Heal Your Church WebSite

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

What we can learn about church websites from Janet Jackson’s Breasts

$30,000 for making a cell phone call during a game. $5,000 for wearing a baseball cap with a cross on it too soon after a game ends. Jim McMahon forced to remove his Tagliabue headband while watching football on TV. Michael Vick Fined $50k for using Breath Assure instead of Tic-Tacs.

Okay, that last one was a parody, but there is a point to all this, a point I hope those of you using “free webhosting” in exchange for pop-up and banner ads, and/or those of you subscribing to services such as Google or blogAds on your church website get.

  • Once you sell out your space, you also lose control of your image and message.
  • Once you sell out using cheap tricks and you destroy your image and message.

Case in point: Super Bowl XXXVIII.

As I understand it, the NFL, an organization known for it’s agressive and some times extreme control of their image, sells the rights to air the Super Bowl to the Central Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS, a Viacom subsidiary, sells sponsorship of the half-time show to America Online. The NFL and CBS then select MTV, also a Viacom subsidiary, to produce the half-time show for AOL. The result? The first Super Bowl to require a parental warning.

I’ve seen something similar happen with church web sites. The National Federation of Lutherans hosts their site for free over at Cool Bandwidth Services. In exchange for the service, CBS is allowed to place banner and pop-up ads on their site. They hire Ads Omnipotent Logos to produce the ads. They in turn contract Mike’s Virtual Titillation. The result? A church website who along with advertising twelve step programs of their own, also hurl pop-up ads at their visitors with enticements to online casinos, viagra and other items you’d rather not have associated with your ministries.

So to my first point, remember, if you want to control your image and your message, then be wary of adware service on your church or charity’s website.

Regarding my second point, think about this: here we had one of the more exciting games in Super Bowl history that won’t be remembered for the heroic play during the game, but rather the cheap theatrics during the half-time. This is too bad, because the game really had some substance.

Similarly, contrivances and gimmicks such as spinning animated crosses, cursor trailers and moving marquees may be fun and easy to deploy, but they usually convey a lack of content to your visitors.

In other words, figure out what your church or charity’s message is, and remove anything from your website that distracts, detracts or degrades this message.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.


  1. Pingback: boy in the bands

  2. Pingback: boy in the bands

  3. Pingback: boy in the bands

  4. Pingback: boy in the bands

  5. I agree wholeheartedly….
    Except for the part where the “C” in CBS means Central…. it stands for Columbia.

  6. I once saw a case where an evangelical blogger had, not one but TWO ads on his Blogspot site for porn websites. He’s since moved onto his own domain, although I’m not sure that was the reason.

  7. Same thing applies to yahoogroups.com… or any other individual/listserv e-mail service that appends advertisements to your communications.

    I speaketh of what I knoweth… [g]

    Got any recommendations for a good listserv application for non-profits taht’ll run on an Apache server?

    - Frank
    - burtonsvillebaptist.org

  8. Frank, if you have certain webhosts (Cyberpixels for example), you can actually run notify lists for your domain through your control panel.

    One of the reasons we bought the domain for the church is that there would probably be the temptation to use someplace like Geocities for the site because they provide an editor that is easy to use.

    A thought: perhaps compile a list of web editors that are super easy to use as many church webmasters aren’t that familiar with HTML?

  9. Pingback: boy in the bands

  10. Good stuff. It’s rather annoying having Scientology links in banner ads on my site. And it’s even more annoying to get an e-mail from a friend saying that they’re there. So either I gotta start paying, or everyone’s gotta start using Mozilla to block banner ads. Hrmm.


  11. There are some really cheap hosting options out there. 3 dollars a month is not to bad to host a website free of banner adds.

  12. It seems to me that we are always paying, one way or another. If you don’t want to shell out cash you can either put in a bunch of time and energy to run your own, or you can trade off your “mindshare” and credibility for “free” hosting. TANSTAAFL – “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”

  13. Aside from hosting, Church sites should also be weary of some technology companies. In the past a well-known streaming media company had an advert for exclusive access to swimsuit model videos and playboy videos on their plug-in download page – not what you want to be linking to from your Sermons page.

  14. It is worth noting that I noticed a trend on my new blog at blogspot. I have not yet paid to remove the add banner from my page and I have been pleasantly surprised. Blogspot actually searches the content on my page and then finds relevant advertisements. For example I mentioned that I read the book “Purpose Driven Church” by Rick Warren and now I have an add selling his books.

    The blogsopt add banner is powered by Google. This is at least one example of a company using technology a little bit more creatively.

    I read an article in the January issue of the Costco Connection. It had an article on search engines stating, “Considering the popularity of online searching the growing use of search sites for marketing is nearly a no-brainer.”

    This seems to be exactly what Google is trying to do. You can read Google’s summary of AdSence here http://www.google.com/services/

    For advertisers, it seems that the market trend could be trying to move away being a provider of annoying or unwanted adds.

    You have a great website. I have enjoyed stopping by from time to time.

  15. Very good point. I am working on building a website for my church currently and I refuse to use a free webhost for exactly this reason.

    Webhosting is pretty affordable these days. It’s well worth the price to keep your message intact.

  16. I fully agree with your points, and would even suggest that they could, would, and should be applied to many personal sites. How often the message is crowded out by fancy cursers and really bad midi files, athough I don’t know if there is a good midi file.