Building Connection Through Stories on Your Website
What’s the purpose of a church website? Sounds like an obvious question, but it’s an important one and one worth exploring.
One main purpose is to welcome people or encourage people to come to church. So how do you do that? First, I’d suggest shifting an understanding of the purpose of your website from informational to relational.
Yes, your information has to be correct, or we won’t have a relationship because I won’t trust you, but newcomers are looking to form a relationship with people in your church. At the heart of relationships are stories - shared, mutual stories. On your website, you are inviting people into the ongoing story of the people of God.
I’d suggest the Church tells these four kinds of stories:
Foundational Stories of Our Faith
These are the stories that define who we are as the people of God. These stories are drawn from scripture and from the broadest understanding of what it means to be a Christian. We tell these stories in our stained glass windows, in readings during worship, and in Bible studies.
These stories still reflect broad Christian stories, but they present our faith as viewed through our denominational history, dogma, and practice. These stories are reflected in our traditions, our style of worship, our prayer books and hymnals, and in our governance and decision-making structures. These stories can be important to share on your website as they help to orient people who are coming from other faith traditions or from no faith tradition at all. These stories help differentiate your church from the other churches that exist in your community.
In these stories, we really begin to see the importance of time. Who you are as a congregation today is not who you were 5 years ago or 150 years ago. And yet, too often when we think of congregational stories, we start at the beginning with the founding of our church, moving linearly through the present day. But the most important congregational stories are the ones that are happening right now! These are the stories that are most essential to share on your website.
Personal stories are at the core of faith. How has an individual life been transformed? Transformation is intriguing. The hope and possibility of transformation - of self, of community, of the world - can be what draws people to church. Furthermore, stories are how we build and share an identity! The people already in your church should be equipped to name and share their stories. Doing so invites us all into the ongoing story of the people of God. These are definitely stories to share on your website!
These are the stories you'll want to tell on your website. And to be clear, they don’t have to be written only. These stories can be shared on a website in photos, videos, podcasts… and even in the way you organize and prioritize content.
What stories does your website tell about your church, both intentional and unintentional? Share your stories and ideas in the Learning Hub Commons and join us for Learning Live on Tuesday, June 13 at 1 pm Eastern as we discuss this topic in more depth with people like you.
Lisa Brown is passionate about creatively enriching the spiritual lives of people of all ages through digital storytelling, experiential and immersive learning opportunities, and collaborative art installations. As the Membership Vision Project Lead, she facilitates digital engagement by helping churches tell their stories through beautiful, narrative websites.
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