The New Visitor

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2012 STATE OF THE CHURCH ONLINE REPORT Every church has different personas that make up the congregational body. Each of these personas—New Visitor, Return Visitor, Engaged Member, and Mature Disciple—all need different things from portions of the church website. Creating a website where participation occurs is something we call Mission Process Design: intentionally crafting an online discipleship path for users. Based on data that has been gathered from 50 churches, large and small, urban and rural, and every denomination spread across the United States, it is safe to say having an interactive online community is vital to the life of a church. We believe this so strongly, we’ve created an annual report to show you what the most important improvements are for your church website. The full State of the Church Online report will launch early April, 2013. To receive the report, please sign-up at:

THE NEW VISITOR The first persona who will interact with your website is “The New Visitor” This is someone who has not attended any of your church’s services, events, or programs. The number of people who found out about their church website using a search engine increased 91% from 2009 to 2012. Be aware of something called “denominational agnosticism.” It’s the idea that people are less concerned about finding a church belonging to a certain denomination. For example: if someone moves to say, Chicago, they will most likely go to Google and type in, “Church in Chicago” rather than “Lutheran Church in Chicago”. If New Visitors cannot find your site through regular search engines, there is compelling evidence to suggest they will not visit your church. It is vital that the New Visitor is able to easily find service times and directions on your church website.

THE REGULAR ATTENDER The second persona who will interact with your website is “The Regular Attender” This is an individual who has been attending the church for over six months and less than two years. Some of the most import content areas on your church website to help The Regular Attender connect to your community are Sermons and Media, Events, and Next Steps (Get Involved, Get Connected, etc). It is imperative to present multiple ways on the church website for The Regular Attender to get involved with community-based activities (e.g., a detailed calendar and event page). The more they become connected with opportunities to engage the community through the website, the more likely they are to transition to the next stage of persona development.

THE ENGAGED MEMBER The third persona who will interact with your website is “The Engaged Member” This is an individual who has been attending the church for at least two and under five years. They'll be familiar with the church, and all it has to offer. They have a strong preference for getting church-related information from social networks, Facebook in particular. Amongst Engaged Members, Facebook is a viable place for not only online communal interaction, but a trustworthy source of information. Engaged Members showed the highest demand for an easy-to-use online registration process. Creating a system on your church website which allows congregation members to register for classes online is a great way to help engage. Focus it towards members looking to take the next step in their discipleship journey.

THE MATURE DISCIPLE The fourth persona who will interact with your website is “The Mature Disciple” This is an individual who has been at the church for 5+ years and self-identify as a Christian. Virtually all the churches we’ve worked with in developing an online discipleship process note Mature Disciples develop best through finding ways to serve in leadership and develop younger leaders. When creating opportunities for people to become deeply connected to others in the church community through small groups, understand the relationships formed here will often breed your next generation of leaders. Consider using a private online community like Cobblestone to facilitate small groups.

CONCLUSION Community life is at the center of each persona’s interaction with the church website. Whether it’s a New Visitor stepping foot inside the church for the first time, or if it’s a Mature Disciple looking to pour back into the community through small group opportunities, your church website plays a significant role in moving members from one persona to the next. The more you can facilitate specific connections to the community, the more successful your website will be. To ensure you receive a free copy of the 2012 State of the Church Online report, please sign-up at

MISSION PROCESS DESIGN AFTER WORKING WITH MONKDEV EagleBrook increased newcomer engagement by 57% The Village Church reduced their website content by 80% Mariners small group engagement increased by 82% Learn more about our strategy sessions.