Ethos of Brandywine Church site

Relatively few church websites have been designed around the needs of non-Christian visitors. Brandywine Community Church is an exception to the rule. Pastor Matt Wickham shares the reasons:

“The site was built around the idea of providing a place where we could direct our unchurched family and friends to visit and find out more about the church. It seems many people (especially if they are not familiar with church) would prefer to visit a website first … it’s less intimidating, they can know what to expect ahead of time, and make sure it’s not wierd! So, we wanted the whole ‘front door’ to appeal to an unchurched person and what they want to know. Also, when we print the website on invitation cards, direct-mail pieces, Yellow Pages, etc, we feel confident knowing the site has been designed for a seeker. We didn’t just want it to be a church brochure, though.

We wanted it to be dynamic and interactive, and have layers underneath that appeal to the members needs also. We feel we have a lot more to do, but it’s a great start. It was all done in-house, we didn’t pay anybody big bucks! So, I feel almost any church could adopt the approach.

A number of comment cards have mentioned that they found the church through the website, and our members love to use it as an invitation tool.”

Brandywine Community Church
Brandywine webmaster’s story – how Greg Lipps got involved

Discussion questions on the Brandywine site

  1. Who is the target audience of the Brandywine site?
  2. Look for several user-friendly strategies on the site.
  3. Place yourself in the mind of a non-Christian who finds this site for the first time. What is your reaction? Now conduct the same exercise for a typical church site.
  4. Would the site make you feel more able to ‘cold-call’ the church – i.e. to take the big of attending a church meeting on your own?
  5. Do you receive the impression this is a friendly relaxed place which would welcome you if you did visit?
  6. Does it explain clearly how to find the church building? By road, public transport, routes from out of town?
  7. Does the site navigation system tell you ‘where you are, where you have been, and where you can go’?
  8. Is it easy to find out what activities there are – for men, women, teens, children, mums and toddlers.
  9. Is there an email newsletter which would be appropriate for outsiders or inquirers, to give news of activities from time to time?
  10. Are there photos and bios of any key church members or leaders? Or testimonies?
  11. Is there any use of humor? Cartoons? Jokes?
  12. Is the site kept up-to-date? Is it obvious that there are new and current events being highlighted?
  13. Do you like the offer of RealPlayer streamed messages?
  14. Compare this church site with the others showcased here. Although each is outstanding in many ways, could any learn from each other and improve further?
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