My church is bi-lingual. We have a lot of English speakers but also Polish speakers since we’re in Kraków, Poland. Because of that, we have to do some clever things both in the service and online to suit both groups. This means making our church website flexible for different audiences is critical. I hope in sharing our use case you might get inspiration or ideas for your own.
The Differences between our English speaking and Polish Speaking Congregation Members
There are plenty of exceptions to this point but in general our English speakers are either people visiting Krakow or expats who come from a Protestant Christian background. They are more likely to have grown up in Christian homes.
They are likely to know the songs we sing (in English but not in polish) and may want advice about what there is in Krakow.
In contrast, our Polish members are more likely to be converts to Protestant Christianity, either coming from non-religious or catholic backgrounds, and are likely to have been in Krakow for longer. We also have a good number of non-Christian guests.
As you might imagine, the background, expectation and needs of these two groups are very different.
Luckily, we can easily create two different websites that are more catered to each background and will show based on the users browser language choice.
Our English Site
Our English site looks like many American church’s sites would. We have information for visitors, a statement of faith, a plan a visit page with information about things like clothing choices. We also have some information for tourists with some recommended restaurants and attractions nearby to help them get around. We even have a page for people moving to Krakow to help them find the information they need if they are moving here for a new job.
Our Polish Site
Our polish site has many of the same resources but they are tailored beyond just a simple translation.
Our statement of faith includes resources on differences between catholic and Protestant beliefs.
Our invitations assume that the recipient might be a non-Christian.
Our moving here page has more student related resources and they are higher up. We’ve also planned some content starting with this group in mind and we may translate it to English later.
Some of it is Relevant to Both Groups
I’m some cases there are items that are relevant to both groups. We still get English speaking non-Christian guests just as we get Polish speaking Protestant guests and even tourists. As such, we often reuse resources and content ideas.
Still, we focus on the most common type of person for each group. This can mean that we write content differently or order content in different ways.
How is this relevant for you?
One very simple idea you can adopt is considering the different types of visitors that come to your site and providing a way for them to select more relevant information. This could be a section where they select a profile which best applies to them. For example,
- I’m just visiting,
- I’m new in town,
- I’m interested in Christianity.
- someone is dragging me along
Okay, that last one is a joke — although I’m sure people like that do come along — but you get my point. Including information about your city or community is another example of making your church website flexible. You can help website visitors find the most useful information for themselves.
Not just websites
We’ve been talking about making your church website more flexible but you can apply this principle beyond that. You can have welcome packs with optional additional information such as recommended resources in your town or a guide to the basics of Christianity. By providing more personalized and relevant information, you’re going to help them out more.