Categories
Web Traffic

It’s Easy To Use Church Websites To Go “Fishing For Men”

It’s easy to use church websites for outreach.

But, one of the biggest mistakes I see small churches make with their websites is believing “if we build it, they will come.” In other words, they build it, launch it, then sit back and wait for the masses to arrive.

And, of course they don’t.

Categories
Tools & Resources

My Transfer From Hostgator to SiteGround (And Why I Moved)

There are about as many reasons to search for a new hosting provider as there are reasons to build a website.

When the time came for me to transfer from HostGator, I had some very definite ideas about what I needed, at a minimum, from my new service provider.

For me, it was about making the pain go away.

Poor website performance and, ultimately, poor customer service had led me to take action.

Now, I’m dancing a jig over making the switch to my new web hosting provider, SiteGround.

Here’s why.

Categories
Perspectives

Who Cares About Your Church Website?

Who cares what you’re doing? Seriously. Who cares about the work you do maintaining your church website?

Not long ago, I spent some devotional time looking at passages where Paul speaks of the need for believers to “build up” one another.

I started thinking about the impact of my service to my local church.

For sure, the skills and abilities I’ve been given provide practical benefit. I’ve seen that. But I wanted to know how people are being refreshed and encouraged by the work I do.

In other words, does my web work spiritually build up the body at my local assembly and beyond? And, if it does, how?

Maybe you’ve wondered that, too. I don’t think it’s uncommon to feel that way.

Though the product of our work is laid bare before a global audience, web work is still very much a “behind the scenes” ministry.

Church web workers work their magic while going largely unnoticed and unknown. And, truth be told, we kinda like it like that.

But, we’re still as encouraged as anyone else when we learn that our work has made a real impact in someone’s life.

I see the trees

When my pastor walked with me during the year I wanted to read the entire Bible for the first time, he did a practical thing sending me an “accountability” email every week.

Instead of asking me a simple “yes or no” question, he took it a step further by having me explain what insights God revealed during my daily readings.

The obvious, practical benefit was that, with his help, I was able to reach my goal.

But, the kindness and patience and sacrifice he made also built me up spiritually. During that year, I grew in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, learned more about God than I ever imagined, and matured in my faith as I did what I heard (James 1:22).

So, it’s easy for me to know how, even now, I benefit spiritually from his work.

But from my perspective, I can’t see how others likewise benefit from my work. That “behind the scenes” nature of the work makes it easy for me to get all caught up in the technical and creative aspects of it. So, I have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

Add to that the ever-shifting environment of the Web. Staying on top of the changes and their effect on what I do is a real challenge. That tension makes it tempting to focus on the temporal aspects of the work.

It’s a daily fight. And, that’s what prompted me to ask my pastor for help.

I asked him to help me see how what I do is up-building to him and to the body. Though I was energized by his response, it took several days for me to realize that I still could only see the “trees.”

Oh, there’s the forest!

At first glance, his list reveals that practical needs are being met. That’s certainly encouraging!

But, the more I thought about it, it still didn’t seem particularly “spiritual.” I still couldn’t see what “eternal value” my efforts produce.

If he’d told me people were growing in their faith (or, even being saved) as a direct result of visiting our website, I’d be counting that for sure!

But, what eternal value is there to updating plugins, taking down outdated content, or compressing images and PDF files?

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this article that it hit me: the body is built up through practical means, and in practical ways.

[slogan size=”small” color=”#88200ee”]”[…] even a cup of cold water, given with the right spirit, brings its own reward.”  –Warren Wiersbe[/slogan]

Working in the name of Jesus to make our websites safe for people to visit, easy to navigate, convenient to use, and useful for learning and getting things done, means as much to Him as handing someone a glass of water (Matthew 10:42).

And, giving a thirsty person a drink of water is about as practical as it gets!

So, who cares what I’m doing?

What does it matter? Well…

  • It mattered to the man in Detroit, Michigan, the woman in Moshi Tanzania, and that other guy in Albuquerque, New Mexico who were able to get answers to their questions about spiritual matters.
  • It matters to my pastor because he has access to a knowledgeable source for answers to all kinds of technical questions, and help to accomplish ministry goals online.
  • My work also matters to him because he wants his teaching ministry/efforts to be strengthened and enlarged as his voice (speaking God’s truth) is carried across the globe.
  • My work matters to people all over the globe, especially those who want to learn more about God, and are able to do so, as they hear the Word and insights my pastor shares.
  • My work matters to brothers and sisters in our assembly who want to be able listen to sermons and otherwise stay connected and “in the loop” when they’re away due to travel , illness, etc.
  • My work mattered to visitors to our area who wanted to locate and fellowship with like-minded believers while they were away from their own home church on a short-term work assignment.
  • My work mattered to a young Marine newly-stationed at a nearby installation who, before he arrived, wanted to locate a body of like-minded believers to assemble with.

The campus where my small church assembles is one mile off the main road in a rural, heavily-wooded area. During the Summer of 2014, we lost the lease on a patch of land on the main road where our sign had been pitched for more than 25 years.

Since then, we’ve made our plans, but we’re still waiting for God to provide land and signage replacements.

And yet, He’s shown me that my work matters to Him. Even as we wait on Him, He guides weary souls down that narrow road to our church each week, and many times He’s used our website to do it.

During the last 10 months we’ve welcomed 61 guests, 23 of whom found us online and came after visiting our website.

Who cares what you’re doing?

So, what care do you take with your church’s website? Who are you thinking about or caring about as you perform your work to maintain it?

Is your attitude and motivation God-honoring or self-serving?

Do you think anyone cares about what you’re doing?

If you think no one cares about the work you do, you also might be tempted to not care about it. That attitude will most certainly be reflected in what people find when they visit your church website.

The web is littered with dead or dying church websites that no one cares about.

I hope you won’t let your website be counted among them.

Find out who your church website matters to

If you want to know what impact your work is making, start asking questions.

Who greets new visitors to your church? Do they ask your guests how they heard about the church? Ask them to share that with you.

Do you use guest cards to gather contact information and track new visitors attending your church? Do you ask “How Did You Learn About Us” or include a similar question on the card? If not, take steps to get it added in.

Our guest card didn’t include that question. So, I asked our Office Manager to add it. Now we’re all encouraged when visitors arrive on our doorstep as a result of finding and spending time on our website!

Talk to your pastor, your Office Manager, or anyone who’s on the “front lines” at your church. Ask them to share what they’ve heard people say about it.

Of course, on this side of eternity, none of us can truly know the full extent to which God is using our work. But you can be sure your work matters to Him.

Our duty is to remain faithful in our service to Him.

Remember, God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for Him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. (Hebrews 6:10 GNT)

Categories
Web Content

Does Your Website Content Violate Child Privacy Laws?

In the United States, it’s nearly Summer. And, you know what that means: Vacation Bible School!

If your small church is like many others, you’ll likely want to share memories of the experience by capturing photos and video during the event, and publishing them to your website.

But, are you violating child privacy laws by publishing that content on your site?

Categories
Perspectives

Why Learning To Say NO Is A Good Thing

Learning to say No is hard. But, I’ve discovered that learning to say No, even to “good things,” is a good thing.

In fact, it’s a very good and essential thing for church Web workers.

How learning to say No saved my life

Growing up, I was taught that you said Yes to “nice” or “good” things, and No to “bad” or “evil” things.

As a young military enlistee, I was taught saying Yes signaled obedience and submission. Those were good things.

Soldiers who said No were looking for trouble.

After the military, the civilian workforce taught me that agreeable, cooperative, team players said Yes.

People who wanted to get fired said No.

I learned that saying Yes pleased people. And, so I learned to be a people-pleaser.

Then, after months of being overwhelmed, overworked, and suffering from a sudden and severe bout of headaches and dizziness, I was diagnosed as being dangerously close to having a stroke.

I was 28 years old.

My doctor told me that if I didn’t immediately make some major changes in my life, I would likely not live to see 30.

That was my kick-start.  It wasn’t easy, but my life quite literally depended on my learning to say No.

Learning to say No as a Christ-follower

Later, after God rescued me, I was eager to learn all I could about what living this new life in Christ meant.

It didn’t take long to discover that the word Yes is just as highly valued in the Church.

As with the civilian workforce, saying Yes in the Church often brands you as an agreeable, cooperative, team player.

In fact, some will even judge your spiritual maturity and level of commitment to the cause of Christ based on how often you say Yes.

In other words, the more requests you say Yes to, the more highly esteemed you are as a selfless servant of Christ.

When it comes to “church work,” we humans can attach great piety to the word Yes. But, that’s not how God judges our commitment and work in Christ.

What a comfort to know that I’m neither expected nor required to say Yes to every human request made of me!

Learning to say No as a church Web worker

For church Web workers, saying No can be especially difficult.

Websites need our regular, ongoing attention if they are to be fashioned into the effective ministry tools we want them to be.

I wonder if you’re like me. I’ve got lots of hopes, dreams, and ideas for my church’s website.

And, then there are all those requests (and sometimes demands) from leaders and members of your local assembly.

I don’t get very many of those, but maybe you do.

With all of the good things we can and want to be doing with our websites, it’s easy to get over-extended and overwhelmed with the work of our ministry.

But, we’re not required to say Yes to every request. Nor is our every idea and desire for the site profitable or needful.

Hard work can bring glory to God. Ministry burnout—not so much.

So what’s the solution? Where’s the balance?

It’s simple: learn to say No to the “right” good things.

How to know what good things to say No to

I was encouraged by Yvon Prehn’s insight about how learning to say No can actually free us up to follow our Lord’s example.

In her Devotions for Church Communicators, Yvon reminds us that Jesus said No to many things and many people. At all times, His chief concern was to do what His Father wanted Him to do (Matthew 26:39; Luke 2:49; John 4:34, 5:30).

[divider]

“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.

Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:24-27).

One of the hardest words to say when you are involved in church communication is “no.” One of the hardest words to say when you are involved in church communication is “no.”

[framed_box align=”right”][/framed_box] There is always another project to be done, always someone you could help by putting together a flyer, newsletter, or web project for them. There is always a way to do a project better, a better photograph, or illustration, or clip art we know we can find if we just take the time to search. But we need to follow our Lord’s example and learn to say “no.”

It is never easy. After Jesus shared these words the people of his hometown tried to kill him. Hopefully the reaction to our refusal to do a project or to make another revision won’t be quite as harsh, but we shouldn’t be surprised at negative reactions.

What makes it difficult is that we have to learn to say “no” to good things. For many of us in the Christian life, we’ve spent so much time learning to say “no” to evil. Learning to say “no” to something that is good and needed—that’s tough.

What a good example Jesus is for us here. There were many things he said “no” to—people he didn’t heal, places he didn’t go to preach, and people he didn’t go after.

What he did do was his Father’s will. He knew only his Father had the big picture and knew exactly what Jesus needed to do to accomplish that plan. Jesus could say “no” in peace because he spent intense and intimate time with God.

Time with God, confirming his will for us, is the only way to determine what good things we must say “no” to in our lives and church communication ministries.

This post is an excerpt from Devotions for Church Communicators, by Yvon Prehn. It’s one of my “go-to” devotionals when I thirst for perspective and encouragement while performing the work entrusted to me.

[divider]

Jesus didn’t say Yes to everything and everyone. Nor does God our Father.

His desire is for us to be wise, to try to understand what He wants us to do, and to follow His example in everything we do (Ephesians 5:1, 15-17).

He neither expects nor demands that we say Yes to everything and everyone.

And, that’s a good thing.

Categories
Web Security

Boost Church Website Security By Updating WordPress

To boost security and help protect your website against attacks, one of the most important steps you can take is updating WordPress.

WordPress 4.2.2 is now available, and addresses the security issue I recently reported to churches using WordPress 4.2 and earlier to run their websites.

Categories
Web Security

WORDPRESS SECURITY ALERT: Widespread XSS Vulnerability Exists

WordPress Security Alert For Churches

[slogan size=”small”]UPDATE: This WordPress security alert is a general community announcement for all churches using WordPress version 4.2 and earlier to run their website.[/slogan]

Anyone running a website on WordPress version 4.2 and earlier should be made aware of this problem, and must take immediate action to ensure their site is secure.

In “geek speak”, a cross-site scripting, or XSS, vulnerability affecting multiple WordPress themes and plugins exists.

In simple terms, a WordPress security threat exists that could potentially be used by attackers to gain unauthorized access to your Web pages or entire website.

What is Cross-site Scripting?

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in Web applications. XSS enables attackers to inject client-side script into Web pages viewed by other users. A cross-site scripting vulnerability may be used by attackers to bypass access controls such as the same-origin policy. Cross-site scripting carried out on websites accounted for roughly 84% of all security vulnerabilities documented by Symantec as of 2007.[1] Their effect may range from a petty nuisance to a significant security risk, depending on the sensitivity of the data handled by the vulnerable site and the nature of any security mitigation implemented by the site’s owner. —Source: Wikipedia

This Cross-site Scripting Wikipedia article includes simple examples of different kinds of attacks and things an attacker could accomplish if successful in exploiting this vulnerability. It’s definitely an eye-opening read.

What should you do?

This WordPress security vulnerability is widespread, so it’s impossible to know precisely which themes and plugins have been affected.

An April 20, 2015 WordPress security advisory on the Sucuri Blog advises users to do the following:

  • Keep your site updated
  • Restrict access control
  • Monitor your logs
  • Use only plugins you need
  • Scan your site for indicators of compromise
  • Put a system in place to block the most common forms of XSS exploits

Immediate action I’m taking

I’m sure to apply updates to our theme and plugins as soon as they’re released, so we’re good there. So, here’s what I’ll be doing right away:

  1. Installing and running Sucuri’s WordPress security plugin
  2. Checking my church’s theme and plugin changelogs (yes, each and every one) to determine if and when the plugin was updated against this vulnerability
  3. Deactivating and uninstalling any plugins we do not use or that aren’t absolutely necessary for running our website

Then, I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing: keeping an eye on logs, restricting access, performing weekly backups, applying updates immediately, and generally do all I can to keep our church’s website safe and stay ahead of threats.

For further reading

Cross-scripting article on Wikipedia

Security Advisory: XSS Vulnerability Affecting Multiple WordPress Plugins

Joost de Valk (Yoast): Security Updates For Our GA and SEO Plugins & Many Others

WP Tavern: XSS Vulnerability Affects More Than a Dozen Popular WordPress Plugins

Categories
Perspectives

Church Website Ideas Has A New Facebook Page!

I am SO excited to announce that Church Website Ideas has a new Facebook page! YAY!

That Page has been a long time coming. I’d actually started creating it right after I acquired CWI. But, once I got started with transitioning the blog, I realized Facebook would have to wait.

This year, I was determined to get that project going. So last week I knocked it out, and now the new Facebook page is up and running and it’s happiness!

Small church got a website? This blog’s for you!

The Church Website Ideas blog is still the primary source for tips, resources, and guidance to support busy church communicators—volunteers, staff, and pastors and leaders of smaller churches—involved in the decision-making and hands-on tasks necessary for building and maintaining your church’s Web presence.

But the new Facebook page offers even more.

Why you should LIKE the New Facebook Page

The new Facebook page is being updated with content from Church Website Ideas AND from around the interwebs.

It’s another avenue you can use to stay informed, be encouraged, share ideas, and connect with fellow, like-minded small church Web workers from around the world.

So, check it out. And, be sure to Like the Page to have this great content show up in your newsfeed.

Categories
Web Content

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide: How to Use Infographics to Create Fabulous Church Website Content

The goal of every piece of church website content you produce should be clear, simple communication. And, there’s no better way to clearly and simply convey complex information than with infographics.

In fact, an intelligent, well-designed infographic also can bring to life dull, uninteresting church website content.

I recently created a simple infographic for my church’s website that received rave reviews (and many thanks) from members of our congregation. [image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”5079″ align=”right” size=”small” fitMobile=”true” autoHeight=”true” quality=”100″]

Let me tell you what happened…

A huge transition is currently underway at my local church. We’re becoming a church of small groups, and with that change came a big update to our Sunday morning worship schedule.

For weeks, details about the schedule change were included in our weekly bulletin. But, I hadn’t been giving it too much attention.

You know how it is. I’ve already got loads of information to keep straight. So, I figured I’d wait until we were within a couple weeks of making the change, then I’d give it a look-see.

Now, all the details were there. But, holy smokes! I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around that new schedule.

I read it and re-read it, and re-re-read it.

But, I just couldn’t wrap my head around all of the movement that would be taking place, especially during one particular time slot.

I’m a pretty linear thinker when it comes stuff like this. So, to help me make heads or tails of it, I thought I’d start by transforming those paragraphs of text into a simple two column list of times and activities.

And, that’s when it hit me!

This schedule had just enough complexity to make it the PERFECT candidate for creating an infographic!

After all, I couldn’t imagine I was the only one having trouble comprehending the details in that paragraph-based format.

Judging from how the infographic was received, I’d say my hunch was spot on.

What are infographics and why should you use them?

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. (Source: Wikipedia)

The reasons to consider mixing in infographics with your church website content are many and compelling. But, they all boil down to this: as visually-wired creatures, our brains crave them.

Humans Are Visual Creatures
Source: NeoMam Studios
(click the image to see the full size infographic)

 

What kind of church website content is best for making infographics?

Infographics have the potential to transform all kinds of church website content from ordinary to extraordinary.

Since graphic visual content simplifies communication, by far, content made up of complex information, data, and details are the best candidates for this type of treatment.

When should you use infographics?

Great website content serves people well. When visitors arrive at your website, they want content that answers their questions, helps them make a decision, or teaches them something new.

Infographics are an intriguing option for creating eye-popping content that awakens the senses while giving your visitors what they want. But, as tempting as it may be to create a website of infographics, don’t.

Use infographics sparingly and purposefully in your church website content.

More to the point, use them when you want to make information easier to comprehend, more persuasive, more engaging, or more shareable.

For example, consider using infographics in your church website content when you want to:[list icon=”check” color=”green”]

  • Explain a process
  • Make comparisons
  • Create a timeline
  • Simplify complex instructions
  • Explain how to complete a task
  • Create visual interest around a topic
  • Tell a story
  • Share a biography
  • Report results

[/list]

When your website visitors are able to easily digest, recall, and use content that’s also visually engaging, they’ll be more likely to want to share it with others (that’s what makes them a popular option for creating blog content).

Where should you use infographics?

You should use infographics in your church website content anywhere you want to better serve your visitors by making information easier to comprehend, more persuasive, and more engaging.

I added the infographic I created to pages where our Worship Service times are outlined.

The Tabernacle Church and Parker Hill Community Church used infographics to present their “Year In Review”.

You can use an infographic to [list icon=”check” color=”green”]

  • Present the historical timeline of your church
  • Break down a complex ministry process
  • Help new visitors prepare for their first visit by visually leading them from parking lot to sanctuary
  • Step parents through the nursery check-in process
  • Create a visually compelling biography for your pastor or staff
  • Summarize a weekly sermon or share the Gospel

[/list]

How can you create infographics?

As you can probably guess, you’ll find lots of tools online for making infographics. I’ve listed a few of them below.

Like some website builders, most of these tools make it easy for anyone to build “an infographic”. However, “an infographic” is one thing; a well-designed infographic is quite another.

Well-designed infographics are eye-catching and interesting. They’re also much more effective at helping people to digest, retain, and recall information.

Like bad websites, bad infographics don’t benefit users. They frustrate, confuse, and create barriers to people understanding the message you mean to convey.

It's a 243% Baby Boomer
Source: Design Your Way

Producing a well-designed infographic takes learning. And that takes time.

You don’t need a degree in graphic design. In fact, these tools offer huge libraries of pre-designed, customizable templates.

But, as Warren Wiersbe notes,

Technology is only as good as the skills of the people who manage it.
–On Being A Leader For God

You may not be creating infographics from scratch, but you’ll make the best use of whatever tool you choose if you take time to learn and follow a simple process for applying some basic data visualization and design principles.

If you don’t have the time to commit to learning how to create infographics yourself, you can always outsource that Web work.

For further reading

13 Reasons Why Your Brain Craves Infographics (this page is really cool!)
by NeoMam Studios

8 Steps To Designing The Perfect Infographic
by Jessica Draws on CreativeBloq

When Infographics Go Bad Or How Not To Design Data Visualization
from Design Your Way

5 Ways Churches Can Use Infographics
by Katrina at SameVine

5 Steps For Designing Church Infographics
by Jared Brandon

25 Ideas to Transform Ho-Hum Infographics into Something Extraordinary
by Barry Feldman on CopyBlogger

What are the best tools for making infographics?

As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of online tools available to help you build your own infographics.

Here are four tools to get you started with creating infographics for your church website:

Easel.ly
I used this tool to create my infographic. Easel.ly is a free tool you can use to create eye-catching, informative, and fun graphics on the web. You’ll find thousands of free, customizable infographic templates and design objects. Using the site is as easy as dragging and dropping design elements. You can either choose a template from their extensive library, or upload your own background image and start from scratch. They also offer an app for iOS.

Piktochart
Piktochart is an easy-to-use infographic creator. Their point-and-click editor makes it especially easy for non-designers to create gorgeous infographics in minutes. Get started by choosing a theme from their huge library (more than 400 themes in 100 categories available). Their standard account is 100% Free. Need more features? Go Pro, with special pricing for Non-Profit users.

Canva
This is one of my favorite tools for creating all kinds of graphics for the web. Canva wants to make design simple and collaborative, and they truly do. Try using the “Blog Graphic” template to create quick, summary infographics. To use Canva for free, create your graphics using their free images or upload your own. Premium images cost just a dollar an image. They offer a free app for iPad.

Venngage
Venngage enables you to drag and drop hundreds of charts, maps, and icons onto your canvas to create beautiful infographics. You also can upload your own images. The free version of this tool limits your access to assets and features. Premium pricing starts at $19/month or $190/year, and offers access to unlimited assets, removes their branding, and enables you to export your infographics to PDF and PNG format.

Where should you share your infographics?

People absolutely love to share infographics. So, some of the infographics you create should be shared, and shared as widely as possible.

The more beautiful the design and compelling the subject matter, the more widely it’ll be shared. The more widely its share, the more traffic should be returned to your website.

Examples of infographics that you can use for outreach include visual content that[list icon=”check” color=”green”]

  • Creates visual interest around a topic or trends
  • Summarizes a sermon
  • Shares the Gospel
  • Do not specifically relate to persons, places, or things within your local assembly

[/list]

You should definitely check out Evona Wiktoria’s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Infographic Marketing. She shares tons of ideas and links to websites and directories online to share your infographics.

What do you think about using infographics for church website content?

Compelling idea or pure waste of time?

What would be your biggest challenge to creating and using them on your church website?

Have you incorporated infographics into your church website content?

Share your thoughts (and links) in the Comments below!

Categories
Perspectives

Do I Need A Website For My Church?

So, do I need a website for my church?

That was the key question in an e-mail I received recently from one of my newsletter subscribers. Diane wrote,

Grace
I don’t have a website yet and don’t know how to go about getting one set up. Do I really need one? Our church is very small (about 20) on Sunday mornings. We are a new church plant within the past 18 months.

I began by telling Diane, it really depends on her (and her congregation) and what they mean to accomplish through their ministry. If using the Internet can help them do whatever that is, then they’ll want to consider creating a website.

Do I NEED a website for my church?

But, the plain and simple answer is: no. Contrary to popular belief, your small church does not need a website.

Modern technology methods, tools, and techniques, while helpful, are not some necessary and critical element required for the Church to be able to faithfully carry out the work we’ve been given to do.

Neither does our work in the world rise or fall on whether or not we possess or use them.

Yessirree, I’m a professional Web worker and a card-carrying tech-lover who can barely remember what life was like before my iOS devices (and, at 51, I know there was abundant life before iOS devices).

But, I think we get confused about this.

A lot.

Local assemblies all over the world, including in the good ‘ole US of A, are accomplishing God’s will for them all without the benefit of having an online address.

Technology can offer convenience, value, and assistance to a ministry, but it’s never meant to be considered “needful” for ministry. And, we certainly shouldn’t think that we can’t do ministry without these things.

However, if you do think that building a website for your church is an idea you’d like to pursue, be sure you count the cost of doing that BEFORE you begin building.

What it means to “count the cost”

By “counting the cost”, I’m not just talking about money. There’s a lot you’ll need to consider when deciding to build a website for your small church.

For example, here are just a few of things you’ll want to get clear about:

  • Why do we think we NEED a website? For what purpose are we building it?
  • What’s it going to help us do?
  • What goals can a website help us reach?
  • Who are we meaning to serve with it?
  • How are we meaning to serve them?
  • How much do we have to cover first year expenses?
  • Who will be responsible for maintaining the site once it’s built?
  • Who will be responsible for updating the website?
  • How frequently will it need to be updated?
  • What will need to be updated?
  • Will anyone need to be trained? Who? On what?
  • Who will monitor security?
  • Who will back up the website? How often?
  • Where will backups of the site be stored?
  • Who will oversee site administration?
  • Who will ensure website software is regularly updated?
  • What content do we need to create?
  • What specialized skills will be needed to create it?

This isn’t anywhere near an exhaustive list, but it’ll get you started thinking through what you want to build, and how you plan to use it effectively to support the ministry.

A few more things to consider

If you don’t have anyone to help you properly maintain the website (e.g. monitoring security, updating software, creating and updating content, etc.), one option would be to outsource those tasks.

You could also go with a service provider that bundles these services into a monthly fee.

Hosting a WordPress website on a service like Hostgator offers great flexibility, but you’ve got to have the expertise and the time to keep up with all you’ll need to know and do to properly maintain the site.

The speed at which technology evolves makes this a challenge even for professional Web workers.

Some small churches stick their toe in the water by beginning with social media.

But, again, you shouldn’t make the decision to do that unless your members have asked for it, use it, or you develop some other strategy for using it to support your ministry.

If you DO consider using social media, look first at what the average age is of the people who are gathering together.

Do they use social media? What service do they prefer? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram?

If they’re an older group, have no interest, and spend little time online, or aren’t active on social media, you’d be wasting your time and money trying to build a website to serve them, because they most likely wouldn’t use it.

On the other hand, if you mean to use the Web to reach out beyond your congregation, you still need to have some basic understanding of the audience you’re targeting in order to effectively reach and serve them.

The main thing to remember is that the Web should support your ministry, not the other way around.

If you can accomplish what you mean to accomplish now, without having a website, then don’t worry about it.

Seriously.

Don’t get stressed out about rushing to get on the Web, in response to peer pressure (no, Virginia, that never goes away).

If it makes sense later, then put effort into it.

Above all, do all of this PRAYERFULLY. God knows whether or not, and how, He would have you use the Web to accomplish the work He’s given you to do.

Seek His wisdom in faith, and He will give it to you!

That’s a promise (James 1:5-6).

Categories
Web Content

Get More Website Traffic Free

Want to get more website traffic free?

One thing you can do to increase traffic is to optimize your website for search engines. But to be effective, you’ll need to commit lots of time and effort to learning about SEO, and applying the best techniques.

You’ll also need to stay on top of changes and updates to the search engines as search continues to evolve.

That’s a lot to learn and manage, so most small churches simply don’t do it.

Another way to get more website traffic free is to produce useful content and regularly update it. Adding a church blog can be a tremendous help. But, again, maintaining a blog is big commitment.

There’s an easier way to produce useful content that makes visitors want to return again and again. And, this weekly update should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

Try adding a “This Sunday” section to your Home page.

Get more website traffic free (before “This Sunday”)

Adding a “This Sunday” section to your website gives your visitors a sneak peek at what’s coming up during worship service this Sunday.

You have just two rules to remember: keep it brief and keep it fresh.

Keep it brief

You shouldn’t include every single thing that’s planned during your worship service.

A one- to three-sentence summary about who will be speaking and what they’ll be teaching is all you’ll need to keep visitors coming back each week.

If your church regularly welcomes guest speakers, “This Sunday” alerts your site visitors that the pastor won’t be in the pulpit (that’s an important piece of intel for first-time visitors who are expecting to hear the pastor teach when they visit).

Keep it fresh

Ideally, this section should be updated every Monday so that it’s fresh all week leading up to Sunday.

My church also encourages new visitors to explore more of the website by adding “sticky” features and hyper-linking key terms and phrases:

  • Pastor/Elder name = linked to “Our Leaders” page using anchor tags
  • Sermon Series title = linked to our “Sermon Library” page
  • Scripture reference = interactive tooltip

Adding a “This Sunday” section on your Home page is a super simple way to build a loyal audience of recurring visitors who will return weekly to see what’s new.

If you add the section to your website (or use one already), leave me a link to it in the comments below!

 

Image Credit: Joan Campderrós-i-Canas | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

How to Use Tooltips to Make Your Website “Sticky”

I just love sticky websites, don’t you?

Sticky content refers to content published on a website, which has the purpose of getting a user to return to that particular website or hold their attention and get them to spend longer periods of time at that site. Webmasters use this method to build up a community of returning visitors to a website. –Wikipedia

Sticky websites make you want to keep going back again and again. The content holds your attention, so you’re less likely to bounce off the page seconds after arriving there.

For me, websites that save me time are sticky. When I visit a site that’s added thoughtful features to make my browsing more efficient, it makes me feel like the site owners considered me, and are truly interested in caring for me while I’m there.

This may sound a little counter-intuitive, but the more time a website saves me, the longer I tend to stay on the website.

My church definitely wants our website visitors to stick around. We want them to feel cared from the moment they arrive, and throughout their visit. And, we want them to come back often.

Creating sticky visits

I’m always on the lookout for tools or creative methods to help me add thoughtful little features to my church’s website. We especially want those new to our church to stick around, and enjoy a productive visit.

One way we accomplish that is by providing features that help visitors get the information they’re after, without them having to take extra steps to get it.

For example, take a look at our Core Values page. Notice how all of the Scripture references appear as “tooltips” when you hover your cursor over them?

Pretty neat, huh?

The little things make a BIG difference

It’s such a small detail. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to overlook.

But, think about your own browsing experience on another church’s website. (Can’t ask you about your own website, because you may be a little biased.) 🙂

Did you check out their “About Us” section? I’ll bet it’s likely you’d need to have taken a Bible in hand to read a page or two in that section.

Did you? If you didn’t, why not?

Didn’t have a Bible nearby? Did you get discouraged because it looked so time-consuming, and you didn’t have the time?

Maybe you just plain didn’t feel like making the effort?

Do you think that church published that page because they wanted you to ignore it and bounce off the page?

Of course not!

We want people to stick around and consume the content on our web pages, don’t we?

So, make it easy for them to do what you want them to do.

Here’s how to use tooltips to make that happen.

How to use tooltips to captivate your visitors

There are lots of tooltip makers out there.

But, we use the Reftagger WordPress plugin from FaithLife (Logos Bible software) to add interactivity to Bible references throughout our website.

(I also use it here, on Church Website Ideas . . . check it out: John 3:16)

As you can see, Reftagger automatically tags the reference and instantly shows your readers the Bible verses when they hover over a Scripture reference.

A tooltip displays the verse’s text, so your readers can stick around. They won’t have to leave your site to look up the references (they won’t need their Bible to read your About Us page anymore!).

They’ll even be able to view the entire passage by clicking through the tooltip to an online Bible reader.

Using Reftagger’s online tools, you can customize the look and feel of the tooltips so that they match your website’s styles. You can choose a default Bible translation and online Bible reader.

And, talk about a sticky feature: if your visitors use Logos Bible Software, you can include a link that will allow them to open the Scripture passage directly in Logos (VERY cool if you want to, say, create interactive Bible studies on your church blog).

What a great way to encourage longer visits on your website: help your readers dig deeper into Scripture, find answers, and connect with the Word.

Don’t have WordPress? No problem. FaithLife also offer tutorials for installing Reftagger in Blogger, Drupal, and Joomla.

And, adding Reftagger to any website is as simple as adding a few lines of code to the footer of your template pages.

It’s your turn to tell us how to use tooltips

How can you use tooltips to make your church website content sticky, and easier to consume?

Share your ideas! Leave a comment below.

Categories
Web Content

Ask The Readers: Is A Corporate Sponsor Page A Good Church Website Idea?

Not long ago, while updating a couple of my social media accounts, one of the services prompted me to get in touch with an old friend I haven’t seen in quite a long time.

Curious, I thought I’d look him up to see where ministry had taken him. It didn’t take long to learn where he was pastoring, so I browsed over to the church website to see what they were all about.

The website looked good. I’m always happy to see that, especially with small churches.

Then, I clicked on their About Us section and, well…I was kinda…I don’t know, shocked?

I mean, I’d never considered that a church would solicit corporate sponsorship as a means to generate revenue, let alone post an info page and proposal on their church website.

So, yeah, I guess it threw me for a loop!

Does it matter where the money comes from?

I was all set to write a post that included this idea along with a list of others that I thought were poor content ideas for church websites. I made some notes, created a rough a outline, and filed it away in my “Ideas” folder.

Then today, while researching a completely different topic, a Google search led me to SmartChurch.com.

As I was scrolling down the page, reading the article I’d found, another title in the sidebar caught my eye: How Your Church Website Is Breaking The Law.

Click.

The author, Raul Rivera, invites readers to ponder the question:

If the IRS were to review my (church) website, will it be 100% compliant?

Then, he takes a quick look at three areas where church websites may be in dutch:

  1. What your church is selling online
  2. The pastor’s blog
  3. Selling ads versus corporate sponsorship

Yeah. After blinking a few times, I had to read that last one again, too.

According to Mr. Rivera,

Many churches these days raise extra revenue by selling ads in their church bulletin, on their website, and in other materials. Any paid promotion of a private business is classified as advertising and an unrelated business activity. The good news is that the IRS has created a safe harbor for churches to raise advertising revenues by selling ads known as corporate sponsorships. There is a legal difference between selling ads and selling corporate sponsorships. The IRS allows tax-free corporate sponsorships so long as they meet certain criteria such as publishing their logo, or slogan, website address and their telephone number, and as long as they do not contain qualitative or comparative descriptions of the sponsors’ products or services. What you must not do is publish the sponsors’ prices, or other wording that promotes savings, value or endorsement.

Now, this article was written back in 2012, so I don’t know if the IRS has changed any of the rules.

Still, I had no idea.

When is corporate sponsorship appropriate?

I had a sense that there was more to this topic, so I did a little digging, and found this article by Kristina Krill on Church Marketing Sucks.

I’m sure there are many more voices discussing this topic around the blogosphere. But this is such a new idea to me, I just had to ask you guys…

Should churches solicit corporate sponsorships?

Is soliciting corporate sponsorships an appropriate activity for churches under any circumstances?

Can receiving corporate sponsorship cloud your church’s message?

Does it encourage consumerism?

What steps can be taken to keep that from happening?

Does the Bible contain similar examples we can study and consider?

Would your church consider soliciting corporate sponsorships?

Under what conditions?

Is adding a corporate sponsorship page a good church website idea?

Should churches use their main website to solicit corporate sponsorships?

If a church wanted to solicit sponsorships for an event, would they do well to create a separate event website?

If adding a corporate sponsorship page is a good church website idea, where should it be placed in the architecture?

So, corporate sponsorship pages a good church website idea: right or wrong? What’s appropriate? What isn’t? What matters most?

What’s surprising?

Categories
Tools & Resources

Church Website Maintenance: 25 Tasks You Can Outsource Today

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase “church website maintenance”?

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Church website maintenance is time-consuming

If you’re a busy leader in a small church, you may be thinking something like, “I don’t have time to maintain the website.”

Yep, I get that!

And, with so many other demands heaped upon your shoulders, it can be easy to prioritize church website maintenance behind them all.

Easier still is considering it a “non-essential”, and putting it off altogether.

We see the evidence of that kind of thinking strewn all over the Web in the form of abandoned church websites.

Poor church websites do little to help meet the needs of the people who visit them.

Dying, dead, or poorly constructed church websites also fail to bring glory to a creative God (which is the ultimate goal of all that the believer does) (1 Corinthians 10:31). Oswald Chambers comments on this verse in His Utmost for His Highest,

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God . . .Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did.

The shallow things of life are those things which lack depth, or that are considered “superficial”. When compared to spiritual things or the things of God, building and maintaining a church website is a “shallow” thing in our modern lives.

Yet, it is ordained by God.

Did Jesus make websites? No, but that’s not the point. What He did do is honor God in everything that He did.

Since a disciple is not above his teacher (Matthew 10:24), believers are called to do the same.

If you’ve invested time (and money) in building a website for your local church, and if you’re aiming to effectively use it to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, then investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Church website maintenance is vital

This is worth saying again: if you’re aiming to effectively use your church website to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Keeping software, add-ons, and plugins updated, researching, implementing, and monitoring security features, and regularly writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, and publishing new content just scratches the surface of all that church website maintenance involves.

Yes, these things are necessary. And, yes, they are incredibly time-consuming.

But, the good news is these tasks and more can all be delegated and accomplished, with minimal expense, through outsourcing.

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Church website maintenance made easy

Now, you might be thinking, “Hmm, outsourcing? That’s not for churches.”

I can’t imagine why not! In fact, if you have a church website you’re probably already outsourcing church website tasks.

Do you pay a monthly fee for a third party hosting and technical support solution like FaithConnector or WP Engine (as opposed to hiring staff in-house to build and maintain your Web server)?

Guess what? You’re outsourcing.

Outsourcing is simply contracting out a business process to another party.

Many churches have already realized the benefits of outsourcing such administrative processes as payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, and legal services.

Leaving these tasks in the hands of experts is a no-brainer.

But, have you considered that trying to figure out how to design graphics, edit and produce videos, or design and build landing pages for church events is a HUGE waste of time if you don’t know what you’re doing?

Why not contract people who DO know what they’re doing?

They’ll get the job done right the first time, and you’ll be able to spend your time accomplishing the core ministry work the Lord’s entrusted to you.

25 church website maintenance tasks perfect for outsourcing

You’d be amazed at how many website maintenance tasks can be outsourced!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 25 website tasks you can outsource immediately to lighten your workload, as well as that of staff and/or volunteers:

  1. Designing banners, icons, and headers
  2. Designing landing pages for special events
  3. Editing and producing video
  4. Editing audio
  5. Updating content management software
  6. Installing, configuring, and updating add-ons, plugins, and themes
  7. Monitoring website security
  8. Customizing or “refreshing” themes
  9. Integrating your website with social media accounts
  10. Calendar management
  11. Updating website content
  12. Sitemap submissions
  13. Basic graphics editing
  14. Podcast setup
  15. Transcribing audio
  16. Online research
  17. Adding media to web pages
  18. Adding new web pages
  19. Writing, proofreading, and editing website content
  20. PDF conversion
  21. Forms creation
  22. Keyword research for church blog content
  23. Creating backlinks and linkbuilding
  24. Monitoring Google Analytics
  25. Troubleshooting and fixing website errors

The bottom line

No matter the size of your church or what church website solution you’re using, outsourcing is a low-cost option for getting the expert help you need to keep your website updated and properly maintained.

What would outsourcing church website maintenance tasks help you free up time to do?

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Categories
Web Design

What Is The Purpose Of A Church Website?

What is the purpose of a church website?

Good question!

I’ve read several articles on this topic around the Internet. At least a couple I’ve seen have sparked some rather, shall we say, spirited conversation?

Folks have some pretty definite ideas on the subject. And, whatever purpose they have in mind, they very often feel strongly that it should be the purpose every church pursues.

Seriously.

Ask 10 different people what the purpose of a church website is, and you’ll get at least five different answers. And, you know what? They’re all right.

And, they’re all wrong.

Why? Because when it comes to websites in general, and church websites in particular, one size no longer fits all (and, it hasn’t for a long time).

So, what’s the answer? What is the purpose of a church website?

The answer is: Whatever.

Yep. Whatever.

The purpose of a church website is whatever purpose a local assembly determines it to be. Hopefully, that purpose was discerned through consulting the LORD, and following His lead.

When is the purpose of a church website defined?

For some, that may mean building and maintaining one, simple “general purpose” website. For others, it may mean building one or more micro-sites.

Still, for others, it may mean not building a website at all (contrary to popular belief, every church does not need a website).
[testimonials autoplay=”false”] [testimonial author=”Kent Shaffer” avatar_type=”url” avatar_value=”https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/2949549185/47ae6643ebefd3d7765426ec7d91da8a.jpeg” meta=”Church Relevance” link=”http://churchrelevance.com/about/”]
Keep in mind it’s okay if your church website is quite different from someone else’s. Prayerfully focus on what is the best way for you to use the Internet to obey God’s will in your unique context. The more Spirit-led your design process is the better. Maybe God wants your website to be simple yet effective. Maybe you need to try something radical that’s never been done before. Maybe you don’t need a website. The point is if you have any leading from the Holy Spirit, obey it even if the experts call you crazy.[/testimonial] [/testimonials]

The first stage of the website design process is prayerful planning. The purpose of a church website is determined during that stage.

Consulting God—seeking His wisdom early and often—and obeying the Spirit’s leading is key. It will make all the difference in whether your purpose and efforts produce fruit or are done in vain. (Psalm 127:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:10-13)

During the planning stage, some of the questions to be answered and resolved include:

  1. How does God want your local body to use the Internet?
  2. Why do you want to build a website? What is your motivation?
  3. What do you want to accomplish with it?
  4. How do you want to use it?
  5. What spiritual/administrative/scriptural goal(s) will a website help your church to achieve?

To help you reach a decision on the purpose of a church website, you’ll also need to clarify who you’re targeting to serve with it.

Whom has God given you to serve? Where are they? Why might they come to your website to begin with? Why might they return to it? What needs do they have? Does God want you to use your website to meet those needs? How?

So, for example, a church website purposed exclusively to foster community and encourage spiritual growth among believing youth in the congregation will look and function differently, and serve very different needs, than a church’s “main” or primary website purposed to serve several audiences.

A church purposing to reach a specific non-Christian demographic in their local community, will build a different website than one purposed to serve a specific demographic within the body of Christ.

Once defined, the purpose of a church website acts as a kind of compass, and offers many benefits:
[list icon=”check” color=”blue”]

  • It informs and guides all other decisions that need to be made with regards to the website’s design and content.
  • It helps you to arrive where you’re meaning to go.
  • Your website’s purpose helps keep you focused and on track when you become overwhelmed by the myriad options and choices along the way.
  • Your website’s purpose can help you save time and money when you’re tempted to veer off, and waste both.
  • Your website’s purpose can help you build and unify your team.
  • Determining your website’s purpose will also equip you to give an answer to well-meaning naysayers and critics who’ll try to convince you that your website is wrong, because it’s not serving a particular audience, or meeting a particular need.

[/list]

The bottom line

God is sovereign. The Internet is a communications tool. The World Wide Web is one branch of it. If you build a church website, it will be connected to it.

How and why and when and for whose benefit your church chooses to use this powerful tool to communicate and inform and serve is up to your church.

There are many more considerations to ponder and clarify on the way to determining purpose. However, the goal of this article is not to delve into what those considerations are.

Nor is this post meant to offer advice or guidance about how you and your leaders can arrive at a consensus about them.

My goal today is simply this: to establish once and for all that the purpose of your church website is whatever your church determines that purpose to be, by God’s grace and leading.

What do you think?

What do you think the purpose of a church website is? Do you believe it’s the same for every local assembly?

Share you thoughts; leave a comment below.

Categories
Web Design

Best Church Website Ideas of 2014

It’s year-end, goal setting time! If you’ve been brainstorming simple ways to make your website a more effective ministry tool during 2015, here are seven of the best church website ideas CWI offered during 2014.

Use them to jump-start your efforts in the new year!

Seven Best Church Website Ideas of 2014

Increase Spiritual Fruit Online

How to Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World

What makes an effective church website is much more than developing strategies, choosing eye-popping visual elements, and applying best practices to content creation.

The real truth is, if the time and effort we spend building and using our websites fails to make disciples and produce spiritual fruit, all of our work is going to one day go up in smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Make a User-Friendly Website

7 Simple Web Design Tips for a User-Friendly Church Website

Creating a satisfying and fruitful experience for your website’s visitors leaves a good impression of your church, and makes your website a joy to use.

To accomplish that, and make the very best church website you can, smart Web workers know that improvements never stop.

That may make the task seem overwhelming. But, building a website that people enjoy using is easier than you think.

Build Profitable Online Giving Pages

14 Ideas For Building Profitable Church Donation Page Content

Offering the convenience of online giving is a practical way to use your church website to care for God’s family (Galatians 6:10).

But, offering convenience isn’t what’s most important. Making the most of every opportunity to foster spiritual maturity in the Christian life is God’s priority (Ephesians 4:11-13; Colossians 1:28-29).

Wise, discerning Web workers make that their priority too. So, they learn to produce the best church website content for fostering spiritually profitable giving.

Work Smarter and Get Stuff Done

Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done

Think a lack of time, expertise, money, or human resources is keeping you from having a great church website? Think again.

Here’s a smart option for delegating the work you need done.

Create Inspiring Ministry Page Descriptions

The Secret to Creating Inspiring Ministry Descriptions

Believers visiting your church for the first time want to know how your ministries will help them grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

This post reveals the “secret sauce” for helping you describe the benefits people receive by connecting within your local church body.

Decode “Christianese” on Your Website

How to “Decode” Your Church Website Content (Part 1)
The Church Lingo Page is Your Website’s “Secret Decoder Ring” (Part 2)

The “insider language” your local body uses to communicate with one another may be off-putting to people new to your ministry. But replacing words like sin, salvation, and faith, with less “churchy” expressions, as some have suggested, won’t inspire understanding.

This idea is much more hospitable, and serves people better.

Stay on Top of “Church Website” Topics

Church Website Ideas Is a Flipboard Magazine

Wading through the myriad “church tech” blogs out there to find honest, value-added, rock solid guidance on “church website” stuff is both difficult and time-consuming.

That’s why I’m curating this resource for you!

Enjoy a Safe and Happy New Year!

I’m so looking forward to serving you in 2015!

Image Credit: Jan Mennens | Flickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

The Easy Way to Apply Church Website Color Schemes

Successfully picking and combining colors to produce beautiful palettes for visual design projects is both an art and science. Color pickers and palette (or color scheme) generators like COLOURLovers, ColorZilla, and EasyRGB can make easy work of the task.

A quick Google search yields pages and pages of tools.

I have quite a few bookmarked in my browser of choice. And, they do make easy work of creating balanced schemes for my graphic design work.

Using these tools to generate gorgeous church website color schemes, is also easy. But, I’ve always been challenged at effectively applying the schemes across the many interface components of a website design.

For web development, I’ve longed for a tool that enabled me to

  1. Quickly and easily generate church website color schemes,
  2. Sample the scheme, by automatically applying it to common interface components, and
  3. Customize the scheme, and how it’s applied, if I wished.

So, when I came across these two free generators, I did my happy dance!

Use Lavish Bootstrap to Sample Church Website Color Schemes

Lavish Bootstrap is an open source, Rails application that generates Bootstrap color schemes from an image.

Best of all, the app automatically applies the generated palette to the header, text, buttons, tabs, links, body background, and more. You can tweak and swap and customize both the color scheme and how it’s applied, to your heart’s content.

Once you’re satisfied, simply download the Bootstrap.css file.

While the app was created for Bootstrap development, you’re not restricted to using it with that framework.

Simply rename and edit the Bootstrap.css file to apply your church website color schemes to any development project framework.

Use Paintstrap to Sample Church Website Color Schemes

PaintStrap can generate beautiful Bootstrap themes using color schemes from COLOURlovers or Adobe Color CC (formerly Adobe Kuler).

To get started, generate a color scheme using either COLOURlovers or Adobe Color CC. Then, input either the color scheme theme ID or a permalink URL.

[note title=”TIP:” align=”right” width=”250″]Click the link labeled “Open the large preview” above the small preview pane, to see a full screen version of your color scheme applied to a web page.[/note]

Next, set the colors for interface components like text, navigation, buttons, background, and links.

Finally, generate the resulting CSS as a ZIP of all the files. Download them individually or as a theme. As with Lavish, you’re not restricted to using your color scheme with Bootstrap.

You can share your color scheme in the PaintStrap Gallery, making it available for anyone to download. You can also browse, preview, and download existing theme files from the Gallery.

Categories
Perspectives

How to Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World

As a member of His family, God is deeply concerned that my life produces spiritual fruit (John 15:16). But, how do I walk that out as a Web worker? In the regular, daily routine of carrying out my work online, what does it mean to increase spiritual fruit in a digital world? How do I do that?

How Can Church Web Workers Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World?

Right after I acquired Church Website Ideas more than a year ago, I felt so apprehensive. I couldn’t put my finger on it.  As I prayerfully considered God’s purpose for the blog, I just had a sense that writing about design strategy, ideas, and techniques was only a portion of the work I’d been given to accomplish.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV

For the first time, I had a real sense that there was more to church website design than developing a strategy, choosing colors and fonts, creating intuitive navigation structures, and applying content creation best practices.

Too much emphasis seems to be placed on the pragmatic. Something is missing in the way we generally think about and talk about and go about building and tweaking and maintaining and using our church websites.

That’s why I’m so grateful for the like-minded communicators—gifted brothers and sisters in Christ— who’ve put words to the stirrings in my heart!

As they labor to complete the work God’s given them, their commitment to “hold fast to the faith”, and to teach and encourage others to do the same, is such a blessing to the Church.

Kent Shaffer is one of those dear brothers.

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of listening to a talk he gave this past June at Biola University. Leading a breakout session in the Theology track at Biola’s 2014 biola.digital conference, Kent explored how we can increase spiritual fruit in a digital world.

[tvideo type=”youtube” clip_id=”JeuakfK47Ws” autoplay=”false” loop=”false” rel=”false” modestbranding=”false”]

Kent also published notes from his talk on ChurchRelevance.com.

Categories
Perspectives

THANKS to My November Sponsors!

God is so gracious! He’s given me many gifts, skills, abilities, and talents.

Bookkeeping isn’t one of them.

That’s why I’m SO GRATEFUL for my Sponsors. Their faithful, generous support make it possible for me to outsource my bookkeeping.

So, by their support, they’re contributing to the basic needs of another member of the Body (my bookkeeper), AND they enable me to practice good stewardship over what’s been entrusted to me.

For all of that, I am eternally grateful!

Unique, Christian-themed graphics, images, and media products and high-quality content management systems and website services, are just a few of the incredible products and services my sponsors provide. Ministries of all sizes can benefit from their offerings.

Please check ’em out! And, be sure to tell a friend about them by sharing this post!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

 

Church Website Ideas aims to inspire and support church communicators and Web workers in their efforts to extend the unique, God-given mission and assignment of their local assembly online, through the thoughtful building and effective use of their church website.

Church Website Ideas specifically targets busy church communicators—volunteers, staff, pastors, and leaders of small- and medium-sized churches—involved in the decision-making and hands-on tasks necessary for building their church’s Web presence. These hardworking servants are always on the lookout for high quality, value-added tools and solutions to help them successfully reach their ministry goals online.

You can learn more about becoming a valued Sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Categories
Tools & Resources

Church Website Ideas Is A Flipboard Magazine

The interwebs are full of discussions and advice about church tech. A lot of it is rock solid guidance, full of wisdom and value. Some of it, not so much.

It can be a difficult, time-consuming task to search for, and wade through, the many websites and blogs publishing good, honest, value-added content. Harder still is wading through the myriad “church tech” topics to find nuggets focusing only on “church website” stuff.

That’s why, late last year, I began slowly curating the Church Website Ideas Flipboard Magazine.

What is Flipboard?

Flipboard is a news aggregation and social network application that displays articles in an elegant magazine, eye-catching format that’s fun and easy to use. Their mission is to let people discover and share content in beautiful, simple, and meaningful ways. The Flipboard app is available for iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, and Nook.

[tvideo type=”youtube” clip_id=”v2vpvEDS00o” autohide=”1″ autoplay=”false” controls=”true” fs=”true” loop=”false” rel=”false” modestbranding=”false” theme=”light”]

In March 2013, Flipboard users were given the ability to create and curate their own custom digital magazines on the site. In addition to smart phone and tablet support, magazines are also available for viewing in a conventional web browser.

At the time of this writing, I’ve curated more than 175 articles from around the web. In addition to flipping my own articles in from the Church Website Ideas blog, I’ve gathered articles that cover a wide variety of topics related specifically to church websites.

Example of Church Website Ideas Magazine on Flipboard
Example of Church Website Ideas Magazine on Flipboard

 

First I learn, then I share

I add new articles as often as I can, and read every single article myself before I add it.

Let me say that again: I read every single article myself, FIRST.

That way, I only add articles that are accurate, add value, and will benefit you. And, since I believe church web work need not be “all work”, I also add “just for fun” posts chatting up the lighter side of church web work (just check out the article “17 questions for online church”, and the “Church Website Start-up Guys” video).

Warning: they’ll make you giggle.

You should know, I’ve rejected lots of articles that would lead you astray in your learning and decision-making. That’s what happens when you follow erroneous advice. And, there’s plenty of it out there.

I’m taking great care to ensure that the Church Website Ideas Flipboard Magazine only contains high quality, insightful articles from around the web. Those are the kinds of articles that help all of us build better church websites.

A few of the articles you’ll find there now include:

[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • Develop A Church Content Strategy To Create A World-Class Website
  • Choosing An Online Giving Solution For Your Church Website
  • Who Owns a Pastor’s Sermons?
  • Using Google Images On Your Church Website? Careful…
  • The Pastors Guide To Blogging
  • Promoting Church Events Online

[/list]

If you want me to gather articles on a particular topic related to church websites, just let me know.

I hope you enjoy the magazine and find it useful. Don’t forget to FOLLOW the Church Website Ideas Flipboard Magazine to be notified whenever I add new nuggets.

Happy flipping!

Image Credit: thekenyeung | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

The Church Lingo Page is Your Website’s “Secret Decoder Ring” (Part 2)

Years ago—before God rescued me—I ran with a circle of fun-loving Puerto Ricans. We were employed at the same company, and worked the same crazy-late hours.

Over time, they kind of “adopted” me as their “little sister”. They taught me how to dance the salsa and the merengue, and introduced me to ceviche. Yummy fun!

My favorite (and, oddly, most disappointing) memory with them occurred during the one Christmas holiday we spent together. They invited me to go “a trullas” one evening after work.

For the uninitiated, “parrandas” or “trullas navideñas” is when a small group of friends gather together to “asaltar” or surprise another friend. I’ve heard it described as “the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling”.

Basically, we arrived very late and very quietly at the front door of one of their good friends. The family had long gone to bed, as had most of their neighbors. At a signal, everyone started singing and banging on the door; I was stunned! We totally surprised them, which I later learned, is part of the custom.

I kept wondering if we were going to find ourselves flying face-first into the snow. To my surprise and initial delight we received a warm and happy welcome!

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]Bonus: Download a free blueprint containing an easy 3-step process + resources to help you create a church Lingo Page your website visitors will value and appreciate.[/framed_box]

But, disappointment arrived in short order. See, they all spoke English really well. I guess I kind of expected that since they all knew I didn’t speak Spanish, they would speak English so that I could participate and be fully engaged in the festivities. Unfortunately for me, my friend’s friends weren’t as hospitable as I’d hoped they would be.

For the first few sentences, everyone spoke English. But it only took one person to begin speaking Spanish. That was it.

The party went on for more than an hour, everyone around me laughing, singing, and speaking Spanish, and no one translating or helping me to understand what was going on or what was being said. Mostly, I sat there nibbling, feeling anxious and alienated, and wanting desperately to leave.

I was glad when we did. I never went back.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers… Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

Hospitality is both commanded and commended in Scripture. You already know people new to your church will very likely experience their first encounter with your ministry, online. And, you already know they’ll have a lot of questions.

Some of those questions will be answered by the “brain content” you include on your website. But what about the questions they’re really anxious about? Questions like, “Will these people care about me,” “Will I understand what they’re talking about,” or “Will I be able to fit in”?

[testimonials autoplay=”false”] [testimonial author=”Yvon Prehn” avatar_type=”url” avatar_value=”http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1-Cropped-jpg.jpg” meta=”Effective Church Communications” link=”http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/about/yvon-prehn/”]A Statement of Faith is expected, but very few church websites actually tell people why they believe what they believe or even explain the terms in it.  This is such a missed opportunity because comprehensive explanations can be a wonderful way to engage people about the Christian faith.[/testimonial] [/testimonials]

The thing we’ve got to keep in mind about the content we’re creating for our church websites is that we’re not merely uploading a video, or adding some more text to a page. By providing content like a church Lingo Page, we’re engaging in “virtual hospitality”.

Dictionary.com defines hospitality as,

1) the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers; 2) the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

So, to be hospitable is to receive or treat guests or strangers warmly and generously.

Adding a church Lingo Page to your website is expressing love in action. You’re putting yourself in your visitor’s shoes. You’re taking the initiative to reach out and engage them in a warm, friendly way. You’re seeing that their need to feel welcomed and valued is met.

You’re not leaving it up to them to ask questions about words and phrases they don’t understand. They may not.

Even with a Lingo Page, they’ll still have plenty of questions, for sure. But, making the effort to provide the page for them is a kind, generous, and hospitable gesture your visitors will appreciate.

Whether they’re searching for answers about the Christian faith, or looking for a community of like-minded friends, giving your visitors the inside track on some of the “local lingo” they’re likely to hear can make them feel at ease. And, that may make all the difference in their deciding to pay you a visit.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I made the case for creating a Lingo Page. I explained how the page would benefit your website visitors. I also talked about why this method of helping your audience decode “Christianese”—the unique jargon and terms used in the Christian faith and in your church—was superior to mere “word swapping” on your church website.

In this post, I’ll share some tips for creating effective church Lingo Page content. Along the way, we’ll look at a few church Lingo Pages I’ve discovered in my travels.

Best practices for writing Church Lingo Page content

The main thing to remember about creating Lingo Page content and linking it to your website, is that the content should be easy to read, useful, and easy to find. It should be written and compiled with your new visitor in mind.

That means, the goal isn’t to overwhelm them by defining and exhaustively explaining every unique term and phrase of the Christian faith. Keep it simple. The goal is to help your visitor’s feel welcomed and cared for. The goal is to introduce them to the life of your local body.

By defining and introducing context to the Christian vocabulary and unique terms and phrases used in the life of your local church, you’ll equip and encourage people new to both to enter into the conversation.

Here are a few tips to help you create useful church Lingo Page content:

Make your content easy to read

I’ve mentioned this before. The text on your website must be easy to read. Make sure there’s a high contrast between the color of the text and your website’s background color. The font size should be large enough to make it readable. Make use of whitespace. Break long paragraphs into short chunks. Use bullet points and numbered lists.

Write in a “natural”, conversational tone

The new terms and phrases are tough enough to get a handle on. Don’t make your visitors slog through dry, corporate-sounding definitions and explanations. Keep it interesting. Write like you’re talking to them. My favorite thing about Second Place’s Lingo Page is that they include examples of what guests might actually overhear.

Include a variety of terms

A Lingo Page is different from a “What We Believe” page or a Ministry Description page. A Lingo Page might include some content from both, but it serves a different purpose.

Here are a couple examples of what I mean. The student ministries at Roswell United Methodist Church and Vienna Presbyterian Church, both include “lingo” pages for their visitors. But, these two pages are really Ministry Description pages.

Your church Lingo Page should include terms and phrases common and unique to the Christian faith as well as unique terms and phrases regularly communicated at your church. For the latter, you might include any acronyms, nicknames, titles, or other ministry jargon unique to your local assembly. That also could include denomination-specific terms and lingo (the first time I saw the word “narthex”, I thought it was a typo).

Include an introduction to the page

The  introduction to your church Lingo Page is the “tell” of your care. That two- or three-sentence paragraph is your opportunity to help set the stage for your reader’s initial impressions of your church. Your motivation for creating the page means more to your visitors than the page itself.

Don’t assume they’ll “get it”. Tell them what motivated you to provide the page for them. Make sure they know you’re thinking of them!

Make your content informative, but not exhaustive

Remember, the goal isn’t to overwhelm your website visitors by defining and explaining every single term you can think of. Start by sticking to a few terms found on your website, or regularly “heard in the halls”. Expand your list with terms or phrases people frequently ask about.

Resist the urge to provide an exhaustive explanation of every term you do decide to list. One to three sentences summarizing the core idea is best. For ministry acronyms and terms, a high-level description of the ministry is best.

Make good use of internal linking

Thoughtfully linking your web pages helps guide your visitors as they move through your website. If your list includes names of ministries or groups more fully described elsewhere on your website, linking to those pages creates an easy path to more information.

Remember, the quickest way to make a visitor leave your website is to frustrate them. So, be sure not to skip including a summary description on you Lingo Page of the ministry or group you link to. Otherwise, your visitor will be subjected to clicking back and forth between your Lingo Page and the description pages—not good. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Invite people to ask questions

Let your visitor’s know you welcome their questions and feedback. Invite them to connect. Include a link to your Contact Page to make it easy for them to get in touch. Many people may be hesitant to ask questions while on your website. Nonetheless, they’ll be pleased to see you’re open to it.

Make sure the page is easy to find

Remember, the reason you’re creating this page. Be helpful and hospitable. Make sure your church Lingo Page is easy to find. Provide a clear link to it in the “About” and “I’m New” sections of your website’s main navigation. Also, link to the page in the secondary navigation of each section.

Great church Lingo Page examples

For two examples of great church Lingo Page content, check out Hope Culture Church and Canyon Creek Church.

How can you use this information for your website?

I created a free, 3-step blueprint  that you can use to easily apply the most important information from this post to your website.

The blueprint contains the 8 best practices on this list…

… and a super-actionable 3-step process and resource list that you can use to create a church Lingo Page your website visitors will appreciate and value.

Click the graphic below to download the free blueprint:

Image Credit: Dave Walker | CartoonChurch.com

Categories
Perspectives

Many Thanks to My AWESOME Sponsors!

I’m so grateful for my Sponsors. They make Church Website Ideas possible because of their faithful, generous support.

Unique, Christian-themed graphics, images, and media products and high-quality content management systems and website services,  are just a few of the incredible products and services my sponsors provide. Ministries of all sizes can benefit from their offerings.

Please check ’em out! And, be sure to tell a friend about them by sharing this post!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

 

Church Website Ideas aims to inspire and support church communicators and Web workers in their efforts to extend the unique, God-given mission and assignment of their local assembly online, through the thoughtful building and effective use of their church website.

Church Website Ideas specifically targets busy church communicators—volunteers, staff, pastors, and leaders of small- and medium-sized churches—involved in the decision-making and hands-on tasks necessary for building their church’s Web presence. These hardworking servants are always on the lookout for high quality, value-added tools and solutions to help them successfully reach their ministry goals online.

You can learn more about becoming a valued Sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

 

Image Credit: Jessica Lucia | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

How to “Decode” Your Church Website Content (Part 1)

Visiting a new church is stressful. It’s not easy to walk into a new, unfamiliar environment. Chances are, to alleviate some of the pressure, your potential first-time guest will want to get an idea of what he can expect. So, he’ll swing by your website to check things out.

Talk to the hand…

Now, if your aim is to make new visitors to your website and church feel at ease, you must take great care to ensure that your presence online accurately reflects who you are offline. So, it’s natural for you to want to communicate your message using terms and phrases you’re familiar with.

But, whether it’s building or room names, ministry acronyms, member pseudonyms, or terms unique to your denomination, the “insider language” your local body uses to communicate with one another, may be off-putting to those attempting to enter the conversation for the first time.

There’s also a school of thought that using certain words and phrases related to the Christian faith, creates a barrier for those who aren’t familiar with them. Advocates of this idea suggest that churches should make it their priority to create Web content that’s more “non-believer friendly” by replacing words like sin, salvation, repentance, and faith with less “churchy” alternative expressions.

So how can we solve this problem? What’s the best solution?

As we use our websites to serve and communicate online, how can we balance remaining true to our identity as a local body of believers in Christ, with helping our visitors to feel less alienated and more warmly welcomed?

Here’s an idea: add a Lingo Page to your church website!

In this first of two posts, I’ll step you through the what, why, and how (with examples) of creating one!

What’s a Lingo Page?

The Lingo Page isn’t a new idea, but one inspired by the print publishing world.

Dictionary.com defines a glossary as

A list of terms in a special subject, field, or area of usage, with accompanying definitions. Their purpose, for example, at the back of a book, is to explain or define difficult or unusual words and expressions used in the text.

A Lingo Page on your church website accomplishes the same purpose. You use it to define and explain terms specific to your local body, and to the Christian faith, in general.

Why a Lingo Page is better than “word swapping”

As I said earlier, some have suggested that using certain Christian words and phrases—a.k.a. Christianese—creates a barrier for those who aren’t familiar with them. Proponents of this idea point mostly to non-believers as the ones who are alienated by the so-called “insider” language Christians use to share our faith.

They suggest that, in all of our communications, words like sin, salvation, repentance, faith—even worship and Holy Spirit—should be replaced with less “churchy” alternative expressions that they claim are much more meaningful.

This topic deserves a more in-depth treatment. But, that’s not what this post is for. However, I’ll say simply that I think this idea falls short. Here’s why.

Non-believers do not understand Christian jargon, and they never will. That is true. Some may feel uncomfortable or even “turned off” by some of the terms and phrases. True again. To others, the Bible may even seem like nonsensical gibberish. That is absolutely true.

But, the non-believer’s discomfort with, and inability to understand, the Bible is not a problem of antiquated or inferior words and messaging.

In his commentary of 2 Corinthians 4:3, John MacArthur notes,

The false teachers accused Paul of preaching an antiquated message. So Paul showed that the problem was not with the message or the messenger, but with the hearers headed for hell (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). The preacher cannot persuade people to believe; only God can do that.

Words do matter. But, merely using more “neutral”, contemporary, or accommodating phrases and terms will not inspire understanding. It also won’t move people to believe the message of the Gospel. Only God can do that.

Church website content should communicate …and serve

One goal of the content we create for our website is to communicate who we are as a local body. We want to be authentic. We want our church website content to accurately reflect online what people can reasonably expect to experience offline.

However, developing our content using “religiously neutral” language will not sustain a visitor’s confidence if, when they arrive at our churches and Bible studies as first-time guests, [lightbox type=”iframe” href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/4H-29cJSuv8?rel=0&showinfo=0″ width=”640″ height=”480″]they encounter this[/lightbox].

People will naturally have questions about what you’re communicating if your vocabulary is new to them. But, merely swapping out certain words and phrases with more “comfortable” terms will do little to help them understand the true and deeper meaning behind the words and phrases you use.

Even “religiously neutral” language needs to be defined and explained if the concepts behind the words and phrases are new to the hearer.

We serve people well when our church website content is clear, current, complete, and consistent with who we are as a local body, offline. To accurately communicate ideas new to the hearer, definition and context are crucial.

That’s why creating a Lingo Page for your church website is superior to mere “word swapping”.

You’ll “decode” your content by defining and introducing context to Christian vocabulary and the unique terms used in the life of your local church. And, you’ll create church website content that equips and encourages people new to both to enter into the conversation.

Gee, that kinda sounds like disciple-making.

It’s your turn

Do you think adding a Lingo Page to your church website is the best way to serve people unfamiliar with your family or your faith?

Leave a comment!

Image Credit: Henry Burrows | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

The Secret to Creating Inspiring Ministry Descriptions

Composing ministry descriptions that are both informative and inspiring to visitors of your church website is a bit of a balancing act.

It’s also easier to accomplish than you think.

Why you need content for brains AND hearts

Tim Peters, a church communications advocate, coach, and leader, published a short but insightful article on his blog about the two types of essential website content.

To make your church website engaging to any audience, you must publish  brain content and heart content.

As Tim points out,

Brain content is informative and knowledge driven. Heart content is inspiring and emotional. These two are not at odds with each other; rather, they work together to give visitors a total experience. Each serves a specific purpose.

He goes on to offer some great examples of both types.

Now, maybe you’ve got the brain content covered. Most churches do. But, what about the heart content?

I’d venture to say most small-church communicators would admit that consistently producing, adding, and updating their website with warm, heart-tugging content is one of their biggest challenges.

I can certainly admit, it’s a challenge for me.

If that’s you, too, and your church website is missing heart content, what’s needed is a simple way to kick-start production, right?

Here’s an idea! And the good news: you can use content that’s already on your website.

The secret sauce for inspiring ministry descriptions

It’s no surprise that Tim included Ministry Descriptions in his list of “brain content” examples. Brain content is commonly used to construct ministry description pages.

However, one of his “heart content” points focused on the need to communicate how your church helps people grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. That point made me think about, well, ministries.

So, why not start by expanding your ministry descriptions. Heart content is the secret sauce.

Don’t stop at merely describing a ministry in your church. Make your ministry descriptions head-filling AND heart-tugging by describing the benefits people receive by connecting.

How to do it

Begin by breaking down a ministry description into a list of features.

Think of ministry features as the who, what, when, where, of your ministry descriptions. The benefits of the ministry are the why.

An easy way to talk about the benefits they’ll receive is to answer the question, “Why is this so great?” for each feature you list.

For example, say your website describes a feature of your youth ministry like this: “Youth (who) meet together in the Fellowship Center (where) every Tuesday evening at 6:30pm (when) for games and fellowship, and then break up into middle and senior high groups for age appropriate Bible study (what).

That’s all brain content. Head stuff. Informative, but not too captivating.

Now, add the secret sauce—the heart content. Why is this so great? Your answer might be something like,

Connecting here is AWESOME, because getting together for fun and learning encourages teens to grow relationally and socially. They also become skilled at applying God’s principles to the issues they face in their everyday lives–at home, at school, everywhere!

BOOYAH! Here’s what you’re really offering them!

Here’s why they want to be a part of your congregation. This is what they’ll get: not merely access to a youth ministry, but an opportunity to see their teens grow relationally and socially, and become skilled at applying godly principles to every-day life.

What parent wouldn’t want THOSE BENEFITS for their kids (and for themselves)?

So to recap…

[process_steps type=”vertical” size=”small” number=”5″] [process_step title=”Step 1″ icon=”desktop”]Check out Tim’s article: Church Website Content Checklist[/process_step] [process_step title=”Step 2″ icon=”search”]Carefully review the pages of your website, especially the pages where your ministry descriptions live.[/process_step] [process_step title=”Step 3″ icon=”list-ol”]Break down each ministry description into a list of features of that ministry. [/process_step] [process_step title=”Step 4″ icon=”edit”]For each feature, answer the question, “Why is this so great?” [/process_step] [process_step title=”Step 5″ icon=”heart-o”]Assemble the pieces into a new ministry description that’s both informative AND inspiring. [/process_step] [/process_steps]

Now it’s your turn

Do your ministry descriptions inspire people to connect? Share your ideas (and methods). Leave a comment!

Image Credit: Paxson Woelber | Flickr cc

 

Categories
Perspectives

THANK YOU September Sponsors!

Church Website Ideas is made possible because of the faithful, generous support of my AWESOME sponsors.

Unique, Christian-themed graphics, images, and media products, high-quality content management systems and website services, and one-of-a-kind supplies for missions and outreach are just a few of the incredible products and services my sponsors provide. Ministries of all sizes can benefit from their offerings.

Please check ’em out! And, be sure to tell a friend about them by sharing this post!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate Restoring Vision. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about becoming a valued sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Amy Gizienski | Flickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

Church Website Design Tools: 3 Cool Finds

Church website design and content creation is made so much easier with the right tools.

It’s been awhile since a post was published here pointing to some cool and useful church website design tools. Well, the last couple weeks I’ve come across a few services I’ve added to my own toolbox. What I love most about these tools is:

  • they’re made with non-techy, non-designer peeps in mind, and
  • they offer creative techs a quick, easy option for squaring away design tasks.

I hope my new cool finds help make your church website design and content creation work easier and a lot more fun!

Church Website Design + Content Creation Tools

Get Web Font Information

WhatFont Tool

While doing some research online last week, I ran across a couple great looking blogs. The designer’s font choices were fantastic! I just had to know what fonts they were using.

Now, I’m a huge fan of Web Fonts. So, I was excited to find a cool tool that makes fast and easy work of chasing them down.

WhatFont Tool in action
WhatFont Tool in action

The WhatFont Tool (in no way affiliated with MyFonts or WhatTheFont) enables you to quickly and easily find out what fonts are being used in a Web page.

Once installed, in literally one click you’ll get the font’s information. Web Font service detection is also available. And, you can share your favorite discoveries on Twitter.

The tool is available as a Bookmarklet (which I tested in Firefox). Chrome and Safari extensions are also available. At the time of this writing, Adobe Typekit and Google Font API Web Font services were supported.

When I tested the tool on a Web page where Web Fonts weren’t present, the tool simply didn’t activate.

Convert HTML to WordPress INSTANTLY

Theme Matcher

So here’s the problem: your church has a static website. You want to add a blog to it to increase traffic and engage your visitors.

Naturally, you want to use WordPress to manage it. But, you have neither the desire nor the budget to completely redesign your website in WordPress. On top of that, there aren’t any WordPress themes that even come close to matching your current static site.

Your only option is to settle for adding a blog that looks completely different from your main website, right? Wrong!

In three easy steps, Theme Matcher will take your static website and automatically generate a WordPress theme that matches your existing church website design.

[content_box title=”Watch Theme Matcher in action!” align=”center”][tvideo type=”youtube” clip_id=”8zRk71K2SUY” width=”632″ autoplay=”false” controls=”false” fs=”true” rel=”false” modestbranding=”false”] [/content_box]

The target users for this service are:

  • Non-technical webmasters wanting to add a WordPress blog to an existing site
  • WordPress developers looking to save time and get a head-start on client projects
  • Designers who create HTML templates, and want to fast-track creating WordPress themes from them
  • Freelancers migrating websites from another system to WordPress

There’s no cost to use the service to generate a theme. You’ll pay only when you’re ready to download the theme you generated. Here are your options:

Theme Matcher Pricing Options for Church Website Design
Theme Matcher Pricing Options

One thing to note: in a perfect world, all automatic HTML-to-Wordpress conversions would be absolutely perfect and require no additional revisions. But, since we don’t live in a perfect world, how well a website converts depends in large part on how well the existing site’s HTML code is written.

Theme Matcher doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility when it comes to selecting content and optional sidebar regions for conversion. So, the better the code in the existing site, the fewer the tweaks in the new theme.

On several websites I tested, the service worked brilliantly. On others, where the code was poorly written, I was able to generate a good working theme. But, a bit of CSS editing would have been in order.

Amazingly Simple Graphic Design

Canva

The fun starts when you sign up! A 23-second tutorial shows you how to use the service. And, it’s insanely simple!

After that, you can take the Starter Challenges (there are five of them to get you warmed up). Or, you can jump right in and begin creating your first masterpiece.

Even if you think you’re not creative, you’ll have one whiz-bang of a time with this tool! You can create graphics for podcasts, Twitter and social media, presentations, posters, Facebook covers, blog post graphics…the list goes on.

Start with a design template and edit, or roll your own from scratch with an image or colored background and text. When you’re all done, you can share it on Twitter or Facebook, download it, or send a link.

Many elements are free to use. Premium images are $1 each or you can upload your own.

[tvideo type=”youtube” clip_id=”XqYti78riU8″ width=”632″ autoplay=”false” controls=”false” disablekb=”false” fs=”true” loop=”false” rel=”false” showinfo=”false” modestbranding=”false”]

For me, the most difficult part of using this tool was choosing from among all the options. Gracious! With more than 1 million images  and more than 100 fonts, you could really go buggy mixing and matching (perfectionists, you’ve been warned!).

Got any cool church website design tools in your toolbox?

Tell me about them. Share a link in the comments below!

Image Credit: Florian Richter | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

Special Thanks to My August Sponsors

Summer in the U.S. may be drawing to a close (oh, say it ain’t so!), but my sponsors are still AWESOME! Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of their faithful, generous support.

Unique, Christian-themed graphics, images, and media products, high-quality content management systems and website services, and one-of-a-kind supplies for missions and outreach are just a few of the incredible products and services my sponsors provide. Ministries of all sizes can benefit from their offerings.

Please check ’em out! And, be sure to tell a friend about them by sharing this post!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate Restoring Vision. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about becoming a valued sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Alice Popkorn | Flickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done

Building and maintaining a church website is time-consuming work. Accomplishing even small, simple tasks can be a huge challenge for the lone church Web worker or non-technical team.

If you think a lack of resources—time, expertise, money, or human—is keeping you from having a great website, I’ve got news for you.

The truth is, for a lot less expense than you may think, a treasure-trove of expert technical and creative help and support is literally at your fingertips.

You really have no reason to settle for having a poor website. Why not consider outsourcing your Web work?

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Outsourcing Definition

Generally, outsourcing is defined as the practice of hiring outside companies or individuals to perform job functions, rather than handling them in-house.

For the church, creating service opportunities and recruiting from within your congregation is always preferable.

But, if the abilities and expertise to meet your technical or creative needs isn’t there (or is unavailable), hiring temporary help through outsourcing is a sensible solution.

What church Web work can be outsourced?

So, what kinds of website tasks fit neatly under the general outsourcing definition? Well, just about anything.

You can hire technical experts to take care of “heavy lifting” projects like adding new features and services to your website.

You also can outsource something as small as changing the copyright date in the footer of your website, removing a page that’s no longer relevant, or applying available updates to site applications.

Tips for outsourcing success

I recently wrapped up my very first experience with outsourcing. I hired two freelancers—one on oDesk, one on Fiverr—to complete two projects for me. The oDesk project was a one-month contract, and the Fiverr project took less than 7 days to complete.

With both services, I found amazing talent right out the gate. Prayer, good planning, and common sense guided my hiring process. It was a breeze! And, now I have the confidence (and the know-how) to get the help I need when I need it, and all within my budget.

To find the best people for my projects, here are a few basic tips I adhered to:
[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

  • First, I got clear about my basic requirements. I started by deciding what I needed done, why I needed to outsource it, and what my budget was for getting the work done. I documented it all to help me stay focused. I also needed a written reference to help with course-correction if I found myself veering off by chasing after “wants” instead of sticking with my “needs”.
  • Reviewed options, then learned all about the services I selected. Some services offer experts who only perform “personal assistant” kinds of jobs, like booking reservations or setting appointments. Others provide everything from tech, creative, and general office support to voice-overs, jewelry-making, and song-writing. Since this was my first attempt at outsourcing, I wanted to learn how to find the best freelancers for my job types, as well as tips for how to handle the application/interview process. Each service provides a Help or Support section. I used it to get grounded.
  • Researched similar jobs. Completing this step helped me to determine what skills successful candidates needed to have. I was glad I did this step, because there were some (necessary) abilities and software expertise I had not even considered for what I needed done. It also helped me to write a very detailed and thorough job description for the oDesk project. If you’re a non-technical or non-creative person looking for technical or creative help, this step will empower you to communicate your needs clearly, and make informed choices among applicants.
  • Decided early to only hire individuals, NOT agencies. I knew I wouldn’t have any control over who completed my project if I hired an agency. That meant the probability was high that the process for getting it done could take longer, as I very likely would have needed to communicate through a “middleman”. Start to finish, I wanted to work directly, one-on-one, with the candidate of my own choosing.
  • Used the service tools to filter and select only top freelancers who met my criteria, and saved their profiles. I hate spam. So, on oDesk, I decided I would be saved much time and frustration by choosing candidates myself first, then inviting them to apply for my job. Posting the job publicly would have meant having to wade through and filter out all the spam from unqualified applicants—a most unsavory option. Following this path enabled me to arrive at my shortlist about 2 days after my job posted.
  • Inserted a “reply code” at the very end of my job description. Ahh, I discovered this little gem while researching similar jobs on oDesk. It was gold Jerry, GOLD! The “reply code” accomplished two things: first, by placing it at the very end of my job description, I would know whether or not the candidate had read my entire job description. You’d be surprised how many applicants don’t take the time to read the full job description before applying for the job. Second, it revealed whether or not the candidate had an attention to detail and could follow simple instructions. The “reply code” was just a request to add a certain phrase in their Subject line when applying for the job. Honestly, that single bit of instruction made super easy work of filtering out a lot of applicants. No “reply code”, see-you-bye-bye.
  • Tested all candidates on my shortlist. I wanted to confirm that they could do what they said they could do. So, in the oDesk job description, I let them know that, if selected, they would be required to complete a very small job as part of the application process. This wasn’t “spec” work, meaning a request to complete a project that would be used as the final product. I gave them a very small assignment designed to test the same skills needed for the actual job I was hiring them to do.
  • Insisted on conducting my interview through Skype. It was really important to me that the final candidate and I got to see and hear each other, face to face, during the application process. A Skype video interview was added as a requirement in my job description. If an applicant only wanted to communicate by email, that raised a red flag and they were immediately disqualified.
  • Chose to hire at a fixed rate. I chose to do this, as opposed to paying hourly, because I didn’t have a lot of time to manage the freelancer or the project once things got under way. I needed the freelancer to do that.  I also didn’t want to risk having the project drag on and on, if the freelancer exercised poor time management or failed to prioritize my project. Hiring at a fixed rate for a fixed period, with fixed milestones and deadlines, ensured my project was completed and delivered when I needed it to be and at the price I budgeted for.
  • Clear and ongoing communication was key. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Poor communication on the part of either party is a  recipe for disaster. Success depends on how clearly you communicate what you need and when you need it, as well as your requirements and expectations. And, you need to be sure to find a freelancer who takes communication just as seriously. Provide as much detail as possible, then include some more. Don’t assume your candidate “understands” what you mean.

[/list]

Once you’ve gotten clear about your project requirements and budget, it’s time to start researching service providers.

Below, I’ve listed five of the top online service providers for outsourcing freelance talent. Each service offers a “how it works” or Help section on their website to enable users to get a handle on what to do and how to do it.

For your convenience, I’ve linked to those sections.

Top Outsourcing Service Providers

Elance

Finding a freelancer on Elance is free and fast. Simply post your job, or browse categories. Get quotes from freelancers from around the world. Elance verifies each freelancer (and each client). Review portfolios, interview applicants, and choose the best one to complete your project. In 2013, Elance merged with another outsourcing powerhouse—oDesk.

oDesk

oDesk is a popular choice for finding expert freelance talent. Big or small, short- or long-term, individual or project team—whatever you need, oDesk has a solution. Tools and processes like Word Diary and Dispute Resolution provide peace of mind. They even offer a Money-Back Guarantee when you hire one of their freelancers with a Money-Back Guarantee stamp on their profile. The website is easy to use and intuitive. They made my first foray into outsourcing a stress-free experience.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an intriguing concept. You can get jobs done through registered freelancers of this website for as low as $5. The website currently has more than three million listed services, ranging from $5 to $500. Each job in Fiverr is known as a “gig”. Search gigs to find someone offering the task you need done, or post your own gig. Expect the unexpected when you visit Fiverr. You’ll find simple, straight-forward gigs like WordPress setup, Web banner design, and website maintenance. I had fun using this service. I’ll definitely use them again.

Freelancer.com

With access to more than 11 million skilled freelancers worldwide, Freelancer.com is the heaviest of the heavy-hitters. Projects start at $10, and the average job is under $200. Freelancer.com works like other outsourcing websites. As a client, the hiring process is simple. Tell freelancers what you need, freelancers contact you, you choose the best one and get the job done. You only pay freelancers once you are happy with their work.

Guru

Guru’s network of more than 1.5 million freelancers offers employers support for all kinds of technical, creative, and administrative projects. Get started by searching for services offered by freelancers that match the skills your need, then contact them. You can also post your job. Choose to display your job publicly on Google, limit viewing to all freelancers on Guru.com only, or make it private by inviting only select freelancers you choose on Guru.com.

Thinking of outsourcing some Web work?

Your church website requires a lot of work to keep it looking great, alive with fresh content, and running in tip-top shape.

When needs arise and hiring additional staff is not an option, outsourcing can be a quick and cost-effective way to get the help you need when you need it.

From website design and maintenance, to creative and administrative tasks, outsourcing enables you to work smart and get things done.

Would you consider outsourcing Web work? Has your church used outsourcing to get things done? What impact did that make on your ministry? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: Willi Heidelbach | Flickr cc

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Categories
Perspectives

THANK YOU July Sponsors!

Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of the generous support of my sponsors. They are AWESOME!

Their high quality products and services provide great benefits to ministries of all sizes.

Please check ’em out (and, tell a friend about them)!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate the work of my new sponsor. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about becoming a valued sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Steven Depolo | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Design

7 Simple Web Design Tips for a User-Friendly Church Website

Creating a satisfying and fruitful user experience takes a lot of time and consistent, ongoing effort (read: improvements never stop). Here are seven simple web design tips to help you to improve performance and continue building a church website that people will enjoy using.

Make it Fast Loading

When was the last time you checked out your website’s design from your user’s point of view? You want your church website to be appealing and leave a good impression of your church with your visitors. You want people to enjoy using your website.

But a fast-loading, user-friendly website doesn’t just happen.

To start, people are impatient on Internet. They don’t like waiting for a website to load. So, it’s important to make adjustments that improve the load speed of your webpages in order to keep visitors from bouncing away from your website prematurely.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Boosting Website Speed:

10 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Website and Improve Conversion
by Kathryn Aragon at The Daily Egg

How to Speed Up WordPress
by Marcus Taylor at Smashing Magazine

Navigation Should Be Easy

Visitors must be able to find their way around your website quickly and easily.

Navigation should be consistent across all pages of the website. The labels you use should make sense to the user.

If a webpage is too long, trim away unnecessary content.

If it’s still too long, you can reduce scrolling by using bookmarks or anchor links to help visitors quickly navigate the page.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Navigation:

Website Navigation: Tips, Examples and Best Practices
by Cody Ray Miller at The Daily Egg

Nonprofit Website Navigation: Tips and Best Practices
by Alex McLain at WiredImpact

Shrink Your Images

On the Internet, image size affects loading speeds. Large image files make webpages load slower. Most professional Web designers optimize images by compressing them.

Before uploading an image to the server and using it on your website, you should optimize it to produce the smallest possible file.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Image Compression:

18 Image Compressor to Speed Up Your Website
by Grace Smith at Mashable

A Guide to Optimal Image Compression in WordPress
by Mark Forrester at WooThemes

Include “The Basics”

Now, you might think this one could go without saying. But, the number of church websites missing service times and/or a map and directions is mind-boggling!

Sure, you might be thinking, “Our street address is there. People can just plug it into Google Maps themselves and get directions.” Yup, that’s true.

But, consider this: these days, your first opportunity to treat guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, and generous way (1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2) isn’t when people arrive in the parking lot on Sunday morning.

That opportunity occurs when they arrive on your website.

Checking service times, and downloading a map and directions, are two of the top reasons why people (especially new visitors) will go to your website. Be kind to them.

If your website contains nothing else, make sure these details are present and easily seen.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Adding the Basics:

New Research Reveals Why People Visit Church Websites
by Jeremy Weber at Christianity Today

Adding Google Maps to Your Website Just Got Easier
at Google Developers Blog

Check Spelling and Grammar

Here’s another tip that’s too often overlooked. Content filled with grammar and spelling errors is distracting. It diverts your reader’s attention from your message. It hurts your effectiveness and reflects poorly on your ministry.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Spelling & Grammar:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Best of The Best: 10 Online Grammar and Punctuation Checker Tools
by firstsiteguide

Text Must Be Easy to Read

While we are still on the subject, the text on your website must be easy to read. The color of the text must be in high contrast with your website’s background color.

The font size should be large enough to make it readable. Also, be sure to make use of whitespace, and break long paragraphs into chunks using section headings.

Web Design Tips for Readable Text:

How To Write So That People Will Read
by Brent Gummow at Jimdo Blog

How to Use Visual Hierarchy to Create Clear and Easy-to-Read Web Pages
by Pamela Wilson at copyblogger

Make Sure All Links Work

Broken links can give visitors the impression that your website isn’t regularly updated or properly maintained.

Broken links are also one of the quickest ways to make frustrated users bounce from your website.

You should regularly check older pages for broken links. Link checkers can make easy work of this task.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Checking Links:

How To Automatically Find and Fix Broken Links in WordPress
by John Hughes at themeisle

How to Find and Fix Broken WordPress Links
by Kevin Muldoon at Elegant Themes

A Final Word: Consistency

This quick list barely scratches the surface of website maintenance tasks, improvements, optimizations and updates you should be completing on an ongoing basis.

Applying these seven tips regularly and consistently will improve your website’s performance and help create an user-friendly website people will enjoy returning to again and again.

Last Modified: Nov 9, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

 

Categories
Perspectives

Church Website Ideas Made ChurchMag’s Top 30 Church Tech Blogs List [2014]

JUMPIN’ FOR JOY! I just learned that Church Website Ideas made ChurchMag’s list of Top 30 Church Tech Blogs for 2014!

ChurchMag's 30 Top Church Tech Blogs for 2014

ChurchMag’s Top Church Tech Blogs for 2014

Each year, ChurchMag publishes an open request for tech-focused blog submissions and recommendations. Then, they add their secret formula and stir the pot to determine the most popular blogs on the Internet through a series of calculations.

I submitted Church Website Ideas this year. But I gotta tell ya’, I really didn’t think my little blog would make the cut. Boy, am I floored!

As it happens, one year ago this month, I acquired Church Website Ideas from Jesse Orndorff. Being added to this list of top church tech blogs is a wonderful way to celebrate my First Year Anniversary as a pro-blogger!

Thanks so much to my sponsors, subscribers, readers, and to Jeremy Smith and the crew over at ChurchMag!

I’m truly honored.

Image Credit: Jannes Pockele | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

Special THANKS to my June Sponsors

My sponsors are truly Heaven sent, and I sincerely thank God for them. Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of their generous support. Their high quality products and services provide great benefits to ministries of all sizes.

Please check ’em out (and, tell a friend about them)!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate the work of my new sponsor. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about becoming a valued sponsor of Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Sharon Terry | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

THANK YOU May Sponsors!

I sincerely thank God for all of my sponsors! Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of their generous support. Their high quality products and services provide great benefits to ministries of all sizes.

Please check ’em out (and, tell a friend about them)!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate the work of my new sponsor. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about sponsoring Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Dee ♥ | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

12 AWESOME Student Ministry Websites for Your Inspiration

My last post about youth ministry websites contains a roundup of expert advice to help youth pastors think through whether or not creating a website to serve their student ministry is right for their church. In this follow up, I’ve gathered together 12 of the best student ministry websites I could find.

Finding student ministry websites that presented an engaging, interactive, informative hub for teens and parents was both challenging and insightful. I saw a lot of beautiful, dead websites—websites that looked great, but offered no value because they were no longer being maintained.

Being a WordPress fan, I was pleased to see several built on the platform using quality, premium themes like Steven Gliebe’s Resurrect. (By the way, Steve just rolled out another great looking theme he calls Exodus. I love the simple wide, flat design. Check it out!)

My criteria for selection

I see a lot of “best of” articles that round up great looking websites. Without question, a beautiful design is essential to creating an excellent first impression of a church or ministry. But while great looking design is important, it’s also subjective.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A design that I think is incredible, might leave you yawning. So my idea of great design wasn’t the only criteria I used for choosing these websites.

Great ministry websites don’t just look good, they DO good. At a basic level, they reward their visitors with up-to-date event details, an easy-to-navigate structure, and lots of white space to make viewing easy on the eyes.

So, the websites in my roundup passed the test for these essential features:

  • Great looking, contemporary design
  • Uncluttered layout
  • Easy to navigate and find stuff
  • Up-to-date events and details (this one disqualified a ton of great looking websites)

Since I don’t know what goals were made for these websites, I’m hesitant to judge them on the basis of including interactive, disciple-making content (e.g. sermon media, bible studies or devotionals, blog, etc.).

Although, some do offer such content. That was awesome to see. I also enjoyed seeing a few sites go the extra mile in providing tools and resources to help parents do the equipping.

Do your reasons for building a student ministry website include discipleship and/or outreach?

Is an objective of your mission to help young people meet and know Jesus, and grow in their faith?

Then you would do well to include website content that actively supports that mission.

So, without further adieu, here’s inspiration. Enjoy!

12 Student Ministry Websites for Your Inspiration

[portfolio column=”3″ layout=”sidebar” sortable_all=”false” cat=”studentministrywebsites” titleLinkable=”true” more=”false” moreButton=”false” lightboxTitle=”image”]

Now, it’s your turn

Does your church have a student ministry website that would meet my criteria? In your online travels, have you seen any that do?

Add a little inspiration by sharing a link or two in the Comments below.

Image Credit: Sean MacEntee | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

SPECIAL THANKS To My April Sponsors!

So excited! Another awesome month! During April, Lightstock became a “Double Portion” Sponsor! WooHoo!

“Double Portion” Sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

I sincerely thank God for all of my sponsors! Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of their generous support. Their high quality products and services provide great benefits to ministries of all sizes.

Please check ’em out (and, tell a friend about them)!

[ssba]

 

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional. Lightstock is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate the work of my new sponsor. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Burton Websites

Burton Websites specializes in providing clean, custom, responsive web design for churches looking for an easy to manage website! You can rest easy. Every one of their beautiful, one-of-a-kind websites is developed on the totally awesome WordPress platform.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Ekklesia 360 by Monk Development

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out! Monk Development is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

You can learn more about sponsoring Church Website Ideas, by visiting Beacon Ads.

Image Credit: Katharina Friederike | Flickr cc

Categories
Website Ideas

Youth Ministry Ideas: How To Create A Magnetic Youth Ministry Website (Link Roundup)

These days, using the web to organize and share your youth ministry ideas and content with teens (and their parents) is a no-brainer. After all, results from a survey conducted by Pew Research indicate that, as of September 2012, 95% of all U.S. teens ages 12-17 are now online.

Further, a 2018 Pew Research survey finds that 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are, in turn, fueling more-persistent online activities. Forty-five percent (45%) of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis.

That’s why it makes sense that youth pastors looking for ways to connect with teens (and their parents) would do well to use the Internet to foster communication and build community.

One way to accomplish that is by building a youth ministry website or adding an unique Web page to your church website.

I looked at a lot of youth ministry pages as part of my research for this article. Most of the church websites I reviewed have included a page that generally describes their youth ministry. Page content was often limited to a mission statement, summary description, and meeting times.

Fact is, these pages are more “push.” Their purpose is to provide (or push) information out about the church’s youth ministry. This isn’t the kind of Web page I’m talking about creating here.

Youth Ministry Ideas: Create A Web Page With “Pull”

The kind of Web page or website I’m referring to should be an efficient, user-friendly option for assembling and sharing your incredible youth ministry ideas and content.

It should be an engaging, interactive, informative hub for teens and parents alike. And, it should “pull” people in by being an exciting, active, virtual tour and experience—a taste—of the life of your youth ministry.

Now, that might sound like a tall order. On the contrary. Achieving it can be easier than you think.

To help get you started, here is a roundup of articles focused on the “why and what” of youth ministry websites.

These should help you think through whether or not creating a website to assemble and share your youth ministry ideas is right for your church.

You’ll also learn why using Facebook alone is a bad option. And, finally, you’ll discover ideas for creating content your site visitors are hungry for.

Why build a Youth Ministry Website? What goes in it?

Should you, shouldn’t you, and what about Facebook?

Four Reasons Why Your Youth Ministry Doesn’t Need a Youth Website
by Frank Gill at YouthMin.org

Four Reasons You Should Have a Youth Ministry Website
by Frank Gill at YouthMin.org

Why Facebook Should Not Be Your Youth Ministry Website
by Jeremy Smith at Churchmag

4 Unique Ways of Using Facebook in Youth Ministry
by Jeremy Smith at Churchmag

Youth Ministry content ideas for your website

Six Sizzling Ideas for Your Website
by Steve Miller at Legacy Youth Ministry Resources

Everything Your Youth Ministry Website Needs
by Jeremy Smith at YouthMin.org

Developing a Youth Group Website
Josh McDowell’s Youth Ministry Handbook: Making the Connection (Chapter 24)

Now, it’s your turn

Is your church using a website with “pull” to assemble and share your youth ministry ideas and content with the world?

Inspire the rest of us! Share a link to it in the Comments below. When you do, enjoy a little SEO link juice on me!

Image Credit: NDO_4532 | Flickr cc

 

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2018 @ 7:51 pm

Categories
Perspectives

THANK YOU March Sponsors!

Another awesome month! During March, I launched the Church Website Ideas newsletter, and welcomed one new sponsor. I’m also excited, because a new sponsor I welcomed last month became a “Double Portion” sponsor! YAY! “Double Portion” sponsors provide an added blessing to Church Website Ideas, through their multiple ad sponsorships.

I thank God for all of my sponsors! I truly do. Church Website Ideas is absolutely made possible because of their generous support. Their high quality products and services provide great benefits to ministries of all sizes. I hope you’ll check ’em out.

New Sponsors

Restoring Vision

I really appreciate the work of my new sponsor. As a life-long wearer of corrective eye-glasses, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. RestoringVision.org is a non-profit which sources New Reading Glasses and Sunglasses (only) and supplies them at a nominal charge to two distinct groups; groups going on missions to developing countries and domestic groups serving the underprivileged. If you’ve never thought about taking eye-glasses to give away on a missions trip or other outreach event, check these guys out.

Big Sponsors

FaithConnector

FC is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features. FaithConnector (FC) is also a “Double Portion” Sponsor.

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

“Double Portion” Sponsors

Ekklesia 360

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out!

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Burton Websites

Burton Websites specializes in providing clean, custom, responsive web design for churches looking for an easy to manage website! You can rest easy. Every one of their beautiful, one-of-a-kind websites is developed on the totally awesome WordPress platform.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional.

Image Credit: woodleywonderworks | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

Link Roundup: Get Your Church Website Ready For Easter

Is your church website ready for Easter?

The Easter season is just around the corner. When people begin thinking about where they’ll attend services on Easter Sunday, their first stop will very likely be the Internet.

Your website is your church’s new “front door.” When they arrive there, will what they find make them want to come in (to your church), or will they leave and continue their search.

Using your church website to welcome and connect with your potential guests and congregation is a no-brainer, especially during Easter. The goal of this link roundup is to help you get your church website ready for everyone who arrives there during the next few weeks.

If you apply even a few of these “evergreen” tips, your church will be off to a great start extending the kind of hospitality online that converts website visitors into eager, first-time guests.

Get Your Church Website Ready For Easter

Easter Sunday is the Super Bowl of Church Attendance
by Carol McPhail on AL.com

Many churches experience a substantial increase in visitors on Easter Sunday. Maybe your church is one of them.

As the greatest day of celebration in the Christian church year, Easter draws those who want to hear the good news. “They are so hungry for hope, so eager for a message that tells them they can begin anew and that no matter how bad things may seem, there is new life ahead of them,”…

New Research Reveals Why People Visit Church Websites
by Jeremy Weber on Christianity Today

Jeremy’s post on Christianity Today offers a concise summary of the results of a one-year research study conducted and published in 2012 by Grey Matter Research. While the research and resulting data are not “holiday specific”, they still serve to inform churches of the kind of information your website visitors are looking for.

The top three pieces of information your visitors are looking for, generally, will be especially needful to them as they assess church websites to help them determine where they’ll attend Easter Sunday services. Grey Matter Research reports,

Most commonly, people visiting the website of a place of worship are checking to see the times of services (43%). Other common activities include checking what activities are offered (e.g. youth groups, studies, events – 29%), looking for a map or directions to the church’s location (28%), watching streaming video (26%), and listening to streaming audio (26%).

9 Website Tips to Get Ready for Your Easter Service
by Daniel Threlfall on ShareFaith Magazine

Building anticipation, creating eye-catching graphics, and creatively using social media are three of my favorite tips from Daniel’s post:

Videos are an excellent form of content that can provide encouragement and increase attendance at your service. Try creating a quick video about your Easter service. Even a video taken with your phone will do the trick. Interview people, discuss your service, and share some info on what it’s all about.

Your Church Website: Be Sure it is Ready for Easter
by Yvon Prehn on Effective Church Communications

This is the first of two posts Yvon wrote on the subject of getting your church website ready for Easter. There’s some overlap in the tips offered. Both articles also contain some unique content. I especially like the Easter “give-a-way” ideas she includes in this post.

9 Essentials to Prepare Your Church Website for Easter
by Yvon Prehn on Effective Church Communications

One of my favorite tips from Yvon’s post is to add a section that answers the question, “What do we do when it isn’t Easter?”

Make the service times, parking directions, child care and programs all easy to find. This is especially important for an event like Easter where you may have totally different service times than your regular ones.

My Top Church Websites This Easter
by Steve Fogg on SteveFogg.com

Since 2011, Steve’s been assembling a wonderful collection of some of his favorite Easter-themed church Web pages. If you haven’t yet designed your Easter Web graphics, these examples can offer great inspiration.

12 Great Examples of Church Website Design for Easter
by Steve Fogg on SteveFogg.com

This is the 2013 edition of Steve’s Easter-inspired church Web page collection.

Encourage Members to Invite Friends to Church With App
by Lauren Hunter on Church Tech Today

Proactive churches are already planning and engaging in outreach efforts to invite their communities in. Lauren shares her experience with ChurchInviter, an app that integrates with your church website to provide your members a simple way to send e-vites to their family and friends. Perfect for Easter outreach!

 

I realize you may already be overwhelmed with Easter season planning and preparation. Perhaps your church is in the throes of putting together a special program, and planning fun activities for the kids. But, in all of your planning and “house cleaning,” please be sure you include getting your website up to snuff.

At the very least, make sure people know how to get to you, and what time they should come. Directions to your church and your Easter Service time(s) must be clearly visible on the Home page of your website, or one click away.

Seen any other useful tips or articles out there? Please feel free to share your favorites in the Comments.

Image Credit: John_Stockton | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

A Productivity Tip For Smart, Creative People

I really enjoy being a creative Web worker. But, sometimes, the work can be as tough as nails. On the one hand, I just love the creative process. It’s so much fun to dream and imagine and toy with the possibilities. All too often, though, when it comes time to actually get things done, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in all those “creative juices.”

Do you ever feel like that?

Do you ever feel like you’re running a hundred miles an hour in place? You know you’re busy doing stuff, and maybe feeling a little overwhelmed by what still needs doing. All the while, it just doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward. Or, for the effort you feel you’re putting in, it doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward as fast as you should be.

I think of those running-in-place times as my personal bout with “creative hamster” syndrome. It’s uncomfortable. I try to pick something and stick with it until it’s finished, but it gets difficult. Focus becomes elusive. And, I start to feel anxious because I believe I’m being productive, but I just don’t feel like I’m being effective. And, being effective is what I’m really after.

The search for the “right” productivity tip

From time to time, I’ve thought that finding and using the “right” productivity tip or set of tools, tactics, and strategies could help me get focused, become more efficient, and therefore, be more productive. But, tactics and strategies seem to never be enough.

Lately I’ve felt a real, practical need for structure and accountability, to help me move forward in my business. So recently, I enrolled in a business coaching program. I must say, from day one, this program has been spot-on. It’s been incredibly valuable–a real blessing.

But, my business mentor is not Christian. So while I resonate with her advice and instruction in the practical aspects of my work, I know we don’t share the same worldview. That means that I still need a Gospel-centered supplement to guide and help me filter everything I’m learning through the truth of Scripture.

In the end, what matters most to me is that whatever I’m setting my hand to do, it’s the right work to do, the best work to do. I care most that I accomplish God’s plans for me, and complete work that keeps it’s value (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Through my prayers, I was led to discover Matt Perman’s new book, What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done.

A clear path to rethinking “productivity”

Matt’s book launched today. But, he was gracious to provide me a pre-launch copy last week, which I began devouring the very same day.

Matt’s book had me at John Piper’s Forward. It begins,

This book is simply extraordinary. This is largely because of the way God has wired Matt Perman. His mind is saturated with biblical truth, and he is passionate, sometimes to a fault (as you will see in his personal stories), about being effective for the glory of Christ.

The first night, I read through the Introduction and Chapter 1. I learned, for the first time, about Knowledge Work. It’s funny, here I was all this time doing this work, and had never once heard it called by its name. Chapter 1 discusses Knowledge Work, and answers such questions as:

  • What is Knowledge Work?
  • What Is Unique About Knowledge Work?
  • What Is Challenging About Knowledge Work?

Matt then goes on to discuss the villains of our work: ambiguity and overload. A core message of the chapter is that “we’re using industrial era tactics for knowledge era work.” We’re making that mistake at a great cost to our being productive.

Last night, I read to the end of Chapter 2, where Matt discusses why efficiency is not the answer to being truly productive.

I’ve just been stunned at how much What’s Best Next resonates with me. Mostly because this book doesn’t stop at merely presenting reasonable arguments for transforming ideas and perceptions about productivity. At the end of each Chapter, and later in Part 3 of the book, there’s guidance for immediately and practically applying the concepts discussed.

From the first chapter, I was over-the-moon to find that the very first application aligned with an action item from the business coaching program I’m working through. BINGO! What’s Best Next is just the Gospel-centered supplement I was looking for!

A FREE bonus

I’m really looking forward to continuing through this book. It’s already been instrumental in changing a few ideas and assumptions I had about what it means to be productive. I never expected that being able to actually define the work I do would have such a major impact on how I approach everything connected to it. And, it’s already begun to spill over into other areas of calling and my life’s work: wife and home manager, blogger, church ministry leader.

As I said before, What’s Best Next launched today on Amazon. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. This past Saturday, I quietly launched the Church Website Ideas newsletter. So, I want to celebrate this “double launching” by giving you a free sample of What’s Best Next, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Your free book sample includes:

  • Table of Contents
  • Forward
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1

Here’s to your productivity!

Image Credit: hang_in_there | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

THANK YOU February Sponsors!

Super stoked this month! Three new sponsors joined me during February to support the work here at Church Website Ideas. Woohoo!

I thank God for all of my sponsors! Church Website Ideas is made possible because of their generous support. Seriously. Their church website solutions offer high quality and great value to churches of all sizes, but especially to small churches. I hope you’ll check ’em out.

New Sponsors

Burton Websites

Burton Websites specializes in providing clean, custom, responsive web design for churches looking for an easy to manage website! You can rest easy. Every one of their beautiful, one-of-a-kind websites is developed on the totally awesome WordPress platform.

FaithConnector

FaithConnector (FC) is a custom-developed content management system built to give churches the highest-quality church website system available at the most affordable price. For the money, FC promises you won’t find a more complete, all-inclusive feature list than our system provides, especially when it comes to church and ministry-specific features.

Lightstock

The founders of Lightstock.com believe that what’s lacking today is not pre-packaged media, but the raw materials for Christian creatives to work from. Lightstock’s library of content is that unique raw material which can be utilized in countless ways. Pick any other stock site and slog through their faith-based images… what do you get? The same stuff you’ve been seeing for a decade. Lightstock is fresh, creative, faith-focused and professional.

Big Sponsor

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

“Double Portion” Sponsor

Ekklesia 360

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out!

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

Image Credit: keiichi.yasu | Flickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

9,000+ Free Worship Loops For Churches

Last Update: October 2021

Years ago, as the Media Ministry leader for a local small church, I discovered free worship loops for Easyworship. What a refreshing change they were over static, single-colored backgrounds! Our members loved them, too.

I especially liked the nature scenes. Spring-themed blossoms, lush wooded paths and babbling brooks were my favorites.

In 2009 and 2010, Jesse Orndorff posted links to some great free worship loops and motion backgrounds for churches here on Church Website Ideas. For a long time, those two articles were the most popular posts on this blog!

But there was a problem. Things change fast on the interwebs.

Just five years after the original posts went live, nearly all of the links in those two posts either died or were no longer free.

So, I created this post to replace those two. At the time, the five media sites below had made more than 600 video loops, mini movies, motion backgrounds, and stills FREE and available to churches (or anyone else in search of high quality, free motion backgrounds).

As of this update, that number has since grown to more than 9,000 free media files and tools (and growing) that these gracious servants have made available to the church!

Download and use these as worship backgrounds, website backgrounds, Powerpoint video backgrounds, or in whatever project a moving background will enhance and clarify the message.

Happy downloading!

Free Worship Loops For Your Projects

FREE MOTION BACKGROUNDS FROM CHURCH MEDIA DROP

ChurchMediaDrop.com (formerly Church Media Design) was started in January 2008. As Church Media Design, the original goal was to provide those working or helping in local church a better understanding how to use media.

Now, as Church Media Drop, they’ve created a hub where churches and church creatives can share with other churches around the globe, the high quality graphics, motion backgrounds, video loops and other media they’ve created.

As a totally free resource, it’s pretty incredible. The Motion Backgrounds category alone is a doorway to more than 530 high quality worship video backgrounds.

FREE MOTION BACKGROUNDS FROM DAN STEVERS

As of this writing, StoryLoop.com (formerly DanStevers.com) offers more than 300 amazing, FREE worship and sermon graphics, motion backgrounds, stills, titles, and countdowns. The Flood Pack alone contains more than 37 files! Phenomenal!

Started in 2009 by director and animator Dan Stevers, DanStevers.com was launched as a resource by a one-man studio in 2009 to resource the global Church, the library has since grown into a collaboration of artists from around the world. In 2021, DanStevers.com transitioned into StoryLoop.com to reflect the collective of artists who are passionately creating new art each month to tell sacred stories.

Collide Magazine said,

“Dan Stevers creates animations that accomplish the most important function of any medium, effective communication. The bottom line is, Dan Stevers’ work is a benchmark for any aspiring animator.”

IGNITER MEDIA FREE WORSHIP MOTION BACKGROUNDS

Igniter Media (formerly Graceway Media) offers over 10,000 Still and Motion designs to meet your service needs. Easily search for designs for your worship service, special event and message design.

To download the 24 5 10 free worship loops Igniter Media offers, sign up is required.

FREE MOTION BACKGROUNDS FROM CREATIONSWAP™

Thousands of artists flock to CreationSwap to generously share their work with churches and pastors around the world. Check them out to download more than 70 90 free worship loops, titles, and countdowns.

FREE MOTION BACKGROUNDS FROM CHURCH MOTION GRAPHICS

Church Motion Graphics was started in 2009 and had a mission to create high quality church media for the creative church. They are still holding true to this call by creating beautiful worship motion backgrounds, mini-movies, titles, countdown timers and other free media and tools.

More than 8,000 files available for free download!

What’s Next?

Was this post helpful? Please share it.

Know of any other amazing sites offering free worship loops or free motion backgrounds? Let us know!

Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!

Image Credit: xJason.RogersxFlickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

Choosing An Online Giving Solution For Your Church Website (Part 2)

In my last post, Choosing An Online Giving Solution For Your Church Website (Part 1),  I presented an overview of what you can expect as you begin researching options for enabling online giving through your church website. Well, that article should have actually been “Part 2”, and this article, “Part 1”.

That’s because, if you’re just getting started with online giving, and read that article first, you may have been left wondering,

With so many options and so many features, how in the world do I choose the perfect solution for my church?

I was asking myself that very same question when I discovered the multitude of solutions available. I learned my church already had options available through Church Community Builder and WordPress, applications we’re already using. So, I started checking them out.

I didn’t get very far before realizing that I’d started the process at the wrong step. D’oh!

Being the geeky gal that I am, I was eager to begin looking at software. However, in my haste, I’d forgotten that the process for choosing an online giving solution doesn’t begin with evaluating options. The process begins with planning. So, I backed up, and regrouped.

These steps are essentially the same ones you’d follow when choosing any software solution for your church.

Steps For Choosing An Online Giving Solution

STEP 1: Plan (Proverbs 2:11)[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • Pray for God’s guidance and for His wisdom (Proverbs 3:6, 16:9; James 1:5)
  • Thoroughly define requirements (what we need) and goals (why we need it)

[/list]

STEP 2: Research & Evaluate[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • Determine what solutions are available (including options through software we’re already using)
  • Evaluate those solutions, strictly adhering to the needs and goals defined in Step 1
  • Narrow the list of contenders to two or three options

[/list]

STEP 3: Test Drive & Choose[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • Take each contender for a test drive, if possible
  • Choose the best option

[/list]

Those steps seem simple to me. Time-consuming, but simple.

Now, I realize you may still have many more questions about online giving. So, I’ve gathered a few additional resources together for you. I hope you’ll find them helpful as you plan, evaluate, and choose an option to enable online giving through your church website.

Downloadable Online Giving Guides & Tools

[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

[/list]

Software Comparison Charts & Lists

[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • Church Management Software Comparison Chart
    Source: Christian Computing Magazine
    Comparison of 40 software Church Management Software (ChMS) solutions. A few of these options have an online giving component. I used this chart to discover that my church’s ChMS includes an online giving tool.
  • Top Donation Management Software
    Source: Capterra
    Capterra is a free service churches can use to help them find the right software. Capterra offers one of the most comprehensive lists I’ve seen of business software solutions on the Web.

[/list]

Image Credit: zhouxuan 12345678 | Flickr cc

Categories
Perspectives

Big THANK YOU To My January Sponsors!

I thank God for my sponsors! Church Website Ideas is made possible because of their generous support. Their church website solutions offer high quality and great value to churches of all sizes, but especially to small churches. I hope you’ll check ’em out.

Big Sponsor

iMinistries

iMinistries is a church website CMS that makes great looking and easy to use church websites. By building your website with the iMinistries Church Website CMS, you get a budget-friendly, easy-to-update church website that’s feature-rich and gives you complete control over how it looks, what it says, and what it does.

“Double Portion” Sponsor

Ekklesia 360

Monk Development’s Ekklesia 360 is a solution providing simple, effective online ministry. If you need a beautiful website & the tools that help you care for your people & reach more in your community, all supported by leading ministry thinkers, you’ve got to check them out!

Sponsors

Build A Church Website

Build A Church Website offers a total church website solution. You will get a website that is specifically engineered for the church. This means that their efforts go toward developing components and systems that are geared specifically for church website design.

Courtyard

Courtyard offers a software solution to help you put your church directly online. Courtyard provides you with a private, interactive directory website where your members can share and update their contact information. It’s the perfect solution for churches, schools, homeschool groups, or any group that wants to help their members connect with one another. Unlike business-oriented software, Courtyard keeps your members organized by family, just like you would in a printed church directory.

Cheap Church Websites

Don’t let the name fool you. Cheap Church Websites offers a feature-rich, cost-effective website solution for budget-conscious ministries. If you want a great looking website that’s simple to manage and won’t break the bank, here’s a solution worth considering.

If you would like to become a valued sponsor of Church Website Ideas, please visit Beacon Ads to learn about available placements.

Image Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ | Flickr cc

Categories
Tools & Resources

Choosing An Online Giving Solution For Your Church Website (Part 1)

Choosing an online giving solution for your church website should be pretty painless, right?

Well, as I’ve been researching the idea of proposing online giving to my church, I’ve discovered there’s a lot to consider. I didn’t want to rush blindly into adding a donation page to my church’s website. It seemed prudent to first examine what our priorities for adding online giving should be.

That exercise led me to explore why making spiritually-profitable donation pages is crucial, especially for the benefit of believing givers. Then, I looked at 14 ideas and examples of great church donation page content that can encourage gracious giving.

Now I’m ready to turn my attention to learning what online giving solutions are available for churches. I had assumed there would only be a few options specifically made for churches. Boy, was I wrong! A quick Google search revealed an overwhelming number of church-focused providers and services. Pages and pages of them, in fact.

With so many options, I really didn’t know where to begin. Then, as I poured over feature pages, pricing structures, and delivery methods, I realized that narrowing my focus to find the right option for my church website was actually easier than I first thought.

Turns out, online giving solutions appear to come in one of five flavors:

  1. Client-installed computer software
  2. Software as a Service (or SaaS) Providers
  3. Web Content Management System Add-ons
  4. Church CMS Service Providers
  5. Church Management Software Options

The goal of this post is not to review or recommend individual options or service providers. Rather, I mean to present an overview of what you can expect as you begin your own research to find the best online giving solution for your church website.

Online Giving Solutions For Churches

Client-installed computer software

Some online giving solutions are packaged and delivered as computer software programs. The software may be packaged as digital files available for download to a client’s computer. Some are only available as boxed CDs. In either case, your computer will need to meet minimum system requirements in order for the software to be installed and properly run.

Examples of client-installed computer software include the following:

[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

[/list]

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Providers

With this category of software, service providers host the software application and deliver it to customers over a network or the Internet. Automatic updates, easy administration, and global accessibility are just a few of the benefits associated with this software distribution model. Web-based options for online giving range from general purpose payment tools to feature-rich, ministry-focused applications.

Examples of SaaS providers include:

[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

[/list]

Web Content Management System Add-ons

Web content management systems (CMS) allow users with little knowledge of web programming or mark-up languages to easily create and manage website content.  Content management systems enable you to easily extend the features of your website by installing free or premium (paid) add-on software programs. Depending on the CMS, these add-on software programs may be called plugins or extensions, or may be known by other names.

Examples of content management systems that offer donation page add-on software include:

[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

[/list]

Church CMS Service Providers

Church CMS service providers specialize in offering feature-rich, hosted website design and maintenance solutions that meet the unique needs of churches and ministries. Many of these ministry-focused service providers either bundle online giving features into the core functionality of their CMS, or offer an online giving solution as a separate add-on option.

Examples of church CMS providers who offer online giving solutions include:

[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

[/list]

Church Management Software Options

Churches use church management software to help them organize and automate many of their day-to-day operations. These specialized software programs enable churches to more easily manage such tasks as event planning, accounting and report generation, and volunteer management.

Some church management software programs include an online giving component that can be easily integrated into your church website. Examples include:

[list style=”list1″ color=”green”]

[/list]

What’s next?

My church uses Church Community Builder to help us get things done. Our website is powered by WordPress. So, that’s where I’ll begin my review and service comparison.

Choosing an online giving solution is not as difficult as you might think. In my next post, I’ll include a list of resources to make reviewing and narrowing down your options that much easier.

Image Credit: zhouxuan 12345678 | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Content

14 Ideas For Building Profitable Church Donation Page Content

Offering the convenience of online giving is one practical way we can use our church website to care for God’s family (Galatians 6:10).

I began this series of posts by considering how some churches focus on the “convenience factor” when creating content for their donation pages. Churches misguide Christian donors when they prioritize hyping modern convenience in an effort to persuade and motivate online giving.

Making the most of every opportunity to foster maturity in the Christian life is God’s priority, and should be ours (Ephesians 4:11-13; Colossians 1:28-29). As our websites are meant to extend the influence and effectiveness of our church ministries online, it naturally follows that we should also make the most of every opportunity there too, right?

So how can we build donation pages that foster spiritual growth, and encourage Christians to excel in gracious giving (2 Corinthians 8:6-7)?

Making the pages of our church website spiritually profitable is just as easily done as said when we’re talking about, say, publishing sermon content online. But, what about church donation pages? What content can we add to make them spiritually profitable for the giver, while meeting their practical needs?

You’re adding a new service to your church website, so your team should start by making a plan. One simple and fun way to begin is by making a list of the most basic questions someone might have about using our online solution to give to our church. Once we have our list of questions in hand, it’s simply a matter of brainstorming ways we can respond to those questions. Then, create or assemble whatever content you’ve chosen to use.

How you structure and lay out your donation page(s) will depend on several factors, including what content your team chooses to publish. For this article, we’ll just be focusing on ideas for content.

Donation Page Content Ideas For Churches

Here are 14 ideas to help you and your team get your creative juices flowing. These are great examples of creative, engaging, and informative church donation page content that responds to a few of the most basic who-what-where-when-why-and-how questions our donors may have.

Question #1: WHY should I give? (4 Ideas)

First things first. Communicate the true priorities for gracious giving by adding content that encourages and teaches the biblical reasons for (and, results of) faithful, intentional giving from the heart.

Grace Church links relevant sermon content taught at their church. Linking to audio content would work well, too. NOTE: If you use a sermon snippet on the donation page, be sure to also provide a link to the entire message/series in your Sermon Library.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3506″ align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ link=”http://gracechurchsc.org/contact/online-giving/” linkTarget=”_blank” autoHeight=”true” quality=”100″]

Celebration Church links video testimonies shared by members of their congregation.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3509″ alt=”Celebration Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://celebrationchurchtx.com/give/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Gateway Church added commentary containing links to relevant Scriptures on giving.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3511″ alt=”Gateway Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://gatewaypeople.com/tithes/why-tithe” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Cross Pointe Church links to quality discipleship resources produced by respected Bible teachers.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3512″ alt=”Cross Pointe Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.crosspointechurch.com/giving/index.htm” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #2: WHO will benefit from my offering? (2 Ideas)

People don’t merely give to “organizations”. People give to people and support causes. Gracious givers are excited to know how God is using their giving to bless others.

Wausau Alliance Church lists and briefly describes the specific church Giving Funds donors can designate their offerings to.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3514″ alt=”Wausau Alliance Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.wausaualliance.org/home/connect/give-online/giving-funds/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

LifeChurch.tv lists and briefly describes the local and global programs and causes their church supports financially.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3515″ alt=”LifeChurch.tv Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”https://www.lifechurch.tv/giving/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #3: WHERE is the money going? (2 Ideas)

A little transparency goes a long way. Just as important as wanting to know who will benefit from their offerings, gracious givers want you to “show them the money”. They want to be assured that the church is faithfully stewarding the money entrusted to them.

Fellowship Bible Church offers a downloadable report of how the year’s funds were spent.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3518″ alt=”Fellowship Bible Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.fellowshipnashville.org/contact/online-giving/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Elevation Church created a incredible media experience. Their “year in review” video, highlights the ways people benefited through ministries and programs funded by their donor’s gifts and offerings. A downloadable PDF of the annual report is also available.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3519″ alt=”Elevation Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://annualreport2012.elevationchurch.org/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #4: WHEN and HOW can I give? (3 Ideas)

Make it clear that online giving IS NOT replacing “in the pew” giving (unless it is…which I hope it’s not). And, remember, when it comes to tech savviness, people are at all levels. Make it super easy for inexperienced givers to use the service.

Willow Creek Community Church lists all of the options (times and locations) for giving to their church, including online. NOTE: Be sure to include all acceptable methods for giving money (e.g. cash, personal checks, debit cards, etc.),  according to the giving options available.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3520″ alt=”Willow Creek Community Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.willowcreek.org/giving” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Word of Life Fellowship Church provides clear, detailed, printable, step-by-step instructions for using their service.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3531″ alt=”Word of Life Fellowship Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.wlfconline.org/content.cfm?id=357″ linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Community Bible Church offers a link to less detailed, printable PDF instructions. Their service provides a wizard that walks users through the process step-by-step.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3529″ alt=”Community Bible Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”https://www.communitybible.com/online-giving/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #5: WHAT other kinds of gifts can I give? (1 Idea)

Money isn’t the only acceptable form of donation. Some churches also accept gifts of real estate, stocks, and other assets. If your church accepts gifts other than money, be sure to communicate that on your donation page.

NorthRidge Church  lists all of the non-cash ways to give, segmented by category.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3522″ alt=”NorthRidge Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://northridgechurch.com/stewardship/giving/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #6: What if I’m new to giving? (1 Idea)

There are many creative ways churches can use their donation pages to teach and encourage those new to giving.

Horizons Church introduces new givers to the discipline of giving to God by encouraging them to participate in a short-term (90-day) giving challenge.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3523″ alt=”Horizons Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://www.myhorizonschurch.com/giving/90-day-challenge” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Question #7: What if I have more questions? (1 Idea)

Undoubtedly, people will have many more questions about using your donation page. Consider adding an FAQs section or page to address their questions and concerns, and to provide additional contact information, if available.

Eagle Brook Church added an FAQs page to respond to the questions most frequently asked.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3524″ alt=”Eagle Brook Church Online Giving” align=”left” icon=”link” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true” link=”http://eaglebrookchurch.com/giving/giving-faqs/” linkTarget=”_blank” quality=”100″]

Seen any great church donation page content?

Elevation’s media report made me want to pull out my wallet! What about you? Have you seen any great church donation pages in your travels? Post a link to the church’s donation page in the Comments below, so we can all be inspired!

In my next post, I want to take a look at options for online giving software and service providers.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend.

Image Credit: Dean Croshere | Flickr