3rd Commandment for Church Websites

EditorsPick_2014_200The team at Worship Times is dedicated to empowering congregations developing their church websites and digital presence. On November 1 Worship Times was named one of Worship Leader Magazine’s Editor’s Pick for web development (read more here). So for the next couple of weeks we will be presenting what we consider to be the 10 Commandments for Church Websites. If you have further questions or want to learn more about Worship Times, please feel free to email us.

3rd Commandment for Church Websites:

Thou shalt use pictures that show thy community in action

Both visitors and long time attenders want to see the people in the worshiping community doing something, not just the outside of your building  or a staged photo of your pastor. Take pictures of worship services, coffee hour, mission involvement, anything! Use higher resolution pictures to make an impact. 300 dpi (dots per inch) is recommended, but many would rather see an action shot from a camera phone than a high resolution close-up of your organ. If your organ is beautiful and an important part of the church’s history, give it its own page on your website and leave space for other pictures. Be sure to update the photos regularly. You don’t want people searching for a church to visit at Easter wondering why your sanctuary is still set up for the Christmas pageant.

 

2. Thou shalt be on thy website who God is calling thou to be in the world

1. Thou shalt put needed info right up front

2nd Commandment for Church Websites

EditorsPick_2014_200The team at Worship Times is dedicated to empowering congregations developing their church websites and digital presence. On November 1 Worship Times was named one of Worship Leader Magazine’s Editor’s Pick for web development (read more here). So for the next couple of weeks we will be presenting what we consider to be the 10 Commandments for Church Websites. If you have further questions or want to learn more about Worship Times, please feel free to email us.

2nd Commandment for Church Websites:

Thou shalt be on thy website who God is calling thou to be in the world

Many potential visitors will be looking at your website, and they’ll be expecting what you say on the website to match what they see in worship or other church activities. If your church has crafted a mission statement (1-2 sentences) be sure to have it on your home page. But don’t just say what your mission is. Show it. Photos, events, even language that you use needs to support your greater mission. Granted, churches are vibrant and dynamic. It’s hard for all churches regardless of size to sum up your mission in a statement or in your digital presence. Tell the story of who you are and who God is calling you to be, not who you think visitors want you to be.

1) Thou shalt put needed info right up front

1st Commandment for Church Websites

EditorsPick_2014_200The team at Worship Times is dedicated to empowering congregations developing their church websites and digital presence. On November 1 Worship Times was named one of Worship Leader Magazine’s Editor’s Pick for web development (read more here). So for the next couple of weeks we will be presenting what we consider to be the 10 Commandments for Church Websites. If you have further questions or want to learn more about Worship Times, please feel free to email us.

1st Commandment for Church Websites:

Thou shalt put needed info right up front

You have 3-4 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention. The number one things visitors are looking for is your physical address and worship service times. Put those somewhere at the top of your homepage. The easier it is to find this basic information, the more likely visitors will take the time to find out more info beyond the basic.

 

When I’m traveling or in a new location looking for a church, the first thing I do is google churches in the local zip code. If I can’t find the times for worship services on a church’s website, the likelihood of me visiting goes way down. I have only once in my life driven by a church, seen the worship service time on their sign, and gone into service; but I have visited dozens of church services because I first visited their website.” -Emily Morgan, Worship Times’ Social Media Coordinator

Worship Times named Editor’s Pick

EditorsPick_2014_200Worship Leader Magazine has named Worship Times as one of its 2014 Editor’s Pick for web development.

Worship Times is a team of congregational leaders, and we are honored to be featured in this trusted resource for congregational leaders. Several team members have seminary degrees. Owner Michael Gyura credits a particularly memorable class in seminary as the moment when the idea for Worship Times was born: easy-to-use websites for congregations by congregational leaders who understand the challenges facing the church today.

We know designing a website can be a challenge, and we offer multiple themed templates that are easy to customize to your church’s unique identity.

We know that assessing your current website can be a challenge, and we offer a free website review where one of our talented team members will help you figure out what you’d like to see changed.

We know budget is a challenge, and we offer several options for pricing. If you’re a smaller church or church plant, we will make sure that Worship Times is affordable for your community. (Contact us for more.)

We know that congregational leaders have stressed schedules, and we offer multiple ways to get your questions answered to fit those schedules.

We know that technology in church can be a challenge, and we write an ongoing blog related to those issues.

We know visualizing your site with a Worship Times template can be a challenge, and we offer a 30 day free trial.

We’re here to help you. Questions? Comments? Want to get in touch? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can email us or use this contact form or call us at (888) 442-8731.

Does Your Church need Online Giving?

Macbook_0748As churches begin to look toward the annual stewardship campaign, many will be considering whether or not they should add online giving to their website. The answer is yes, if you can.

We can take pictures of checks and upload them to our bank account. We use computers or tablets or phones, whatever we have to pay our bills and connect with causes. Online giving is a good way to engage people who do their banking and bill pay electronically.

If you want to get more young adults involved in your stewardship drive online giving is a good tool to have. In 2012 83% of young adults (about 18-30) made a gift to a nonprofit. How did they do it? 84% gave online. (For more see the Millennial Report 2013)

Ok, so if you want to have some kind of online giving tool on your website, what can you do?

The easiest thing is Paypal. As a non-profit churches can use Paypal at a discounted rate. You’re looking at a rate of 2.2% + $0.30 per donation. So Paypal gets $2.50 out of every $100. (Some churches ask their donators to pay a bit more to cover that rate.) Paypal works mobile, it works without the giver having to have a Paypal account, it’s a good all-around donation tool. If your website is a Worship Times we offer easy Paypal integration through Gravity forms.

Research other online tools and see if there’s something better out there for what you want to do. For example, if you’re doing a creative project with a clear end goal consider Kickstarter. (Check out this Philadelphia ministry kickstarting a soup company) Raising money for the youth group to go on a mission trip? Maybe GoFundMe is the way to go.

Pay attention to the rate charged for each donation and any barriers to getting the donations (for example, if your Kickstarter doesn’t get 100% or more funded you don’t get any money). Also think about whether or not you’re going to change how offering happens in Sunday morning worship. A church here in Louisville gives online donators poker chips to put in the offering plates to symbolize their giving. (The chips don’t directly reference how much they donated, just that they did donate.) If you still can’t figure things out, reach out to a local church who is already doing online giving and ask them for help.

About Our Community

This post was originally published as part of WordCamp Nashville (2014), which Worship Times sponsored.

missionsOur community includes a variety of groups from small churches to large nonprofit organizations.

Some have been established for hundreds of years, and some are just starting out. Some just need the basics. They wanted a simple website that highlights the most important information about the church.

Some members of our community, like the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, want a traditional look with a compelling platform to be able to share their ministry with their worshiping and local communities. We also pitched in to provide high quality photography.

And some groups just need something specialized like LEAD–a non-profit focused on church leadership development. They needed a site to that combined the 4 colors representing the 4 main areas they work in in order to showcase the resources they have for all these areas without having an overcrowded or over-complicated website. We made a colorful but distinct homepage and Pinterest-style boxes on their resource pages so that users can quickly scan for all the info they need.

Working with Worship Times is joining a community. We’re pretty active on Twitter joining in conversations and linking to useful resources. All members of our community are encouraged to jump in on conversations, ask questions, and share ideas. The combined creativity of our community and our staff inspires us to constantly do things we’ve never done before.

Together our community helps small churches and big nonprofits and every kind of ministry in between. We know the pressures of 21st century ministry at the small church level, the big nonprofit level, and lots in between. We have the skills to handle any size job. But at the end of the day this is a ministry for us to support the ministries of others.

Take a look at our designs (we have some new ones!) and the features we offer for your website, and if you’d like to join our community contact us.

Re-Purposing Social Media Content

There’s a repeated phrase in the world of social media: content is king. As a church leader who also does social media I understand the phrase but have some trouble with it because if we’re going to call anything king it should be Jesus. But the main point of this phrase is to point to the importance of content within online communities.

The term “content” can mean a bunch of different things–blog posts, podcasts, Facebook updates, e-newsletters–anything that communicates a message. The great thing about this is churches tend to have strong messages such as sermons, devotions, worship services, announcements, and photos that are translatable into online content.

Think creatively about re-purposing content. Most people need to hear or see something multiple times to remember it. Taking the sermon from Sunday and posting it on Monday could be a good way to re-enforce the message of the service. Pastoral prayers can be posted in pieces throughout the week. Reflective questions posed in the sermon can be posted and even discussed.

When we re-purpose content to be communicated online, there are some considerations that need to be thought about. When sermons are then published to be read, what else needs to happen? Are there quotes from books that need to be fully cited or emphasis that comes through in preacher’s tone that needs to be conveyed through punctuation or underlining key words? Who is going to make these changes? If the entire worship services goes online as an mp3 do you need to also put a PDF version of the bulletin up?

If you’re not sure what questions to ask, consider these:

  1. If a regular attender wasn’t at this service or event, will they understand the message through the medium it is being communicated?
  2. If someone has never attended a service or event at your church, will they understand the message through the medium it is being communicated?

With a little re-purposing you can take the content your church is already producing and ensure your online presence is kept up all week long.

Visitors and Your Website

Have you ever wondered what people who aren’t regular attenders at your church think about your website? The easiest thing to do is to find someone who fits in that category to look at your website and tell you, but that’s not always possible. We don’t want to jump on people who visit the church on Sunday morning and bombard them with questions.

Kingston UMC front page

Instead, here is a list of questions to ask yourself as you look at your website to try and get an outside point of view.

1) What is the first thing your eye is drawn to? A picture? A logo? Does this represent something that’s important to the congregation? Is there too much going on to focus on one thing? Maybe you need to break the homepage up into multiple pages

2) Is there a clear navigation tool if you have a multi-page site? If there is, is it clear what each page is about? The page labeled “JOY!” may point to your church’s retired person’s group list of activities, but to someone who doesn’t know joy stands for “just older youth” it doesn’t mean much

3) Where is your contact information located? Ideally it should be in more than one place like on the home page and on its own separate page labeled “contact us.” (Also a good idea to check and make sure all the contact info is up to date for the church and staff/volunteers.

4) Is the font consistent throughout the site and large enough to be readable? You don’t need to only use a single font; but make sure all the page titles have the same font, all the links have the same font, etc

5) Where are your worship times listed? Many people browsing online for churches want to know when your church worships. Worship times need to be on the front page and easily seen in the first look at the screen. (No scrolling.) You can have all kinds of information about the style, the music, and the dress on another page

Hopefully these questions will help you start to see where or if your site needs to be updated. Knowing what needs to be done is the first step!