Who are you and what are you all about? These are probably a couple of the first questions visitors to your website might be asking. They want to know about the people behind the screen and that they might meet if they come along to one of your services or events. You can help them by providing photos of what your church looks like.
Why not take a photo of everyone gathered together before the service starts on a Sunday morning, or at a tea and coffee morning during the week? You can read our blog about taking great church photos but remember to get permission from everyone in the picture.
We absolutely love this photo from St Dunstan’s, Cheam’s Crib Service on Christmas Eve!
Make sure that you also talk about what people can expect when they come along to your church. Do you serve tea and coffee? Does a children's programme run alongside the main service? Is your entrance accessible?
The better you can help potential visitors understand more about you as a church community, the more likely they are to make a decision to come along and visit.
Perhaps someone accessing your website has a specific reason in mind or maybe they're trying to find out a particular piece of information that doesn't exist online. They may just want to speak to someone ahead of coming along to a service or event to feel reassured that there's someone there!
It's a really sensible idea to provide a range of ways to get in touch with the right people for the right reasons. For example, if a parent has a question about the children's or youth activities, could you provide a way for them to contact those responsible for these areas of work?
Whatever the situation surrounding who is right to get in touch with for specific queries, it's always a good idea to provide a general phone number, email as well as address details so that if someone just needs to get in contact it's simple and clear.
If you're not sure where to start with your church website, our A Church Near You service gives you the option to build a fully responsive and secure website completely free of charge! It also places your church contact details, along with a handy map, automatically onto your church's page in order to help people find you.
Calendar and events
- Someone finds your church website ✅
- They read about your amazing community ✅
- They make a decision to come along to your next service or event ✅
- But they can't find any information about when or where these are taking place ❌
It's really important to communicate what your church is getting up to, both during the week and on a Sunday. Don't just assume that either everyone knows when your services are or that someone in the local community will tell them. Remember that we're trying to be as helpful as possible, giving visitors all the information they need in order to make a decision about coming along to something you are running.
Perhaps you can create a calendar on your website and add your service and events that way. If not, you could have a really simple page that lists the regular times of your Sunday services and then any special or one-off events below. It's also a really good idea to write a short sentence about what people can expect to find at each of these services or events:
- Is your 9am service more traditional than your 10:30am all-age service?
- Which pub in town is it you meet at on a Saturday evening and from what times?
Another really helpful feature of A Church Near You is that you can set up regular services on your church's page, as well as one-off events. These services then appear in search results as the more than 1.5 million people who access the website each year, search to find their nearest church.
Probably the most useful page for a visitor to your church website is the one that gives them everything they need to know! Having a link to a page like this means that if someone lands on your website and isn't sure where to go next, they'll probably see this page and think "great - this is where the answers will be".
You'll want to have some kind of message, welcoming them to your website and extending the invitation to a service or event taking place (along with where and when those are!) as well as some general information about the church and activities that take place. You could provide a map that shows where your church is located and ways they could use to get in touch if they're thinking about coming along. Here are some other helpful things to think about including:
- Parking information
- Children's sign-in information
- Service times
- When is tea and coffee served?
- Service length
- Photos or a video from your service
- Vicar and leadership team details
Although it's not strictly a page, having the ability to manage cookies on a website is more important than ever. Now that the GDPR framework is in place, it's really important to ensure your website meets any data law requirements, specifically when it comes to cookies. You can read more about cookies on the Information Commissioner's Office website.
If you are using Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, embedding a YouTube video or allowing users to create a profile on your website, you need to let them know which cookies you are using but also ensure that they are turned off by default. For example, on the Church of England website we have three categories of cookies:
- Necessary - these are required to make the website run.
- Analytics - these allow us to check how people are interacting with the website so we can improve it e.g. Google Analytics
- Marketing - these allow us to improve the relevancy of marketing activities we run online e.g. Facebook Pixel
None of this information above constitutes legal advice.
Please remember that churches should also include safeguarding information on their homepage. This could be one sentence at the bottom of the welcome message, saying: “For safeguarding enquiries about our parish, please contact us via our contact form on our website/A Church Near You page.”
Cookies are small text file that are downloaded onto a computer or smartphone when the user accesses a website. It allows the website to recognise that user’s device and store some information about the user’s preferences or past actions.