Signing your church up for a blog site account at WordPress.com, or downloading the WordPress software at www.wordpress.org and creating the site yourself, is not only simple but totally free! Once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of choosing (or creating) your blog site theme, posting blogs, integrating widgets, etc., you will be better able to keep your congregation updated on current announcements as well as create a presence for your church on the Web. And this will come in handy for visitors interested in attending your church. Here are a few reasons a WordPress blog site is the way to go for small churches on a budget:
1. Weekly and/or Daily Announcements in the Form of Blogs on the Homepage
These days everyone is blogging and church pastors are no exception. With WordPress, not only can you establish a personal blog site for the pastor, but the official church blog site can be used to post various announcements throughout the week. Each post will be displayed on the homepage of your site and will be the first thing visitors are greeted with (as well as the title of your site-the name of your church and any logo image you choose to upload in jpg, jpeg, png, gif, pdf, doc, ppt, odt, pptx or docx format). This is a quick, simple and reliable way to keep your congregation informed of announcements and events well in advance.
2. Easy-to-Build Pages and Subpages
Pages are one of the many beauties of the WordPress system. Whether you’re building the site from scratch with WordPress.org or simply erecting a blog on WordPress.com (with which you will need to create an account for your church with a username and password), pages will come in handy, particularly for a church site.
An example of a page you might create for your church site is “Ministries.” On this page you would list the various ministries of your church and perhaps write a short blurb about each one and even compliment the page with an image of your choosing (being certain to abide by copyright laws when using images from the web). However, by making this page a “Parent Page” for several subpages, you would then be able to create individual pages for each of your church’s individual ministries. For example, your subpages would be titled: Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, College Ministry, Young Adults, Single Moms, etc. or, better yet, the specific names of these various groups. This will allow visitors to click on the link to a page that they wish to check out and, hopefully, see where they would plug in at your church.
Other main (parent) pages you may wish to create include: About Us (including a subpage or two outlining your church’s beliefs, values, doctrinal statement, etc.), Contact Us (phone numbers, staff e-mails, fax, physical street address, etc.), Pastoral Staff (photos and bios of staff members), and a Schedule page (weekly schedule and current calendar announcements and events).
3. Easy Image, Audio and Video Uploads
Even with a simple WordPress blog site, you can keep up with those mega-church web sites in terms of audio and video uploads and downloads. If your church has the sound and/or video technology capabilities to record your pastor’s sermons and then convert them to mp3, m4a, wav or ogg audio file formats, you can post them to your site. Not only will visitors have a chance to listen to sermons and gain a feel for your church, but regular attendees who may have missed a service due to illness will have an opportunity to catch up.
4. RSS Feeds and Blog Subscriptions
This is a handy tool for keeping your members all the more aware of your church’s announcements. WordPress offers a widget called “Blog Subscriptions,” which will allow a visitor to enter his/her e-mail address into a subscription box (the title of this box is up to you) and receive notifications by e-mail every time a new blog is posted to the site. In others words, they can “subscribe” to your church announcements. Imagine your announcements being delivered straight into someone’s e-mail inbox! Most WordPress blog sites also offer RSS feeds for individuals who wish to add you to their daily stream of blogs.
There are a host of additional widgets and extras you may choose to accompany your church’s new blog web site, including search boxes and even language translators. Once you have familiarized yourself with WordPress.com or the WordPress software (downloadable at WordPress.org), you will be more apt to include these special features. So get out there, start learning and creating and give your church a web presence everyone will remember!