Church Website Essentials

... basic elements of a church website

This page outlines what should be considered the minimum requirements for a church website. Make sure your site isn't missing something! But, before we start, a word of advice… If this is your church's first website then keep it simple. Whilst it is good to dream big dreams, it is best to make a small site that works well than have a big site that is poor. Most churches can run effective sites with between 8 to 10 pages on the menu. For larger churches you can then use subpages: grouping pages logically to provide information about all your ministries and programs.

1. Sunday services
Every church website should contain basic information about the Sunday services. As a minimum people will want to know the start times and whether there are children's groups or a crèche.
Make sure that this information is up-to-date, and provide the details for special / seasonal services (e.g. at Christmas) well in advance.

2. Visitors’ page
Make a page called ‘Visitors’ put it on your main menu in a prominent place. People who have wandered onto your website but don’t know your church will see that this is a page with information for them. It will save them trawling through pages of information to piece together the bits they want and it will make them feel special and welcomed.

Make a particular effort with your visitors’ page; both the wording and the images should be carefully considered. Try and work out what someone who has never been to church is going to make of it. If you were a visitor what would you like to know? It would be polite if your website told the visitor what to expect if they turn up at your church. Briefly walk them through the visit. Tell them about everything from the parking to the warm welcome. Give them a brief jargon-free breakdown of what the service might be like, including activities for children etc., then tell them what happens at the end of a service (e.g. ‘join us for tea and coffee after the service’). From the visitors’ page you can link to a number of key areas of interest, e.g. how to get to the church, children’s work, testimonies (but probably don’t call them that) or a page about the Christian faith (or Christian living). Finish the page by inviting people to contact you either by email or phone with any questions they may have, and state that you look forward to seeing them at one of your events or services.

3. Explanation of the Christian faith
Let people know what the church believes, in simple jargon-free language. If you don't wish to write your own explanation then at least link to someone else's. (see Christianity Explained page.)

An attractive way of explaining the difference Christianity makes is to provide the testimonies of a few church members. If you do this, then get testimonies from a range of different people (e.g. a teenager, a young mum, a middle-aged couple, etc). Instead of calling them ‘testimonies' use a heading like ‘Real life stories' or ‘What others say'.

If your church runs an Alpha-type course where people can investigate Christianity for themselves, make sure you create a web page about it. Then link to this page from your visitors' page as well as from other pages about the Christian faith.

4. How to find you
Show where you are so that people can come and find you! If you are trying to reach your local community then people probably know the area, so you just need a map with a few streets around your church building including other local landmarks (e.g. pubs, supermarkets). Depending on your church’s location, you may also wish to include information on travel via bus and train, to help your visitors provide links to local timetables.

If drawing your own map is too hard, then link to an online street map (see church website maps) Church123 users can add maps to their sites using either zip or postcodes.

5. Contact details
It is easy to provide contact details for your church minister and church office (if you have one). Let people know their phone number and email addresses. With Church123 you can easily include an online contact form on any page which will email visitors' comments directly to the person you specify. Please see our hints and tips about email addresses and preventing junk emails.