Pastors need to know how to design and publish web pages.
Our church’s and ministries’ public face online can’t be the domain of techie volunteers or paid “web designers” anymore. This is too important for pastors to not get good at it. Facility with online publishing is to today’s church what mastery of print was to yesterday’s, but for a very different reason.
Yesterday’s church required print proficiency for the sake of internal mechanics: worship bulletins and newsletters and the like. We still spend a lot of time on these, and they’re still important.
But today’s church needs to master website publishing for the sake of its welcome. Bad church websites turn curious people away, and not because those curious people are shallow or have short attention spans. Rather, missing information, incomplete or hard-to-find information like worship times and the church address, insider jargon–these things are as damaging to a church’s image as a weed-covered lawn or collapsing sign.
We can learn web design with minimal effort. We may be doing it already. Our church contracted with a graphic artist to redesign our site last year, and I was flummoxed when she proposed that we migrate our web hosting to WordPress, the platform on which I have published this blog for five years. I was already practiced at the tool our paid artist was going to use.
Don’t misunderstand me. We need to work with graphic artists on our church websites, because they’re the ones who design things like this church logo, and I would love it if graphic artists came to see churches as really great communities in which to practice their craft:
But the publishing part we can learn. The tools are abundant, and we don’t have to study html or anything like that. The good tools aren’t free, but I think they’re worth what they cost.
Take this website I made using Squarespace. It’s a clean template, and a couple of sessions messing with it were enough to orient me with the basics of how it works. It’s not winning any Webbys, but it does what we need it to, and it looks good. And it will get better.
Why aren’t you in charge of your church’s website?