A guest post on Church Marketing Sucks briefly discusses using RSS or other feeds to provide information to church members. For instance different types of news and announcements. If your church runs their church website on wordpress then this makes it easy to do as each category has its own feed, so that as long as you post different types of news to different categories subscribers can follow them independently.

For instance on this website we have the category ‘church humour’, which is located here:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/tag/christian-humour/

And the RSS feed is located here;

churchblogger.wordpress.com/tag/christian-humour/feed/

It is found simply by adding /feed/ to the end of the URL. Fancy an atom feed? Just append /feed/atom/ to the end. If you do this to a post rather that to a category post list (as above) you will have the RSS feed (or atom feed) for the comments to that post. (And by default these comment feeds come prefixed with ‘Comments on:’, in the feed title so that in a feed reader it is clear it is a comment feed. For example:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/fitting-in-at-church/

Becomes:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/fitting-in-at-church/feed/

But there is a problem, and it is to do with privacy. The CMS post suggests prayer requests, but many of these with be of a confidential nature. They cannot just be posted on a public website for all to see. Even if you do not tell ‘outsiders’ what the feed URL is, you cannot keep it private for ever, as your church members will use bloglines or another feed reader to subscribe or google will find it.

One solution is to use the wordpress password-protected post feature, setting a password. These posts appear in the feed, but without the content. Church members can then go to the website and type in an agreed password.

The only thing to consider is that it makes the church look uninviting and closed to outsiders if when they visit the church website to see many password protected posts. The best option here would be to stop entries in this category appearing on the front page loop.

Feeds are very powerful and with wordpress as your content management system for the church website, management of them is made easy.

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