Today’s blog post, like those on Mondays, is taken from an excerpt of a book that I believe you’ll want to read. In one of Dr. Thom Rainer’s most recent books, Becoming A Welcoming Church, he helps us understand what guests think and feel as they visit our churches.
The following excerpt are Dr. Rainer’s words to us about being more guest friendly, especially with regards to the church’s online presence. Dr. Rainer maintains that your church’s website is vitally important, because it is now the new “front door” of the church. Guests go to your church’s website first, way before they make an on-campus visit, and are either encouraged to attend or become so turned off that they never physically visit your church campus.
Dr. Rainer says:
Okay, if the church’s website is truly the front door of the church, how do we make the front door more accessible? Over the past few years, my team and I have looked at hundreds of church websites. We found several common and recurring mistakes, particularly from a guest point of view…
Address and worship times are difficult to locate. This mistake is the most common reason a guest decides not to come to your church after he or she looks are your website…we continue to be confounded by the number of churches that do not give these items a clear and prominent place on the hompage of the site.
Outdated information. True story: As I am writing this chapter, it is autumn. I went to a church’s website earlier this week only to discover the times of its special Easter services five months earlier!
Lack of clarity about beliefs or doctrine. Not all guests will check this important item, but many will. Churches should not hesitate to share with clarity what they believe, particularly their core beliefs…you may lose as many as half your guests without this item.
Incomplete or total lack of information about children’s ministry or student ministry. Parents want to know what your church has for children. They not only want to know about ministries and activities, they want to know their children will be safe and happy when they come to your church. If you really want to win over these parents, tell them explicitly on your website how you will make certain their kids will be safe and secure when they attend your church. And as an added measure, allow them to check in their kids online before they visit.
Poor graphics and copyrighted images. If you are using photos from a standard Google search, stop it. There are many places where a church can get quality images for a small cost or even free.
No photos of pastor, staff, and other leaders. Let your guests know that your leaders are real people. Show photos of your staff so that guests can recognize the leaders when they visit your church (don’t use your wedding photo, or outdated photos…).
I hesitated to share this particular blog post with you because I realize that most of you do not control what take place on your church’s website. However, you can share this post with your church staff and/or pastor, and encourage them (or the person in charge of your church’s website) to make certain that it is as guest friendly as possible. Help those responsible for the church’s website to make sure that guests are not turned off by what they see. Go to your church’s website and look at it “through the eyes of a guest.” What needs to be changed, added, or updated so that guests get the information they desire? Your church’s website is truly the new “front door of the church.”
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