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Meet growing demands with web apps

By Kelly Meeneghan

Getting your church online is the first step to increasing its overall visibility and reputation — the first of many.

Research by international web host 1&1 Internet shows 74 percent of Americans assume a company is successful if its website is feature-rich. Although your church isn’t a company, one overall web presence goal is the same: to communicate positive, up-to-date information to the “target audience.” To achieve this objective, consider incorporating these top five web apps:

1) YouTube. YouTube lets users upload original videos and instantly share them with the world. Church leaders can showcase service and sermon excerpts, giving seekers an inside look at the worship experience.

Another YouTube opportunity is to offer introductions to church staff members. Creating video biographies or Q&A’s helps potential and new members better understand your church’s ideals. They’ll want to make sure they’re a good match for their own.

Simple web apps can offer these videos on your church website, too. Prominent placement offers optimal availability without deterring site visitors.

2) Artful.ly. Throughout the year, there will be times when members can’t attend a worship service. Even so, they might wish to make their weekly gift. So, consider a web app that will let them: Artful.ly.

Artful.ly allows members to safely make donations directly through your website, without being redirected to a third-party vendor. It’s convenient and hassle-free for church leaders; using the app, they can keep congregants’ contact information in one location. Artful.ly also tracks individual donation records in a safe, secure location.

3) Blogger. Church leaders are influential members of their communities. It’s extremely beneficial for them to be able to share their ideas frequently, to a wide audience. Blogger lets them extend their voices outside the church building.

Anything from a hectic work schedule to a child’s soccer game can get in the way of regularly attending church. Blog posts — which further discuss elements of missed services — help members maintain a strong connection.

Blogger is a great resource for facilitating two-way communication between the congregation and the pastor. It lets members express their opinions through comments, as well as propose future sermon topics.

4) CalendarWiz. From educational classes, to community events, to weddings, churches are often “all booked up.” Church members — and other community groups that might want to use the facilities — use CalendarWiz to determine availability and avoid overbooking.

Website visitors can also see what has happened in past weeks at the church, plus scope out future events. Using CalendarWiz, church leaders can invite attendees to upcoming events, and members can stay organized and informed using the layout of their choice.

5) Get Satisfaction. Now more than ever, clear and regular communication is key for any church leader. Maintaining a consistent stream of interaction with members is expected. By integrating the Get Satisfaction web app, members can ask questions, report problems, share ideas and give praise.

No small investment
Taking your church’s website to the next level is necessary to increase membership and trust levels. Web apps foster communication and convenience through one, centralized location.

Kelly Meeneghan is a manager at 1&1 Internet, Inc. (www.1and1.com) with U.S. headquarters in Chesterbrook, PA.

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