The first thing to know about Stephen B. Morrissey’s book The Rookie Year: Church Web Strategies Blog Vol. 1 is that everything in it is available for free on his website, www.churchwebstrategies.org. This book is simply a print version of his first year of weekly blog posts from July, 2011 to July, 2012.
Since the content of this book is taken directly from a blog, as he says in the introduction, “some errors did slip through.” It’s unfortunate that some errors slipped through, as the content in this book is fantastic. My biggest wish for this book is that the author would have taken a little extra time on proofreading. That said, at least it’s understandable why there are errors, unlike some of the other books I’ve reviewed.
When I bought this book, I didn’t realize that all the content in this book was available for free online. If I had, I’m not sure I would have paid the $4.99 for the paper version. (Oddly, considering the nature of the book, there’s no Kindle version available.) Fortunately, the purchase was well worth it.
Morrissey is light on technical implementation details, but that’s a strong point of this book. So many books on church websites get bogged down in the code-level details of running a website and lose the purpose of the website.
Instead, the 51 articles here focus on higher level topics that are specific enough to be helpful, but wide enough to apply to any church website, large or small. Some sample topics are Creating Your Web Site Navigation. Landing Pages and Your Church, and Advancing your Website without a Pastor.
In many articles, Morrissey takes a business website concept and applies it to a church website context. There’s business language sprinkled throughout, with terms like customer service, stakeholders, and return on income, all interpreted to be relevant to churches.
Some articles are more theologically based, and Morrissey often credits a sermon (complete with a link to his source!) for his topical inspiration.
Finally, and perhaps most usefully, each blog article includes an “action item” – something practical for the reader to take action on immediately. Some of the action items involve longer term strategic planning and many involve examining some particular facet of your church’s website and discerning how to improve it.
Essentially, this book is what I wish this website to be like. I’ll certainly be reading the Church Web Strategies blog, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing articles on the ChurchWebTips Twitter.
This is easily one of the best books I’ve read about church website design. It’s not a comprehensive guide, but for the price, it doesn’t need to be. Let me put it this way: after I read books I sell them. I also never highlight in books, since it reduces their resale value. Perhaps the highest praise I can give The Rookie Year is that I have filled my copy with highlighting and I’m keeping it on my shelf. It’s $4.99. Read this book.