What’s New?

What’s next for your ministry?

Your website needs will change over time. Perhaps you need a new logo, branding, or website design. Maybe you’ll find that you need a new tool to do those every day tasks or a new project or program altogether. These are some of our favorite puzzles to solve at Worship Times. Finding the right tool for the job, testing it, and putting it to the real test – real life use on your website.

When we find a new tool to add to one member’s website, they are often useful for other ministries. We add it to our toolbox of plugins available for all of our members. You may not see those tools appear on your dashboard unless you need them, so we like to share the new things we’re excited about. If these are helpful to you, ask us to make them available on your site! (This may include add-ons to plugins, like the ones we talk about below.)


New Plugins

_______________

MemberPress

We are especially excited about our latest addition to our plugin offerings. MemberPress is an impressive membership registration system created for WordPress sites that allows you to create very specific access to resources on your site. That way you don’t have to password-protect a bunch of pages, with just as many passwords to remember, or a password that gets passed out like church keys (do you know who all has keys to your church?).

With MemberPress you can easily set up membership levels with different levels of access. You can keep these member users out of the dashboard of your website, while still providing all the access they need.

MemberPress also integrates with MailChimp so you can sign people up for your mailing lists. It integrates with Amazon S3 which allows you to store your files off your website, and prevent them from eating up your available website data storage. You can use most of the standard payment programs like PayPal and Authorize.net, which provides a wide variety of payment options. And you can encourage members to sign up other members through an affiliate program, which easily can be added to your MemberPress functionality.

For churches and other ministries who want to offer unique resources to their members without a lot of fuss, MemberPress is a great solution.

AddThis

AddThis is one of the most popular ways to share posts and links on social media, directly from your website. You have always been able to add social share buttons on your site, but AddThis makes it easier than ever to do so.

 


New Add-ons for Gravity Forms

_______________

Gravity Forms has been our go-to forms creator for years, and has recently added some add-ons that are particularly helpful to our members.

One of the biggest headaches with online forms is the lack of ability to collect real signatures. Many of our members have still relied on paper forms to do their registrations where a signature is required. But now we can capture live signatures on Gravity Forms, whether you are using a touch screen (mobile or tablet), touch pad, or mouse.

With Gravity Forms, you are also now able to add the ability to upload files to a form directly from your Dropbox folders, or download a file to your Dropbox.

If your team uses Slack to communicate, there are also some simple Slack integrations to notify you when a form has been submitted.

Additionally, though this is not a new feature for Worship Times, did you know you can create a form with save and continue features with Gravity Forms? We’ve been able to do it for a while, but many of our members didn’t know that ability was included.

 

What’s Next?

_______________

We don’t know what’s next, but we will continue to keep our eyes open for plugins and add-ons that help our members do their work well. And if you have questions or requests for additional plugins, reach out to us through our support system – we’d love to see what’s possible for you!

But What About…

Is this where the plug(-in) goes?

Our top goals for our Worship Times websites are: We want them to look good. We want them to be affordable. We want them to be easy to use, so our members can have the freedom to customize.

We design our templates to be elegant in style, and easy to use. We rigorously test our templates, plug-ins and integrations we add to our system. Not every template or plug-in designed for WordPress works well, and some may break your site altogether. Worship Times seeks only the highest quality products to offer our members.

Our members often have unique needs and ask us about adding particular plug-ins or integrations to meet those needs. They may say, “I love my site, but I really wish it did…,” or “What about this plug-in?” When we are asked about such services, like a good picture slider, a database system, or more, Worship Times looks at multiple options. Then we vet and test the ones that best meet the needs of the member requesting the plug-in. We also consider which plug-ins and integrations will best meet the needs of members with similar needs.

The ones that both meet the specific needs and work well with WordPress get approval. The ones that have wide appeal are added to the whole network, so other members can easily add those capabilities to their sites. It is important to us that every piece of your website works in concert with another. We have created a system where our members are very much in control of the content of their websites, but do not have to worry about security, system or plug-in updates, or which plug-ins will work best for their needs.

We have recently added several plug-in options as well as vetted new options on long-time, standard Worship Times plug-ins, such as Gravity Forms. We’ll be talking about all of these updates in the coming weeks, but we wanted to share a bit about the work that goes into each and every piece of the Worship Times system as your website needs change over time.

Do you have an idea that requires extra tools on your website? Ask us. We may already have the plug-in or integration tested and available to be added to your site, or will find one that works.

Breeze Plug-in for WordPress

Yesterday we talked about why we have been recommending Breeze as a church management software (CMS) solution for our members. We like how Breeze incorporates the most important elements of a database, event management and financial tracking system (with integrations with Quickbooks), and yet is still simple to use. Our members value user-friendly technology, and so do we!

In order to make the information in Breeze even more user friendly for your church or ministry members, we built a Breeze plug-in for WordPress. This plug-in is available for all WordPress sites, but is also included with your Worship Times membership.

As we said, CMS solutions do not just track how many people came to church on Sunday morning, but can assist in tracking giving, event registrations and payments and signing up volunteers. This plug-in helps you do that directly on your website, and display important information about those things to your members.

Here is a quick video that demonstrates how easy it is to connect your WordPress site to the information in your Breeze database. You’ll notice that it is similar to adding pictures, videos or event lists, which you are already familiar with from editing your Worship Times site and our other training videos.

Church Management Software and a Worship Times Plug-in!

One of the most frequent questions we have heard from members and prospective members in the last year is about church databases or church management software (CMS). Specifically, people are looking for web-based solutions that will also integrate with their websites.

Tracking membership, giving and attendance at the very least are not just about counting butts in seats, but about making sure we are attending to all of our members as we do ministry. Even the smallest churches keep track of these numbers in some form, if not a whole software database.

Church management systems can also assist you in organizing classes and groups of volunteers, event calendars and registration, outreach through directed email, texts and mailings, and more. Not all systems have the same features, but most have included these features as churches recognize that they needed an integrated system that covered all of these functions.

Churches looking at new CMS solutions today want web-based systems where members can more easily access and update their information online. Church administrators and pastors can also pull up this information if they are away from the office and need it.

Capterra has a great run-down of the top church management software products. If you are looking for a new church management system, this is a great resource.

There are a lot of fantastic products out there, but for members who are looking for a CMS option that also integrates well with their websites, we have been recommending Breeze. Worship Times strives to provide ministries with user-friendly, affordable website solutions, and Breeze fits this model as well.

Worship Times members value ease in usability, and both the Capterra review and this comparative review from Breeze show how Breeze gets top marks in that area. Breeze compares well to even more powerful systems because it integrates well with programs like Quickbooks that many churches use and like for financial tracking. Several of our members have already chosen to move to Breeze.

With this in mind, we have developed a Breeze plug-in for WordPress that will more smoothly integrate your website and database, and make it easier to access for church members.

Check out how our Breeze plug-in will work to integrate Breeze into your WordPress website.

Announcing a New WordPress Plugin in Partnership With sermon.net

Black computer keyboard with a 'Connect' key in place of the 'Enter' keyChurches often see new technology as a problem to be solved, or an obstacle to overcome to get on with “real” ministry. Worship Times and sermon.net were created by people who are excited by the opportunities in new forms of technology for deepening ministry and faith, and wanted to share their excitement and knowledge with others.

Even with the advent of website and podcasting platforms that can be more easily understood and used, these technologies can be intimidating for people not using them every day. And that’s where companies like sermon.net and Worship Times come in. Working with people who both understand the technology and are enthusiastic about helping you use it makes all the difference.

It only makes sense that two companies doing parallel work to help churches and ministries would end up working together to create a powerful new tool.

Worship Times uses WordPress, the most popular website platform in the world[1], as the basis for their websites, creating themes and tools specifically designed for the work of ministry. At the same time sermon.net built a powerful network of tools allowing churches and ministries to upload, store, deliver and livestream audio and video content (and more) efficiently and easily without a huge cost.

sermon.net has offered some unique ways to connect to their tools and apps through both PC and mobile technology, but had not yet developed a plug-in specifically for WordPress. As Worship Times began to look into the best ways to help their members connect their sermon.net content to their own websites, we were impressed with the work that sermon.net has done and continues to do. We wanted to make it even easier for our members to use sermon.net services and tools, so we decided to develop our own WordPress plug-in, along with the technical support of sermon.net developers.

Working with sermon.net has been a fun and productive collaboration. It is good to meet and work with partners who share the same goals and values, and who can help you improve what you do. We consistently seek to work with such partners when we are able, to be able to offer the best tools to our members, and to further the work of their ministries.

This plug-in will be available to any Worship Times members who are using or would like to use sermon.net services, which you can read about and sign up for at sermon.net. This plug-in is also available to sermon.net users with WordPress sites not on the Worship Times network.

May your Advent and Christmas seasons also be filled with fruitful and meaningful work with good partners and new friends.

[1] About 27% of websites worldwide use WordPress (up from 25% a year ago – https://w3techs.com).