Four Web Tweaks Every Church Should Make

Guest Post - Travis Sinks

Your website can be a great asset, or a horrible liability. It can draw people near and be a resource to them, or it can cause them to walk away and never consider your church again.

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With such high stakes, we need to make sure we aren’t turning away non-Christians from our churches right out of the gate.

Here are four thing to change on your church website to encourage non-Christians to pay attention and stick around.

  1. Get Rid of Jargon

 One of the biggest turn-offs to non-Christians is the use of jargon on your website. Jargon is defined as “Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.” Although jargon will make you sound smart or holy or better-than, it has no place on a website, especially a church website! When we use words such as “intercession”, “glorification”, or “creed” without defining what we’re saying, it makes people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. It makes it seem like your website is only for an elite club, of which, they are not a part.

There are two ways fix jargon:

– Remove all jargon (especially in the navigation/menu bar)

OR

– Define what you’re saying. Makes sure that you always define in context and NOT with a definition section at the bottom of the page. A separate definitions page or section will make people, again, feel alienated and stupid for not previously understanding what you said.

  1. Create Easy to Find Staff Bios/Pictures

Some churches don’t post pastor’s bios or pictures as a way to keep from the church becoming all about the pastor. Sadly, this well intentioned act leaves website visitors wondering if they can trust the church’s leadership. There’s so much distrust when it comes to religious leaders, and one way you can help dispel this is by being upfront and open about who the leaders are.

I write on both of the issues above, and eight others, in further detail in my FREE ebook which you can download at travissinks.com/ebook.

  1. Explain the Gospel

One of the biggest turnoffs a non-Christian when looking at a church website is that there’s nothing specifically “Christian” about it. Without an explanation of the Gospel, a non-Christian will look at your website and simply see a club full of self-righteous people. Here are three main locations you can emphasize the Gospel:

– On your statement of faith/belief page.

– Scattered throughout the explanations of why you hold your worship services, mid-week Bible studies, and outreaches.

– A whole page dedicated to explaining the Gospel and what it means for the reader.

  1. Create a Call to Action

As I’ve written before, (http://www.travissinks.com/blog/how-to-create-a-call-to-action-for-your-church-website/2015) some people will leave your website and never think of it again simply because you haven’t asked them to.

Our church websites can, and should, be much more than a mere flyer. Every page should offer the visitor some compelling thing to do. Marketers call this a “call to action.” A few examples for your church could be:

– Giving their email to receive updates on what’s happening at the church

– Giving their contact info to be followed up with

– Signing up to serve

– Signing up to join a mid-week study or group

– Sending in a prayer request

There are many ways we can ask our visitors to engage with us through our website. But we also have to make sure that we’re doing so wisely. Here’s three guidelines to follow  when creating a “call to action”:

– Just a Few: A good call to action has ONE option for response, or two at max.

– Be Precise: What is the EXACT thing you want them to do? Tell them that.

– Stay Relevant: Don’t put a call to give on your about page. Instead, offer for them to join the mission of your church, or to receive updates on what God is doing at your church.

– Make it Obvious: One fault of most designers is that they work so hard to make it beautiful that you don’t even really notice the call to action. However, every marketer will tell you that your call to action needs to be big, bold, colorful, and obvious to make sure your visitor sees it.

I hope this helps you attract and keep non-Christians on your website in order to best reach those who don’t yet know Jesus. Do you have any ideas you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them!

Author Bio:

Travis Sinks lives in South Florida with his wife and son. He is an assistant pastor and a freelancer for churches in web design, marketing, and graphic design. You can read his blog aimed at encouraging and equipping ministry leaders at www.travissinks.com and can learn more about his service for churches at www.tnsinksdesigns.com/churches.

twitter & instagram | @travissinks

Eight Overlooked Areas of the Guest Experience

Pastors, if you want to see your church grow, start retaining more first-time guests. Keep in mind first-time guests have little to no commitment to your church. They’ve shown up to appease someone who’s invited them because of a particular series you’re doing, or because it’s one of the two big Christian holidays.

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Most first-time guests have no intentions of staying at your church.

They’re looking for a reason to leave. If you’re not careful, you will give them that reason.

With this in mind, I want to share with you eight areas that churches often overlook when thinking about the guest experience.

  1. Signage – When a guest pulls into your parking lot do they know where to go? Is the entrance to your church easy to find? If they have kids, where do they go? Where’s the bathroom? Where’s the auditorium? You should have adequate signage that answers all of these questions.
  1. Volunteers in place – Are volunteers in place at least 30 minutes before service until 15 minutes after service begins? First-time guests tend to arrive either early or late. Volunteers should be passionate about where they’re serving and excited when a guest arrives.
  1. Bulletins and Connection Cards – Bulletins should be designed with the guest in mind. Your bulletin should communicate the DNA of your church. Keep it simple. Every church should be using a guest card or connection card, as your way of following up with guests. Make sure everyone is handed a bulletin and a connection card.
  1. Tables – If you’re using tables to display information, make sure to dress them up. You can buy inexpensive table skirts here. Do not set out a bare table. Also, make sure the information you’re displaying stays up to date. I once saw a church with a large sign in their yard displaying a spaghetti supper that had happened six months prior. This communicates we’re lazy or we don’t care.
  2. Coffee – I highly recommend offering free coffee at your church. It doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but you should offer coffee. Roughly 80% of Americans drink coffee, so give them what they want. If nothing else, it’s going to keep them awake during your sermon. Make sure the coffee area stays clean and is well stocked.
  1. Thermostat Set – Your building should be a comfortable temperature, somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees. Keep a lock on your thermostat if you have people who tend to change it to fit their comfort level. Fight the temptation to push it up a few degrees in the summer or down in the winter to save on costs.
  1. Kid’s Check-In – The check-in process for kids should be quick and easy to navigate. If you don’t currently have a check-in process, I outline why you need one here. You also need a quick way for new parents to register their kids as well. As a bonus, I recommend giving each child a free gift on his or her first visit.
  1. Background Music – Silence can be deafening, so pump some music into your auditorium. Keep the volume low enough that people can have conversations but loud enough to be noticed. If used correctly music can be a great way to build energy before your service begins.

The experience a guest has the first time they walk into your church determines the likelihood of them walking into your church a second time. As pastors, we should do everything in our power to make sure their first experience is a great one.

I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed, but this should give you a good start. What other areas would you add to this list?

There is No Easy Button in Ministry

A few years ago the office supply company Staples released their “Easy Button” ad campaign. If you’re not familiar with the campaign, the whole premise is based on the assumption that there’s a big red button that you press that makes situations easy. Wouldn’t it be great if that button existed in ministry?

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A small group leader posts a rant on Facebook that includes a few choice words that we can’t post to the blog. No worries, hit the easy button.

A children’s volunteer comes into church smelling like marijuana. Easy button.

When you’re preaching and “pitch his tents” comes out as “pinch his tits”. Quick hit the easy button.

When giving falls behind budget.

When great volunteers leave.

When good people misunderstand why the church is changing.

The list could on and on.

Ministry would be so much simpler with an easy button. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find one.

Here’s what I have found. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are this: love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Love God, and love people. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy.

There are times of regret, times of sadness, and times of disappointment. I’ve made mistakes, missteps, and mess-ups.

Yet, at the end of the day I realize just how blessed I am that God has given me the opportunity to be a part of building His Church.

It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth it.

Leave a comment and tell us a time in your life that you wish you had an easy button.