Of the church websites I see, most will never be very effective because they have a lack of fresh content.
Whether this problem is a result of a lack of finances for a web designer to update the site, a failure by the church to understand the importance of fresh content, or other problems related to a shortage of volunteers to make the updates, the result is the same, an ineffective web site that does not really help the church or ministry.
Creating church websites should not be a daunting task. If you have read very many of my articles and posts, you know that I am a firm proponent of using Content Management systems for church websites.
When church web development teams use content management systems several benefits are immediate.
1) A CMS eliminates the need for a programmer or web designer when updates to the website are needed. The church secretary could actually add this duty to her schedule or a volunteer could be recruited to ensure that new announcements, activities, and meetings are updated on a weekly or semi-weekly basis.
2) A CMS provides a consistent presentation across the entire website. Pages are consistent, resources are more easily defined, and readers feel comfortable with exploring the site.
3) A CMS will usually provide various levels of access for guests, members, authors, contributors, and administrators. That means that you can let people view information based on their level of interaction and trust with the ministry. Members can see information that visitors can not. Department heads can see information that regular members cannot. This feature is a great asset when the ministry wishes to communicate with members but does not want to expose the information to the general public.
4) A CMS usually has a security system that has been vetted from use on many different websites. It is true, that an independent programmer could produce a html system that has various access levels. But at best, unexposed bugs could exist because certain keystrokes had never been entered in a unexpected sequence. This is a common problem with systems that are not heavily used by different users in different ways. Exposing your member's contact information to the world is not a good thing. Security on one of the popular CMS systems is thousands of times more trustworthy than on a standalone environment.
5) A CMS provides for fast deployment and implementation. Many CMS systems come ready to be installed by most web hosting companies, there is no need to hire someone to even do the installation. For instance many web hosts like ifghosting.com and godaddy.com have applications like Cpanel included in the cost of even the most basic hosting. (Another reason to avoid free web hosting at all cost)
Because most Content Systems also come with 100's of templates, also known as themes or skins, ready to be customized. Getting a website online requires the creation of a masthead graphic for the website, which is the same size as the masthead on the template you want to use. You will need someone with some skills to replace that masthead and install the template but that is not a major problem using rent-a-coder.com or elancer.com. Themes also exist that will automatically include your church name in the templates existing masthead.
6) A CMS may have zero cost. Many of the most popular and available content management systems are open-source. Open source system cost you nothing to use. The developers (many of the systems have 100's on their development teams), come together with the desire to work together to create a system to meet the needs of various businesses. Then the give the product away.
Some of the most popular CMS system like Joomla (my favorite), php-nuke, drupal, plone, and many others are distributed as open-source systems. A completely functioning Content System could be deployed in less than a day if all the materials (pictures, biographies, department descriptions etc) are readily available.
For more information on using technology in ministry, visit fromchurch.com.
Article by Bishop James Brown
Bishop James Brown aka “I Feel God" is the founder of the 1000churches.org network and he is called “The Internet's Favorite Pastor". In addition, Bishop is a prolific writer and speaker who is in demand for his insights. You can read his daily Blog at http://ifeelgod.org and find information on using the Internet for ministry at http://fromchurch.com
©Copyright 2008. Used by permission. All rights reserved.