Create Your Own Sunday School or Small Group Website
Fri, 05 Mar 2010 - 11:30 AM CST
Use these tips, resources, and links to create your own Sunday School or small group website.
Don’t forget to link to the Discipleship Ministries website from your new small group or Sunday School page. We are constantly adding and updating resources, articles, training information, and more—we are here to serve you. With permission and credit, you are welcome to use link any resource on our website on your own website. You may link to any resources on our website without permission.
Disclaimer: the Assemblies of God Discipleship Ministries does not necessarily endorse all content within the websites referred to below.
NOTE: Ask permission from church members before using any of their information on your church website (ex: email addresses, birthdays, pictures, etc).
Why Should I Have a Sunday School or Small Group Website?
- more communication with your church and community
- promote your Sunday School and small group ministries
- online resources for your students
- the Internet can be an alternate form of community for any group of people but is especially valuable for people who are limited in transportation or health
Where to Begin
WEB ADDRESS. Word your address so it is short and easy to remember. Also, it costs a little bit of money, but it’s worth it to purchase your own domain name or web address (example: www.smithvilleassembly.com) rather than taking a free web address that is unprofessional-sounding and hard to remember (example: www.firstassembly-smithvillecounty/201.websites4free.com). An additional benefit to purchasing your own web address is that you can switch Internet Service Providers and still keep the same address name and page.
MAINTENANCE. Consider the upkeep involved in maintaining a website. An out-of-date web site emphasizes the notion that a church is out of touch. Appoint a person or a team of people, whether professional or volunteer, who are willing to take on this enormous task.
DESIGN. Professional-looking design is important; an unprofessional-looking website might harm people’s perception of your church or even stop them from ever visiting. Consider your website to be a form of promotion for your church. You wouldn’t design a promotional ad or brochure with misspelled words and poor-quality or irrelevant pictures, so try not to allow those mistakes on your web site.
AUDIENCE. Decide who the central audiences of your web site will be. Do you want to increase Sunday School and small group attendance and attract unbelievers to the church? If so, your audiences will be people of all ages currently attending your church and unbelievers in your surrounding community. Cater materials and information toward those two audiences.
PICTURES. Include good quality, compressed graphics, but don’t overload the page with them as too many pictures slow down page loading time, a constant frustration for modem-users. On the homepage, include pictures of Sunday School teachers and students smiling happily and looking welcoming. Read more tips on choosing good pictures below.
CONTENT. For your Sunday School website or page, you will want to include many printable pages and downloads, from teacher training PDF’s to permission forms for Royal Rangers float trips. Your website should also include a place for people to build community. A bulletin board can connect church members to one another. Online Bible studies can also be good tools for building community.
PROMOTION. Once the website has a reasonable amount of information, begin promoting it everywhere, continually. Just as your website must be updated regularly, it also must be promoted regularly. People won’t come to your website if they don’t know about it. Here are some ideas for promoting your Sunday School or small group website or your general church website:
- church bulletins
- promotional posters (in church and community)
- lawn signs
- have online sign-up for Sunday School or small group rallies or projects
- register site with search engines (Yahoo, Google, AltaVista…)
- newspaper ads
- highlight all big church events on the web site and direct congregants there
- church letterhead
- keep promotional fliers in the Sunday School classrooms as a reminder; update the fliers once a month with additions that have been made to the website
- put out a quarterly “newsletter” mailed to all congregants promoting Sunday School and small groupsand offering more information on your Sunday School or small group website
- run a poll on the website about an issue discussed during Sunday School and ask attendees to go online and vote (with responses to be read during next week’s class)
- suggest church members make the web site their homepage
- run a contest online (Biblical knowledge related to a Sunday School lesson, etc) with a small reward or simply a class-beginning or pre-service congratulatory announcement
EDIT. Once the website is up, have several grammatically-inclined people proofread it thoroughly for spelling and grammar mistakes. The more people that check it, the more professionally-worded your site will be.
CHOOSE GOOD PICTURES.
- 72 dpi — eliminate pictures with background distractions
- no red eye — eliminate fuzzy, out-of-focus pictures
- no glasses glare — edit pictures in a photo program (such as Photoshop)
BE A VISIONARY. Use your website to promote a new vision or mission that will help redefine this ministry to church members and breathe new life into it. To define your own vision, keep in mind the most important aspects of Sunday School and small groups: to bring people back to the Word of God, to disciple others, and to focus on evangelism. Visit our Acts 2 section for ideas on how to shape your discipleship vision.
LIMIT CHRISTIAN-ESE. “Christian-ese” is a slang term for language that is familiar to those who were raised in the church but is confusing to those who weren’t. Examples: “washed in the blood,” “anointed,” “prayer closet,” etc. If your target audience includes new Christians or unbelievers, you will want to limit the “Christian-ese” you use on your website or at least footnote those words with explanations.
MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE. Enable visitors with disabilities to access your site. First of all, it is already considered standard for governmental websites (Section 508, a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was effected by the United States government in June, 2004, giving stricter standards for federal website accessibility, and the UK passed the Disability Discrimination Act, a part of which—the “Code of Practice”—mentions web site accessibility). Secondly, it is important to show potential visitors with disabilities that your church is one where they will feel welcomed.
SEARCH. Your resources will be easier to navigate if people have a way to search for them. Putting a site-wide search tool on your homepage will enable visitors to do just that.
GRAPHICS. Professional graphics can make or break a site. Consider purchasing a stock CD or catalog that your church can own and use; many of these are not expensive. You can also visit some of these sites to download free graphics:
Internet Regulations (keep your web site above reproach)
Don’t take graphics, information, etc from other websites unless it is clearly offered for free or you have permission. However, you may link to anything on a website without permission.
“Give credit where credit is due”; if you have permission to use an article/resource, be sure to cite the author and give short bio information about him or her.
Accessibility: like buildings, websites need to be accessible to people with disabilities.
Protect children on the website: never put children’s email addresses on your website. You also shouldn’t put anyone’s email addresses on a website without their permission.
Ask parents’ permission to use pictures of your church’s children on the site or simply use stock pictures from your photo catalog or free photography web sites.
Programs That Can Help You Build a Website:
AG Churches —
This FREE web publishing service and content management program is offered by the Assemblies of God to all AG denominational churches. It is easy to use for even the most inexperienced web user.
Dreamweaver — This web development program requires lengthier web training. It enables users to design websites from the bottom up.
Netscape Composer — This program is easy-to-use for most people with word-processing efficiency.
Microsoft FrontPage — This program requires more web knowledge training. It is comparable in some ways to Dreamweaver, enabling users to design complete websites.
Microsoft Publisher — This easy-to-use program allows users to design simple webpages.
Points of Interest for Visitors to Your Website
- I’m interested in giving Jesus control of my life. What do I do? Who do I talk to?
- What do Christians believe?
- How has Sunday School or small groups helped other people in this church? (Create a student testimonies page—but don’t call them “testimonies” (Christian-ese), instead, call the page “Our Stories” or something similar.)
- Why should I participate in Sunday School or small groups?
- What ministries do you have for different ages (nursery through adult)?
- How do I find the right classroom(s)? (provide a map/pictures of your classrooms)
- What if I want someone to pray with me?
- I’m not sure I understand my new faith. Do you have Bible studies for me?
- Vision or Mission Statement page
- Email list for leaders
- Bible studies online
- Resources to help people grow in knowledge of the Bible, evangelize, and disciple others
- Volunteer/events calendar
- Lessons or lesson ideas
- Links to discipleship curriculum sites (especially helpful for teachers or even parents who want to have extra Bible study with their children). All our curriculum includes introduction to the lesson, Bible study, life application, and homework. Our suggestion for linking: Gospel Publishing House (online curriculum store).
- Individualized Sunday School class or small group pages (include items like class news, assignments, birthdays, email addresses (with permission), prayer requests board, pictures of students in that class)
Tools for the New Webmaster