I really enjoyed developing this website solution for a local church in Marion, IA. If there was ever a perfect fit for WordPress, a church comes very close. You have diverse congregation of people, the church staff and volunteer committees and groups inside the church. All of them share the need to communicate to the congregation on a regular and timely basis.

To date, most churches have used the traditional print newsletter on a monthly basis, weekly printed bulletins at the weekend services (for those members who attend) and more recently churches are using email, some too much!

The Details of the website

We developed a WordPress website using the bSocial Theme from iThemes.com and transferred their existing web pages to the new site. We then trained the staff on how to login and update and change the pages when they want to. We learned many of the pages hadn’t been updated for over a year and there were pages they wanted to add!

Next we added an online calendar and again trained the staff to add events based on a number of categories. They have started with simply the weekly services but soon plan to add all upcoming events around the church and groups/committees!

calendar Next we connected their photos page to their SmugMug photo hosting site. The church has a photography club and all members who take photos upload to the SmugMug professional hosting site in high resolution. Now members of the church can order photos, posters, canvas prints and more!

The website pulls the most recent photos from the SmugMug website via the WP-SmugMug Plugin. As new photos are added the website is updated automatically!

Finally we setup the pastors and church leaders with the concept of blogging and the ability to send updates to the congregation when they publish a blog post. They can now post weekly sermon notes and other news/events without waiting for the weekly bulletin or monthly newsletter. This will allow more timely communications.

We added a video box for the church to include recent videos of events or videos pertaining to the holidays or sermon series!

Email, Facebook, Twitter integration with WordPress

We installed the Subscribe2 plugin to allow people visiting the website to sign up for email news and updates. Any blog post will be sent to their email automatically. This is similar to aWeber or Constant Contact but for free! It also allows the church to upload their existing email list of church members and manually add new members when they like. This is a powerful way to communicate but wait…

Next we add the blog RSS feed to the notes page of the Facebook fan page for the church. Now anytime the church posts to the blog it updates Facebook automatically! But wait…

Using the Twitter Tools plugin we also connected blog posts to Twitter updates. Again any blog post updates the churches Twitter account!

So ANY BLOG POST to the website is automatically sent to the email subscribers, updates Facebook and updates Twitter! Very powerful!

photos Christian Plugins

We did a search for terms like bible or church and Christian and came up with some very nice plugins!

Bible Reading Plan allowed us to put a widget on the main page with daily Bible Reading plans based on the bible used by LCRMarion.org! It supports many versions of the bible so this could be used for many denominations!

The Holy Scripturizer plugin is a really cool plugin. The plugin searches the pages and blog posts for any reference to a bible verse and automatically links them to the bible verse online AND displays a popup. The church can also choose their bible of preference!

Sermon Browser is an amazing plugin! The church is going to implement this next year but the site is setup and we have tested the plugin. Basically the plugin allows the church to upload audio/video copies of sermons and library sort them by date, pastor, series, keywords and more! Notes can be connected to a sermon and linked to iTunes for Podcasting support!

Additional Plugins

WP FollowMe was added to put a floating icon on the right side of the website to allow people to easily follow LCRMarion.org on Twitter.com

We also added the TweetMe – Retweet plugin so visitors can re-tweet any content or post they like. Sociable was added to extend this functionality to Facebook, LinkedIn and more!

There are many other backend plugins for backup and database management, SEO, XML sitemaps, Google Analytics and more!

In Closing

Churches today are looking for ways to reach out using technology to their current congregation and to find new ways to attract members to their church. Churches are also aging and looking for ways to bring younger people and families to their congregation. Collaborative WordPress sites that implement Web 2.0 technologies like Facebook, Twitter but more importantly have the ability to blog post their updates when they happen vs waiting till the the next weekend service or monthly newsletter!

We have started working on a new website for the LCR Youth. The goal of the separate site is to connect to youth from 6th grade to high school seniors but more importantly to stay connected to the youth through college and into the future!

More updates coming soon!PastorNotes

If you are looking for a solution for your church contact us today to get a quote and learn more about our services!