In today's world, it's rare to find a business or an organization that doesn't have a website. In fact, those who don't have an Internet presence are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to exposure to potential customers and interested parties. The same is true for your Christian school. Without a website, you are missing out on a wealth of opportunities that could tremendously benefit your school.

Establishing an online presence is critical on many fronts. Not only can a website be an effective advertising tool, but it can also be used as a communication forum with parents and students, an image builder to your community, and a catalyst to reach potential students and families for the Lord. Perhaps your Christian school has thought about putting together a website, but you're not sure how much it will cost or if you'll have enough time. After all, you have a school to run, right? However, the question you should be asking is not whether you can afford to start a website, but whether you can truly afford not to have one.

Though the following reasons only scratch the surface of a website's usefulness, here are the top five reasons a website can be a valuable tool for your Christian school:

1. Reach Your Audience.
Recent studies estimated that just over a billion people used the Internet in 2008, and about 500 million people used the Internet at least once a week. Fluctuating from month to month, the World Wide Web has approximately 155 million websites that run on 75 million servers. About 73% of Americans went online in 2008, and three out of every four Internet users are from North America. Sure, the numbers are staggering, but what does that mean to you and your school? People expect to find you online, so in order to keep your school competitive, you need a website!

2. Strengthen Your Credibility.
A website has become one of the signs of a serious business or organization. It tells interested parties you're knowledgeable, growing, up to date, and trustworthy. Building trust with potential families is the key to getting them to learn more about you and ask for more information. A well-designed, easy-to-use website allows families to come to you rather than you going after families. Think of a website as a permanent advertisement that's available 24/7 for anyone in the world to find. Combined with brochures, business cards, and emails, a website is a low-cost medium that lets families know you mean business!

3. Provide Critical Information with Ease.
A website shares valuable information with potential families and currently enrolled families and students! Saving staff and administration time, a website can relay critical information and lessen repetitive tasks like answering phone calls and sending out emails. Websites can also save you valuable time when you post frequently asked questions, directions, times and locations of special events, lunch menus, staff contact information, course and curriculum options, sports and athletic information, and more!

4. Create Awareness.
Student enrollment is an important number for all Christian schools. By starting a school website, you create an awareness for potential families and students that puts you in the mix of educational options. In addition, a website portrays a sense of community to local families.

5. Build Interest at an Affordable Price.
Making a website is more affordable than you think, and it doesn't have to be a long, arduous task. With pre-set templates available for free or reasonably low costs, a website can be up and running in no time at all. At a cost similar to a phone book ad, your school website can be on the Internet for everyone to see and access 24/7!

If you're ready to start your own Christian school website, be sure to read upcoming editions of the School Messenger from Alpha Omega Publications®. In the next few months, you'll find helpful articles with step-by-step instructions on how your Christian school can successfully start a website. Plus, if you already have a website, we'll offer articles on how to improve and market your current website.