What Pastors Need to Know About the Internet

December 19, 2005 by

Rick Warren’s Pastors.com covers some important ground with 8 Things Pastors Need to Know About eMinistry, written by Terrell Sanders of MinistryCom:

  1. Your target audience for church growth is Internet-savvy.
  2. Your Web site will be your “first impression” for many people.
  3. If you’re not on the Web, you don’t exist to many people.
  4. Seekers will visit your Web site before attending your services.
  5. A whole generation exists that will seek “religion” online.
  6. The Web site is too critical to be run by a volunteer.
  7. You can’t afford a cheap site.
  8. People are viewing your current Web site right now.

(link via eministry notes)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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11 Responses to “What Pastors Need to Know About the Internet”

  • Steve
    December 19, 2005

    This might sound trivial, but I think it is huge in our area: when you email a church or pastor, 9 times out of 10 you:
    1) Won’t get any respond, especially a return email…or…
    2) You get a response 3 weeks later similar to, “Sorry it took me so long to respond, I have been busy with ….blah, blah, blah…”
    3) You get a response 3 weeks later similar to, “Sorry, but I don’t check my email much…”
    In trying to locate local pastors who would be interested in being on our church plant’s board, I emailed everyone who I thought would take the request seriously. Of the 15 pastors I emailed (all of which I retrieved their email addresses from their church websites), guess how many responded?
    This is not an isolated event. If you can get a church to respond within 24 hours, it’s like winning the lottery.
    While I do believe Terrell has his heart on straight, 90% of churches in my area need more fundamental assistance. Another comment: his advice is unrealistic in our local church market. 90% of the 40+ churches are age 50+, and there isn’t much technology being used even in air conditioning/HVAC systems.
    I mentioned to one pastor that we get over 600 unique visitors a month to our website, (which in a town of 40,000 is a good number – most come from a $2/day meager Google Adwords program), and his response was almost indifference.

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  • brad
    December 19, 2005

    I attend a big church that has a dedicated webmaster, but I think Warren may be going overboard by saying not to let a volunteer run the site. For some, that’s just not feasible.

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  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    December 19, 2005

    Brad wrote: “attend a big church that has a dedicated webmaster, but I think Warren may be going overboard by saying not to let a volunteer run the site. For some, that’s just not feasible.”
    It’s feasible for every church. With companies offering “cookie cutter” templates that include hosting for around $15 a month for a basic website, there’s not a reason to have a pathetic website. Period.
    Now if a volunteer can do a better website and create a back-end software interface that allows for staff updates on the fly, and understands that it may be necessary for the church to hire help from time to time when the demand is higher than a volunteer can be expected to handle.
    My 2 cents,

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  • janna
    December 19, 2005

    you also have to remember that pastors receive plethoras of emails…in my church or 2,000+ there are people that relentlessly email the lead pastor even though we have other staff that could deal with things. if he answered every email, we wouldn’t have very effective sermons on Sunday! :)

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  • nate klaiber
    December 19, 2005

    RE: Chris – I agree with not letting volunteers doing the site. Look at ANY church site on my church district and it looks like pure garbage. Not just to my standards, its the typical oversized images, animated gifts, repeating backgrounds, etc. If thats a first impression – they are hurting immensely.
    RE: Anthony – I agree with some, but I think even some of the templates look like crap. Truewell, in particular, makes sites that are cookie cutter (they ALL look the same) and their functionality is very weak for the most part. So, even with a template a crappy site is possible (The NYI site for my district is a perfect example).
    If you put people who have NO IDEA what they are doing in control of a website, its bound to go by the wayside. Would you let just anyone pastor your church? Would you let just anyone teach your kids? I dont see why we lower the bar for something like this.

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  • Strategy Central
    December 19, 2005

    8 Things Pastors Need to Know about the Internet

    Are you invested the way you really ought to be? One of the things that improves investment portfolio performance is a periodic review and rebalancing. That practice carries over really well to organizations themselves. Doesn’t it make sense that you

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  • Mark Howell
    December 19, 2005

    The key is the first of the 8 things you need to know! There’s no question that “your target audience for church growth is Internet-savvy.” When you combine that with the second thing, “Your Web site will be your ‘first impression’ for many people” its just intuitive that we better be very intentional about our web presence. Putting a half-hearted website out there is not making a wise investment. The truth is that many of us need to take a look at our budget and repurpose some line items. This is a big opportunity that many miss.
    Thanks for the link to a great set of ideas!

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  • kevin
    December 20, 2005

    Hey Steve, I think pastors not responding to e-mail is not something limited to just pastors. I know if you e-mail me the chances of me responding within 24 hours aren’t too good. And I’m online 12 hours a day.

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  • Kathy Kuskie
    December 20, 2005

    About the volunteer-running-a-website thing…I think it’s a good point. And I’m a volunteer! My husband and I lead the all-volunteer team that develops and maintains our church’s website (http://www.sunsetpres.org) and I think we do a pretty good job. Funny thing is, all the staff thinks I’m one of them, even to the point of asking what days I work! A website can be done with volunteers, but it takes a staff-level commitment to do it well.

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  • MA Murphy
    December 25, 2005

    About the Volunteer doing the website. I am a volunteer for my church’s website http://www.lifechurchwestmonroe.com but I also do it for a living http://www.calvarystudios.com . It can be done by volunteers “IF” they know what they are doing. You can’t invest your website to just any person who says they can. You must go about it as if you were hiring a pro to do it. Ask for a portfolio and such. I see the same mistake over and over with church’s not having a very good website. Don’t just use anybody.

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  • Roy S.
    January 9, 2006

    I’m a volunteer web designer for my church, and I think I’ve done a pretty darned good job here:
    BTW, I also happen to work as a web designer…

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