Ever get sick of having to create the same church event over and over on different platforms? If only you could sync church calendars so you only had to enter each event once!
It usually goes like this: you’ve planned an event for your church plant. It’s going to be awesome. You need to get it out there as a calendar event so people can find it, so you add it to your website. Then you add it to Facebook. Then you add it to your own calendar so that it shows up in your real life.
You can save yourself time and your own sanity by syncing them up!
First a quick primer on online calendars: the whole industry is finally settling in on some standardization. In order for calendars to sync across your devices, the calendars themselves live on a server and then push out the calendar events to each device. That push of information is called an ICS feed.
If you can find the ICS feed address to any given calendar (often hidden as a subscribe link), you can add all sorts of calendars to your device. The typical calendar app will overlay all of the calendars you subscribe to as different colored events on one master calendar, but you can individually hide or display any of the calendars as needed.
For example, in addition to whatever default calendars that came built in to your account or app, you could potentially subscribe to:
- your spouse’s calendar
- the events calendar on your city’s website
- the school district calendar
- your Facebook calendar (more below)
Calendar syncing is getting easier, but it’s still imperfect and takes a bit of duct tape & coat hangers to make it work.
How to Sync Church Calendars
You’ll need to decide on which calendar will be your master. Then you’ll get your other calendars to subscribe to its feed so when you add new events to the master calendar, they show up automatically on the others.
One way to do this is using your church Facebook page as your master calendar. The advantage is that it lets you add lots of rich content like images, maps, etc. One disadvantage is that those events show up with all of your other Facebook events on your device (like friends’ birthdays). Here’s how to subscribe. If you’re using WordPress for your website, there are plugins like this one that will pull events off your Facebook page and put them on your website automatically.
Another way is to use your Google/iCloud calendar as your master. The advantages are:
- it’s super-easy to add new events on the fly from a mobile device
- you can create recurring events
- sub-calendars can be created for different audiences
You loose the rich content though, and currently Facebook allows you to post events from Google/iCloud to your page, but as posts not actual events. Use a 3rd-party app like Zapier or IFTTT to automate that much. For your WordPress site, find a plugin like these to pull events from your Google/iCloud calendar automatically to your website.
Either of these methods gives you a three-fer: post once and it shows up in three places. Hopefully software keeps getting better, but you can still save a lot of time and painful redundancy when you sync church calendars like this.