As I peruse the great cloud of witlessness that is the Body online, I find one of the primary problems afflicting many sites is vision. That is I often find those responsible for delivering the goods don’t really see their site as much more than an online color brochure. As a result, more often than not, very little staff and/or funds are allocated to the church’s web presence past the server, the domain name and perhaps a content management service.
In no particular order, I’d like to offer 10 real-world examples you can expand your church and/or charity’s impact by expanding your vision past mere ‘brochureware.’ A list that perhaps will come in useful the next time individuals in the ways and means committee seek to slash your web site’s funding.
Reach New Residents
I actually like new resident door hanger campaigns, especially those that offer a slice of pie and/or a free Wednesday night dinner. An ideas I got from my last church who had such a program entitled ‘People Involved in Evangelism’ or P.I.E. … hmmmm … pie …. but I digress.
Having a well-indexed, search-engine friendly website goes one step further in bringing those new residents to your doorstep … in some cases, even before they move to town.
Perhaps one the strongest arguments I can make for providing the text of your sermons online is how such materials can draw-in those seeking God’s answers to life’s questions.
Even in cases where said individual came in casually and unintentionally through something of relevance that caught their eye while primarily searching for something else.
Build the Body Online
By adopting a blog-centric approach to sermons and events you can easily and electronically inform the right hand of what the left hand is doing; and visa-versa.
Maximize Press and Ad Campaigns
Sometimes you only have a six second soundbite to get your church’s name, slogan and/or domain out into a newspaper, magazine or radio station.
In those cases, leverage your website to provide all the additional fun, times, maps & directions, costs and pictures that can’t be printed in a single line of newsprint.
Save on Printing and Postage
By utilizing email lists, RSS deeds and other online tools, your church and/or charity can become better stewards of congregational contributions by dispensing such information online.
Minimize Dead Ends
By having an informative and complete church website that clearly represents your organization’s purpose and personality – you can reduce and/or eliminate time spent on leads whose interests are better served within the arms of some other congregation.
Communicate Across Boundaries
By taking advantage of both an effective website and a variety of web-based office and/or presentation applications – boundaries such as differing operating systems and/or geography are easily overcome.
Similarly, there are mind-mapping and crowdsourcing tools that can be leveraged to encourage thinking that’s not only outside-the-box, but also doesn’t all have to happen within the 4 walls of your brick-n-mortar buildings.
Reduce Staff Support Loads
While I believe that every church website should make it easy and inviting to call anytime – having an up-to-date calendar of events can help minimize the number of ‘just calling to are what time it starts’ calls that can nickle and dime away your church staff’s effective work hours.
Support Lay Ministries
Consider utilizing class curriculum tools such as Moodle to support Bible studies. Along with that, give that hard-working 20% a break from having to physically attend each and every meeting by using cool communication tools such as WiPeer to hold web-based meetings and/or webinars.
Gauge Relevant Interests
By implementing and monitoring statistical tools such as google analytics and the now free FeedBurner you can track which aspects of your church website are effective and which require a but more healing.
I’d also suggest adding a separate site tracking mechanism to content-rich areas of your website so you can easily which sermons and/or Bible studies are hot versus those that are not.
Point isn’t to freak-out already overwhelmed church webmasters, pastors and laypersons by enumerating all the things your church website doesn’t have …
… but rather to get churches and ministries of all sizes to realize that our ministries have been provided several new tools over the past couple of years that properly leveraged can enhance our efforts and enable our volunteers to better fulfill the Great Commission to which we are all called.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment in love.