Last summer my family went on vacation with my in-laws to Branson, Mo. When Sunday rolled around it was defaulted to me, being the pastor in the family, to pick a church to attend. I didn’t know anything about churches in the area so I resorted to Googling “Branson church.”
I found myself looking through about 30 websites spending on average only 15 seconds at each website. These 15 seconds were first impressions. First impressions are no longer physical but virtual. Before someone pulls into your parking lot or shakes a greeter’s hand at the front doors, visitors have already visited the church online.
I finally narrowed down my selection of churches based upon the website that removed the most unknowns concerning what I would be experiencing on a Sunday. Many churches answer these unknowns on a “New Here,” “What To Expect,” “FAQ” page or throughout their website . We need to help answer as many questions and remove anything that would hinder a first-time guest from attending our worship services and physical building.
The must haves for a first-time guest on your church website:
- What does the pastor look like? It is highly likely that a church will take on the character of the pastor. What does the pastor look like? How old is he/she? 35 or 65?
- What size of church is it? Provide a photo/video showing the main worship space. Is the church 50 people or 1,050 people? Modern or traditional?
- What Do I wear? Nobody wants to show up in a suit whenever everyone else is wearing shorts and sandals. Let them know what the pastor will be wearing.
- What happens in a service? What’s the format and how long does it last? What’s the music like?
- Will I be asked to give money? One of the greats misconceptions of the church is “all they want is your money.” Help lower peoples’ defenses by letting them know up front what you are expecting of them.
- What do my kids do? Do they attend the service? Is there something that targets them specifically? And if there is kids’ programming, where is it?
- How do I get to your church? Provide an address, map, link to Google Maps. Tell people where they can park.
Examples of some great “New Here” pages:
What strategies has your church been using to help answer the unknowns? What would you include in this list?
- Learn more about how to welcome church visitors with this massive collection of resources and blog posts.
- Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Check out Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm for practical ideas and perspective on first-time guests.