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20 Ways Your Church Website Can Serve Unchurched People (With Examples)

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20 Ways Your Church Website Can Serve Unchurched People (With Examples)

Many people have never attended a church service before. Here are 20 tips (with examples) for serving these people on your church website.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never visited your church before.

In our increasingly secularised society, there are more and more people who are like this – people who have never attended a church service. Never been to Sunday school. Perhaps not even set foot in a church for a wedding or a funeral.

These people have little to no understanding of what happens in church, or what Christians believe. Some people may even think you need to purchase a ticket to attend.

By God's grace (perhaps including some helpful promotion by the church), people will explore church for the first time.

When someone who has never been to church visits your church website, what will their experience be?

Take a look at your church's website now – through the lens of someone who has never been before. Does the website help you?

I firmly believe that the number 1 audience for a church website should be the people who don't yet attend that church. First and foremost, these are the people church websites should serve. And there is much churches can do to make their websites more  welcoming and accessible to people who are thinking of visiting.

Here are 20 suggestions with examples of how to serve unchurched people on your church website.

Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

1. Communicate why you exist

Every organisation has a mission. This mission should be communicated boldly on every website. The good news is – churches have a glorious, life changing mission. Let people know why you exist and what you are on about.

Here's an example from EV Church:

Growing

Here's an example from Church Unlimited:

ChurchUnlimited

2. Describe what visitors can expect

Visiting anywhere new can be daunting and difficult. This was true for me when I attempted to attend a philosophy seminar. Even Christians can find visiting a new church a bit challenging.  The church website is a great place to explain what to expect, to help people feel comfortable before they arrive.

Here's an example from Eikon Church:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.06.11 pm

3. Make it clear when the church meets

This should be obvious (if you want people to come to church), but as I discovered last Christmas, many churches fail to provide this critical information.

Here's an example from Risen:

Risen

4. Keep service times up to date

If your church isn't meeting over the summer, or if you've left town to go on church camp, it's helpful to let people know on your website. Several years ago I was helping a friend find a new church. We turned up at the church and it was closed. We didn't realise it at the time, but there weren't evening services over January.

Here's an example I recently shared on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.30.34 pm

5. Provide clear directions

Detailed directions can be really helpful. You know how to get to the church – you go there each week. Others may not find it so easy the first time. It can also be helpful to provide details of the nearest bus stop or train station, or where to park.

Here's an example from the Village Church:

Directions

6. Use images (lots of them)

When you see this done well, you can see how helpful and engaging this can be.

Here's a couple of examples from Holy Trinity Brompton:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.47.14 pm

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.47.02 pm

The City Church also does this very well.

7. Provide a means for people to request prayer

Many people will turn to the church for the first time when life turns bad. Providing a way for people to reach out and request is a way to help people in need, opening doors for further opportunities to share the good news with them.

Here's an example from Calvary Church:

Prayer

8. Make contact details obvious

Don't make people work hard to contact you. This is a topic I've written about many times before, but it's well worth reviewing your website to see just how easy this information is to find.

Here's an example from Fellowship Church:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.44.09 pm

It's also a great idea to remove any CAPTCHA forms. They're often more trouble than their worth.

9. Respond when people contact you

As I discovered last December, too many churches fail to respond to people who contact them, asking about Christmas service times.

If people contact you, make sure you respond (promptly is good, but as I discovered, even just responding is great start!).

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 3.13.32 pm

10. Explain the gospel

I am staggered at how many church websites don't explain or articulate the gospel. Your website is a great place to explain the good news, and invite people to respond.

Here's an example from Lifepoint Church:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.00.14 pm

11. Share stories of life change

Knowing God makes a difference, and people want to know what difference it makes to know God. Share the stories of how God has been at work in the lives of people at your church.

Here's an example from NorthStar Church:

Stories

12. Communicate that new people are welcome

People may wonder if the church is a club that's open to new members. If you're open to visitors, let them know this on your website.

Here's an example from NewSpring. It's just 5 words, but it makes a difference:

Welcome

Here's an example from Eikon Church:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.04.21 pm

13. Make the weddings and funerals information easy to find

Similarly, some people will make contact with a church for the first time at these big moments of life. Help them by making this information easy to find.

Here's an example from The Village Church:

Wedding

14. Ensure your website is responsive

For the first time ever, more people are accessing the internet on a mobile device than on a desktop computer or laptop. If someone visits your church website on their smartphone or tablet, what will they see?

Here's an example from Church by the Bridge:

unnamed

15. Have a search function

A great search function serves visitors to your website, by helping them to find what they couldn't locate on their own.

Search

Having said that, you need to check to make sure your search actually provides helpful results – especially for the most commonly search for terms on your website. Google's Site Search (in Google Analytics) can assist with this.

16. Provide some next steps

Help people to see what it might look like for them to get more involved, or to learn more about what Christians believe.

Here's an example from Waterloo Church:

Next

17. Share the songs you sing at church

Music is a great means to communicate the gospel and the things that Christians believe. Sharing the music you sing at church not only engages with people who enjoying listening to music, it also teaches them truth.

Here's an example from Creek Road Presbyterian Church:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.03.07 pm

I've also written a 4-step tutorial on how to create a Spotify playlist for your church.

18. Invite visitors to a welcome event

This is a great idea from Village Church. Not only does it communicate that visitors are welcome, it provides them with a great opportunity to meet others, and learn more about the church over a meal.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.15.45 pm

19. Communicate in different languages

If people in your community speak languages other than English, you can serve them by communicating in their native language – and perhaps inviting them to meet up with someone from the church who also speaks their language.

Here's an example from Barney's (I'm not sure what it says!):

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 4.44.32 pm

And Church by the Bridge:

20. List the leadership team

Yes, a church is more about Jesus than it is about the pastor/s. But people still want to know who is in charge. Even Christians, when looking for a new church, want to learn more about the leadership team.

Here's an example from City on a Hill:

City on a Hill Leadership Team

What else do you think church websites can or should do to be more accessible to people who haven't been to church?

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Pastor Will

    February 3, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Fantastic post. Thanks for putting these thoughts and examples in one place. This will be required reading for Rio Texas UMC communicators.

  2. Grace McCrorie

    February 28, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Great post, Steve! And, I really love that you included examples. I do have an idea about what churches can do to make their websites more accessible to people who haven’t been to church.

    I’ve personally been a first-time visitor quite a few times. So, I know how stressful it can be to visit a church for the first time. Whether people have been to church or not, it’s not easy to walk into a new, unfamiliar environment.

    Of course, churches use their websites to communicate who they are, and by that, try to give first-time guests a feel for what they can expect. But as they communicate their message using terms and phrases they’re familiar with, it often only adds to the anxiety of those attempting to enter the conversation for the first time.

    I know there’s a school of thought that says churches should use “less churchy” language on their websites. But, let’s face it…what happens when the church’s website speaks one “language”, but new visitors encounter a completely different one when they arrive at the church? You got them there, but they’ll likely not be too excited about returning.

    I believe churches should remain true to who they really are, but be congruent in all of their messaging: offline AND online. And, I think there’s a better way to do that while helping our guests feel less alienated and more warmly welcomed.

    Churches can make their websites (and communities, in general) much more accessible by adding a Church Lingo Page to their site.

    I wrote a couple posts about Church Lingo Pages on Church Website Ideas. (I included a couple great examples, too!) 🙂

  3. Pingback: Twenty Ways Your Church Website Can Serve Unchurched People (via Communicating Jesus) | mgpcpastor's blog

  4. Pingback: Church Tech Snack Pack #067 - ChurchMag

  5. WP Emergency Room

    June 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Great post, Steven. In addition to the help section, I would also like to recommend WP Emergency Room as an alternative (http://wpemergencyroom.com).

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