There was a time, not so long ago, that every church recognized its need for a website. Whether it was Geocities, a Blogger page, or a basic HTML site with numerous selections of highly-pixelated clip art.

Those were the days.

Now, churches have embedded video welcomes from the pastor, sliders with images promoting everything from the next sermon series to the Fall Festival, and contact pages with phone numbers and (hopefully) a map.

Even with the advent of Facebook Pages, that free digital real estate for basic information, having a good website is still a good idea. Here’s why:

1. People consider a website a sign of being up-to-date.

A church without a website in 2018 is like a church without a telephone in 1988. When a person moved into a new community, they typically checked two places for church info: the yellow pages of the phone book, and the church page of the local newspaper. Every ad would have the church’s phone number.

Today the phone is your website. Pro Church Tools reports “nearly half (46%) of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of an organization.” Free websites are still possible, but most churches can budget for a good, relatively inexpensive website.

2. A good website answers questions that can be answered when the office is closed.

Every church website needs a calendar, or at the least, the weekly schedule and list of upcoming special events. When a child doesn’t what time the drop-off for the 6-Flags trip is when asked at 8:30 the night before, finding it on the website is easier (and more appreciated) than called the student pastor.

Remember, your website should not merely be a rehashing (or even a preview) of “insider baseball.” That is, it should not only be for church members. Non-church members also access your website, and the information on it should be written and presented in a way easy for them to understand, too.

3. A good website is your good first impression.

“You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” goes the saying we’ve heard our entire lives. The problem in churches is we tend to think of a guest’s arrival on our property as the chance to make our first impressions. That is true, to a degree: a sloppy parking lot and inattentive greeters make a bad impression. But, many guests have already “visited” your church for the first time online.

To make a good first impression your site should be attractive, easy to navigate, and—and this is important—it should be responsive. That is, it should automatically adjust according to the device being used whether laptop, tablet, or smartphone. According to Church Tech Today, 56-percent of millennials check out churches online first, and many of them on portable devices. (I’m far from a Millennial, and I access many, many sites via smartphone.)

If there is no one in your church qualified to make a decent website, and if you aren’t ready to tackle it yourself, check out LifeWay’s twenty:28.

Marty Duren

Marty Duren is the Executive Editor and Marketing Manager of LifeWay Pastors and host of the Pastor Talk podcast at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He also serves as the Groups Pastor with Green Hill Church in Mt Juliet, TN.