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make a website

standrewsHaving a website, say for your parish or community, is no longer as difficult as it might look, or as you might think.

Rev. Andrew Hedge took the ideas I presented on how to make a free website simply and has produced a most admirable, attractive, and useful website, easy to keep up to date, and all basically free. The essence of my idea is taking the simple, powerful, free blogging platform, WordPress, and with a little trick – making it the foundation of a website, not only a blog.

Here’s how you make a website
Here’s some more resources

Andrew has, for quite a while, been recording sermons which are accessible through iTunes (another option might be to investigate such free resources as Sound Cloud). Today there is a funeral that family members in America are unable to physically attend. These family members asked if the funeral could be broadcast so that they could be part of it via the internet. Andrew says, “It hasn’t taken much by way of addition to the setup in the church, just a secure internet connection and video camera really, and we’ve been able to broadcast this morning’s service as a test run.” (Here’s the link found on the site).

I received a significant number of requests for the link to live streaming, or at least a video recording of a recent episcopal ordination here – what our national church was not able to achieve, an ordinary parish church is not finding difficult. Our national church used to have a website with digital resources online such as “For all the saints”, daily reflections, readings, and prayers we could use and cut and paste into our worship. The site clearly needed refreshing, and we look forward very much to the flash new version. But, rather than leave the site up with those resources still accessible to all, it was just taken down a quarter of a year ago. We are a small church (we don’t keep statistics, but I’m guessing that maybe only 0.8% of the population was in an Anglican Church here on Sunday?) I wonder if we are unable to accept how small we actually are, and work fruitfully to produce simple, appropriate resources from that acceptance. Here’s a website I made in half an hour. It is free. Moral of the story? Keep it simple?

Rev. Peter Carrell on his site is reflecting on “Fresh Expressions“. He suggests, “Install a webcam and feed services live”. He is more cautious than I about this, and concludes, “Ignore the above. That is me trying to second guess (again!) what the Spirit is saying to the church. But do not ignore the Spirit.” Well, I understand what Peter is meaning, and I’m sure he knows me well enough to understand my preparedness to “second guess” the Spirit on this ๐Ÿ˜‰ Waiting for the Spirit to indicate that your community needs a website is like waiting for the Spirit to indicate that you need a sign on the road, or a telephone. A website is as essential in the 21st century as a sign and a telephone were at the end of the last millennium. I’ve been told that research shows 80% of new visitors to a church check the website first – my unstatistical experience confirms this. No decent website, and…

Step 1: get a website
Step 2: get a facebook page

If you REALLY can’t bring yourself to follow my simple instructions: buy some pizzas and some coke and get some teenagers to do it for you. Win-win-win!

The website ofย St Andrews Anglican Church, Cambridge, New Zealand (Vicar: Rev. Andrew Hedge)

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7 thoughts on “make a website”

  1. The question you raise of internet access to recordings, at least of sermons, is a good one. Given that it can be done with almost no cost beyond the time to upload the sermon (most laptops, a digital cameras or even cellphones can produce listenable recordings of speech), one wonders about the advantages of not doing it.

    On the one hand it may be that a minister feels he loses some form of privacy in uploading the sermons. On the other hand, perhaps in some cases it is the privacy need to preach poor sermons that they are keen to protect. Being able to hear the sermons recently preached at a church is definitely of great value to those who are unable to attend but usually do, to those who are looking for a church to attend, and for those brothers and sisters in Christ around the world seeking sound Biblical exposition of the particular passage in question.

    Too many questions… too few answers! It sounds like a job for the Intrepid Reverend Bosco Peters!

    1. Thanks for your thought, Vincent. There’s another aspect that’s important to me: it would take me absolutely no effort to put my sermons online; one hesitancy I have is that my sermons are very much connecting this particular text with this particular community. Sure, I do preach general sermons from time to time which could “travel” and be (hopefully) relevant in another context – but as I mostly preach in a community that I know very, very well (& am part of), I am really addressing this particular community with what I think the connection between this biblical text and this community is. And I wouldn’t so easily want my whole sermon to be just moved into a quite different context. Hope that makes some sense.

  2. Hi Bosco,
    Thanks for the references to our website. I can see already that a few have made the link and seen what we were able to do today. The funeral was set up to broadcast for a family member in USA, but I’ve since discovered that up to 6 other extended family member groups in USA, and UK were ‘watching’/’attending’ the service over the internet today.

    As a note we also allowed time at the end of the service on a separate unrecorded broadcast for family here to send special messages to those family in other places, viewing live.

    I have had help from a parishioner who is clued up on this sort of thing, but even he mentioned that it only took him 45 minutes to source Ustream and after 5 mins on that site, was a veritable professional!

    The set up is simple and I can’t believe that our Cathedrals can’t manage this simply. We have an ethernet cable running between the office and the church (separate buildings), thanks to a bit of foresight when we installed the new sound system 18 months ago. So, that’s how we get internet to a laptop in the church. From there we plug in a video camera to the laptop, and plug in an audio feed from the sound desk … most sound desk mixers will have a stereo output … and we are live on the internet. The video camera we used was on a stable tripod to help , but it was nothing special – just a Sony Handycam that is about 6 years old.

    I’ve had suggestions over the past 24 hours that live broadcasts could be useful for parishioners who are housebound, resthome residents, those in prison or hospitals … I can even receive the broadcast on my iPhone … The ability to record broadcasts as they are sent out live means that services can be watched whenever … it’s ‘church OnDemand’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    To be fair, there probably needs to be some thought about community, how we form community virtually etc, but after this experience with the family today for the funeral, I’m convinced that there is a place for this technology in our life as a church and will continue to play a part in the life of St Andrews.

    I’m aware that some parishes might feel out of depth, looking at WordPress for the first time. Perhaps we need to be available for hands-on help somehow …

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    1. Thanks so much, Andrew, for your contribution here. It is so helpful to have you affirm that it all isn’t as difficult as people might think – nor as time consuming. Your site looks great and is easy to find your way around. My site is the most visited Christian site based in NZ – one would expect that to be a professional site with paid staff – but it’s actually something one volunteer (me) produces in snatched minutes of spare time – and it’s been a VERY busy day. Your point about community is important & if people want to explore this more, do searches on virtual, and second life, and even sacraments on this site, where some of those ideas are explored. In my experience, we can also form community in the virtual world – it is different and complementary (not a replacement for real world relationships) but a community nonetheless. Blessing & thanks.

  3. Oh … and by the way. Our audio link to iTunes is free. We just signed up on the iTunes website, requesting a link. iTunes requested a link to update files from and that was easily accessible through WordPress. Then, it’s simple. Every time we load an audio file onto our WordPress site, iTunes picks it up and loads it ready for access (usually takes 2-10 minutes depending on traffic and size of file I guess.) Just thought I’d mention that in case people thought it cost money to have an iTunes Store account.

    Andrew

  4. i agree with getting a website – ours is here:

    http://www.fulbournandthewilbrahams.org/fulbournpcc/

    I’m in the process of starting a blog based on the magazine publishes for the service of the village.

    However, when I made the proposition to the PCC it was on the understanding that we WOULDN’T have a Facebook page, because of the company’s incontinence regarding confidential information, and because of the bad name it has that daily gets worse, eg through its selective definitions of what constitutes a “hate site”. When Facebook implodes, and it will, a lot of organisations using it will be in danger of being tarred with the same brush.

    1. Very good points, Ed, and a nice, clean, simple parish site. Yes, I would regard everything on Facebook as totally public. Another danger of pages is that they can be vandalised – but there has been an improvement in that such comments can now be removed. If Facebook collapses then all that information put there is lost. Hence, ultimately, a community needs to choose a central point, as your site is, and other things (Facebook, twitter,…) can point to it. If you see what I mean. Facebook is particularly a place where young people live, and if we want to connect with them I think a Facebook presence, however thin, is of value.

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