A church blog is a great way to reach out to your community in an accessible, conversational manner. In addition, in connecting with younger parishioners, speaking a language they understand is paramount. Most young people these days don’t subscribe to email newsletters, nor will they read postal mailings or newsletters. Connecting to the next generation means using technologies that they already interact with in order to reach them on a meaningful level.
But, having a blog is not so simple as having some ideas and writing them down. In fact, different tools have different benefits and usefulness. The choices one organization might make may not be the best choices for every church or community. For example, if all that is necessary is a periodic update on the goings-on (e.g. a newsletter), it’s often sufficient to simply paste this information onto the homepage of a website. If the updates are occasional or sporadic enough, this solution is easy, and mostly pain-free, only requiring you to add with a tool you’ve already used to build the website.
However, for more complex blogs, such as one that contains important information that needs to get out to your members quickly and on-schedule, we recommend using a church web hosting environment that supports RSS, a feed-aggregating tool. When choosing a web host, it’s a good idea to choose one that supports well-known blogging software such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. Implementing an RSS feed with a tool that doesn’t support it can be problematic, but by choosing a host that supports (or specializes) in these content management systems (CMS), you are setting yourself up for success.
In addition, most tools can be used with most hosting environments. In many cases, the actual software provided amongst web hosting companies is relatively similar. However, what you should look for when choosing a hosting environment and blogging software is: “How simple will this be for ME to set up?”. It’s possible to install web software on a wide variety of hosts and services, but doing it yourself may be more complicated than you’re willing to contend with when the ultimate goal is simply to host a blog. We recommend choosing a web host that has a quick-install for for the tool of your choosing.
In addition, it may not be necessary to install the blogging software on your site at all. Rather, some churches choose to use Blogger or another external blog host to host the blog portion of the website, and then simply link it from their main page. This is a good solution in terms of speed to set up; it is often the fastest. However, being able to have granular control over the blog’s design, style sheets, and websites are not something that is present with these types of solutions. For example, instead of http://www.yoursite.com/blog you might end up using something like http://yoursite.blogger.com. This type of change is sometimes not what users are looking for, and can be the deciding factor on whether or not to create a full CMS-type blog.
No matter what choices you make in the deployment of a blog on your website, it is important to know what’s available before being forced to do things in a way that is not ideal. With a little time and research, and a few smart decisions, it’s easy and fast to set up a site that fits your needs and reaches your community more effectively than ever before.