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Finding your voice on your church website

Photo (c) Windygig

Okay, so we all know that your church website text should be easy to read and helpful. But beyond this, what is your distinctive voice?

The “voice” of your website is the tone that you are setting. It is key in telling people who you are and welcoming them into deeper conversation. It will be different for each church community and it’s worth some intentional thinking.

Decisions about voice touch other aspects of your church’s life and how your community wants to present itself to the world. Your “voice” connects with graphic design, signs, and even the patter of coffee hour announcements.

(If you can stomach this secular term, you could think of this work as your church’s “branding.”)

Here are some examples of how this might play out.

Let’s say your church draws from a nearby academic community. That means you might have the resources and inclination to do a longer church history page on the website. You will be pitching to a more educated audience that can handle a certain vocabulary and sometimes insider language.

Or maybe your church is aiming to welcome more young families. You might want to include some web pages that older children could read, or friendly, straight-shooting sections that use professional language to assure parents that their children will be safe.

Obviously churches include many different kinds of communities. Think about who they are. Write for them. Then write for the people who you’d like to welcome.

How intentional should you be about voice?
The Yahoo! Style Guide, a decent introduction to web text, says that if your website has multiple authors, you should formalize what you want. In a church context, you could for example have a conversation and then agree that your voice will mean three things: “cheerful, no Christian insider language, with lots of focus on the word ‘mission.’”

I co-tweet for my home church and I’ve found this helpful. I sat down for Indian food with the other woman who tweets from our account and together we decided what we would do: focus on weekly activities and send out encouraging scripture occasionally. We would also stay away from overtly political positions.

This doesn’t have to be arduous. You don’t need a spreadsheet—just a couple of bullet points.

Also, remember that this work is organic. Since we met, our Twitter account has morphed a bit. We co-tweeters need to check in. Time for more butter chicken.

Why is voice important?
Your church website could deepen connections: with current members and new people. Ideally, you’d like to meet them in real life, but many seekers spend a while hanging out online these days, checking out lots of church websites, before making the jump.

Help set the right tone. Put some thought into your voice, make some decisions, and get others on the same page.

What about you? What tone do you set on your church’s website? Share in the forum.

Ali Symons

About Ali Symons

Ali formerly served as senior editor at the Anglican Church of Canada. Her work included writing news articles, producing multimedia pieces, and helping people figure out how to tell their stories. "Zoom in: I fix em dashes. Zoom out: I help share the Good News."
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