Building Modern Church Websites, Part 1: Introduction

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 7:9 (World English Bible)

Why Have A Church Website

The internet is changing the world. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are connecting people closer together than ever. Skype, Email, and cell phones are changing the way people communicate with one another. People are spending more time than ever online, either in the office during the day, or downloading music from iTunes at home after work.

If a church is going to be relevant today, it needs to be online, too. The church shouldn’t just be somewhere people go on Sunday morning; it should be part of their every day lives. It should be on the social networks they use, and in their email inboxes. They should be able to share it with their friends, and interact with it during their lunch breaks.

It isn’t just young people online, either. Many grandparents are using social networks to keep up with their grandchildren. Almost everyone checks email every day, if only for work. Those who cannot get out because of sickness are using the internet to interact with the wider world. The church has a place in the online lives of all of these people.

Why This Series

While rebuilding the Good Shepherd Community Church website, I noticed a lack of specific, chronological guidance and advice on the subject of how to build a modern church website. I found lots of good tips and advice from church webmasters, but nothing that really got into the details of what and why.

There are many good books on web design, but none of them seem to deal with the unique needs of churches:

  • Finances: many churches don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on servers, web design, etc. Many don’t even have tens of dollars.
  • Ease of use: it’s hard enough to run a modern church; if the website is going to be adopted and kept up to date, it needs to be super easy, even for people who don’t generally use the internet.
  • Accessibility: the church includes everyone. A church website needs to work for those who are hard of hearing or low vision. It needs to work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Dial up or broadband. Cell phones and computers.
  • Theology: a church website can’t be hosted on some free web hosting site that puts ads for gambling and adult movies across the top of every page.
  • Openness: a church website needs not only to serve the church community, it also needs to be open and attractive to seekers.

So, every Sunday on this blog, I will be posting a detailed article covering one particular topic related to building a modern church website. I will use the Good Shepherd website as an example, explaining what I did, why I chose to do it that way, and spending a little time on how I did it.

If you’d like to modernize your church website but don’t know where to start, hopefully these posts will help you. If you’ve been tasked with being the webmaster for your church, I hope my thoughts will be of some use in your journey.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start

  1. What is the congregation of my church doing on the internet today?
  2. How can the church interact with them on the websites they are already using?
  3. Does the church website have the support of church staff and elders? If not, what needs to happen before it does?
  4. Are there people in the congregation I can turn to for help, so I don’t have to do it all myself?

Next Week

Next Sunday: foundations! Why use WordPress? What about web hosting? How much should web hosting cost? Is our current web host good enough?


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