March 2, 2020
A new website isn't always the right next step. Let's explore a few reasons why you might not need a website to advance your ministry goals.
Not the headline you were expecting from people who count “Website Design + Development” as part of our services, right?
Here’s the thing: You don’t actually need a website…At least maybe not yet.
Now, for many ministries, it makes absolute, 100% sense to invest in an online presence in the form of a website. But if your website or communications strategies are preventing you from taking the next right step for your ministry, then something has to go…and it shouldn’t be your core purpose and vision.
On the other hand, an investment in a website is the right next step when it will help you simplify and grow in your ministry. But how do you know if it’s the right time?
An investment in a website is the right next step when it will help you simplify and grow in your ministry.
Let’s explore a few reasons why you might not start the process of a new website, along with some next steps to take if you’re not quite ready yet.
#1 – You haven’t clearly outlined your ministry purpose, process and goals.
If you don’t already have a plan and process in place, your website is only going to highlight the chaos you’re feeling. Spare yourself the frustration of trying to create content for something that’s yet to be defined and focus your efforts on developing a clear plan, process and setting some goals first.
Your Next Steps:
- Define your mission, audience and purpose. What are you trying to achieve with your ministry? Who are you trying to reach? How do you want to help them? How will you find them?
- When you find them, what do you want them to do as a result of encountering your ministry? Do you have clear processes and next steps in place? For many local congregations, this looks something like:
- Attending Worship
- Growing Deeper in the Word through Bible Study/Connecting with a Small Group
- Volunteering or Serving in Some Capacity
Note: It’s probably a good topic for another post, but a few favorite resources for clarifying your ministry purpose and goals are Thom Rainer’s Simple Church and Gino Wickman’s Traction.
#2 – It’s not where your target audience is.
Websites are investments. Not only in the cost of designing and developing, but also the ongoing investment of time and resources to keep up to date, secure and accessible.
Your resources are limited. Even if you’re the beneficiary of a generous budget, we’re all constrained by time and called to steward ALL our resources well. Think before investing those limited resources in something that isn’t going to meet your audience where they are.
Perhaps your people are more active on Instagram, and it’s a better use of your time to create a dynamic strategy on that platform (For now…social networks are still rented land, and usually shouldn’t be considered a long-term strategy.)
Or maybe your audience is digitally disconnected, and a website simply isn’t the best way to serve them.
Your Next Step:
- Do what you need to do to understand how your audience wants to be engaged. Ask members who recently joined how they learned about your congregation. Survey your community to learn more about where they discover new information.
- Additional Resource: What is an Audience Persona?
#3 – You don’t have a plan for post-launch.
A website launch is just that; the beginning. Yet often, we treat it more like a landing, or a crossing of the finish line.
Consider how often your ministry changes and the variety of content you produce – from weekly announcements and monthly newsletters to new sermons, Bible studies and daily devotions. It’s important to consider a plan for how you might make your website a digital destination for everything your audience needs to know about your ministry.
Moreover, could you save time and resources by educating your audience about where to go to get the best, most recent information about your ministry? (Hint: Your new website!)
Your Next Steps:
- Start to map out the long-term vision for communications at your ministry, and how your website might serve as a central platform for that vision.
- Understand the total scope of ongoing website maintenance (simple content updates, ongoing design and development needs, technical updates), and identify options for how to manage these needs going forward.
Is there a checklist for this or something?!?
Sigh. There’s no magic list of the digital marketing and communications boxes we need to check in order to guarantee growth and success, is there?
And that’s ok, because it helps us remember that we’re not the ones who make our ministries successful, and for many of us (I’m raising my own two hands, here!!) the temptation to see our work, our numbers and our little formulas as the reason for success is too strong. We’d forget too quickly about the glory and power of God. He’s the one who harvests the seeds we plant, and it’s for his glory that we work.
He’s the one who harvests the seeds we plant, and it’s for his glory that we work.
No, you don’t need a website to share the Gospel and serve in the kingdom. Especially if you’re still in the early stages of figuring out exactly what that service looks like. Once you’re ready, though, it can be a powerful tool to use for his glory.
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