10 Tips for Your Church or Ministry Website
Thinking of creating a website for your church, mosque, ministry, synagogue, temple, or spiritual center? You will find these tips very useful regardless of faith or beliefs and your new website can be a very useful tool for the 21st century.
(In this article, we will be using the general terms "church" and "minister" for simplicity.)
1. Does My Church Really Need a Website?
Yes, your church would benefit greatly from a website. A website makes it very easy to get the word out to your congregation about upcoming events or schedule changes. Your website will also allow potential future members to get a feel for your church and your congregation.
Using a relatively inexpensive and user-friendly web design program will help save you time and money compared to traditional printed publicity materials.
"I refer people to the website all the time which saves time explaining things and saves the church money (printing costs). The site has become like another staff member at the church at nothing near the cost of a receptionist/secretary."
~Robert Richards, minister at Dundee Baptist Church in Dundee, MI
(In this article we'll be using examples from Sandvox from Karelia Software, creators of software for making a website on a Mac, though these tips should apply no matter what tool you use. Feel free to browse through our user-submitted directory of Sandvox-built websites for real-life examples.)
2. Introduce the Minister(s)
The leader of your church is more than just the face on the website and the person who delivers the message each week. He or she helps set the direction for the congregation, along with the types of activities and events they partake in. The beliefs and background of the minister(s) can also be very influential in the addition of new members.
Introducing the minister(s) to those interested in, or currently members of, your church adds a personal touch to your website while also providing a feeling of community and openness.
- Make a Church Website
Easily create your very own church website, including all the items listed on this page, with Sandvox for Mac OS X.
"I defy anyone to find a more technically savvy, cost-effective and yet unobtrusive tool to build a website, no matter what your level of expertise might be."
~Robert Richards, Dundee Baptist Church
3. Events Page
Your website is the perfect tool with which to announce upcoming fellowship events and service activities. Whether you're hosting a scripture study or going out into the community to volunteer, your website can help you notify and recruit members of your congegration. Is the church basketball or softball season coming up? Go ahead and post the schedule on your site so no one misses any of the action.
Some web design programs offer the option to seamlessly insert popular add-ons including Google Gadgets. Among the most popular of these is Google Calendar, which allows you to post a calendar of upcoming events, including time and date, along with any other relevant details.
4. Post Weekly Sermons
The posting of weekly sermons or messages is a very nice touch for those members that missed a recent Sunday. It can also be helpful to other people who are considering attending your church or temple. The topics and themes covered by a minister help indicate whether a church or temple will be a good fit for those considering attendance.
Modern web design programs offer several options for the posting of sermons or messages to your church, temple, or ministry website. You can simply type (or copy and paste) them directly onto a webpage of your site, or you can create PDFs for download. Some design programs will also help you upload audio to your site, allowing absent or home-bound members to download and listen to your recorded sermon.
Sandvox-Created Church and Ministry Sites
- Asher Church of Christ
Jim Kelly's Asher Church of Christ (Asher, OK) website. Click the screenshot to the right to take a look at the minister profile page, in which he includes a couple of pictures, a welcome message, a short bio, and a link to his personal site.
- Salaam Alaikum | 786 Iran Ziarat 110
Haider Ali's website for travel to the various mosques, shrines, and holy sites of Iran. Click the screenshot to the right for a view of Haider's homepage featuring images and a list of content updates.
- Tom Hayden Ministries
Tom Hayden's website for his Kure Beach, NC-based ministry. Click the screenshot to the right to see a list of Tom's weekly messages for the first few weeks of the New Year, which he makes available for viewing on individual webpages.
- Dundee Baptist Church
Robert Richards' website for his Dundee Baptist Church in Dundee, MI. Click the screenshot to the right to take a look at Robert's homepage, including links to an "About Us" page, a contact form, and a pastor's blog.
5. Minister's Blog
As the leader of your church, you undoubtedly have members who are interested in hearing what you have to say more frequently than just every Sunday. Starting and maintaining a blog is quick and simple and allows you to post your comments on national and local current events.
A blog is nothing more than a collection of webpages, each containing a post of your commentary. Some web design programs are setup to help you easily create your very own blog within your new church or ministry website.
6. RSS Feed
So, you have setup your Sermon and Blog sections of your website. What's the easiest way to get the word out to your congregation? How about allowing them to sign up for an RSS feed and easily receive any content updates, as opposed to browsing the entire site every day.
RSS feeds are becoming a standard component to blogs and offer readers the opportunity to browse new content at their convenience. Many web design programs will assist you in setting up the RSS feed option for visitors to your site.
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7. Setup a Donation Option
After reading about all your church, there may be some visitors to your site who feel inclined to support your mission. Fortunately, you can grant them the ability to easily donate through your website. Services like PayPal offer secure ecommerce transactions that allow for safe and easy donations.
If you are interested in adding a donation option, you will want to be somewhat selective when choosing your web design program. The most useful programs in this regard will be those that help you setup a PayPal (or similar) option on your website.
8. Photo Album
When it comes to advertising your church, text and site design only go so far. Add that little extra by including a photo album on your website. The album could contain pictures from recent service activities or social events, or maybe even mission trips or guest speakers. These items all help identify the character of your church or congregation.
Modern website design programs can help you build an easy and professional photo album within your new church website. You probably have hundreds of photos saved and you never knew what to do with them. Well, now you do.
9. Contact Form
Including a contact form on your website is not only a nice service to provide current members and those interested in your church, but it also is safer than simply listing your email address. The contact form is a nice venue for questions from current members regarding the site content or posted events. People interested in your church can also reach out for additional information or to setup a meeting.
A contact form that preserves the privacy of your email address can be easily created with some web design programs. Such a form reduces unwanted contact or spam, while still allowing full messaging capability through your website.
10. Outside Links
During your time on the internet, you have likely come across several sites you have found to be informative or of help to your church congregation or followers of your ministry. Your site can include a linked list of any and all such websites for the benefit of visitors to your site.
Whether you would like to link to local charities or non-profits, online scripture studies, or your church's daycare, such a list can be easily created with many website design programs. Providing your visitors with supplementary information is a considerate and thoughtful gesture that helps to further identify your church's beliefs and/or connections within the community.