Advent is usually a season of waiting for Christmas and not waiting for websites to work, but many of you have been patiently waiting and hoping that our websites would be back to normal. Thankfully, I’m happy to say that the sites are back up to speed (mostly).
With that in mind, this might be a good time to look back at what happened over the past month as well as taking a look at all of 2011. As a bonus we can give you a glimpse of what the future holds for Life Teen’s websites, too!
Over the past two years, the Life Teen websites have seen a lot of transition. Since I’ve come onto the team, both Matt Smith (former Director of Internet Ministries and now Vice President of Strategy and Communication, Life Teen) and Greg Iwinski (former Web Content Editor) have moved onto other areas where God is calling them to serve.
However, our little team accomplished a lot in that time. We launched CatholicYouthMinistry.com, our website for youth ministers and Core members, as well as a new LifeTeen.com. Both of these new websites run newer, better software (WordPress) compared to our previous sites (which ran on really old code).
To accomodate that change, we had to move servers a few years ago. That server fine for back then, but today we have lots more visitors to the sites (yay!). We knew it was time for an upgrade which we planned on doing January 2012.
But our old servers had something else in mind.
A few months ago, we noticed that the servers began acting a little temperamental. They weren’t as fast as they once were and every once in awhile they would have short periods of down time. And then in November our server decided it didn’t want to play nice any more and it took 24 hours to get the sites back.
That downtime is unacceptable and we apologize for that. We sincerely hope we didn’t loose anyone’s trust. It’s just that sometimes modern technology doesn’t want to work.
What’s going on now?
When the outage hit, we needed to move hosting companies immediately. Since we had been researching new hosts, we made a great move to a new host that will be great for the future of the sites, but the move wasn’t without its hiccups.
Most notably, the resources on CatholicYouthMinistry.com were inaccessible for some time. To the best of our knowledge the problem has been fixed, but if you can’t download something, feel free to email me at [email protected] and we’ll fix it. Again, we’re sorry and know that you’ve come to expect the instant accessibility of the resources. Thank you for being patient.
Usernames and passwords on CatholicYouthMinistry.com also had to be reset. If you’re still having trouble logging into the site, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-809-3902. We’d love to talk about how your ministry is going too!
We recognize there are still some small areas that need some fixes. We’re working on that everyday and will continue to do so until we make it right. You may notice changes or improvements as well. This is due to some planned changes that we were going to be making anyways.
2011: A Year of Transition
Back in May of this year, I was informed that Matt Smith was taking on different responsibilities within Life Teen. I was offered the responsibility of being in charge of Life Teen’s websites and leading us into the future.
It’s a heavy and joyful burdern to be the Web Director for Life Teen. I know that many of you have been with the movement for years, while some may be brand new. That relationship has been fostered in different ways, but undoubtably the most visible and daily reminder of that relationship is through our websites.
When I was a teen, LifeTeen.com was my community of young Catholics online. It helped foster my faith, led me to the Eucharist, and showed me that there were literally hundreds of thousands of other young people out in the world connected by their Catholic faith and Life Teen. In many ways I’m a product of the website and the movement of Life Teen.
And yet, there are millions of young people here in the United States and around the world who desperately need to know the love of God and the truth of the Catholic faith. That’s why we’re here and that’s most likely why you’re here too.
In 2011, we reached out to about 100,000 unique visitors to our websites, had over 4.5 million pageviews, and grew our Facebook ministry to over 18,000 fans. When you look at the numbers the magnitude of Life Teen worldwide is astounding.
But it’s not about the numbers, it’s about souls. Many of you work in ministries where the number of Core are low, 10 or 20 regular teens showing up is good night, and your budgets are running paper thin. If we only look at the numbers, we can’t see into the hearts of people being affected by the work God is doing through us. Working on the web, we only get small glimpses of the souls we affect, but they are out there. You may be one of those souls right now.
That was the challenge when we created our new donate website. We wanted to share the souls that are affected, not so much the numbers of faceless teens that you can’t see from behind your computer or phone. I was one of those souls when I was a teen. I’m thankful that there were people who gave their whole lives to make sure that I knew the love of Jesus, even if it was through a website.
I know that we’ve asked for your donations for the past few months. I see it everyday when I’m at work. We’re not asking for much, but if you are or were affected by Life Teen or see teens affected and lead closer to Christ through the movement of Life Teen, consider giving back. Only about 0.1% of the visitors to the websites have given. If you don’t support us, there’s no way that we can continue leading teens to Christ.
The Future of LifeTeen.com
2012 will be the biggest year *ever* for Life Teen’s websites. I know that might seem overstatted or unproven, but what the Holy Spirit has been revealing in the hearts of the Life Teen staff will lead to fruit within the Church for a long time.
To give you a glimpse of what’s happening, that bar on the top of every site will now become an increasingly important navigational tool for you to find what you need and staying connected to the community on Life Teen’s sites. Not everything will happen at once, but you will see big changes in the months ahead. If you thought the donation website was cool, then just wait.
Internally, we’re calling next year the Year of the Rock after St. Peter. We believe that 2012 will provide the strong foundation our web ministry needs to provide years of service to the Church. It’s upon St. Peter’s foundation that our Church has withstood all sorts of challenges. We dedicate all of what we do to the service of the Church and pray that St. Peter will guide us during this next year.
We’re always here to serve, so if you have an idea, comment, suggestion, random musing, or anything else, just shoot me an email. You never know, maybe your idea will make it into a Life Teen website one day.
From all of us at Life Teen, and especially from the wonderful and talented people I’m blessed to work with on the Creative Support Team (Sergio Garcia, Christina Mead, Carlos Weaver, Laura Womack, Derek Natzke and Gabe Telepak), we want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Life Teen Web Director