t you do the same with prospective visitors/members? This also illustrates what God is doing at your church and creates excitement.

The neat thing about doing this is that when a testimony is posted, people can comment on that post then that person’s friends see that comment too. This takes your church viral if you Ask your members to share what they love about your church on your Facebook page. Their friends and followers will see that too.

Make sure your logo, specific colors, and messaging is present on your Facebook page also. Your Facebook branding should also be consistent with your church website branding. In doing this, it promotes that you are valid, consistent, and makes you a memorable organization.

You want to be viewed as valid and want to be top of mind when it comes time for someone to want to visit a local church.
I hope this was helpful and you start doing some of these things right away. After all, this is at the end of the day about reaching more people for Christ! I know I left out some other ideas for good strategy too.

Please share with us something different or effective you have done. For more on social media, check out this infographic on increasing your facebook reach.

 

How To Make A Strong Impact With Your Church Website By Doing These 3 Things

Strong Impact With Your Church Website
How to make your church website better blah blah.Yeah Yeah, you have read something like this before.
You may be saying to yourself, why should I read another post like this? Well, if your church website is getting you great results then perhaps you do not need to read this post. I would say that if you are Mr great website already, read on so you can pat yourself on the back. Affirm that you going in the right direction!
Almost every church has a website now. I rarely come across a church without one these days. Still, I do come across a lot of bad church websites, though. I know they are bad based on several factors that I see on these very sad sites. It is clear to me these sites are not yielding great results for these churches. If you have one of these, I do not even need to look at your website analytics to know you are not getting good results.
What is the number one result you should desire to have with your church website? I bet you guessed it, “attract more first-time guests!”
custom church website buttonAttracting more first-time guests should be your number one goal! 85% to 90% of people will hit your website first before they visit in person for the first time. Yes, church members still rely upon your church website still. Members will use it for communication, but they also follow you on social media more now too. Members are of course are more “in the know” about your events compared to potential or newer members as well.
The main goal is to “attract more visitors.” So then most of what you do with you church website should be centered around that goal right?
There are a lot of things you can do and should do with your church website to get great results. We, of course, cannot address all these things right now. Let’s be honest, it is very hard to carry out on your own all of the things on your church website you need to get great results.
You do want results, though! Another way to say this is that “You want to make a strong impact with your church website.”
If there were only 3 things you can do now to make a strong impact with your church website it should be these below. These 3 things are based on the feedback we hear from churches seeing results from their sites! If you do your homework too you will find that these are the “right now” elements in the church web world.

1. Make sure your Church Website tells your Story.

What is your story? Every church has one. Past, Present, and where they would like to be going in the future. We are not talking about writing a novel on your site! We all know that would create a hot mess on your church website. Your church’s story is conveyed best now online with authentic photography. You also need good messaging, and to tell your story within the content your church website. It isn’t all that hard to find a good looking template out there or attractive colors.
I have come across many church websites that look good visually now. They have decent graphic elements too. Yet, a lot of these do not tell me anything about that church within a short amount of time after I get to the home page.
You need to promote a clear identity. Think of going deeper than we are just a church that “loves God and people.” That is great if truly do, but you know what your church is more than that! Is there feedback you are receiving from first-time guests or newer members about your church or their experience there? I hope you are asking for that feedback too!
Are you known in your community or city for something unique? Would someone say, “oh yeah, that is the church that does this or that.” The point is to think and go deeper. Put yourself in the mind of someone unchurched or seeking a church as much as possible.
What would you find compelling if you were on a church website?

2. Be sure and take a “mobile first” approach.

Everyone pretty much knows they need a “mobile friendly approach” these days. What is a “mobile first approach” though?
First, you need to make sure your church website is “mobile responsive.” This means that not only should your website be able to be seen on a mobile device, but it should also “respond” to any device it is being pulled up from too. Whether that is an android phone, iPhone, or tablet.
Think of it this way, your church website should “transform” from a desktop version and resize itself on one of these devices.
grow your church buttonI have seen some of the cheap templates out there that have somewhat of a “mobile version” of a site. This is good but it is not true responsive design. Google is now giving precedence to mobile responsive websites. They are flagging unresponsive sites hence moving them lower in the searches. Trust me, you want to have favor google! You want to do all you can to come up as one of the first churches when someone is doing a search for one.
Then, after you have a responsive site the focus should be the “user experience” on your church website. Over half of all browsing is happening on mobile devices now. People are even less patient when browsing from a phone. You need to get them engaged and get them to their content of interest quickly.
Mobile users are also used to scrolling down now too. They do this on facebook, twitter, and others. Carrying out this scrolling effect on your church website design is a very good idea. Then, as they are scrolling down; make sure they get the content they are interested in quickly so they are more inclined to go further into your site.

3. Ensure your church website content evokes a response.

There is a saying in the web world that content is king. There are many reasons for this. But, let’s stick to the main goal we are talking about here: Content that will help attract a first-time guest better!
As a potential first-time guest is looking over your site, do you think they want to be greeted with a lengthy amount of text? They will more than likely will not even take the time to read lengthy text. They probably do not even care about a lot of that content too.
You need to have brief content visible right away from the home page. You also need links that can be easily accessed. These links need to be clearly understood by a potential first-time guest as well.
This is mainly done now with short compelling blurbs with a “call to action.” This takes them further into more expanded content or a landing page if necessary. “Calls to action” are important! Good pastors ask for a response after a sermon. A good church member should invite and ask someone to come to church right? Jesus often gave calls to action. Need I say more?
Again, what is compelling about your church story you are telling? Once they click on that call to action button what do you want them to do next? Is it to check in their child to children’s church? Is it to fill out a form to volunteer after they see great storytelling about the ways people can serve at your church?
I hope this was insightful to you. Once again, good for you if you are doing these things already. If you are not doing these things well or at all for that matter, you should get right on this right away! Let’s start making a bigger impact with your church website. These things can be hard to do without professional help and expertise also. We are here to help you at REACHRIGHT. Let us know if you need help today! By the way, that was a “call to action” I just gave you.