10 ways to make church websites better


1  Include what time the services are and how to get there. If you are making big plans for a festival then make big plans to put it online. Some churches appear to have given up celebrating Christmas if you read their websites. (And remember, people do read websites and most read little else).

2  Have things that are up to date. And only things that are up to date. That means today’s date.

3  Say what the worship is like. Remember in your writing for the web that feelings matter.

4  Use a design which reflects and promotes the ethos of the church. (Pay for it if you must, but really, you needn’t).

5  Think about how to describe what it is like to worship there for the first time.

6  Include some details about the stuff you do that isn’t worship but remember to work out which is icing and which is cake.

7  Have details right there on the front page about which church denominations around the world that you are in communion with and which you are not in communion with, if you think such information is going to make other people come to your church. (Hint: I don’t.)

8  Collect good pics of people doing things and ask around to see whether people think they might be a better introduction to your church than a tired “Welcome From the Rector” message that never changes.

9  Video is good but needs to be refreshed. Every week, if not more often. (Yes, really).

10  Try praying this prayer in your intercessions for a couple of weeks in church and see if God answers your prayer: “Help us O Lord, to build a website that reflects how wonderful we think you are”.


Overseas Links – some questions

Lots of churches have overseas links. Individual churches, dioceses, even whole provinces of the Anglican Communion often have links to places far afield. They are sometimes successful, sometimes not. But they are often built on the curious last century notions that relationship depends upon physical contact and that travel is easier than communication.

Of course, the world has changed.

So what would international links between churches look like if we took as our starting point the modern world with all its potential and did not simply base our expectations on Victorian (colonial?) ideas of partnership?

Firstly, I don’t think it is about doing it all online and never travelling. It is probably both/and rather than either/or. (Isn’t it always in our lovely postmodern world?)

Secondly, I think we might expect relationships to be shorter in length rather than longer. What if we decided to twin our diocese to another for a short period – Lent, say. And what if we got the geeky ones to do it by arranging for skype video or google hangouts. How about a small group from one church meeting with a small group from another church on the other side of the world for a Lent study group rather than the dreary weariness that can characterise such groups if we keep doing them the same way with the people from round the corner every year? Or what if clergy from matched churches just got together once a week for an hour’s coffee and a chat – boiling the water thousands of miles apart but sitting down to chat through what their week was like, peer to peer, distance no object? Bible study, coaching, chat and gossip are all possible. They feed off one another anyway.

Thirdly, I’ve been learning recently not to underestimate time differences when doing real-time stuff in the interconnected world we now live in. However, I’ve also been learning not to be defeated by it.

Fourthly, would doing this kind of thing disenfranchise those who don’t do internet stuff? Oh yes, but then the need to travel to do linking work used to disenfranchise far more people who couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t travel or indeed, those who just couldn’t raise the money to go.

Finally, it is worth asking the question whether this kind of linking would be better organised formally in a structured way or simply to just let it happen in a kind of free for all environment? (And is it either/or or both/and, once again).