Even though this article has been technically “published” it should not be considered finished. I continue to work to fill in and improve on this content. I invite your comments and questions about this material.
I am not sure who said it, but I loved the quote “… if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” this illustrates an important principle that is true of any Web project. Your first objective is deciding on a purpose. If you are unsure what you want to do with the website, spend some time browsing the Internet to see what different churches have done. You should not proceed until you have a clear purpose in mind and are well informed about the resources you will have at your disposal. That said, many groups have been successful with using a small site in the beginning and expanding the size and scope over time.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— Luke 14:28
If you build it… they will come!
One of the biggest misconceptions I have run into numerous times is than a church will grow numerically and see greatly increased attendance just by creating a website. At the other end of the spectrum is that a website will do nothing to enhance a congregations work and worship. I believe the answer lies between these two extremes. Church websites will not draw large crowds because most people don’t go to the Internet to look for a church to attend. I do believe there is much benefit in using a church website to disseminate information (i.e. Bible class materials, Duty Roster schedules, event calendars, member address books, etc.) and as a general aid to assisting communication among members.
To Domain Or Not to Domain?
Depending on which hosting option you select, you will likely have the choice of using your own domain name. The benefits would be having something you could easily remember and hence access from anywhere. it would also be helpful in making your website independent of your web host. If you decide to change Web host you can easily have the domain name pointed to a different location. The drawbacks would be the cost ($10-$15 per year) and a bit of extra effort in setting up the name servers for the domain.
One of the things you should consider with several of the Free options will be the ads which will appear. I know for certain Facebook along with Google sites will embed ads along with your website which you will have no control over. Depending upon your past experiences and present concerns this may or may not cause you to reconsider these options.
Online Church Directories
One of the first options which should be considered, especially if you have no plan for a website, is to avail yourself of the free webpages offered by the online church directories. They will provide basic information regarding location, service times, contact numbers, etc. which will allow people to locate you through a Internet search. The amount of information provided is usually limited, but if that’s all you intend for it website, these services are ideal. Here is a link to the list of the services I am currently aware of:
This post by T.Keese originally appeared in the SeekYe1st.net blog.