As many of my readers know, I worship and serve as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. What my readers may not know is that my local church has been served faithfully by Church Plant Media since March 2011. Our church doesn’t have a huge budget and we needed a website that would be excellent, beautiful, and cost-effective, and Church Plant Media was able to provide that for us. We are very pleased with their ongoing service. I also made the decision to partner with them for several months when I updated my blog design last year and set up my blog sponsor program.
Given our shared appreciation and support for The Gospel Coalition, we planned this interview and website giveaway in conjunction with this year’s TGC 2015 Conference that happened earlier this week in Orlando, Florida. My friendship with Church Plant Media grew at the last TGC Conference in 2013, when we spent some time praying together and discussing their desire to help churches grow and thrive. They are a TGC Sponsor and they provide websites for every TGC Regional Chapter in North America, including my local chapter: TGC Ontario. If you’ve met them at a TGC event or if you are considering a website purchase, we hope you enjoy this interview.
Introduce us to Church Plant Media. Who are you and what do you do?
We build user-friendly, responsive websites for Church & Mission. Our heart is for the Church and Christian organizations, so that’s who we serve. As a group of believers who love Jesus, we focus our efforts on developing web solutions that serve the mission of local churches and global ministries. Our passion is to provide gospel-people with websites that are easy to use and easy to maintain, all at an affordable price. The following lines from our Gospel Agreement say it best: “Simply put, we are first and foremost a gospel-centered company, and second, a web design company… we view the websites that we create as a stewarded partnership in the gospel.”
Do you deal only with church plants, or do you provide other kinds of sites?
Although we named our company “Church Plant Media” based on our shared affinity for church planters and their love for the gospel and local church ministry, for years we have been offering our services to a much broader audience than our name appears to define. With “plant” as our middle name, we are happy to help people “grow” their online ministry. We welcome any gospel-loving group that is defined by the words “Church & Mission” including (but not limited to) church plants, brand new churches, established churches, multi-campus churches, church networks, missionaries, non-profit ministries, Christian camps, Christian schools, Bible Colleges, etc.
Do you design sites for any church, or only for certain types of churches?
Our websites are promotional tools, so we want to make sure we’re promoting churches and organizations that are true to the gospel and have a high view of scripture. This means that we will work with any gospel-loving, humbly-orthodox organization who will affirm, endorse, and commit to uphold three basic creeds along with the biblical definition that is found on our Gospel Agreement. First, they must be Christians and adhere to the 2nd century Apostles’ Creed. Second, they must be Protestants* and uphold the 5 Solas of the 16th century Reformation. Third, they must be Evangelicals and fully agree with the National Association of Evangelicals’ Statement of Faith. Fourth, they must be Biblical and believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
People have asked us why we include the fourth point about marriage, and that’s a great question. We feel that it is the biggest social issue facing the church today, so that’s why we decided to include it, as it seems to be the litmus test for many churches and their stance on the inerrancy of God’s Word.
What sets apart Church Plant Media from other website solutions built for churches and ministries?
First, our church and ministry-specific features. We built our own Content Management System to meet the specific needs of churches and ministries. For example, our sermons module and events module have church-specific functionality that comes standard. We are in the process of releasing our brand new podcasts module, which will allow a church to have multiple podcasts in addition to the main sermons podcast. This will be useful for the church that wishes to have separate podcasts for their sermons, bible studies, youth group meetings, etc. These are all standard features that you won’t get with a generic website builder.
Second, our experience. Church Plant Media has been building websites for churches and ministries for over a decade, and we serve churches and ministries all over the globe. Many website companies are here today and gone tomorrow, but we’re in this for the long term.
Third, our radius protection. We want to truly partner with our churches and help them as they minister to their local community. If two churches in the same part of town have the same website, then that creates confusion among the very people the church is trying reach. So once a church gets a website from us, we draw a 10 mile radius around that church and no other church in that area can use the same design.
Fourth, our ease-of-use. Our Content Management System make it easy to update your website, and we take care of all the security and module updates for you. Our goal is that this will help you focus on ministry and not on technical work.
Why does it make sense to use a subscription service rather than paying a one-time fee for a site?
Just like ministry, church websites should be considered a work in progress. A one-time fee only makes sense if a gospel ministry never plans to grow, change, or update anything. Our subscription service includes much more than just hosting. We provide 24/7 usage of our Content Management System, regular upgrades and feature releases to core system modules, safe website hosting at Rackspace (a secure, industry-leading datacenter), fast and reliable media transfer from Amazon S3, daily backups of all website content, and toll-free telephone and online support from our knowledgeable support team. We take care of all security updates, feature releases, and system upgrades automatically, which saves our churches and ministries valuable time.
What is one common mistake many churches make with their web content?
One of the most common mistakes we see churches make is something that might seem obvious. Oddly enough, many churches do not include their Sunday service on their events calendar. They will include every other event that happens at the church throughout the week, but not the most important event of the week. We think this might be because churches see their Sunday event as a “given” that everyone knows about. However these churches do not realize that most newcomers will visit their website long before they step foot inside the doors of the church. So we encourage churches to make sure everything about the Sunday service is clearly marked on both the home and events pages in their website. A good rule of thumb is to always remember the big 4 W-questions: WHEN is it? WHERE is it? WHAT to expect? and WHY should they come?
Tell us about your website giveaway. How can people learn more?
During tomorrow’s Free Stuff Fridays post we will be doing the free website giveaway. We are doing it a bit differently than the usual Free Stuff Fridays giveaway. Instead of a random drawing, we are going to be asking pastors who regularly read Challies.com to share in the comments of tomorrow’s giveaway post why they need a website, and then we will select the church that seems to have the greatest need. The comments for that post will be open all weekend and a winner will be selected on Monday, April 20. Stay tuned for the instruction in the post tomorrow.
To learn more about Church Plant Media, you can visit: churchplantmedia.com.