First Impressions

Is our website helping or hindering our work?

Have you ever been to an unfamiliar city and tried to find a place to eat? It can be tough to decide. How would you choose the right restaurant? Each one is unique, has a different name, and, most importantly, gives you a distinct impression. Some might look too fancy and ritzy. Some might look like they are ready to be condemned. And then, of course, there’s the choice of what kind of food you want to eat. All of these factors contribute to your selection of restaurant.

So what does this have to do with your local church’s website? Many Christians feel that visitors get their first impression of the assembly when they walk through the door of the place where they meet. But this isn’t necessarily so. Increasingly, people who are searching for answers, or looking to get back to God, or who are interested in sending their kids to Sunday school or a kids club are getting their first impression before they ever step foot in a church building.

These days, your church’s website is often the first taste people have of your church. Potential visitors are researching who you are and what you are like before they show up at your door. They want to know what you believe, what the atmosphere is like, what you do.

Now, we all realize that the local church is not a place to simply have all our needs met. It’s a place to give and be used of the Lord. But, for those not saved and for many who are young in the faith or unaware of biblical church principles, your website might be the only chance you have to reach them. Here’s how to make that first impression count.

1. Be real.
Your website needs to reflect your local church so that when someone comes in they get what they expect. If your fellowship is made up of about 50 regulars, don’t make it seem like you have hundreds. It appears deceptive.

2. Be honest.
Let people know what you believe and why. Don’t water down the truth to get people to come in. Let them know your values and show them what’s important to you.

3. Be sensitive.
Recognize that many people looking for a local church are searching for the Lord, are hurting, or are working through some personal issues. Maybe they have had problems with drugs, alcohol, or relationships. Your website should reflect the same care and concern that the Lord showed to those in need.

4. Be current.
God’s message to the world is as relevant today as it was to the first century believers. Your website should be current and look current. A website that has out of date information turns people away.

5. Be appealing.
The Lord Jesus always gave His best. Your website should be attractive and easy to use. Sites that look old and uninviting give the impression that no one cares. These details can mean a lot to the viewers who come to your website. Investing a little time and energy into your website can keep you from unintentionally turning people away.