What is the purpose of a church website?
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.
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.
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:
- How does God want your local body to use the Internet?
- Why do you want to build a website? What is your motivation?
- What do you want to accomplish with it?
- How do you want to use it?
- 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:
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- 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.
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.