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Starting off with a good church website

Even though a lot of designers will tell you church websites are the same as any other site out there, they're completely wrong. There is a huge difference between them, and today we want to share them with you. It will allow you to figure out everything you need to start your new church website. Plus, it's going to help you gain new members to your congregation.

The Definition of Regular Websites

A typical website is better known as a WYSIWYG setup. If you're not familiar with this acronym, it stands for; What You See Is What You Get. These are you basic websites that offers up to 5 pages (about us, contact, etc.) and provides you with choices for templates and other areas of the design.

We consider these to be great choices for affiliate marketers, bloggers, or people that want to build a website for hobby purposes, but not for a church website. Why

Explaining a Church Website's Needs

Well, churches have to build a website that not only reflects itself, but also the congregation as a whole. A lot of times a simple web hosting design isn't going to do the trick. If the completed project looks dull, not very compelling, or only worth a couple bucks; it will turn everyone off.

Think about the type of impact it will have on your congregation. What if a member of your congregation tells someone to go to your website and they are extremely disapointed? This will look bad for the church, but also embarrass the person who promoted it. The majority of all the websites out there don't have this kind of stress on their hands.

 

 

Easy Access

Church websites design also has to have easy navigational elements. A user-friendly approach is the key to gaining more people interested in your congregation. A great example of this would be the shepherdsland website, Shepherdstown make building a website for churches and ministry very simple. With easy access from any computer,any time and anywhere.

In the good old days it was all about word of mouth. However, these days are long gone. If you can get church websites design the way you want, it can definitely play a major role in the growth of your church for years to come. The Internet provides easy access to any church, so don't be afraid to take advantage of it. Your congregation will need to access anything on your site just as easily.

What's Next?

These are all important things to consider, but you should already know the next step. Church websites design should be considered as a necessity. You have to find the right company to create and develop your website, that can provide full packages from domain name, web hosting to easy to use church builder plug-ins. A well structured and user-friendly website will provide a higher acceptance level amongst your congregation and anyone alse that joins the church later on down the road.

Things to Consider Before You Start to Build a Church Website

Learning how to build a church website doesn't have to be complicated at all. We also understand the importance of keeping your congregation informad via the Internet. A lot of churches are skeptikal about taking this approach, because they're afraid it's going to be hard to learn. These days a all-in-provider is all that is needed for people with no or little website design experience.

Finding the right company

Choosing the right company should be your firet order of business. They need to have all the essentials available to make this as easy as possible. There are regular hosting companies like GoDaddy or HostGator, but the benefits won't be nearly as plentiful. This is especially true if you don't know where to begin. It is best to use a platform mainly focused on churches and ministries like shepherdsland.com.

If you are not technology savvy finding a website building platform that makes it very easy in three steps is your best options.

Know what you want

Everr church has different factors they want to be included into their website. You should take the time to write this down. So, if you want to have text, images, audio files, videos, or anything else on the website, make sure you take it into account before making a purchasing a package.

Pages you can consider adding are sign-up forms and online donation areas to a bulk emailer and images of the church. These areas alone are hard to complete on your own, especially if you don't consider yourself "technically savvy" when it comes to the Internet.

Getting the church out there

One of the most important pieces to building a website is learning how to promote it. In a world where newspapers and landline telephones are becoming obsolete, learning to market your church online is essential. One of the ways to do this is by uring social mediq networking. It's possible you already started do this before you wanted to build a church website.

The two most popular ways is by using Facebook and Twitter. Churches can build organization "fan" pages on Facebook, which allows your congregation to link to it through their own personal profile pages. This could create new followers and increase yearly revenue in a flash.

Twitter allowd followers to keep up to date with all your current events. This could be as simple as providing meaningful short scriptures and tweeting them to everyone. After all, most people love encouragement and this is the perfect way to provide it for them.

Posted on: 11/14/2018

One of the main goals of any church is to increase the number of regular members. In recent times however, church growth has been declining. There is an urgency to continue to grow the house of the Lord and a mandate from God to bring people to God. There are loads to resources: books, seminars on ways to increase your church members, with practical ways to grow or revive a dwindling church. As we know growing the church's membership does not equate to the success of a church, however it is important to see consistent increase in the church members.

With lesser people going to church these days, it is imperative to apply some strategies to keep growing the house of God.


1. Gain people with Technology

Accessibility is very important in modern times, the need to have an online presence and actively engage people online. Every church must ensure they engage with people on different online platforms. The first rule of engagement is a solid and reliable well-designed church website. You can not reach a wide range of people without having a world wide web. It is an intricate part of online development and outreach. If your church does not have a website, you should consider creating one immediately. A formidable website builder is sitetackle.com which is targeted specifically for churches and ministries, with default site and pages already installed to help eliminate much of the normal processes for you. Within thirty minutes, you can have a basic website up and running. Technology enables churches to reach people outside of their local area, build and maintain relationships with others, connect on social media, create outstanding outreach campaigns and it opens up an unlimited potential in reaching people in the global space.


2. Gain people with community outreach

It is important to be active in the community by contributing and creating uplifting events and also by helping people provide solutions to a need in that community, a good start will be creating a fundraising online campaign to help meet a need in the community. The bible tells us about community service in James 2 vs 14-17 "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.


Creating and effective fundraising campaign can be done by using an award winning 2018 top rated church management software. Continuetogive.com can help churches and communities to kick start a rewarding fundraising campaign, with flexible platforms to fulfil online giving needs, your church can start a campaign with absolute ease and in minutes, raising funds for the community online is now so easy and convenient with Continue To Give.


This level of commitment to the community will attract people to your church as you can show them the love of God through your actions and resourcefulness.


3. Gain people with Evangelism

Evangelism is about telling others about the gospel. Reaching out to people about the benefits and countless rewards of accepting Christ into their lives. Through human connection you can drive people to your church, but you can't do this alone, It Is important to train others specifically for evangelism and also train the current members of the church at large. Encourage members to talk about the gospel everywhere they go, whether it is at work, school etc. and bring new converts back into the church folds. There is also a holy mandate to evangelism. In Mark 16 vs 15 -16, the bible says, "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned". Remember to make regular seminars about your members' responsibilities to preach the gospel. It also pays to have an active team of evangelizer who also go out regularly to minister and preach to people in the neighborhood and beyond.


Conclusion

Growing a church is a continuous effort that needs to be done by every church. Having the right tools and resources will also enable success and promote growth. Being a leader is a continuous learning process likewise is managing and growing a church. However, "let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith". Galatians 6:9-10

Posted on: 11/07/2018

Sometimes as churches we find ourselves so focused on the next set of sermons, growing the church in number of attendees, growing the giving in the church, missions, connecting, etc that we forget the obligations of keeping our members safe both physically in body and electronically with sensitive information. It's important to remember that you have a collection of people that can be targeted by those who seek to do wrong.

There are really two ways you should be looking out for your church. Number one is physically in body. There have been church shootings and it's important to learn ways to protect your congregation. Number two is protecting your congregation's sensitive information. Information is powerful and you don't want your church members' sensitive information to fall into wrong hands. We hope you can learn some ideas on how to accomplish a safe church below!

1) Keeping Children Safe

It may seem obvious to most people to only let children leave with their parents. However, picking up kids from childrens church can be busy filled with parents rushing to pick up their kids to go to their next calendar item for the day, changed plans of parents designating someone else to grab their children, volunteers letting the children go and find their parents in the crowded church, etc. The best practices to keeping the children safe in the church is to have a child check-in system. Child Check In systems are great because they allow a parent or designated adult to check in the child and have a pick up sticker. There is no guessing involved for volunteers on whom is registered in the system as a safe adult the child can leave with. Check out Child Check-In as a Feature of Mission Pillars CRM and Church Management Systems.

2) Have an Evacuation Plan and Training

Remember how we teach and practice with our children the old familiar, 'Stop, Drop, and Roll'? The same rings true about natural disasters and shootings. Talk with your local law enforcements about having a good plan in place for a shooting or natural disaster. Create a one page step by step and train your main staff on the policy and procedure you have worked out with professionals. Have a form of communication that can be sent by text or email for cancellations of bad weather or other threats. Be prepared.

3) Keep Doors Locked

It's important to keep doors locked during services. Have a designated trustworthy adult stand near the door to check for any late comers. Have the doors open before and slightly after the services start, but no during. It's important to let your congregation know if you start this new policy so they understand when they can freely enter without having to have someone open the door for them.

4) Attend Safety Seminars

It's important that your staff is trained on body language. This is a common practice with law enforcement. If you can learn how to tell if something is not right with a person that has entered your church you can be prepared.

5) Don't Assume Be Proactive

Don't assume that your members would never or could never create a disaster. You should be proactive. Maybe you can dedicate a sermon on depression or unhealthy thoughts. Maybe you can have references, pamphlets, etc where members can get the help they need when they are facing mental instability, depression, anger, etc. It's important to give your members tools, to guide them, and provide resources. There may be members in your church battling quietly within their minds.

6) Have Cameras Outside your Building

This is a great warning that you are prepared. This is also a great way for a designated adult to view late comers or potential threats that are coming up to the door.

Protecting Your Church's Information

Now the above have been great examples of keeping your church physically safe, but what about keeping your church member's identity and information safe? Below, we have compiled a list of practices you should keep in place to keep your church member's information safe.

7) Have Secure Ways of Online Giving

This is very important because we are our virtual identity. Online giving for churches has grown which means information such as credit card numbers are being used at your church. Do you work we a secure online giving provider who is PCI compliant? Are the donation forms you are using PCI compliant? Online giving software for your church that is safe and secure is just as important as how easy the software is to use. Hackers are always looking for ways to steal unsuspecting individuals credit card numbers. Keep your donors safe by offering secure online giving for your church.

8) Allow Only who need Access, Access to Information

Very important. Not everyone that has access to your CRM, internet, records, etc. should have that access. Don't leave passwords and logins out in the open and for general use. Change up passwords every couple weeks. When an admin leaves do not allow them access to your systems. Terminate old logins. We worked with a church that had given a missionary permission to use the churches bank account to deposit funds into. In so many words that missionary took that churches information and signed them up services which cost that church hundreds in fees and this was never an agreed upon process for the missionary. The missionary had two much access to information.

It's important to make a mental note of who has access to what information and why do they have that access. Information is powerful and should be protected. Information can come in all sorts of ways such as emails, home address of church members, phone numbers, church banking, voided checks, etc.

Let's Wrap it Up

Being a church is such a great and rewarding job as you follow God's calling. No matter the size of your church you have a responsibility to keep your church safe and follow best practices. We hope the above tips have inspired you to take some steps in your church to keep your congregation safe!

Now it's your turn. Do you have any tips, suggestions, or experiences you would be willing to share? Comment below:

Posted on: 01/29/2018

We have been listening to your online giving needs and that is why we created some ways you can have forms pre-filled with recurring donation schedules and prefilled amounts! Now when a donor clicks to donate to a monthly subscription it will be pre-set to the donation cycle of monthly and/or donation amount you would like.

Go to your online giving options from your dashboard under "Display Your Badge". From there you can choose between the different donation button options to put on your website. Watch the video below to see the step by step.

Our Pre-Fill Online Giving Options to Add to the URL

onceorrecurring=Recurring

paymentcycletype=Month

paymentcyclecount=11

billing_start_date=2017-08-30

donation_template_amount=25

Building Your Online Giving URL

For the first option you choose you will add a "?" after the link and before your first pre-filled option. After that each option you add will start with a "&". If there is already a "?" in your URL start with the "&".

So let's show you how a link could look. You will see the different sections of the link that make the link pre-set. So below we are choosing our "Link to New Page" onling giving badge. This link already has a "?" so we will start our first parameter with a "&". We will require the form to pre-set to recurring monthly, with 12 payment cycles (so one year of donation monthly), and set to an amount of 50.

Here is your basic link. Go ahead and try it out:

https://www.continuetogive.com/router/Badge/show_basic_donation_form?pageid= 4829458&onceorrecurring=Recurring&paymentcycletype=Month&donation_template_amount=50&paymentcyclecount=12

For Online Giving forms that are HTML

For HTML here are the different options you can add below to make the form pre-set. You will notice this new piece of code below has been added to the badges so go ahead and re-copy the code from your badge selection from your "Display your Badge!" in your dashboard. Then you can pre-fill the newest section that looks like the HTML code below. For this example, the badge would be pre-set to recurring monthly, no set number of cycles, a start date, and no pre-filled amount.

input type='hidden' name='onceorrecurring' value='Once' />

input type='hidden' name='paymentcycletype' value='Month' />

input type='hidden' name='paymentcyclecount' value='' />

input type='hidden' name='billing_start_date' value='2017-08-24' />

input type='hidden' name='donation_template_amount' value='' />

Online giving has never been easier than with Continue to Give! We hope you enjoy this upgrade to the system. If you have any questions please email our customer service team and we will help you edit your forms! Email Customer Service Here

Posted on: 08/28/2017

We have all had it, your donor is ready to commit and give you an online donation and then their credit card gets declined. Not only is it frustrating for you as a church, nonprofit, or missionary fundraiser, but it is also embarrassing for your donor. But don't worry we have made a list of the most common credit, debit, and ACH declined messages for online giving and fundraising websites! Here are the most common failed transaction messages, what they mean, and what the donor can do to correct them.

Declined/ General Decline/ Transaction was Declined by Card Issuer

This is a general decline. You can try the transaction one more time but it you get the same failed message the cardholder will need to call their issuing bank or the number on the back of their credit card. Once the cardholder has talked with their issuing bank and resolved the issue they can try their donations again.

Invalid Card Number

This means your card number was typed in wrong. Please try the online giving again by re-entering your card number. If this error keeps happening then the donor will have to call their credit card issuer to make sure their credit card number is still valid

Expired Card

This means your card number has expired; or you can check to make sure you typed in your expiration date correctly. (For Donors - How to manage your online giving .)

Insufficient funds

This means the card does not have the funds to cover the donation amount. The donor needs to contact their bank to add money so there is sufficient funds inside their bank account to make the donation

Account Closed

This is a failed message specifically with an ACH (online banking) transaction. This means the donor closed their bank account that they tried to donate from. Let the donor know the banking information they provided is no longer valid and they need to edit their Payment Information inside their Continue to Give account and try the donation again.

Invalid processor REFID: or Source Key not Found

This error message means your merchant account is not active or you never received an approval on your merchant account. Please contact [email protected] to resolve this with your account.

Processor Error

This means the processor is experiencing an error. Try your donation again in 10 minutes.

Invalid Message Body

This means that you have a special character that our online giving software cannot read. Please remove any special character in your billing information (most commonly seen in your name or city). Then try the donation again.

If there is a general error to make corrections to the fields please take a look at any highlighted fields you may have missed or has an unknown value.

If you as the organization want to help the donor fix the issue you can always use your virtual terminal to manage their account. Watch the video below:

If you are still having issues with a failed message please send a copy of the receipt or a screenshot of the pop up failure to [email protected] and we will assist you.

Posted on: 07/10/2017

New Feature Announcement from Continue to Give

Continue to Give offers several different mobile solutions for online giving. You may already be familiar with:

  1. Mobile Responsive Donation Buttons
  2. QR Code Scan to Donate Link
  3. Mobile Givers App
  4. Text Link Feature

Now, Continue to Give is proud to announce true Text-to-Give functionality!

How is Text to Give Different?

You may already be familiar with the existing Text to Give with link feature available with Continue to Give. For those of you who are not familiar, it allows donors to text a unique code to a central phone number which texts back a link so the donor can start giving. The donor, then completes the donation form.

Running unique identifiers through one phone number is an inexpensive way to offer mobile giving which, in turn, allows CTG to provide a mobile alternative to portal giving at no additional cost to you.

Introducing the new Text to Give functionality. With this functionality, a unique phone number is assigned to your Organization or specific fundraising project. The donor registers their phone one time at the time of their first donation. After that they can simply text an amount to donate to your organization, project, or missionary!

Text-to-Give-Phone-Screen

Getting Started

  • Login as administrator to your organization's Continue to Give account.
  • In the left pane, select the SMS option and a page of mobile options displays. Note that mobile options are grouped by project starting with the primary organization listed first.
  • Create a Text-to-Give number by entering the organization's area code and click the Search button. A list of numbers to choose from will populate.
  • Select a number of your choosing from the list.

If you have multiple projects and would like each project to have its own Text-to-Give number, repeat the steps above for each project. Each text to donate number is specific to each project and your main account.

Once the phone numbers have been selected, you pass the phone number along to your donors!




Text-to-Give-Phone-Screen

For the Donor - How it Works

First text an amount to the number you created.

The first time you will be prompted to register your phone. By making this first donation through the registration process you will donate and a profile will be created on the Continue to Give portal.

Once your phone is registered, the Continue to Give system remembers you!

Any time you wish to donate to the organization, you just text the amount of the donation and a receipt is emailed to you, a text confirmation displays, and your account is charged for the donation! Donating, tithing, and pledging just got easier!



More About Text-to-Give

Can I still split donations to multiple projects using the new Text-to-Give functionality?

No, you will only be able to make one donation at a time. Each project has a unique number and the funds will be directed based upon the phone number the donor texts to.




Does the new Text-to-Give cost extra?

Yes, for each phone number you create a $10 monthly fee is billed to your account. We recommend using Text-to-Give for high profile projects generating the donations. Text-to-Give is also great for special fundraisers and events!

If I choose not to use Text-to-Give what other Mobile Giving can I use?

You don't have to add Text-to-Give to your account. You still have access to the free Text Link feature. In addition, all account/project have the free QR code mobile option and the Giver's App as well. The Giver's App allows for quick donations to your organization through a mobile app and accommodates recurring donation setup and designated giving.

Posted on: 05/24/2017
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