Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How To Create & Host Your Church Website & Email For $20 Per Year - Part 1

Planning What You NEED

The most common reasons why most churches either don't have a website or have a website that isn't effective is because they don't know how to create / host a website and they don't know what they should put on their website. Paying a company to design a website can be very costly and the hosting fees are always in addition to whatever the design costs.

To make the situation worse, maintaining the content on your website after you finally get it created can easily become a forgotten item and make your efforts out of date very quickly. You can avoid these problems in two ways:

1) Make sure that your website solution is easy to maintain (more on this below)
2) Don't put content on your site that will become out of date or irrelevant quickly

What if I told you that you (and I mean you even if you aren't a web guru) can create your own website, email accounts for your church, point everything to your own domain name (i.e. yourchurchname.org) and host all of it for $20 a year? Well it might sound too good to be true, but thanks to Google it is true. Read on to find out exactly how to do this.

Deciding On Your Website Content

First off, you need to plan what content you need on your church website. People can get a little crazy here with what the want on the website, but you need to figure out what you need. Honestly, the only information that you really need to be available on your website is probably some variation of the following:

  • Service Times
  • Address & Directions
  • A little bit about your church & what you believe
  • Contact Information
The information above is going to cover what 90% of the people who visit your site are looking for and you have provided all of the information necessary to connect people to your services. You may want things like videos, ministry pages, picture galleries, etc. but trying to put that together all at once can get overwhelming very quickly. Focus on what you need and after you have that in place and working, then start plugging away at the things you want.

Maintaining Your Site

Once you get your site up and running you (as in your church) needs to maintain it and make sure that the information presented on it is accurate. Google Apps makes the technical aspect of maintaining your site very easy. Anyone can open up Google Apps and quickly figure out how to change content on a website using their awesome & intuitive tools. So the technical side of things is taken care of by Google, now you need to figure out the human side of things.

I would suggest making your church's website & email a ministry opportunity for someone in your church. Most churches today have members in their congregation that are technology oriented. A lot of times these folks are looking for a place to serve in their church, but most of the standard ministry opportunities don't hold any passion for them. However, if they can use their gifts in technology for service to the Lord, you will be helping them serve as well as fulfilling a need in your church.

Upcoming

In Part 2 I will go over specifically how to register your own Domain Name, configure DNS and create your Google Apps account.

In Part 3 I will show you exactly how to use the Google Apps interface to create your website and administer email accounts.

-Aaron
Church Office Online
http://www.churchofficeonline.com/

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