5 essentials for your church website

5 Essentials For Your Church Website

In our culture, where first impressions are often made in the digital world, your church website stands as the gateway to your community’s values, and mission. For many, it serves as the initial encounter with the heartbeat of your congregation. It’s time to recognise that your website has become your front door, through which you can invite connection.

So getting the basics right for your website has never been more important. We’re going to explore 5 essentials for your church website. By implementing these 5 things on your site you give yourself a great chance of connecting with the people you hope to reach. As we explore these, it’s important to remember that there are real lives on the other end of the screen.

So without further ado, here are the 5 essentials for your church website:

  1. A Great First Impression
  2. Easy Access To Your Content 
  3. Clear Vision
  4. Where and When You Meet
  5. An Invitation To Connect

Let’s explore how you can implement each of these below.

1. A Great First Impression

As the saying goes, you only get one opportunity for a first impression! Ask yourself, when was the last time you attended somewhere new and you didn’t first Google it?

Whilst social media continues to play an important role in most churches’ online strategy, websites remain the number one authority on who your church is. So that first impression really matters.

There are lots of aspects that go into making a great first impression online, it’s more than your words, it’s more than your clever design. It’s about the feeling that you create in your visitor.

Imagine how a visitor to your building or place of meeting would feel if your entrance was cluttered, dirty or in serious need of redecoration. It’s the exact same issue with websites. If your website is slow, poorly designed, out of date or confusing you might be in trouble.

Some basics are not to be overlooked here. Firstly, does it load within a second of that click. If a website takes too long to load, the chances that someone will click away are high. Solving this sort of issue is complicated and often requires a web developer to properly diagnose.

Next think about the colours, images and main headlines a visitor sees on that very first screen before they scroll. In marketing this area is called “Above the fold”, a term originally used to describe the first part of a newspaper that someone sees. Images or video that capture a feeling are more important than trying to describe your entire ministry philosophy in one image.
Generally speaking people smiling, chatting, or passionately engaged in your services work better than photos of your building. The visitor wants to be able to picture themselves in that place.

Having a short (under 10 words) phrase that welcomes people and tells them something about you is a great way to match your imagery. It takes time to craft this sort of phrase so try a few options out as you go.

Colours matter too. Marketing experts study the field of colour psychology which reveals that certain colours produce different emotions. Yellow and oranges are for energy and passion. Blues and greens tend to be more soothing and serious. Choose your colours carefully and with intention and as a general rule, stick to one main colour throughout, paired with black and white.

You’ve made a great first impression well done! If they are still with you then great we can build upon that.

2. Easy Access To Your Content

As so many churches have moved online with their services this has presented a huge opportunity for your website. People interested in your church are often looking for a way to connect whilst staying anonymous. As a first step they want to see what your services look like. They want to be able to visualise themselves arriving and walking into your service.

There are a few different ways you can do this, including putting regular photos on your social media channels, or creating a welcome to church short video, however the simplest for most churches is to make your Sunday services accessible.

It should be easy for someone to find your latest Sunday service on your website. This could be as simple as a link to your YouTube channel or live stream platform. However if you can embed these in your website it means people don’t have to leave your website to view these. The advantage of this is that after checking out your media they can easily find out more information in your menus.

Your service content, or other media, will provide a lens into your values, your style and your vision. Visitors to your site can build up a sense of connection with your main communicators before they even step foot in your space. Questions about theology, or worship style, or teaching quality are answered simply through your content.

It is the equivalent of letting visitors peer in the window before they commit. I have heard of multiple occasions where someone has watched online for months before messaging or showing up in person.

Yes, making your sermons or services available is great for your congregation as well, but by making your main content as obvious as possible you are building relationships with visitors all the time.

3. Clear Vision

binoculars looking at sunset

A sense of purpose is essential to convey on your website. It’s helpful for people to get a sense of what motivates you as a church. You may not be able to articulate everything you feel, but having shorthand phrases that communicate your why is powerful.

Visitors want to know you have a compelling purpose behind your activities. As Christians we are spoilt for ways to articulate the gospel that motivates us, but finding your church’s unique expression can take time.

The hardest part of this step is not the website, but the time, energy and effort it requires to define your vision. If a website presents an unclear vision it is usually a wider issue than just the website. Brevity and clarity are hard work but the fruit will impact every area of your ministry.

Somewhere on your home page a visitor should get a sense of why you exist, and they shouldn’t need to dig too deep for it.

4. Where and When You Meet

church building

It may seem really obvious but within the first few seconds of arriving at your website a visitor should be able to learn where and when you meet. It may be obvious but I have seen many examples where churches make people work hard for this information!

If your Sunday meeting is the main connection point for people, tell them where and when they can show up. Please don’t make people work for this.

Many visitors on your site will be there for this exact reason. They have heard about you and they want to know what time you meet. Give them your service start time and the address of your building.

It can be helpful to have a page dedicated to visiting in person. A place to help explain what they can expect, the timings of events, information for children’s groups and a way to let you know they are coming or ask specific questions.

However, even with a dedicated page the headlines of where and when you meet need to be there on your home page near the top.

5. An Invitation to Connect

The goal of your website is not to simply look beautiful, or provide great information, but to actually create a connection with your visitors.

In the same way the front door of your building is something to pass through – your website is an opportunity for connection. In multiple places look for opportunities to invite a visitor to connect.

If someone can move beyond being an anonymous online viewer to giving their email or commenting or interacting in some way, that is the first step in a deeper relationship.

Ideally your homepage makes it clear how to make that step. It could be a link to a contact form or an email address that can be clicked on or even an instant chat window.

Throughout your site you can then place lots of invites to connect. Want to ask something about our services? Why not send us a message. Want to let us know you plan to visit? Just send us an email. Want to meet some of our community? Here is how.

Your website should repeatedly invite some form of next step in the relationship.

The best church websites provide information in order to invite a relationship.

How are you doing?

Your website matters to your mission. If you can think through these essential elements then your website will function well and you will build relationships with your visitors.

Building a great website takes time and I know for many leaders it can feel like another burden. As a church leader myself, I get that. That’s why I’ve created Church Site Builder.

It’s a platform designed for churches like yours, to make church websites easy. We’ve done a lot of the hard work so you don’t have to. Pick from a range of simple designs and customise it with your content. We’ll walk you through the process and support you to make your website a powerful tool for your mission.