In the first post of this series, “Stories, Your Website’s Secret Sauce,” I wrote about our need to share stories if we want to convert website visitors into church visitors. In my last post, “Stories – Finding the Secret Sauce,” I shared some ways to find those stories in your congregation. Now we get down to nuts and bolts. How can you use those stories on your website to inspire people to take the first step of visiting a church?
What Kind of Stories?
As I have looked at dozens of church websites that share stories, there isn’t one single kind of story that seems most effective. Some share testimonies – stories of coming to faith, coming back to the church, or going deeper in faith. Some focus on individual experiences of coming to the church or getting more involved. Still others feature stories of members’ experiences with particular ministries. The type of story doesn’t matter as much the quality, authenticity, and power of the story itself.
Written Word Vs. Video
For the most part, video stories will have far more impact than written stories. However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the possible impact of the written word. You may consider sharing stories in written, narrative form, especially if you lack the resources, equipment, and experience to produce high-quality videos. Videos certainly don’t need to have Hollywood level production but they need to be of a high-enough quality not to distract from the story itself.
I would much rather see written stories than no stories at all. And honestly, the written word still holds great power, especially if done well. Let’s look at some examples of churches using written stories on their websites.
Saint John’s United Methodist Church, Austin
Saint John’s uses written stories on the “About” section of their website to illustrate their mission statement, “We are creating a community where God’s love changes people, and God’s people change the world.”
They share five stories, written in the third-person, with quotes from the subject of the story. They are mostly focused on how members have been drawn deeper into the faith and the ministry of the church.
You can take a look at: http://www.stjohnsaustin.org/missionstatement
First United Methodist Church, Austin
First UMC takes a different approach with a blog-style feature called “Faith Stories” that is a part of their “About Us” section.
Most posts are written by different members of the church sharing their own stories mostly focused on the impact and experience of different ministries in the church. A few are written in the third person.
Take a look for yourself: http://fumcaustin.org/category/faith-stories/
First United Methodist Church of Alexandria
First Church has a page in their “About us” section called “Faith Stories.”
It features links to 15 written stories in PDF format. The stories are all written in the third person by a member of the church’s communications staff.
Here is the link to see for yourself: http://www.fumca.org/faith-stories/
These are just a few examples. How you share your stories will depend on the stories you find and how you tell them.
Here are some practical tips for sharing stories on your church’s website:
- Always get permission!
- Use photos when possible. Let people see the faces involved in the story.
- Consider using a trained copywriter or editor. Whether the stories are shared third-person “reporter” style or written in the first person, make sure that typos, punctuation, and style don’t distract from the power of the story.
- Share them in a prominent place. These stories are important. Make sure visitors find them.
Have some other examples of great written-word story telling? I hope you will share the links in the comments below.
In my next post, I will share some examples and tips for sharing your video stories online.