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I've seen many church websites. They look like ordinary electronic brochures with ordinary organizational information. I don't mean to be fault-finding, but not many of them look business-like or professional, not very well organized or user-friendly, and nothing to attract an unsaved person to look for spiritual answers or attend the church. Can't I turn a website into a nationally and internationally powerful ministry tool (since it's out there on the world-wide web) and give people the answers they're desperately looking for even when they don't yet realize they're looking? Any ideas out there? How about I throw out a thought? Isn't a website a self-portrait of the person or organization it represents (just like a job is a self-portrait of the person who did it)? And in the realm of the church, isn't the person being represented Jesus Himself, and the organization His Body the Church? I realize I asked an intense question, but really, what are the best ways to have His Portrait, Heart, and Body show up?

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It might help if we stopped thinking of the church website as a place to only put information about the church. Wonder what would happen if we began to use the church website as an outreach tool and treat churh info as an important add on? I think to that a lot of places lack the time, money, and talent to build a really great website. It takes time to update the site weekly or monthly and keep it current. Sometimes the people given this task are already leading very busy lives.
Hi Lisa, You're right about a change in thinking from electronic brochure to outreach ministry. In posting this Discussion topic, I was thinking of a conversation I had recently with a Florida pastor who said his small church did not even have money to support an overseas missionary. So their church decided to invest in an outreach website. He spoke as if the amount equaled less than a year's worth of regular missionary support. He told me they put full focus into adwords, sharing the church's URL, regular advertising, and word of mouth. I asked him if they tracked their website activity, he said Yes. When I asked further, he told me they had 7,000 audio message downloads in the last month, and wanted to know how to expand into Internet TV. He said their downloads represented points around the world. So instead of a single missionary going into one country, they have a website missionary entering in all countries around the globe. That's like the parable of being given a few talents, putting them to full usury, and God added more talents to the original amount. There's a Biblical principle at work here--when God finds us faithful in small things, He trusts us with more knowing that our faithfulness will increase proportionately. Just consider--the amount of money required for the initial stages was a one-time-only expenditure! I wonder what will happen to this ministry if they actually add Internet TV as well.
Blessings, Dave K.
Rachael (my daughter) and I were just discussing websites in regard to church effectiveness. Rachael mentioned a survey she had seen a little while ago saying that people were less likely to attend a church that was a 'soft, middle of the road' type organization. It said that when people look for a church, they want one that stands for righteousness, truth, etc. EVEN IF THE PEOPLE are not believer, that is what is important to them.

I think there are lots of real issues and situations people are dealing with today. They want answers to the undermining of truth that is going on all around us and they face real life challenges! I think, of course!, churches need to have the answers. I also think these things should be readily visible on the churches websites.

People often check out a church's website BEFORE they visit. In our mobile society, with 20% of our population moving every year, many are looking for new church homes.

PLUS, with the economic struggles and other struggles that people find themselve in, they also go to church to find answers. It would make sense that they would FIRST look on on a church's website to see if they can EXPECT to receive answers if they attend. It would make sense to me that issues/answers should be visible!!!
Bingo, you hit the bull's eye! It is sooooo true that people want decisiveness and challenges above where they are. Just think of teenagers who are vocal against the restrictions put on them from their parents, while at the same time inwardly crave those boundaries for security and safety in their uncertain lives. The inward invariably wins out in the end, because a few years later, they thank their parents for the restrictions. We are all made in God's Image as both He hates lukewarm and people hate mediocrity. In our Visitor Retention research, Jerry and I found the same concerning church membership, doctrines, expectations, and websites. People are not impressed except by that which is a step or more above their expectations. Growing churches have membership expectations above the norm. Clarity of doctrines is what visitors said they looked for when considering a second visit to a church. A five-star genuine friendliness is what impressed them on the first visit. The churches who are attracting visitors and growing in membership are those with definitive websites that are powerful ministry tools rather than ordinary electronic brochures. A website is now nothing short of a business card in electronic form. A website is a self-portrait of the person and organization it represents. For the church, that self-portrait is a reflection of no less than the Lord of Lords and King of Kings Himself, Jesus, and the organization is no less than His Bride and His Body both rolled into one. Just think on that for a while!!! Want some great ideas for how to turn a church website from an ordinary electronic brochure into a powerful outreach ministry tool? You got me excited with this subject, just ask, I dare you!!!
PS to the last message: How much do people want challanges? So much so that they'll allow themselves to be cornered by one! What do I mean? Ever have someone give you a NO to an answer when you in your heart knew they should have said YES? Ever have someone give you an opinion or conclusion that didn't line up with Scripture and the Holy Spirit raised a red flag inside you? Want to know how to respond, instead of react? Just ask, "May I challenge you on that?" With this question, there is only one of two possible responses you can get back, YES or NO. If the person says "YES," you have their permission to say virtually anything. If they are thinking NO, they'll probably not say it aloud. To date, I've never had a person say "NO." Why? Because they don't psychologically want to appear so absolutely closed-minded not to consider a differing opinion. If you're a sales person, just try this challenge question on your next NO. I'm a teacher and it's worked for 35 years on administration, students, and parents.
Witnessed an excellent demonstration of people responding to a challenge Sunday night. The church I attend sponsors Harp and Bowl, a multi church time of worship and prayer, once a month. The worship team had been leading in a cry for more of God. We have an open mic. One of the teams challenged people to step across an imaginary line and approach the alter. Nearly everyone did! It took the challenge to get them to move.
I want to try and attack this from the side of a person looking for a church.
First NO FAKE PICTURES! This is a practice that many website builders use. Now some may ask what is a FAKE picture, well it is a picture that is not of anyone that attends your church. These pictures are used to to help a church look a certain way.
Second- Show the heart of your ministry! This may seem like the first thing many churches would do however even some of the bigger ministries across the country lose site of what they are really trying to do.
Third- Make message available, for me this is SOOO important. If you can get people interested online if they are local they may get up sunday and come in person.
Those are the three things that most sites should really pay close attention to IMO.






Dave Knauss said:
PS to the last message: How much do people want challanges? So much so that they'll allow themselves to be cornered by one! What do I mean? Ever have someone give you a NO to an answer when you in your heart knew they should have said YES? Ever have someone give you an opinion or conclusion that didn't line up with Scripture and the Holy Spirit raised a red flag inside you? Want to know how to respond, instead of react? Just ask, "May I challenge you on that?" With this question, there is only one of two possible responses you can get back, YES or NO. If the person says "YES," you have their permission to say virtually anything. If they are thinking NO, they'll probably not say it aloud. To date, I've never had a person say "NO." Why? Because they don't psychologically want to appear so absolutely closed-minded not to consider a differing opinion. If you're a sales person, just try this challenge question on your next NO. I'm a teacher and it's worked for 35 years on administration, students, and parents.
Mike,
These are great points about a Church website! Any more, a Church website is like the Church's calling card or business card. Without a website, the church does not have a good first impression to the public, or they may even have NO impression! Yikes!
Alright, guys, you rock! Love the analogy of Christ's business card--whoa, what a super concept. It's so true that inwardly people hate mediocrity. How does one determine what is impressive? Go one step beyond what is expected and everyone will be WOWED!!! This is applicable to attitude, demeanor, friendliness, appearance, job performance, quality of completed tasks, and so on!!! There is NEVER a second chance to make a first impression!
Blessings, Dave
You never have a second chance to make a first impression is a term that websites should really really listen to Dave. I also think you could take it as far as too say that a bad first impression is worse then not making an impression at all.
Negative reaction about your website can stop traffic.

Also something else I think is important to have on the website is ACCURATE contact information. You would be so surprised how many churches do not update this info.
Hi Dave, It's me, Dennis.
I want to personally thank you for all of your help and support. Our church website is averaging about 800 hits a day. The significance of this is, our church is only about 150 members! I'd love to hear some feedback from you and others on improvements I could make for more outreach. Click on the link below to look at our site.

faithtabernaclehp.org
Hi Dennis,
If you'd like a more exact review, post your question in the Web Ministries discussion thread under the above Groups tab. On brief perusal, one of our tech guys said you might want to consider (1) moving your top menu links over to the right a little aligning Home (etc) underneath the F in your Faith Tabernacle church name banner, (2) dropping the FTC Bookstore link at the upper left because you already have a Bookstore link right under your church name banner, then move the menu with the pastel colors up into its place, (3) moving much of what you have on your first page to other pages because no page should ever be scrolled more than three screens to see it all from top to bottom, and (4) having outreach ministry be the focus of your first page instead of church information. Our tech guy suggested you might also want to eliminate the HTML page transition effects.

I pray I didn't overwhelm or discourage you with these suggestions, because website design can be as personal, creative, and emotionally charged as writing a piece of music is to its composer.
Blessings, Dave

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