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Painting a clear picture for your church with your website

 
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Published on: 10/25/2013
by Kevin Duncan @kevinjduncan on Twitter

Last month I wrote a blog post comparing bad church websites to bad dating profiles. In the post I wrote:

How can a church website be dishonest? Well, saying you are friendly and welcoming to newcomers, but then have no one greet newcomers is one way. Saying you have a great youth ministry, but all you do is let teens play basketball at the church every other Friday for two hours is another way. The main point here is to remember everything you say on your website creates expectations for visitors. You better be able to meet those expectations. (emphasis mine)

An individual has asked me to go into more detail on the point emphasized above. Specifically, what are some other ways a church website can set expectations for visitors?

Going into all the ways, big or small, a church website sets expectations would be an exhausting exercise. However, here are a few obvious ones off the top of my head:

Your website shows many photos of church members, but in reality your church is quite small. Conversely, your website paints a picture of a small, cozy church, but in reality your church is a mega church.

Your website prominently features a church orchestra, but the orchestra only plays once in a while.

Your website mentions having a nursery for small children, but it is no longer offered.

You have a new pastor, but your church still shows information for your former pastor.

Your church’s statement of faith has changed, but these changes aren’t reflected in the information offered on your website.

And so on.

Aren’t these obvious?

Yes, they should be. Obvious, too, are the two examples I used in the original blog post: Saying you have a great youth ministry when you do not, and saying you are welcoming to newcomers, but then having no one greet newcomers.

Sometimes, it’s the obvious things which are easy to miss.

In three of the examples above, “outdated information” is the culprit. That’s yet another reason why it’s important to keep your content current. If a family with small kids finds your church, sees on your website you offer a nursery, but shows up one Sunday only to discover you don’t…well, you’re unlikely to ever again get that family inside your doors.

The same goes with not updating pastor information and your statement of faith. Keep your content updated. I cannot stress this enough.

In the “saying you have a great youth ministry, but all you do is let teens play basketball at the church every other Friday for two hours” example, the likelihood is the basketball-playing is step one in what is a growing youth ministry. That’s great. But if your youth ministry isn’t quite there yet, don’t hype it as though it’s a finished product.

In other words, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Sometimes it’s better to be a tad tardy than a tad early.

Wrapping it up

I’m not sure if I adequately answered the question posed to me, but hopefully this blog post will help emphasize the importantance of painting a clear picture of your church with your website.

You paint a clear picture by keeping your content up to date and ensuring it’s accurate.

Remember: Everything you say on your website creates expectations for visitors. Make sure those expectations are accurate and realistic.

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