Does your site welcome them in, or coldly show them some facts? You may want to talk about theology or the history of your church, but these often do not connect with your users. People come to your church website because they are looking for the solution to a problem. Your primary calls to action should be solutions to those problems.
Talk with, not to
When I say “welcome them in”, that does not mean plastering the phrase “Welcome to church X’s website…” in big bold text. That is standard, boring text that is horribly overused; so much so that hardly anybody reads it. So what welcomes people to a site? Try using real people telling their stories. To add more impact, get a picture of that person or family sitting down and talking. Structure the content so your visitors feel like they are enjoying a conversation.
Rely on stories
It is good to post your tenants of faith, but do not just say what your faith is about; show that potential member what your faith has done for members of the congregation. Through short stories and testimonials, people will get a sense of how your church can lead them to a new life. Real stories with real pictures will make your entire site more inviting and interesting.
Jesus taught in parables for a reason. He would reference scrolls in the synagogues when he talked with priests and Pharisees, but relied on storytelling to teach the masses. Why? Because it is how we connect. He of all people would understand how we can relate to information and teaching.
Highlight those authentic connection points so that new visitors get a true sense for what makes your church the one they need to attend next Sunday. This does not mean you should not feature news articles, upcoming events, or your church history. Those are all important components of your site; but they should be secondary to your primary goal; inviting people to the body of Christ.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Paes