Answering this question involves three things:
- Understanding the people to whom you are ministering .
- Reflecting on your mission and purpose.
- Diagnosing whether you have the right tools for the job.
Step 1: Understand how people in your church and community use the web today
To communicate efficiently and effectively to the people of your church and the people of your community, you must “go where the people are.” More and more people experience the web through social media and mobile devices.
Today people are not “surfing the web” so much as as accessing “digital streams of information.” These “digital streams of information” include Facebook, email, YouTube, Google Search, text messages, and Twitter. The point is that you must understand your target audience. Do you know the information streams your people prefer to use?
The multi-device web
The web is now a “multi-device” environment. In addition to smartphones, people are also using iPads, Kindles, and other tablet devices. Over 50 percent of North American adults have smartphones. Is your website helping you communicate effectively and efficiently with your members and visitors?
Step 2: Before you spend money, answer fundamental questions
In his book Ministry in the Digital Age, Dr. David Bourgeois describes a 13-step process for crafting a digital communication strategy. The following questions are adapted from the first three steps of his process:
- What is the mission statement of our church?
- Does our mission statement align with God’s mission statement for the church as revealed in Holy Scripture?
- Does our church have a healthy, Biblical understanding of the importance of evangelism, outreach, and obedience to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:26-28)?
- What is the purpose and objective of oue church website?
- Does this align with the mission statement of our church?
- Who is the intended audience of our church website?
- Do we have evidence that our church website is reaching its intended audience?
- How do members of our target audience use the web?
- What are their web usage habits?
- Where do they spend their time on the web?
Step 3: Answer the big question
Is your existing church website an effective and efficient communication tool for our target audience? This is the decisive question. If the answer is yes, keep doing what you are doing for now, and re-assess next year. If the answer is no, you need to get a new church website.
Please note three things about this decisive question:
- Focusing on your audience is primary. What do they need? Your needs and preferences are secondary.
- Is your church website an effective communication tool? Does it make an impact? Does it connect with your audience? Is it a website they love to promote to others?
- Is your church website an efficient communication tool? Is it easy for you to update it? Is it easy for you to add new pictures, sermons, and events?