Most pastors that we work with when we create a website for their church have a common goal. They want to increase church attendance by bringing in new visitors to their church. A good website can go a long way in accomplishing this goal. Let’s look at how this can be done.
It’s not good enough to simply have a church website. You need one that meets your goals and that takes some strategy and planning.
How Do People Search for a Church?
First, let’s take a look at some statistics that can give us a clearer picture of how people search for a church today.
46% of church attenders say that the church’s website was important in picking a church to visit. (source: network.crcna)
59% of adults under the age of 30 look online for a new church to visit. (source: Pew Research 2015)
[pullquote]59% of adults under the age of 30 look online for a new church to visit. [/pullquote]
Nearly half of those who have looked for a new congregation in the last 5 years have turned to the internet as part of their search. (source: Pew Research 2015)
When we see statistics like these, it confirms that phone books are pretty much a thing of the past and the internet is now the place where people come to find what they are looking for, such as a church to visit. Given this, it follows that your website can help or hurt if you are trying to increase church attendance. If this is the case, doesn’t it make sense to put some time and planning into making your website inviting and informative?
A Professional Website is Important
Design is key, and like it or not, people will judge your church based on your website without ever going to it. Here’s some additional statistics showing how important design is.
46% of people say that design of a website is their #1 criterion for determining the credibility of an organization. (source: Hubspot)
94% say that poor web design is the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website. (source: Prochurch Tools)
With this in mind, you can see that it is essential that your church has a professional design if you want to attract people to your church. It doesn’t have to be “flashy” or cost thousands of dollars, it just needs to look good and function well. It’s also important that it includes the information people want to know before they come. We’ll talk about that next.
What Information do People Want to Know?
In 2016, the Pew Research Center did a study on what the top things were that people used in deciding which church to visit. Here are some of those things.
- Quality of sermons
- Style of service
- How welcomed they feel by the leaders
- Kids ministries/education
When someone finds your church’s website, they will be looking for some of the information above. You will want to be sure it is easy to find for people who are not familiar with your website.
Someone looking for a church is going to want to hear a sampling of your sermons before they come. Many of the churches we work with keep about a year’s worth of sermons on their site. This not only helps your visitors, but also those in the congregation who may be away or want to hear the message a second time.
It’s good to let people know what style of service they will find when they come – traditional, contemporary, etc. Also, mention what style of music you offer. Do you have a worship team/band, a choir, or a combination?
Location should be displayed right on the homepage. We have had the experience of looking at church websites where you really had to hunt for the address and what time the service was held. Most people will not stick around too long if they can’t quickly find the location of the church.
It’s important to your visitors to make them feel they are welcomed, especially by the leaders. This is better done in person, however, including a warm welcome message (either in written text or video) is a nice touch and will encourage someone to actually visit the church
What do you offer for kids and youth? Parents will be very interested in this information so present the information in an interesting way. Photos are great to include as well as information on what the kids will be taught and any special events you have for them.
Can You Be Found on the Web?
None of this will make a difference if your website cannot be found when someone does an internet search for a church. In order for this to happen, you will need to optimize your site for the search engines. The technical term for this process is SEO (search engine optimization.) There are some main places on your website that need to include your keywords.
You will need to decide, as a church, what keywords you want your website to show up for. Some examples might be “Christian church,” “non-denominational church,” etc. Once this has been determined, those keywords need to be inserted in the text, photos and appropriate places in the code.
Bottom Line..Does Your Website Help Increase Church Attendance?
The bottom line is that, if you want to increase church attendance, you need to do some things differently than you have in the past. Today, your website will be the first impression many will have of your church. Take care to make it a good one.
Your website can be the deciding factor in whether someone ever steps foot inside your church or not. If it doesn’t look good, load quickly and offer visitors the information they want easily, you will probably never get the chance to meet them.
We usually ask new visitors how they found our church. More often than not, they say they found us through our website. If it was a site that was unattractive or outdated, we may never have gotten the chance to meet them.
If this all seems a little “daunting,” we’d be happy to help. We can give you a website that will help you increase church attendance by attracting new visitors to your church.