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How to start a Christian online discussion community

Discussion in 'Christian Webmasters' started by Jeffin, May 13, 2007.


Do you own a Christian community

  1. Yes.

    1 vote(s)
  2. Yes, but it hasn't taken off well.

    7 vote(s)
  3. No, but I plan to open one.

    4 vote(s)
  4. No, but I would have if I had some help.

    1 vote(s)
  5. No.

    4 vote(s)
  1. How to start a Christian online discussion community

    How to start a Christian Online Discussion Community

    Online message boards and BBS systems can be a great way to connect people who share similar interests. By following a few easy steps, you can create a thriving online community which will provide you and your membership with many entertaining discussions.

    1. Choose a specific community topic. If you plan to manage the community yourself, pick something that you are knowledgable about and interested in. Because there are already so many online discussion forums available, it's best to serve a well-defined niche. For example, "Christian Webmasters" will probably work better than "Christian Community".
    2. Select a hosting package. If you have some webspace and a good bit of experience with web development, you can set up your own message board using a software package such as vBulletin. If you are unable to set up your own hosting, you can use one of the remotely hosted forum services such as EZboard, or Proboards.
    3. Create your forums (discussion areas). Ideally, you want 5-15 separate forums, each dealing with some aspect of your community topic. For example, you can have a "General Discussion" forum, a "Prayer" forum, a "Bible Study" forum, etc.
    4. Advertise your community. If you have some online friends with similar interests, send them a quick e-mail to let them know about your "grand opening." If you have a website, announce your new community to your visitors. Whatever you do, avoid "spamming" (advertising to strangers without permission). Spamming will ruin the reputation of your community before it has a chance to get started.
    5. Select moderators. Each separate discussion forum within your community should have its own moderator. The moderator keeps the discussions fresh by starting new topics and removing inappropriate content. Community users who are knowledgeable about the subject matter of the forum and willing to spend a few minutes a day helping the community grow will make good moderators.
    6. Manage the community. You and the team of moderators should agree on some basic rules of conduct (such as "no personal attacks"), and enforce them. Occassionally, you may need to ban a disruptive user from your community in order to prevent problems.
    7. Make strategic alliances. Exchange links with other communities with similar interests in order to grow your user base. As your community increases in size and activity, you will have more opportunities to create strategic partnerships with other websites.
    • Don't expect overnight success. It takes time to build a large and active membership. Keep at it, and the word will eventually get around.
    • Tailor your rules and standards to your subject matter. For example, a religious community will probably have much stricter rules than one about making prank phone calls. Your community standards should be neither too strict or too relaxed for your target audience.
    • Create a community atmosphere. You need to foster a sense of loyalty and "belonging" among your membership, or they will eventually go somewhere else. Games, contests, custom titles for users, and other "gimmicks" work well, but simple friendliness and respect are even better.
    • If you choose to have someone host your forum for you they may force your forum members to view advertisements. This is the case with most free forum hosts such as invisionfree.com. You can usually remove the ads for a small fee. You can, however, sometimes find a free forum host without forced ads. One good example of a free forum host without ads is WebringAmerica - Free PHPBB3 Forum Hosting With No Ads!. You can usually find others by doing some digging on Google. Choosing a host without ads gives your forums a more professional look that your visitors will enjoy.
    • As a community administrator, be prepared to encounter some occassional harassment. Disruptive users are a sad fact of internet life, and many of them do not take kindly to being banned from the community. If you are highly sensitive to criticism, you may want to consider letting someone else run your community for you.
    My Recommendations

    Do your own research before you decide to invest into your community. These are some of my recommendations (not official, therefore choose wisely):

    Slightly modified version of an existing article:
    How to Start an Online Discussion Community - wikiHow
    Initial Author: James Curtis Hale [​IMG].
    Contributors: James Quirk [​IMG], Krystle C. [​IMG], Ben Rubenstein [​IMG], Tom Viren [​IMG], Acebrock [​IMG] and others.
    All text shared under a Creative Commons License.
    DanielGarneau likes this.
  2. Pretty much covers all the bases.:D

    Thanks for sharing Jeff.
  3. Thanks Preacher. :)
    I just added a poll to find out if anyone here has owns or is planning is open a Christian community. Ask if you have any questions? I try answering if I can.
  4. OK, I just voted.:)

    I am also a site admin for a small Christian forum, but we use a different software. We may possibly update to vBulletin in the future. But for now we are using phpNuke.
  5. vBulletin is a good package

    I didn't know that. vBulletin is a great software but its a little expensive considering other free forum packages available. I was using phpBB here and I happened to see another Christian forum using vBulletin. I just couldn't wait. :D

    Did CFS by any chance happen to be a reason for you liking vBulletin?
  6. I'm a pretty big supporter of the 2nd Amendment, so I have been surfing firearms forums for the past 3 years. Most of them used vBulletin and I really like it. I am also a moderator at a firearms forum that uses vBulletin.

    So to answer your question, I liked it before I found CFS. Actually, I was surfing for some free Christian smilies, and that's how I wondered across CFS. I'm a member on about 10 forums ranging from political to firearms to Christian, and a few that are a cross of all 3.:)

    So I really wasn't looking to participate in anymore forums, but something about this one wouldn't let me leave.:)

    I'm active daily on about 3 forums, and try catch the others on a weekly basis. Some I only hit about once a month. And throwing 3 Churches, a wife, a garden, auto maintenance and home repair into the mix, it really keeps a Preacher busy.:D

    But I really do like this site.
  7. I'm glad you like this site. I do like it a lot too.
    I'm an active participant of quite a few Christian forums, but I don't own my own.
  8. Moderator eh, tough job isn't it. I really appreciate the work the moderators here are doing. We have a backstage discussion area where the team makes decision on how to improve the community etc. Some of you already know about it. :D

    I too like the forums because I have learnt and received here much much more than I have shared. Its a great experience and privilege.
  9. That's why I jumped with both feet and started PM'ing everybody!!!:D And good mods make a huge difference

    But it's not too bad. Most members are like minded and we all get along pretty good. The most heated discussion we have there is the old AK vs AR Which is better threads.:)

    At my Christian site, I have a really good team of mods that support me and my partner 100%. We're still new, so our traffic is still pretty slow. But the members are slowly starting to creep in.

    Same here. It truly is a learning experience.
  10. Would you mind if I ask you which that site is? psst...you can pm me. :ph34r
  11. Sure thing.:)

    We even have a half crazy minister from Down Under as a member there.;)

    PM on it's way.
  12. Thanks Preacher!
  13. Hey,
    Its being a long-term dream for me to own my own christian forum. You have just made it happen with all the informaton you gave.

    God bless you mightily.
  14. I do have one Christian discussion forum I have up, I'm the only one there, lol.

    No members yet. :p

    If you want to view it, please visit this link :) < http://www.divinechristianforums.ffrq.com

    I'm not sure if it works with Windows Vista...?
  15. DanielGarneau likes this.
  16. I found this older thread through Google.

    I have a Christian site that started just six months ago, it's was based on a forum, but we have started to offer more than discussions.

    I have a question for the ones that run a forum/Christian site that is successful. How long did it take to take off?

    Like I said, our site is only 6 months old and we have 99 members, 40 of them are active and are looking to grow.

    • How long did it take to become successful?
    • What was the best way you got the word out?
    • I have looked into buying advertising, but most Christian sites also run a forum and don't want my business because they think it's advertising a competitor. Instead, I wish they would see that we are spreading the Word of God like they are and would allow us to buy ads.

    So, what help can you guys, that are successful give us for tips?

  17. I knows its been a while since the post, but still some great advice! Thanks :)
  18. LOL, and this one's way past the OP start date, but looking around the site it seemed the best fit for the post.

    Am I reading right that the site has gone through a couple of forum software choices?
    I'd appreciate some insight on what might be preferred. Most of the forum boards I'm used to have been vbulletin or phpBB. Is this one now
    Xenforo? And if so, is there a way to search for member posts within a thread or subforum?
    What's the general feeling on comparison with what you know of other software?
  19. I personally prefer xenforo over vbulletin. I feel like in the last couple of years vbulletin has really dropped the ball. When it comes to searching for stuff, I always use google with various search operators, no matter the forum software.
  20. I have Christian forum. tried all the mentioned forum software on different domains. I found that SMF (Simple Machine Forums) was still best for me. I like to be able to select part of someones post and put that in quotes instead of the whole post. Was easy to add shout box and a full chat room that was free. I tried all the others, but none had everything I wanted like SMF. So my forum is set up, even has a christain radio you can turn on for praise music, but I am not promoting it now and have jumped on helping wife set up her Wordpress site.

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