Much research has been done about how most people come to a church, and the consensus remains that the biggest influence for someone to come and trust Christ is the invitation of a family member, friend or acquaintance. However, it seems there have always been people who come “looking for a church” and end up in our services weekly.

When I started in full-time ministry forty-four years ago, the mechanics of being found by people who were looking for a church were pretty simple – just two or three avenues. We put an ad or two in the “yellow pages” (for those unfamiliar because of age, the “yellow pages” was a local directory of phone numbers, divided into residences and businesses, the latter being easily found, printed literally on yellow paper). These ads were in front of people until it was time to buy another ad when the next edition came out the following year. To provide more updated information in between editions, some churches also used newspaper or local radio ads to further make themselves known in the community.

Things have dramatically changed in the digital age. The most common source shared with our church by those who are “looking for a church” is that they found us “online.” They used a “Google Search” to find us. They looked at our church website and social media. They watched our live-streamed services.

The bottom line is this: there is an expectation that people who are looking for a church (either saved or unsaved) will make a determination about coming based on the information they find about us. This presents problems and opportunities that we must address if we are going to be the recipients of these guests who are “looking for a church.”

There are several issues that every church needs to be aware of related to their online presence. Here are three of the top issues that every church needs to address:

An Updated Website

It is easier and cheaper than ever for a church to have an up-to-date looking website. People want to see that a church is active, so it is good to provide information about ministries, events, and activities.

An Up-To-Date Website and Social Media Presence

It’s not just about appearance. The information presented must not be out of date. Change the front page regularly. Include major church or ministry event details. Use Canva (a simple online graphics tool) to make images that can be used on your website and social media that are both eye-catching and attractive.

Provide Ways To Connect and Respond

Be sure the contact information is complete and correct. Physical addresses should be clickable to a map with directions. Provide connection forms for questions and responses. On social media, provide links to your website for more information, then be sure that the link works and that the promised content is there and relevant.

It’s not the yellow pages anymore; it’s our online presence that is now the first thing those who are “looking for a church” are seeing. Churches that are aware of this and work on their website and social media platforms will reach many more people than those who don’t. If your church needs help, look at other church websites. Talk to those who seem to respond well to the issues in this article. Learn how you can improve. There are churches connected to the Baptist Church Ministry Network who do these things well.

If you do so, soon enough, you will be hearing from your increased number of guests who are looking for a church, “I found your church online.”