This might seem like a crazy question, especially when many churches don’t even have a website to begin with.
However, consider how different the two audiences are. Your members come to your church’s site to interact with each other, check announcements and worship when they’re not able to attend.
Non-members and the unchurched visit to get a sense of what your church is like and even to be a part of a community when they don’t have a home church at the moment. For this reason, some churches actually have two different websites.
Community Just For Members
In many cases, churches create websites as a way for their members to connect 24/7. It’s a way to keep members engaged even when they’re not in church. This keeps them coming back and encourages them to invite friends and family.
If a site’s just for members, it becomes their own personal community. You might have forums or a chat function for them to interact. There might be special discussion groups around sermons or Sunday school classes. Volunteers might be able to stay in contact and post progress when working on projects separately.
Appealing To Non-Members
On the other hand, all of this might seem a bit exclusive for non-members just finding your church’s website. If your site sounds like the one above, different websites might be a good idea. You might have a members-only site that requires a login.
You’d then have a public site for non-members. Churches using this approach focus more on building their church’s brand, adding inspirational content, uploading sermons and adding details to encourage site visitors to visit the actual church. Of course, in addition to not making the site seem exclusive, avoid these other common mistakes.
Addressing Members’ Needs
Your members are probably going to have different needs than non-members. For instance, they might have questions about volunteer opportunities or something the pastor said during a sermon. They might want a place to request prayers or send out public prayers to other members or members’ families.
Having different websites allows you to specifically address the needs of your members instead of making them feel like the website is more of an advertisement versus an online community.
Tying Church To Current Events
When non-members and the unchurched are looking for a new church, they’re going to judge your church in part on how relevant it seems. When you have a site specifically for non-members, you’re able to focus it more on tying the church into current events.
You might post special sermons or thought-provoking content on a recent tragedy or political event. Instead of so much of your site catering directly to members or just uploading the sermons they hear, your site’s non-member visitors get something just for them.
While your church does need to focus on growth, you also have to focus on maintaining the members you already have. This might mean having two different websites. You already know your members and the issues they face. Having a site that allows you to speak directly to their issues or to congratulate members on their successes helps you to continue engaging them.
You’re able to inspire them and show them that the church cares about them. This keeps them coming back and even encourages them to help out when growing the church.
Calling Out To Non-Members
Your church’s website is your church’s online ad. It’s hard to strike a balance between connecting with members and calling out to non-members. You don’t want either group to feel neglected. This is why some churches focus on different sites to meet the needs of both. You’re able to talk directly to non-members and address common issues that may be keeping them away.
The Final Decision
Should your church have different sites? Honestly, that’s a choice only you can make. Overall, churches with a balanced strategy find a single website effective. If you have a larger church, multiple sites often work well.
Keep in mind that multiple sites mean twice as much work in maintaining and uploading content. As an alternative, consider have a members-only section on your site where members can log in to access special forums and a blog dedicated to them. It’s a little easier to manage and caters to everyone.
Trying to figure out what type of church website strategy is best for you? Contact us today to find out how we can help.