Is your church website chasing first-time guests away?

In a recent post Thom Rainer, who is the CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, gave the results of a Twitter poll he conducted in which he asked people “why they chose not to return to a particular church.” Then he listed the “Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests.”

Among the standard complaints (people were perceived as unfriendly, there was no adequate children’s area and so on) was this: “Bad Church Website”

Thom explains:

“Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s just that basic.”

Given the percentage of churches with either poor websites (80%) or no websites at all (40%), I’m left with the impression that church leadership teams just isn’t getting how important a church website is to their mission. This is 2014 and having a relevant website with all the essentials that is also easy on the eyes is critical.

In Justin Wise’s book Digital Church, his team conducted a study that found 47% of potential visitors said a church’s website is a key factor in their decision of whether or not to attend a church. And as Thom said, someone might still visit a church after first visiting its poor website, but when they do they’ll be entering your front door with a prejudicial perspective.

Your church website is your church’s digital front door.

It really is that simple.

QOTD: What role, if any, does a church’s website play into your decision of whether or not to visit for the first time? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



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  • Hi Derek. I just moved from CA to NV. I bet you can guess how I found my new home church–online. Their website was compelling and gave great information. I think we’re going to see higher numbers with regard to increased newcomers resulting from great church websites.

    • I’m not surprised. And the fact that you decided to give the church a visit is a testament to their commitment to use today’s medium as a ministry tool. I’d love to see their website.

  • I was surprised at the high percentages of poor/no websites. I thought most churches had realized this is something they need now.

    We have had quite a few people say they came to visit our church after they saw the website, so I guess that’s good!

    When we design a church website, we always emphasize the important of putting the address and service times in a place that will be easily found, preferably right on the homepage.