Those of you who subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog have already seen his post a week ago titled “Memo to the very small.” Interesting that he mentioned churches in the opening paragraph as possible users of his method for small organizations to use the web.
People from small or technically-unsophisticated churches frequently ask us for advice about how to build or rebuild their church web site. Seth describes these people perfectly when he says:
These are businesses that have trouble dealing with the Yellow Pages. Too much trouble, too much time, way too expensive. So, should local micro-businesses just ignore the web? Or should they become experts in the art of building and maintaining a website?
His suggestion is to use Typepad with a standard template, a Squidoo lens, and a set of pictures on Flickr. Those of you who work with small churches as a volunteer or consultant, does this sound like a good recommendation?
Hi Clif,There are two kinds of very small churches:1) new plants that will grow, they just need to get the word out, and2) churches in small communities or with a vision to be small and intimate that will never grow. (More than half of U.S. churches have less than 75 people.)For new plants, they are often part of a larger organization that has sophisticated resources and a sort of marketing bent. We recommend new plants try to tap into those larger resources to make the statement that matches their vision.For those churches that will likely always be small, the question worth asking is, “What would they like their website to do for them?” Because of their intimate size, most folks probably know about upcoming events, etc. And their website would not necessarily be a marketing tool. So whether or not they should even have a website is questionable.Medium and large churches are still considered small business models when compared to industry. These should have websites, and the website methodology they choose should, like the church plant, be strategic. Mark’s presentation on the Web Empowered Church was good, and may be the best fit for these churches. We often suggest they check with their youth groups to see who has a good skill set that could help them in this area.Just some thoughts from the trenches….
Seth had some great ideas for getting your website noticed, that post did catch my attention last week or so.There are many more small churches in the U.S. than mid to mega size churches and I am of the opinion that regardless of size, most churches will benefit from having a website, whether they are small because they always have been or a new church plant or whatever. It is becoming more common for people to google to find a church in a new community or even in a community where you have been for awhile. A website is a tool that allows the church to communicate the church’s vision, purpose, style, location, service times, various ministries, what to expect from the children and youth ministries etc. A website can also communicate to members what is going on, when things are scheduled etc. So I think a website should be a part of any churches long term plan, even if they don’t have one today, it makes sense to work toward that.It may not be practical for every small church to have a website, but the cost is minimal. A domain costs less than $10/year then hosting would run around $300/yr or less.We just set a church up on WEC and they have totally embraced it and the person entering and maintaining the content loves WEC and she is completely non-technical. So it can be learned.I would not recommend just getting someone in the youth group to do the church site unless they could understand the church’s vision and purpose for the site. Granted, there are talented teenagers that can design great sites but the website developer/designer really needs to understand the ministry of the church.WEC has downloadable templates that make it easy enough to get your church’s site up. My wife is a talented graphics designer and custom designs templates for our clients and we train them to maintain their site.As far as Seth’s ideas, those are great and very creative. I’d like to try that sometime for church site, or maybe even my own blog.
Clif, I have decided to make my blog very small. I am going to be a micro-blogger. Think of it as a real-time instant collaborative approach. If we have 100 church technology guys all add each other as friends into the network, we can get real-time wisdom from the cloud. Have a question? send a tweet and blam, you get a dozen answers in under 10 minutes. If you follow my twitter page, I’ll add you as a friend and follow your tweets too… http://twitter.com/ericbusby