Websiteseffective Curriculum Ideas

If your website is not attracting Sunday visitors and engaging your members, you’re not alone.

Two out of three churches consider their websites ineffective, according to Best Practices in Internet Ministry, a study by David T. Bourgeois, Ph.D., associate professor at Biola University’s Crowell School of Business.

Therefore students can create new content or update existing content on their website and all 'followers' who have subscribed to their blog can be notified when the student makes a simple blog post notifying them of the location of new content (this is how the blog on Effective Curriculum Ideas works).

That’s the bad news.

Here’s the worse news: If your website is not working for your church, it may actually be working against it. Fair or not, everything about your church’s website reflects on your ministry. If your website is poorly organized, dull, unattractive, outdated or incomplete, it creates the impression that your church also is disorganized, dull, dowdy, out of touch, or unable to communicate the most basic information — and who would want to go to a church like that? Whether your church actually is any of those things is beside the point; it’s the impression you’re making that counts, as the impression affects your church’s ability to attract newcomers through its website.

Now, here is the good news: You can fix what is broken. Begin by measuring your existing website against the following 12 characteristics of great church websites, and then start to make needed changes.

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An effective church website:

1. Runs on a secure connection. — Google has changed the way websites are displayed in Chrome, and other companies are following Google’s lead. As a result, visitors to your website may now see “Not secure” next to your website address, along with an alarming warning, such as, “Your connection to this site is not private. Information you submit could be viewed by others (like passwords, messages, credit cards, etc.).” To avoid the appearance that your ministry is compromising your website visitors’ security, you now need a security certificate installed on your website. Learn more about this issue.

2. Clearly communicates what makes your church unique — Just as there is no one else in the world exactly like you, there is no other spiritual community exactly like yours — and that is your church’s point of power in the world. “What is the unique promise that your church offers people? This is the million-dollar question. If you can answer this clearly and concisely, and in a way that is meaningful to the people in your community, you are ahead of 95 percent of churches,” says Rod Arnold in What Smart Churches Know. If you have not identified your church’s unique promise (which always reflects, at least in part, your geographic location), read Phil Cooke’s Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don’t. You’ll learn how to discover your ministry’s point of power and how to use it to create a thriving church.

3. Tells the truth — Whatever you present on the web about your ministry will create expectations, which then must be fulfilled when new people come to your services. If you put your church out there as a warm and welcoming place, but your ushers are not trained and speak only to people they already know, then you have created a credibility gap. Your visitors will spot it immediately and wonder, “What else isn’t true?”

Of course, your members can spot a misrepresentation just as quickly and begin to wonder: “Which church do I belong to — the one I attend on Sunday mornings, or the one I see on the web?”

“Never promise anything you cannot deliver – you may get people in the door, but they will not return if you don’t perform the way you say you do.” — Ministry Marketing Companion, Association of Unity Churches (now Unity Worldwide Ministries)

To create an effective website, promote and build on your strengths. Focus on inspiring teaching or the wonderful intimacy of small gatherings; on the opportunity to make a big difference in the life of a small church; or on the church’s commitment to serving people who have had a hard time fitting in elsewhere. Let your true light shine, and those who are meant to find your church will find it irresistible.

4. Welcomes visitors and answers their questions — All church websites serve two audiences. People looking for a new church home are the primary audience; existing congregants comprise a second (but also important) audience. Studies have confirmed that most people looking for a new church home decide where to go next Sunday morning based on what they find on the web. A study by Drew Goodmanson, pastor of Kaleo Church in San Diego, revealed that “77 percent of people attending church less than three months said the website was important in their decision to attend.” (You can read the full report, based on responses of 70,000 church members, here.)

Effective church websites clearly welcome visitors and serve them by answering common questions, such as: Where are you located? What time are Sunday services? How long does a service last? Do I need to dress up? Do you have Sunday School for my children? Where can I park? When this kind of information is packaged into a prominently displayed “I’m New” page, it is the second most-visited page on a church’s website (after the home page), Goodmanson’s study revealed.

5. Is easy to navigate — The most basic information (church name, location, Sunday service times) must be easy to find on the home page, and all other information on the website must be easy to locate, as well. Your visitors must be able to see what’s available on your site from any page — and be able to go there with just one click. Because millions of sites on the web are well-designed, web users have little patience for sites that are not.

6. Is always current and correct — Do you ever check a newspaper for movie times, a restaurant’s website for its hours, or any source in print or on the web for information you need? And if it turns out the information you need is missing or wrong, what impression do you get?

When what you publish on your website is outdated, incomplete or just plain wrong, here is the message delivered, loudly and clearly: We do not care enough about you, our visitor, to give you reliable information.

That is not the message you want to send, so take time to get everything right and keep everything current. It matters.

Websiteseffective Curriculum Ideas

7. Provides complete information — When creating content for your church website, write primarily for visitors, not for members, so that your church online is both visitor-friendly and user-friendly. It is not enough to simply republish information from church bulletins and newsletters on your website, as you’re likely to leave out most of the information that visitors to your website need to know. For instance, consider the following announcement from a recent church bulletin, also published on the same church’s website:

June 4th Men’s Fishing Trip. Sign-up sheet on the bulletin board. We need to know how many are going.

When this kind of announcement appears on a church website, it suggests that the church is insular — living in its own world and not really open to newcomers — because the information newcomers need is just not there. Fortunately, this appearance is easy to change, simply by adding missing information. For any entry on a church web calendar or any announcement about a class, meeting, social gathering or any other event, answer these questions: Who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much? Then, always give the visitor to your website a way to respond or request more information, right now.

Here is a visitor-friendly version of the above announcements:

Men’s Fishing Trip! If you love fishing or just want to get away with the guys, join us for a five-hour chartered fishing trip on June 4. We will meet at 8 a.m. and carpool from the church to Muskegon, where we’ll catch a boat to go fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout. We’ll be sharing the charter cost ($375) and the cost of gas for the trip. Sign up by May 15 if you want to go. To reserve your spot or get more information, please contact us. (A link to a contact form should be provided.)

Download our Caring Communicator’s Worksheet to ensure that you always have and publish complete information on your website.

8. Is integrated with social networks people already use — Both newcomers and existing members rank “connecting with others” high on their lists of things they want to do through church websites, Goodmanson’s study revealed. “The rise of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, has trained users to seek online interaction with friends and family. Church members now desire this online experience for church.” When a church’s website includes a link to its Facebook Page, it’s much easier for people in the church — and potential visitors — to get acquainted, share what they love about your ministry, praise a recent Sunday service and do all those things they’re already doing on Facebook.

9. Provides free podcasts of Sunday services — At least three studies have noted the popularity of podcasts. One-fourth of visitors to church websites listen to podcasts weekly, when they’re available; four in ten listen monthly. And people who visit church websites rank podcasts very high on their lists of things they want to see and use there.

10. Is a ministry in itself — Millions of people are looking for spiritual education and support on the web. To meet the need, many church websites have evolved. They are no longer static brochures, but teaching tools that invite interaction with the church, its members, and ideas. Goodmanson found that “…48 percent of churchgoers said the website (of their churches) played an important part of their spiritual growth, and almost half said the website helped in their ability to share their faith with others.”

11. Is evolving — “…remember, the rapid change of technology can make the best laid plans obsolete in a number of years,” Goodmanson reminds us in his report, Website Wisdom. “It is important that the church continues to invest in a technology ministry as the world and the people around us continue to move more of their life and interactions online. A good reminder is Jesus’ words, ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.’ (John 17:18)”

12. Is mobile-friendly — As of 2015, 60 percent of adults prefer to access web pages on mobile devices (phones and tablets). If your website is not easy to read and navigate on mobile, most of your visitors will not return, your site’s rank in search engines will suffer, and your website may soon become invisible to people who search the web for churches in your city. Learn more about the importance of mobile-friendly church websites.

If your church’s website is not working, or not working well enough, we can help. Please contact us for more information.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Websiteseffective curriculum ideas high school

There’s a question that haunts every would-be entrepreneur – and many actual entrepreneurs – every day: “How do I know if I have what it takes?” Yes, the Internet is full of ideas, tips, tricks and even awesome quotes. But do you actually have the skills? Find out -- here are 17 skills every entrepreneur must have to be successful.

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1. The ability to manage money.

Very simply, if you can’t manage money, you can’t manage a business. Do you know where your money goes each month? Do you live off less than you earn? If the answer to these questions is no, you’ll struggle to manage a business budget as well.

2. The ability to raise money.

Once you can manage money, can you get more? In order to get investment, you need to not only understand where to get money, but how to convincingly make a case that your business is a good risk as well.

3: The ability to relieve stress.

Stress is no laughing matter. If you allow yourself to get frustrated and upset by setbacks, you’ll struggle as an entrepreneur. Learning how to use stress to your benefit is essential.

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Related: 7 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Now

4. The ability to be productive.

This is a big topic, because there’s no one right way to be productive that works for everyone. Learn about your peak energy times, your routines, and the productivity tools that work for you in order to create your own plan for success.

5. The ability to make entrepreneur friends.

According to entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So who do you want to be? Improve your odds of success by finding entrepreneur friends who will be able to understand your struggles and give you much needed insight.

6. The ability to identify strengths and weaknesses.

As a business owner, you don’t need to be perfect at everything. You do, however, have to understand where you’re strong and where you’re weak. Assessing this will inform everything from the business decisions you make, to the partners you bring on, and to the employees you hire.

7. The ability to hire effective people.

Speaking of hiring, this is easily one of the most important skills any entrepreneur could have. Having great people on your team will give you access to new strengths, while also building a company culture that people want to be a part of. Hiring the right people is essential to get where you want to go.

Related: 5 Effective Hiring Tips for Early-Stage Startups

8. The ability to train new staff.

When you bring on someone new, a robust onboarding process will ensure that they know what to do and not do. Not only will this help keep your company moving the correct direction, it will increase the commitment level of good employees and give you grounds to follow up on misconduct.

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9. The ability to manage staff.

Once you have the right people, you need to manage them well. Early on in your business’s growth, you’ll be everyone’s manager, so it pays to be effective. If you don’t already know how to manage, take the time to learn how to motivate, encourage, and develop your staff.

10. The ability to conduct basic SEO.

In the beginning, you’ll be doing the work of every business department. With that in mind, do you understand basic SEO and digital marketing? If not, you’ll want to brush up on this area before you launch a business.

11. The Ability to A/B split test.

A split test is a simple process that involves running a scenario two ways to test a possible change. It’s commonly used to make websites effective, but it can be used in many areas of project management and marketing as well.

Related: How to 'Split Test' Your Website to Engage Online Customers Better

12. The ability to connect via social networking.

Along with SEO, social networks represent a key part of any business’s marketing strategy. Not only will you need to understand each platform, you’ll want to arm yourself with the best strategies for getting your startup and personal brand noticed on each one.

13. The ability to focus on your customers.

To be clear, without customers, you have no business. Make sure all of your pitches, products, and services are focused on actual customer needs. If you don’t know what these are, research and ask questions so that you’re able to give great customer service.

14. The ability to close a sale.

Letting customers know you understand their pain is important, but asking for the sale is where many entrepreneurs get stuck. If you’re nervous about this step, try enrolling in a sales workshop to learn these much-needed skills.

15. The ability to spot new trends.

Business moves fast, so you’ve got to have the ability to see changes coming in your industry. Make it a point to keep up to date on new startups and the advances in technology that could be poised to disrupt your field.

16. The ability to deal with failure.

No business venture is a straight line to success; knowing how to deal with ups and downs is essential. Remember that every successful person out there failed dozens of times before getting a win. Failure isn’t the end - it’s just a data point on the way to success.

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17. The desire to improve your world.

In the end, the best and most enduring motivation is to make a positive change in the world. When you focus your business and your success on that top priority, you’ll find yourself ready to weather any storm to meet the goal.

Don’t let this list intimidate or discourage you. Being an entrepreneur is a big task, but all of these skills can be learned. If you notice one you’re lacking in, go get it! Your eventual success depends on it.

Related: These 10 Peter Drucker Quotes May Change Your World