Most church websites ineffective, but technology can yield blessings


DIDCOT, England (ABP)—Churches, by and large, still haven’t entered the digital age when it comes to evangelism. But those who have are reaping huge rewards, according to a new survey.

A poll conducted by Christian technology company Endis, which provides the ChurchInsight church web platform and has offices in the United States and the United Kingdom, indicates that when churches deliberately focus their websites on attracting outsiders, they see a corresponding rise in the number of non-Christian visitors.

But many focus on the internal life of the church, and their effectiveness is reduced.


Endis polled 1,600 churches for its DigiMission project, asking questions about church size, the website’s target readership, the number of Christians and non-Christians coming to events, and the influence of the website on their decision to attend.

The 120 churches that responded reported more than 1,300 non-Christian visitors in the last 12 months to church events, services and discipleship courses through the Internet—an average of 11 non-Christian visitors per church. For Christian visitors, the figure is 1,600, an average of 14.

Among the survey’s key findings were that most churches’ websites were not created with the unchurched in mind. Only half offer an outline of the gospel, and only a quarter provide testimonies of people who have come to faith in Christ.

Endis spokesman Geoff Knott said there were clear differences in the effectiveness of different websites.

“When we looked at the successful sites, we found that they had the gospel on their site, and that people were able to book into events,” he said.

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“Interactivity is important, but we didn’t find that blogs or forums did much. The other thing that was very successful was stories.”

It was also noticeable that larger churches were less effective than smaller ones at attracting unchurched people.

“Smaller churches of between 100 and 150 are very good at getting guests in. I think they push harder, using Google Adwords for instance. They’re trying to grow. Are we losing our mission edge as we grow bigger?”

He stressed that good content and ease of use were far more important than a sophisticated image or a multiplicity of functions.

Tips for church websites from DigiMission:

• Identify your audience. Most church websites are designed for the reached, not the unreached.

• Try to be more interactive. Letting visitors sign up for events gives them an immediate opportunity to get engaged with you.

• The Internet is just part of your mission effort. Multiple contacts, by different means, increase chances of success. There’s no substitute for personal contact.

• Be serious about the Internet. It’s the new printing press, and hundreds of millions of people use it every day.

• Think about what image you’re communicating. What does your site say about your church?

• Put the gospel on your website. How would you explain the gospel simply to someone who never heard it before?

Mark Woods is editor of The Baptist Times, the weekly newspaper of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.


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