You can learn a lot about what a church is doing by viewing their website!
Congregations and pastoral teams spend countless hours planning, strategizing and implementing ideas to attract people into their church. Church websites feature creative graphics, sermon series titles that play off popular TV shows or movies, and ads for fun-filled, kid-centered events are meant to attract the unchurched.
You can also discover what opportunities and needs a church is not seeing by what they’re not promoting on their website.
Surprisingly, one of the most relevant and most widely supported ministries a church can offer is rarely featured on the church’s website. And if it does happen to be mentioned, it is not promoted very well. (See blog article “Churches: How NOT to Promote Your Premarital Program on the Internet” for more on this.)
I’m referring to the best outreach opportunity and congregational ministry a church can offer: premarital ministry (sometimes called pre-marriage education, marriage preparation or premarital counseling).
In the groundbreaking survey, State of California’s Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State (2008), two-thirds (65%) of non married adults said “they would attend pre-marital education classes.” And an astounding 70% of people agreed that “their local church or religious organization should do more pre-marital education.”
Check out my article that delves into similar findings from a national marriage survey, “Most Singles Yearn to be Married and Want Premarital Education”.
So if those inside and outside the church want more premarital education, it would make sense that churches do a better job of promoting this high-demand ministry on their website.
Over the last year or two, I have surveyed thousands of church websites. Purpose-Driven churches. Willow Creek Association churches. The largest churches, the fastest growing churches and the most innovative churches. Small churches, medium and large churches. Churches of all denominations and churches in every state. Consistently, very few promoted their premarital program well.
To help inspire you, below are a variety of effective and relevant premarital promotions on church websites. All of the churches below have one thing in common: they all use my book Before “I Do” for their marriage preparation program. But, they share something else: an ability to communicate their standards and offerings in a positive and appealing way.
(1) SEACOAST CHURCH – The Most Graphic Navigationals Through the Premarital Process
Seacoast Church is on the cutting edge when it comes to multi-site church services. Their website provides prospective couples with a graphic-heavy, step-by-step navigations for wedding services and premarital classes. Every word in the body of the text counts. The result? Couples can quickly and easily get the information they’re looking for, and Seacoast gets to minister to more couples. Win-Win!
(2) CANYON RIDGE CHRISTIAN CHURCH – Choices Help Couples Choose Wisely
Canyon Ridge Christian Church gives couples all kinds of choices on weddings: small, medium or large sized. Regardless of how big the ceremony, couples get (and pay for) premarital counseling. And even if a couple doesn’t want a wedding performed by or at Canyon Ridge Christian Church, they can access the premarital program (for a small fee). In the Wedding Capital of the U.S., Las Vegas area couples are choosing Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s premarital program.
(3) LOVE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY – Devoting a Whole Site to the Ministry
Love International Ministries is so committed to marriage and pre-marriage ministry that they have dedicated an entire site to the classes, resources and trainings available to couples. Branding the marriage ministry at a church shows this congregation’s dedication and commitment to help couples thrive in their marriage covenant.
(4) GINGHAMSBURG CHURCH – Sometimes Simpler is Better
Ginghamsburg Church has a very popular premarital program that serves many couples each year. The process for premarital and weddings at Ginghamsburg Church are clearly and positively articulated on the website:
“We celebrate you and your decision to enter the lifelong commitment expressed through the covenant of marriage! We are committed to assisting Ginghamsburg couples in preparing for your special day and your lifetime together.
Marriage preparation at Ginghamsburg Church involves commitment by the couple to spiritual and relational development as well as actual wedding preparations. We will guide you through a process that consists of assessments and mentoring by a trained couple from Ginghamsburg’s Marriage Preparation Ministry.”
There is no doubt that Tipp City area engaged couples know what they can expect to get from Ginghamsburg Church.
(5) FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH WOODSTOCK – Graphic Button Says It All
First Baptist Church Woodstock details their premarital process on their website. But one part of their website caught my eye. They are the only site I remember that has a graphic button that acts as a stand alone promotional. The only thing that would have been better is for the graphic to have been placed on the home page for the church site. Either way, it is an idea that could and should be copied, I mean, inspire you. :)
(6) DOGWOOD CHURCH – Simplify the Steps in the Process
Dogwood Church has a thorough and well-thoughtout premarital process that can be simplified into five easy-to-read bullet points. While describing the details of the Five-W’s behind the steps to get married and marriage prep at the church is important, making it digestable for couples is equally important. If a church can’t simplify its premarital process into 5-7 bullet points, it is too complicated.
(7) THE LIFE CHURCH OF MEMPHIS – Motivating Couples To the Finish Line
The Life Church of Memphis has laced motivation with the necessary information on its premarital web page, resulting in an easy-to-read, step-by-step process that couples can quickly navigate through.
(8) CENTRAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF EAST VALLEY – Relating With Where Couples Are At
Central Christian Church of East Valley connects with where couples are at, empathizes with their feelings and helps them see the value in Central Christian Church’s premarital services.
“Congratulations! We share in your happiness as you formulate your wedding plans and begin the wonderful adventure of marriage. We are anxious to serve you and desire for you to experience the joy and intimacy God designed for marriage.
Step 1: The Starting Point As you begin to read this, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information presented. You may also be surprised by the expectations we hold of couples we marry. We do this in light of our desire for you…a desire that your wedding and marriage would honor God as well as each other.”
By relating with an engaged couple’s reality, Central Christian Church opens the door of their church to many couples looking to prepare for marriage.
Well, there you have it. Eight churches promoting their premarital services online…and doing it well! Hopefully, your church can follow their example and make your premarital offerings more visible on the church’s website. How else will engaged couples who don’t attend your church but want what you have to offer find you?
K. Jason Krafsky is the author of Before “I Do” – Preparing for the Full Marriage Experience (Turn the Tide Resource Group – www.FullMarriageExperience.com). As a marriage junkie, Jason supports his habit by training leaders on marriage issues, writing articles and books on marriage and family relationships, coaching communities, churches, and ministries on marriage strengthening strategies, and teaching couples about relationship issues (check out his blog at www.MarriageJunkie.com). Jason’s ultimate fix comes from his wife Kelli. They live in the foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountains with their four children. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or on Twitter (@marriagejunkie).
Copyright © 2009 by K. Jason Krafsky – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper source citation.