Heal Your Church WebSite

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

weekend open thread: What Heals your Church Website?

I want comments on the following question: what actually heals your church website?

Is it:

  • using WordPress as a content management system on the cheap?
  • using Joomla or Blogger instead of WordPress?
  • is it adding a Twitter plugin or widget?
  • is it adding more spinning animated gifs of gold lamé crosses?
  • is it hiring someone to wordsmith your pastor’s boring sermons?
  • all of the above?
  • none of the above?
  • something else …

Of course the list above is more a conversation starter than a poll … meaning … I want your feedback on what YOU think heals a church website.

Thanks in advance!


  1. The medicine that heals depends on the illness — if you’ve got a spinning gold cross, removing it becomes job #1. :) As a general rule, though, I think most churches need to do more in terms of social media — blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Your congregation is on there, so you need to be too.

    To use real numbers, I experimented with the 6500 e-mail addresses we have for our members. About 2300 are on Facebook, 550 on LinkedIn and around 400 on Twitter (that Twitter number was around 200 just a month ago). You certainly don’t want to ignore the rest of the congregation, but you can do a lot of connecting with those (free!) services.

    For a small church, I think WordPress as a CMS is absolutely the way to go. Cheap, easy and has a very powerful built-in blog.

  2. Even if it has to be black Times New Roman on a stark white background, I’d say job one is relevant content. When, where, what, who, and how, and for good measure, don’t forget why.

    I’m with Mickey on the Facebook, Twitter and such, but not until you’ve developed a searchable, clear presence on the web.

  3. >>>is it hiring someone to wordsmith your pastor’s boring sermons?

    … and so why do you go?

    Anyway, a friend of ours who pilots a church has all the sermons on line,
    mp3 style, with the text. They have a wealthy clientele, so not a problem for them
    to get it done.

  4. I fixed up my church’s website with WordPress and a user-friendly, inviting design. Within months they’d wrecked the colors, changed pictures of people to pictures of furniture, and otherwise mucked it up.

    So the thing that’d heal my church’s website is a passion for mission, a heart for the stranger, and an interest in what actually works to speak to them instead of what the board’s personal preferences are.

    Hopefully I can say all that as an honest assessment and not bitter complaining. : )

  5. Unfortunately I think its a people problem, the site is just a symptom. People need to see it as a communication medium and commit to its use. I’m surprised at how poorly email is used by churches, let alone websites.

    Churches are being eclipsed by Facebook now. This is a double-tragedy, because Facebook is a place of fellowship, which is half of what a church does. This still needs commitment, not just awareness, to make it valuable.

    (Was this post supposed to be for rants, or for helpful comments? Sorry if I’m confused. I’ll sum up by saying it should be a part of what we pray about when we pray for our church.)

  6. 1 – get rid of the spinning gold crosses – we are not in the 90′s
    2 – go with wordpress or whatever you want for a cms
    3 – blog, facebook, twitter it – church is about relationships
    4 – be firm on the content
    5 – get a good Admin person and don’t allow others to touch what they don’t need too

    well anyway that is my 2 cents worth … :)

  7. There are really (at least) two distinct audiences for a church website:

    a) People not part of your normal congregation, seeking information about your church, either specifically (“When is the minister of St. Foo’s available to discuss weddings?”) or generally (“Are there any Baptist churches in Barchester?”)
    b) People in the congregation who want to know what’s on this week, access the text of that sermon they missed, or join in the youth group’s Twitter stream.

    Balancing the needs of both these groups can be tricky, but if it comes down to it, I would always prioritise a) over b). The b) types have already made an investment of time or effort in belonging.

  8. I think there are two things that folks have already identified that are of first importance.

    1 – A passionate steward. Someone who sees the value of the site as more than simply a brochure for the chuch. They can rally others to suppy #2.
    2 – Conent. Start with the pastor and staff, get sermon outlines an notes, meeting minutes, topical studies, etc. Fresh content keeps your site relevant and brings people back to visit.

    Once you have those in place, get a CMS of some kind. That may depend on the talent in house to manage it. Have someone who already knows Joomla or WP or ___? That may be your answer. What you want is something that allows non-tech folks to type in content and have it published.

    Lastly, I’ll mention Movable Type open source as another CMS alternative. Powerful, stable, secure and free with unlimited blogs and authors and if desired, you can upgrade it to the paid version and get company tech support and a decent set of community features like forums to go with the blogging.

  9. glad you’re back!

    for us, having gone from Web Studio 4.0 to Dreamweaver 8 to Dreamweaver CS3 to WordPress, i must say that wordpress helped heal our church website.

    the twitter integration also helps for keeping people connected to our new pages.

    the only way i think we’re failing is that i haven’t put lamé on anything…

  10. lemon — Well said. I agree that content is ultimately the most important thing.

    Peter Sullivan — I think that over time, group A will be using the church website and group B will be getting most of their information from other sources (Facebook, etc). Maybe. :)

    A problem I see popping up more is churches that want to make their site “cool”, but don’t want to spend the time to build content. One local church has a blog on their site that hasn’t had a new post in more than three months (!), but they’re excited about getting a cool new design soon. Totally missing the point…

  11. Martin Lloyd Jones the British preacher said, “if you give out bread, the hungry will come”. Too much is made of how the content is displayed. If you want to heal your church website, you need first to have good content. Of course, you do need to display the info well; I’m just trying to redress a balance.

    I come to this site because I like the content, not because of twirly crosses or WordPress.

    In my opinion good content should contain revelation not just a regurgitation of someone else’s information.

  12. @Mickey I think you’re right. For social networking, the best approach is for the church website to provide appropriate links (to a Facebook group, Twitter feed, Livejournal community or whatever) rather than try to re-invent Web 2.0 all by itself. As well as being practically easier, it also re-inforces the message that people’s church-based social-networking, like the rest their church experience, should be seen as part of their overall lives, rather than “a thing apart.”

    On the other main theme of this discussion, it looks as if the general consensus here seems to be that most people finding your church’s website will be much more interested in whether the congregation have gold lamé hearts than whether the website has gold lamé crosses…

  13. Wow! Thanks all for such great comments!

    It really helps me fine-tune an idea I have for a post on the topic of “what heals a church website?”

    Thanks and keep’m coming!

  14. Just found this via a friend’s blog – “Twittering in Church, With the Pastor’s Encouragement” http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1895463,00.html?cnn=yes

  15. Pingback: 5 Things that heal your church website | Heal Your Church WebSite

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