Envision a Better Web Site
Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says evangelical Christians must take advantage of the information superhighway. He lent his backing to Internet Evangelism Day this year, the first annual event to highlight the Web as a mode for sharing the gospel.
Haggard was among many other high-profile leaders encouraging other evangelicals to “explore their options for using the Web to win as many as possible to Christ.”
One goal for Internet Evangelism Day is to move churches to create new Web sites, or modify existing sites to become more user-friendly and attractive to not-yet-Christians in their community. Replace the word “site” with “church” and the goal is very familiar to churches that have been looking to re-load the pages of other ministries that may have become in-grown, serving only church members.
How to build a better Web site
Internet construction has become significantly easier in the last couple of years. Updating an online calendar or putting new content onto a Web page no longer requires a professional fluent in HTML code.
According to management consultant Jennifer Schuchmann, new technologies have made church Web sites less expensive, less time consuming and much easier to manage.
“New technologies have made managing a Web site cheaper, faster and as easy as using word processing software,” Schuchmann writes.
Churches can fill out Web templates to create a Web page in seconds. And updating is just as simple. That may be a good starting place for many churches. For others that are ready to fully incorporate a Web presence into their mission, a professionally designed page may be the answer.
“Where we start to play ball is where a church is ready to say what their specific vision is,” said Joe Dascenzo, a partner with Change Design Group, a marketing and design company that specializes in custom Web sites.
Dascenzo said a church’s Web presence should reflect its vision. It should accurately communicate the experience someone will have when they show up at the church. And it should look like the rest of the church’s communication — bulletins, advertising, etc.
Of course, all of that coordination usually requires a professional. But Dascenzo said a Web site is a worthwhile ministry for a church’s time, staff and money.
Either a staff person trained with the right software or an agency or vendor should set the design. Costs range from a couple thousand to several thousand dollars.
Then, once the basic design is established, churches can save money by maintaining the site internally.
Dozens of companies provide WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get, editing templates for church Web sites. Kintera, a software and service provider for non-profits, offers Web site editors that simplify page updates while maintaining a professionally designed look. They also offer online giving features, calendars and interactive community pages.
The biggest part of envisioning a better Web site for your church is knowing what you want — or who you want to reach.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”