A Small Church Pastor’s 5 Reasons for Using WordPress on Their Church WebsiteBy
This is a guest post written by Micah Fries
As a pastor of a small church who feels like they are slightly more adept at handling technology than the average pastor, I still recognize that there is an enormous gap between what I am comfortable dealing with and what is available in the world of technology, particularly as it relates to the setting of the local church.
If I, who utilizes technology fairly often, find it to often be confusing I can only imagine that it must be almost dizzying for most church leaders, particularly leaders in small churches who often feel technologically inadequate.
So today I want to take just a few minutes and share some personal motivations for using WordPress as our church’s website management system. I hope that if you are a pastor a small church and/or ministry, these reasons will help motivate you to choose WordPress for you website needs.
Here’s my five reasons for using WordPress on your church website:
1. Professional Design
One of our driving passions at our church is the idea of excellence. We are particularly interested in appealing to a younger demographic. In fact we have positioned ourselves to reach out to a crowd that is below the age of 35. As such we understand the importance of excellence, particularly in the area of technology.
With that in mind I am often frustrated by churches who desire to do a good thing, by having a church website, but who don’t invest the time, money, energy, etc. to create a professional site. We were determined not to make that mistake. We utilized a site built and maintained by our bi-vocational Worship Pastor for the first couple of years. The problem was that when he resigned and left the church we had a nice website that looked good but was one that was not easily updated. WordPress solves that problem. It is easily configurable and also allows for quick transitions. We can change the design and the content in just a short amount of time with little effort. Beyond that feature, the fact that there are so many WordPress themes available it is virtually painless to change appearances of your site at a very rapid pace.
What’s fascinating is that WordPress sites, and other sites similar to WordPress, are now being used by some of the largest churches in the country. By using WordPress, you are placing your church on par with some of the largest, which is something that is rarely possible in ministry circles.
2. Ease of Use
Another feature that was a necessity for us, as a small church, due to a smaller pool of volunteers coupled with the fact that all three of our staff members are bi-vocational, is that we needed a site that is easy to use in two ways.
First, it had to be easy to use for people who are typically computer novices. I often tell people that if they are comfortable using Microsoft Word, they can professionally maintain a WordPress website. The toolbar that is the default editor for WordPress is simply the easiest editing option I have ever seen in a website management program. If you have never run a website before, or if you have run one but found yourself frustrated in the process, WordPress will be easy for you.
Another feature that was important for us, referring back to the reasons I mentioned in #2, was that the program that we chose needed to be one that did not confuse the technological novice. The software package that we chose had to be one that was easy to view, easy to navigate and most of all, did not make use of technological jargon that was confusing or flat-out unintelligible for our folks who would maintain the site.
WordPress achieves each of those features, and then some. Once our site was built we literally spend less than 30 minutes per week to maintain the site and that includes constant “commercials” or announcements that we post on the site, a sermon download section that includes podcasting, downloads and even a built-in media player. All of these features are available for anyone to use, even the most technologically inept.
4. Low Cost
A problem for many small churches is that finances can often be overwhelming. You want to “do” ministry but you find yourself constantly bound by financial restraints. It seems as if very little in the way of ministry helps is available for a small budget. Just to help illustrate, when I arrived at my church a little over 4 years ago, we had a total budget under $40,000. Today we are approaching $100,000 in total receipts which is still very small compared to most churches, but is incredibly better than where we were.
Our WordPress website costs us less than $100 per year. We have email for all of our staff (both paid and unpaid), we have audio files available (as mentioned above) and we are looking at the idea of video files as well. We have blogs plugged in on the site for community interaction, and the list could go on. All of this is done on an incredibly limited budget.
Our use of audio files is also expanding our ministry. We have received contact from people across the country who regularly download our messages. This low cost option is giving us the opportunity to expand our ministry onto a global scale which is something that finances would typically preclude us from doing.
One feature that is very exciting, and important, to us is website flexibility. Since we are small and cannot afford a tremendous amount of ministry options, we need our website to be able to do a lot, and to also do that with a low threshold for cost. WordPress gives us those options. From a static website, to a blog, to an audio center, to a contact page, WordPress does all of those things with little or no cost.
As you can probably already tell, I love WordPress. Using WordPress for our church has been much like a door being opened to a world I always saw but never thought possible for a smaller church. If you are interested in designing and maintaining a website but have not been able to do so in the past because of limitations imposed on you by the small church culture, than WordPress is designed with you in mind.