Your website is much like an old-fashioned paper newsletter. It provides instant information on your church and its activities, all from the comfort of the reader’s home. And just like a paper newsletter, your website has to appeal to those viewing it. Your church may provide a great deal of value to your community, with activities and opinions of real interest to your congregation, but if your website can’t convince members to get involved, all that good work may go unnoticed.
Avada is the answer! Along with its bundled plugins, Avada can provide the functionality you need to increase engagement and generate interest in your church without any coding or expert knowledge.
With the above in mind, in this article we will explore four ways to enable members to engage with your church using Avada. We’ll be using our Church demo as an example. Let’s get started!
1. Create a Filterable and Searchable Events Calendar
Church events are an important part of community and togetherness that you don’t want your members to be missing. They’re also fantastic opportunities for others to get involved. By using the Events Calendar plugin, which is beautifully design integrated with Avada, we can offer a calendar that members can filter and search to conveniently find the event they’re looking for.
You can add new events through your WP Admin Dashboard under Events > Add New:
Please Note: By default the Fusion Builder is disabled and needs to be enabled for the Events Calendar plugin. To enable the Fusion Builder for post types including the Events Calendar plugin, go to Fusion Builder > Settings as shown here.
We’ll skip an explanation of the top half of the Event editor page in this article (seeing as its layout is the same as creating a page or post) and focus our attention on The Events Calendar section at the bottom. What looks like a complex set of options really isn’t. Firstly, there’s a section to choose a date and time…
…and underneath that are sections for adding a location (which enables you to show an embedded Google map) and event organizer:
Once you click Publish, that’s it! Your event is live and searchable by all the viewers of your church website:
There are also additional options within the Settings dashboard tab which enable you to show comments on events pages, change the number of events shown per page and much more.
2. Build Anticipation With a Countdown Timer
If an upcoming event holds a special degree of importance; for example, an event centered around a holiday. You can use a countdown timer here:
To add a countdown timer to your page, click the + Element button on a column in your Fusion Builder editor and select the Countdown element within the Builder Elements tab.
This will open a modal window where the element’s settings can be configured. There are a number of options here to tinker with, but the main ones we need are Countdown Timer End (Where you add the event date.), Heading Text and Subheading Text:
There are further options for adding a link to the event in question, but you’re not limited to purely on-site events. For example, if you’re hosting an event on behalf of another community group with their own website, you may want to direct members there instead:
Finally, the Countdown element has a myriad of style options, as well as CSS Class and ID sections to add custom CSS styling if desired.
3. Launch a Community Forum
Forums have been around almost as long as the internet itself; that’s because they’re invaluable for creating an online community. You and your members can use this to discuss recent events, sermons, or even personal topics relevant to your members. With the design integrated bbPress plugin, Avada enables you to launch a vibrant and active forum on your site.
The option to create a new forum can be found in your WP Admin sidebar under the Forums > New Forum tab and once you’re in the Create New Forum screen, give your forum a title and look to the Forum Attributes box:
Please Note: By default the Fusion Builder is disabled and needs to be enabled for the bbPress plugin. To enable the Fusion Builder for post types including the bbPress plugin, go to Fusion Builder > Settings as shown here.
Here you can choose whether to create a forum or a category, set its status as Open or Closed and determine its visibility choosing from Public, Private, or Hidden. For creating sub-forums, you can also specify which parent forum it belongs to.
Finally, the Topics and Replies tabs within the dashboard enables you to carry out basic moderation of member activity. Topics can be set to ‘sticky’ from here. Also, topics along with replies can be edited, trashed, or marked as spam:
4. Publish Video and Audio Sermons
With the convenience of the internet, members unable to attend church no longer have to worry about the sermons they’ve missed. Those who did attend can listen again or share their favorite sermons when you archive them on your church website:
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that you’ll need to upload your sermons to your favorite video site. That’s likely either YouTube or Vimeo. Once that’s done, Avada’s Fusion Builder provides elements to embed both YouTube and Vimeo content on your site. There is also a SoundCloud element for embedding audio sermons. And just like the Countdown Timer, adding the media embed elements is very simple. Just click the “+ Element” button in the column you want your embed to be in and a modal window with available elements will open:
Clicking your desired element will open the options screen for that element. The important option we need is the Video ID or Soundcloud URL depending on your media source. If you’re using Vimeo for example, the Video ID for https://vimeo.com/75230326 is 75230326. Copy and paste the string of numbers at the end of the URL into the Video ID box:
It’s that simple! Now, let’s take things even further by creating a gallery showcasing your most recent sermons:
This is a little more complex, but by the end you’ll be able to create what you see above. For this, we’ll need to navigate to the Portfolio tab on the dashboard and click Add New:
This will take you to what looks like a normal WordPress post editor. You can title the sermon and add a description of the message to the post content area. That takes place in the top area of the post editor. Now, scroll down to Fusion Page Options. In these options under the Portfolio tab, you’ll find the Video Embed Code textarea:
You’ll need something to put in here so Avada knows which video you want to embed. For that, we head to the video on our chosen hosting site as we did before. This time we click on the paper airplane icon to the right of the video:
A pop-up box will appear with the code you need. You can click on the text in the Embed section and it will expand and auto select the code you need. Right-click on the selection and copy the text. It will look something like the below image:
Head back to the Video Embed Code textarea in the Fusion Page Options and paste the video embed code inside.
Special Note: There will be some additional HTML that you don’t need in this field. You can safely delete anything from the p tags onward, see this example.
Click Update at the top of the post editor and continue to add new entries in the Portfolio tab. Now we need to display them on your page. To do this, head to the Pages dashboard tab and find the page you’d like to display your sermons on. You’ll need to add the Portfolio Element to the page using the same method as the above element additions.
As with previous elements, clicking on them in the element list will open their settings in a window. Configure as needed and click “Save” to add the element to the page. There are various layout options which you can experiment with to find a layout you like.
A website that doesn’t engage with its visitors can mean that the important events and community activities you have planned go unnoticed by your congregation. Here are the steps you can take to get creative and engage your church members with Avada:
Member engagement isn’t difficult. By following the above steps, you’re giving your members the best chance at getting involved with your church’s activities and staying informed (God willing!).
How are you using Avada and Fusion Builder to engage your church members? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Buecherwurm_65.