If you’ve tried to find church software lately — presentation, AV programs, financial and member management, etc — you know that it’s hard to nail down exactly what you want.
Some softwares are incredibly bloated. They include a ton of features and program options that you don’t now — nor will ever — actually need.
Unfortunately, the price for these software products usually reflect these features. Before you know it, you could end up paying several hundred dollars a month for software that you may only use some of the time.
That’s why I like Series Engine so much.
We bought a lifetime license pre-pandemic and it’s literally been a gamechanger for us and the churches we work with. We’re able to include it (for free) on all of our church websites that we manage, and it offers a powerful suite of features that are fully customizable.
What is Series Engine?
Series Engine is a WordPress plugin that manages all of your sermon and Bible class content directly on your website.
It does not automatically push your content to social media sites like Youtube or Facebook, nor does it pull content from those platforms. You’re responsible for doing both of those.
But assuming you use your church website as an information hub anyways, Series Engine will help you organize and place your content on various pages of your website (more on that below).
The team behind Series Engine has two other plugins that are powered similarly, but I haven’t had time to dive into yet: Prayer Engine and Groups Engine. Together, these form a great family of plugins that should be able to handle most of your church’s online needs.
Series Engine Review
The churches we work with have a variety of needs and capabilities. Some wanted a website that was just there and did it’s job, whereas others wanted something they could really sink their teeth into and manage.
Series Engine is perfect for both of these types of people. If you want something that just shows your sermon video and/or plays your audio, that’s fine.
But if you’re really looking for something high-powered that provides effortless sorting and accessibility, Series Engine is your go-to.
Here’s why we like it so much.
Series Engine Accessibility
Unless you’re a tech-nerd, installing software can be kinda convoluted. Even if you’re able to upload the plugin to the website, it can be difficult to set up, navigate, and actually use once it’s installed.
Fortunately, Series Engine has a pretty easy interface. Once it’s purchased, you’ll be sent a .ZIP file that you can upload into the plugin section of your WordPress dashboard.
After it’s installed, you’ll see the Series Engine tab appear on the admin portion of your dashboard.
Right at the top is a big button that says “Add New”. Click that, and you’ll be taken to the “Add a New Message” section.
The “Add a New Message” section is where the real magic happens. Here, you’ll be able to upload your various sermon info: sermon title, speaker, date, quick description, and audio/video URL.
Since Series Engine doesn’t provide native hosting, you’ll need to have a separate service for this, such as Vimeo. Youtube channels work too, and provide the secondary benefit of creating content for that channel along the way.
(Technically, you could upload your video file to your WordPress Media Library and then grab the file from there, but this will absolutely slow down your site and could impact video performance. Avoid this route at all costs).
If that’s all you want to use Series Engine for, that’s fine. I would say most of our church clients go that far and then move on.
However, if you want extra customization, the other tabs provide more options.
Under “Advanced Settings,” you can add an alternate date, a sermon thumbnail, and allow comments.
The next screen lets you add Scripture references to your sermon that users can later sort through. You can either have a “Focus Passage” or literally upload every reference your sermon uses. Up to you.
Series Engine also lets you turn your content into a podcast if you want (although you’ll have to upload it to a site yourself). The last tab allows you to attach downloadables to the sermon, like a sermon outline or extra content.
This may all sound like a lot to do, but the whole process should take less than a couple minutes, depending on what you want to do. It’s remarkably intuitive too, so you shouldn’t need a Tylenol from the headache after you’re done.
Series Engine Features
Organization is the name of the game when it comes to Series Engine.
In addition to just creating a list of sermons, you can also sort by series, series types, topics, and speakers.
This is the only part of the plugin that I personally had a hard time wrapping my mind around, but it’s not too difficult once you get the hang of it (and not even necessary if you just want to upload your stuff).
A series type is a broad generalization of your content, such as sermons, Bible classes and Gospel Meetings.
A series is the individual series inside of that, like a specific Bible class, or specific sermon series.
Like I said, it’s a little confusing, but you get the idea. You can designate series or series types when you create the message originally, or edit it later if you change your mind.
Sorting by topics is another option. If you have a bunch of sermons spread out over various series, you can tag them as “first principles,” “Paul’s letters,” or something similar. People will then be able to go and sort your content on the front end of the website by that topic.
You can also sort by speakers, if you want. This is handy for lectureships and meetings, or if you have a rotation of men that speak often.
Series Engine Appearance
Part of the problem I have with most sermon management services is that they just don’t look very good at all.
Are they functional? Sure. But they won’t win any design awards anytime soon.
Series Engine just looks good. It’s clean, organized, functional, and aesthetically pleasing for most people to use.
Here’s an example from one of our churches:
Series Engine offers a few different looks you could choose from. Grid, which places secondary messages in rows of three; classic, which is a compressed list; or cards, which has a more open look (pictured).
Since Series Engine also has several different use cases — Youtube series, sermon, podcasts, and more — chances are you’ll want to place it in different parts of your site.
You may have a page where you’re displaying all your Youtube thumbnails in a row, whereas your podcast page may only have the classic, compressed list.
And because all you need is a shortcode to install on the page itself, it takes zero time to sort and customize your page.
Series Engine Pricing
Before we bought the agency package for Series Engine, we bought each one of these for our churches at $100 a piece.
That may sound expensive, but remember that every series engine copy is a lifetime subscription with all future updates. The lack of a monthly or yearly charge is refreshing in an age where so many companies make you pay all the time for everything.
The support is excellent too. Every time I’ve had an issue, I email the developer and have an answer back usually within a few hours (always less than a day).
The Verdict Is In
As mentioned above, all of our church clients will have a copy of Series Engine installed on their website for them. We also provide a series of videos on how to upload a sermon, organize topics, and other things you’ll need to know (although we doubt you’ll need them).
I honestly don’t see us switching from Series Engine anytime soon. It does everything we need at an extremely competitive price and allows churches tons of options for displaying their content.
How could you beat that?