Your parish website is now the “new front door” in the digital age. The parish website is now becoming a very important part of the news, administration, and social aspects of supporting parish life. We are hearing often from our new parishioners that they were attracted our parish because of the website, which had a welcoming video from the pastor and had photos & activities that portray a vibrant parish community. I highly recommend that webmasters try to offer fresh and inspiring content on your website, it shows to the outside world that you care about your parish and your homepage is a “welcome mat” to the community. Imagine not mowing the lawn for a few weeks at your church, you would lose the chance to attract new people. Your good maintenance and stewardship of the parish website is very important to the success of your parish community. You should consider enhancing your website for the upcoming “Year of Faith.” There are a number great Catholic content producers who have HTML widgets and content that offer great additions to help people be attracted to the faith or deepen their faith. It is a way to get automatic fresh content on your page, and these are some of the best (IMHO):
Catholics Come Home
Tom Peterson is the founder of www.CatholicsComeHome.org and he has put together a great website and professional videos to inspire Catholics that have left the faith, inquirers, or others who are interested in finding out more about their Catholic Faith. Mr. Peterson launched a huge TV ad campaign during the 2011 Christmas Season that reached 250 million viewers. Catholics Come Home invested $3.5 million in bi-lingual commercials that were aired on CBS, NBC, Univision, TBS, USA, TNT, CNN, FoxNews, and other networks during shows like 60 Minutes, NCIS, Kennedy Center Honors, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Jay Leno, O’Reilly, major sports, and highly rated sitcoms. The videos are now available on YouTube and widgets that can be shared on your website –example below:
The Catholicism Project is a beautiful documentary and book conceived by Father Robert Barron. Father Barron was inspired to travel the globe to 15 countries and over 50 holy sites to show the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic Faith. Father Barron helped raise $5 million dollars and took five years to produce a 10-part series that takes the viewer through themes of Catholicism using high definition cameras with wonderous images, music, and history.
Father Barron is the rector at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago and is a masterful communicator. The Catholicism Project is great because Father Barron is able to share his vast knowledge of the history and also relate it to modern day writers and events. He acknowledges that the Catholic Church has come through a dark time with its recent scandals, but also shows that there is far more good that the mainstream media does not show or fully understand about the Catholic Faith. This series is currently being shown by over 80 PBS stations and EWTN across the United States, and recently was released in a Spanish version. I highly recommend you take the time to view this series as it is a great way to know the Catholic Faith better and it has made me more excited about being a Catholic. We recently offered a showing of the series to the entire community with a coffeehouse and had great success.
Father Barron recently released a two part YouTube video for the Year of Faith which includes the entire Episode #6: A Body Both Suffering And Glorious: The Mystical Union Of Christ and the Church:
Word On Fire
www.WordOnFire.org Fr. Robert Barron’s website launched in 1999 and currently draws over 1 million visitors a year from every continent. Fr. Barron posts weekly video clips, commentaries and radio sermons and offers an audio archive of over 500 homilies. Podcasts of his sermons are widely used by tens of thousands of visitors each month. On YouTube Father Barron offers many videos that offer catechesis and commentary on modern issues. With over 180 online video commentaries by Fr. Barron, over 1 million viewers worldwide have made him the most popular of any evangelist on YouTube. These frequent, high-quality productions include brief and lively theological reviews of contemporary culture, including movies reviews. Consider becoming an Ambassador for Word On Fire–you can get a 15% discount on their products (DVDs & Books).
Ambassador Toolkit for Word On Fire (with Word On Fire Widgets)
Word On Fire Key website Offers Faith Clips, Faith & Culture, and Catholicism Series in one handy place (works well on mobile devices)
Saint of the Day (Franciscan Media)
Franciscan Media offers a number of great resources with videos, blogs, and audio links that can be shared on your website to help deepen your parishioners faith. Including Saint of the Day, Minute Meditation, and American Catholic Radio podcast.
Catholic Update On Demand (New Service)–$15/month with 150+ Catholic Videos
CatholicTV® now offers a compact version of Your Catholic Broadband Network® – CatholicTVjr – to embed in your website! Be it a diocesan or parish or school or agency or personal site, CatholicTVjr is perfect for you. Display entertaining and educational Catholic video on your site at no cost to you. They also offer a daily TV Mass and many other inspirational programs. You can contact them for a custom widget or check links below.
Now offers TV, Radio, and Print Media worldwide. Your parishioners may find many of the programs very inspirational. EWTN Global Catholic Network airs family and religious programming from a Catholic point of view in English and Spanish. Providing more than 80% original programming, EWTN offers inspiring talk shows, entertaining children’s animation, exclusive teaching series, live coverage of Church events, and thought-provoking documentaries.
Year of Faith
The Vatican has put together a very good website for The Year of Faith. It offers answers to many common questions about the Roman Catholic Faith. The USCCB is also offering videos and other resource ideas for parishes and schools. Consider adding some of these great features in preparation for the Year of Faith which starts October 11th.
Year of Faith website (from Vatican in English)
Do you have any other ideas to make a website more welcoming and inspiring?