Calvary Chapel Miami Beach recently launched a new website and I was privileged to be part of the project. Along with actual site implementation the church also started using multiple social media successfully to improve communication with the community. I am a volunteer assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Miami Beach and I hope you can tell that I put my heart into this project.Â 🙂
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Calvary Chapel has been using WordPress for several years and we wanted to keep the momentum going with this redesign. One of the major goals of the new site was to allow church staff to design promotional graphics for events and activities and incorporate them into the site in addition to adding events, news and other textual content.
For this project I started with the Aperture theme from Woo Themes (affiliate link) and then customized the design and developed new widgets and along with other PHP enhancements.
We wanted to keep the design framework minimal but feature the colorful promotional images that Paul Funk (J.P.), our creative assistant pastor, creates week after week. The Aperture theme was designed for a photo blog and that worked out great to feature the image links on the home page which draw site visitors in to find out more.
Church and Social Media
Many of the church family members have been using Facebook, including the pastoral staff. It has been a great way to keep in touch with people here in Miami but even more so as a way to stay connected with those who have moved away. Calvary Chapel Miami Beach is in a “transient” community and we see many people come and go. If you come to our church and then return 6 months later you will find many new faces.
The logical next step was to create a Facebook Fan Page for Calvary Chapel Miami Beach. Pastor Robert Fountain updates the page regularly to let people know what’s coming up and to share devotional and encouraging messages.
We hooked up the Facebook page to the Calvary Chapel Miami Beach Twitter account. The twitter posts are really links back to the public Facebook page. We have found this to be effective since it expands our audience to the general Twitter community but makes it easier for us to post on Facebook.
The custom theme features in-site integration of our Facebook feed as well as an embedded Google Calendar for our events. It was a definite win to use Google Calendar for managing our schedule. With a little bit of tweaking I was able to get it into a widget on our site footer.
Lastly, we started using MailChimp for our email newsletters and mailing list management. MailChimp has an API that we use to allow people to subscribe right from the website and also manage what groups they are interested in.
The Point: Better Communication
The new site looks better and is easier to use. But the major change we have seen is improved communication with our community. Using WordPress and social media has allowed me (geek) to get out of the way and allow the pastoral staff to do the communicating themselves. I think I did my job right this time.