When church leaders get together to discuss, “how can we increase membership?” the first answer is usually not “improve our website!” Although most churches have websites, they aren’t viewed as the church growth solution. This assumption, however, deserves a second look. Your church website may very well be one of the most important factors in growing your church.
By way of disclaimer, we recognize that church growth isn’t dependent upon gimmicks or tricks that we come up with. For all its importance, church growth isn’t even dependent upon a church website. Christ is the builder of the Church. He is the one who is ultimately responsible. Yet we, as members of the church and disciple-makers in the world, have a responsibility as well.
Within the context of the 21st century, church websites are important to a church’s evangelistic task. The spread of information, even gospel information, involves online transfer— social networks and web searches. People work online, shop online, socialize online, and, yes, they look for churches online. Consider how these factors of a church website can help increase your church’s attendance.
According to Internet World Statistics, there are an estimated 2.4 billion people online. When your church gets a website, the audience potential for your message is huge. Realistically, only a fraction of those people will see your church website, Nonetheless, websites are the church’s way to get her news out there. Websites are the new church billboard, and Yellow Pages, and community bulletin board, and radio spot, and newspaper listing, and on and on. When seeking a church in your area, where are people going to look first? Google. Even out-of-town guests weekending in the area may look for local churches online.
Your web presence is incredibly important. People are looking online for churches to attend, and if you are not present where people are looking, then they probably won’t find you. It’s that simple.
Pastor, have you ever thought about blogging? We’ve discussed the benefits that pastors and churches can experience from blogging. There is another benefit — church growth. People read blogs, good ones that is. If you gain a presence and audience as a blogger, it can contribute to a greater increase in your church attendance. Many of the pastors who actively blog are the pastors who lead large congregations. Some of these pastors can identify the roll that blogging has had in their ministry success. By letting your voice be heard online, you are also providing a greater opportunity for people to physically attend your church.
In the 1980s, church marketing was all the rage among Christians. Bobbing in the wake of Willow Creek’s full-speed-ahead growth, many church leaders were wondering, “how can I grow my church like Willow Creek?” Authors and publishers responded with a stream of how-to books on creating seeker-sensitive services and relevant messages. None of those books had anything in them about church marketing online. Today, however, that’s where it has to start. When a potential visitor sits down at his laptop or mobile device and taps in “churches in Anytown,” your church’s marketing efforts have already begun. Are you on Google places? Do you have a website that will come up in search results? Even when Mr. Potential Visitor clicks on “Your Awesome Church” what is he going to see? A vintage 1990s website with flashing fonts, prophetic predictions, and animated Gifs (hopefully not)? A website presents a church for who they are. It’s putting your best foot forward. You would be wise to position your marketing efforts in such a way that your website gets the attention it deserves.
Good websites are integrated with other social media outlets. Since people gather on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+, this is another place for your church to have a presence. A church website serves as the central point for these social networks. A church website becomes carried around in a wider social sphere as people like pages, tweet a blog article, or share a YouTube video.
What does giving have to do with church websites and church growth? Look at it this way. Online tithing has been shown to increase giving within a church. A church with more discretionary funds can use these funds toward increasing sanctuary size, improving outreach, and enhancing ministry in the community. All of these things contribute towards greater growth. In an indirect way, using a website with online giving can contribute towards increased attendance.
These are just a few of the ways that your church website can increase attendance.
A website isn’t just a tool to bring more people into your church. It is, ultimately, a tool to help you fulfill the great commission — to spread the gospel farther and wider.
This is what Sharefaith church websites help you to do. If you need a church website, need a better church website, or know someone who does, Sharefaith’s solution is priced for the ordinary church, designed for the non-tech pastor or admin, and delivers a solution that befits a megachurch.