Mark DeVries planted the seed about 2 years ago. My company Poka Yoke Design just finished up a new website for Youth Ministry Architects, Mark’s youth ministry consulting group. After the build I got a call from Mark asking if it was possible to start building websites for the Churches he is working with. I was elated to jump at the opportunity, but there was just one holdup, most churches couldn’t afford a custom redesign. To build a website that functions and looks great takes a lot of labor hours and the price can get outside the reach of many ministries.
As time went on and I continued to work with ministries, some consistencies became apparent. While all ministries are unique, there are many common threads that link us together.
- Everyone needs to be online. Phone books are dead and if people are going to know about your ministry, you need to have a presence on search engines. It’s become almost as vital as running water to your building.
- Many ministries don’t know where to start in assessing their online needs. Most people will say “we need a good website,” but few know where to start.
- We are in the business of evangelism. We need to let people know where they can find us and what they will find when they arrive.
- Most ministries don’t have a dedicated web team. Websites aren’t a “set-it and forget-it” venture, they require software updates, backups, bug checks, and content upkeep.
- Many pastors and church staff are great writers. Content upkeep isn’t a problem, it’s the “techno mumbo jumbo” that trips up ministries.
With these consistencies in mind, I felt God leading me in a direction that was not in my plan (how typical). I was in a unique situation to build a community around this idea. I am a Seminary student at Princeton Theological Seminary, so I have access to professors, students and visiting Pastors. I was a youth director for nine years at First Presbyterian Church, so I understand what ministries need. I own a web development company, so I have access design and development professionals. I combined all of these resources together and Worship Times was formed.
My first step was to create an independent study to research the online needs of ministries. Kenda Dean graciously offered up her time and guidance and signed on as my research overseer for the semester. Then I test marketed an ALPHA version of the program with a group of pastors at a continuing education workshop through the School of Christian Vocation and Mission at Princeton. Then finally, I created a field education internship with Ray Jones at the PC(USA) offices of Evangelism and Church Growth to create our first community for communities. I am grateful for all of the support and guidance I have received from everyone in this process.
The end result of this work and reflection is Worship Times, a community for your community. We are giving ministries a great looking web presence with the tools needed to share the Gospel. Each ministry can select a good looking design template from an assortment of options that grows by the week. Default tools such as, sermon audio/text, newsletters, bulletins, videos, events, blogs, maps, contact forms, staff pages, and much more. On install, 40 default pages are automatically created with sample text, that can be edited or deleted to match your needs. Additional pages can be created with ease, menus can be changed, and design layout can be altered. Allowing your ministry to be a part of a community while showcasing the unique aspects of your ministry.
The community approach also feeds into our continued development. Your monthly membership fee pays for our staff to take care of all the technical aspects of owning a website. We take care of the server hosting, software updates, backups, and bug checks. It also gives you access to an array of tools that would cost thousands of dollars for each ministry. Future features will also be dictated by the community, if there is something that your ministry needs you can request it in our user forum. If it’s a big project, we will look for other communities to support the development of the project. It better when we work together.
I look forward to talking with you and having your community join ours. As a treat for making it all the way through this post, here is a coupon code for 20% off your first subscription package. “isawitontheblog” (enter in without quotes). If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment section below, or contact us.
President of Worship Times