This is the first of a series of How To… guides about communicating the good news of your church, christian charity or project. This guide is all about how you get online with a website. But before we think about how; it is a good idea to think about why.
Why do you need a website?
We have all heard about how “a website is your presence online” or “your website is a window into your community” and possibly ignored everything else which followed. But there is truth in these words and you really might be considered, at best old fashioned and at worst, invisible if you are not online.
If you are not part of the growing proportion of society who are digitally connected then this can be hard to understand, but even those who were nervous about the internet now use their smart phones or computers to find their next holiday or directions to a family wedding. Imagine these people thinking about finding a church to visit or a community to join or a charity to support; it is likely that one of the first places they would look to find information is the internet. Without a website you will not even be in the running for consideration. In the UK over 20% of churches do not have a website, let’s make sure that number is the smallest it can be in Wokingham Borough.
What does a website need to include?
A website at its most simplest is a church noticeboard online; a place which tells people what you are doing and how to get in contact. It should be easy to read on all forms of browser, including mobile browsers for smart phones. A website is for those who are not currently involved with your church or charity and it is important to remember this when you are deciding what to focus on. It should provide:
– contact details
– details of your services and activities
– a photo, preferably with people at the centre
– a clear invitation for people to come and visit you
– links to any social media you use eg Twitter and Facebook (there will be a further How To… guide about this in the coming weeks)
If you are a growing church or charity then it is important to broadcast what you are doing, what your aims are and how people can join in with the excitement and community you are building. The more information your website can provide, the more chance there is that people are likely to want to come and get involved. This is your chance to show off; to broadcast your kids and youth work, your community outreach and the good news you are sharing. You can even have a link for donations, after all you never know who might wish to donate anonymously to your mission.
And do not forget that a website is not a one off project to be created; it should be alive and regularly updated. But fear not, it does not need to be a terrifying prospect.
How do you create a website?
There are three broad types of website production depending on your experience and resources.
- Free Templates
You can create a clear and easily accessible website within a few hours by using a template such as those provided by WordPress. There are free templates and others with more functionality which are very good value. This website uses a WordPress template which has a low monthly fee and is really straightforward to set up and use. It does take some prior knowledge but you might be surprised how many people in your community have a blog and could help you set one up.
- Website Builders
If you would like more support in building your website then you can use an online website builder and there are ones specifically for churches including ChurchEdit and ChurchInsight. These tools are easy to use if you are familiar with using a computer and have lots of options for you to choose from including discussion boards and interactive tools.
- Designed Website
There are many hundreds of companies and individuals who design websites and if you are looking for something different then this might be the option for you if you have the budget for it. Or perhaps you have a website designer in your community and they would be happy to help you out, you never know until you ask.
Still Not Sure?
It is OK to feel out of your depth with this, but you can not afford to not get online. Speak to your leadership team, speak to your members, speak to your friends. You might well know someone who has the skills and time to help you set up a simple website or people who are willing to help fund it happening or perhaps a young person who wants to work in this field and would appreciate some experience.
And if none of that bears fruit, get in contact with us at Faith in the Community, we want to encourage you to share the good news in every way you can.