CHURCH WEBSITES .… I have just spent about three days at work looking at Scottish church websites for information and I thought I would pass on my thoughts in the hope that some of you might cast a critical eye over your church’s on line presence. Here are my thoughts

STOP USING STOCK PHOTOGRAPHS …. either the same group of trendy, good looking group of multi racial young people attend multiple churches all over Scotland or churches are using stock pictures to try and make themselves look attractive. If I turn up to your church and don’t find those said trendy young people I’m going to feel “fibbed” to and that’s not a good first impression to make on any one.

ORGAN & ARCHITECTURE ENTHUSIASTS ARE A LIMITED AUDIENCE … going from many church web sites ( especially from what the Americans call “mainline” denominations ) you would think given the prominence given to pipe organs and church  buildings that the biggest group of spiritual seekers in Scotland are pipe organ  aficionados and mock gothic fanatics. In too many sites who made the organ is given more prominence than who the people are who make up the church and how to connect with them.

BE UP TO DATE AND KEEP UP TO DATE …. I suspect that a bad website is worse than no website. I don’t think small churches should need to spend thousands on an all singing and dancing multimedia website but something that looks like it was created by an amateur in the late 1990s gives the wrong message. Also if it’s June and your announcements about Christmas are still up on your site, need I say more! A simple WordPress page with contact and locations details coupled with a short introduction to the church and it’s services and ministries is well within the capabilities of every church who has someone with an Internet connection. Also keep contact details up to date, if someone sends an e-mail enquiring about your church and get a “shirty” one back from the named contact person saying they no longer attend, not a great impression is made.

AT LEAST HAVE ONE! …. Having said a bad website is worse than no website, that’s no excuse for not having one. For good or bad today most people check out goods and services on line. If someone moves to your area and is looking for your church and you have no on line presence the likelihood is that you won’t make the cut when they are deciding what congregations to visit. People by and large now make a first impression on line before making a first visit in person. Your church noticeboard isn’t enough any more, your on line presence is today’s church noticeboard.

MAKE IT EASY … I felt like I need an online GPS system to navigate some church websites just to find basic information. Any visitor to your homepage should with no or just one click be able to find out WHO YOU ARE. WHERE YOU ARE,  WHAT YOU DO & WHEN YOU DO IT.

SHOW PEOPLE NOT THINGS …. this sort of relates to two earlier points but I was amazed by how many churches don’t have any pictures of the actual people who attend the building, who after all are the church. There are pictures of church buildings, pipe organs, ministers, past and present, one church even had a prominent section on the graveyard but no picture of the living members! If I don’t see any pictures of the people of the church it makes me wonder if the church is embarrassed by it’s membership or has a faulty understanding of what a church actually is and what is important in church life. 

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