Effective Church Websites Project Launch

Hello world! I am a first year seminary student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and I am doing an independent study in church websites for my January Term class.

Here’s my project description:

The website is the first encounter many people have with a congregation. Yet, many church websites are outdated, unhelpful, and flat-out ugly. Through this project, I intend to examine a variety of church websites, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, looking for the common characteristics of effective church websites. I will produce an internet-based resource with guidelines and best practices for effective church websites, containing suggestions to include on a church website, things to avoid, and simple resources to use in creating and maintaining a church website.

This site will be that “internet-based resource.” Eventually, my plan is to produce a number of articles and tips for effective church websites and some book reviews of the resources I’m using. For now, my first content will be these blog posts chronicling the process of my research and my findings.

After coming up with a project description, my first step was looking for books to read. Basically, my process was looking on Amazon.com for books about designing church websites, church marketing, and online ministry. I initially came up with this list, then I requested as many as I could through Wartburg’s interlibrary loan. That was all back in December, so with Christmas break, I didn’t have much time to read until now, but so far I’ve read two of them, and I have a stack left to go through yet this month!

Reading materials selected, I went ahead and got the domain name for this website as soon as I could, since Google is more likely to index a site if it’s not completely brand new. This wasn’t my first choice of name, but most of the ones I initially wanted were taken. I briefly thought that might mean that other people had already produced the types of resources I wanted to make, but it turns out that most of those sites are run by companies trying to sell you services, so their “website tips” tend to be rather conveniently related to their own products.

I also set up a Twitter account for the project, so feel free to follow that at @ChurchWebTips.

And that’s about the extent of my progress before JTerm actually began. Thanks for reading!

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