Your website is not only the front door of your ministry; we know that now, more than ever, your web presence needs to be strong. We’re living in a time where people are online consistently throughout their day, and so what you have online needs to reflect who you are as well as have clear user pathways to get users where you want them to go so that they can further their engagement with your cause.
So let’s look at some elements that are currently important on the digital landscape for churches today. Things that probably won’t surprise you, but hopefully will affirm what you’re already doing. Then, we’ll move into some areas that would be good for you to consider in your long-range planning.
But first, a word…
If you are managing communication assets for a church, a Christian non-profit, or a Christian school, then you have a unique role in the world. Communication is the lifeblood of any organization, for it allows human minds to interact, plan, collaborate, and take action. Without informative and timely information, things unravel quickly.
And more so, since your organization is rooted in the gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world, your enduring responsibility is to make sure that there are a few communicative barriers as possible. No matter the tech trends, your mission is the same: Keep clear the lines of communication so that ministry can happen as easily and as effectively as possible. This is the main thing, and it’s a big responsibility.
Finally, if you are the communications person for your organization, you most likely work with pastors, administrators, and other leaders who might not be completely familiar with technology trends and communication platforms available to them. They might not understand how what they do inter-personally needs to translate into digital assets. If that’s you, then you are a bridge, connecting the content and personality of your leaders to where people live in real-time online.
And this is why these platforms are important. Not because we want to chase what’s new, but because we want to clear the lines and make those bridges so that the people leading will connect with the people serving and giving and learning because of your organization.
What is popular now?
The first one is all about the one-two punch of your online ministry during COVID season: Solid live stream service + Easy-to-use online giving solution. Yes, these are the basics. Your live stream and online giving solution is your lifeline in this season of an online church.
Make your live stream a good production that people want to engage with. If you need to pre-record it, then do that! People are church shopping these days, so do some work to get good lighting, good sound quality, and smooth production.
And for online giving, we strongly encourage you to use a platform that is easy to use, integrates well with your website, and helps your organization track giving from the back-end. In other words, if you’re using PayPal, stop!! If you’re looking for some great options, e360 can recommend an online giving solution as part of your Mission Online Assessment.
Second thing that’s popular now: Media for discipleship. Many churches are doing video devotionals, prayer services, podcasts, etc. One church in Plano, Texas started a podcast of their evening prayer service. This is an important season for being creative and excellent in producing media that can help your people grow spiritually even while they’re socially distanced and probably feeling a little isolated.
Thirdly, there is growing mindfulness of SEO rankings. We use the word ‘mindfulness’ carefully because it’s simply a growing awareness that if your organization doesn’t show up in a Google search, you’re almost certainly missing people who would otherwise be interested in engaging with your organization for the first time. But we want to see something beyond awareness. This is most certainly a need, so adopt a sense an urgency around solid SEO rankings.
What is coming?
Here are a few exciting developments for your consideration in the coming season of digital presence.
First of all, and perhaps a long-range goal, is custom data that displays for specific users on your site. For some of you, your eyes just go big, and the wheels are turning. For others of you, your soul just died a little. What does this mean? How could we do it??
Let me say this can mean many things, and it can be done in a lot of ways. But the first thing you need is a robust database — what we call a Church Management System (ChMS) — with clean data and an API that plays well with other systems. So once you have that, and you’re ready to dream about what is possible, give us a call, and we can work through the details of how. But the more we can serve our users data that is personally relevant to them, the more likely we are to see tangible engagement.
Next is voice-searchable media content. More and more web searches are being done through voice — whether it’s a Google Home Assistant, Siri, or Alexa. How is your organization creating media that can be accessed by these means? A couple of simple ways might be through producing a podcast or curating a playlist of worship songs.
Finally — and this isn’t new as much as it is an area of ever-increasing importance — is how you use and maintain your mobile app. Even in your app, you need to be thinking through user journeys. Who is on your app, and what are their content needs? How easily can they find it and take an actionable step toward tangible engagement?
Ask the question of how you’re keeping up with the content for your mobile app. If you are mired in the busy work of duplicating content for your website and your app, let’s talk soon about the option we have through our platform on Ekklesia360 to build a Progressive Web App, which makes it so that your website content syncs easily with your mobile presence.
These are unprecedented times. But it’s also an opportunity to strengthen the basics and get poised for what’s next. E360 can help with a FREE Mission Online Assessment to help you identify a web strategy that reflects your ministry’s mission. A strategist will join your team and go through a series of audits, phone calls, and screen shares to help you define ministry goals and discuss best practices in creating your church’s online strategy.