Heal Your Church WebSite

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

Blogging your studies and sermon using Google Docs

This scenario sound familiar: your pastor nicely insists you publish his sermons online, but sends you his work in MS Word files that were converted via an old version of WordPerfect for Windows. Yeah, talk about cruft! Fortunately, I think Google may have an affordable and easy answer for all parties involved in this processing paradigm; it’s called Docs & Spreadsheets.

Leveraging a webblog application or a blogging service as a low-cost, low-bandwidth content management system for a church web site is solid solution – provided you can get church staff and volunteers to submit content. Yeah, the devil is always in the details ain’t it?-)

That’s the problem I ran into at my last church. The sermons were the killer content that not only reached site conversion goals of getting local individuals into the pews – but also had a global appeal to pastors and seekers world wide. Problem was, the pastor was stuck in one of the early offerings of WordPress for Windows which made categorizing and posting said content a bit of an uphill climb in terms of online content management that included the following steps:

  1. pastor writes sermon in WordPerfect using a home spun outline format (markup) provided by the web servant
  2. pastor saves sermon as MS Word and emails it to the web servant
  3. web servant spends 30 minutes to 2 hours cleaning up breakages to the home spun outline format
  4. web servant submits RTF file to a Perl program specifically designed to slice, dice and post and catalog the sermon in a standardized format that is both print and search-engine friendly
  5. web servant pleads with pastor to change word processors and/or learn how to blog
  6. cycle repeats itself every week

Had I been able to offer a no-to-low cost online document collaboration system, which is what one gets with Google Docs & Spreadsheets – then I think I could have gotten said pastor over the pain factor involved with changing one’s writing tools. All he would need to do is learn how to use the online editor and either hit the share or the publish button.

Personally, I would have preferred the share button so I could go in and double check things – perhaps remove some personal references to members of the congregation, perhaps run the spell check and/or make other minor tweaks that make the sermon more search engine centric.

This way I only have to set-up the Google Doc’s Publish to Blog XML-RPC settings in one place and as depicted in the screenshot below:

Note how I opted for the MetaWeblog API as opposed to the MoveableType API as instructed by Google’s “Click Here for Yours” instructions – this is because I like to have the title of the Google document appear on the blog as well.

Then I hit the publish button, perhaps login to the blog to make any other adjustments, or perhaps just spend the rest of my lunch hour eating lunch!-)

Your mileage may vary … though I’d be interested if you also have a similar success story/solution.

And yes, this post was created and published using Google Docs (& Spreadsheets).


  1. I don’t think you mean “WordPress” at the beginning. You probably either mean WordPro or Word (or perhaps WordPerfect)

  2. Hi, Dean. Good to see you back. Great post.

  3. mrben! You are so right – good catch (and good example of why collaborative, online writing tools are a good thing)


  4. Good suggestion.

    Currently, my church’s sermon notess are sent to me in Microsoft Publisher; copied into Araneae, a text editor; and converted to standard XHTML before being pasted into WordPress’ code editor window. Not a perfect system, but it results in valid, semantic XHTML with a link to the markup.

  5. When going from Word to WordPress I’ve used two methods that help retain the formating like bold and italics, etc. without a bunch of extra junk from Word.

    The first I posted about here a while back.
    Post from Word to WordPress

    The second is the one I use now and is much easier. From the visual editor in WordPress press SHIFT+ALT+V. Copy your text from Word and click the “Paste from Word” icon in the new menu that dropped down using the key combo above and follow the prompts.