Within a matter of seconds, Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church no longer had a functioning website design.

One of the members of the church was in the back end of the church’s website trying to add sermons to the site. But in his mission, he also updated everything — plugins and themes.

In any normal circumstance, this would have been fine; however, the developer who had created their site hadn’t followed the proper protocol by making changes to the existing theme inside of a child theme. Instead, he made the changes directly into the theme.

So when the theme was updated, the changes went away, leaving the church with a mess of a website.

“The whole website looked weird,” Faith Growth CEO Christopher Harris said. “The content was still there because it was saved in the database, but the website looked weird.”

Almost immediately, Lawrenceville’s pastor, Ryan Jensen, put out a post on Facebook asking for help to fix the website. Harris, who knew Jensen through seminary, saw the post and reached out to Jensen.

It was an easy match.

“Simply put, Chris ‘got it,’” Jensen said. “He understood where we had been, what we were able to accomplish today, and where we could go with it in the near future.”

Unlike most sites, the discovery process was simple with Lawrenceville. They just needed their website back up and running. Plus the data was still intact.

The main challenge, however, came with working the new site into the budget. Lawrenceville had already figured out their budget for 2017, and, being a small church of 240 members, couldn’t really afford a new website they hadn’t planned for.

But Harris had a solution.

Faith Growth would use an existing StudioPress theme, change the colors to match Lawrenceville’s red and move the data over to the new site for a relatively low cost. Then the church would have a functioning website again and then could discuss a new, custom website for the future.

Harris ended up choosing the Outreach Pro theme for Lawrenceville because of his familiarity with the theme and how similar it looked to the church’s original website.

“I went to the internet archive and looked at their old site,” Harris said. “They had some similar characteristics like the Outreach Pro has a slider and those featured images that are sections of the website. That was like their old homepage.”

From there, the remaining challenge became hunting down the information for the host from the old site in order to migrate the site it over to WP Engine and build it up from there.

Once that was secured, the rest of the process flew by. In a week’s time, Harris had Lawrenceville’s site back up and running. Harris said the best part of the process was getting a church back on its feet on the internet.

“I just like to be helpful,” Harris said. “We were able to help them in a very weird situation.”

Lawrenceville’s website is now mobile friendly, bringing it truly into the 21st century. Since it’s now hosted on WPEngine, the church can quickly and easily make backups in case something goes wrong, avoiding a repeat of this situation altogether. And Harris provided the church staff with training on how to use WordPress so they could get the most out of it in the future.

While Lawrenceville’s website wasn’t complex on the technical side, it’s just the first step a longer process to transform their communications to get in line with the modern age. Once a new budget is written, both Jensen and Harris hope to meet again to talk about the next step for the church.

“Historically, we have used it for internal advertising in addition to having it out there for people who move to town and are looking for a [Presbyterian] church,” Jensen said. “Once we are able to put more into it, we will see where we can go with Faith Growth.”

Harris said there are two things churches can learn from Lawrenceville’s situation. First, don’t be afraid to reach out for help with training on how to get the most out of the website. And second, always back up the website.

“You need a backup solution,” Harris said. “Updates are good. Don’t be afraid of updating, but sometimes updates can break things. So if you have a good backup solution, you can reverse it and then call in someone like us to fix it.

Visit LPC’s new website –> https://lawrencevillepresbyterian.org/