Let me describe a common scenario. This is a true story. My passion for Church Websites began at home. I used to be a volunteer youth group leader at a medium-sized congregation, and I worked professionally in the tech industry. As a young man (with a lot of time on his hands), I designed and built my church its first website in 1998. At first, I was its sole maintainer. But as my career began to take off and my family grew, requiring more and more of my time, it became difficult for me to continue updating the website and its content. There was no such thing as a decent Content Management System (CMS) for websites back then, so I built a simple one that could be maintained by someone who I trained. Eventually, I ran out of time to maintain the site altogether, and the person I trained took over site maintenance completely. After a short time, he moved out of town and my church’s website was no longer being maintained. At one point in time, another volunteer was found to take over maintenance of the site, and I trained him. He did the job well for a short time, but lost interest and quit. This process repeated itself in various forms over several years.
Being involved with several small-to-medium sized churches in my local area, I have seen this same scenario play out in various ways quite a few times. At Sharefaith, we see it every day. A “techy” at a church creates a website, but runs out of time. He trains several people over a number of years to maintain the website, but ultimately, the site stops being updated and the content gets stale.
Off-the-shelf Content Management Systems can help by taking the need to know how to write code out of the equation, but they tend to be cumbersome, and that fact leads to the reality that the site’s maintainer must be trained to perform the task. In the case of small churches, the job of maintaining website content often lands in the lap of the already overworked church secretary, or even the pastor.
It’s quite common
Having seen this happen time and time again, I have truly come to love what Sharefaith has done with Church Websites. Sharefaith puts the tools necessary to maintain a beautiful website into the hands of someone who has little time and has never been trained. But that’s not what this is about.
The reason we at Sharefaith got into the business of Church Websites is because we have all been personally involved in websites at our own churches well before we had a product to sell, and we saw a very definite need. Some of us have been gifted by God as designers, others write code, and still others customer support. But all of us have seen the scenario I describe above play itself out and have a passion for making the job of spreading the Gospel through online technologies within the reach of those whom God has gifted to preach the Word to their communities, but cannot afford dedicated technology staff.
When we set out to accomplishing this goal, we had two choices – build a system entirely from the ground-up or leverage an existing system and make modifications to it that make it fit the specific needs of the church. We chose the latter option because it enabled us to create a customized website maintenance experience that requires little-to-no training, and at the same time, gave our customers access to thousands of free plugins that enable their websites to do nearly anything you can imagine without waiting for us to code each of those features.
At its core
As many of our customers are aware, Sharefaith has built its Sidekick editor on top of the world’s most popular CMS – WordPress. It’s a powerful CMS, and has a lot of options, but with those options comes a level of complexity that can be overly cumbersome for a typical church volunteer or untrained website maintainer. Thankfully, Sidekick removes this complexity for all of the common tasks that are necessary for a church to maintain a website that has the appearance of being designed and maintained by someone whose life and career are dedicated to just that.
Join us in the following weeks as we walk you through a few of the awesome (and advanced) things that you can do with your Church Website and its WordPress core. The steps to getting these features setup can be fairly technical in nature, but we will hold your hand in the setup, and once setup, each of these features becomes as easy to use as anything else you control through Sidekick.
We’ll show you some cool stuff
Our first article in this series will explain how you can setup the Jetpack plugin to automatically publish your blog posts to social media, gather site statistics, enable social “likes” on your site, accept public comments while keeping spam at-bay and other cool options. Follow-up articles will go into the details of how to achieve Search Engine Optimization, accept prayer requests, add a verse of the day and live-stream church services. At Sharefaith, we love making the best tools for spreading the Gospel online, and we love showing our customers how to use all the tools that are available to them. Be sure to keep a look-out for these guides, and let us know if you have any questions or would like our assistance.