What do you want to know whenever you visit a new place?
For me, I always have two questions: where do I park and where are the bathrooms?
Knowing basic information about a new location makes us feel more confident and comfortable going there...and NOT knowing that information can make us feel, well, not comfortable, and possibly even leave us ditching our plans for the sake of security.
Which is why I would argue that having an FAQ page on your church website is quite possibly the most valuable page on your site.
This isn't just for people who are visiting the area but regularly attend elsewhere and are familiar with Catholicism. After all, that is one of the beauties of our faith, that you can attend Mass anywhere in the world and it will be celebrated relatively the same.
Your FAQ section is actually more important, I would argue, for people who do not regularly attend Mass and are either visiting for a sacrament like a First Communion or wedding or who are considering becoming more active in their faith/becoming Catholic. After all, that first impression of your church could encourage them to dive deeper into their faith and relationship with Jesus.
If you've never seen an FAQ section for a church before, check out this one we created during a website redesign recently.
Not sure what to include in your church FAQ section? Here are seven essential questions we think are a must:
Where are the bathrooms? No need to keep this a secret! It can also be extremely helpful to point out which bathrooms (if any) have changing tables available and shows your church's dedication to young families.
What should I wear? We often feel a bit afraid of this question as churches out of fear of offending people either way, but think about wedding attire guidelines: I don't think people are offended by that! It helps to phrase the response to this question in terms of what most people wear at your church versus this is what you should wear (i.e. "most of our congregation dresses up in Sunday best" versus "you should wear dress pants or a skirt").
Who can I ask for help? If you have greeters/ushers, this is the perfect opportunity to point them out! If you have a dynamic welcome ministry, we definitely want new visitors to interact with them.
How can I become Catholic? Your FAQ page is most likely going to be read by your target audience for RCIA, so make sure you include this information prominently!
Do you have a cry room? Again, this question highlights any resources you may have for young families. If you have a children's ministry/Liturgy of the Word, this is another great place to highlight that.
What if I don't know what I'm doing? Catholics have a reputation for calisthenics during Mass which can definitely be intimidating for a newcomer. If you have any Mass guides or things like that, this can be a great place to share those resources.
Can I receive Communion? Ah, the awkward ultimate question - how to make those who are not Catholic feel welcome when we're telling them, come on it but don't participate in the main event. Here, I advise that less is more. Now is not the time for a full theology lesson (though linking out to additional resources can be helpful!). Instead, think about how Jesus would respond to a tough question: with love and mercy first, but firmness in the truth and offering the opportunity to go deeper.
Want even more ideas? Host a focus group with past RCIA candidates and catechumens and ask them for their thoughts! What would they have wanted to know when they first joined your parish? They probably have a whole host of ideas that you could add to the page and give you insight into your target prospective parishioner audience.
Does your FAQ page need help (or your entire church website for that matter)? Contact us to learn more about website redesigns for churches!