WordPress has lowered the barrier to creating a wonderful website. Some would say it has even made it easy. So why are churches not flocking to set up their church websites on WordPress? There must still be a barrier to entry and I couldn’t put it any better than the recent interview on wpdaily.co with the founder of churchpr.es who said, I quote:
If the average pastor asks you what the cheapest way to get a website up and running is, the answer would most likely be something along the lines of:
Well, you need to sign up for a web host, register a domain name, install WordPress on your server, download a theme and then install the theme and any preferred plugins.
99% of all pastors or church leaders would look at you like you are crazy if you gave them that answer. Also, the sad reality is most of them would probably just give up and not count a website as being worth all the trouble.
Interview with Dallas Bass on WPDaily http://wpdaily.co/interview-dallas-bass/
Exactly! Even if WordPress does make it possible to create a great website you still need to do all those things and actually have an interest in it and see the benefit. Most churches don’t and so don’t bother. So what needs to happen to help people and churches actually make the most of WordPress for themselves?
Well some have started doing something to help. Churchpr.es is a new service in the US that offers managed WordPress hosting and a range of options and churchuna.com is a UK service that has been in beta for a while but provides the same sort of potential but using BuddyPress so also offers a community.
But what if somone set up an offering for churches, based on WordPress, that lowered the barriers to entry? What would that look like? Here are some of the things I think should be offered and maybe that will spark others into thinking what we can do about it. Alot of us aren’t in it for the money, we want to see the platform being used for organisations to effectively communicate their message when they don’t have a budget of thousands and need to be convinced of the benefits to start with:
My ideal platform to offer WordPress websites to churches would include the following:
- An attractive and well designed website that offered the service clearly and demonstrated the benefits
- Backing from organisations with sufficient profile to generate interest from churches in the UK
- A range of offerings, starting with the free trial to a fully customised and designed implementation
- A core group of WordPress advocates to support and get it off the ground, from theme providers to plugin people and hosting and design enthusiasts
- Ability to sign up to a test/free service on a sub-domain probably powered by Multisite and with some basic theme options.
- A range of themes that can be used even if offered as additional extras and curated to provide the best of what is out there
- Domain offering which would include WordPress install and taking care of all the hosting for people, this would probably range from a basic option to managed WordPress hosting for larger and faster sites or those who want more security.
- Selected plugins and functionality to provide sermon libraries, podcasts, calendars, newsletters
- A blog that provided advice and examples of how churches can get the most out of the platform and what others have done
- A community of professional designers and advisors which the service would drive traffic and work to
- Ongoing support and maintenance offered to ensure security, uptime, optimisation and a consulting service if people want something extra from what the standard packages offer.
That’s a long list and it wouldn’t get delivered all at once but it might be something others are interested in getting involved with. What do you think?