WordPress is currently the most popular platform for blogging, and for good reason. Not only is WordPress free… it offers a solid content management system for handling the basic functions of a blog– pages, posts, tags, categories, and various forms of media.
However, the ease of customizing both appearance and functionality of a WordPress blog is probably the largest drawing card. By adjusting WordPress’ various settings and installing custom themes and plugins every WordPress blog can be as unique as a fingerprint.
In this post I would like to explore with you 7 of the best WordPress plugins for Christian bloggers…
When I started blogging this was the first plugin I installed. The appropriately named Reftagger plugin automatically recognizes all Scripture references. When one of your readers ‘mouses over’ a verse reference a speech bubble quickly appears and displays the verse. If the verse is clicked the reader will be taken to the verse of the Biblia.com website.
This blog uses the Reftagger plugin so you can try it yourself. John 3:16. You can set the default translation of your choice and easily override this default setting by appending a particular translation’s common abbreviation to the Scripture reference: John 3:16 KJV and John 3:16 NIV.
The plugin is lighting fast and extremely reliable. In the two years that I have used this plugin I have never had a problem. It is truly a “set it and forget” plugin.
2. oEmbed HTML5 Audio
Want to embed an mp3 recording of a recent sermon? Should be easy, right?
Sadly, embedding an audio file in a WordPress blog post is not as easy to do than you might expect. Why? Well, if you want your readers to have the ability to actually listen to the audio file you will need to take in to account numerous, different technical standards. These standards vary widely depending on the type of device and web browser your followers use.
To properly code and embed your audio file into a post would ::almost:: require a high level degree in computer programming! It is simply not worth the effort for the vast majority of Christian bloggers– especially considering that there are numerous (and considerably easier) alternatives available.
One solution is the oEmbed HTML5 audio plugin. The plugin is simple to install and use. After activating the plugin all you need to do in a blog post is enter the audio file’s URL on it’s own line of text. From there the plugin is able to determine the type of browser accessing the post and convert the file accordingly.
I have been using this plugin for well over a year on my Digital Sojourner blog without any problems. Here is a link to a recent post that uses the plugin for a sermon.
oEembed HTML5 Audio page on WordPress.org
Looking for a simple way your readers can share prayer requests with each other? If so you should check out the Amen WordPress plugin.
With this plugin you can use your site to build a caring community of committed prayer partners. How awesome is that? With Amen users can share and manage their prayer requests, retain some control over privacy, indicate how urgent a request is and even tweet prayer requests with custom hashtags.
The plugin also provides several management tools for the blog’s administrators.
Amen page on WordPress.org
4. Sermon Manager
The oEmbed HTML5 Audio plugin discussed above is a nice solution for embedding sermons into a blog if you are only posting an occasional sermon and there are only one or two speakers. But, what if you are posting sermons frequently? or there are several different speakers?
If this is the case you will need a plugin that not only brings the capability of playing audio files… but also has the ability to manage the audio files. If you require this functionality, then Sermon Manager is for you.
Sermon Manager allows you to easily organize your sermons by preachers, topics, and even sermon series. Additionally, you can publish sermons to iTunes and associate other file types (such as video and PDF) with a particular sermon.
5. Biblia.com Verse of the Day
Biblia.com’s Verse of the Day is a great way to easily integrate God’s Word into any website– not just a WordPress site. The plugin follows two years of pre-selected verses– the selected verses are even calibrated to be relevant for dozens of holidays throughout the year.
This is a great way to keep your site looking fresh everyday– but more importantly it’s a great way to share God’s Word with your readers.
Follow the link below to easily customize the plugin to fit your site’s styling. Then simply copy and paste the customized HTML code into your web page.
6. praybox +
Of the seven plugins I have chosen to highlight, this is the only one that is not free. However, at only $35 the plugin is a great deal… if you are looking to cultivate an army of prayer warriors.
Although similar to the Amen plugin reviewed above, praybox + offers several additional features. Users can post prayer requests, create prayer AND praise lists… there is even the ability to generate daily emails to notify users regarding how often their request has been prayed for. How encouraging!!
Another excellent feature of praybox + are administrative tools to help prevent abuse of the system and to scale the functionality of the system to fit the needs of your site.
Bloggers face several obstacles– one of the most pervasive and annoying of these obstacles is comment spam.
Clearly, this plugin is not exclusively for ‘Christian’ blogs– nevertheless, like all other bloggers, Christians must guard their site from being overrun with comment spam. Otherwise, it will inevitably destroy your site. Comment spam will discourage your real readers from posting real comments, search engines penalize your site’s search rankings, and your site will look un-maintained. Unfortunately you cannot fight spam alone, you must enlist the help of spam filter and Akismet is simply the best for WordPress.
The WordPress Akismet plugin is free for personal blogs. However there is a charge for commercial blogs.
How about you? What plugins have you found helpful? Please let us know what you would add to (or delete from) this list.