5 Tips: The Website and the Small Church


5 Tips: The Website and the Small Church

So moody... Benjamin Lambert on Upsplash

Just to make you jealous (or to make you think that I’ve wasted a tremendous amount of time and money) – I have now seen all nine films that are up for Best Picture. What an accomplishment. Not quite like getting a gold medal or anything like that but let me tell you, it took work and determination to reach this auspicious goal. Work and determination! I’ll now accept my blue ribbon, thank you very much.
Some of you out there are striving toward your own goal: making your website relevant. Last year I wrote about how your website is more important than you think. Your website is now your virtual front door. And, it’s your Yellow Pages. Wait, do they still publish phone books?
Once again (it’s that important), your website is both your front door and your Yellow Pages.

I recently received an email from someone from a small church. Some of you may be able to relate.
We have an old website, cannot really afford to hire someone to take care of it. The person who is working on it hates it and wants to stop.
What can we do?
Here are five quick suggestions:
1. Stop trying to be like larger churches. You just can’t compete. And you shouldn’t. Instead…
2. Make your website more static. If there’s no one who is able to or wants to revise information on your home page, only have items that need to be updated (maybe) every six months. That means list your worship times, childcare information, contact information, welcome statement, directions to your church, and your mission. Boom. That should be enough information to get people through the door. Your warm welcome kicks in once the folks are in your presence.
3. Lose half or more of your “drop down” boxes. For the small church especially, there’s often way too much information to keep up with. If you only have one drop down to choose, list your staff (with a little bio info). Visitors like to know who’s in charge. If you don’t have a staff, list the Lay Leadership. If that’s too much, delete the drop down boxes all together.
4. Keep as much as possible on your website "date neutral." This is a little like #2. Don't post your church newsletter or sermons unless you’re going to change them out every month. Don’t post your Christmas Eve services unless you plan on updating the website the following week. Think about your website through the eyes of a person who is solely interested in visiting you. In your case, less information may really be better.
5. Make the images/pictures you use on your home page count. I’ve written about this numerous times. United Methodist Communications (UMCom) has lots of very helpful articles on this as well. Here are two: Get tons of clicks: Choosing the right images and Breaking the chain of clip art for free. Take the time to get the right photos on your site and be sure they reflect who you are (i.e., don’t post photos of lots of kids if you only have two children who come regularly). Be authentic.
And yes, doing the above will take some time (and maybe even a bit of money if no one knows how to “do” a website). But just like the Yellow Pages, once the basics are in place, it won’t have to be changed every week or even every other month.
You may not be striving for gold or an Oscar, but your website should be a sincere reflection of who you are – even at its most basic. Not everyone needs bells and whistles. Isn't that a relief?
Do you have a website you’d like to brag about? I’d love to see it. Send me a link.
P.S. RIP Billy Graham. While I might not have agreed with him on all things theological, I was always moved by his humbleness. What a life.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is dreaming of her gold medal in ice dancing…without the skimpy costume. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.