On Monday, I wrote that a website can help churches by bringing in new people. You can read all about that right here, in case you missed it. Today I’m going to introduce and discuss the second reason why your church should invest a website: it attracts young people.
While a website can bring new people from all demographics to your church, it specifically targets young people. What do I mean by “young people”? I mean anyone between the ages of 18 and 29 – the cohort of U.S. adults that uses the internet the most.
Pew Research Center has done in-depth studies on internet use in America since 2000. As of last year, here’s what they found regarding adults ages 18-29:
What does all this mean? It means that a big portion of the average young person’s life is spent online.
This is a key connecting point for any church.
I think many (if not most) church leaders are baffled as to why young people so easily and so often leave the church. According to Barna Group, 59% of young Christians “disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.”3
Why does this happen?
Barna has some great answers based on their interviews with young people. What I’m going to do is look at a few answers that stood out to me and point out ways that a church website can change the trends.
Just to be clear, the miracle of salvation only comes from the Holy Spirit. Even the snazziest website can’t bring a lost soul from death to life. But a website can help your church “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10) and influence young people in the right direction.
That being said, here are just three reasons why 18-29-year-olds leave church:4
- 25% say that Christians demonize everything outside of church. A prevailing idea among my generation is that the church wants nothing to do with the real world. The young person’s experience of Christianity is often “stifling, fear-based and risk-averse.”
- 24% say that faith is irrelevant to their interests and career. Unfortunately, many young people fail to see how Christianity/church is important to everyday life.
- 22% say that “church is like a country club, only for insiders.” Again, church can often seem like it’s irrelevant and even opposed to “outside” culture – especially for young people.
How can a church website help change these perceptions?
When churches invest in a website, it airdrops them into the world of so-called “screenagers.” Because young people spend so much of their life online, that’s where churches should be going. The internet is a main highway for society – especially young people. And your church website can be a strategically placed billboard both to reach out and to invite them in.
Because a website gives your church access to the “world of young people,” it automatically makes church that much more relevant to them. For this reason, a website helps solidify the message that Christianity and the church are relevant to anyone at any age.
Your church website is an intentional effort to be a positive part of modern culture – not removed from it. It makes your church feel more relevant to young people’s lives by placing it where they spend a lot of their time. And it can change the notion that church is an exclusive club because a website is public and accessible to all.
What a Website Says About Your Church
In my last post, I mentioned that people often discover churches online. This means that your church website (or lack of it) is the first impression visitors get of your church. This is especially true for young people.
You can learn a lot about a church from its website – and I’m not just talking about mission statements and contact info. Here’s what I’ve found to be generally true:
- If a church website has a really outdated look, chances are it means the church is really old-fashioned.
- A church website that doesn’t have any recently updated info indicates that the church isn’t doing anything new.
- If a church has no website at all, chances are that church doesn’t exist or is in its final stages of life.
Of course, a website doesn’t completely reflect the church itself. But these are the impressions I get from church websites and any website, for that matter. When young people are looking for a church, these are likely the impressions they get too.
Want to try it out for yourself? Google different church and organization websites and jot down your first impressions of them. If you can, compare these notes with what the churches and organizations are actually like.
A church website can help your church attract young people. It does so by putting your church online – where they spend a lot of their time. It backs up the message that Christianity is relevant to young people and gives them a good first impression of your church.
If you have thoughts or questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to leave a comment! On Friday, we’ll look at a third reason why your church should invest in a website: it increases giving.
- Internet/broadband fact sheet. (2019, June 12). Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/
- Perrin, A., & Kumar, M. (2019, July 25). About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are “almost constantly” online. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/25/americans-going-online-almost-constantly
- Six reasons why young Christians leave church. (2011, September 27). Retrieved from https://www.barna.com/research/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church/