From Consumerism to Testimony: What Makes a Good Church Website?

I spent a decent chunk of time last week updating the content on Upper Room’s website. It’s gotten me thinking about what makes a church website good. Some of the standards, of course, are the same for any website – appearance, ease of navigation, etc. But are there certain content or features that churches should include on their websites? These church websites all look great, but the content is all pretty much the same – information about service times and other events, ways to get involved, information about the church’s leadership, core doctrine and values, etc. All are fine things to include, and it’s likely that this is information that visitors are looking for. At heart, though, limiting content to this kind of information is nothing more than marketing and consumerism.

I wonder if churches can go deeper and communicate something more meaningful. What if instead of making church websites primarily about information about activities for people to get plugged in and about setting your church apart from other churches, they were more about testimony? What if church websites were deliberately presented as invitations to “come and see” what God is doing in the midst of the community?

Here are a few possibilities I can think of:

– Written reflections from members of the church about what Jesus is teaching them. (This is actually one of the things we’ve added to the Upper Room website. You should check them out.)

– Testimonies of how different members of the church came to faith. Written testimonies are fine, but posting youtube videos would be a great way of giving people faces and voices to associate with the church before they even arrive.

– Stories from first time visitors about their initial impressions and experiences of the church. (Although I would only recommend this if your church is hospitable!)

This type of content would not only testify to God’s work, but it would also show that the church is a community of people experiencing God’s grace together, and not just  a group of people consuming the same religious goods.

What other types of content should church websites include?