Once you get to the launch of your regular worship gatherings, your church plant website will have gone through several stages. Plan ahead for these 3 church plant website stages so you can transition intentionally instead of accidentally.
Your major church plant website stages will take their cues from your changing audience. Whenever you’re writing website content, you should always ask and remind yourself, “Who’s my audience?” And you’ll have to rewrite your content at least twice.
Stage 1: Your Supporters
Very early in your church planting process, you’re going to need a web page to direct your supporters to. You probably only need a single page, so keep it simple. But a website will be really handy for accepting online donations as you raise funds.
You may not have even named your church yet, so here are some options at this stage:
- Get a dedicated page on a supporting church or planting organization’s site
- Use one of those simple website builders that assigns you a subdomain (it’ll look like mychurchplant.[nameofservice].com)
- Buy a temporary domain name to use for a year (like thecheboyganproject.com) and host your own page
Nobody is going to be stumbling onto your site through internet searches at this stage, so you don’t have to worry too much about SEO. You’ll send your supporters a direct, clickable link through email or text.
Stage 2: Your Team
As you network in the community and begin gathering a team, you’re going to want a site to establish your credibility. Now you need to de-emphasize the ‘money talk’ and emphasize vision, community involvement, and recruitment. Write new content addressed not to the community at large, but to people that you’re meeting personally.
You can transition a temporary domain (#3 above) and just bury the supporter page under a menu. But the first 2 options above begin to crash & burn at this stage. They can be great early on, but they’re not good long-term solutions.
You can launch your own simple website at this point and leave the fundraising page going on its own. But who wants to manage 2 websites?
Before too long, you’ll name the church and buy a permanent domain name. If you’ve gone with hosting your own site, you just swap out the domain name; you don’t have to lose your work.
Stage 3: Your Community
Several months before your grand opening of regular worship gatherings, you’ll need to transition the website to its permanent audience: your community. My friend Russ over at Catalyst Creative recommends keeping your website laser-focused on your external audience and launching a church app for your internal audience.
There is plenty more to be said about designing your permanent website (which should never really be permanent BTW), but that’s for another post.
For now as you’re getting started, plan ahead for these church plant website stages so that you’re saying the right things to the right audience. At the right time.