As our churches move digital, it is more important than ever to let potential visitors see what your church is like. A potential guest’s first contact with your church will most likely be through the visuals they see on social media or your website. Online content has evolved tremendously over the past few years, and that makes it easier than ever for churches to communicate who they are and what they are about.
But with great power comes great responsibility. The success of your website and social media channels doesn’t depend on simply posting any picture or video you grabbed from Google. You have to be posting the right types of photos and videos. So how can churches most effectively use these new tools? What sort of visuals should we be putting in front of those curious about our ministries?
Posting the wrong visuals can actually hurt your cause. Haphazardly posting to your Facebook page or website can turn potential visitors off. The following is a simple list of the types of visuals that a guest would want to see before they walk through your doors. This list is not exclusive, but it can give you and your teams a solid foundation to work from.[quote]Haphazardly posting to your Facebook page or website can turn potential visitors off.[/quote]
1. People Like Me
No one wants to go to a place that makes them feel uncomfortable. Most people want to know exactly what the people in your church look like. Most unchurched people still believe everyone dresses up when they head off to church. Even if the wording on your website says differently, they will feel much more comfortable if they see how people attending your church actually dress. Shots of the pastor, worship team, or your lobby can go a long way to putting someone’s mind at ease.
As a quick side note, this is why I’m typically against using stock images on your website and social networks. It’s very difficult to capture the look and feel of your specific church without using authentic pictures from your weekend experience and events.
2. Children’s Space
When a parent visits your church, their number one concern will almost always be about the safety of their children. It’s great to show visuals of kids having fun and learning, but to be successful you must go the extra mile. Parents want to see a clean and safe area for kids. Take the time to get a few images or video of the kid’s areas. You could even snap a picture of the security team at the check-in desk so your visitors will feel better when they drop off their kids with total strangers.[quote]Parents want to see a clean and safe area for kids.[/quote]
3. Where do I go?
Now that almost everyone carries a smart phone, it is easier than ever to show people exactly where things are before they even arrive. The parking situation at my church is far from ideal. Years ago, I remember seeing with my own eyes, guests pulling into our parking lot and then pulling right back out because they weren’t sure where to go. Obviously, signage and a parking team helped that situation, but what really made the difference was using video and pictures to give a virtual tour to our guests before they even got to our location. We took the time to point out where everything was located and popped it on our website and social networks. It might seem small, but getting the right images in the right places has made a big difference.
4. What the Service is Like
Believe it or not, I’m not a huge fan of putting entire sermons on your church’s website. I am, however, a big fan of letting potential guests see exactly what they are getting themselves into. I prefer to use short clips from the sermon and worship set that give people a taste of what they will experience. If your church speaks in tongues or dances with snakes on stage, it will be in your best interest to show exactly what that looks like. Unless you are trying to fool people, there is no better way to make a guest feel comfortable than to prepare them for exactly what they will see and hear.
5. What You Are Doing in the Community
This is one of my favorite ways to share what my church is all about. The new trend is that people no longer attend church because they think they should. They want to become part of a community that is moving the ball forward. One of the best ways to visually represent your church to a potential guest is to let them see the heart of your church. Showing community projects or local outreach events is the perfect way to let the community see who you are as a church.[quote]Showing community projects or local outreach events is the perfect way to let the community see who you are as a church.[/quote]
If you’ve attended or worked at the same church for years, you know it can be difficult to step back and see it through the eyes of a guest. But it’s our job to connect that potential visitor to our church before they even step foot on the property. Using the right visuals on your social media platforms and website is the first step in getting that interested person to give your church a shot. It might take some time and a little hard work, but the results will speak for themselves.
Your visuals and digital presence have the ability to bring new people to your church. They also have the ability to turn them away. Make sure your online visuals give an accurate and exciting picture of who your church is.