Megachurch Tech on a Microchurch Budget

Your Website is a Time Machine to 1996

The website: an absolute necessity in our modern day and age.   If your church doesn’t have one, you’re missing out on the single best piece of technology available to churches, period.  But almost worse than not having a website is having a website that is poorly designed and dated.  Most small churches have websites that are done by a guy in the congregation or by the 17-year-old son of one of the Elders, or worse, by the Pastor!  Churches have been told that in order to have a website that’s modern and updated, they have to spend tons of money and time.  Good news: that’s not true anymore.  For just a few dollars a year, you can have a modern, easy-to-use, easy-to-update, fully-functioned church website without any web coding experience necessary!

Have you heard of WordPress?

WordPress is the best solution out there for churches.  Wordpress is a web platform.  What does that mean?  Well, WordPress is like a brand-new house.  It has all the plumbing and electrical installed (the behind-the-scenes coding), all you have to do is build the walls (your site’s pages), and decorate (choose a theme).  It can seem a bit intimidating, but it’s incredibly simple to use.  In fact, if your current web hosting provider doesn’t offer automatic install of the WordPress platform, you can manually install it in 5 Minutes.  The good news is, that most hosting providers have a one-button install of WordPress available, so they take care of all the hard stuff.  Your hosting provider should be able to walk you through the install if you have any problems.

The hardest part of using WordPress is choosing a theme.  There are so many of them to choose from, both free and premium (paid).  Make sure you’re searching for themes that are WordPress 3.0-compatible, as those will be the most current and well-designed.  Check out WordPress Driven Church’s Gallery for a great gallery of church-tested themes (some are free, some are paid, and some are custom-designed, but you’ll get a great overview of what’s out there.) Be careful!  Not every theme is well-designed.  You might have some trial and error in finding the right theme.  (This is especially true with free themes.)  I also recommend churchthemes.com for some really well-designed, church-specific WordPress themes. (Again, some are paid, some are free)

Once you have your theme chosen, installation is a snap.  Download the .zip file that contains your theme.  Don’t unzip!  Then, point your web browser to the WordPress login page (It’s www.exampleaddress.com/whateverdirectoryyouchoseduringinstallation/wp-admin). Login and head to Appearance → Themes→ Install Themes→ Upload and choose your .zip file.  Once it’s uploaded, click Activate, and you’re all set!

A quick word about plugins.  (If themes are the decoration, plugins are the appliances.)  They make your site do all kinds of fancy things.  The good news is that most of them are free.  The bad news is that this is where you can get yourself into some trouble.  Just like not every theme is designed by experts, neither is every plugin.  Sometimes they can crash your site.  The good news is that you can log in to your File Manager and manually delete the plugin to fix your site.

Next come pages.  Pages are the rooms in your house.  I recommend having a page for all your main ministries, plus a Contact Us page, an About Us page, and a Calendar Page.  Setup of these pages is a breeze.  To add a new page, click Pages→Add New.  You’ll put in your title and then add your content on the page and click Publish.  You’re done!  Congratulations!  You have a website.

So what about Posts? Well, posts are designed for blogging, primarily. You can also use them to highlight special events that are going on in the church.  Posts don’t appear in your site navigation, but they will come up if you search by category (as long as you create and use categories).

These are the basics of WordPress.  The good news is, that you can very easily get a modern, great-looking website up with just a few hours of work.  Updating is simple and you won’t have to fuss over the site every time you log on.  It just works and it works simply, no programming or advanced web knowledge necessary!

(Still not convinced? Let The Diva get your site all gussied-up for you for far less than having a custom site designed and maintained.)

 

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