It is so important that your ministry has an online presence if your are serious about connecting with people. Not only does it help you connect with the people in your ministry but it also helps you reach new people. Some researchers, such as Richard Riesling, say that people check out at least 10 churches online before they even step foot inside a church. What does your online presence say about you and your ministry?
It is still possible to spend over $20,000 on a church website, but who has that kind of money? The most important part of your online presence is that it is online and up to date. Nobody trusts a website that is advertising Easter Services just before Christmas. Whilst your online presence doesn’t have to look impressive, it is important that it has all the information that people need. I have seen some great looking websites that have almost no value as you can’t find their location or service times. But I would warn you that the graphic style can be so bad that people choose another church over yours so be careful.
So here are three options for the website in your ministry if you have a really low budget:
- Update your current website – whilst many church websites are average at best, at least they have one to work with; it just needs updating. There are some good quality templates online for only $50-100. A new template and up to date information might be all you need to improve your online presence. If you are a ministry within your church, such as the youth ministry, then make sure people can find your ministry page from the Church website home page. People should be able to get to the information they need in under 5 click. If you want advice on a layout for multi-department websites then look at a University or School website for ideas.
- Start a WordPress Blog – many organisations and churches are using WordPress blogs as their website. It allows you to begin for free or buy a domain name within WordPress for only $20. The advantage of this style is that you can have a website directly for your ministry. Each ministry can have a fresh online presence they can control without being buried 10 levels down on an out of date Church website. If you want to see a church using a WordPress blog for their website check out www.libertychurchnyc.com Please note that there are other blog websites available, such as eBlogger, which offer free blog style websites. Here is how to set up a blog style website for free:
- You will need to register your blog/website name when you sign up so think of this before you start.
- Go to www.wordpress.com and find the section “sign up free”.
- Follow the process to register your blog. You will get a free web address as blogname.wordpress.com or for a small fee you can buy blogname.com (which is a much better offer and WordPress still host your blog for free).
- You will need to pick a theme, which is the design and layout of your page. My suggestion is to use the “Twenty Twelve” theme as this is designed for websites using the WordPress format.
- Start adding pages to your blog as these pages act as sections to your website. Perhaps you need “Service info”, “events” and a really good “about” page.
- Remember that a blog posts are listed in the order that you post, which will help you display up to date information. The downside is that if you post four or five events at once the most recent post will appear first.
- Have fun connecting with people.
- Facebook Page – almost everyone is on Facebook and perhaps your ministry needs the social networking that Facebook provides as your online presence. The other positive about Facebook is that it is free to use and everybody knows how to interact with the format. Instead of it being about your profile, go to the effort of creating a proper Facebook Page for your ministry. Facebook Pages give you the ability to create events which will help you get RSVP’s and attendance. Another positive is that people in your ministry can easily share events and information about your ministry with their friends. If your set it up correctly you will have a web address that you can use in promotional material such as http://www.facebook.com/yourministrynamehere
Most of us don’t have much money to spend on fancy websites so remember that the most important thing is that you have an online presence. If you start a website after reading this please leave a link in the comment section below so all my readers can see how it is done.
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