Church Websites and the Church Planter
Every church planter I meet feels these 3 things…
- Overwhelmed (There’s so much to do)
- Overworked (There’s so little time to rest)
- Overexposed (There’s so much sin bubbling up in my own life)
Church planting puts the squeeze on you. Before you can finish your second cup of coffee…
- Your schedule gets crushed.
- Your plan falls apart.
- Your patience gets stretched.
- Your expectations go unmet.
But you press on because what you’re called to do matters. And the One calling you matters more.
Guess what else I’ve learned?
What you want is noble.
Every church planter I know wants 3 things…
You’re planting a church because you want:
- To connect with the people you’re called to reach.
- To share Jesus with the people you’re called to reach.
- To get the word out about your church so you can do more of #1 & #2.
These three things you want, combined with the frustrations listed above, create friction and frustration. Think about it like this. Frustrations at a job you don’t care about pack less punch than frustrations at a job you love. Suppose you work for a company manufacturing widget spinner parts. And you could care less about widget spinners. One day you have a nifty idea for how to sell more widget spinner parts. You tell your manager your idea for adding a new violet-colored widget to the fall lineup. But management rejects your idea. Seems there’s no time to source violet dye before shipments go out. You won’t lose sleep over it. Because you’re not passionate about widget spinners.
Compare that scenario to this familiar one.
You go out on a limb (gulp). You send a lunch invite email to your not-yet-believing neighbor. You’ve been loving on this guy for months. But it’s all been surface-level chit-chat. Your front yard. His garage. You take the leap. Send the email…and you never hear back from him. That stings!
Caring ripens disappointment and frustration like the sun ripens fruit.
You care. You want to connect more. You want to share more. But something’s not clicking. And man is it heartbreaking when you plant your church and there’s no “buzz”.
You work hard getting things going. You pour your heart and soul into your church. You put in all that effort hoping folks in your community will see you and give you a chance.
But it’s like the folks you long to reach have noise-canceling headphones on. And you’re the noise.
Why doesn’t your hard work guarantee traction? (This is America, after all!) What’s standing in your way?
All Too Often, Your Church Brand & Website Are NOT Doing You Any Favors.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Bro, the last thing I have time for is adding ‘webmaster’ and ‘Chief Marketing Officer’ to my list of roles.
Plus, you’re a church plant. What do people expect? You’ll dial all this in when you add some people and a part-time staff person to delegate this to.
Well, then consider this…
These 5 Missional Marketing Maxims Will Floor You!
These 5 Missional Marketing Maxims are the driving force behind the Church Planter Starter Kit. I’m about to share them with you. Prepare to be shocked.
Like ‘sackcloth and ashes’ shocked.
Slow down as you read these. Let them simmer for a second. Embrace all five stages of grief that may wash over you.
- The people you’re called to reach are the people in your community least interested in you being there. (And that’s one killer demographic!)
- Nearly every person you’re called to reach will interact with your brand and website when considering your church.
- Your brand and website will either A.) confirm the suspicions of those you’re called to reach, B.) confuse them, or C.) help you confront them.
- Your brand and website is your always-on digital missionary. (Either a winsome missionary, or a worthless one.)
- Your brand and website may never be more important than they are in the first five years of your church plant (when you’re most vulnerable).
As if there weren’t enough mountains to move as a church planter, right?
But we’ve got to face the facts.
Part of heralding the gospel and being an effective missionary to your new city includes your website and brand. Now, please hear me. There are three things I am NOT saying about your church plant. Church planter:
- Your church brand and church website do NOT supersede Jesus.
- They do NOT cancel out your calling.
- They do NOT overshadow your character or skill.
So what are we saying then? What role do they play? How important are they?
If I Offered You a FREE Ferrari, You’d Take It…Which Means You Already Get This
Jesus, plus your calling to plant, plus your character and skill are like a Ferrari. They’ll get you where you’re going. But your brand and website are like the tires on that Ferarri. If they’re flat, they will definitely slow you down.
That’s so important, I’m going to say it again in the form of a question.
Why would you take a cherry-red Ferrari and grab 4 worn-down tire swing tires to put on it?
Answer: You wouldn’t! Ever! And if you did, a nice looking Italian man in a dashing pinstripe suit, tailored with precision, with a gold Ferrari pinned to his lapel, would repo said Ferrari…But he’d change the tires before he raced off.
Still not convinced? Perhaps you need another reason. How about 337?
337 Reasons Your Brand & Website Matter To Your Church Plant & Missional Effectiveness
Two months ago, I completed a website for a small church plant. There is NOTHING fancy about this church plant or its location. They are furthest out on the outer ring of suburbs circling a large city. Their community has a population under 40,000.
I checked their website stats seconds ago. Guess what I found?
They had 337 unique visitors to their church plant website in the last 30 days!
Here’s what that means.
If the church planter has a gathering of 75 people over the last four Sundays, plus a few guests at a service or missional community, then:
- 250 more people checked out the website than showed up for a service or sermon last month.
- He talked about his church with 250 more people than he realized last month.
- He could meet 10 new people a day for 30 days straight and still fall 7 short of those who visited his website in the same time period.
What church planter would turn down 337 opportunities to tell the people you’re called to reach about your church?
Pause: Let’s Recap Where We Are, So We Can Figure Out How We Got Here, And How to Move Forward
We need to pause and catch our breath. Why? Because every time I talk with a church planter about this stuff, I always get the same reaction. I call it the “I’ve never really thought about it like that before” look. No worries. It’s not your fault, as you’ll see in a minute.
For now, back to the recap. Being a church planter is HARD, because:
- Church planting is exhausting (in every way…physical, emotional, relational, financial, spiritual).
- You want to reach the people Jesus has called you to reach in your new city (but they rarely feel the same way about you).
- Your church brand and church website are ‘meh’ (and NOT doing you any favors in your efforts to connect).
- There are 5 road hazards on your journey to being an effective digital missionary (and your navigation system is not equipped to help).
- You likely are underestimating the benefits of a missional brand and website (and probably never prayed for help; except maybe asking the Father for money to get a website…which is a legitimate prayer by the way).
Here’s The Question You’ve Got To Be Asking At This Point
How come I’ve never thought about this? How come I don’t view my website and brand like a digital missionary? Better yet, how come no one else has ever told me I should?
I bet these thoughts and emotions are swirling about your head right now:
- If my website and brand matter, why didn’t we talk about this more during [insert: college, seminary, church planting residency, conferences]?
- Wait, did we…and I just [insert: missed it, forgot, was absent, blew it off]?
- Crap, I haven’t thought about any of this in [insert: months…or years].
- I can’t do any of those things well. I don’t know jack about branding or web design. Which means, I’m [insert: self-doubt and loathing].
Before you spiral out of control, remember, Jesus is LORD over this stuff just as much as he is over everything else in HIS church.
I Do Not Believe This Is Your Fault, I Do Believe This Is Your Responsibility
Let’s skip past the objections. They’re usually a diversion tactic anyway. We use them as shields to guard our hearts and ensure any arrows of blame fall to the ground.
Here’s the truth.
I do NOT think this is your fault. That’s not just me being nice. That’s me being real and looking at the facts.
5 Reasons Why You Don’t Have a Better Brand and Church Website (And Why It Is NOT Your Fault)
1. You lack training.
There is so much to cover already in seminary and your church planting residency. You can’t cover everything. So you focus on the “Ferrari”, as well you should. With everything to figure out, the “tires” helping your Ferrari hum along don’t make the cut.
2. You lack experience.
Most church planters are sharp. You come from a variety of backgrounds. You wear a million different hats. But there are not too many church planters with experience in the world of marketing, branding, design, and web development. Wait, but there are plenty of successful business leaders without that experience. True. But if they’re ‘successful’, they’ve got the means to hire and staff experts. Not to mention, there are 1 guh-jillion resources aimed at helping them. (Degrees, books, podcasts, conferences, consultants, etc.)
Even if you have some experience, great branding and web design involve more disciplines than you think. The amount of stuff you need to know is more like a rushing river than a trickling stream. There’s marketing, copywriting, branding, social media, and web design. Add to that a junk drawer of technology changing at the speed of light: hosting, web platforms, SEO, emerging trends. Half the time I’m struggling to keep up and I do this full-time!
3. You lack time.
You get the picture from the paragraph above. Time is what every church planter wants more of. Even if this whole digital world disappeared, there’s more to do than you could ever accomplish. I bet, when asked, an Amish church planter, who doesn’t have to worry about a brand or website, feels overwhelmed just like you (assuming Amish church planters exist).
4. You lack examples.
Hang a left at the end of the Hebrews 11 ‘Hall of Fame’. You won’t find another long hallway filled with pictures of church planters you know sleighing it in these areas. This wasn’t even a thing 20 years ago. Don’t get me wrong. There are tons of faithful church planters. Many of them will make the Hall of Fame by God’s grace. I’m talking about clear examples of church plants with well-executed, missional brands and websites. Online digital missionaries. You get my point.
It’s worth noting there are some amazing examples of great church websites and brands. But more often than not, you’ll find they belong to larger churches from an attractional paradigm. The rarer example—those associated with church plants—are typically led by a Nephilim. You know, an uber-talented planter with a set of gifts you and I could only dream of. Even then, that planter will tell you God is the only explanation for why it’s all working.
5. You lack resources (and in particular, ‘access’).
The obvious resource deficit for every church planter is money. The rich church plant is about as common as a bad recruiting class for Nick Saban—zilch. The fact you can’t hire an award-winning firm to walk you through all this is NOT breaking news.
But there’s more to it than that…or, less, I mean.
You not only lack financial resources. You lack access to expert advice in this area. Look through your iPhone favorites. Search your most frequent email contacts. Scan your last 10 text message exchanges. Then ask yourself:
- Who among these is an expert in marketing, branding, copywriting, and web design?…
- With a keen understanding of how these apply to the church (as opposed to business)?…
- Plus a clear grasp of the unique challenges facing me as a church planter?…
- So I don’t have to say, “that’s just not realistic” 5,000 times?
If you come up with more than one, forward me his or her info. I would LOVE to connect and help spread the wealth!
While This Is NOT Your Fault, It IS Your Responsibility…BUT Not Yours Alone!
So, you have no training, little experience, short on time, few examples, and a thin wallet. But you know there is huge potential. Your church brand and church website have the power to connect with your audience.
And the buck stops with you. You’re the one called to plant this church. Part of your calling is to use your brand and your website as a digital missionary.
So, in spite of the uphill climb, this is your responsibility. But it is NOT yours alone!
I’m here to help. This is why I started Church Planter Starter Kit. My church planting friends needed help. Now, I’m not omnipotent. But I’ve got years of experience, training, and reps. I’ve been in full-time paid ministry close to 20 years. I started my own marketing, branding, and design business in 2001. I’ve spent countless hours, thousands of dollars, and more trial and errors than I care to admit doing this stuff. I want to use it to serve you.
You’re called to plant. I’m called to help. You now have someone in your corner who knows about this world. I love helping church plants leverage their brand and website to share the gospel.
So what’s next?
You Now Have These 3 Options To Choose From
- Do nothing at all.
- Figure it out yourself.
- Let me help you.
Here are the ways Church Planter Starter Kit can help you (and the number of ways is growing 😀 ).
- Free blogs and articles helping you become a better gospel-centered digital missionary. (Hop on the email list.)
- The Church Planter Starter Kit: A 7-week missional marketing course for busy church planters to connect your church website and brand to the people you’re called to reach. (Join the waiting list.)
- A podcast (coming soon, 1 episode already recorded) so busy pastors can listen on the go and get actionable help connecting with the people you’re called to reach. (Get an alert when the podcast launches.)
- A few more practical resources in the works to complement the 7-week Kit.
You’re calling is noble! You want to connect with the people you’re called to reach. You don’t have the time to become an expert digital missionary with your brand and church website. But you do have access! You’re called to plant. I’m called to help.