Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

(stop) Stating the Obvious

“[Mission statements] should be abolished because every Mission Statement ever written can be summarized in four words — ‘All babies must eat.’” — Vincent Flanders, author of Son of Web Pages that Suck

In considering a review of the web site for the International Gospel Fellowship of East Hartford, CT, one of the first things I noticed about this ‘brochureware‘ was the ubiquitous mission statement on their front page, followed by a statement of their core beliefs. Now this isn’t bad information to put on a church web site. I would however, suggest that this information be put on a sub page.

Generally, you’ve got two kinds of visitors to your site. Members who want information, in which case they’re probably already familiar with this information. Second, and of greater importance are seekers. That is people who are new or visiting to the area, or people experiencing some form of a spiritual crisis, emotional emptiness or physical need.

What I would suggest is providing the obligatory times and places on the front page (perhaps in a toned-down, off-to-the-side-sorta-way), but also something conspicuously placed that reflects your church’s unique personality and purpose. I mean think about it, I’ve never been to an International Gospel Church (IGC), in fact, I didn’t know such an entity existed until today. How does this particular IGC different from the Baptist Church down the street with a similar goal and mission? For matter, how does this church differ from so many others who state a similar mission online?

That’s why on the Redland front page, I list some of the most recent events and happenings. It not only makes search engines happy, it keeps the page dynamic and it gives a first time visitor some clue as to all the fun stuff we have going on.

In other words, while there is doctrine-o-plenty to be found at RBC, there are also smiling faces with warm embraces looking forward to your visit.

See how enticing that last sentence was? Now go, and do likewise.

9 Comments

  1. Mean Dean, I’m going to disagree with you here. I’ve learned that when dealing with people, nothing is obvious. The more often you can repeat what seems to be obvious to you – the better. This is especially true regarding the purpose of a church or organization. Its so easy to get distracted by the day to day events that we lose focus on our main purpose and mission.

    Let me quote Rick Warren, “Once you have defined the purposes of your church, you must continually clarify and communicate them to everyone in your congregation. It is not a task you do once and then forget about. This is the foremost responsibility of leadership. If you fail to communicate your statement of purpose to your members, you may as well not have one.” (Rick Warren – “The Purpose Driven Church” p.111)

    Now, I agree that the website of The International Gospel Fellowship of East Hartford, CT needs some desperate healing, but the fact that their purpose statement is prominently displayed would not be my main concern. For one thing, the site has not been updated in nearly 2 years. Perhaps its time for a re-design.

  2. I’m Right with you Dean. As a full time web designer and many time ministry-website developer it has become obvious that website visitors are most interested in what a ministry can do (or is doing) for them. In short, a ministry’s doctrinal statements should be obvious in the way the website is developed. If a ministry’s goal is to (generically speaking of course) “help people find Christ and disciple Christians into world changers” then the website index should DO that, not STATE it.

  3. Whoa.

    Jesus is not toned down or off-to-the-side in my heart.

    So, we don’t look enough like a social club to you. Well, excuse me for being Christian in your presence.

    Dean, some churches revolve around their mission statements. Websites reflect the personality of the churches. If you do not like their personality they may be reaching someone, who is not at all like you, with eternal salvation.

    Which is more important? Salvation? or a Website that totes your personal boat?

  4. Two things: “…at RBC, there are also smiling faces with warm embraces looking forward to your visit.” Oh wait a minute. They were paid models. ;)

    Seriously though, there are many denominations out there who view church as nothing more than something you participate in to bring personal fulfillment. I, for one, applaud a body who is so on fire for the Lord that they shout it from the rooftops; everything they do literally screams, “This is not for us, it’s not about us, it’s not about fulfillment; it’s all about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. Marketing principles, used to further the Kingdom, are good, but once in a while, you just have to show some zeal. Know what I mean?

  5. Seriously though, Jesus didn’t teach us to wack someone upside the head with a 16lb four translation paralell Bible along with a hard-bound copy of the Baptist Faith and Messase when someone in need approached Him … Why should we?

  6. This topic already generated some strong reactions and good discussion. Dean and Dave are right on. They are not saying that a mission statement is unimportant, but rather what is the best way to carry out that mission statement.

    An organization’s or church’s initial interaction with people (the front page of a website) should not be a stating of the mission, but an application and practice of the mission.

    In the show and tell of the Great Commission, much more emphasis is placed on showing people the love of God. Telling is important. We need to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have, but people will see our hope and ask about it if we are showing it. Our “zeal” should be shown by action rather than known by statement.

    A mission statement is important because it helps an organization or church focus on what they want to do and what they want to show, but it is useless if we merely tell people what our mission is without doing it. Dean is advocating that the mission statement merely be moved farther into the website, not that it be removed.

    Love is a verb, not a statement.

  7. I think the key here is what so many issues come down to – balance. Personally I think good points have been made on both sides. We shouldn’t beat people’s heads with our Bibles, but we also shouldn’t avoid doctrinal issues.

    Somehow you have to strike a balance as to how and what you communicate. It isn’t always easy and people will probably disagree (as has been seen here), but we should strive for it.

  8. Allow me to quote myself from the above article “Now this isn’t bad information to put on a church web site. I would however, suggest that this information be put on a sub page.”

    I guess I’m getting a bit touchy on this one, because some of these arguments take the extreme and make it sound like I said you shouldn’t post mission statement at all … which from the above quote, should make it clear, isn’t what I said nor implied.

  9. Dean,

    Thanks for the link to my post about Brochureware. The “Mission Statement” of so many Churches are “cokkie cutter missions”, meaning, they don’t reveal much that is distinctive. And as such, they are very much like “marketing hype”, which usually means they serve the marketers better than the audience they intend to reach. I SO agree with you where you say “In other words, while there is doctrine-o-plenty to be found at RBC, there are also smiling faces with warm embraces looking forward to your visit.” I would amen that and add that “behind those smiling faces” there are commonalities and common struggles and joys and passions which can be explored and “exploited” online (exploited in the good sense in that we can point people to “Personality” and we can discover similar callings (which to me is much of what the Church is about: Seeking a mission and seeking parrtership in that mission, and highlighting the how, where and why of that mission, and then it becomes SEARCHABLE.

    The main thing: Seek distinctiveness in our “oneness” and we will attract those to our mission outposts that are also equipped to join us.

    Dale