To minister to people where they are through the latest happenings and media that make real to the user the local church’s mission, vision, and core values. (The primary purpose of the local church website should not be to be the “filing cabinet in the air” for the congregation)
- Designed from Scratch – The most popular software used to create a website from scratch is Adobe Dreamweaver. In summary, this is the method of creating a website page-by-page. This method is not recommended for a variety of reasons.
- Content Management Systems – As website development “developed,” systems were created to manage the various parts of the website that are recurring and repetitive. Thus, systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal became popular. For those without a background in web design and development, retail CMS solutions such as Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix became popular. Suggestion – Try a number of these systems and see what is best for current needs and competency.
- Basic Requirements – Whatever method used, a website always requires at least: a) the domain name (ie. yourchurch.org) or the name your church website will have, and b) web hosting or the web-space that your website requires. GoDaddy.com is the most popular domain purchasing/management service as well as providing hosting services. Popular hosting services include bluehost.com and dreamhost.com Suggestion – Consult the Cal-Pac Office of Communications before purchasing eitiher domain or hosting service, if unsure.
The following is a proposed list of “do not forget these” or basically required items for a local church website:
- Front Page – a) Worship Info, b) “I’m New” Link, c) “About the Pastor” Link, d) Contact Info, e) Social Media Channels (Be wary of too much content on the front page; resist saying yes to every request for posting on the front page from church ministries)
- “I’m New” Page – Make sure the page has a page specifically designed for those unfamiliar with both the local church AND “church” in general. Resist the temptation to use churchy language or to write a theology paper. Instead, introduce briefly what one does in a life of faith in Jesus Christ and what is expected of them as a guest to the church. Somewhere on the page should also be a link (and/or button) that leads the user to the most appropriate upcoming event or activity for a church guest (which could be a worship service or not).
- “About the Pastor” Page – The primary question on the website user’s question when learning about the pastor is probably, “Does this person seem as though they could understand my life context?” On this page, answer this question through the pastor’s background, life experiences, and intentions in ministry. Avoid writing an auto-biography.
A website is one part of a larger communications process and strategy. While a person with the technical competency of website management should be tasked with managing the website, the design and function of the website should be according to a larger local church communications strategy developed by the leadership of the church.
To minister to people where they are through images, quotes, links to stories, and other shareable media which, secondarily, establishes trust, empathy, and perspective for the ministry with the people.
- Created Images – What began as “meme’s” (mostly of cats and children making funny faces with funny quotes) has now become the practice of putting words to an image, often with an image filter. In ministry, use created images to inspire and/or remind followers of important principles of Christian living. Suggestion – canva.com is a free and easy tool to create such images
- Created Content – Voice matters in the internet world because it is the way by which like-minded individuals can recognize value. Thus, in ministry, content such as perspective via a blog post or emotion via a short video give followers the opportunity to share with others what they find to be valuable. Suggestion – medium.com is a great blog platform and vine.co is twitter’s short video platform
- Curated Media – The internet is a vast reality with many a things available to read, see, and hear. So, busy, everyday people appreciate someone selecting what might be most important as a suggestion to them. In ministry, select and share pieces from the internet to allow followers to learn things for which there is not usually time or space in a regular church schedule. Suggestion – tumblr.com is an easy way to curate content and be part of a network of like-minded users
- Campaign – Social media leading to action taken by social media users is the goal for large brand names as well as charitable causes. A campaign is a way of eliciting action taken by a social user via the inherent social connections of social media. In ministry, a campaign can raise both awareness and/or funds for a specific cause. While there is no one platform for campaign creation, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great example of a social media campaign.
Social media is not a tool apart from ministry; it is a ministry in and of itself. Therefore, its staffing, whether by paid staff or volunteers, should be thought of as any other ministry would by keeping in mind the attitude, skills, and training required for ministry success. Much like preaching the sermon in the Sunday Worship Service, ministry via social media can become the voice of the church. Suggestion – the Pastor should either manage, or lead the team that manages, a local church’s social media channels.