Everything Your Youth Ministry Website Needs

in General on February 1, 2012by Ben_Read

Studies show that Teenagers spend, on average, 7 and a half hour’s a day on the internet. It’s safe to say, then, that teenagers live online. How is your Youth Ministry responding to this? Over the next few days, Youthmin.org is going to be diving into how to respond to Teen’s internet use as a Youth Ministry.
We love seeing a good youth ministry website.  Not only is it beneficial because of the fact that your students live online, but it can also be the perfect information resource for parents and congregation members to keep up-to-date with what is going on.
Every youth ministry should have a website. This does NOT mean to have a link for your church’s website to your youth group’s Facebook page. These two things should be separate. Be it teenagers who do not have a Facebook account (yes, it is true!) or parents who think it is evil, we need to have another website separate from social media to inform and share with everyone.
The question now comes, what are some essentials that you should put on your website? While the list below is not exhaustive, it is a perfect foundation to spring from.

  • Staff page with a photo and description of every single staff. (go the extra mile and add volunteers too!) This makes that first meeting with new students or parents less awkward when they don’t ask you who the youth pastor is.
  • Your faith statement allows you to inform everyone what your ministry operates on. Even if no one ever asks, it is good policy to have.
  • Every regular program that is currently running (i.e. youth group, small groups, volunteer training) allows people to put your youth group on their schedule.
  • A PDF of your year events is perfect for parents who want to plan out the year for students and a good reference to have students look at what discussing upcoming events.
  • A PDF of an informational brochure that they can print off is perfect for families that may want to invite someone to youth group or to direct new visitors to see for more info.
  • All necessary forms for events to download make it less of a hassle when announcing events to get a form to each student and instead put the responsibility on the students and parents to get the information printed. But make sure you note where to download it so they do not have to waste time searching for it on your site.
  • A Parent’s Newsletter. If you are already emailing parents regularly, put these newsletters online in an archive for future families to see.
  • What curriculum you use and have already talked about at youth group allows parents to read through and download to continue the discussion at home.
  • Photos imported from Facebook because everyone loves pictures and you will only need to upload them once to Facebook.
  • Link to social media to encourage online discussion with you and other members of your youth group. We do not encourage addictions to social media, but they are already online and so we want to let them know we are there too.
  • A map and direction to the church (and the youth room) is the simplest use of a site for new families into your community.
  • A blog to provide resources and devos for teens, parents, and volunteers
  • Contact Information, though I would not suggest personal contact information. Just the church phones and email is enough.
  • How adults can get involved
  • How students can serve in the ministry for worship and/or student leadership.

One final tip that I ALWAYS suggest, do not ignore the website. Review it every month, if not every week to ensure that all the content is up-to-date. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a schedule from 2006 of events with a staff roster where most of the people have moved on. That surely is not helpful and implies that you are lazy.
What is an essential must-have for your youth ministry site that I missed?

Categories: General

Joel Daniel at 11:31 am

Great list of tools. We have a Facebook page that we link directly to our homepage. We’ve also do short videos on our website for parents. I’ve been using http://www.radiusforchurches.com for a long time for my site & love working with them. Our site is http://www.flipd.org

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Jeremy Smith at 1:20 pm

Love it! Thanks for the share!

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Joel Daniel at 11:31 am

Great list of tools. We have a Facebook page that we link directly to our homepage. We’ve also do short videos on our website for parents. I’ve been using http://www.radiusforchurches.com for a long time for my site & love working with them. Our site is http://www.flipd.org

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Jeremy Smith at 1:20 pm

Love it! Thanks for the share!

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Josh Robinson at 11:43 am

Great list, I’m trying to improve our spot on the website. Any input to improve it, I’d appreciate it.
http://watermark-church.com/#/students

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Jeremy Smith at 1:22 pm

While you have great content and a good navigation system, I would highly encourage you to make that initial homepage more interactive and directive. I sat there for like a minute trying to figure out what to do… And a minute is more than enough time for a teen or parent to close the window…

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Josh Robinson at 2:07 pm

Good point. So instead of just a logo, have a description of the ministry?

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Jeremy Smith at 2:16 pm

Sure. Or if you still want the “glitz and glam”, you could do something like HSM http://highschoolministry.com/site/#/portfolio and have easy to understand navigation.

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Josh Robinson at 2:40 pm

We use “Clover.” It is smooth and good looking but it is limited in editing it. I’ll continue to try and improve it for making the info more visible

Josh Robinson at 11:43 am

Great list, I’m trying to improve our spot on the website. Any input to improve it, I’d appreciate it.
http://watermark-church.com/#/students

Reply
Jeremy Smith at 1:22 pm

While you have great content and a good navigation system, I would highly encourage you to make that initial homepage more interactive and directive. I sat there for like a minute trying to figure out what to do… And a minute is more than enough time for a teen or parent to close the window…

Reply
Josh Robinson at 2:07 pm

Good point. So instead of just a logo, have a description of the ministry?

Reply
Jeremy Smith at 2:16 pm

Sure. Or if you still want the “glitz and glam”, you could do something like HSM http://highschoolministry.com/site/#/portfolio and have easy to understand navigation.

Reply
Josh Robinson at 2:40 pm

We use “Clover.” It is smooth and good looking but it is limited in editing it. I’ll continue to try and improve it for making the info more visible

Brandon Schmidt at 11:45 am

Great post, although also convicting. I have some work to do on my ministry’s page!

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Jeremy Smith at 1:23 pm

Would love to see it if you want to share a link!

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Brandon Schmidt at 1:47 pm

Here it is: http://youth.northbaptist.org
I’m currently working on writing a weekly article for parents.

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Jeremy Smith at 1:58 pm

Awesome! Don’t need flashy lights, just a platform to share the events and heart of the ministry. Love it!

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Brandon Schmidt at 11:45 am

Great post, although also convicting. I have some work to do on my ministry’s page!

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Jeremy Smith at 1:23 pm

Would love to see it if you want to share a link!

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Brandon Schmidt at 1:47 pm

Here it is: http://youth.northbaptist.org
I’m currently working on writing a weekly article for parents.

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Jeremy Smith at 1:58 pm

Awesome! Don’t need flashy lights, just a platform to share the events and heart of the ministry. Love it!

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Corey Gibson at 12:04 pm

Hey, being a youth pastor/speaker who also is a creative developer/designer (graphics, websites, motion art,etc) professionally I would say that this is a good solid list for those looking to design a website.
Only thing I would add is “podcast of the sermons” and/or “ministry promo” … Doesn’t have to be every sermon, but enough for those checking out the site to hear/see what you are about. We live in a day, where just content on a webpage is not enough. Adding sermons, promo videos and pictures makes the website more beautiful and draws attention to visitors.

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Jeremy Smith at 1:25 pm

I would ask if this is essential? That is a TON of work and time to put into for a website. I don’t doubt it’s value, but is the energy put in worth the payoff for anyone less than an expert at web marketing?

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Corey Gibson at 12:04 pm

Hey, being a youth pastor/speaker who also is a creative developer/designer (graphics, websites, motion art,etc) professionally I would say that this is a good solid list for those looking to design a website.
Only thing I would add is “podcast of the sermons” and/or “ministry promo” … Doesn’t have to be every sermon, but enough for those checking out the site to hear/see what you are about. We live in a day, where just content on a webpage is not enough. Adding sermons, promo videos and pictures makes the website more beautiful and draws attention to visitors.

Reply
Jeremy Smith at 1:25 pm

I would ask if this is essential? That is a TON of work and time to put into for a website. I don’t doubt it’s value, but is the energy put in worth the payoff for anyone less than an expert at web marketing?

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kolby at 1:14 pm

do you really need all that stuff? I guess the question is: are you called as a youth pastor or a social media marketer.

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Ben Read at 1:22 pm

I would say everything on the list will make your youth ministry website better than it would be without the things on the list. I think there are a ton more things that could/should be added to the list, but I would say the best Youth Ministry web sites are the ones where the Youth Pastor isn’t in charge of it. Give this list to someone else in your ministry, be it a volunteer or a student.

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Jeremy Smith at 1:26 pm

Agreed. And it is more about communicating everything than marketing. We want to get the information out there. And if you have not worked through your statement of faith or photos online, you really should consider giving it an hour and investing in that!

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kolby at 1:14 pm

do you really need all that stuff? I guess the question is: are you called as a youth pastor or a social media marketer.

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Ben Read at 1:22 pm

I would say everything on the list will make your youth ministry website better than it would be without the things on the list. I think there are a ton more things that could/should be added to the list, but I would say the best Youth Ministry web sites are the ones where the Youth Pastor isn’t in charge of it. Give this list to someone else in your ministry, be it a volunteer or a student.

Reply
Jeremy Smith at 1:26 pm

Agreed. And it is more about communicating everything than marketing. We want to get the information out there. And if you have not worked through your statement of faith or photos online, you really should consider giving it an hour and investing in that!

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Edison at 11:52 am

so how is this done? Is small guoprs the only answer to this? Is there adult mentorship programs that are effective? just wondering what everyone else is doing

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Edison at 11:52 am

so how is this done? Is small guoprs the only answer to this? Is there adult mentorship programs that are effective? just wondering what everyone else is doing

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nickfarr at 6:03 pm

Great article Jeremy! I agree with everything you posted. I also think it’s important for ministries to have a dedicated website instead of just relying on Facebook. Like you said, it’s important for us to think about the people that don’t/can’t/won’t use Facebook.

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nickfarr at 6:03 pm

Great article Jeremy! I agree with everything you posted. I also think it’s important for ministries to have a dedicated website instead of just relying on Facebook. Like you said, it’s important for us to think about the people that don’t/can’t/won’t use Facebook.

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Frank Gil at 6:15 am

Any recommendations on ways to create youth websites that are affordable/free?

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Ben Read at 1:29 pm

WordPress is a great solution. Saw your tweet the other day but just haven’t had time to reply. Well get a series of posts shot out as soon as we can about the benefits of Facebook page compared to stand alone website, and all of that, as well as how to set one up. Thanks, Man!

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Frank Gil at 2:15 am

Any recommendations on ways to create youth websites that are affordable/free?

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Ben Read at 9:29 am

WordPress is a great solution. Saw your tweet the other day but just haven’t had time to reply. Well get a series of posts shot out as soon as we can about the benefits of Facebook page compared to stand alone website, and all of that, as well as how to set one up. Thanks, Man!

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Aaron Buer at 11:08 pm

Nice post. I’ll be honest, we don’t worry too much about a web page for our students. I don’t believe students will visit a website unless it constantly adds new content.
We connect with our students through various social media platforms, Facebook and my blog. I’ve been surprised how many students will read a short teaching in a blog format.
We do however have a pretty elaborate webpage for our parents.

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