Websites are critical for any organization – and that includes a church! The first thing that someone does when they are looking for something, is to Google it. So you need to have a presence online for people to find out more information about you.
So how to get started?
Step 1: Make sure that you are on Google Maps.
Having your church registered on Google Maps is free, and is usually the first thing that pops up when someone does a search. Make sure that your church is on Google Maps, and then claim your profile so that you can make it stronger by adding in pictures, linking to your website, and keeping your contact information updated.
Click to register your church on Google Business.
Step 2: Create the website.
When creating your website make sure that you recognize who you are making it for. Every church serves two audiences:
Seekers: Those looking for a church or being part of a volunteer opportunity.
Adherents/Members: Those who already are coming and want up-to-date information.
Understanding the needs of both of these audiences and making sure that both can find the information that they need. Balancing this is the key to a successful website.
There are a couple of options to get your website up and running:
- Volunteer Website Designer: You might have a web designer in your congregation or community that is willing to volunteer and set up your website. The most important thing here is to make sure that the URL of your website is owned by the church (not the volunteer) and that anything in the registration of the site or hosting is related back to the church email rather than the volunteer’s email. This will help to make sure that this information isn’t lost. Even with a volunteer website designer, it is important that the website is built on a platform that most people can use. This will ensure that more than one person can update the website, making it easier to maintain for everyone. One of the easiest platforms to use is WordPress.
- WordPress: WordPress is the easiest website platform out there. There are free websites or blogs that you can set up. Sometimes you might have to pay for a template or a plug in if you are creating something more complex, but in general the basic options are good enough to get started with.
- Google Sites: Google Sites is continuing to upgrade and is very user friendly. The basic templates aren’t as good as WordPress, but this is constantly improving.
- Wix: Wix is another website template company that already has ready to use non-profit and religious group templates.
- A+ Computers & Services: These pre-branded, customizable WordPress templates, developed in partnership with the United Church, will help you save time and money while providing a high quality look and feel for your new website. The optional deployment packages include professional consultation, setup and training, making this a good fit regardless of your level of experience. Affordable hosting and maintenance services are also available and a portion of all proceeds are donated to charity.
- Ascend: The team at Ascend offers congregations in the United Church of Canada an easy to edit, technologically advanced site that looks great on any device and offers features to assist churches. They provide friendly, dependable email and phone support, as well as free online training to introduce your church to their product. An Ascend website will give your church the confidence that your site will remain technologically fresh, maintain your domain, and have qualified staff available to assist you with questions you may have as you refresh your site.
Step 3: Link your social media
You don’t need to have every type of social media out there, just pick the ones that work for you and be consistent with them. Make sure that these are linked to your website and vice versa.
Step 4: Keep your website updated
The best way to be found is to have lots of relevant information on your website. As a church, you have a lot of content and just need to start the practice of putting it on the site. This is also why it is important to have a site that is easy for people to use, so that lots of people can update it.
What could you update on your site?
- Your events, like what is happening every Sunday, special events, and programming or events from the partners that are in your church
- Your church newsletter could be posted online
- Your sermons (video, audio, or text) could be posted as a blog within the website
- Your annual reports
By doing these 4 steps, your online presence will rocket and you will be found.