A good website can be a valuable tool to help burden people’s hearts for the work God has called you to do. It is also a very cost effective way to bring people to your field through site and sound, through testimonies and information about your ministry.
A website can seem like too much trouble especially if you are not much into computers, but a missionary really can do a website with a minimal amount of time and effort if he follows a few bits of advice.
The first thing you need so that people can find your website is a domain. Our domain is www.theyoungs2russia.org. I would include two things in your domain. First, some form of your name should be there, and second, the field to which you are called.
Next, pick a professional template from the internet or use a service like Squarespace to design your site. Search “website templates” on Google and you will find a plethora of different possibilities.
Buying a template or using a service will cost you some money but save huge amounts of time, and you will most likely like the final product better than if you had designed it yourself. I really like simplicity, so I tried to pick a template that focused less on text and more on pictures and directing people to the most important things on our site.
When people look at your site, do not assume they are going to read everything you write and look at every picture you put up. You need to focus visitors’ attention from the very beginning on what is most important for them to see. Pastors will be interested in your doctrinal position, but the average person visiting your site should not have to wade through paragraphs of text before having their heart stirred by your vision for the lost.
Almost all missionaries do a video for deputation or furlough, so put that video in a prominent place on your homepage. Pictures of your work and what God is doing on the field should be everywhere.
Don’t get too ambitious with what you want to include in your site. Whatever you build into your site you have to maintain. The internet is littered with Christian websites that have become dated and incomplete because someone took on more work than they could keep up with. Also, I would be careful about making things too high tech just because of the time and money involved in trying to be “cutting edge.”
Shoot for professional but not flashy. Having someone help you set up your website can be a great blessing, but maintaining the site will probably fall to you. Make sure you know how to edit the site yourself at least on the remedial level of being able to change text and swap out pictures.
Make sure to put meta data (keywords and phrases that Google uses to index websites) in your website’s homepage. You want people to be able to find your website from a search engine. If you google “missionary to russia” our website is the first thing that comes up.
I have had a website up and running for just over ten years. In those years, I have been able to mentor a future missionary to my field of Russia, who became acquainted with me solely through the website. I have had many Pastors tell me what a blessing it has been to them to see our work so “up close” through the website. People I have never met in person, who had their hearts touched through the website, have sent emails thanking us for the work we are doing here.
Brother Jeremy Lofgren, who works with the media department at Lancaster Baptist Church, gave a lesson here about building a church website that would be a blessing to you being that all of it is applicable to missionary websites.