Whosoever Will May Read Your Content
Hello again from your good friends over at Church Plant Media. We’re here again with another installment of church webology. This time around we will be answering two of the commenters who posted questions to us via our introductory post in September. Dan Alger commented, asking the following:
Do you think it is best to have a website that contains LOTS of information (long history of the church, long doctrinal statements, blogs, resources, worship explanations, etc. etc. etc.) so that people who tend to be “researchers” can get all the information they need to make decisions about your church, or is it better to be thorough, but simple to make the site more accessible to those who do not want to sort through a ton of details? Or perhaps some hybrid of the two is best? I’ve seen websites that pursue each of these philosophies and I’m not sure which practice is most effective.
Then Denise W. commented after Dan, asking the following:
Thanks for letting us ask questions! Should a church’s web site be primarily visitors (believing or unbelieving) who may be interested in visiting the church? Or should it primarily be a place to put information that will benefit the members of that church?
Dan & Denise: The answers to your questions are: yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! As mentioned in our last post, we encourage people to consider that a church website = an online building. If you seek to serve both believers and unbelievers along with researchers and casual visitors in your brick-and-mortar meeting space, then you should seek to serve them all with your website.
Another way to think about this is to ask the question, “who is the target audience of the gospel message?” The Apostle Paul provides us with a helpful answer, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them… I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23, ESV). With a church website we should endeavor to serve all types of people by all means of content, in order that Jesus might save some with the gospel.
This may seem like a daunting task, but as the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” So let’s take a few small bites together to better understand how to focus your website content strategy.
The acronym D.R.O.I.D. may come in very handy.
- Disclose – who, what, when, where, why
- Retrieve – get them in and out quickly
- Organize – find it in 3 clicks or less
- Increase – from simple to complex
- Disciple – shepherd the flock of Jesus
Who, what, where, when, and why are the questions you need to answer up front. If this information is not presented clearly, you might as well pack your bags and go home alone, because your visitors may never find you. Serve people by answering these five questions that every visitor needs to know: Who are you? What do you believe? What can I expect? When and where do you meet? Why should I come? This is your baseline.
Get them in and out quickly so they can find what they need and go about their day. Many churches like to be poetic and creative with their website navigation by using words that sound cool. But the only guy you are serving with your “coolness” is the guy you see in the mirror every day. Remember Paul’s words about becoming “all things to all people” and use words that regular people use and will understand, like “About” and “Contact”.
“Find it in 3 clicks or less” is a good rule of thumb to follow with your content. Most fast food restaurants on the planet only have two doors for you to walk through and one line to wait in before you can order and eat your food. Make sure your website content is that easy to find. Your church website should not be a search for buried treasure or hidden Easter eggs. You can have lots of content; just make sure it is easy to find.
From simple to complex is the way you need to structure your theological content. Every church should have a full statement about what they believe, but many people need the Cliffs Notes. So it is always best to put the simpler “milk” truths on the bottom shelf (i.e. the first page in the section) and keep the complex “meat” truths on the top shelf for those folks who can reach them (i.e. the sub-pages under the first page).
Shepherd the flock of Jesus as his undershepherd with your teaching ministry. If you are preaching sermons and teaching Bible studies, be sure to get all of your sermons in a podcast and your teachings in a blog. Offering your sermons and teachings online will not only serve your visitors and members, but it will serve believers across the globe who have access to the Internet… “by all means, in order to save some”.
We hope the D.R.O.I.D. acronym will serve your needs and help you focus your content.
Your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1