Visitors to your church often want to know basic things like what time your services are, where you’re located, and what to expect when they come for the first time. Especially for a first-time visitor, there’s often a fear of standing out, showing up at the wrong time, or not knowing what the usual dress code is. Your site’s features can help to put visitors at ease through your clear and simple explanations, created through reflection about what your visitors are likely to experience.
Another way to put people at ease while helping them to make important connections is through the effective use of staff and leadership pages. Divi’s Person module makes this really easy.
Since Divi’s Person module demo page does a great job of explaining the basics of setting up the module, I won’t say a whole lot about that aspect. Instead, here are some things to ponder as you use this module.
What to Include in Leadership Descriptions
The module gives you three primary text areas for each person: name, position, and a general description area that you can format as you wish. In addition, you can upload a photo and add social media links. (Advanced users can do lots more if they wish via sophisticated formatting tools.) You’ll most likely use all three text areas, but the description section is the one you should think through most carefully.
Your visitors probably don’t want to read long descriptions for each staff member, so work with the staff or leadership to create interesting but fairly brief text that helps people to understand their role at the church, what drives them as a person, and how to get in touch. Divi’s module doesn’t include fields for phone numbers and email addresses, so begin your Description with that information. After that, here are some possible things each person might include in his or her description. (Choose a few – this is not a laundry list of “must haves”.)
- Primary responsibilities
- Favorite thing about the job or the church
- A few personal hobbies or interests (to help people see them as everyday people)
- Some family information
- A brief educational bio (primarily for clergy or primary program/ministry staff persons)
- A favorite Bible verse or story – and why it’s meaningful
- A brief but significant faith-related story
The list of things to NOT include is more subjective. As I see it, you probably don’t need to include:
- A non-essential question that everyone answers, such as “Favorite place to vacation” or “Favorite movie.”
- How many years they have been on the staff. Though many churches include this info, I’d argue it doesn’t provide an important function at all. Plus, it is information that–depending on how it is written–easily goes out of date.
- Other churches they have worked at. (You might make an exception for pastors, but only if there’s a compelling reason to do so.)
Social Media Links
Some staff or leaders are happy to have you include links to their social media pages, while others may not want that information made public for any number of reasons. So, here are some things to talk about together.
- Are you OK with people seeing everything you post?
- Does each person honestly use each social media profile they plan to include? (In other words, if you’re not a regular Google+ user, don’t bother pretending you are.)
- If some staff are OK with including social media profiles but others aren’t, what messages will your congregation members or visitors read into that decision?
- Does anyone have any privacy concerns about making the profile links public?
Photos of the Team
Good photos are important! They should be appropriately sized for the content you wish to include, optimized for fast downloading, in focus and posed well, and taken using a consistent orientation (portrait or landscape). In addition, they should match the “vibe” of your church, whether that’s formal, completely casual, or somewhere in-between. I encourage churches to make sure faces are fully visible, because it’s important that a visitor is actually able to recognize the staff person or leader if they meet in person.
Chances are, there’s a member of your church who is a great photographer that can really make your photos stand out. If not, consider hiring a professional, a photography student, or a devoted hobbyist from the community.
By the way, don’t use church directory photos taken by a professional church directory company UNLESS a) you have permission to do so and b) they meet the criteria discussed earlier.
Layout and Groupings
The best layout for your church is likely different from the best one for mine. In some small churches, a single column layout (similar to our basic demo page) might be appropriate. In mid-sized churches, a multi-column layout might work better. In a large, multi-staff or multi-site church, grouping staff or leadership photos by ministry area might make the most sense, perhaps with entries that link to individual staff pages.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide on how best to lay out your staff and leadership images.
- First, decide on your goal for the page. Do you want to provide quick, at-a-glance essential information (photo, name, position, email), a basic bio, or something else?
- The larger the number and size of the photos, the longer the page is likely to take to load.
- Staff or leadership images sometimes make sense to include on primary ministry pages instead of on a general staff page. If you go that route, you may wish to have a very simple staff directory so that church “regulars” can have quick contact information in one place.
- Look at other churches similar to yours to see how they have laid out their staff pages.
- Don’t neglect to include key non-staff leadership. People appreciate seeing who is leading a children’s or youth ministry, for example, and it’s far more personable to include a photo than to just add a name in an article.
Because the Divi module is called “Person,” it might not occur to you that you could use this module for other purposes. The person module might not always be the best choice for other purposes, but sometimes its simplicity works really well. Some of them include:
- Sub-ministries within a particular ministry area
- Non-primary social media pages (e.g. pages created by individual ministries)
- Basic class or small group descriptions
- A retrospective, such as a brief look at past service trips a youth group has taken
- Anything else where you have a grouping where each items had a photo, name, primary piece of information (e.g. a location, year, ministry area), and a description.
- Here are still more suggestions from the folks at Divi.
Show Us Your Best Work
We’d love to link to some terrific pages that use the Divi Person module. Send us your creative examples.