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5 Mistakes Church Websites Make That StoryBrand Helps Solve

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There are a lot of different moving parts when it comes to launching and managing a church website. To ensure your site is successful, you need to consider design, branding, navigation, and more. But the one critical thing is the content.  The language you use to describe your ministry, offerings, and invitation can make or break a visitor's experience. One tool that can be extremely helpful in all these areas is StoryBrand. 

If you're not familiar with StoryBrand or wondering how to use it for your church's website, this article is for you. Keep reading to learn more. 

What is StoryBrand?

StoryBrand is a framework that clarifies your message and helps you better connect with your audience. In other words, it enables you to tell your church's story in a clear, compelling, and relevant way using a story narrative framework that invites the reader into a journey together. And when it comes to church websites, those are essential qualities to incorporate. 

Before we explore how to use StoryBrand for your church website, let's take a step back and discuss what StoryBrand is. Simply put, StoryBrand is a framework that clarifies your message and helps you better connect with your Audience. 

The communications challenge churches face today

The idea behind StoryBrand is that there are a lot of noise and distractions in the world today. And it can be tough to cut through all that and convey your message clearly. The StoryBrand framework provides a proven approach for doing just that. 

The core reason why you should use the StoryBrand framework

Here's how Donald Miller (the creator of StoryBrand) explains it: 

“The goal of any brand messaging should be clarity above all else…Storybranding offers simple steps anyone can follow to create clarity by taking the guesswork out of marketing.” 

As a church leader, you are probably always looking for new and innovative ways to reach your congregation and community. You want a website that is informative but also engaging and inspiring. A great way to achieve this is by using StoryBrand.

StoryBrand is a seven-part framework that helps you craft a clear and compelling message for your website. Using the copywriting framework, you can ensure that your website makes the most impactful first impression possible.

StoryBrand framework brainstorming

What Is The StoryBrand Copywriting Framework?

Using the seven elements of the StoryBrand framework, churches can zero in on crafting a message that resonates with people. 

The 7 Elements Of The Storybrand Framework 

1. The Character: Who is your church trying to reach? This character should be your target audience. 

2. The Problem: What problem or felt need does your target audience have that your church can help solve or address? 

3. The Guide: Who is the guide? This is usually the church or specific ministry. The guide is someone who can help the target audience solve their problem.  Remember, you and the church are NOT the heroes of the story.  The character is the hero in their world.

4. The Plan: What is the plan? This is how your church will help the target audience solve their problem. How does life transformation work overall at your church? What is the signature pathway someone would ideally go through?

5. The Challenge: What is your call to action for them to accept the plan? 

6. The Potential Pitfalls: Show what they will avoid when they accept the plan. What challenges in life might they face alone and feel ill-equipped for if they don't become part of a church community?

7. The Successful Outcome: This is where clarity matters. You must illustrate what life will be like and how different it will be when you have Jesus in their life and a vibrant community/church to worship in together.

Do you see how each of the seven elements can zero in on what makes your church unique? And then, you can use these same elements in different permutations across your website for a consistent message that resonates with people. 

Church website mistakes limit reach and effectiveness

5 Mistakes Church Websites Make That StoryBrand Helps Solve

Now, just because the Storybrand Framework is incredibly effective doesn't mean that it can't be misused. In fact, we've seen many churches repeatedly make the same three mistakes that Storybrand would address on their website. So let's run through those mistakes so you can avoid them on your church's website. 

Mistake #1: Not having a clear target audience 

One of the first things you need to do when you sit down to start planning your church website is to determine your target audience. For example, are you trying to reach people in your community looking for a new church home? Are you trying to engage with your current congregation members? Once you know who you're trying to reach, everything else will quickly fall into place. 

Your church website needs to articulate WHO your church is for.  And don't say, everyone.  While everyone is welcome, who is the sweet spot demographic?

If you try to build your church website without a clear target audience in mind, you'll likely end up with a website that doesn't really speak to anyone. And that's not what we're going for here. 

Mistake #2: Not Articulating Your Purpose / Mission

This mistake that churches make is failing to define the direction or purpose of the ministry for outsiders. When someone visits your website, they should immediately understand what your church is all about and where you're trying to go. Unfortunately, many church websites lack this clarity, making it difficult for visitors to understand the church's mission and vision.

Here’s a great exercise I run when hired to help a team with StoryBrand. I call it “Separate the Prisoners” or “Clarifying Confessionals.”  We ask each key leader to answer some vital high-level questions separately and then compare the results. IF your team is in sync and you have alignment at the core, then communication externally is easy. However, if there isn’t clarity at the vision and mission level amongst your core leadership, how can you expect your staff, volunteers, supporters, attendees, and even your external communications to have clarity?  Everyone should be able to articulate your mission clearly and consistently across community members.

Building the StoryBrand “SB7” elements helps eliminate any confusion or differences and literally helps get everyone on the same page.

Mistake #3: Not making use of testimonials 

One of the best ways to reinforce the authority and soundness of Biblical worldviews regarding various topics and life circumstances with potential new attendees is by featuring testimonials from existing members on your church website. When people visit your site for the first time, they likely won't know anything about your church other than what they can glean from your website. Testimonials from happy attendees can go a long way towards convincing somebody that participation in your community will produce life change.

Testimonials also help show off some of the personality of your current congregation members, making somebody visiting your site for the first time feel like they already belong. After all, one of the main reasons people choose a particular church is because they feel like they fit in with the community there. 

Mistake #4: Not Clearly Defining the Problem(s)

One of the most important aspects of a good Storybrand website is that it clearly defines the problem(s) that your church is solving. Unfortunately, many churches are failing to address a problem at all, assuming their total interest and proactive follow-up once they visit the site.  Without demonstrating what areas your church is relevant to a newcomer, it will be hard to catch someone's attention. If your church website doesn't make it clear what problem(s) your church is solving, people will be less likely to visit your site and get involved with your church. 

Mistake #5: Not Using A Strong Call-to-Action 

A call-to-action (CTA) is essential to any effective marketing campaign, and your church website should be no different. Your CTA should be clear, concise, and easy to spot on your website. Unfortunately, many churches fail to use a strong CTA or a CTA that doesn't align with the website visitor's journey in their relationship with the brand. For example, many church websites don't have a CTA at all, assuming the visitor will find the address and service times and just show up. As a result, potential visitors to your site may be confused about what you want them to do next or how they can get involved with your church. 

Storybrand best practices

3 Additional Ways To Ensure Your Church Website Communicates Effectively

Sometimes, getting hung up on crafting the “SB7 framework” list of story elements is easy. And church websites can sound a little robotic. Moreover, just because you are using these seven elements doesn't guarantee a fantastic user experience on a website. 

Storybranded websites are more than just ensuring those words in the “SB7” are used on the page.  Here are 3 big picture factors that a solid StoryBranded church site should have:

1. Use attractive visuals.

Humans are visual creatures, so an attractive website will be more effective than one that is bland or difficult to navigate. The Storybrand prescription focuses on visuals that include customers and people who have transformed your ministry. So this means not just photos of buildings, logos, etc. You want to feature people who attend and engage with your organization.

2. Keep it simple.

The last thing you want is your website to be so cluttered or complex that visitors cannot find what they are looking for. Using the StoryBrand framework will help you streamline your message so that it is easy for visitors to understand. You don't want to “keyword stuff” your pages, though.  Make sure you're not over-repetitive with descriptions. Keep it simple and focus on the core objectives: You should empathetically articulate why you exist, what your programs are and how they address your church's purpose for someone who wants to transform their life with Jesus.

3. Be clear about what you want visitors to do.

Your website should have a clear purpose, and every element on the site should work towards achieving that goal. Whether you want visitors to sign up for your newsletter, an event, go through teaching content available on the site or make a donation, the StoryBrand framework will help you create a website that effectively communicates your desired call-to-action. Usually, this is presented in a 3-step plan that includes the aspirational outcome you're promoting.


How to learn StoryBrand for yourself

Where Can You Learn StoryBrand For Yourself?

1. Go through the book.

Get Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. The most basic step you can take is to read the book by Donald Miller, the creator of the framework. It's a best-seller book because it is a straightforward playbook for you to create your own “SB7” and put it into practice on your website.

2. Take the course.

You can take the StoryBrand video course on-demand. Business Made Simple is a subscription service from Donald Miller, creator of the StoryBrand framework, that gives you access to exclusive online video training courses, including the flagship course on StoryBrand. You'll get access to exclusive resources and templates that will save you time and help you get the most out of your subscription.

One suggestion is to sign-up for the free trial and go through the StoryBrand course immediately. You can definitely get through it before the trial is over, so you can then properly evaluate if it's worth keeping the subscription to go through all of the other various courses or not.

3. Attend a Live Workshop Online.

If you want more than a self-serve, on-you-own pace resource to learn StoryBrand, you can go further by signing up for one of the periodic Live Stream Workshops. These are great because you get to walk through the workshop with other participants in small groups facilitated by Certified copywriters.

When Should You Hire A Certified StoryBrand Guide?

A certified StoryBrand Guide consultant can help ensure you're applying the framework appropriately. They do this by working with the pastor and appropriate leaders to develop an overall brand strategy and creating specific marketing materials (including website content, social media posts, print collateral, etc.) that support that strategy. It will save you time and maximize the potential impact your website can have on the community.  If digital ministry and outreach are a priority for your church, you may consider hiring someone to help write the “SB7” elements for you and even write the contents for each page of your church's website.

Certified StoryBrand Guide consultant

3 Signs It Might Be Time To Hire A Storybrand Guide Consultant For Your Church.

1. You're Not Sure Where to Start

It can be challenging to know where to start if you've never developed or articulated your church's story before. A Storybrand guide consultant can help you figure out what parts of your church's story are most important and how to best communicate those parts to your congregation and the wider world. 

2. You're Stuck in a Rut

If you feel like you've been stuck in a rut when articulating your church's story, then hiring a Storybrand guide consultant can help you get unstuck. A good consultant will bring fresh eyes and a new perspective to your church's story, which can help you see it in a new light and find new ways to share it with others. 

3. You're Not Seeing Results

If you've been trying to communicate your church's story on your own but do not see the results you want, it might be time to bring in some professional help. A Storybrand guide consultant can help you create a more effective strategy for sharing your church's story with others. 

If you are feeling stuck or just not seeing the results you want, then hiring a certified Storybrand guide consultant could be the right move for your church.

Concluding thoughts

If you are looking for ways to make your church website more effective, consider using the Storybrand framework. By using visuals that humanize your organization, keeping it simple, and being clear about what you want visitors to do next, you can create a website that is both informative and engaging — and productive for the ministry.

What questions about StoryBrand and church websites do you have?

Kenny Jahng
Kenny Jahnghttp://www.kennyjahng.com
Kenny Jahng is Editor-In-Chief at ChurchTechToday.com. He also serves as Chief Innovation Officer at ChurchCommunications.com which has a community of 29,000+ church leaders. Kenny is a Certified StoryBrand Copywriter Guide and founder of Big Click Syndicate, a strategic marketing advisory firm helping Christian leaders build marketing engines that work. You can connect with Kenny on LinkedIn.

3 COMMENTS

  1. First time here. Really well done article. As a Christian I get extra excited when given the opportunity to write words that make a lasting impact for churches and non-profits. StoryBrand is such a natural format for a church website. I’m excited to see more churches see results with the framework.

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