Subscribe

Internet tools I use in ministry (3 of 6): AlexandriaYouth.com

Topic / Technology

Perhaps this is clearly obvious, but I use my youth group’s website for almost every aspect of communication in my ministry. Actually, I honestly have no idea how we’d function without it. I already wrote a tutorial on how to build an interactive youth group website, so rather than repeating myself, I’ll just highlight a few ways I use it in ministry.

News and Announcements
When I post an update to the front page of our website, not only is it there for all site visitors to see, but Feedblitz automatically turns it into an email and sends it out to our entire mailing list, as well. So whether ministry participants check the website or not, they get the news either way. Plus, I don’t have to maintain the mailing list because users easily add, remove or update their subscription online.

Event Sign-Ups
Event sign-ups are often an administrative nightmare mostly because the sign-up list is on a clipboard at church. It’s difficult for people to remember to sign up while at church, remove themselves from the list, see who else is going, etc, which usually means I’m replying to a lot of emails and returning phone calls to maintain the list during the week. However, with the event sign-up system on our website, people can take care of all of that themselves. I create a customized sign-up form and people add themselves, remove themselves, submit payments, see who else is attending and best of all, it beautifully puts all the data into an Excel spreadsheet for me. I love it!

Building Relationships
As our group continues to grow and attract new members, it’s almost impossible for kids and leaders to keep up with everyone, but our forum and chat box allows for discussions to take place throughout the week. Perhaps the best part is that students who would normally never talk to each other at church meet each other on our site, talk online throughout the week and then look forward to continuing the friendship at church.

Collecting Data
I do this in a number of ways online, but the most critical one is getting feedback from first-time visitors. First impressions are critical for any visitor since most will form their opinion about our group within the first two minutes and then will decide whether or not they’re coming back within the next two minutes after that. I want to know what their impressions are so we can adjust accordingly, so I ask first-time visitors to fill out this form on our site and give me their feedback. Surprisingly, most of them actually do it.

I use our site in many other ways, too, which you can see at AlexandriaYouth.com.


Posted on October 29, 2007

  • How many hours to put it together? How many hours a week to maintain? I think it’s awesome! I like that I can select which color I like. Is feedblitz like feedburner?

  • Tim

    Oh man, it took a LOT of hours, but I don’t know how many. It took several weeks, I remember that much. And I continually add to it, as well.

    Maintenance is pretty low. That part mostly consists of updating different parts of the site with the latest security patches and such, but that doesn’t happen too often. I maybe put about an hour or so into maintenance each month.

    Feedbliz basically takes your RSS feed and turns each post into an email. It manages your subscribers, delivery schedules, allows you to customize the look and feel of the email template, stuff like that. It’s an email newsletter manager for RSS feeds.

  • Hey Tim,

    Great website. What do you pay monthly for your site (hosting, storage, forums, etc.) Thanks for posting these tools, I’ve learned a lot already and I’m looking forward to the next one!

    -=Jeff=-

  • Tim

    @ Jeff: I use Buyhttp.com to host my youth group website and pay about $19/month for the Professional package there. There’s obviously other companies that offer more for less money, but that’s a whole soapbox I won’t bother you with unless you wanna know why shared hosting like that is not a smart move for any site you actually want people to use.

  • I actually have no idea what you’re talking about but I’m interested to learn about shared hosting. I think it would be awesome to design a youth group website for our church, but right now we’re using churchwebworks and we’re thinking about switching over to agwebservices. Both of these are web based hosting. Other than a vague recollection of the initials FTP, I don’t know the first thing about building my own website. Do you have resources available to help out a guy like me?

    -Jeff-

  • Sorry, just remembered that you linked to a tutorial that you’d already written a while back. I’ll go read that now and if I have other questions I’ll come back and ask.

    -Jeff-

  • Tim

    @ Jeff: If you can learn to do it on your own, it’ll definitely be cheaper and you’ll have full access to customize it however you want. However, learning takes time and this might not be something high on your time-management list.

    Yeah, check over that other post and lemme know if you have other questions.

  • Great information – thanks!

  • Hi Tim,

    What, if any, website policies do you use to protect the privacy and safety of youth group participants?

  • Tim

    @ Shelby: Interesting question. There’s really no policy in place except that the site registration process requires a lot of personal information. We then verify all of that information to make sure that it’s a real person who is part of our church or community.

    However, I feel that the basis of your question is based on a misconception about the safety of the Internet that news reporters have tried to sell us on. You should watch my workshop on teen Internet hangouts that will broadcast live online this Tuesday.

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99

footer