Are you Using A Church Near You?

by Michael Ford last modified 14 May, 2019 02:29 PM

Did you know that 'A Church Near You' (ACNY) is a key resource for the Church of England? This national website is at the heart of major campaigns such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter when non-regulars are looking for a service near by.

The Church Of England surveyed 14,000 A Church Near You editors and found that more than 40 per cent have heard visitors to their church say they found them through ACNY.

More than one-third of editors have proactively said the new analytics report of their ACNY pages have encouraged them to make the most of their page/s, and 30 per cent have been surprised by how high the numbers are.

The vast majority of editors who added their Christmas services and events to the site did so in under an hour – more than 90 per cent. 23 per cent of those who added their services to ACNY saw more people attend their Christmas services this year, and 60 per cent saw a similar number.

Many of our churches have noticed that the site itself has changed and this was done to allow churches to customise their pages and even use it as their main church website.

The new ACNY saw a 50 per cent increase in traffic the first month it launched in 2017, compared to the same month the previous year.

For example, did you know that you can choose which service appears on your homepage?

When you’re logged in, go the first tab on the left-hand side, click on the grey pencil by the name of your church to edit your homepage. Scroll down to the 'What’s on' panel and select 'Use this event' by using the drop-down menu and selecting your chosen service or event. When you’ve done this, remember to click 'Save' at the bottom of the page!

In 2018, the site received more than 10 million page views, with 82 per cent of visitors doing so for the first time.

Since launching the Inbox feature to allow the public to contact churches directly to inquire about attending services, organising a life event or asking another question, more than 10,000 messages have been sent to churches.

A spokesperson for ACNY said:

"This increase in engagement is so encouraging – and shows that your communities are still looking to the Church at key moments in their lives.

"The 2019 survey showed that more than 84 per cent of churches would recommend ACNY to other churches, and 35 per cent of churches are already using the site as their main website or are planning to soon.

"On A Church Near You, you can link your church’s website, Facebook and Twitter – and Instagram soon – from your page, to help people find out more about you. In fact, the 'Visit our website' button is one of the first things visitors see when landing on a church’s page that has added the link.

"Last year, we introduced the feature that made it possible for churches to use ACNY as their website, by redirecting their domain names to their ACNY pages. We explained the process here. This development was based on the results of our previous annual editor survey, where 40% of churches said they’d like to use ACNY as their main church website. This would save the Church of England around £1 million as the churches were able to stop paying separate hosting, development and security fees.

"However, this option was only added for those churches interested in saving this money and having only one site to manage. It was not and never will be compulsory – it’s just an option."

The site allows enquiriers to leave messages asking about Weddings, Baptisms or details of graves, however some smaller churches find the sheer volume of enquiries generated by the site overwhelming and the developers are looking into this.

"Nearly 10,000 messages have been sent to churches by members of the public since this feature launched. However, nearly 3,000 of these messages are still waiting for a response.

"We’ve had helpful feedback from editors on further improvements to make to the inbox features, which will go live this year.

"The success of ACNY is down to the hard work and commitment of our editors, and we are grateful for the time they spend keeping their pages up to date. Thank you to all those editors who took the time to feedback about their A Church Near You experience. Our development work this year will be based on this."

If you need some help in logging into ACNY, editing your pages or even pointing your domain name to your page to use it as your main church website, visit the Editor Help Centre here.

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