Guides and Guidelines for a Church Web Site
Background Information to Consider
If you are planning on creating, evaluating, or improving a church website,
take a look at some of these resources:
- The ELCA Guide to Developing
Your Own Congregation Web Site - There are quite a few links on this page
leading you to other good resources
- Gospelcom.net Resources
- This is a great place to get you started thinking about web design. Be
sure to follow the links on the lefthand menu bar: Church Sites, Outreach
Strategies, Relate & Chat, Training/Volunteer
- Christian Web Site about
Christian Web Design
Church Website Design Tips (PDF) from Christian Computing Magazine
- ForMinistry - full-featured,
free church website building tool, plus many resources for ministry online;
a ministry of American Bible
- Heal Your Church Web Site:
"Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design."
Church Websites: Studying Best Practices in Online Ministry
Internet ‘best practices’ for e-ministry by Terrell Sanders
Used to Review Congregational Web Sites
Church Web Sites
websites that reach non-Christians good suggestions and links to
- If you are at all unsure about your way around the Internet, take this
Internet for Religious Studies tutorial / guided tour.
Computing Magazine is a free, online publication that often deals with
church/web issues. Subscribe to get the monthly magazine in your email and
check out articles like this one on "Web
Strategy: Effective Strategies for Today's Church"
Is your website mainly intended for church members, or do you want it to be
more of an evangelistic and outreach medium? For some guidance to online
evangelism, the following are helpful (though keep in mind the theological
Where Will the Church Web Site Be Hosted?
- You probably have some web space provided with by your internet
service provider. This will likely provide you with a subdomain site. (I.e.,
ourchurch.internetserviceprovider.com or something similar.)
- If you are wanting to get started for free, either Thrivent
or ForMinistry are possible
starting points. (I used both of them a long time ago, so I'm not entirely familiar with their latest setups.) Both try to simplify the process of setting up a simple website.
Again, you will only have a subdomain site.
- If you want to try to grab your church's own domain (i.e.,
www.ourchurch.org or the like), you need to claim the name. The easiest way
to check out if the name you want is available is to work through the web
hosting service you plan to use. There are lots of possible ones, but I can recommend the web hosting service I use for all my stuff. Follow the link
here. I'm guessing most
churches could start out with a very reasonable cost. (E.g., with the
1&1 hosting service, you could use either the $3.99 or $4.99 per month plan. They do have a quick web site building tool, but if you want to get fancy down the line, this is the way to do it.) Also note that if you go this route, that you get at least 600 email addresses, so you can have church email addresses for everyone.
(I.e., you wouldn’t have to use personal emails for church email. Email
accounts could either be set up for online webmail or email forwarding to
- If you do want to start from scratch designing your own web page, you can get commercial programs (like Microsoft Expression or Adobe Dreamweaver), but a simple but comprehensive, free alternative is
- You can pay for a professional job. E.g.,
among many possibilities, check out: MyChurchWebsite.)
Evaluating Church Web Sites
- Evaluating Church Web Sites: Criteria
- You may choose to use the tool in the next bullet, but in general,
keep in mind the following questions:
- Is the site geared toward members or non-members? Is it mainly
insider information or intended to be evangelistically welcoming?
How would a non-member respond to the site?
- Is the site attractive? Easy to navigate? Does it load quickly? Is
it 'fresh'? What is the first impression you get? What is your
final, overall impression?
- What is the focal point of the site? What attracts the most
- What is this site good for? Would you want to attend this church?
Has this site made it easier or more helpful to attend this church?
- Does this site help create 'community'?
- Evaluating a Church Web Site - This is a
great tool to use, but, as it notes, it is simply a guideline for
evaluation. Do you agree with all the values it values? Follow the
directions to generate a report.
- Church Web Sites to Evaluate
- Evaluate your own home congregation's site
- Evaluate a site of a church of another denomination
- Evaluate a church which you have visited
- Evaluate at least one of the following:
Community and Outreach
What are some things you might do to create community?
- Blogs: They are free and very low maintenance. Try
WordPress. This could either be a
pastoral or congregational project.
- Wikis: Usually free and another way of
encouraging community participation. Try pbwiki
or wikispaces. (Not many examples
as of 2008, but they will be coming. Look at: The
Rock MCC Church wiki or Grace
- Try MyChurch or even
MySpace. (Check the My
Church app or Hosanna
Lutheran in FB)
CaringBridge - CaringBridge® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit web service that
connects family and friends during a critical illness, treatment or
recovery. A CaringBridge website is personal, private and available 24/7. It
helps ease the burden of keeping family and friends informed. Patients and
caregivers draw strength from loved ones’ messages of support.
- Voicethread - Try creating a
voice annotated history.
Calendars! (If you hurry, you might be among the first 1000. Search
Public Calendars for "church.")
What are some things you might do for your church web site to serve as an
- What information is a non-member likely to want at your church's site?
- Are the ways you create community the best ways to generate interest for