Checking in at Church: Parish website development

Lisa Hendey

This presentation was given at the 2011 Catholic New Media Conference. Below are my notes on the presentation:

Why Bother?

  • Educate about the Church
  • Provide parish information
  • Outreach to interest groups
  • Build community

10 Best Practices for Parish Websites

From Craig Berry:

  1. Useful contact us page
  2. About Us/History Page
  3. Prominent use of Social Media
  4. Online Map/Directions
  5. Calendar of Events
  6. Weekly Bulletins
  7. Blog
  8. Site Map
  9. Mass Times
  10. Donate Online

What Parishioners Want (from online polling)

  1. Priestly presence (this can be easy or hard)
  2. Ministry schedule information
  3. Homilies available online
  4. Q&A with Pastor
  5. Photos, photos, photos!
  6. Religious education resources
  7. Opt-in text reminders
  8. Bulletin online early
  9. Mobile version
  10. Online forms and registration
  11. Active Facebook presence for wired parishioners and teens
  12. Online stewardship
  13. Ride sharing resources


  • We are at the service of the Word.
  • Never neglect human relationships.

Is social media right for your parish?

From Jared Dees, Today's Parish

  • What are my parish's goals?
  • Does the parish website align with these goals?
  • Do I have the time and people to participate in social media?
  • Will I be able to relinquish control of the conversation?
  • Are you ready?

Building Community

  • Involve many and non-traditional volunteers
  • Offer cultural and linguistic diversity
  • Include photos (within existing usage policies)
  • Meet them where they are
  • Establish a parish hastag
  • Activate youth and young adult resources and don't forget "wired" seniors
  • Hang Out (on Google+)
  • Find a Knight in shining armor
  • Check in at church

Dealing with Resistance

  • What are some of the best practices for overcoming resistance in social media efforts in the parish?
    • Parish leaders are often unable to see the online component of the parish as more than a 'publishing medium'
    • Assure leaders that you can put limits and boundaries on things so it doesn't grow out of control or too expensive
    • You can still have active and beautiful online presences without vast resources
    • Start small, and incrementally grow. Sometimes you just need to take a small step, and then wait.

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