All New Working Preacher – Check it Out! Apr12


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All New Working Preacher – Check it Out!

You know that feeling when something you’ve been planning for, working on, and waiting for finally arrives? Maybe it’s a surprise party for a friend. Maybe it’s a project at work? Maybe it’s a vacation you’ve been arranging for your family or the wedding you’ve been helping to plan with one your kids? Whatever it is, that feeling of anticipation edging finally over into consummation is incredibly sweet.

I had that feeling last night when the all new Working Preacher website was debuted. What, you may be thinking, all this excitement about a website? Well, as a matter of fact – yes! 🙂

About seven years or so ago I had this little daydream about collecting some good resources for preachers and making them available for free on a website. After some generous donors at Luther Seminary supported that idea, and after nearly eighteen months of planning – interviews, design sessions, site-builds, user tests, and more – we launched Working Preacher in Advent of 2007. And it was an instant success. The first month we had about 5000 visits and 15,000 hits and we were stoked.  A year later it was 20,000 visits and 75,000 hits and we were ecstatic. Not only that, but by this time we were reaching preachers in nearly 100 countries!

Well, fast forward a few years. Now we are averaging 150,00 visits and 400,000 hits from nearly 200 countries every month. And over the life of the site we’ve had nearly 5 million visits and 15 million page views from just about every country on the globe. It’s amazing.

Across those first five years, we kept thinking of more things we’d like to add. First a podcast on the weekly lectionary readings called Sermon Brainwave, and then some videos of preachers talking about their craft, and then a weekly letter I’d write to our working preachers, and more. After about four years, we realized that we’d jerry-rigged the old site about as much as we could. Moreover, the web itself was changing and we were learning a lot – both from web designers and our users – about how to make the site easier to use. And we were ready to refresh the design and add more artistic elements. So we went back to the drawing board – literally – and started over.

Which meant more months – this time just 12! – of brainstorming, designing, testing, building, testing again, and implementing the site.

And now it’s out! No doubt we’ll discover some bugs along the way and things to fix or clean up or improve – that’s the web – but it’s an incredibly good feeling to see the hard work, dedication, and creativity of so many folks come to fruition.

Whether you’re a preacher or not (and we’re discovering that more and more folks who never step foot in a pulpit enjoy the biblical commentary and articles), I hope you go check the new website out. If you have comments, there’s a blue bar at the top of the page that asks for feedback. It will be there for all of April. And if you want a quick overview of the new features, there’s a page with that as well.

And not only that, but there’s a whole new mobile version of Working Preacher as well. So whether you’re checking in with your cell phone or tablet of choice, you won’t just have a smaller version of the website but a site designed completely with you and your mobile device and lifestyle in mind. Very cool. 🙂

Lots and lots of people have been involved in this work. I’m going to take just a minute to list their names as a way of saying thanks because, well, that’s one of my favorite things to do!

Eric and Lindsay Neely of Mighty Neely were our web designers extraordinaire. Ben McDonald Coltvet did a fantastic job as project manager. Jim Dudley, Thad Dahlberg, and Pat Williams were the geniuses who built the site. Karoline Lewis, Kelsey Holm, and Sally Peters were part of the creative team. And Jason Misselt, Deb Palus, Terry Erickson, and Teri Temple provided fantastic support and input. We are indebted to the many users of Working Preacher for all their suggestions and for their strong financial support of the site. (And, as luck would have it, we’ve got a campaign going on right now to pay for it all! :)). And we were aided by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment as part of Luther’s Vibrant Congregations Project. Many, many thanks to all!