One of the biggest difficulties for church’s to overcome when building a website is gathering content. The second flows right out of it: how to present and organize that content. So many websites die on the first count that it’s hard to criticize the survivors on the second.
Hard. Not impossible.
Some of these websites look like books printed out of order, and what’s so infuriating is that they don’t have to, especially if they’re WordPress sites.
Church Theme Content
The Church Theme Content plugin (CTC) was designed by Steven Gliebe of Churchthemes.com to enable churches to properly display the content most specific to churches: sermons, events, staff, and multi-site locations. Best of all, the plugin’s free, though it only works with certain themes, three of which I have worked with personally.
So, let’s talk about the features of the plugin, all of which tie into what makes WordPress one of the world’s premier content management systems: blogging.
The Sermons comment is the most important aspect of a church website. Some might argue that events are more important, but you can finagle that in a regular blog section. The CTC plugin’s Sermon capability is fantastic, allowing you to attach notes, video, audio, and a nice description to each sermon. That’s nice and all, but what’s incredibly helpful is the ability to mark each sermon with the series it belongs to, the person who spoke, the book of the Bible from it came, a topical tag, and even a regular tag, which we use to distinguish the services at which the sermon was delivered. Best of all? The feed produced by this plugin is entirely compatible with iTunes.
I’ll be honest that I had an issue with the Events component initially: there was no way to sort the events, but in the last year, the plugin has updated so that there are now special event categories that not only make it easier to filter events, which helps people to find out what’s going on, but it also keeps your sermon and blog categories/tags clean and uncluttered. It’s brilliant.
Now, the Events component does have some wonderful features that do something incredibly important: reinforce consistency. One of my pet peeves with church communication is inconsistency in formatting and communication. The Events component has a place for time, location, recurrence, and so on. Without this, these crucial details would have to be included in the title or details sections, which, if you’re church is like mine, would lead to two or three people adding events and including theses details in a format that best suites their tastes. That sort of diversity does not lend itself to clarity. In fact, it’s less diversity than chaos.
You might scoff, but one of our most frequently visited pages is our staff page. That’s why this component is so key, even if it feels a bit too self-promotional. Also, have an inclusive idea of what staff means. You can add People categories, which means that you can quiet easily sort pastors, office staff, and even board members/deacons/elders. That idea would have never occurred to me, but I think I saw it in the promotional/demo content from CTC. It’s honestly a great idea that could truly help connect your people with your board, and vice versa.
When I first started using a CTC theme, my church had take on a church that was in restructuring. This feature allowed me to easily set up a small page for both of our sites without going to the hassle of creating a whole separate sections of the site. I could also use this to more easily add events that corresponded to their particular location.
The Church Theme Content plugin is my favorite (and only?) way to build a functional and truly church-oriented church website. The plugin is free, but you must have purchased one of the themes designed to work with the plugin. And if you’re going to go for the CTC, I’d look first at the themes designed by the plugin designer (churchthemes.com). I’ve used two (Maranatha Theme and Resurrect Theme) of their themes and have loved them both.
[Images via CTC Plugin page]