Small Church Website Building Tips

Stuart was kind enough to post a comment asking for helpful hints for building a web site as a lay person. My comment grew larger than the comment window, so I decided to just post this in case it is helpful for small churches using an all lay person team to build their a website.

First of all, Stuart, bless you and all those out there like you with willing hearts who want to contribute something via the web. I pray you can get it done and done in a timely manner.

It is impossible for me to download 7 years of thinking about this stuff into a simple post, but let me get you started with just a few tips:

  1. Don’t over reach. Understand your churches needs and the expectations of those who care about the project.
  2. Don’t get too many people involved. If it is a small site, keep the total team smaller than 5 … including decision makers.
  3. Know your audience. Is it insiders or outsiders? Is it local people or people new to the area?
  4. Focus on your churches message and mission. What are you on about? What kind of church are you. Use stories and editorial type content to show who you are.
  5. Make sure you have enough budget and resources. Don’t do the project as a lay person without that. Free labor is enough that the church can spend some money on this.
  6. Decide if the site is large enough to need a content management system or not. I would say anything larger than 50 pages needs to be on a CMS.
  7. If you go with a CMS, don’t build it from scratch. Learn more in a slideshow I did for MinistryCom a long time ago.
  8. Know what pages you need and have someone qualified do the writing. Have them do it before you organize your site (Information Architecture) and design anything.
  9. Decide what the photography budget is, what kind of photography you have of your own people already, and how it will be used. No photography is a bad option, bad photography is a worse option.
  10. Stay the course by managing the project as you would any technology project. Establish a scope of work early and stick to it. Don’t budge and let the head pastor dream or dictate after you start.

I realize some of these may not be doable in your environment, but this is sort of a 101 to building a church website as lay person. I tried it once and failed, and then made a pitch to a church to come on as an employee to get it done. Still took me four years to do it great. This is hard stuff, but stay encouraged about the impact it can have on the life of the Body. It is well worth the effort if you have most of the above.

If anyone has any questions, please post them in comments. My time is limited with me moving to a new role at a new church, but I would be happy to help if I can.

Posted in Design, Web Ministry, Writing
2 comments on “Small Church Website Building Tips
  1. Stuart says:

    Wow – I wasn’t expecting all that but thank you very much!

    I’m going to copy and eMail that to my pastor if that’s ok with you? Or if you prefer, I’ll just send him the URL.

    All the best with your move – I’d love to be taking on a similar role.

  2. Lenka says:

    Thanks for all the great advice encapsulated here.

    We have a 3-point charge, and haven’t even been able to come up with a domain name yet!

    One advisor warned against using any thing referring to 3, in case we end up being combined into only 1 or 2 churches in the future. Sigh.

    Just getting the ball rolling in the first place is the hardest part!

    Many blessings to you!

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