When my husband Chris and I first moved to the area in the fall of 2014, we did what a lot of people do when searching for a new church: we Googled. We made a list of churches we wanted to visit based entirely on information we got from the church's webpage. If I'm being entirely honest, I'll confess that the more informative, the easier to use, and the better looking the website, the higher that church made it on my list of churches I wanted to visit. 

I know I'm not alone in this. Two couples new to our community group also chose Northside based on its website. 

Grey Matter Research did a study way back in 2012 and reported that 17 million non-church goers visited a church website in the past 12 months. The top things they searched for? 

  • Check to see the times of services: 43%
  • Check what activities are offered: 29%
  • Look for a map or directions to the church's location: 28%
  • Watch streaming video: 26%
  • Listen to streaming audio: 26%
  • Check to see what the church's religious beliefs are: 22%
  • Request prayer: 18%
  • Downloading a podcast: 15%
  • Checking what denomination or group the church belongs to: 15%
  • Send a message to the pastor or leader: 12%
  • Post on a bulletin board or forum: 5%

For the last five years, I ran a three-day conference specifically for bloggers, and I've been helping companies and individuals come up with their social media strategies and getting small businesses online. A month ago, I stepped into a volunteer position at Northside to help us with our web presence. I speak at conferences and one of my specialities is the topic of how we can use online connections to create offline relationships. I'm a fan of using websites and social media as a virtual "welcome mat" to get people over the threshold of the door. After that, through hospitality and honestly valuing people as the beloved sons and daughters of Christ, deeper relationships can be forged. However, the first step is to put out the welcome mat.

This past Sunday, Northside revealed its renovated small chapel and began new service times at 9am and 10:30am. Along with our building's new look, we debuted our website's new look. Now with maps, directions, and an entire section for those thinking about visiting Northside for the first time, we are writing new content Monday through Friday on our blog. It is our hope that the website is both a great welcome mat for perspective visitors, but also a place where Northsiders can dig a little deeper into our faith family. 

The N-Sider blog will become a more active and interactive space. Dustin will be writing a weekly post, our elders will be contributing content on the areas of missional living, loving the nations, and community outreach, and we'll be doing Q&A's with different people in our faith famiy so that you can get a glimpse at who they are. We'll use the blog and our social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) to make announcements and send reminders. Coming soon: Sunday's sermons in audio form will be made available via a podcast that can be streamed or downloaded for free in the iTunes store so that you can listen to Sunday's messages on the go. 

We're excited about what God is doing at Northside, and we invite you to bookmark our blog and sign up for Between the Sundays so we can keep you better informed and connected. 

About this contributor: 

DeeDee Adams is the wife to Chris and mother to Jude (5), Caroline (3), and Lucy (2). She and Chris host a summer community group. She serves as Northside's digital communications manager, overseeing the blog and social media channels. Find her under @IndianaAdams on Instagram.