St. Stephen’s New Website

Matt Comer   -  

Welcome to the new website for St. Stephen United Methodist Church!

When I was first hired in February this year, a new online home for St. Stephen was placed near the top of my to-do list. This project, like other upcoming communications projects, is a key component of St. Stephen’s strategic plan to reach new neighbors, grow and make disciples, and build community — all an outgrowth of our church’s vision to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus Christ in our neighborhood, in Charlotte, and in the world.

Months of research, envisioning, and planning for this new website was followed by several weeks of detailed work, resulting in this new and refreshed online presence for our church family. Along the way, I was incredibly grateful to hear ideas, feedback, contributions, and encouragement from many St. Stephen members, lay leaders, and fellow staff. What you see today is a reflection of collaborative effort and community.

I wanted to provide an opportunity here to do just a few things:

  1. Explore the framework of this new site’s design
  2. Elaborate on this new site’s content strategy
  3. Outline the new site’s benefits to current church members
  4. Provide a small road map for our future
  5. And, importantly, keep open opportunities for feedback

So, let’s jump in…

A ‘Mobile-First’ Design

This new website’s structure and design is optimized for mobile use. On today’s internet, more than half (and possibly as much as two-thirds) of web traffic comes from users on mobile devices. Just think of it: How often are most of us sitting behind a computer when we’re not at work or doing some task? When we’re perusing the web for pleasure or curiosity, we’re sitting on the couch, laying in bed, or sitting out in our gardens — and using our smartphones. Our new web platform does a great job balancing the need for our site to look good on a desktop or a laptop while being optimized for smaller, thinner, and taller mobile screens. This has already been the standard for some years and will increasingly become more important.


Our content strategy is squarely focused on guests, much like our Sunday morning welcome teams are. Think of our website as the digital or virtual version of our greeters on Sunday mornings. We all know we want our guests to feel welcomed and at home when they first step foot inside our church. But long before a guest comes to campus, they will look at our website. They’ll check out our service times, our vision, our beliefs, and recent worship services and sermons. They’ll look to see if we have dynamic programs for adults, children, youth, and missions. This little piece of digital real estate is the real “front door” of our church. In 2016, Pew Research found that 47 percent of people relied on the internet as part of their search for a church home; for people ages 18-29, it was 59 percent. Just imagine how much those numbers have grown since! (One consultant now says that number is 80 percent!) If we want guests to feel welcome at St. Stephen, the place to start is online.

So, what does being “guest-focused” mean? A lot, but really not so much. You’ll notice the home page is geared toward explaining the basic ins-and-outs of our community. You may not see the latest news from a smaller ministry or program. Instead, you’ll see large buttons and links leading people to information about Sunday services, upcoming events, and large ministry areas like “Adults,” “Children,” and “Youth.” Detailed information about our various programs and ministries can be found, of course, and the ways we each communicate with each other will continue through already-established groups and messages in Church Community Builder. But the general focus is guiding guests toward the information they seek, instead of the more detailed information we want — information we can find more easily in other places where guests don’t have easy access, like our CCB groups, our weekly e-bulletin, and in-person fellowship on Sundays.

Still, a Resource for Members

Though this new website’s primary audience is guests, we have not ignored the very real needs of our members and regular attenders. You’ll be able to quickly and easily find links to each week’s online worship services, view past worship services and sermons, and see a featured events calendar, news section, and pages for church forms, documents, and other resources.

In the Future…

This new online home is not meant to be static. It will be dynamic. It will change. It will grow. As our communications strategies change, so will this website. You’ll see the featured events calendar populate with more events. You’ll see our news section grow with recent news. We will develop and launch new guest pathways, introducing our neighbors across Charlotte to resources to enliven their faith and provide digital opportunities for discipleship. St. Stephen is blessed to already have a strong and vibrant “church online” community. This new website will serve to grow this online community, while equipping all of us, whether online or in-person, to embark in daily acts of worship, discipleship, and service.

Your Feedback is Important

Our new website is live now, but that does not mean the important work of this digital engagement is over. Remember, our new online home is dynamic! On top of all the small wrinkles we may need to iron out after launch, it’s important we hear your feedback and ideas for this new website. If you see something that looks like an error, a typo, or an oversight, let me know. If you have an idea for digital engagement or discipleship, send it my way. St. Stephen is such a strong community of faith because we value the contributions and leadership of all members. I welcome your feedback and contributions to this new project.

Feel free to reach out to me anytime! You can email me at or call me at the church office: 704-364-1824. I’d be happy to chat with you or schedule a time to meet!

Finally: A huge thanks and shout out to all the folks without whom this new website would not have been possible. I really hesitate to name any names, because I don’t want to forget anyone. To all the members and leaders who pitched in, offered ideas, and provided feedback: Thank you!

Image by James Osborne from Pixabay.