Extend my ministry

It was a big deal when churches turned the organ in for a guitar and drums.  It was painful, hard to learn, and required more people than a single organist, and yes, it was necessary to carry the Gospel forward.  Getting your church online is hard, a bit painful, and requires more people than a single person to “make a web page.” Once completed, you will wonder how you got along without it. We need another goal besides getting people to show up once a week on Sunday for an hour.  What about the other 167 hours of the week? This answers that question.
Get My Church Online
We don’t endorse any specific domain, hosting company, or any product that a video recommends.  Videos have been selected solely for the quality of their tutorial value.  We share those products we use. 

I need help starting

Skip ALL Steps: Google My Business is the Easiest Place to start

church online

If Domain and Hosting are a rough place to start, start here.  Google My Business. You will get a very capable website with no coding and many benefits. 

STEP #0 (Start the very beginning)

What's in a name

Get an Online Address:  Just like your street address, your website needs an address. The online address is called a Domain Name. It is something like www.example.com. As a church, you can pick any name that has not been used by someone else.

If your name is taken, they try some small changes like www.exampleNY.com or www.MYexample.com. (Capitalization does not matter in domain names). You can use a .org or .com ending; they have no meaning anymore. They are just a new way of saying Drive, versus Street, versus Road. As you pick a name, make sure that your domain name is easy to pronounce, spell, and is as short as possible. Here is the best place to start and learn what to do.  Click Here

Domain

So, now that you sort of understand what a domain is (LOL), now you need to find a place to buy one. They cost about $14.99 a year. You are just buying an address at this point. There is an option to also buy a “package,” that is, you buy the domain name and a hosting package. This is like one-stop shopping. Here are a few links with good prices that are very helpful. We use SiteGround another one is GoDaddy

Hosting

Hosting is like your house; the domain is the address. The address only goes to an empty lot until you build the website. You can buy your domain from one place and host it at another. It will work fine; the company that has your domain will point it to any host (website) you want. Your hosting company will help. If you are brand new to the web, they have both in the same place. It will be simpler. We use Site Ground for both.

WordPress & Facebook

You should start with a WordPress site. WordPress is a nice interface that helps you build a website without learning code. Ask your hosting company to install it for you. It is free and popular. Here is a good overview of how to start a WordPress site. (You can ignore the sales pitch in the beginning.) Click Here

Facebook is also a great part of your online presence. It is limited, but it is easy to set up and a great way to start.  The video above is the place to start. 

Google My Business Links

If Domains and Hosting are too hard of a place to start, Google My Business.  You will get a very capable website with no coding and many benefits. 

Domain Tutorial

church online

Facebook Tutorial

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Some Encouragement

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
― Mark Twain

Jesus compares those who not only hear His words but do them to someone who wisely builds his house on a rock-solid foundation. The rains come, a flood comes, the winds howl, but the house stands firm.

-Matthew 7:24-25

STEP #1 PrepAration (Get Control)

Determine Your Website's Purpose

Who is the website primarily for: the current congregation or those outside the church?

Websites have often been thought of as a sign, like the one on the lawn. It tells the time and says welcome, and that’s all. You just had to have one; no one really knew why.

We believe your website is your front door. It needs to be welcoming to new people, not your people already inside the doors. You can certainly have an announcements page, events page, etc., but mostly the Website is to help others understand who you are and help them.

Get Control of Your Website

The website has a domain (www.example.com – this is the internet address) and a hosting company (this is where your files and images for your website are stored). You need to have admin access to both.

An alarming number of churches have people who built the website and bought the domain, but the church itself does not have access. Fix This!

They can be with the same company or two different companies. But make sure you hold the admin access.  

Learn More

Get FTP Access (the ability to move files around)

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It allows you to add files to your website. The best way is to download the Free FileZilla Here.

This webpage is a great way to understand and learn about FileZilla for FTP, or you can watch this video.

Which Emails to Use

If you can, create an email using your host and your website address, so your email looks like this: administrator@yourchurch.org or me@yourchurch.com. Don’t mix a personal email with your church administrative email. It is easy to change at this point, but it is tough to go back and fix this issue after you have set up accounts.

All key leaders need to have an email with a church address. And your website contact page needs to go to an address like welcome@mychurch.org. 

Learn More (Go Daddy) Learn More Cpanel

Create a Google Account

You will need to create a Google account for your church. If you have a personal Google account that you use for Gmail, do not use it for this. Do not use your personal account for the church; it will come to cause trouble later. A Google account gives you free access to many powerful tools you will need to move your church forward. This account is the key account that you will use multiple times.

Domain & Hosting?

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FTP

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Create a Google Account

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Some Encouragement

“Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle.  I know this seems like a simple way to start, but you are building on solid ground.

Jesus compares those who not only hear His words but do them to someone who wisely builds his house on a rock-solid foundation. The rains come, a flood comes, the winds howl, but the house stands firm.

-Matthew 7:24-25

STEP #2 Preparation (Foundation)

Sign Up with Google Search Console

Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/ and sign in with the Google account you created for your church. This Google service is free and powerful. It will show you how search engines view your website, how they behave on your website, and how you can help search engines find you (adding Sitemaps, fixing mobile errors, etc.). To link your website to the Google search console, you will need to have the ability to upload files to your website. (See “Get FTP Access” above.)

Sign Up with Google Analytics

Go to https://analytics.google.com and sign in with the Google account you created. Google’s service is free.   This service will show you who is looking at your website, how they behave on your website, how they arrived, and many other valuable pieces of information. Like many powerful tools, it appears overly complex. Rest assured, it gets easier. After a week, Google will have some data for you. Start with looking at the Home Screen; it has a great overview. At the bottom, look at “What pages do your users visit?” for helpful insight.

Tools to Link Your Website

These measurement platforms link to your webpage and measure (not spy) on those looking at your page. These tools can tell if a visitor (someone checking you out) is new (hasn’t been there before) or if it is someone who often visits (a church member). This information is very important because it helps you know if you are succeeding or failing in your goals.

For example:  If you have an “About Us” page, but the average viewer only stays for 2 seconds, you know they are not reading it. This gives you a place to start making that page more appealing.

Google Search Console and Google Analytics install in very similar ways.  Either they will provide you a simple file upload (See FTP Above in Step 1), or you can use plugins.  The file upload is best.  You are getting ready to make significant improvements to your website, and these tools will show you if you are succeeding.

Search Console

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Google My Business

church online
Some Encouragement

These features can be very technical-looking, but they tell you what is going on.

The technology you use impresses no one. The experience you create with it is everything.

– Sean Gerety

STEP #3 Preparation (Facebook)

The Right Type of Facebook Page

Does your church presence on Facebook have “friends” or “fans?” You may have set up your Facebook page as a “personal profile” on Facebook, rather than a “Group,” “Fan Page,” or “Page.”

NO WORRIES, this can be fixed.

Look Here

Update Your Facebook Page

Facebook changes all the time. You should be posting on your Church Facebook twice a week. Celebrate recent successes (Baptisms, Weddings, etc.). Plan to show a slide with the Sermon headlines, events, and changes to service times during Easter or Christmas.  

Setup Facebook Business Manager

To show your church service and advertise your church on Facebook, you need to have access to Facebook Business Manager. At this point, we just need to turn on the account; we will play with it later.

Setup Facebook Business Manager

Content

Just like your webpage, your Facebook page needs content. A photo with some text is much better than text alone or a photo with text underneath it.

If you want to remind people Lent is coming up, add a photo of people participating in last year’s Lent with a text overlay of your message. Photos of people and actions are best. Don’t overuse photos of the outside of the church and the altar. This is a common mistake to avoid. 

Building up a repository of photos takes time. Until then, use free services like Pixabay.com, which provides public domain images for free. Do not use photos you find on the web; you can get into copyright trouble because of that.

Also, never use a song that has been recorded on a CD/mp4, etc., that some else recorded.  Your license to a song bought by you is for your listening pleasure, not for you to broadcast. Your team singing the same song is fine.

Facebook Page

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Some Encouragement

You can’t tiptoe into social media. You have to jump into the pool. People have a natural fear of it. But the scary part is not being there. Your customer (future member) is already there.

– Dave Saunders

Facebook is the entryway into Social Media and the simplest to work with. It is a forgiving platform and still effective.

STEP #4 Preparation (Website)

Secure Your Website

Websites today need to be secured.  You need to see the padlock like this (below). It is often offered free from your host service. Google and Facebook do not like linking to unsecured web pages.  Don’t skip this simple step.  Use this website to check your website Why No Padlock.com.

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Review Your Host Contract

Your host might be a shared host that shares resources. This is normal and is OK. As you proceed, understand if your host has any limits on your growth and the criteria to upgrade your service.

HTML, WordPress, or WIX, etc.

We recommend that you use WordPress to run your website. It is fast, safe, and easier to learn than other methods. A website built on HTML is good, but to edit, you must learn how to code, and your skillset may limit the website. WIX and other free services are OK and a good way to start when funds are limited, but they are not a permanent solution as they have limits that will hinder you later. You can always upgrade later.

ReCAPTCHA

ReCAPTCHA is that little button that comes asking if you are a robot. This is important because you cannot have an email plainly visible. There are programs that run searches on thousands of websites looking for the “@” symbol, grabbing the email addresses, and selling them to spammers. Once an email address has been sold, it is almost impossible to clean it up. 

Google states, “reCAPTCHA is a system designed to tell humans and computers apart, so bots can’t fill out forms maliciously on behalf of a human. The CAPTCHA acronym stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

This is another time that you will use your Google account to sign up for this free service. Start Here

10 Things you do NOT need

  1. Don’t use stock images primarily; use your own images wherever you can.
  2. Don’t use sliders; people don’t stick around to watch.
  3. Don’t ignore SEO, ever. Provide keywords for every post and page; provide “Alt text” for all images.
  4. Don’t use large images; they are slow loading, long Mobile load times will hurt you.
  5. Don’t make money with ads or pop-ups.
  6. Don’t fill up your webpage with animation and good-looking junk, like fancy icons; it is content, not a beauty contest.
  7. Don’t ignore security; backup daily or weekly.
  8. Don’t get the cheapest host; we recommend SiteGround.
  9. Don’t post your email address(es) anywhere; I really mean anywhere, ANYWHERE on the website! Only use contact forms. 
  10. Don’t make the website for people in the church, but you must decide if this is an evangelical tool or a door sign for people outside the church. 

10 Things you DO need

  1. Updated, modern design. (Not just what you find good looking.) Look around at other successful churches or organizations. 
  2. It must work great and look great on a mobile device.
  3. Only well-written content and clear images
  4. Use your images, not stock photos (only use stock photos as placeholders until you get a photo yourself).
  5. Crosslink, if you talk about your small groups, then link to your recent posts about small groups or other relevant pages on your website.
  6. Do test your webpage often with GTMetrix and Google Page Insights.
  7. Great branding, your colors, icon, logos images need to follow a clear plan of how you want to look.
  8. Update often. Images, content.
  9. The menu needs to be simple.
  10. All links need to work; check often.
  11. Talk about others, not yourself. Not why you are awesome, but why you have answers and can help. 

Secure Your Website

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Some Encouragement

A website is a window through which your business says hello to the world.

– Amit Kalantri.

Many think of a website just as the sign in front of the church, saying welcome, services at 10 am.

In fact, your website is an extension of your church, not only Sunday Services but ALL its ministries, every day of the week.

STEP #5 Optimize SEO
(Search Engine Optimization)

What is SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, makes your website easier for search engines to find. Search engines use “bot” programs that scan your website for content and then try to match your content to people who are searching for you. We use a WordPress site and the Free Plugin “Rank Math” to help with our SEO. It is time-consuming but going through each page, adding the right Keywords (Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about) is worth it.  We have a dedicated page SEO for the Church and Nonprofits

How to Start With SEO

SEO is matching you to people who are looking for you or what you have. If you try to be what you are not, the search engines will label (correctly) as non-relevant content, and you become lost. Start with your home page. Find the keywords (phrases) that best described you and the page. Does your content, your page really say who you are? Is it built for people already in the church, or can you use this to evangelize?

Often, you find out at this point that the website is really just an online sign and doesn’t really explain who you are.

You need to set yourself apart. If you are one of the 10,000 churches that say they are a family church or a friendly church, etc., you will be lost in the white noise of the internet.

Using words like “friendly” are so common, you will never be found.

Figure out why you are unique. Draw people to you. Give them something to read and look at in order to stand out.  Don’t hide your uniqueness. Celebrate it. Someone is looking that will be a fit for you.


We have an entire webpage to SEO, Click Here

SEO Tutorial

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Some Encouragement

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

– Proverbs 21:5

This is hard work, but the harvest is ready. God is looking for the laborers.

SEO Images

Did you ever search for an image and find it?  If you did, it was because of someone’s good SEO work. Images have a code that gives them a searchable name; it is called “alt” or alternative attributes. It looks like this alt=”pancakes.” stack of breakfast pancakes with honey

But for SEO to work, a better name would be alt=”stack of breakfast pancakes with honey.”

This example is editing the code directly. If you are using WordPress, they have an easier way to add these within the media file system itself.

People can find your content or image. Never neglects the images.

Set Your Website in Order

Decide: Is the webpage for people in the church, or are you reaching others for the Gospel? We think it is for the Gospel, so we recommend a church have a signup page for events/classes and an announcement page.  All the rest (especially the main page) are for people who have not been in your church. 

Content, Content, Content

There are NO TRICKS to increasing your page rank (where you show up on Google). You need to have what people are searching for. The way to do this is by adding new and relevant content. You can’t win people in the opinion wars. The big pages pay to get their information out, and we can’t compete with that.  Instead, make unique content answering questions like “Where can I baptize my children?” Clearly define what your church is like. Avoid common terms such as “healing center” or “worship center.” Avoid church terms. People who have not been to church will not know them. Find what makes you unique.

You can make specific pages to draw search to your website.  These pages are called Landing Pages, here is dedicated page on How to Create a Landing page for Churches and Non-Profits.  if you need some ideas, take a look at Landing Page Ideas for Churches and Non-Profits

10 Things you DO need

  1. Updated, modern design. (Not just what you find good looking.) Look around at other successful churches or organizations. 
  2. It must work great and look great on a mobile device.
  3. Only well-written content and clear images.
  4. Use your images, not stock photos (only use stock photos as placeholders until you get a photo yourself).
  5. Crosslink, if you talk about your small groups, then link to your recent posts about small groups or other relevant pages on your website.
  6. Do test your webpage often with GTMetrix and Google Page Insights.
  7. Great branding, your colors, icon, logos images need to follow a clear plan of how you want to look.
  8. Update often. Images, content.
  9. The menu needs to be simple.
  10. It needs to work! Check that all links work; check often
  11. Talk about others, not yourself. Not why you are awesome, but why you have answers and can help. 

STEP #6 Ready to Broadcast

Studio and Software

The Studio can be your phone or one video camera. When you start, you do not need multiple cameras or closeups. You do need quality. A great service broadcast with poor video quality or poor sound will not retain your current members and certainly not retain new guests.  

Here is a website with some great details.

Church live streaming guide – learn to easily stream live church services

Church Online Platform

Church Online Platform (CHOP) is the best method to get your church online. It allows interaction with people. You are NOT looking for numbers; you are looking for engagements, people who interact with your service, not passive watching. Your hosts are very important in creating a worship environment.  Here is the Setup Video.

Facebook and YouTube

Facebook is the easiest way to get online, but don’t stop there. Facebook viewership tends to be older and often will not leave that platform for anything newer. It also has a very limited ability to interact and engage.

YouTube is the Google of videos. A YouTube channel that looks great and is well organized is a great way to attract new people, better than Facebook and CHOP. Ensure each video post has all the SEO data filled out with unique Titles, Descriptions, Tags, etc. Think about what people are searching for and what makes your videos unique when filling out these fields.

Facebook Page

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Some Encouragement

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.

– Winston Churchill

This is new, this is hard, but it is worth doing.

STEP #7 Broadcast

Broadcasting

Practice. Practice. Practice. Then practice some more. 

Have a backup plan, a video to show if yours doesn’t work. 

Decide if you will delay the in-person service if the online service isn’t ready.

Start with broadcasting an empty church just to test it. 

Broadcast sound: work hard to make sure it sounds good. (DO NOT play artists’ CDs, albums, or copyrighted original recording. Facebook and Google will ban you for rebroadcasting copyrighted material.) You may broadcast songs you sing, but you cannot broadcast the recording artist. Churches don’t get that right with a standard CCLI license.

Live or Recorded

You can broadcast live as it happens (this usually has a 5-15 second delay). There is a risk that the stream can be interrupted by internet issues or other software issues.

You can broadcast a “Simulated Live” broadcast you previously recorded that looks live. The viewer cannot stop it or “rewind.”

What you do depends on your confidence in your skills and the system you have.  The goals are to live stream the church service and the in-person service simultaneously. 

Online Hosts

Here is the best overview of the duties of an online host:  Chat Host Training Video

Going online WILL require MORE people than just broadcasting to Facebook. These people are important. Select them carefully. 

Facebook Page

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Some Encouragement
Moving Forward

Twenty-five years ago, a pastor had to make the hard choice to give up the single organist and one instrument to upgrade to reach the people with a guitar. Then they needed a drum, then a speaker, then a soundboard, etc.

We are at the same tipping point with technology. Don’t be the only church still playing an organ in 2025.

STEP #8 tracking

Tracking

Do you remember Google Analytics? Now is the time to put it to real use! Complete start to finish Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can be your best friend. The one that always tells you the truth, congratulates you for every win, and provides you a way ahead after each defeat.

Analytics support solid decision-making. This is the house built of solid rock that can withstand the storm. 

We will expand this section to a full page of instruction this year. 

Vanity Metrics

Vanity metrics are things like registered users, downloads, and raw pageviews. They are easily manipulated and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter.

The Biggest Number is the Most Un-Important!  While it may hurt your ego to go withvanity metrics

If you have 1200 impressions and six engagements, is that good or bad news? Impressions are the number of times your site shows up in a search. Engagements are the clicks; this is where your growth is. People who do more than watch are your harvest field. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

Instead, pick a number that is rock bottom staff.  We like ‘peak viewers’ it gives real-time numbers that us useful to compare week to week, month to month.   Use a figure to watch a trend, not to boast.vanity metric facebook

Always remember, Facebook and Google are advertisers. It is in their best interest to give you numbers, but some are worthless, and some make us feel good.  Dig for the truth instead.

More Information

Learn Adapt Repeat

Knowing the truth is hard. It is easier to live with constant encouragement, but in fact, we need the cold hard truth of reality. Expect 100 mistakes and missteps to find the right path, then do it again.

Work hard to be unique. Blending into the crowd on the internet is the fastest path to obscurity.

This takes time; for every change you make, it will take time to see if it works or fails.

Tracking

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Vanity Metrics

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Some Encouragement

Fall seven times and stand up eight.

–Ancient Proverb

STEP #9 Optimize Under the Hood

Optimize

Your website needs to be optimized in a few areas. None of these is really hard, and even working a little bit will bring great rewards.

Visual:  The page needs to use the same color and branding across all pages. Does your “Contact Us” page look like your page or somebody else’s?

Speed: The pages need to load fast. People, especially on mobile phones, will not wait for an 8-second page load. 

  1. Make sure all your pages are working. 
  2. That there are no bad (broken) links.
  3. Update your pages regularly.
  4. Fix any errors Google Search Console has found.
  5. Get rid of pages you don’t need. (More is not better.) 
  6. Make sure every image has an alt label (Attributes title) so Search engines can also find your page through its images. 

How to Optimize your website

Here is a great website that will analyze your website for common issues: GT Metrix Speed. This site has a scoring system (IGNORE IT). The numbers that matter are on the right. You want your fully-loaded time under 8 seconds.

Mobile View:  Google Analytics will tell you what percentage of users are using a phone to view your website. 50% or greater is standard.   

This website Responsinator will show you how your webpage looks like on various devices, desktop, tablet, iPad, iPhone, etc. 

Recommended Tools

We use the following plugins on our WordPress website: 

  • Elementor: Plugin helps to build fast and great-looking content
  • WP Rocket:  Cache plugin that helps speed up the website
  • Permatters: Helps speed up the website by stopping extraneous code
  • WordFence: Security Plugin prevents unauthorized access to the website
  • Generate Press Theme:  Fast, safe, powerful, simple to use theme
  • Rank Math SEO:  Great and Free SEO tool

Tracking

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Some Encouragement

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
– Proverbs 16:32

Always remember, your website can Always be Better, Faster, Always.

STEP #10 Advertise

Did you say Advertise?

Yes, we said advertising, and we recommend you spend money doing it. Today, how much of your church budget is spent on outreach, evangelism? Can you find a part of your church budget that is meant to reach the lost? Do you spend nearly all your budget on maintaining what you have? Advertising is a way of getting the Gospel in front of people searching. 

How much is your evangelism/outreach budget today? 50%, 20%, 1%, non-existent?  

Start with $100 a month; this is enough to learn with.  Once you get some success, reinforce your success.

Google versus Facebook

You can buy ads on Google and Facebook, but please ensure you understand that they serve different audiences.
1) Google ads work by matching you with what people are searching for.
2) Facebook works by sharing your ads with people who may have a like interest.

If you want to advertise a Saturday Evening Church Carnival, use Facebook to reach your friends and friends of friends.

If you what to let people know you have a great video about “What is Prayer,” use Google.

You NEED both.

Content, Content, Content

This cannot be overstated. If you have what people are searching for, Google will send them to you. 

Make ads that answer questions. What is happening Saturday night in my town? Have an answer, “Come to our event.” If someone in your neighborhood is hurting, does your website have answers?  

It cannot be overstated; make unique content that answers questions like “Where can I baptize my children?” Clearly define what your church is like. Avoid common terms like “healing center” or “worship center.” Avoid church terms. People who have not been to church will not know them. Find what makes you unique. 

Optimize

church online
Some Encouragement

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

– Matthew 5:15

If you have the answer, shout it from the rooftops.

STEP #11 Online Campus

Advertise your Church Service

Today, most people will not enter/commit to a church or anything until they had a chance to check it out, even when invited by a friend.

Many people will watch a church online for many weeks before even thinking about coming to church.  The good news is that they have already decided that this is a place for them when they attend.

Having a great online experience and promoting it is an awesome tool to get your church outside it four walls and into people’s heart.  

One Church, Not Two

Try to change your mental model of church.  Don’t try to broadcast your in-person service to the web.  It won’t work. People want to participate, not watch. Change things, events in your in-person service so that the online service also looks awesome. The people in-person will not see any change, and the people online will stay as viewers. 

Talk to the people online as well as those in person. If you take up an offering in person, have a button come up “AT THE SAME TIME” that allows online viewers to give. 

Have ONE SERVICE, make changes to both. 

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

The raw number of people who watch is not a helpful number.  How many people engage by commenting, asking for prayer, and giving? Those are the important numbers.   

Don’t make the people online feel like second-class citizens. When you greet the people in the pews, say hello to those from other cities, states, and countries watching you online.     

How to Use CHOP

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Some Encouragement

This measure will increase and decrease, and when it does ask the question, WHY?

When God Closes a Church Door, He Opens a Browser Window

– Kate Shellnutt

Read More

Future Additions

Google Tag Manager

A free tool to manage multi-tools that track your site

Google Optimize

Allows you to test multi-version of a webpage based upon audience.

Cloudflare (CDN)

CDN: Content Delivery Network.  A way to make access to your website faster, safer, and cheaper. 

I Don’t Know

 I don’t know what is next, but I will share it here.

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Google Optimize
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Useful links

Pixabay:  Free Public domain photos and images.  No copyright issues. High Quality.  Click Here

Grammarly:  Mistakes on the Website are not cool.  Check your Grammar. Click Here

Cloud Convert:  Got the wrong format.  Change it here, nearly anything.  Click Here

Fiverr.com:  Stuck? Something doesn’t work? Need Help? Hire an expert, safely and at a great value. We’ve used this for years.  Click Here

Uptime Robot:  A simple and effective way to ensure your website is up ad running. (Helps evaluate your hosting provider.)  Click Here

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