3 Ways Churches Mislead People on their Websites

A church website is an essential part of a church’s ministry. As one pastor stated, “It is the digital front door of the church.” Some have suggested that over 85% of guests who visit your church will spend a significant time on your website before ever stepping foot into your facilities.

With this being the reality, it is not uncommon for churches to make the information on the church vague to appeal to a broader audience. In some ways, churches mislead people. Here are three ways that may happen.

Being Unclear on Doctrine and Beliefs

While it is true that doctrinal beliefs can be divisive, it is also true that those beliefs provide distinctiveness. Or beliefs make up the foundation of our church. Whenever a church minimizes its doctrinal beliefs, leaves off certain controversial doctrines, or misstates what they believe, they damage its credibility.

They communicate that what they believe is not that important.

Portraying a False Philosophy

Images are a powerful tool. I recently interviewed a pastor who has built websites for several churches. His interview will be live on our site in October. He stressed the importance of ensuring that images matched the philosophy and style of your church. 

If your church has pews, don’t use images with chairs. If you are a multi-generational church, reflect that on your site. If you are a fully traditional church, don’t try to project an image of a more contemporary feel. If everyone dresses in their ‘Sunday best, don’t use pictures with everyone dressed more casually. 

If you are a church in transition, then use images on your website that presents what you are and what your church will look like in the next step of your transition, not what your church will look like in 5 years.

Communicating a Practice that isn’t Real

There are certain biblical concepts and church ministries that all churches claim. For instance, missions, discipleship, and outreach are terms that most all churches use. However, emphasizing these terms on your website when no intentional ministry exists is misleading.

It is easy to talk about community involvement on your website, but if someone visits your church for three months, what will they see taking place? If you list missions as an essential part of your ministry online, there needs to be an actual focus on missions in person.

Final Thoughts

The goal of a website is to help people experience the reality of your church as much as possible before they visit. We understand that there is a limit to how much this can be done. However, we should carefully consider the image our churches are portraying online. Misleading people in an attempt to get them to visit doesn’t actually help our church grow. If anything, it damages our reputation in the community.

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