Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Proof of Concept?

Little do you know, I’ve been scouring the web looking at various content management systems (CMS) to help me re-do the Redland Baptist website in a way that allows me to separate content from formatting, and drive the pages using a database. However, lately I’ve found some of the more popular Open Source systems have run into various problems.

phpWebsite will eventually offer 0.9 – still no ’1′ and worse, this new version interminably in beta is now requiring PEAR :: The PHP Extension and Application Repository. Which in the long run is a good thing, by my particualr webhost is not going to install/compile the thing until they re-install a new version of PHP. So I’m out of luck there.

The good folks over at PostNuke just got done with a messy divorce this past summer which saw many of the original coders leave the project. This after one of the core programmers who made things happened perished in an unfortunate motorcycle accident. I suppose I could go back to phpNuke, if I didn’t mind the code-bloat of this one-man operation.

There are still others out there, but they all look-n-feel like one of these ‘nuke’ like CMS’ and I personally don’t want to spend half my time trying to figure out a workable theme so that the site will validate, and the other half of the time trying to incorporate both usability and protocol/API goodies we see in some of the blog publishing applications. And that’s when I began to think … maybe that’s the trick … I should use something like MovableType to manage the RBC Site?

So after serveral visits to HotScripts, FreshMeat and SourceForge, I stumbled upon the Open Source Content Management System List. There, I was perusing their PHP entries when I noticed they had listed an application, that in my past experience, I had long considered a blog publishing toolpMachine Pro. Checking-out pMachine’s list of sites, I think I found a church site that appears to be doing something verrrrry similar to what I want to do. This site is the
Pontiac Bible Church Online. I’ve sent some emails off to the webservant there – I’ll let you know what I come up with.

In the meantime, if you’re using something other than the systems I’ve mentioned above for your church web site, drop me a comment so we can discuss.

November 13, 2003 – This update is to thank the good people from and a certain c@sin0 website that spammed my comments. They are in no particular order:
Oh and don’t worry about me advertising/exposing your domain name via the Samspade link above … I obfuscated it for your protection!-)


  1. Dean — can I ask why a third party CMS system for a church website? I developed a small intranet for my company and just used Dreamweaver/Homesite and an Access Database. I serve it on our Windows 2000 server. I use a WYSIWYG text editor like (Editize) for the text portions. We update our news articles, employee info, and project info with this system. I use Moveable Type for my blog — I like it — it still is not good for adding images to entries. Just wondering — because I’d like to know as I go forward developing e-church using MySQL, PHP, and Dreamweaver.

  2. I am really interested in your progress because I am starting a new project for my church website and I was about to embark on a similar quest… This is one area where we could build a good reference so this work can be reused by many churches. I think the basic needs are pretty much the same for most churches but most “community”, CMS or weblog packages need some customization to work well.

    I will watch your weblog for updates on this topic but if you think there is any common project or guidelines that could be built for churches I am more than willing to give a hand.

    PS. Quite funny, I know Karl the autor of the Open CMS page you cite and I am even in the small thank you list on that page… small world!

  3. Yes, just use MT + editize (or similar, but not those horrible MSHTML things), its fab… as you know :) With the huge community support, all the plugins [1] its a pretty sure bet. Weakness: doesn’t page category/date archives.

    All the nuke/portal apps are pretty icky, except for drupal [2] which has some neat features. It’s not very customisable beyond the portal look though.

    ez publish 2.2.x [3] is excellent (imo) for article management but there’s a moderate learning curve. It has a lot of intranet features too, plus is quite customisable (but requires a fair amount of work). Look out for v3, with a beta in a few weeks I guess, final a few weeks after that. ezp v3 [4] should be *awesome* – but probably overkill for your needs. It archives things chronologically, but doesn’t do date based archiving (eg by month etc) ala blogging tools. Has neat article indexing and sitemap tools, and you can give each section its own look and feel etc.

    People [5] also seem to like WebGUI [6]. There’s also plone [7] to consider, but it seems too esoteric for a church web site, imo.

    Otherwise, cmsinfo.org [8] is your friend!

    But just use MT… you know you want to ;P

    [1] http://www.bradchoate.com/past/cat_movable_type.php
    [2] http://www.drupal.org/
    [3] http://ez.no/
    [4] http://ez.no/article/articleview/383/
    [5] http://makeashorterlink.com/?O23115532
    [6] http://www.plainblack.com/webgui
    [7] http://plone.org/
    [8] http://cmsinfo.org/

  4. You have probably already noticed this Dean, but searching sourceforge.net for ‘church’ reveals many open source projects such as CMS’s specifically for churches, and other great stuff. All the project descriptions sound really good, but unfortunately none of them seem to have been started/followed through by the developers. A shame really…
    If anyone is thinking about doing any such project, I would be happy to lend some of my time for CSS coding and stuff like that…

  5. I did corporate content management for a while, and used the heavy iron of content management systems: Documentum 4i. Can’t say I’d wish that on anyone.

    I’ve enjoyed Zope quite a bit. Although it’s an entirely different religion that what you’re used to. Very cool if you’re willing to throw out what you know and sell your soul to it.

    I agree with Michael that most religious opern-source proejcts whither and die. However mine has done quite well. Look for InfoCentral at SourceForge some time, or visit infocentral.org. Someone else has taken the reigns on this, but it’s thriving, I hear..

  6. Interesting discussion. I’ve used PostNuke for a couple of tech portals attached to our intranet (I work for a system integrator) and Im considering using it for my church website. Another one which looks really nice is ezContents. I like the 3 level menu system.
    My current website and church website are static HTML and they will definitely be moved to one of these PHP things very sooon ..