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Using Your Church Website To Connect To The Local Community

Article by Adam Johannes
CEO, ChurchInsight

If you are yet to discover the internet the chances are you have been in a cryogenically frozen state for at least two decades. The internet has helped many people to reach out further than they could have otherwise from families keeping in touch with family and friends overseas to businesses utilizing it to reach out to customers that may be outside of their usual area of operation. The church is no different when it comes to reaching out to your local community. Although religion goes back a lot longer than the internet combining the two is definitely a great way to get your word out and let the local community know you’re there for them.

Unlike the sermons in church that can be early and lengthy you can give those that are unable to attend a modern convenient way to keep in touch. With your very own church website you can let the community know about upcoming events, fundraisers and special occasions that they may wish to partake in. Putting the information on a noticeboard outside of the church has always been a popular way to advertise what is going on within the church, however with people now working longer, more unsociable hours you can’t be sure that the information is going to be seen by everyone. With the internet you could use your church website to not only list events but also get people to sign up to regular updates in their inbox depending on their preferences. Unlike using flyers you can save time and money by using the internet over conventional methods to take the word out far and wide.  
If you, like a number of churches spend a lot of time and effort trying to get the local community to take part in events but find that the majority of advertising methods attract just a small percentage of those targeted then a website is the way forward. You can optimise your website with specific keywords so that people can easily find you on search engines as well as reduce the people that end up accidentally on your site. By getting more visits to your site from those with a genuine interest in the services and events you wish to highlight, you will be able to use your site to attract new visitors such as those that are new to the area or looking for a specific event you are holding.

You may be new to marketing to the local community by using modern technology, but to keep new people coming to your church it makes sense to use a tool that is so commonplace in this day and age. There are lots of people who are looking for people that are accepting of them and ready to offer them love, comfort and ultimately lead them to their saviour. Unfortunately not everyone is confident enough to reach out to and enter a church to introduce themselves. Having a church website will allow them to contact members of the church to find out more and also gives those that are too sick to attend another option to be part of the wider community.

The first step to using the internet as a way to reach out to the community is to build a website. If this is something you cannot do yourself then ask us to take on the task. Don’t forget once the website has been created to add your church to Google by using the ‘claim your google my business listing’ function. This will mean that when people look for churches in their area and yours falls into the category, it’s a lot easier for them to find your location, contact details and website address if you wish.

In addition to having a website it makes sense to also link your site to a couple of popular social network sites. This is a popular method of communication and a quick way to update members and potential members of your congregation. Having a blog can also help to attract new visitors as well as appease those already part of the church by offering them a way to look back on events. If you’re more comfortable in front of a video camera then a Vlog is another option for you. It’s a video blog where you can add a visual presentation or even services so that those that can’t attend don’t miss out.

Before you begin adding content you will first need to decide what type of people you want to be your audience. Are you looking to bring in more youth, new choir members or something totally different? If you are looking to attract people that know little about your faith then it’s a good idea to add a lot of information in an easy to understand format allowing potential members to get answers to the questions they want before they step foot in your church. Once you know who you want your target audience to be you can design the website so that it is appealing to them.

If some of the information you want to put on the website is for church members only such as the leadership team, or you want to allow specific people to add content but not everyone then having a login page is a great idea. It stops others from making comments that may not be deemed suitable but also helps the website stay up to date. The member’s only area could also be to add rotas and meetings for specific groups.

Religion may be as old as time itself, however to keep your church growing and bringing in new people it makes sense to use modern forms of communication to do so.

 
Craig Betts, 13/07/2017