With the ubiquity of the internet and advances in technology, churches now have more opportunity to reach more people and impact more lives than ever before.
But with these many opportunities can come confusion and frustration about where to start. To help narrow in and focus on the multitude of options, we’ve picked the five most useful places to begin. Here are five ways your church can attract more visitors and reach more people, with real life examples.
Use Video: Live Stream & Recorded Teachings
Sometimes things come up that prevent a person from attending church and listening to a sermon in person. Sicknesses, travel, business obligations, family issues, and a whole host of other things can lead a person to miss a Sunday.
Video is a great solution. Like Southland Christian Church, your church can also provide live church streaming services, and video (or audio) sermons in the archives, to help make sure your church can continue to learn and grow even if they can’t make it one Sunday.
TIP: Not sure how to setup a video live stream for your church? Check out the Church Online Platform, a free live streaming service to get your church services online.
Leverage and Connect with People on Social Media
According to a global study of digital, social, and mobile usage around the world by WeAreSocial, 2.206 Billion people around the world (of the 7.357 Billion) are active social media users, and social media usage has increased year-over-year by 8.7%. In other words, there are A LOT of people using social media.
So how can a church leverage social media, and use it to connect with people?
A great way is to host ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions on Facebook, as done by author and speaker Jon Jorgenson. Your church’s pastors and/or staff can jump on Facebook for 30 minutes and answer questions people have. This is a great way to interact with and help people who are asking, pondering, and struggling with real life questions. (It’s also a great way to collect relevant topics to teach about on Sundays, and dramatically increase your Facebook page’s organic reach to new people.)
Another great way to leverage social media, is to add your video teachings and sermons to YouTube. A great example of this is LifeChurch’s YouTube channel. Not only can people watch the church’s sermons and teachings on their website, but they can also watch them on YouTube. Posting videos in both places is a great way to draw people in and teach people, since some people may stumble across the videos while searching on Youtube, and others may go directly to your church’s website to find a teaching.
TIP: Not sure what social media platform to focus on? With 1.55 billion monthly active users (as of September 30, 2015), your best bet is Facebook – people from all nations of the world are there. Also, check out Buffer, an awesome and efficient tool to manage social media sharing.
Have A Simple, Clean, and Informative Website
Just as people judge books by their covers, they also judge websites by their ‘covers’ – how they look and how easy they are to navigate around. These impressions make people feel a certain way – either positive or negative – and will cause them to either engage or disengage.
You want your church’s website to be easy to navigate for church members, and you want it to not be overwhelming or confusing to new people who stumble upon it for the first time.
A great example of a simple, clean, and informative church website is Fellowship Church. A few things to notice:
- Top header for church live stream option, with a timer showing when the next live online experience will begin
- Simple top navigation, with the key actions taken by most people
- Clean, uncluttered layout with professionally taken photographs
- Inviting headline: “Welcome. We’re saving a seat for you.”
- The ability to search and find a church location nearest to me (under ‘Join Us This Weekend’)
- Overall, easy to navigate and find information that you are looking for
TIP: Need a clean website, but don’t have the resources to build a custom website? Check out these church website ideas and templates, and if you need more places to look, try StudioPress, ThemeForest, or SquareSpace.
Create A Content Library of Resources
Simply put, having a dedicated area on your website where people can watch/listen to sermons (video and/or audio), download bible studies, view additional teachings, and access other valuable tools and resources is a great way to impact and help people. As mentioned above, Southland Christian Church has a dedicated live stream and sermon archive area on their website, but they also have a dedicated learning center as well:
Another example of a content library is from Harvest Bible Chapel:
TIP: Don’t host your video or audio files on the same server that you host your website. Doing so can cause your website to load a lot slower, if many people are trying to listen to audio, watch videos, and view your website all at once. Instead, host your audio files on Libsyn, and use YouTube or Wistia to host your videos.
Take Advantage of Google Ad Grants
Did you know that Google gives 501(c)(3) nonprofits $10,000 in free advertising? The program is called Google Ad Grants, and if your church is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, then you are eligible for the program as well. With Google Ad Grants, your church gets access to $10,000 in free AdWords advertising. This is a great opportunity for churches all across America to gain visibility on Google, and reach more people.
While this opportunity is 100% legit, there are a few things to remember once your church is accepted into the Ad Grants program (there is also a useful Google Ad Grants Guide that you can read for more information):
- You must make at least 2 changes to your Ad Grants account.
- You can only run Search Campaigns – not display, video, remarketing, or shopping.
- Your keyword bid cannot exceed $2.00.
- You must run ads only on Google – not on the Google Partner Network.
Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas and practical ways your church can use technology and the internet to reach and impact more people online. Here’s a recap of what we’ve covered:
- Use video: live stream and recorded teachings
- Leverage and connect with people on social media
- Have a simple, clean, and informative website
- Create a content library of resources
- Take advantage of Google Ad Grants
This was a guest post written by Roman Randall. Roman is the founder of Summit Digital Marketing, a SEM agency helping businesses get found online and increase revenue. He loves the outdoors, reading books, sweet tea, and spending time with his wife. He writes regularly at RomanRandall.com about faith, business, relationships, and life. You can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.