Building websites for churches can present some unique challenges.
Churches tend to have several ministries, all of which are run by different people. For example, you may have a Women’s Ministry run by committee, and a Men’s Ministry run by just one person. Then there is the Youth Ministry that stays busy 24/7, it seems. Perhaps you also have an Outreach Ministry, and a Deacon’s Ministry.
I could go on.
With all these elements thrown into the mix, not only is it impossible for just one person to keep the website up to date, managing all the content can be a nightmare from a layout perspective. You almost need a separate site for each ministry.
That’s where WordPress Multisite comes in.
WordPress Multisite for Churches
What is WordPress Multisite?
Multisite allows you to setup a network of sites in one installation of WordPress. Once you’ve installed WordPress Multisite, you become the Super Admin. In this role, you can create sites within the main site. You can create users who are administrators or editors of specific sites within the main site. You can also choose which plugins you want the administrators to have access to, and add them to the network.
You can also create or customize a theme that is available for some or all of your network, and then modify it slightly for each of the sites. For example, you can create a main theme for all your sites — but change the logo and color scheme on each of the sub-sites.
The benefits of having all the sites in one installation include:
- Only having to upgrade one WordPress install
- Managing all the sites in one admin dashboard
- Only having to purchase one domain name
Why Choose MultiSite for Your Church?
The general mission of your church website is to communicate with your congregation and community. This isn’t possible if the website is never updated, or if information is hard to find. Multisite makes adding content easy, and the system displays the content in ways that are accessible to readers and search engines.
To take full advantage of the power of Multisite, I recommend you give each of your church’s major ministries it’s own site, complete with separate admin access. This way, your youth minister can update his portion of the website without affecting the Homeless Ministry.
You can also give your pastors seperate sites for their sermon or devotional blogs and podcasts.
Smaller ministries that are less active can have a page on the main website that provides information about what they do, who is in charge of them, and when the regular meetings or events occur.
Generally speaking, multisite can take a website organization nightmare and turn it into something easy to setup and maintain, both for you and for the people who need to update the content.
How to Install MultiSite
Just install WordPress as usual, making sure you customize the admin and database names and the database prefix to protect the security of your site.
During the installation process, you will see a checkbox that will enable multisite. Click that checkbox and finish the installation process.
Then you will need to login to the admin area and go to Network Setup.
You’ll have the option to choose subdomains or subdirectories. For a single campus church, I recommend you use subdirectories, which means your sites will look like this:
If you are a church with several physical locations, and you want to give each location it’s own site, you may want to use subdomains, which will look like this:
You will then need to edit your Network Settings, which are similar to the regular WordPress settings.
WordPress Multisite Resources
Once you have your multisite network up and running, you’ll want to expand the functionality with plugins and make it pretty with themes. Multisite, because of its nature, has some special requirements, though. While many standard plugins will work, there are some plugins that have been designed specifically for the unique needs of multisite owners.
[Image via Michelle Waters]