John W. Vest is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary.
Not long after we moved to Richmond I published a post on my personal blog about how awkward it is to visit a new church—something pastors and longtime church members tend to forget but need to be reminded of. While many people resonated with my basic point, one line in particular generated considerable discussion. In a parenthetical aside I noted that it is unlikely that my family will visit a church with a bad website.
I heard from several people—mostly pastors who serve churches with bad websites—that it’s unfair to judge a church by its website. While trying to not be a total jerk, I essentially had two responses:
- Like it or not, people do judge your church by its website. This isn’t true for everyone. And it isn’t necessarily a generational thing. But it is true for many people, so you better not act like it doesn’t matter. Moving to a new city reminded me how much I rely on websites and crowdsourced review platforms like Yelp and Angie’s List to determine how to spend my family’s time and resources.
- Making a good church website is not difficult. Navigating congregational politics and working with volunteers may be difficult—no one wants to hear that the website they’ve been maintaining is bad—but making a simple and effective website is not. So there really is no excuse.
Our “Introduction to Evangelism” class is discussing social media and digital culture tomorrow and church websites will come up. We all know a bad website when we see one. But what makes for a good church website? What are the essentials? What is most important?
Join the conversation and post your thoughts in the comment section below.