8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Guest Post: Travis Sinks

You are probably aware of how important your church website is. In fact, your website is considered to be the new “front door” of your church, and 1 out of every 3 people will check it out before ever visiting your church… You’ve probably heard that your website is an important online hub for your church…And that it can be leveraged as a long-term resource for new and existing members, and your community as a whole.

But you know what you’re often NOT told?

What should actually be on your church website.

But before we dive into that answer, let’s review 3 things that should NOT be on your church website…

  1. Old/Irrelevant Content: Sadly, the internet has created an environment of being perfectly up to date, which has created a culture that has little patience for outdated content. This means that if people see your website promoting a month old event, they’ll assume that you never update it. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take long to update your website. If your church releases a weekly bulletin, simply take a few minutes to make sure that your website contains all the relevant information that your bulletin does. And, keep in mind: the more often you do this, the less work it will be and the faster you’ll get at it.
  2. Confusing Words or Christian Jargon: The Church, as a whole, has done a poor job at keeping our words simple and easy-to-understand. If you want to reach your local community through your website, then you will have to write and speak in a way they understand. The easiest way to ensure that your website is usable to the non-Christian is to simply ask a non-Christian to review it (and, who knows, they might want to talk to you more about who Jesus is!). Ask them to tell you if any of it doesn’t make sense, or if the words were clear and concise.
  3. A “Messy” or Difficult-To-Navigate Website: Similar to confusing words and jargon, it can be easy to navigate your own website because you feel like a fish in water. But if you’re wanting to reach a specific group of people, then reach out to a few of them and ask them to give a review of how easy your website was to navigate and use. In general, churches tend to have some of the most confusing websites, yet, it can (and should) be much simpler.

In the end, for most church websites, you should focus on simplicity and effectively communicating your primary message.

Which brings us to the positive side of this article: 8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Please note that for all of these items, consider asking a non-Christian if you meet these requirements. It can be much more difficult for you to see if these things are present on your website than for someone who is unfamiliar with your church.

  1. A Clear Explanation Of The Gospel and Your Statement Of Faith: Your church website needs to be able to lead someone through the foundations of the Gospel and our faith.
  1. Clear Service Time(s)/Meeting Place: Your website visitors should be able to easily find out where and when you meet. I like to have this information on every relevant page and also in the footer of each page.
  1. A Simple Navigation Menu: I prefer something like: “Sundays, About, Events, Resources, Contact, Give”. Keep in mind to avoid jargon in your navigation titles like “SOMA” or “Body Life” because this is simply confusing to anyone outside your church. Even if your youth group has a specific name, use the words “Youth Group” or “High School Group” in the navigation bar.
  1. “Real” (But Still Nice) Photos: I prefer to use photos of the church and its members because it brings out the genuineness of the church better than stock photos do. Just be sure that they are good quality photos and that you have permission to use them online – especially if they have kids in the pictures.
  1. A Privacy Policy/Disclosures Page: Sadly, we live in an age where every website needs a privacy policy and disclosures page. What you need will depend on what information you collect on your website, where you advertise your church and some locations (specifically schools) might require a disclaimer on your website as well stating that they are not affiliated with you in any way.
  1. A Simple “Contact Us” Form: Too many contact forms require massive information. Even if you give the option for people to leave more information, you should only require a few things such as their name, email, and maybe their phone number. And remember: if you won’t use the information, then don’t ask for it. For example: don’t have a spot for their physical address if you won’t be sending them a letter or visiting them. This becomes both unnecessary (and intrusive) request to your visitor, but having that information also becomes an unnecessary (and unused) liability for you.
  1. A Podcast For Your Weekly Sermons: The beauty of the internet is that we can repurpose content for almost no additional cost. Instead of having sermons limited to a specific time and day of the week, you can now have a podcast available for members who missed the service because they missed the service or serving during it. Your podcast can also be used for nonmembers of your church who simply want to know Jesus better. Having a podcast is a win-win and you lose nothing by giving away the sermons you’ve already preached.
  2. A Clear And Easy Way To Give Online: Online giving is a trend that has skyrocketed and is not going away. There are many online giving options available (some of which tie directly into your website or app), but you only need one to make this an easy and quick experience for people who would rather give online.

A Resource Moving Forward

I hope these 11 things help you get the most out of your church website. However, mapping out your website can be time consuming and frustrating, and so I put together a general checklist that covers the needs of the majority of churches.

If you’re looking to revamp your website, or even completely create it, this is an important place to start. It’s in a previous blog post of mine titled: “Planning Your Church website,” which you can find at this link.

Bio:

Travis Sinks is the volunteer assistant pastor at Redemption Church Delray Beach. He is also a business growth consultant and web designer for churches. You can also check out his blog at travissinks.com which is written to encourage and equip the church as a whole in both their knowledge of scripture and in their practical lives of life and ministry.

Do You Trust Your Mirrors?

Guest Post: Cody Hogden

Being a bi-vocational pastor brings challenges and opportunities for the pastor as well as the church. Being successful isn’t easy…unless you have your mirrors set right. Leading a church of any size, either as a fully or partially funded pastor, is much like driving a car. There are many parts and pieces all working together with one purpose (and no…the challenge of backseat drivers is not the topic of this post :D).

One of the biggest struggles in driving and ministry is not having your mirrors adjusted correctly. Did you know that your vehicle is designed to give you a 360 degree view with only slight head movement? Yet, because we’ve never been taught how to adjust our mirrors properly or simply ignored it, we are now adding equipment (blind spot indicators) to compensate. And we rely on the blind spot indicators instead of the mirrors. Here are three (or four) driving tips for all you bi-vo (and fully funded) pastors out there.

  1. Setting your mirrors right.

This is not a Church Polity blog either…but the Bible gives us a lot of wisdom when it comes to the leadership, staff, and workers of the ministry. Part of setting your mirrors correctly is understanding your role and the role of others. We can get a glimpse of how this looks with just a couple of verses.

“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” Acts 6:3.

Whether you use teams or committees…call them elders or pastors…God is clear that you can’t do it alone. Remember the wisdom of Jethro? No, no…not Jethro Bodine! Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law. Here was his advice:

“The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” Exodus 18.

God will give you leaders to handle your administrative tasks, digital media tasks, building maintenance tasks, etc. If He doesn’t, maybe that task can wait. When we get bogged down doing things we shouldn’t be, we run a great risk. Stats can be deceiving, but there is a lot of alarming information out there.

This looks differently for each Body of Christ. Which road is God leading you and the Body to travel? What type of vehicle has he equipped you with? Or you can put it like this…what’s the vision? Knowing where you’re going gives you a better understanding of how to set your mirrors. And just like our cars…they need to be adjusted at times. Like when there’s growth. Adjust. When there’s more passengers. Adjust. Evaluating where you’re headed and the road conditions should be a part of your overall routine.

2.  Trust your mirrors.

I know…it’s hard. We’ve gotten so used to turning our heads to check those blind spots. Remember, they were made to enable you to see all around the vehicle with just a quick glance. That’s how we should treat our leaders. Trust them. Let them do their job. Sure, check every once in a while to see if they’re still in the right spot and don’t need to be adjusted. But you should trust your mirrors.

3.  Don’t trick out your car and stay in your lane as a leader.

Believe me, I know how much stuff there is to do. And I get overwhelmed with trying to do it. But it’s not what you’re called to do. Here are a couple more verses to remind us of our role.

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4.

Oh yeah…that’s my role. How about Ephesians 4

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

That’s right, we equip the saints for the work of the ministry NOT do all the work of the ministry. This is the most difficult for me to practice.

Just a quick word for any saints (members) that snuck in to read about bi-vocational (or vocational) pastoring, you have a huge part to play. Get in the game. Volunteer. Don’t hide from the work…run to the work.

A famous coach was once asked, “How does college football contribute to the national physical fitness level?”

“Nothing!” He replied. “The way I see it, you have 22 men down on the field desperately needing a rest and 40,000 in the stands desperately needing some exercise!”

A similar situation exists in many churches today. A small group of workers “down on the field” while most are more like spectators.

Cody Hogden is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Orangefield, Texas. He’s been married to his wife Ginger for 24 years, and they have a 23 year old daughter named Brooklyn. He is also the founder of Twenty TwentyFour Ministries. 

Marriage, Ministry, & Valentine’s Day

Guest Post: Tim & Heather Key

We, as ministry professionals, spend our lives serving the needs of others.  This person is lost and needs Jesus, that family is having a crisis and needs counsel, and yet another brother or sister in Christ has gone to be with the Lord.  Who has time for romance when serving the almighty God?

With Valentine’s Day upon us, perhaps it’s time to reflect for a moment on our relationship with our spouse.  This may be the one day of the year that your spouse looks forward to more than any other to gain your undivided attention.  That special card, their favorite flower, or perhaps their favorite box of chocolates.  Those things are wonderful.  But what if Valentine’s Day could come more than once a year?  What if these special memories could become part of your daily walk?  Is that even possible?  Here are two things that we have learned in our 26 years of marriage:

1) You don’t need a holiday to celebrate your love

We have decided that our entire year can be a celebration of our love for each other.  Gifts come and go at random intervals.  We seek to engage each other through date nights and other activities on a regular basis.

This is perhaps something that everyone can do, even with small children.  It does require some planning because you will need a babysitter a few evenings per month.  One of the best ideas that we’ve seen is to find another couple with children and trade babysitting for date nights.  This can be the most economical method.  Even if you must hire a sitter for a few hours, the time away from the kids can be just enough breathing room to recharge your love tank for each other.

You don’t even have to go out to a restaurant.  The goal is to ensure that you are spending quality alone time with your spouse and without interruption.  There were a lot of times that we just weren’t able to afford eating out or doing anything that cost additional money.  We would work out something for the kids to do with a sitter, friend, or family member for a few hours and just stay home, watch a movie, and whatever else might happen.  Sometimes we just took a nap together because we were exhausted.

One of Heather’s favorite things to do was going to the lake, sitting on the levy, and talking.  In order for me to get her undivided attention, I had to remove her from the home.  All she sees at home are things that she needs to be doing around the house.  It can be difficult for some people to just unplug from the mommy role and switch to the loving wife role.  It helps to understand how your spouse operates and plan accordingly.

2) Take a vacation together without the children

We also plan to have at least one quality vacation together without the distractions of life and children.  We just recently had our first 2-week vacation ever.  We spent a few days in Florida acting like youths riding all the roller coasters at Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld.  We then ventured off on a 7-night cruise to the Western Caribbean.  The memories that we made and the time that we spend together cannot be measured.  There is nothing in the world like having this kind of dedicated time to spend and share with the one that you love most.

We realize that a 2-week vacation without the children can be quite impossible when you have children at home.  Our youngest daughter moved out on her own in 2016 leaving us empty-nesters.  The way we managed to take vacations alone looked very different over the years.  Here are some suggestions from what worked for us:

  • One Night with You – this works well if you have children under 5 years old.  Just focus on taking one night away to keep your fires burning. Try and do it more often, at least once per quarter.
  • Weekend Getaway – We did simple weekend escapes as the kids began to age a little more.  Nothing fancy at all.  Reasonable hotel in a city not too far from home for connection, focus, and rest.  We tended to walk around shops and have reasonable meals or catch a movie.
  • Extended Getaway – We only took a single week long vacation alone before our kids were old enough to take care of themselves.  In 1999, we took a trip to Niagra Falls.  The girls were 8 and 6 at the time and it was way too stressful for them and us.  As our oldest reached her mid-teen years and matured, we were able to take these longer vacations to the mountains or other places.  It was much more enjoyable when you didn’t have to worry about them so much and could really relax together.  The kids will not be happy with you for not taking them along but the time away from them to focus on your relationship will make you both better parents.

We have not always had this level of balance in our marriage.  We wrote about the tragic marriage that we had in the early years of our ministry work on our blog.  The good news is that we found a balance in our lives to have a rich marriage, stable children, and remain consistent servants to our calling in the ministry.

So many of our brothers and sisters who serve the cross struggle in their marriage and family relationships.  We are living proof that it doesn’t have to be that way.  This doesn’t mean that we always agree on everything or that we like to do the same things.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We don’t usually enjoy the same types of entertainment and our ideas of quality and relaxation time can be quite polar sometimes.  But what we have gotten correct in our relationship is that we enjoy spending time with each other.

We recognize that our differences in life are okay.  God made us different as a compliment to each other.  Areas that I am weak, Heather is usually stronger and vice-versa.  If we were both just alike, one of us wouldn’t be needed…  Think about that.  Embrace the difference and enjoy each other’s strengths.

My wife and I committed our lives together and God blessed our union with two wonderful daughters.  They came from our passion and love.  He didn’t call us to be unstable, miserable, and destructive in our behavior in a way that destroys our family.  No, He established us as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His Church.  To raise our daughters to know who He is and how to establish their own godly marriages and families.

So, give your relationship with your spouse a priority in your life.

  • God never intended for us to sacrifice our marriages and families on the altar of the church.  Though the work we do for our church and community is important, our responsibility to our spouse and families are greater.  Don’t allow your work, even in ministry, to rob your family.
  • Be a father or mother who is deeply engaged in the home and raising of the children.
  • Establish good boundaries so that you give to your spouse due benevolence.  Don’t just give your life mate the leftovers and scraps.  Serve your best every day and make your relationship a reflection of the true love that God intended it to be.

Your children, your friends, and your ministry followers will then see a true servant of God who has the peace of God displayed before them.

It is our prayer that your marriage is blessed beyond measure.

Tim and Heather Key are the founders of LifeTravelers.us Marriage Blog. They have been married for over 26 years, have two daughters and are expecting their first grandson. Their passion is for helping couples overcome the struggles of marriage.