Wednesday, August 6, 2008
A Church is Not a Building
So I bet you've been asking "Why don't he write?"
Simple reason. ECO took a back burner to finish grad school moving and getting a new job. But now I actually have a project. To continue making movie references I feel like the Ghostbusters when they finally get that first call and Janine yells "We Got One!"
The idea of this blog is to offer practical advice for churches, and without any church to give advice to, not much has been coming to mind. However, with this new project, I came across something I've seen many churches do that I think is a bad idea: use a picture of the church building as the focal point of the homepage.
Whenever I see this in a content guide I think back to Sunday School where we sang "The church is not a building..." The point of that song is to teach kids that the church is the group of people worshiping the Lord in that place, not the four walls and roof that shelter those people
I can understand being proud of your church building, butthink about it from the perspective of someone who has never been to your building before. Is a photo of your building the most impactful thing you can show them? Is that the image that is going to best show them the life of the church?
I think most congregations would answer that question "no." So if not the church building, then what?
Many churches who are more sermon centered use the branding of the current sermon or sermon series. This can make sense if that teaching is the primary offering of your church.
For many churches the primary offering is the community of believers, and what better way to communicate that community then to have pictures of that community on your homepage. Real, authentic, obviously not stock photography images of people worshiping.
The reality is that for your church it may be something else entirely, but unless your the Crystal Cathedral, I bet it's not your building.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Church of Incarnation
There are two things I want to point out about the homepage. The first is an idea I've thrown around at work before, Doug can attest that I'm not stealing it from this site if we do it in the future. On the homepage there is a clear heading for the next service.
Doug and I got into a debate about just showing one service and whether or not it works. I think it makes it simple for someone thinking about attended and Doug pointed out the trade-off that it could look like the only way to connect with the church is that one service.
He's right that is a danger. Seeing it in practice, I feel highlighting the next time someone can be involved in the worship life of a faith community is a smart idea.
The other thing I love about the site is the big "three column" picture on the homepage. It is of the people worshiping, and you can tell these are real people! It also clearly communicates what this faith community is about.
What do you think of this site? Let me know in the comments.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Are you new here?
Today Seth Godin has an idea I've been suggesting for churches for about three months. A big "First time here?" sign. I'm of the opinion that churches should have some sort of sign outside their worship center that draws new people in.
I would say you should go one better and connect that to your website. There should be a "First time here?" section of your homepage and the colors and fonts should match the banner.
The next step is that the "First time here?" section includes someone from the church taking about the church and then that's the person standing under the sign on Sunday mornings.
Imagine how welcoming to a visitor, they have already heard this person talk either in video or in their own words on the website, they recognize their face and know they have two kids and a dog.
That's the hospitality I think churches are called to.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Moveable Type Comes Home
Back when I first heard of blogging engines Moveable Type was all the rage. When we were looking for Open Source platforms for use at Silas Partners, Moveable Type was out of the running because it's free version was not open source.
They recently announced a new version. Coverage comes from all over, but Read/Write web has a great overview.
This is a really good thing. Wordpress has sort of stood alone as the blog platform of choice, but not with Moveable Type moving back to Open Source it will give other platforms a run for their money. Competition is always good.
I'm especially interested to see the built in community features. These features are in high demand with churches. I'll be anxious to kick the tires on this when it is released later this year.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
A Church with no Vision
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Separating church speak from real speak
Confusing your ministries speech with normal everyday speech can be a big problem on the web. It can make a well designed website into a mess for an end user. We do a few things to make sure that doesn't happen.
Jared Spool at UIE Brain Sparks brings up a pet peeve of mine jargon on your website.
This is a problem almost every group that I have worked with has had to tackle. The groups website is full of words that are very meaningful to them, but not meaningful to their audience. It is an easy trap to fall into, since you look at your website and it makes sense. It also makes sense to your friends because they talk to you and they know your lingo.
This is especially prevelant in churches since they develop a language unique to that community. This common language isn't a bad thing, it is one of the things that binds us together.
However we have to remember the people visiting the website don't know our language and may not understand it if they here it out of context on a web page.
His suggestion to write down some words and get definitions from a group of people is a good one. We do something else around here that I think works very well.
A designer will write all the top level navigation up on a white-board and then call people into the conference room and read off some features of a website asking the person which category would they expect to find that feature.
You can duplicate this at home kids if you want. Take your website navigation and then some of the features on your website and try it with some friends and non-techy family.
See if their intuition matches up with how your site is structured.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Creating a Blog for your Church
I recently created a screen cast for Youth Group Stuff on how to create a blog for your youth group using Blogger.
This demo will work for any ministry at your church, not just youth groups. A blog is a great way to keep people informed of what is going on at your church with minimal effort. It can also drive traffic to your main church website.
If your church doesn't have a website, you can create a blog in 3/4 of an hour, have it hosted for free. There really is no reason why every church shouldn't have a website with blogging tools that make it push-button simple.
If you create a blog following this tutorial, post it in the comments, you know you want to.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]