Case studies over the last year have shown that the number one sought after content piece on a church website was the “I’m New” section. The same studies proved that a large amount of church websites failed to even have a menti on of welcoming c
ontent for outsiders anywhere on their site.
Is your website welcoming for outsiders? Right now, someone could be looking at your site, seeking to learn more about your church, your beliefs, and to get a sense of who you are and if they should make the effort to visit. Does your website offer any insight about who you are as a church? Do you have your beliefs on your website? Do you offer basic information, such as service times, nursery availability and more
? Beyond that, what does your website say that would be welcoming and encouraging? Next, is all this information organized in such a way that a new-to-your-website visitor can find it all in 10 seconds?
Most church websites are heavy on content for their existing members. That’s great! In fact, it’s not just great – it is essential. Yet, with an addition of one page, or section on your website and some careful placement, you can also help to reach out to the unknown individuals searching for a home church right now.
To begin with, if your content isn’t organized on one page or section, consider creating a main page (adding to your Top Navigation), and calling it something pretty obvious – like “I’m New”, “Welcome”, or “Join Us”. Next, if you cannot add this page to your Top or Main Navigation, add the page to a logical section (like About Us) and then create a home page graphic link that navigates visitors to this page.
Here is a list of suggestions for your welcoming content (much of this may be elsewhere on your website, and that’s okay – just duplicate it all on one place for your visitors):
- Service times (and locations, if applicable).
- What you believe – in short summary. Remember the 10 second rule – you can link to your full page of beliefs.
- A picture of your congregation during a typical service. Why? Because this shows visitors what your unspoken dress code is. People need to know if they should wear jeans or dress clothes to your services. A picture provides an image and comfort level of what your congregation looks like during a service.
- Your senior teaching staff. If you have a bio page for your entire staff, you can link to that page, but for your “I’m New” content page, keep it to a short intro of main pulpit pastors – the staff visitors will most likely hear on Sunday.
- Nursery and child care – during service times care. Again, link to your other child and youth programs, but on this page, make sure you repeat, or cover the basics of what a family can expect during your services.
- The nature of your service and music time. Are you traditional, contemporary, etc.? People like to understand what the worship time is like. Some churches do a “What is a typical service at our church like” paragraph and include what their worship and teaching is like, along with the average length of a service, etc.
Again, keep in mind that having the “I’m New” section hard to find defeats the purpose of having one to begin with. We hope that these ideas get you started on creating a visitor-welcoming church website.