WordPress has some real advantages as a platform for church websites:
- It’s easy for volunteers to update.
- WordPress is well-suited to multimedia.
- Administrators can control security at a very granular level.
There are church-specific plugins for WordPress, so we decided to try out a few.
Church Pack includes simple tools for adding people, groups, photo albums, and text widgets with no need for HTML skills. It also includes some short codes to give you more control over the look of your posts, and there is a paid version which adds an even manager.
Here you can see how the Groups tool works. You fill out a form and end up with a consistent listing for the Sunday School classes, Bible Study groups, adult small groups, and so forth.
Scroll down the form and you’ll be prompted to add details of the location, leader and contact info. In situation where many people may add a group, it is super helpful to have a form to fill out.
The new group page will have the information (removed in this screen shot) in a consistent, attractive form, with the word “Email” linked to a mail form instead of showing the email address — a nice touch for privacy and to cut down on spam.
If the location is off campus, inputting the address will automatically place a Google Map on the page.
Simple shortcode lets you place the picture and description, linked to the group page, into any page. In the screenshot below, we have a page that lists all the groups, but you might add the music groups to a page on the music ministry, youth groups on the page for the youth ministry, and so forth.
The rest of the Church Pack works much the same way. The emphasis is on ease of use, and you can enable only the tools you want, to keep your dashboard simple.
Another handy church plugin from the same folks, Sermon Manager lets churches upload sermons in a number of forms. Congregation members — or anyone — can hear a sermon on their phones, watch a video, or download a PDF of sermon notes.
Sermon Manager gives you a simple form to fill out for sermons, including the date, type of service, Bible verse, and a text box for any length of description.
Scroll down the page and you’ll find an easy place to upload MP3 files, embed YouTube videos, and upload PDFs of sermon notes. Once again, it’s all about easy. Users not only don’t have to know how to code, they don’t really have to know how to use WordPress, and the outcome will be consistent and attractive.
The folks at WP for Church are working on a donation plugin based on Easy Digital Downloads, and I expect it’ll be a good, simple one that works well.
There is a church-specific membership plugin, but we tried it at two different websites and it broke both. It may just be incompatible with the newest version of WordPress. However, the Participants Database plugin is a great people-tracking database.
It’s not the simplest possible membership plugin, but here’s where churches often need to choose power over simplicity (that’s nearly always the trade-off).
Participants allows configuration of special fields, from family relationships to group memberships, pledge amounts, voice part, volunteer commitments, or any other information needed. The list can then be sorted by any of the fields, exported into spreadsheets, and otherwise manipulated.
Forms can be created that collect needed information for volunteer signups, newsletter signups, or any other use, feeding the data into the database.
Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!