Sharing thoughts

15 January 2016

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BLOGGING has something of a mixed reputation. There are some good Christian blogs out there, such as Phil Groom’s excellent Christian Bookshops blog, and Nick Baines’s Musings of a Restless Bishop.

But blogging has come a long way since the early idea that everybody would have a web log to jot down rambling thoughts; and the software on which blogs are built has come a long way.

One that has not changed much is Blogger, the free blog platform from Google. If you sign into www.blogger.com with your Google account, you will be able to start a simple blog very easily, and can then write posts on which other Google users can comment.

One of the pitfalls of Blogger is that the entire blog is hosted on Google’s servers. To register a blog you must create a web address that ends in the format blogname.blogspot.com. Although the best blog names have already been taken, once you have created a blog with Blogger you can add a custom domain such as blogname.com or blogname.org.

The biggest blogging platform is Wordpress. But that is probably because it is no longer simply blogging software, but a content management system on which you can build a fully structured website. Like Blogger, it can be used free of charge, although charges may apply for premium services.

There are two ways of deploying the software. One is to register through www.wordpress.com. This will create a blog or website on Wordpress’s own servers.

Others prefer the freedom of hosting a site on their own servers, or on space provided by their own internet service provider (ISP). To do this — unless your ISP offers a free Wordpress installation service — you need to download the software from wordpress.org.

Step-by-step instructions are given; but you will need to have access to your server’s MySQL database settings; or have an ISP that will create a database for you. The installation is simple, and the rest of the set-up is web-based and intuitive.

You can download templates, create pages, and also posts. You can have a front page that displays your latest posts (for example, news or blogposts); or a static welcome page. You can install any number of add-ons and plug-ins to customise the site further.

A basic Wordpress website can be set up in a couple of hours, and can be developed and added to over the weeks and months ahead.

If your church does not have a website, there are a number of web-creation tools available, such as the Evangelical Alliance’s Webbuilder service, which costs about £200 per year. But the Wordpress solution is free, and can build a simple website or a complex multi-page and multi-section site.

Both Blogger and Wordpress can be accessed online, using any web browser; they also come with apps that can be used to add content and edit the site, using mobile phones — leaving no excuse for not updating the church’s website.

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