I bet when you think “church,” the first word that does NOT come to mind is “internet.” Church is supposed to be all about fellowship and community, two words that are not typically associated with surfing the web. Church website? Please.
Well, I have good news and bad news.
Bad news first. As it turns out, the internet is in fact playing a significant role in church attendance. In 2012, web developer MonkDevelopment conducted a survey that reported that 33% of church attendees said that they found their church through the internet. This same survey indicated that 64% of attendees found their church website instrumental in facilitating active participation in the community.
Ok, so it looks like the internet is important after all in building your church community. Problem is, even though your church already has a website, you don’t feel that it is actively drawing new worshippers into the fold.
Now for the good news. There are some easy ways for you to upgrade your church website and start growing that congregation size!
I’ve put together a list of four churches that, based on their social media presence, website listings, and congregation size, are doing swell in the internet world. By following these simple tips from their websites, you can soon be following their lead by growing in size and donations. Watch and learn:
Top 4 Sites:
1. Lakewood Church:
You’ve probably heard of this one. It’s America’s biggest megachurch, pastored by the famous Joel Osteen. With close to 45,000 attendees per week, and more than 980,000 likes on their Facebook page, Lakewood Church is truly a fisher of men.
You can find one of the secrets to Lakewood’s success in attracting so many new attendees on their homepage. On the very first page of their website, Lakewood has placed a prominent link to their live streaming services. By clicking on this link, first-time visitors and long-time attendees alike can tune in for the Sunday services from the comfort of their living rooms.
Does your church livestream? If you answered “no,” then consider these compelling reasons why you should be live streaming your church services. In an interview with ChurchLeaders, Steve Lacy from StreamingChurch.TV said that his church’s size has quadrupled in less than two years since he began broadcasting services live. Why does he live stream? “Attending services online is the easiest, lowest barrier way for new people to experience your church and determine if it’s a fit for them.”
Research conducted by the Leadership Network in late 2013 backs up this statement, citing that 28% of multisite churches have an online campus for their church, with an additional 10% planning to launch one soon.
Live streaming is certainly on the rise, with even the Pope live streaming his services. When Pope Francis visited the U.S. in 2015, the Vatican live-streamed his visit in a series of “Pope in the USA” live videos which received thousands of views on YouTube:
Don’t know how to live stream? Consider checking out Xsplit’s free live streaming solution or YouNow, which offers a mobile option for livestream participation. Want more options? Check out this list of 5 free live streaming solutions.
With four locations in Texas and close to 70,000 Facebook likes, this church’s website was featured on the Ekklesia 360 blog spotlighting 5 Design Trends for Church Websites in 2015 and on Monk Development’s 19 Top Church Websites of 2014.
The Village’s introductory pages for each campus are the website’s most effective element . For example, on the Fort Worth Campus page, there is a video introducing the pastor, as well as a series of tabs dedicated to introducing the various youth, adult, and children’s ministries at The Village Church. This level of intimacy gives viewers the ability to see and get to know the community and the pastor.
By allowing visitors to get to know the church community with video content and ministry introductions, the Village Church website establishes a trust factor, which is crucial for the success of their website. According to research conducted by the Barna Group, only 30% of Millennials, 34% Gen-Xers and 41% Boomers and Elders say that they trust that the church has their best interests in mind.
By allowing visitors who are scrolling through your site a glimpse into the everyday life of your church and by giving a face and a voice to your pastor, you’re establishing a trust factor right off the bat and assuring visitors that you have their best interests in mind.
As an added bonus, research has shown that website landing pages that contain video content tend to convert as many as 80% of viewers into full-blown customers. How is this relevant to you? Well, if you can convert 80% of those first-time visitors to your website into regular church attendees, I’d say you’d be doing pretty well!
In a day in age when many churchgoers consider seriously a church’s style of worship and its children’s ministry before choosing it as their community, make sure to have those elements highlighted on your church’s “about” page.
By incorporating video content and ministry introductions into your website, you will be able to establish a trust factor early on and let the visitors to your site know that you have their best interests in mind.
For more tips on how to boost your conversion rate of website visitors into active church attendees, check out these 10 Ways to Optimize Your Landing Page with Videos.
What makes this website so special? Granger’s website does a wonderful job of ensuring that their social media sites are front and center.
According to research conducted in 2009, more than two thirds of worshippers are over the age of 45. With this statistic in mind, how is your church going to target the younger population? Knowing that the majority of 18-29 year olds are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And when 70% of millennials say that they use their phones or the internet to read scripture, it’s essential to make sure your church has an obvious social media presence.
Granger’s website makes sure that visitors can easily access the church’s Facebook, Twitter, and email, no matter where on the website they are. Here’s a list of free plugins you could use to make sure your social media links are similarly accessible on all of your website’s pages.
Do you feel like your church’s social media sites could use a boost? Here are some platform-specific guides to get you started using social media effectively for your church:
- How to Use Twitter for Churches
- How to Use Facebook for Churches
- How Churches Should Use Other Social Media
Not on Facebook or Twitter? Here are some reasons why your church should consider getting social.
HighPoint’s dynamic and interactive homepage is not only eye-catching, but it emphasizes a key element on the homepage – online giving. The entire time that you linger on the homepage, a giving tab appears on the right hand side of the screen, constantly giving visitors an option to donate. When you click on the giving tab, it becomes very easy to donate, either once or regularly.
This necessary feature allows worshippers to donate once or to set up a regular tithing plan. According to research completed in 2014, nearly 10 million Americans tithe about $50 billion in total donations to the church and non-profit causes. It’s crucial for your church to get on this band-wagon. Make online giving an option for your members, especially considering the 13% increase in online giving for non-profit organizations in 2015.
Not sure how to set up online giving for your church’s website? Check out this list of 6 free and open-source online giving solutions to help get you started today.
Whew! That was a lot of information at once. To make sure you got the big takeaways, here’s a Sparknotes version of this list:
Things You Need to Be Doing With Your Church Website:
- Live streaming your weekly service on your website.
- Establishing a trust factor with video content and ministry introductions on your “about” page.
- Getting social with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Making online giving easy and accessible with a giving page.
Did I leave anything out? Sound off in the comments below!