The Top 3 Approaches to a Multisite Church Website

The multisite revolution is underway as more churches nationwide are choosing to launch new campuses. According to Outreach Magazine, 75 of the 100 Largest Churches in America are multisite. There are myriad reasons to explain this transition, the biggest one being the cost efficiency to broaden the church’s reach. Regardless of why, the trend continues.

The idea of “one church, multiple locations” isn’t new to the local church. In fact, it’s as old as the New Testament itself. Perhaps that’s why multisite churches baptize more people, have more volunteers, and produce more diverse communities than single-site churches.

With all the positives, having multiple sites creates unique and specific challenges for churches seeking to organize content, provide value, and accomplish missional goals with their website.

At MonkDev we help thousands of churches use technology to further the gospel. Lately, more of our clients are coming from a multisite community. We partner with these churches to help build out a web strategy that appropriately translates their organization’s mission online. (If that interests you, click here to learn about our Web Strategy Services for Churches.)

We want to spend the next few weeks exploring multisite web presence trends. We’ll unpack one example each week. This week, I’ll provide a brief outline of the specific examples we’re seeing in multisite communities.

Here they are from least common to most:

Trend #1: Universal Website – Multicampus Information

The least common method is to have a universal website representing the entire church while listing information for different campuses in the navigation. This approach works well in a densely-populated area where events throughout the week are available to all and are less “campus” dependent.

The challenge here is usability. This approach requires users to determine what context the content or events apply to. If they aren’t familiar with your community, they may choose not to participate at all.

Trend #2: Standalone Campus Websites

This method works well when one church has multiple locations with separate preaching pastors and/or leadership teams. A church can convey that, while they are bound together in mission, each location has a unique identity. Locations have greater autonomy in developing their web presence.

The challenge presented with this approach is website management. Many church teams struggle with keeping content fresh on one site. Managing multiple websites can add significant content challenges. Be sure to keep cost in mind!

Trend #3: Universal Website – Campus Select Option

This approach is the most common of the three we’ve listed. The biggest benefit here is clearly identifying your site locations and asking you user to self-identify with one of them. Teams managing the website also benefit from keeping church branding uniform. Content is managed easier with this approach, as one person can push content to multiple sites.

Conversely, if you’re not working with a CMS (a content management system like Ekklesia360) with this strategy, you run the risk of duplicating content, pages, etc.

 

Conclusion on Multisite Web Presence Strategies

Churches who choose multisite have much to think about. According to our own research, 51% of members and visitors stated the church’s website was somewhat to very important in their decision to attend the church. That number, by the way, keeps increasing.

If you’re a member of a multisite community, or even considering it, this blog series will be important for you to follow in the weeks ahead.

To begin this series, go here.

Read more from Justin here.

 

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Justin Wise

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I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

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