Women in Ministry: Dealing with Stress

Women in Ministry: Dealing with Stress

Today’s women wear many hats. On any given day, a woman who centers her work around the family can put 100 miles on her car simply running errands and getting her kids to activities. A woman who works outside the home will attend meetings all day, drive through rush hour, and still have to make dinner, give the kids baths, and help with homework. In ministry, trying to balance work, home life, and sometimes school or another job becomes tricky. Single women are not immune to the pressures either. Even though they may not have to factor in marriage responsibilities or children, many report being asked to do more by church leadership and other members because people assume that they have the time to donate to others.

Women tend to take on a lot. In their roles as family caretakers, many find that the cooking, the cleaning, the nurturing, and the organizing falls to them. Add to that the breadwinning role and a role in ministry leadership, and the already-full plate begins to overflow. As the caretakers and multitaskers, it is hard for women to admit that they are feeling stressed, disengaged, or even depressed because of the full lives they appear to lead.

“Being able to recognize that we all have our limitations is the first step in understanding how to acknowledge and address our stress or burnout in daily life and in ministry work,” says Krista Kerin, Ministry Development Consultant at The Church Online. She adds that she is glad to see churches and women’s groups alike addressing this issue directly.

Experts tell us that understanding the stages that we might go through in the throes of our most stressful seasons in life is paramount to identifying what causes us stress. Only then can we take steps to stop those stress-inducing behaviors and patterns, and eventually, overcome the issues. We must learn to recognize our stress symptoms, stress compensation behaviors, and stress breaking points.

Many times, our stress symptoms are issues that we live with every day like headaches, stomach issues, or insomnia, which we tell ourselves are normal everyday issues. These minor problems can be our bodies telling us to slow down and decompress. When we use stress compensation behaviors, we are trying to make the best of a bad situation by scrambling to make deadlines or putting others’ needs before our own. Ultimately, when we reach our stress breaking point, we experience the depression and hopelessness that comes from fatigue and the constant sense that we are over-scheduled and not good enough. After this, we are ready to make changes, but only after we have hit our breaking point.

Start to break the pattern by first understanding your stress symptoms. Next, seek help when you find the urge to get into your stress compensation behaviors. Finally, know that, when you reach your stress breaking point, you can rebound from it and make changes in life that will help you stop the cycle of over-extending yourself in life and in ministry.

Faith Break : Speaking Out

Faith Break: Speaking Out

Proverbs 15:1-2

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (NIV)

Anyone who has ever had to give an important speech or had to write an important article knows the frantic search for the right voice. While we all speak and write every day in our own unique voices, we only become aware of what that voice means when we are in a position where our words are being judged and weighed by others.

For those who spend their Sundays at the pulpit or for those whose mission it is not just to sell a product but to defend and spread the Word of God, this is a particularly strong concern. Speaking the Word is an act of the greatest consequence. Taking the wrong tone can take someone down the wrong path and away from faith, while the right tone can lead a fleeing sheep back to the fold. In such moments, we wish to speak with “the tongue of the wise” and not “the mouth of the fool,” but how can we know the difference?

In the Bible, few people hear the voice of God directly. The prophets all speak with His voice, spreading His message. So rare and powerful is this gift, many of the books of the bible bear the names of those who have heard Him. We know these people to be honest and righteous now, but from the perspective of a man or woman of Jerusalem, the prophet is only one of many claiming to have the answers. It is a daunting task to take the divine truth and set it down in words that average people can understand. After all, most of us feel God and know God but don’t receive His Word directly in the way the prophets did.

However, it is clear that God wants us to be careful with our words at every moment in our lives, not just in a performance. Not only is “a word fitly spoken…like apples of gold/In settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, NKJV), but crass words act against our purposes. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (4:29). This is a sentiment Our Lord understood well when He said, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them” (Matthew 15:11).

So we must be careful with our words. But we aren’t left with a clear idea on how to do that. Now we can look to Ecclesiastes. In chapter five, Solomon tells us, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools” (5:1). The wisest king in history would know something about that. And his advice is the same here as in Proverbs (5:2):

Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.

We should speak few words, always listening before we speak. And who should we listen to except God? We must hear his directions in everything around us. Though some of us stand at the pulpit and some of us preach to the crowd, we must remember that speech was designed for conversation, that we have to listen before we can respond. We must listen and not be impatient to hear what God wants us to say and what voice He has in mind for us. Or, as James put it, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

It is from the wisdom of this approach that a voice can be found. If we are listening for God’s words, as well as the needs of our congregations or neighbors, our own words will begin to meld with God’s voice. Just like a child learns to speak by imitating a parent, so too will our voice suit God and our flock if we are willing to listen first and then speak gently. If we commit to this path, there will be no trouble in finding the right voice. The voice will come of its own, and the service to the Lord will be certain.

Expanding Church Outreach

Expanding Church Outreach: Strategies

Marketing your organization each year is a critical element of an overall growth and outreach plan. Plans to move ideas forward and highlight all the good points and positive movement in a year, a month, or even a week are imperative to grow, get messages out, and make sure that products and services are accessible to the proper demographic.

As Christians, we understand the good work being done, and we relish in the fellowship, the outreach, and the interaction with our pastors and fellow worshippers. Melissa Wharton, President and CEO of The Church Online notes that “Everyone, from the pastoral and ministry teams, administrative teams, church members, and those who live in the community should have a vested interest in the growth and the success of the ministry.

Ministries play a critical role in not only the spiritual wellbeing of its members, but also in the vitality of the communities they are a part of.” It is important to ensure your church or organization is meeting the needs of its members and the community. This involves accessibility, including expanded access to worship and community-based services. A user-friendly website can ease the process of tithing, prayer, ministry, or any other group involvement. The Church Online has recorded a sharp growth in online giving (an increase greater than 6x) over the last two years and has also noted a higher level of participation in ministry activities when online tools are incorporated into ministry websites making it simple for supporters to participate in ministry activities such as small groups, classes, special events and more.

Streaming live services and offering video on demand are a couple of other services you can utilize to help expand your message and your work to national, and even international, communities. Ongoing communication is imperative. Book publishing, weekly blogging, and regular video production and outreach will keep communication consistent, lively, and inspirational. Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, located in the East End of Pittsburgh, PA has found a great way to successfully contribute to their communication efforts. They have initiated a prosperous small group program that encourages fellowship with others while at the same time providing a biblical study component.

Aligning with the current ministry theme at the time, each of their curriculum workbooks has been written and provided to be engaging, inspirational, and enjoyable. Mt. Ararat integrates the workbooks with an effectively managed website, captivating videos, and inspiring pastor’s messages to keep communication alive and consistent.

Check back here weekly for more directed marketing tips from The Church Online’s Technology, Marketing, Design, and Publishing teams. We’ll be discussing how to start your marketing and growth efforts, how to expand on what you already have in place, and how to assess whether or not your current plan is meeting your organization’s goals.

We invite you to join us for weekly goal-setting as we continue this new year and have to face all those resolutions we have set—both personal and professional. Make 2019 your organization’s year for change and growth!

Welcoming Visitors at Church

Welcoming Visitors at Church

When visiting a church for the first time, visitors can form an impression of the church and even the pastor and leaders by how warmly they are welcomed. Many of us have heard stories of or have even been “welcomed” by a less-than-friendly usher or greeter.

While we make attempts to be courteous and open to visitors, no matter where we worship, we must put in the extra effort it takes to reach out and help our special guests feel at home. Here are some tips that can help make newcomers feel more welcome and comfortable:

• As members and/or regular church attendees, we should endeavor to make visitors feel welcome. Just remember how you felt as a visitor in a new place. A friendly, welcoming face helps to ease any initial doubts about the decision the visitor has made to visit the church.

• Treat visitors as guests in God’s house, not as strangers. Use the same hospitality in church that you would for an honored guest in your own home. Their comfort and needs are of utmost importance.

• Act as a tour guide and provide a map of the church if there is one. Show them where all the resources are, from the bathroom, to the youth areas if they have children, to the fellowship hall. If there is a welcome center, encourage them to visit it.

• Remember the importance of nonverbal communication. With a smile on your face, make friendly eye contact. A gentle touch on the shoulder or a handshake wouldn’t hurt, either.

• Initiate conversation and greet guests at their level. If your guest is a child or in a wheelchair, try not to talk down to them. If you are physically able to, kneel down to ensure you are on the same eye level.

• Learn about your guests. Remember their names, ask them a few simple questions, and listen to their responses. Take a genuine interest in them. However, try not to get too personal with your initial questions, as this could scare a newcomer away!

• Help visitors find seating to accommodate their family. Better yet, invite them to sit with you if there is enough space. Whenever possible, do not let visitors sit alone.

• Invite guests to join you for an activity, whether it be to introduce them to other members at the church through a small group or to invite them to corporate Bible study.

• Ask visitors to fill out a visitor registration card with an option to opt-in for email alerts. Don’t automatically sign up guests for emails and newsletters they may not want. Do direct them to the church’s website for more information, though.

• Thank visitors for coming and let them know you hope to see them again. And if you have the opportunity to see them again, make sure you extend the same courtesies extended prior.

Design Trends

5 Ways to Amp up your Web Design

We live in a digital age where people are constantly immersed in the digital media that exists all around them, especially in the palm of their hands. Your online presence (or lack thereof) says more about you than you think. Having a website makes you look up-to-date, legitimate, and credible. How you present yourself initially to a viewer will make or break their perception of you. People expect fast, modern-looking sites, and they are easily turned off by a site that doesn’t appeal to their standards. If they feel that your website is dated, not relatable, difficult to navigate, or boring, then chances are that they will move on to the next search result until they find one that seems more promising. After all, if you haven’t updated your website since 2003, how can they really be sure you will even answer your email or return a phone call?

So, in this two-part series, we’re going to explore a few of the top design trends to consider when evaluating your current website or planning to launch a freshly-developed one.

1. Responsive Design

The fact of the matter is that most people now access the internet first and foremost (or even solely) from a mobile device. The days of static web design—a design that is built to fit only one type of screen size—are over. Now, it is not only standard, but crucial practice to utilize a responsive layout that will adapt appropriately to fit different monitor sizes or devices.

Investing in a mobile responsive website will allow users to easily visit your site from their phone verses a desktop computer. Nothing is going to turn off your page’s visitors like trying to view a desktop site from a mobile device. Nobody likes the inconvenience of having to try to zoom or click buttons too small for the tip of a finger to press. The more difficult you make this for the visitors to your page, the less time they will be willing to spend there. From a potentially dedicated new follower to somebody else’s client or congregant, your site’s inability to respond to mobile devices could send people straight back to Google to look for someone who understands today’s technology standards.

2. Authentic, High-Quality Photography and Video

As the average user experiences increasingly fast internet speeds, it is more and more possible to support large, high-quality photo and video without significantly impacting page load time, which had been an issue in years past. Now that you don’t have to wrestle between speed and content, eye-catching and creative photography and videography is a great tool to draw people into your site and make them want to spend time there.

High quality photos and video are key. Nothing makes a site look more outdated than blurry iPhone photos on your website. If your organization doesn’t have access to a high-quality camera, consider hiring a photographer for a few events or if purse strings are tight, a photography student may be willing to help you to expand their portfolio.

To maximize the potential of images and video, make them visible in the header area of your website and as background elements. This not only makes you look professional, it also calls upon the strongest human sense to capture the attention of users and engage them in your website’s content. If you really want to “wow” people, great photography and videography is a crucial element to pay attention to.

Make sure, though, that the images and video interact well with the overall message and purpose of your site. If these glossy elements clash with what you mean to represent, you may turn people away at the door. An image of a wide expanse of nature may be beautiful, but it may play against you if your church or business is city-based. Try to keep in mind what you think your visitor wants to see in those attention-grabbing pieces of media. Those pieces need to add up to an accurate image of what you represent.

3. Flat, Minimal Design

The appeal of flat, minimal design was probably inspired by branding introduced by Apple, Inc. Think of the clean look Apple presents the world: lots of open space on the page with a few sharp, clear images. This has become the preferred look across the web now, and users will reward you when they see it.

In an added benefit to the “cool” factor, a flat, minimal web design keeps your website from looking cluttered and focuses on quality content and information (along with those eye-catching images and videos mentioned above) that users find pertinent without the unnecessary, distracting bells and whistles.

While it can be tempting to throw all of the clever tricks you and your web designer know onto the page, keeping things simple and neat keeps users from having to constantly dig for what they are interested in on your website. As another nice bonus, it translates better into mobile-friendly layouts.

A word of caution, though. Minimal design reinforces the need for quality content with carefully chosen colors, use of white space, and intriguing photography to effectively engage and inform users. With fewer distractions, the quality of your content shows through—like everything else—much more clearly.

The flat, minimal design is key to any site that wants to look like it was made today and not 1996. But it’s not as simple as copying Apple’s use of space. There are a number of smaller elements required to really make the site’s design come together.

4. Bold, Strong Typography and Iconography

Larger, simpler type usage and fonts on websites has the double benefit of being trendy and also eye-catching. It aids in the process of developing a minimal design and allows designers to place emphasis and call-outs on a site in a clean, catchy way. Plus, with more font resources than ever, designers are able to call on more fonts for usage, allowing many designers to get creative.

The use of icons as a design is on the rise as well. Icons are easy to remember graphics that quickly convey ideas. Icons create simplified visual interest in conjunction with headline text or as stand-alone items. As with photographs, icons help encapsulate your identity at a glance in a way text simply isn’t able to. Although you want to avoid cluttering the page with too much, a few choice icons can save a lot of space and make the text you do use stand out more.

5. Hover States

A hover state is an action that occurs when a user puts their cursor over a particular item. A common example is with navigation menu entries: when moused over, the color of the menu item changes.
But, hover states can be so much more. Examples of these include size changes upon roll over, icon swaps, or images fading and blurring. This is becoming a popular way to engage users in conjunction with minimal design framework. Hover states make things “pop.” These simple animations add areas of interest and creativity to a website without being distracting or gaudy.

These are only a couple simple trends in the world of site building. Design trends are constantly changing as new innovative ideas change how we experience the internet every day. As you can see, at the current moment, it is imperative to adapt to the fact that most websites are accessed via mobile devices.

At the same time, users now expect to see a clean, minimalistic design that delivers information in a heavily visual fashion. Even if you don’t personally care about these things in your online experience, it is important to stand out and avoid falling behind in website trends because many people judge a business or ministry from that first impression. Having a site that looks modern and interacts in the way users expect it to can make all the difference between a user sticking around to learn all about you and drifting off to the next link on Google. Make sure, based on their web experience with you, that they don’t need to search any further.

3 Tips to Target Millennials in Your Church

3 Tips to Target Millennials in Your Church

It’s the demographic everyone is after: young men and women. Whether it is soda, cinema, or salvation, all our society’s advertising efforts are directed towards the Millennial generation. But with all that inundation of advertising, all that claim on young people’s time, how can you and your church stand out?

Here are three tips to get your message in front of young eyes and bring the young flock back into the church.

1. Don’t be Condescending

It’s easy to think of Millennials as internet obsessed and flighty. But don’t underestimate them. Millennials are the most educated generation yet. When you interact with millennials, be it in person or online, it’s best to treat them like adults.

Mutual respect goes a long way with this generation, and they’re more willing to learn from you if you prove to them that you’re respectful. Maybe you’ll learn something, too!

2. Be upfront with the direct generation

Millennials are tired of being targeted by advertisers looking to sell. At this point, they’ve seen all the tricks in the book. They’ve been raised on colorful commercials for sugary cereal and have come of age in a world of viral marketing. But the thing that works best and cuts through the new century’s cynicism is genuineness. People like John Green, who specialize in being genuine and upfront, develop huge followings. And those followings remain loyal.

By refusing to play the game of salesmanship with your church and instead putting forward an open, concise, and honest message of what you stand for, you will get much more attention than all the flash you could think up would have brought.

3. Let technology be your friend

This is perhaps the most obvious point, but one well worth remembering. Most of life for young people is lived online. Be prepared to meet Millennials in their preferred world of communication. That means not just Facebook and Twitter but Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat, among others. Always be ready to jump into new technology. You’ll have much more success if you bring your church to them than if you expect them to come to church.

All this can seem a little hard to handle for people already busy trying to keep God in the lives of every person in their community. Next time you are looking to spread the Word to the next generation, remember these helpful tips.

Women in Ministry: Following God’s Path

Women in Ministry: Following God’s Path

Galatians 3:28
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It’s not always easy for women to find a place in ministry. Even in our modern times, there can be an imbalance when it comes to leadership opportunities extended and available to men and women in ministry. Whether attempting to join the staff of a local church in a specific position, becoming a pastor of a pre-established church, or starting a new ministry, challenges may arise. Building a ministry is difficult for anyone, but even more so for women.

Fortunately, with a little creativity and God’s guidance, there is a path forward for anyone who is strong and determined enough to follow it. Here are some of the steps to follow to fulfill your purpose in ministry.

Be a Minister First

Often, women going into ministry become pigeonholed as a token women in their roles. In other words, you aren’t taken seriously. It’s quite common for women to be shepherded into “women-only” ministries that cover “women-only” issues. While those concerns are important, that shouldn’t be the limit of what you have to say about God.

There can be pressure to tailor your ministry directly to women. That may be your goal, which is perfectly fine, but if you wish to reach everyone, be sure to avoid the trap of speaking only to the concerns related to your sex. Bringing God into everyday experiences can be a way to invigorate faith, but try to avoid speaking only about stereotypically female topics. Broadening your approach to include everyone in the community will not only open the doors to a larger congregation, it will also demonstrate your ability to relate on a level beyond your gender.

Once a community begins to respect your voice as a minister, you will quickly be seen not just as a woman, but as a dedicated, faithful messenger of the Gospel.

Prove You Have the Mind and the Faith for Ministry

You may need to demonstrate your skill. For a man entering the holiest trade, basic credentials can suffice to prove his competence, but you may have to display more prominently your knowledge of God and scripture. Getting published and finding respected ministers to sponsor you will go a long way to assuage any fears that you don’t belong.

Turn the Other Cheek But be Bold in Your Convictions

No matter how hard you work to portray yourself as a respectable member of the ministry, there is always going to be criticism. The best way to deal with negative comments is to show Christian compassion even when it is hard. Try to understand the difficulty that some people have in accepting a woman guiding their spiritual lives, and return mistrust and dislike with kindness. By allowing those who struggle with your ministry to graciously return to the fold when they are ready, and to do so without stigma, you leave the doors open for reconciliation after a short period. You also de-escalate any disagreements and allow yourself to represent the more mature, godly side of the argument. Fighting back too hard can end up creating a fracture in the congregation.

Take Inspiration from those who Came Before

When the struggle becomes too much, look to those who came before to find the strength to keep going. The history of Christianity is full of women who have testified to God’s holy truth. From Christ’s mother to the early female martyrs, Christianity’s founding is full of powerful women who stood up and spread the Word of God.

Christianity could have never grown as far and quickly as it did if not for these women.

Use their stories to strengthen your faith and resolve in the face of opposition. Whatever you face ahead, there have been women who faced greater odds, and through the power of Christ, overcame them.

Raising SEO Ranking

Raising SEO Ranking

Let’s be honest: we all want to see our church’s posts rank at the top of Google’s search results. But it’s hard to get noticed in the unending world of online content. Even if your church has a lot to say, it often gets drowned out by the biggest voices online. It can be frustrating to get people to pay attention or even see your content.

Part of the difficulty is due to how Google ranks content. The world’s most popular search engine can be a hard place to get noticed. If you don’t publish for one of those already established sites that are already popular and already heavily trafficked, it can feel like there’s simply no way to get your words (or the Word) in front of new eyes.

That’s where SEO comes in, or search engine optimization. These are techniques that can move your content up Google’s rankings and get your site noticed.

Unfortunately, like so much involved in modern technology, SEO can be complicated. But to help ease the burden, we’ve put together guide with a few tips to get Google to help lift your message higher and bring new eyes to your page.

1. Keywords are Still Key

Keywords are the crucial set of words and phrases that define what you’re talking about. If you are in the baseball card business, for instance, “baseball,” “card,” “trade” or “sale” would probably be key to any topic you cover, while “Babe Ruth” and “Hank Aaron” might be key to a particular article.

If you were involved in SEO in the 1990’s or early 2000’s, you may know that having lots of keywords in your content was very important for high page rankings. However, since search engines now use a number of ways to determine where a page is placed in a search, keywords are not the only way to get a page to move up.

That doesn’t mean that keywords don’t still serve a purpose. So, putting the right words in your page title, for instance, can still improve how relevant Google considers your article to the most common searches.

If you are writing about activities in your community around Christmas, be sure to put those main concepts in the page title or first few sentences of the first paragraph. “[Cincinnati] Christmas Activities” will net a far higher ranking than “What you can do around [Cincinnati] at Christmas.” This can take a little time to adjust yourself to, since the latter may seem more intuitive.

Using those words again (and/or synonyms) in the article will further reinforce the exact niche your article fits into. In our above example, starting your article with a sentence like, “The local Christmas activities for [Cincinnati] will include:” with a keyword-rich list of events, would help Google sort your article into its proper place.

A word of warning, though. If you try to stuff too many keywords and too much keyword repetition into your article, Google may actually penalize you. So, tread with some care here, and make sure your keywords read like a natural word selection in every instance.

If you’re struggling to come up with keywords, consult authoritative sources like Google Adwords to generate some ideas.

2. Keep the URL Short

It’s easy with all the effort going into building your church’s presence online (Using Social Media to Promote Your Church & Crafting a Church Marketing Plan) to forget the little things that Google seems to cherish above all else.
One of those is right there above this article: the URL.

If your URL is short and keyword rich, Google is more likely to notice it. With such an obvious and simple trick, you might think this would go without saying as you click “publish” on that next post, but not every site-building platform will naturally create short URLs. Unnecessary information like the date or sorting categories connected to your site layout or even a seemingly arbitrary set of numbers and letters can clutter the address and will cost you when Google comes scanning your page for relevance.

For optimal results, keep the URL short and to the point, ideally with just your main site address and the keyword-rich article title.

3. Go Long

Despite the common assumption these days that no one knows how to pay attention anymore, Google is a big fan of long articles. If brevity is the soul of wit, verbosity is the essence of ranking.

While the exact word count Google looks for isn’t known, the search engine does seem to prefer content with more than a thousand words.
So, don’t be afraid to add a few more points to your post or an anecdote or two. If there’s another story that might make your point stronger, add it with all its requisite detail.

While it will do no good to jabber on if your point is already made (Google measures how long and how far down the page visitors read), and simply adding nonsense to extend your page length will immediately be noticed as spam, the general rule should be this: if you have the ability to elaborate on a subject then do so.

4. Keep it Quick

Fast and responsive websites also rank higher for Google, and that makes a lot of sense. How often have you clicked a link and grown frustrated waiting for the page to open? If you do that, and every other user does that, imagine how frustrated Google must get with that extra half-second it takes to reach your information.

This point goes well-beyond just SEO. This is just basic online courtesy.
Think of it like this: if your church has greeters at the door on Sunday who hold the doors and welcome people in, how do you think a prospective new congregant would feel if it takes forever to get a greeter’s attention and get the door opened to enter. Would that person wait around, or would they decide this church really isn’t for them?

Basically, if you want others to come to your church, and if you want Google to help you, you have to show some speediness in holding their interest. Take the time to time your site and make sure everything is loading with consistent, blazing speed. Google prizes this so highly, it has revealed publicly that this is an important factor in its ranking system. Google has also provided a site that can tell you how fast your site is and what you can do to improve.

5. Link link link

Google loves links. Connecting content makes Google’s job easier and creates a more cohesive experience for those searching through topics. But while most links are good, some links are more worthwhile than others.

Internal links are links made to your own content on your site. These are less weighty than external links that lead to and from other sites, but they still serve the purpose of getting more eyes on your past posts. The longer users spend on your site, the more Google will be willing to raise your site up in the rankings. These internal links also merge your material and identity into a cohesive whole. Feel free to link within your articles to your church’s statement of faith or previous. You’d be surprised how many people will click to learn a little more about what you’re about.

But external links are where your Google ranking can really start taking off. That’s because Google has become very interested in what it calls “authority,” a somewhat ambiguous concept attached to sites that people trust and frequent. Authoritative sites tend to be the major news outlets, government sites, educational sites, and similar prestigious institutions.

To really get Google’s notice, you would need one of these sites to link back to you, thus lending you some of that precious authority. But peppering your pages with authoritative links does show to Google that you consult trusted sources and present accurate information, which is a major concern for the search engine.

A word of warning, though: just like keywords, overusing links can get your posts labeled as spam. With every link, make sure it is germane to the topic and that the link works. Even more, don’t start buying links from other sites. Google has become very good at sniffing out which links are authentic and which are bought.

One way to get genuine links can be through guest posts from another authority in the field. Have a fellow pastor from another church write a few posts and then share links between the two sites. Creating such connections will bring more visitors to your site and strengthen your own authority in the field.

6. Share Everything

Perhaps this goes without saying, but social media is simply the way of the world these days. According to Pew Research, 62% of Americans get their news from social media at least some of the time. Avoiding Facebook and Twitter is quickly becoming an impossibility for businesses and churches alike.
But it isn’t just a matter of setting up the page and occasionally posting a verse from Scripture. To really use social media effectively, you need to post and share content regularly. That’s the only way to ensure that your content is going to get out there.

Just like Google, Facebook uses algorithms to decide what news gets in front of its users every time they log in. If you post rarely and those posts aren’t shared, it’s hard to convince Facebook to place your latest article at the top of the page, unless you want to pay them. To avoid this, simply get into the habit of sharing. Share posts from other churches that you think will speak to your congregation as well. Share photos from recent church events. Share stories about congregants and about yourself. Preview next Sunday’s sermon. Then, make it easy for others to share for you as well. Make those Facebook and Twitter icons on the page easy to identify. By giving your readers the option to share the post easily, much of the work can be done for you, which brings more viewers, more external links, and a higher ranking on Google.

SEO is a vast topic, and these tips are only the tip of the. But if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on the way to making sure your church is the first stop for anyone in search of an answer.