What are Your Church Website Photos Communicating?

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They say a picture’s worth a thousands words. Whether we realize it or not, the photos we use on our church website communicate a message to potential visitors. The images we end up using on our website needs to authentically express the life of our church, preferably through photos of actual people in our congregation.

Many churches hesitate to use photos of their own people. Instead, web pages are often filled with images of the building, nature scenes, or generic stock photos. Using these types of images means the church is missing a golden opportunity to share what is most important to them as a church—people and the transformation of lives through the gospel.

I fell right into this trap when I first created my church’s website. I slapped a picture of our church building front and center on the homepage. I thought it would help people find us, so they’d know what our building looked like. Plus it was an easy picture to capture, with little effort.

But the building image didn’t tell first time guests what they really wanted to know: what our church is really like as a body of disciples of Jesus.

Some time later, we replaced the image of our building with one of our worship team and congregation singing in a regular worship service. This one, simple picture shows first-time guests a ton more about our church than what it looks like on the outside. Instantaneously, they get an idea of what a worship experience will be like with us. They see the atmosphere in our service, get a glimpse of the church’s demographics, as well as an idea of how people are dressed. The website is where most people looking for a new church will get their first impression. We want them to see what God is doing in our particular community of believers.

We also had a stock image on the kids ministry page of neatly groomed children beaming at the camera. Sounds great right? There was just one problem: it didn’t tell visiting parents anything real about our children’s ministry. We replaced it with an image of actual kids in one of our classrooms interacting with an adult teacher. It may not look as a slick as the stock photo, but this simple change gives potential guests a much more accurate view of what to expect in our kids ministry.

Guests are constantly telling us that our website is one of the main things that attracted them to our church. The website shows them the true vibe of who we are. Now, we pick images that authentically show our actual people doing things in the ministries, services, and activities of our church. These images communicate the message of who we really are and what God is doing among us.  

By the way, we still use that picture of our building. It serves a better purpose on our directions page, helping people know what to look for when they visit.

Ask yourself two questions: What type of photos do you currently use on your church website? And what messages do they communicate about your church to the community?

Your photos need to tell the story of who your church really is as a body of believers.

This article was written by Brad Vos for Church Juice. Church Juice is a ministry of the CRCNA, focused on helping congregations energize their marketing and communications. For more from Church Juice, and to subscribe for the latest, click here.

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