I’m not looking for a new church home. We love our pastors and the church’s vision, and we have no intention of going elsewhere. At the same time, though, I’m often in correspondence with people who are looking for a new church. They most often turn to the website to determine whether to visit a church, even when someone has invited them.
So, here are some things I would look for on a website if I were looking for a church home. Assuming the basics (e.g., church name, location, service times, etc.) are present, I’d also look for:
- A doctrinal statement. I freely admit this issue may mean more to me as a seminary professor than to others, but I know a number of laypersons who would look for the same. A website that includes no doctrinal statement still speaks by its silence—saying at best that nobody was thinking about theology when they put the site together.
- A church history. The history need not be a long account, but I would want to know how and when the church started. I would also want to know how many pastors the church has had, especially if every recent pastorate didn’t last long. Consecutive short pastorates usually tell us something about the church.
- Congregational pictures. I want to “see” the church before going there. Done well, pictures show potential guests the demographics of the church. Just be sure to indicate in some way that the pictures are not just stock pictures; they’re pictures of current members.
- Conversion stories. Few churches include this suggestion, but I’d want to know that God is transforming lives through the church. Brief (2-3 minutes), well-done, recorded testimonies from church members under a heading of something like, “Stories of God’s Life-changing Power at _______ Church,” will unquestionably grab my attention.
- Missions stories. Again, I realize a professor of evangelism and missions who also works for a missions agency would want this inclusion. Nevertheless, the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is not optional for any church—and accounts of the church’s work to reach the nations would help me better understand the church’s focus. Here’s another case, too, where recorded testimonies would be good.
- Service recordings. I’m not alone in wanting to know the music and preaching styles of a church I might attend. Both really do matter. Poor worship music and/or problematic preaching would be at least a “caution flag” to me. Recordings cannot adequately take us into the service itself, but they can give us some sense of the church.
- Pastor and family story. Even in a church with a plurality of elders, someone is usually the lead person. Knowing who that person is, what his story is, and what his vision for the church is would help me make a decision about attending. It would also give me the opportunity to pray for that pastor, whether or not I visit the church.
- Online giving options. Having these options available tells me something about the church’s willingness to use technology as they do the Great Commission.
I’m sure there are other things to include in a church’s website. What would you add to this list?
Posted on December 5, 2023
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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