Why invest in a church website? On Friday, I wrote a post asking this question along with some background info about internet use and its importance in modern America. (If you haven’t already read it, you should do so before reading this.) What I’ve found are 10 research-based reasons why your church should invest in a website.
Today, we’ll look at the first reason: a church website brings in new people.
How does it do this?
First off, a website can bring visitors to your church by letting them know your church exists. BrightLocal is a company that has done a lot of research on online marketing throughout the years, and they found that 90% of people search online for local businesses and organizations.1 That means that 90% of U.S. adults turn to the internet for information on businesses, even when those businesses are nearby.
That statistic may not be very impressive. But here’s another fact: foot traffic in businesses dropped 57% from 2011 to 2016.2 This illustrates the point that the vast majority of discovery and interaction for local organizations happens online.
In other words, the internet and websites have become main entrances for businesses. And this holds true for churches as well.
Here’s some more research.
Back in 2012, a web design agency called Monk Development studied the importance of church websites as it relates to church attenders. What did they find?
- 33% of church attenders say they first learned about their church online.3 Taking into account that the number of adults who use the internet has increased (on average) by 1% over the past seven years, that number is likely now closer to 41%.4
- 46% of church attenders say their church’s website was important in deciding which church to go to.5 Again, that number has most certainly increased significantly in the past few years.
To put it simply, websites have become main entrances to churches. By creating a website, your church is more likely to be discovered and visited by new people.
Church Websites Act Like Billboards
Another way that church websites bring in new people is by providing essential information for visitors. If you think of the internet as a main highway, then a website is like a billboard. It lets people know where to go, when to go, how to go and why. I’ve talked with a couple pastors about why their church has a website or why they want to start one, and this was one reason that kept popping up. It’s probably the most effective thing a church website does.
What kind of information would you store on your church website? Anything and everything a visitor would want to know! This may include pretty basic info like this:
- physical address
- contact info
- service times
It can also mean adding more detailed info such as these:
- worship style
- what to wear
- virtual tour
If people are discovering your church online, then you’ll want to put your best foot forward. You’ll want to be warm and welcoming both physically and virtually.
On the flip-side, if you’re not welcoming online, visitors will assume that you’re the same way in person. And if your church doesn’t exist online, potential visitors may assume your church doesn’t exist.
As I like to say:
For new Christians looking for a church to attend, a church website can help them decide. For folks on the road (as so many are nowadays), a church website can help them decide where to visit on a Sunday morning. And for those in the community interested in what your church is doing, a website is an easy-to-access entryway.
What About This Church Website?
Honestly, I can’t give specifics for how this Dulin’s Grove Church website has brought in new people. But I can say it was very useful for promoting and organizing the “Youth in the Park” event last summer – it helped us make some new connections in the community. Who knows what might grow from such seeds!
As far as statistics are concerned, here’s some from January to February of this year (before COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders):6
- 36 people found us by searching “churches near me.”
- 32 people found us by searching “church.”
- Of everyone who found us on Google, 29 visited our website and 33 asked for directions.
What does all this mean? Well, it means two things:
- People are really searching online for churches to attend.
- We’re discoverable! Without a website, we’d be way down on the list of “churches near me.”
As Charlotte continues to move toward where our church meets, I expect more people will find us through this website. And I think “churches near me” searches will increasingly lead to in-person interactions.
To wrap things up . . .
A church website functions both like a main entrance and a lobby, making your church easier to get to and more welcoming. It puts you in the path for discovery. It also provides visitors with the information they need to decide to go to your church.
Check back on Wednesday for the second reason why your church should have a website (which goes right along with this one): it attracts young people. If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment below!
Read this and other posts on my blog: Modern Church Ideas (modernchurchideas.blogspot.com).
- Murphy, R. (2019). Local consumer review survey. Retrieved from https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/
- How mobile has redefined the consumer decision journey for shoppers. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/mobile-shoppers-consumer-decision-journey/
- Clark, J. (2012, August 1). Church website statistics. Retrieved from https://network.crcna.org/church-web/church-website-statistics
- Internet/broadband fact sheet. (2019, June 12). Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/
- Clark, ibid.
- Google My Business. (2020). Performance reports for January-February 2020.