Here are a few examples of essential content every church website should provide. By doing so, you won’t miss the opportunity to attract individuals who may visit your church or inconvenience current members who may be looking for specific information.
- What We Believe – Your faith statement is important to Christians new to your area. Before visiting a church for the first time, people often check to see if the church shares their beliefs. Write out your doctrinal beliefs in a way that is easy to understand and welcoming to non-members.
- Location – Although people tend to look for a church close to their home, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to attract visitors from out of town. You should create a page that gives your address and directions with a map that links to Google Maps, Waze, or CoPilot, and you should include your address on your home page and on the footer of every page. Your address should also be included on your “Contact Us” page, and it is a good idea to link these pages to each other.
- Service Times – In order to make visitors feel welcome, it is extremely important to provide the days and times of your weekly services. This information could be listed on your home page, or you may create a page specifically for providing your service times. It is a good idea to show your service times on your location page as well. Providing this information will ensure that you don’t miss an opportunity to appeal to new visitors.
- What to Expect – Anyone who’s considering visiting your church would like to know what type of services you have and how long they last. You should describe the style of worship in your church and whether the attire is formal or “come as you are.” If you provide childcare, have signers who communicate with deaf parishioners, or are handicap-accessible, you should include this information on your “What to Expect” page. Adding videos of sermons is another great way to show visitors what to expect at your services, and this gives members who may have missed a service the opportunity to watch the sermon.
- Events – You may use bulletins to announce your upcoming events. However, anyone who hasn’t attended your church would search your website for that information. If you have an event that takes place outside of your church, be sure to include the address, a link for directions, and the time of the event. Adding events to your website is helpful for visitors, and it benefits your current members who may have misplaced or not taken a bulletin home.
Tips for Adding Content:
Keep it simple – Don’t make your website look like an eBook on your Amazon Kindle. The fewer words each page has the better. The key is to inform people without overwhelming them.
Make sure your website is updated – Not updating your website not only misleads people by providing outdated information, but it also shows a lack of professionalism.
Create a user-friendly navigation menu – Make it easy to find information by placing relevant pages under your categories. If it’s too difficult to find information, your visitor will search for another church.
Source: Ministry Tech
For more ideas that can help your church grow, contact one of our Ministry Consultants today!
Today, Millennials are the demographic on the top of most organizations’ priority list. It’s no surprise that the church is trying to reach the fastest-growing generation in the workforce and marketplace, and officially, the nation’s largest living generation. The Millennial generation, which comprises those born between 1981 and 1997, grew up more digital, open-minded and information-hungry than any previous generation. They are more connected than ever before — except to faith.
These three principles will refocus and realign your efforts to engage the Millennial giver:
- Cause – Millennials believe that the world needs changing and that they are the generation to make it happen. They passionately get behind causes the church supports — serving the homeless, feeding the hungry, ending sex trafficking and supporting under-served children around the world. Connect their generosity to the greatest cause of all, the spread of the gospel, and outline how the local church uses financial resources to make that happen.
- Convenience – The digital lifestyle is increasingly normal for everyone, but it is ALL this generation has ever known. Apps, online giving portals and text-to-give options might seem radical to a traditional church. But when checks became the norm instead of cash, people were leery until they became status quo. Then, we began using little plastic cards to pay for items. Now, the center has shifted again; the majority is marching to a digital drummer.
- Conviction – To develop a generous culture, churches must disciple young believers to know the generous ways and commands of Jesus. Do your messages communicate that giving is an act of worship, a way to be used by God in the lives of others and demonstration of a grateful heart?
The primary goal of developing a generous spirit among Millennials in your church is developing their spiritual maturity. The secondary goal is to financially resource your church mission. If we treat Millennial’s hearts like a caring shepherd (the first goal), engaging them in funding the mission actually comes more easily (the second goal).
To learn how Shelby Systems software can help you engage Millennials in your church, contact your Shelby Sales Consultant today!
“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48, NIV Bible
Most churches and ministries, regardless of size, are faced with the same challenges – reaching out to visitors, energizing staff and membership, organizing and optimizing limited resources and spreading the word to the greatest number of people possible.
However, these problems are magnified when you are part of a church with a large congregation. Often blessed with many resources, churches at this size need to also be particularly good at optimizing those resources and organizing their people to get the most out of their ministry and serve their community.
It’s with churches like this in mind that Shelby Systems developed our Arena organizational management software. Arena takes the functionality of our ShelbyNext suite to a higher level allowing for the maximum amount of flexibility. For example, Arena can be cloud-hosted or self-hosted. Churches with dedicated IT personnel will get the most of out of the software as it will allow them to create custom reports for membership and financial data in whatever way works best for them. Once configured, Arena makes tracking large amounts of data on people across a large organization a snap.
So, if your ministry is blessed with many resources, let us help you make the most out of those resources. Your church and your community will reap the benefits.
There’s a reason that Christ called the disciples as a group. While each had his individual task, together they formed the core of the early church. They supported one another and helped to spread the word throughout the farthest regions of the known lands at the time.
In short — together they were stronger.
In this way, the modern church is no different. It takes more than one dedicated person to move a ministry forward. Depending upon the size of your church, it will often take several groups of people working in harmony to accomplish the everyday tasks of ministry.
How well do your groups work together? How do they communicate with each other and with other groups? Are they working as a team or simply as a collection of random individuals?
At Shelby Systems, we recognize the importance of having cohesive groups that talk to each other within a ministry. That’s why group organization is at the core of our church relationship management solution, ShelbyNext Membership.
Within ShelbyNext Membership, you can not only organize your people into groups, you can communicate with them through texts and e-mails, assign tasks to individuals in the group and those individuals can relay information about those interactions back to the designated group leader. You can add group events or meetings to the larger church calendar so other teams within your ministry know when things are happening. And thanks to the integration of your churches mobile app, group members can do all of this from their phones.
If your church’s software doesn’t help you and your groups work better together, then give us a call at 800.877.0222 and let us help.
One of the best overviews of current trends in social media was put out this year by WordStream. It was updated in May 2017. Among other fascinating tidbits, it shared that:
- 83 percent of female Internet users and 75 percent of male Internet users are on Facebook.
- 22 percent of the world’s total population uses Facebook.
- 32 percent of teenagers consider Instagram to be the most important social network.
- Most Instagram users are between 18 to 29 years old, which is about 6 in 10 online adults.
- 81 percent of Millennials check Twitter at least once per day.
- On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds in the US.
- YouTube (and even YouTube on mobile devices alone) reaches more 18- to 34- and 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
WordStream developed two major conclusions:
- Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, reaching 79 percent of American Internet users. Based on the total U.S. population—not just Internet users—that’s 68 percent of U.S. adults!
- Every other platform trails behind: Instagram receives the silver medal with 32 percent of users; Pinterest comes in a close third with 31 percent, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter at 29 percent and 24 percent respectively.
Social media is both exciting (in that we have new ways to reach and disciple our world for Jesus) and at the same time overwhelming because of the challenges in the time and skills needed to make the most of these opportunities. Pray hard that God will give you a team of people who can share the ministry and who delight in using the new tools of social media to share the eternal story of God’s love for us, his desire for our salvation, and his goal to help us all grow to become like Jesus.
Source: Ministry Tech
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- Treat everything you share on social media like it’s public – All communication sent digitally (email, social networking sites, notes or posts) is not confidential. It’s so easy for someone to take a screenshot of a conversation or post and share it publicly with others.
- Keep records – All transcripts of online chats, blogs and videos should be saved when possible.
- Use private groups where needed – Adults who minister to youth and who want to connect via a social networking website can set up a private group account for the youth and their families. That way, events and activities can be discussed openly and everyone can stay informed.
- Be mindful of your audience – All clergy and adults who work with youth should consider the content of any post that could be read by youth. Your words are often considered the voice of the church.
- Sometimes face-to-face conversations are more appropriate – Email or instant messaging is not appropriate for matters that are pastorally or legally sensitive, emotionally charged or require extensive conversation. If a message is longer than a couple of sentences, it might be better to talk in person.
- Set healthy boundaries – In the world of social media, boundaries and safety practices must mirror the physical world. For example, a youth leader would not hold a conversation alone with a child, and should also not have a private chat on Facebook.
- Be smart about what you say – As the saying goes, common sense isn’t always common practice. The purpose of social media is to communicate with and inform your network, but make sure you do so tastefully and without revealing too much information. For instance, avoid advertising the location (or future location) of minors. It’s safer not to post something like the following: ‘The annual youth group lockin will be at the local YMCA on Saturday night from 9pm to 8am. See you there!’
- Get permission – Make sure you have permission when posting prayer requests; some people may not want personal matters shared online. If you do get permission, keep in mind some situations are extremely sensitive and you don’t need to share every little detail. Don’t post this: ‘Please pray for Susan—she is driving out of state this weekend to care for her mother who is experiencing postoperative complications after her rhinoplasty.’ Post this instead: ‘Please pray for Susan—she is traveling this weekend to visit her mother.’
- Respect copyrights – Speaking of permission, verify the material isn’t copyrighted when posting things that are not your own (e.g., professional directory photos, clip art, videos, articles). Share a link to a video instead of embedding it on the church’s website.
- Post content that is relevant – You probably already refrain from posting offensive content, but also make sure your posts are relevant and meaningful to everyone visiting the site. For instance, referring to an inside joke can alienate those who don’t know the story behind the humor.
- Monitor social media accounts regularly – Assign church staff or volunteers to monitor posts and delete any inappropriate content. Giving more than one person access to the accounts is a smart idea; that way if your social media manager goes on vacation or leaves, the accounts will still be updated. As insurance, post a disclaimer. (Just do a Google search for ‘Social Media Disclaimer’ if you need some examples.) You can’t control what others say, but most social media platforms allow you to block repeat offenders who continue to post offensive items.
- Learn how to change security settings – Remember, social media pages can serve as a first impression to people outside of the church. Although content such as group discussions should be private, make sure some of the information is public so others can learn about the church and its mission. To use Facebook as an example, the church could have a public Fan Page with posts for everyone to see and also have a private group for members to share pictures, videos and prayer requests.
Using social media allows your organization to reach diverse members both within and outside your church, from college students to busy moms. Implementing guidelines for how your organization engages in social media will help ensure safety to your staff and members.
Source: Ministry Tech
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When it comes to protecting the church, one often thinks about things like locks, on-site security and alarm systems.
But what about the threats that can exists from inside the ministry in the very congregation itself? How well prepared are you when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable members of your flock – your children?
Experts say that in order to protect the youngest church members, ministries should have a strong safety screening plan in place.
“A truly comprehensive screening program contains not only background checks suited to geographic location and position being applied to, but also a detailed child safety training program. Additionally, the program should include a rescreening policy,” said R.J. Frasca, Director of Marketing and Product Development at Protect My Ministry in an interview with Church Executive magazine.
Additional safety measures can include keeping track of children during church-sponsored activities utilizing church check-in technology.
Fortunately, ShelbyNext Membership, leading software for Church Relationship Management from Shelby Systems, comes integrated with robust tools from our partners at Protect My Ministry. This includes the ability to do background checks and access to child safety training programs. Also available in ShelbyNext Membership is the ability for parents to check their children in to church-sponsored activities right from their smartphone and, with separate hardware, ministry staff and volunteers can even print labels for badges that include barcodes for tracking.
Whatever methods you use, always be sure your ministry has a plan for dealing with potential dangers – the ones you can predict and the ones you can’t.
The age of mobile devices is here. You can hardly go to any public place be it a store, restaurant or even a sidewalk where you don’t see people on their phones or tablets.
Originally meant to facilitate communication, these devices are now seen by many as an obstacle to the face-to-face communication that has taken place for generations. What was originally envisioned as a way to connect people is now, more often than not, seen as something that divides people.
Like it or not, we are now seeing entire generations growing up with a mobile device or devices as a daily part of their lives, so it is essential that we find ways that we can use phones and tablets as tools to grow relationships, rather than stifle them.
The first step in this process is asking the question, “How do we use mobile technology in our ministry?” Is your mobile presence just a glorified bulletin board or is it a springboard to a larger, deeper experience within your church? Can members and visitors truly interact with your church on their phones or is that app just a megaphone blasting information one way?
It is imperative that churches, large and small, start to adopt communications strategies that focus on creating a true experience through mobile devices. This starts with customizing the look and feel of the app you use and harmonizing it with your website. Next, you need to think about the kind of content you serve to your congregation through that app and make sure it is enriching and thought-provoking.
Finally, while the goal is always to foster active participation in ministry, many don’t realize that their mobile app is a decidedly passive experience. So, be sure that there is a way for your members to reach out to you and truly interact through these devices. They should be able to ask questions, get feedback, check in and update information.
It was once said that the website was the front door to your church. If that is true, then mobile devices are the porch and the type of welcome that members and visitors receive there can make the difference between walking through that door or moving on to the next house.
There’s no longer any question about whether your church should be on social media or not, but being on social media isn’t enough. You need to prioritize using it well. If you want to take advantage of all the opportunities social media provides you might need to elevate its importance. If you can’t justify time spent on social media, I encourage you to consider the following ways your ministry might be missing out.
- SOCIAL MEDIA MIGHT BE THE FIRST PLACE PEOPLE FIND YOUR CHURCH – Over 46 percent of church planters say that social media is their most effective method of outreach. Think about that for a second . . . out of all the possible outreach methods, almost half of today’s church plants are seeing a bigger return for time they invest into social media than anything else. With a thoughtful church strategy for social engagement and some regular money devoted to advertising, you can create an awareness of your ministry and send people to your website where they can learn more.
- YOU CAN BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CONGREGATION’S FRIENDS – When you explain to your congregation that their interaction with your Facebook page is a form of outreach, you can build a strategy around sharing your culture with people who might be open to learning more.
- FACEBOOK’S GROUPS AND EVENTS RIVAL SOME REAL LIFE CHURCH NETWORKS – Using Facebook groups for ministries or studies is an incredibly easy (and free) way to keep everyone together and on the same page. You can create groups for prayer, home groups, Bible studies, classes or lifestyle groups for people that like to do things like hike or garden. Facebook events are another stellar way to raise awareness for an event. You can invite everyone in the church, and they can invite others, too. All updates and important information can be communicated in the event group.
- YOU’RE MEETING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE – Did you know that 35 percent of the couples married between 2005 and 2012 met online? Instead of fighting this transition, the church should be embracing its inherent positives and opportunities. We should be taking advantage of every tool at our disposal to reach people where they are, and there may be no greater tool available than social media.
- YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS REPRESENT YOUR CHURCH VITALITY – When people come to one of your social media platforms and you haven’t updated it in months, it shapes their impression of your church. If you’re going to have a social-media presence, it’s important for you to regularly update it. This means that you need to be very particular about the social-media platforms your church adopts. It’s better to have one or two platforms you really excel at than to be on every platform and to do them poorly.
Source: Ministry Tech
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Many church websites contain good information, but the presentation is poor. So, here are six little changes you can make to your church website that can make a big difference.
- Get your menus set up correctly – The navigation menu for your website should be simple. Menus typically include the following: about, plan your visit, ministries, media, giving, and contact. It’s best to use drop downs for other items under each main menu tab. Keeping the most important information in the main menu at the top of the page makes it much easier to navigate for users and also allows you to place priority on where you’d have your website visitors go.
- Make sure your content is correct and updated – Is the sermon information from the past weekend still on your home page? This is easy to fix with a weekly website checklist. It’s just a matter of getting it done each week. A weekly website checklist allows you to keep track of needed updates.
- Use the best possible graphics – Your church likely does not have a graphic designer on staff. So how do you improve the graphics on your site? You have three main options: contract out your graphics work, join an online design community, or use a design program. Thanks to online programs like Canva and Open-Edit-Print, it’s actually quite simple to design professional-looking graphics on your own.
- Activate online giving and label it properly – With technology as ubiquitous as it is, online giving should almost be a given for churches. If you do have online giving, please make sure you label it properly. “Donate” or “Tithe” can confuse website visitors. “Give Online” or simply “Online Giving” are the easiest and most obvious labels to use.
- Make it easy to contact your church – If you have a contact tab in your main menu, you should have a contact page for website visitors to use. On the contact page, be sure to include the address, phone number, and email of the church. And if at all possible include a contact form to make it easy for those looking to contact you immediately.
- Use your homepage wisely – One of the biggest mistakes churches make on the homepage is cluttering the homepage with things that aren’t important. Keep the homepage as clean as possible and include the most important information you can.
Source: Lifeway Christian Resources
For more information on how Shelby Systems can assist your church, contact one of our Ministry Consultants today!