Let’s consider a tale of two churches, each with their own church website. For the sake of comparison, we’ll assume that each of these churches has a website with a decent design and a good web hosting company to back them up. Now, for the tale…
Ministry Websites Should Be Easy to Maintain
A Case Study – A Tale of a Church Website That Was Impossible to Maintain
Church A jumped at the opportunity to have a church website as soon as the church was started. Since they paid a lot of money for it, the website was top of the line when it first came out six years ago. They hired a skilled designer whose specialty was in church web design. He designed a stunning website using mysterious things called Dreamweaver, Drupal, CSS, and Java.
The only problem was, no one in the church knew how to update anything. In fact, just four months after the website went live, the church moved to a new location. The website then had the wrong information for the church address. Church staff would get irate phone calls from visitors who were trying to find the building, who were only finding an empty shopping center storefront where the church used to be. Then, the church phone number changed, as well as the contact email addresses for the church website. Now, the church secretary didn’t have to worry about all those pesky phone calls and emails. Sometimes, a church member will check out the website just to see some of the cool Flash effects and gaze at the nice website, but it’s not really representative of the church anymore. In fact, they don’t even have the same pastor, whose name is still included on the old website as a not-so-pleasant legacy to his enduring influence.
The wistful church secretary sometimes daydreams about uploading weekly bulletins, and putting sermons online like all the other churches do. And maybe…just maybe…it would be kind of nice to update the church address, phone number, email address, and yeah, they have a new pastor like we talked about. Maybe someday they’ll be able to update their website. Maybe.
Church B – A Tale of a Church Website That Is Easy to Maintain
Church B wanted a website, too. They first put up a free website, but it got zero traffic and looked pretty pathetic. Unfortunately, nobody on the church staff has any technical aptitude. They barely know how to check their email, so they’re afraid that designing a website is way out of their league. Just getting a personal Facebook account was a major accomplishment for the pastor. The church also has very little money to spend on a church website.
However, they realized that a church website was important, so they took the plunge and decided to use a church website template, rather than hire a designer. The templates looked sharp and professional, and plus the company that offered the templates said that updating the websites was going to be really easy. That’s what the church staff wanted to do—update the website as often as necessary. Sure enough. Using a platform called WordPress, everyone on the church staff figured out how to update the website. After just a twenty-minute tutorial of learning how to use WordPress, the church secretary had posted an update to the site. Wow. This was cool.
The senior pastor, legendary for his backwardness with computers and only recently initiated into the world of Facebook, even figured out how to add things to the church website. Updating the church website is not just a weekly event; it’s daily. And, rumor has it, the senior pastor has even started his own WordPress blog. It’s that easy.
Obviously, the difference between Church A and Church B was the church’s ability to update their website. To dispense with the parable and cut right to the chase, here’s the deal: a church website should be easy to maintain. It should be simple to update. It should be a snap to change things. A church website should not be the exclusive territory of some trained professional with a vast knowledge of esoteric programming language. No indeed. A church website should be accessible by anyone who has the right to update information and change things.
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