Creating Local Church Websites (Adventist Church Connect)
Congratulations on taking the first step toward building and maintaining an effective church website. With Adventist Church Connect you will be able to extend your ministry to your community and to the world.
A. Understanding Adventist Church ConnectIf church websites were home bread makers, Simple Updates would be the original model, the one that launched the industry ten years ago. Committed bread makers have made very good bread with it, but it does require studying the manual, carefully measuring the ingredients and occasional calls to the factory for advise.
NetAdventist, the other automatic website software, would be the fully-automated model introduced one year ago. All the controls are simplified and there are many more options.
Adventist Church Connect is Simple Updates' response to NetAdventist. Or more precisely, it is the North American Division's response, based on Simple updates. They did not have the time to develop a complete new system, so they created a work-around that is inexpensive, quick, and, up to a point, effective. They began including with each breadmaker they shipped about two dozen loaves of pre-baked, sliced bread. All the customer has to do is toast and butter the bread, and it is ready to eat. Until the bread runs out, the customer never has to read the manual or learn to use the machine.
If your church has chosen to use Adventist Church Connect you will find it very easy to build a basic church website by doing nothing more than editing the pre-built pages. Then, if you want to do more, you can learn to use the Simple Updates system for the more advanced features. Some churches may find that the pre-built pages are sufficient for their needs. Others will want to go further.
B. Editing the Home Page
- Look around other church sites, especially ACC sites. Make notes of things you like, so you can do something similar on your site.
- Look around your new ACC website. You will notice that the front page has about 10 links, probably in a sidebar on the left side. Those links are also found along the bottom of the page. Click on each link to see which pages you need to customize. You will probably want to start with the front page.
- Login at the very bottom of the page. Don't pay any attention to the Welcome screen. You won't be using it to customize the pre-built pages.
- Click Home. This page now looks exactly like it did the last time you looked at it — except that near the bottom of the page are two new links: Add and Edit.
- Click Edit. This brings you to the edit window, with rows of editing icons above the window.
- Delete all the text that is there and add your welcome message. Don't worry about writing an award winning welcome right now. You can make changes as often as you wish.
- Format the Heading. Highlight the first line and, in one of the little boxes above the window, select a style that you think looks good, like Digest Title. Leave the rest of the text as you find it. Don't make it bold or colored or highlighted.
- Add a photo. Look around at other sites and see what you like. You may use a photo of your church, your congregation worshiping, your pastor, some friendly-looking members, or whatever you like. And you can change it often. To add a photo:
- Place the cursor where you want the photo; for example, below the heading, but just before the first letter of the first sentence.
- Click on the "Insert/Edit Image" icon, the little yellow square that looks like a picture of a mountain and the sun. (Do not click on the "Image Button" icon.) Now you see the Image Properties interface.
- Click "Browse Server."
- Since the photo you want to use is not yet on the server, click Browse at the bottom of the page, where it says "Upload new file to this folder."
- Find on your computer the photo that you want to use, click once on it, then click on Open, then on Upload. Don't worry that the photo is too large for your website. You can resize it in the next step.
- Now you are back at the Image Properties interface we saw in step one. You probably don't want your photo to be larger than 320 pixels wide, so type that number in the little box that says Width. The other number, Height" will change automatically.
- Add a border of 1 (pixel), Horizontal Space of 10 (pixels), vertical space of 5 and align the picture to the left. If you don't align left, the text will start below the photo instead of beside it.
- Click OK. Now you see the picture in your editing window.
- Click "Save and Publish." Now you can see what your home page looks like. Go back and make changes if you wish.
C. Editing the Ministry PagesIf you check the links on your home page you will note that the pages you can (and must) edit are limited to Home, About Us, Contact Us, and the pages listed under Ministries. The other links on the home page are either links to external websites or to pages like News that have no Add and Edit button, meaning the ACC people do not want you making changes on those pages.
- Edit About Us and Contact Us. At the bottom of each page click on Edit. Make changes, if any, the same way you made changes on the home page. Click Save and Publish.
- Edit the Ministries Pages you wish to use. It will be easiest if you asked for all the ministry pages when you signed up. If there are ten ministry pages and you want to use seven of them, open each of those seven with the Edit link at the bottom of the page and edit each page the same way you edited the home page (see instructions above): delete the stock photo you find there, add a photo of your own, change the copy to fit your program, and click on Save and Publish.
- Rename the pages you wish to replace. For example, if you do not have a Men's Ministry, which is a standard pre-built page, but your church does have a Radio ministry which is not pre-built for you, follow these steps:
- Click the Edit link at the bottom of the Men's Ministries page.
- Change the title of the page to Radio Ministry
- Delete the stock photo and insert your own photo
- Delete the boilerplate information about a men's ministry and add information about your radio station and programs.
- Click on the Details tab and type in a short description of the radio ministry. This will show up on the Ministries page.
- Change the thumbnail if you wish. We will deal with adding a custom thumbnail after we finish editing the pre-built pages.
- Click Save and Publish.
- Hide the pages you don't need. If after you edit all the pages you need you still have several extras, don't delete these pages; you may want them later. Just make them "Inactive."
- Click Edit at the bottom of the page you want to hide.
- In the upper right corner of the page, change the page status from Active to Inactive.
- Click on Save and Publish. You, the administrator, will still see the link and the page when you are logged in, but the public will not be able to see it.
- When you start a new ministry you can edit the page and change the status back to Active.
- Edit the "Ministries of our Church" Page. If you go to the "Ministries of our Church" page — the one that lists all the ministries — and click on Edit at the bottom of the page, you will notice that almost nothing shows up in the edit window. That is because all the links and thumbnails flow in from the individual ministry pages. The only thing you can change on the Ministries page is the introduction at the top. You may wish to change that introduction, then click on Save and Publish.
D. Adding News About Your ChurchLocal church news in Adventist Church Connect is a good place to put important news stories that will interest people in your community or other churches in your conference. Follow these steps:
- Log in
- Click on News
- Click on Add New News Item/Edit News Item
- Click on Add News
- In the Title field, add a short headline. Try to include a noun and a verb; for example, "Youth Clean City Park," or "Twenty Baptized," not "Cleanup Day," or "Congratulations."
- In the Description field, add a few "teaser" words, just enough to let people know what the story is about.
- Pick a start and end date. You will probably want to story to start immediately, but set the expiration date to a week or two in the future, or the day after the announced event will conclude.
- Pick a thumbnail. Since Adventist Church Connect does not allow users to upload their own thumbnails, you will most often just use the default "news.jpg." thumbnail.
- There is probably no reason to uncheck the box beside "Check to share this article with Adventist Church News," because the news only goes to your conference office, where the communication director will decide whether or not to include it in conference news.
- Enter your news story in the large window under the word "Article" and Save.