church search marketing web design

Pew Research: How People Choose a New Church

church websites for outreach
Written by Mark Steinbrueck

Part of your church’s mission is to reach the people in your community, right?

Then you’ll be interested to see what Pew Research discovered in a new study they did on why and how people search for a new church.

One thing from the study that jumped out at me was this:

Nearly half (47%) of those who have looked for a new congregation within the last five years say they relied on the internet as part of their search, compared with 26% of those whose last search was more than five years ago.

Got that? Nearly half of all of Americans who searched for a church in the last 5 years used the internet in their decision making process.  And, this is almost double the percentage of people from 5+ years ago.

So, what does this mean?

  1. A good looking, easy to navigate, and informative church website is very important.   While the research doesn’t reveal specifically how people are using the Internet in their search for a new church, typically people look at a church’s website before deciding whether to visit the church in person. They are looking for information that will help them decide if your church is a good fit for them. If it seems like it might be a good fit, they look for info they need to visit – address, service times, how people dress, nursery & Sunday School info.
  2. Good search rankings for your church website are very important.  If, 47% of all Americans searching for a church are using the internet to assist in their decision, many of those people are searching in Google and the other search engines to find churches near to their homes.
  3. Online reviews are very important.  Do a search for churches in your city and click on the map of the churches.  Then click on the top church listing.  You will likely see that the #1 and #2 churches will have a good number of reviews, especially in comparison to those who are #9 or #10.  In addition to the impact that those reviews have on search rankings, they provide good “word of mouth” to those searching for a church.

The bottom line is…

Your church website is one of your most influential outreach tools. Invest in it accordingly.


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You can read the full Pew research report here.

What are your thoughts on the importance of a church website?  Does your church allocate the needed resources to have a great web presence?

OurChurch.Com offers a variety of website options for churches of all sizes and budgets.  Please contact me here so we can figure out what solution is best for your church.


About the author

Mark Steinbrueck

Mark Steinbrueck is President and Co-founder of OurChurch.Com. He is a member of Generations Christian Church, a husband and father of 3. He is a huge Cardinals baseball fan and bleeds Garnet and Gold. Find on Google+.


  • My friend wants to start going to church because she believes it will help her have a better outlook on life. I haven’t done much church-going, but I want to help her find a church that fits her needs. I like how you mention that online reviews are very important because it provides word of mouth like you pointed out.

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