Make your church web site more social with BuddyPress
Have you heard of BuddyPress? Put simply it turns your WordPress powered church web site into a social network! I published an introductory post last week over on the Living Open Source blog about Building Community with BuddyPress, claiming:
It could make your church online a place to hang out, rather than just a place to read about your doctrinal position and download a 40 minute sermon.
It may not be for every church, but it does have the potential to transform the way people interact with your church on-line.
If you are going to try this, you are probably best doing it on a test install first, especially if you are not sure whether this is for you. If you do install this BuddyPress on a live site it is wise to backup your site first.
- Firstly, make sure you check the Before Installing BuddyPress stuff in the official guide. The main thing to check before installing on a working, up-to-date, WordPress site is that you are using “Pretty Permalinks” – that is your permalinks are not set to the default setting.
- Under the “Plugins > Add New” menu in wp-admin, search for and install ‘BuddyPress’.
- Activate the plugin
- Activate a compatible theme. (More on this below!)
Selecting a Compatible Theme
When you install BuddyPress, you will also find in the Appearance > Themes sections of wp-admin that you have an extra theme – the default BuddyPress theme. This is a good theme, but of course you are probably already using a WordPress theme chosen specifically for your church web site and the default theme doesn’t really look that great for a church.
If your current theme is not BuddyPress compatible, this may be time to grab yourself a new theme that is compatible. For example, the themeloom now has a couple of BuddyPress compatible themes that may fit the bill. Otherwise, you can try and make your existing theme compatible.
There is help at hand here. You can install the BuddyPress Template Pack plugin which when installed can help make any theme compatible with BuddyPress. It guides you through some simple steps to add BuddyPress files to your existing theme. In many cases though, you will also need to edit some of these files, especially if your theme’s page structure does not match the default BuddyPress theme. This isn’t too difficult if you are familiar with editing theme files.
Adding BuddyPress Pages to Menus
You will also probably want to add the BuddyPress pages to your menus in the Menu Builder, depending on how your theme works.
The complete set is:
- http://yourdomain.com/blogs/ (multisite only)
When you activate BuddyPress, a new set of menu items are created in wp-admin. These pages allow you to manage and configure the various components of BuddyPress. One thing you will want to do here is install the Group forums (which is just bbPress in disguise). This then allows each BuddyPress group the ability to have its own forum.
You can also selectively enable/disable the different aspects of BuddyPress and control how they operate. There are also a grwoing number plugins that can modify and enhance the default feature set.
As you can see BuddyPress is fairly simple to install, though you may find that its time to switch themes. But BuddyPress does have the potential to transform the way people interact with your church online. Are you using BuddyPress on your church web site? We’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.