As I look around the Internet at church websites, it honestly makes me sad. Not because churches are notorious for having the absolute worst sites on the internet—That is a different article for a different day but if you want a quick look check out this article. But because the vast majority of churches are missing out on a great opportunity to use their church website as an evangelism tool to share the gospel with people from all over the world!
While I surf the web looking at various church websites, they have a few things in common: They have a picture of their church building, a section for service times, the church address, and some even have pages devoted with information on their different ministries. However, few actually present the gospel in a clear and concise way so that an unbeliever can enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sure, some churches have a page dedicated to their statement of faith but can we be honest about some things?
1. Your statement of faith page is likely the least viewed page on your website. The average amount of time spent on a website is less than three minutes. In fact, 55% of visitors will spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. And they aren’t spending that time to find your statement of faith page.
2. It is generally WAY too long for anybody to read all the way through. Even if you are lucky to get the full three minutes out of a visitor, can they read your entire statement of faith and comprehend it enough to make a conscious decision to trust Jesus with their life? Nope!
3. A statement of faith page doesn’t make sense to someone who is not already a believer or even for someone who is a new believer. An unbeliever doesn’t know about baptism by immersion or the Lord’s supper. And to be frank, they don’t really care! Some might even get turned off while reading because they don’t understand the Christian lingo used.
So what can you do? How can your church website be used as an effective evangelism tool?
Here are 3 easy but effective ways to share the gospel using your church website:
1. Feature a clear and concise gospel presentation on your homepage.
Remember, you only have 15 seconds to grab someone’s attention and less than three minutes to keep it! That’s why the positioning and the way in which you present the gospel is so important. Feature it near the top of your homepage. Let it be one of the first things a visitor sees when they are on your website.
Then briefly describe the necessities of the gospel. The fact that everyone has sinned, we all need a savior, that Jesus came down from heaven and although He lived a perfect life; He was executed on a cross as penalty for our sins, and finally that on the third day He rose from the dead before returning to his throne in Heaven.
Also, it is very important to remember that you need to word the presentation in a way that someone who has absolutely no idea who Jesus is will understand. I like to tell people that if a 5 year-old cannot understand your gospel presentation then you are failing. Leave the church words out of it. And finally, explain what sin is (anything we say, think, or do that displeases God).
If you struggle with this or even think a body of text just isn’t the right fit for you and your church website, find a high quality video and embed it directly on your website. Feature it with a title like “How you can know that when you die you will live forever in Heaven”. Something that will grab the user’s attention and make them want to watch the video.
2. Feature the Gospel on multiple pages.
Does your website have a sidebar or an area with other links or content on an internal page? Put a link there with the same title you used on your homepage that leads a visitor to a page with a clear and concise gospel presentation.
Although it is the most viewed page on your church website, a user may not have found your site and landed on the homepage. They may have been searching for something and an internal page is the first page they see. Make sure they have the ability to hear the gospel on every page.
3. Use Searchable Keywords.
Now we are getting more technical, but searchable keywords are known as meta-keywords. You may not understand what a meta-keyword is, but they are a highly important evangelism tool! A meta-keyword is a keyword or phrase that you tell search engines to look for on your website and those search engines show your website as a result when a visitor is searching.
Before you say, “All the experts say meta-keywords are obsolete and worthless,” hold that thought. Yes, it is true that search engines in North America such as Google do not use meta-keywords when crawling your church website. However, you aren’t just trying to share the gospel with people in North America! Search engines in the Middle-East, Asia, Eastern Europe, and other places around the world are still using meta-keywords to help visitors find your website.
Recently, we found that one of our ChurchPress clients has a 17% international visitation rate. And the way they are finding our client’s website is because of the strategic meta-keywords used on their website. That means 17% of people heard the gospel when they probably wouldn’t have otherwise! Combine that with some powerful language translation tools and this church in a rural community is literally taking the Gospel message to the ends of the earth!
In fact, we learned that a large percentage of this church’s international visitors were from countries with highly censored internet usage in their country, such as Pakistan. That means the government is trying to keep them from finding information about Jesus Christ, but God has opened the door for them to see His message despite of this!
Your church website has the potential to share the gospel with people all over the world, but you must be intentional about how you use it. Your church can effectively be missionaries while you sleep, on a Tuesday morning when no one is in the office, or on a Sunday when everyone is sitting in their seat listening to a pastor preach. Remember, a clear and concise gospel presentation + placing it on multiple pages + good use of meta-keywords for international visitors = your church website spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth!