What's it for?
Alongside the question of who you want to reach and serve with your website, you need of course to consider what you want to say to them (and why... and how).
The 'What to say' section's Introduction has specific notes about many of the common topics which church websites cover.
Running a church website does require some time and effort. What resources can your church devote to running and maintaining the website?
Are you able to "work smart"? Don't let the maintenance of your church website become an extra chore - something to do after the magazine, weekly sheets, noticeboard and posters have been attended to. Your magazine and website will have content in common - can you produce it once and use it twice? The news on the website will have a lot in common with your weekly news/pew sheet. Again, can you prepare the information once and use it twice?
Organised properly, running an effective website can be easier than you think.
Three types of church website
At the least ambitious end of the spectrum, your website will be a brochure containing only information that doesn't change very much, a bit like a painted noticeboard. It gives you a presence on the web but doesn't do much else.
To be useful to anyone remotely associated with the church, your website needs to be updated regularly with church news and information, and details of church events and activities. Get help with keeping your site dynamic by including newsfeeds from your national/regional denomination organisation, and development agencies you support, or if that's not possible, there may be a Twitter feed you're happy to include. (Many Christian organisations appear sadly unaware of the benefits of providing newsfeeds: they being used less elsewhere because they are not good for commercial revenue, though why Chirstian 'hub' sites copy this trend without thinking it through properly is a mystery.)
To be useful to the widest possible local audience - to reach beyond the fringes of your church contacts - you also need to provide something online which is useful or interesting to your local community. This doesn't need to be difficult, as long as you make the web work for you, rather than the other way round, and it is well worth doing. You could, if you're able, maintain (for example) a collection of links and 3rd party resources which is unique to your local community - e.g. link to local healthcare contact information, local travel information, local traffic reports, relevant local government information, local weather... and so on. But this 'extra something' doesn't even need to be on your website:- you could run an interesting/informative/amusing blog-style Facebook page to which people will be drawn.
A positive approach
Be ambitious, but don't over-reach yourself. It's much better to have a modest well maintained site than a large out-of-date one. (You could consider starting small and building things up as your confidence grows.)
Look carefully around your church to see who can help. There's probably more talent and skill available than you think...
Above all, don't see the website as an extra chore. Work smart, don't duplicate effort, and put the website at the heart of your publicity activities.
Last updated: April 2017