|4 Years Of Being Kabwata Baptist Church Webmaster|
|From the webmaster|
Matthew 19:26 ...”With God all things are possible”
In this first of many posts from the webmaster I want to reflect on where I picked up the Kabwata Baptist Church website, where it is now and where it is going. I have been the webmaster of Kabwata Baptist Church since 2004. Wow! I didn’t realize that it’s already been 4 years, going into 5 years.
Time really flies when you are having fun! In the past 4 years our website has been going through transformation after transformation and I must say it has been for the better.
Where I found it
I remember starting out with posting sermon scripts in 2004. I believe this was the second or third version of our website. I had just graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science the previous year and was still very fresh in the Zambian IT industry. I had so much passion for web development and little “real-world” experience on websiteS. Many thanks to Nafitali Tembo for introducing me to this good web ministry (He gave me a tutorial on how to make updates on the website).
At the time one needed knowledge of HTML or how to use an editor like FrontPage or Dreamweaver to make updates to many sections of the website. The only section that could be updated without an HTML editor was the sermon scripts and prayer letter sections. As a result many sections had information that had not been updated for months or even years. In addition, each ministry only had one HTML page which would be overwritten whenever an update was made. Hence, the history was lost because we did not have an archive system.
Transformations I have seen it go through
After months of posting sermon scripts and making updates to the website, we really started seeing the limitations we had and how much effort it took just to make a simple update. Something had to change. We initially decided to redesign the website and develop it with ASP3. Our web hosting company at the time had trouble with ASP and advised us to use PHP. Thanks to them I learnt PHP and have never regretted. So we redeveloped the website using PHP. We wished to have MySQL as the backend database but our service provider had trouble giving us that feature. Hence, we had the PHP site going and used files for storing our data. The new website received some good praise with its new look and features. This version had no HTML and did not have a fully working content management system. Hence, this upgrade actually increased the complexity of making updates. It meant that the webmaster had to make most of the updates (and he doesn’t like that). So another design was already in the works.
In the subsequent design, we gave it yet another look and included archiving for sermon scripts. There was excitement about the archiving feature and people were happy to be able to retrieve sermon scripts from as far as 2003 preached at Kabwata Baptist Church. Quickly, an idea of introducing audio sermons on the website came in. We implemented this new feature that allowed us to put two audio sermons on the website for people to download. At the time we had a limit of 25Mb for our entire website. This really limited how much we could put on our website.
To help with the space limitation, Heart Cry Missionary Society gave us space on their server where we could upload audio sermons. This proved to be very helpful as we could now post as many audio sermons as possible.
Our website then had trouble with being accessed from outside Zambia. For months our then service providers tried to fix this to no avail. Change was inevitably knocking on our door. So we decided to change our web hosting service provider so that our website could be accessible to the rest of the world most of the time. Our new service provider gave us unlimited storage space, emails at our domain name, support for all the latest technologies at a click. With these new features it would have been such an injustice to stick to the old design of the website. Hence, we started working on our current version of the website.
Where it is now
Our current version of the website has some very interesting features and endless future possibilities. We have our audio sermons and sermon scripts, email alerts, podcasts, comment systems, a guest book, RSS feeds, online media players and it is fairly easy to make updates (no need for HTML or FrontPage).
Where it is going (the vision)
The size of the internet has tripled since 2000 and trend is continuing. As of 2008 it has about 1.4billion users (remember that there about 6 billion people on earth). Dare to imagine what would happen if we could reach those 1.4 billion people with the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ! The future for our web ministry is the answer to the question “How far can we go with this?”. The internet provides us with the opportunity for outreach like no other way I have heard of in my life time. With the internet you have a potential world audience of 1.4 billion that can be reached in the comfort of their homes and offices. That is way beyond what Sunday services, TV, Radio and door-to-door outreach can collectively reach.
In future posts I hope elaborate more on this potential audience and how we can reach it with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our website wouldn't be where it is if it was not for the people making up our web team. We have members of the Library ministry who record and post audio sermons, transcribers (one only for now) who writes the sermon scripts, publishers and editors who post updates on the website and the webmaster who looks at the technical aspects of the website. In the future I will be sharing my opinion and the direction our team and any other church website team should take to remain effective and relevant in this dynamic era.
Looking back, do I think where the website is could have been possible? You can guess.
Matthew 19:26 ...”With God all things are possible”