About ten months ago, my pastor asked me to chair the Evangelism Committee at my church. He also appointed several committee members to serve with me. We started by asking what was the single most important thing we could do to raise the visibility of our church in our local community.
The unanimous answer was that we needed a new Web site.
Why did we think this was important? Because a Web site is likely the first impression non-members will have of any church. Based on several studies I have read, the first thing non-members do before visiting a church is—you guess it!—Google it.
People want to see the Web site. This is a safe, no-risk way to check out a church and get a “feel” for what to expect. Based on that, they either make the decision to visit or move on.
Yes, our church already had a Web site. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great. And, unfortunately, no one was really updating it regularly. Consequently, we felt that this needed to be our first priority.
So the first thing we did was start reviewing all the options available. That in and of itself was challenging. There are so many service providers. We considered:
- Custom development. This was too expensive for our rather small church of approximately 350 members.
- A Self-hosted WordPress Site. This is what I use for my blog, and I am a big fan. But in the end, we felt that it would be a little too difficult for non-technical volunteers to administer.
- A Hosted Solution. We felt this was the best, most economical solution for our needs. There are numerous options available.
Over the course of a few months, we studied other Web sites, came up with a list of criteria, and looked at about six different service providers. We specifically wanted:
- A scalable solution that could grow with us. We wanted to be able to start small and grow the site over time.
- A user-friendly Content Management System (CMS). We wanted to be able to have it administered by a team.
- Reliable service and excellent support. I have worked with enough Web services to know that this is not a given. I wanted real humans on the other end of our phone calls who would provide the support we needed.
- Multi-level security. We wanted to be able to grant rights to our volunteers to change specific portions of the site without compromising the integrity of the entire site.
- All the necessary “bells and whistles.” These include: automatic photo resizing and galleries, content rotators, calendars, forms, polls, email newsletters, blogs, event registrations, member profiles, online giving, and full media management for podcasting, videos, PDFs, etc.
We finally settled on SiteOrganic. It met every requirement we had. We have been working with them now for a few months. Their support, in particular, has been excellent.
We still haven't launched the new site—we are waiting on the final design components and then the proper approvals. But so far, we have been pleased. We are confident the site will grow with us. We can’t wait to share it with the world.
If your requirements are similar to ours, I would strongly encourage you to check them out. They provide both pre-designed, customizable themes, starting at $99.00 a month, as well as fully-commissioned custom designs. Best of all, they will waive the monthly service charge for new start-up churches. (The only charge is a nominal set-up fee.) You can see some of their sample sites here.
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