Understanding Trends in Church Websites: Mobile First is Growing

If you wanted to predict the future of the web, how would you go about doing it? Further, what if you wanted to know how people accessed and utilized their church’s website?

For starters, you take a look at the hard data. We’ve been collecting data on 50+ churches for over three years and the data, dear friends, is astounding. If I told you everything we’re uncovering through these analytics, your head might explode.

But, not one to disappoint, here’s a peek into where we’re going.

We wanted to know, with a degree of certainty, what the trends were surrounding church websites. Take viewing location, for instance. The data we’ll be looking at in this post measures four areas:

  1. Mobile
  2. Computer
  3. Tablet
  4. Others

Here at Monk, we’re definitely seeing a trend with churches wanting to design for mobile-first. We worked with The Village Church recently to create a site-wide responsive design. If you’re not familiar with responsive, it means a website is “aware” of the type of browser it’s being accessed on—mobile, tablet, or desktop—and “responds” accordingly.

(If you want to see responsive in action, go to Village Church’s website and adjust the size of your browser window. Watch the images move! This is responsive design in action.)

The trends towards mobile comes with good reason and concrete data. Here’s what our stats show: Nearly 97% of users accessed their church’s website via desktop in 2009:


Keep in mind, this is only four years ago. Barack Obama was still a new President and poor ol’ Tiger Woods announced an “indefinite leave from professional golf” to work on his marriage. Seems like it was just yesterday but, of course, it wasn’t.

Our online viewing habits have changed significantly since then. Here’s how users accessed church websites in 2010:


It isn’t a big change, but the divergence from desktop was just beginning to pick up steam. Keep in mind the first iPad was released in April 2010—a stake-in-the-ground moment for mobile/tablet usage. Here’s what the same chart in 2011 looked like:


Desktop usage by church website users decreased 7.5% from 2009 to 2011. Desktop usage decreased another 1.7% in 2012, thus solidifying the downward trend for desktop internet use. Desktop is out. Mobile and tablet use is in. (Maybe that’s what led Google to declare “desktops will be irrelevant“…by 2013.)

Look at mobile-savvy cultures like India to see where the U.S. is headed in terms of website usage. According to Mary Meeker’s research, India become a mobile-first country in May 2012. for the first time in history, more people accessed the web in this country via mobile than did desktop.

JustinWisemobiletraffice 2012

This is not insignificant.

As the slide states, many more countries will follow. So will many churches. Organizations must begin considering a mobile-first environment. This can be especially daunting for churches who still wrestle with the purpose of their desktop-based website.


The data I’ve presented here is a small snippet of what we’ll be covering in our yearly “State of the Church Online” report, due out the end of this month. You can get early access to the report by joining our mailing list here.

Read more from Justin here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >


Justin Wise

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Chris O — 04/08/13 8:39 am

Hey, it looks like png 1, 2, and 3 isn't coming through. Would love to see the data! :)

Recent Comments
Priesthood of all believers....I believe it, but if its not, in your unhelpful words, the "talented leader who explains the Bible" who does? Who is explaining the bible to the priesthood? If its not the pastor, then fire him and hire the other guy.... You may answer, "the priesthood should be reading the bible for themselves"..."the priesthood is able to go directly to God"... TRUE, BUT many, including many clergy, aren't interested in God or if they are feel stupid that they cant read the bible or know how to see and hear from God for themselves thru his word. Where does that leave us? Who helps these people? Thats what discipleship is...clergy leading a deliberate pursuit of a few and helping them see God for themselves in scripture and see it transform their lives...and multiply into the lives of others. But you seem to argument against that..... 1. You hate Centralized Spirituality saying its Unhealthy: The big idea you seem to be driving at was the "de-centralizing" of clergies role while simultaneously asking for a discipleship system to be constructed....who is responsible to construct this system if not the clergy whom the church has entrusted with that role? 2. You dont think that "God planned for one person to disciple an entire church, and He didn’t design us to grow via mass discipleship." So if not one person ( a church that budgets for one pastor) or a staff of vocational pastors (a church that allocates rescues for multiple pastors) who drives this? of course there are other leaders but who is at the center? 3. Seems obvious, but you said Discipleship Thrives in Spiritual Small Groups...yes but how is this small group system managed? There is no way you say, just go do small groups and see what happens right? Study what you want, who cares who leads, who cares who comes, figure it out by yourself...youre a priest good luck! There is a checks and balances system that would be helpful right? There is support, there is direction....Who is the gatekeeper determining the quality of the group and supporting, encouraging and driving its health? all questions that I hope are helpful for the church, the article seems like its trying to give easy answers to an incredibly challenging idea. It seems to be attacking clergy rather than helping them see the enormity of what the people of God and God himself have entrusted to them. Help pastors step into the role of discipler, being supported by the elders, and investing their lives and conversations into helping people see God thru scripture deliberately and consistently...unwavering to any fad or program that may distract us.
— david bartosik
This resonated strongly with me. My pastor, a strong, wise, intelligent, and compassionate woman in her 40's, made the decision to take on my church almost 3 years ago. We were a very small, struggling congregation, facing closure. In our interview with her, we were very clear about the reality of our situation, and offered her an interim position, thinking that we would be closing very soon. She chose, instead, to be our called pastor, despite the odds facing her. She has gone over, above, and beyond in helping us stay afloat, but this has come at a great price, emotionally and physically. Because most of our congregants are older, they have limited energy and resources, and so many of the things which could be delegated by our pastor, she ends up doing herself, and so she faces burnout regularly. She has gotten better at taking personal time off, but I can still see that her spirit and energy are frequently flagging. And, even though we are relatively stable financially - due to renting our spaces to others - the added issues that come with renters occupy a lot of her time and energy. As her assistant, I do what I can to help ease these burdens, but I have limitations, as well, which prevent me from taking on more responsibilities. My fear is that my pastor will one day reach the end of her pastoral rope, and we may lose her. I will be sure to pass on this article to her, and continue to encourage her in her self care. Thank you for your frankness and insight.
— Monica Spangenberg
Even short mini retreats witb a group of colleagues is helpful... just sharing how it is withyour soul can move mountains of despair into the sea...
— Rick Pittenger

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.