Like a good sermon, the message of your website must relate to your audience. They need to know why your church is right for them. Do this with a mix of benefits and features. Unfortunately we often confuse them and use them in the wrong context. In this article I review what benefits and features are. Then I give an example of how to use them on your church's website.
All the way back in my second article, I stated you are selling something. Granted we all know that the Gospel message is a gift that cannot be purchased. Yet, that message of salvation competes with many things in our world. Plus we need to prove how the ministries and culture of our church will benefit them. Yet this is not accomplished with fluffy marketing slogans. No amount of unfounded claims will bring someone to your service. It needs to relate to them. That is where benefits come into play.
Lead With Benefits
A benefit is something that positively impacts a church member. It connects at an emotional level. Granted, you will find people that shop for a new church by looking at one feature. Yet that will not work when trying to reach the unchurched. Nor will it connect with those that have been away from church for a long time. They are seeking the answer to why something is missing. As the saying goes, "they are trying to fill the God-shaped hole in their heart". Let them know that you care about their feelings by speaking to them. Address their concerns. Do not just bombard them with facts. Those are features, which is my next topic.
Confirm With Features
This will likely be the easier list to create. Ministry leaders often look to add new features. Or they try to streamline them, keeping only the most impactful ones. These decisions are often born from numbers. How many people did they reach? How many baptisms did we have? Were there any complaints about worship this week? What you do at your church is important. But remember that those numbers do not always connect with how people feel. The hymnal you use may matter to a select few. How worship makes you feel affects everyone.
How to Use Benefits and Features
The formula is simple. State a benefit, and validate it with your features. The best format I can suggest is a (SEO optimized) heading on the subject. Then a short paragraph of the benefit. Finish it with a bullet list of features that support that claim. I cannot elaborate on this without sounding repetitive. So I will provide an example:
Worship in church with the peace of mind that your child is getting appropriate Biblical teaching in a safe environment
- Sunday school classes are held during regular church service
- Curriculum created by (well-known company)
- All faculty have state and federal background checks
Every ministry should have a website section that addresses its benefits and features. If you do not see benefits, interview members. Ask what they like most about it. They will likely talk about how it makes them feel, rather than the details of what you do. Then elaborate on those claims with your supporting features. These will be important to some visitors looking for a specific characteristic of a church. Regardless, follow the formula of emotional benefits supported by verifiable features. Your website content will be more compelling, and your church will be poised to grow.
Photo courtesy of Maura Barbulescu