In this assignment we were told to evaluate at least three websites of the fastest growing churches in America. I was not exactly sure how to figure out how to find these church until the Lord reminded me I had received a copy of Outreach Magazines 100 Fastest Growing Churches in America issue. Since I reside in the state of Virginia, I felt like I should honor my home state and take a look at some of the churches that were located here. I chose four churches, from different parts of the state. The churches I am evaluating are Blessed Hope (Danville), Liberty Baptist (Hampton), Grace Church (Dumfries), LIfepoint (Fredericksburg).
Compare and Contrast
Each of these churches had some very similar aspects while there were some major differences. One thing I noticed is that three out of the four churches were multi-site. With each site offering their own pastors. It was not clear as to whether or not each campus pastor was doing the preaching or if they were transmitting the message from the home church. Several of the churches on their home page had a large image that contained information about different things happening at the church and on average it would change between three and four images. One of the sites was extremely polished feeling almost feeling like a business website more than a church website.
Most of the churches have some type of page offering opportunities to serve and different forms of ministry. One church list over fifty different ministries that it offers and the requirements needed to be fulfilled before one can serve in each area.It seemed that all of the sites offered some way of listening to or watching their services after the original date. One site listed a local television station where it could be found. Of the four sites evaluated two were of lighter color backgrounds with the other two being darker. The two lighter color backgrounds feel more inviting and easier to navigate. Some of the sites found it important to list the things they felt were important while one did not.
To be completely honest I am not sure what exactly to put here. So I will do my best to evaluate each website. Starting with Blessed Hope this site is a rather dark with a large image dominating the center of the screen. As you scroll down you learn that this church has three other locations. There is a few minute long welcome video from the pastor along with a way to donate online. If you were to hover over their ministries tab you learn they have nine major ministries that they set their focus upon. Under their events tab they have weekly video announcements. One thing that stood out about this site more than any other site is there is specifically a tab for the gospel. Another thing that stood out is they offered most if not all of their sermons online for free in audio form.
The second church I took a look at was Liberty Baptist of Hampton, VA. When one goes to the site it is kept up to date. I know this because it notified people of closures due to inclimate weather. From there you notice a button that says click here to begin. There are several tabs at the top that include new here, media, and missions. While trying to complete the requirements for this assignment I did not notice most of the things looked for, so I contacted the church and they returned my call within one day. From my conversation with Scott I found out what was important to them, which turns out to be a lot. They measure their growth and health through their worship attendance, small group involvement, new members class, giving, guest and decisions for Christ. Other things they measure are baptisms, volunteers, and numbers of small groups. As you browse the site you notice they enjoy the use of video. One thing that stood out to me was they have a store where they sell their series. They also have giving online, but do not really list their ministries. They do however list their current campuses and the one they have planned for the fall.
The next church to be evaluated is Grace Church. This church has an extremely large header image that rotates letting you know what is new or important to the church. One thing I can say I observed about this church was it’s community focus. It has many ministries geared toward reaching the community it is a part of. Unlike it’s counterparts it has a radio and tv ministry. However, like several of its other contemporaries it has a store as well. It also has giving online and a special place just for members to log in. One thing they seem to be very proud of is starting VA Bible College. They seem to measure their health by the way they impact the community and how many people are serving in ministry because they offer over 50+ to serve in. This is the most streamlined of the sites I visited, it was laid out more like a business than a ministry. Grace not only offers archives of 30 different services,but it also live streams its events for those who cannot participate.
The final website to be evaluated was that of LifePoint church. There were several things that stood out to me about this site. One of the coolest features was it has it’s own app for android and the iUniverse. Like some of the other sites evaluated it has multiple campuses. From what I could tell it measures its health by baptisms, small groups and ministry involvement. There was not a big list of all the differing ministry opportunities. It also has the option to live stream their service along with archives. They also offering online giving like all of the other sites I encountered in this study. They not only have this site but it looks as though they have two other sites, one is their pastor’s blog. They are focused on kids be it young or old and small groups.
After viewing these sites with a critical eye, I have come to the conclusion that it is important to have several different things. The first thing a site needs to be is light in color to be more inviting. Between the four sites I was able to enjoy those who were not as dark. Also, the ability to give online is very important. I can appreciate that because I deal mainly with a bank card and do not use checks very much and hate having to go to the bank or somewhere else to get cash or a money order. I would also say that utilizing video in as many capacities as possible is a good thing. It is more informative and more inviting. Finally when making a website make it clear what is important to your church and how you go about handling it. If you are community focused let that be known, if you are about small groups express that in your material.
I learned a lot of things doing this assignment and one of the biggest things I learned is that your website needs to be kept up-to-date and pertinent don’t just create it and leave it to sit. If you are going to have images on rotation make them something that pertains to things happening in your church not just pretty pictures. Make everything accessible and easy to navigate, make it easy to find things people may be looking for and do not hide them layers deep inside of your website.
Question: What does your churches website look like/represent?