Here we go! J-Term has officially started! In the first two days of the project, I read two of my stack of books (although one of them is Kindle only, so reading it didn’t really make my stack shorter). I plan to put more detailed reviews of these books onto the resources page of this site (once I have a resources page!), but for the sake of documenting progress, here are the two church website books I’ve read so far.
The first one is WordPress for Churches: How to Create Faith-Based Websites Using WordPress. It’s a short (114 pages) Kindle-only ebook on exactly what it says, using WordPress to create websites for churches. If you don’t know, WordPress is software for hosting blogs or websites. It’s incredibly popular, and although I’ve just started using it this fall, it’s what this website is running on. This book would be useful for someone in a church who is looking to start a website from scratch. You don’t need very much technical know-how to use WordPress, but having used it, I think you do need a certain level of comfort with computers and the internet. If you’re a pastor and you’re comfortable enough with technology to find this book and read it, I’d guess that you already have a website. I’m not sure how many people this book is relevant to. That said, it did have some decent instructions on how to set up a website with WordPress, and if people used this book, they would have better looking, more functional websites than many churches do currently. The book does a good job of including illustrations and specific directions of what to do, but much of that is also found in any resource on how to use WordPress, and the information is not specific to churches. In places, it feels like the author took a different book and just targeted some parts to church usage. That doesn’t diminish from the usefulness of the book, however.
The second book I read is Church Marketing 101: Preparing Your Church for Greater Growth. This book is fantastic. I highly recommend it and wish more pastors and church leaders would read it. It’s from back in 2006, but, impressively, it doesn’t feel dated at all. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t actually talk much specifically about church websites, but a lot of the same concepts that apply to any other part of marketing the church apply to the website as well. Mr. Reisling begins by defending the idea that churches should be actively engaging in marketing (not promoting – that’s a distinctly different concept, as he explains), a term sometimes opposed by those of us within the church. He talks about marketing as everything that the church does, even parts we don’t often think about as “marketing.” I love that he focuses a lot on visitors and why they come back or stay away. I’ve visited a number of churches recently as I’ve relocated to seminary, and so much of what he writes in this book echoes my own experiences. I also like that the author effectively weaves theology throughout the book. He theologically justifies pretty much everything he discusses with examples like how the Apostle Paul focused on a specific target market segment, or how Joshua sent spies into the promised land of Canaan to do market research. Excellent book. Highly recommended. I’m excited to keep going and working on the rest of my book stack!