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,
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.
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.
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).