By Jonathan Howe
A good church website answers questions for guests and members alike. While not every question and appropriate answer can be foreseen, an Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your church’s website can be immensely helpful.
However, churches often don’t think through what answers or questions they place on the FAQ page—if they even have one. I would encourage your church to have an FAQ page on your site and to include the answers to these eight questions:
- Where is guest parking? A map of specific directions are appropriate here. Make it as simple as possible for guests to understand where they should park. If you have a designated parking area for parents of small children, mention that. If you have special areas for senior adults or expectant mothers, mention those as well.
- What is there for my kids? Parents want to know their kids will be safe and taught well. Share the type of curriculum you use as well as the format or structure of the classes. For preschoolers, let them know what the typical childcare setup is like and what snacks are likely to be served in case there is an allergy. Highlight your child check-in system. If your church integrates the family into worship, mention that. Remember to use terminology that is not insider language. Your kids’ worship service could be called KidzPraise or FirstKids. New parents won’t understand what those names mean unless you explain them.
- How do I join the church? This should be a simple answer. Simply lay out your membership requirements. You’d be surprised at how many churches fail to mention their membership process on their websites. If you have regular membership classes, provide a link to the schedule or to a specific page that goes deeper into membership details.
- How do I join a group? This is a great opportunity to explain what you call your groups (Bible study, Sunday school, life groups, home groups, etc.) as well as where people can find information about existing groups or new groups being started. You may even suggest those who are interested contact your discipleship pastor or leader to find out more information about specific groups.
- Why do you ______? It’s likely that your church has an idiosyncrasy or two. You might partake in communion weekly or in a certain way. You may have special, quarterly baptism services. You may have a special time of prayer each week in the service. If your church has something that’s unique to it, explain it on your website.
- How do I get involved in the ______ ministry? Churches need onramps for ministry to draw in volunteers. Make it easy for someone to understand the process of going from spectating to participating. Outline the process or requirements needed to serve in your church.
- What denomination is ______ church affiliated with? If your church is affiliated with a certain group or denomination, it’s best to let people know. I know some pastors may think it will hurt the church, but honesty and integrity should always win the day. Churches should be clear about their beliefs and their doctrinal affiliations.
- How do I contact the church for _______? This may be for weddings, benevolence, facility usage, or something else. If you get routine questions at the church about a specific item, include it in your FAQ. In fact, if you’re putting together an FAQ or revising your current one, talk to whomever answers the phone at your church. Your receptionist or administrative assistants will likely know what questions are most often asked because they are the ones who answer them most often.
Does your church have an FAQ on its website? What would you add to this list?
Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
I belong to a Church of Christ and the typical FAQ sections for these churches include: What should I wear? What is worship like? And especially “Why don’t we have a piano? : )
Those are important in some contexts. And good to include.
Some churches of Christ have a section “why we don’t allow women to do anything” while others have one titled “why we do let women on the pulpit and even preach.”
First-time visitors to our church have shared numerous times that having a map of the church campus that illustrates specific parking areas, primary entrances and other markers that assist navigation is a huge help. The larger the church property, the greater the confusion to those who enter for the first time. A map on a web site helps visitors lower their anxiety level and deal with all the other hurdles to going into an unfamiliar place. Reading about where parking is located is not near as effective as seeing that specific location.
Maps are the best
We have a link called “New to FBC” and along with many of the questions above we also include: What do I wear? What can I expect on my first visit? and What is worship like? I do like including information about how to join and Why do you _____?
That’s good stuff, Greg
If you are a 50 or 100 person church, why do you need to list the membership process on your website? Anyone who would eventually be interested can readily connect with the leadership to make that happen. Are you suggesting that “guests” pick what church to go to based on the “membership process”?
No. I’m suggesting you should be clear about your church’s membership process. Size doesn’t matter.
And the only way to be clear is to post it on a website?
No, but it’s helpful. The more informed people are, the better.
OK, but “helpful” is not “essential”.
sorry that this person is being so confrontational Jonathon, I felt like this was a great help and got me “to think of the guests perspective.”
Mark, this is titled “Eight Essential Items for Your Church’s FAQ page,” so your critique about it being merely helpful and not essential within the context of posting it on a webpage at all is misplaced. You’ve basically made a category error. Think of it as a conditional: if you have an FAQ page, then you need to have this item. Complaining that you could have the item somewhere else is just irrelevant to whether or not the item should be on the page, given the page exists. He encourages churches to have an FAQ page, and that’s where the “helpful” aspect comes in. If you’re going to be pedantic, it pays to be correct. 🙂
Some churches’ membership process is just a piece of paper asking for name and address and where and when you were baptized if you know. Who can readily connect with leadership? They are only accessible if you know who they are and are of the right demographics.
Great list! My church web design company recommends a lot of these FAQ’s for healthy content to present to a potential visitor. One FAQ type item we also see getting some great results now is “Will I Be Welcome Here”. Seems like a no-brainer but many of the unchurched and de-churched wonder if they will be actually welcomed based on many reasons like tattoos, orientation, political views, etc…
That’s fascinating. I hope the answer in any church would be “YES!”
Ha Ha, amen to that. This item is usually followed up with a good deal of content on why they and anyone are welcome.
I love it! This is a great post and great comments, too, thanks!
Really good stuff, but putting a denominational tie “up front” may not be helpful for many reasons. And it isn’t about honesty, but more about providing useful info that draws people. First, if your church varies in style or tone from most in your denomination, that “label” may tell a story that demotivates guests. First, if they want that style/tone and you don’t provide it, they are disappointed. If they don’t want that style or tone, they may avoid you because of a label. Second, most denominational labels mean nothing to unchurched people unless they’ve had a bad experience with a person or church. So in this way, denomination labels can push some away and mean nothing to most. These risks are good reasons to save the denominational tag for discussion in person, or for members, or during a service…unless your denomination perfectly describes your local church and has zero baggage for the unchurched.
EIGHT ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR YOUR CHURCH’S FAQ PAGE:
Does the ‘church’ of our glorious, magnificent and exquisite Jesus Christ that you’re indeed referring to, or rather, His own ‘assembly’ or His own ‘congregation’ of beloved saints?
The Lord’s own ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation’ are linguistically far more ‘descriptive’ renderings of the Greek word ‘ekklesia’.
1. Where is guest parking?
Isn’t this question possibly based on the assumption that the ‘assembly’ of our Lord is (only) found in a purpose-built building made of brick and mortar or such a one rented for the same purpose?
2. What is there for my kids?
Isn’t this question possibly depicting a lack of faith in our Lord Himself that your (or other peoples’) children will take care of our loved ones?
3. How do I join the church?
Isn’t this question possibly based on the assumption that the ‘assembly’ of our Lord is not much different than a secular school, university, gymnasium or sports club?
4. How do I join a group?
Isn’t this question possibly depicting a lack of faith in our Lord Himself that He will place you (or other people) where He speaks to you (or to them) directly through His Spirit?
5. Why do you ______?
Same answer to the previous question.
6. How do I get involved in the ______ ministry?
Same answer to the (second) previous question to this one.
7. What denomination is ______ church affiliated with?
Isn’t this question possibly based on the assumption that the ‘assembly’ of our Lord never spoke in favour of such an assertion? Notice what He indeed said in His prayer according to John 17.
8. How do I contact the church for _______?
Same answer to question 4.
1. The answer to every one of your questions is “no.”
2. The article isn’t a position piece on theologically accurate ecclesiology.
3. Isn’t your entire post possibly revealing an agitated and ungracious spirit?
Thanks for the helpful article. We’re literally in the middle of a total website makeover. We hadn’t considered a traditional FAQ before. Looking forward to bringing this to our web team’s attention. I especially like the idea of another place for consolidated answers. The answers to the FAQ questions are likely listed other places on a church’s site. But having a dedicated space to answer them, or at least to ask the question and then point folks to the answer on a different page, will be a huge help. We’re finding/feeling that the website is only as good as it’s navigability!