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Blog

Estimated reading time: 6 min

Blog posts can be targeted toward the public, limited to your membership, or both. Blog posts can be seen on your website, viewed remotely through your RSS feeds, emailed to select members/mailing lists, and can be included in Congregate’s weekly summary email. Your blog can be configured to allow visitors and/or members to post comments and participate in a discussion. Comments can be disabled altogether, held for approval, or posted instantly from members and/or visitors.

Creating Blog Posts

    1. To create a public and/or member blog post, click “New” under News and Events > Blog inside of Congregate Admin.
    2. Select the date for your blog post. This date can be in the future and Congregate will automatically post the blog entry on the date selected.
    3. Provide a title for your blog post in the “Title” field.
    4. Add the body/content of your blog post in the “Content” field.
    5. Check the “Active” checkbox to have your blog post displayed. Uncheck the box if you want the blog post hidden from display. Use this feature if you want to start a blog post draft and return to editing/posting it later.
    6. If you wish to have your blog post emailed to your members, groups, or mailing lists, select them from the “Email Blog Post” dropdown menu. Select “None” if you do not wish to email your blog post. Blogs posts will enter a queue and be emailed within one hour or less upon posting. There is no way to cancel the sending of emails after your blog entry has been posted.
    7. Select the audience for your blog post: the public, members-only, or both.
    8. Choose if you will allow comments on your post by checking or unchecking the “Allow Comments” checkbox.
    9. Select any applicable category(s) for your post by checking the checkboxes next to any of the categories in the “Categories” selection. Click “Add New” to immediately add a new category.
    10. Click “Add” to save and/or post your blog entry. Click “Cancel” to cancel your entry.

Managing Blog Posts

To manage news posts, click “Manage” under News and Events > Blog inside of Congregate Admin. There you will find a list of all your blog posts, including posts that are inactive, posted, and/or scheduled. 

To edit a post, simply click its title or edit icon.

To permanently remove a post, click its trashcan icon.

To bulk update posts, check the checkboxes next to the applicable posts and select one of the following from the “Checkbox Options” dropdown menu: delete, make active, or make inactive. Then click “Apply.”

Displaying/Viewing Blog Posts

Public Blog

Public blog posts can be displayed on any public page of your website and can be viewed remotely through your RSS feed.

Displaying Posts on Your Website

To display public blog posts on your website, select the page you wish to display your posts on via the “Public Blog Page” selection dropdown on the “Options” page under News and Events > Blog in Congregate Admin.

If you do not wish to show public blog posts or have a public blog page, simply select “None.”

Viewing Posts Remotely via RSS

Your visitors can subscribe to your public blog posts and view them remotely using an RSS reader/application. If you have a public blog page active, your RSS feed is activated automatically. Visitors can click the RSS icon/link on your public news page to subscribe to your public blog post feed. You can view the “RSS Feeds” page under News and Events > Blog in Congregate Admin to view the URL of your feed(s).

What is RSS?
RSS stands for “really simple syndication.” It is an easy way to remotely distribute content to a wide number of people. It is used by computer programs, applications, aggregators, etc. which organize feed headlines and content for easy reading (without the reader having to go to individual websites to gather content). RSS feeds require an RSS viewer or app in order to display their content. If an RSS feed reader is not installed or configured on a viewer’s device, your RSS feed link may appear as XML code in their browser or their browser may display an error message. This is normal behavior and does not represent an error in your feed.

Member Blog

Member blog posts can be displayed on any member page of your website and can be viewed remotely through your member news RSS feed.

Displaying Posts on Your Website

To display member blog posts on your website, select the page you wish to display your posts on via the “Member Blog Page” selection dropdown on the “Options” page under News and Events > Blog in Congregate Admin.

If you do not wish to show member blog posts or have a member blog page, simply select “None.”

Viewing Posts Remotely via RSS

Your members can subscribe to your member blog posts and view them remotely using an RSS reader/application. If you have a member blog page active, your RSS feed is activated automatically. Members can click the RSS icon/link on your member news page to subscribe to your member blog post feed. The member blog RSS feed is encoded as to not allow the public to access it. Members (who are logged into their account) must click the RSS icon/link on the member news blog page on your website to find their personalized feed URL. There is not a generic member blog RSS feed URL.

Blog Categories

Categories allow your blog posts of similar content to be grouped together. A blog post can be assigned to multiple categories and visitors can view posts within specific categories if they choose.

To add, edit, or remove blog categories, click “Categories” under News and Events > Blog inside of Congregate Admin. There you will find a list of all your current categories. 

Click “New” to add a new category. Enter the name of the category and click “Add.”

To edit a category, simply click its title or edit icon.

To permanently remove a category, click its trashcan icon.

To bulk update categories, check the checkboxes next to the applicable posts and select the following from the “Checkbox Options” dropdown menu: delete. Then click “Apply.”

Blog Comments

A blog traditionally allows visitors to post follow-up comments on your initial entries. Here is where you can moderate and control comments posted on your site if you have commenting enabled.

To view, approve/deny, or remove blog comments, click “Comments” under News and Events > Blog inside of Congregate Admin. There you will find a list of all your current and/or pending comments. 

To approve or deny a comment, click “Approve” or “Deny.”

To permanently remove a comment, click its trashcan icon.

To bulk update comments, check the checkboxes next to the applicable comments and select the following from the “Checkbox Options” dropdown menu: delete. Then click “Apply.”

Blog Options

Selecting Display Pages

Use the dropdown menus to select the pages your public and/or member blog posts should appear on. If you do not wish to use one of more of the news pages, select “None” from the dropdown menu to disable them.

Selecting the Number of Items Shown Per Page

Enter the number of blog posts you wish to display per page. Use a smaller number (10 or less) if your blog posts are longer in length or a larger number (20 or less) if your posts are smaller in length in order to reduce page load time.

Number of Items in Your RSS Feed

Enter the number of the most recent posts you wish to include in your blog’s RSS feed. To reduce feed load time, consider using a smaller number (10 or less).

Commenting Permissions

Determine who can comment on your blog posts: everyone, members only, or disable comments completely.

Guest Commenting

Determine how guest commenting is handled: approve and post comments immediately, hold for approval (an admin must log into Congregate Admin and approve or deny the comment), or auto-approve the comment if they commenter has been approved in the past.

Member Commenting

Determine how member commenting is handled: approve and post comments immediately, hold for approval (an admin must log into Congregate Admin and approve or deny the comment), or auto-approve the comment if the commenter has been approved in the past.

New Comment Notification Email

If you wish to receive an email when a new blog comment is posted and pending approval, select the designated member or enter an email address. If you do not wish to receive an email notification, select “None.”

Blacklisted Words, IP Addresses, Email Addresses

If you wish to block certain words, IP addresses, or email addresses from either appearing in comments or posting comments, enter each on a separate line.

For example:

192.168.5.332
johnroberts4572@gmail.com
a*****
b*****

Email Template Design

If you choose to have your blog posts emailed upon posting, you can design and customize the email that is sent. Enter the desired subject of the blog post email in the “Subject” field and then enter the body/text of the email itself in the “Template” field.

Be sure to use the tags in your template; they will be replaced by the actual content they represent. For example, the “[[Title]]” tag will be replaced with the actual title of your news post and “[[Excerpt]]” will be replaced with the actual news post itself.

Here is an example of an email template:

Subject:

New [[ChurchName]] Blog Post: [[Title]]

Body:

[[To]],

The following blog post has been added to the [[ChurchName]] website:

[[TItle]]

[[Excerpt]]

Click the link below to the view this announcement on our website:

[[Link]]

—–

This is an automated message sent from the [[ChurchName]] website. Please do not attempt to reply to this email.

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