Five Great Companies For Church Websites


09 Jan 2014

One of the most important parts of a church’s media is their website. In 2014, this is the front door of your church and you can guarantee that people are going to judge your ministry based on your site. You may have an awesome worship set and epic sermon planned, but if a newcomer first sees a ragamuffin website, they’ll never darken your doorway to hear them.

A lot of you already understand the importance of a quality website, but have had a hard time finding a designer. In fact, that’s one of the most frequent questions that hits our inbox at TCP. Because a custom website requires a lot of hours and hard work, they’re usually too costly for church budgets. Instead, I would recommend using a ministry-minded, template-based company where you can still get a great looking site for a low price.

Here are five companies to check out for your church’s website:

ShareFaith.com – $49/month or $499/year


From Sharefaith Support on Vimeo.

FaithConnector.com – $250 one time fee + $54/mo or $540/yr


FaithConnector Church Websites from Faithconnector on Vimeo.

Ekklesia360.com – $500 one time fee + $60/mo or $648/yr


Ekklesia 360 Total Church Web Solution from Monk Development, Inc. on Vimeo.

CloverSites.com – $1000 one time fee + $20/mo


Clover 60 Second Video from Clover on Vimeo.

BridgeElement.com – $500 one time fee + $29/mo


BridgeElement Demo Video from Bridge Element on Vimeo.

Do you use any of these companies? How do you like them?


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Kendall Conner

Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.

Comments

  1. While I think these are great websites and services, I don’t think anything beats learning a tiny bit of wordpress and doing it yourself. It’s much cheaper and give you much more control over your site.

    For those that do decide to go the wordpress route, http://churchthemes.com/ has some amazing stuff to get you going!

    • Thanks for mentioning us, Alex.

      WordPress is useful as a lower cost “do it yourself” solution ($50 – $80 for a theme plus $10/mo on hosting). It’s also more flexible than proprietary hosted solutions due to the availability of plugins and the open source nature of the code. Even if you want some hand-holding, there are people that provide that in regard to building and hosting the WordPress site.

      The great thing is there’s something for everybody with the wide range of church website solutions available today.

      • Kendall Conner : January 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        Hey, guys –

        Thanks so much for your comments! There’s no doubt that there is a lot of potential in using WordPress for church websites. I’ve used it for about 6 different church sites now myself. However, if you have no web background, this can be extremely tough. I’ve always found that even with top-notch themes that I relied on previous html knowledge and a lot of graphic expertise. Most churches do not have these skills in their tool belt.

        Since reading your comments, I plan on creating another blog post with my favorite WordPress themes for the more advanced readers.

        • Cool, I’m looking forward to seeing that. Be sure to check out our new Resurrect theme if you haven’t yet. I’d be glad to send you a copy to play with.

        • Hi, I’m Tom from FaithConnector. Given the volunteer nature of many churches, a lot of times when that WP volunteer leaves, the church doesn’t know what to do with it or how to keep the install up-to-date. We are a website as a service. We not a “piece of software”, so we’re able to hold hands with the admins and our service spans generations of volunteers. Here’s our take on the whole SAAS website, like us, vs a WP site. I’d love to update it if you see something is way off: http://www.faithconnector.com/faithconnector-versus-wordpress-for-church-websites

          • “We are not” instead of “We not”. :)

          • Hi Tom,

            You have a good point about churches having trouble using their website when the person most familiar with it leaves. This isn’t a problem of volunteers alone (the same thing happens when a paid IT staff member leaves) or solutions like WordPress which usually live on the host of the customer’s choosing. No matter the type of solution, if nobody is familiar with it, there will be difficulty.

            The question is, is the provider of the solution available when this happens? With a commercial proprietary hosted solution like FaithConnector, the answer should be yes. With a commercial WordPress solution, the answer should also be yes. We provide ongoing support for our WordPress themes. This is the case with nearly all commercial WordPress products, but of course not with free ones.

            I would say don’t use a free WordPress theme or plugin. You will be almost completely on your own and that is not for most churches. Instead, use a professional solution, whether that be WordPress-based or a non-WordPress solution from the list in this article. It’s fantastic that there are plenty of worthwhile choices out there.

    • I agree with you man. WordPress is the way to go if you have someone on staff that has a little bit of know how. And then add ons like group management and the like can be done through software like Church Teams. I build all the sites I’ve done using the Genesis framework and child theme.

      Kendall, did you build the piedmont site? On wordpress?

      • Kendall Conner : January 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        Very cool, man!

        I did build our Piedmont Chapel website with WordPress, but it was rough. I’ve built many WP sites before, but this theme really threw me for a loop. One day, when make a very small edit, the builder included in the theme erased our entire front page. Luckily I was able to rebuild it in a couple hours, but still. I totally relied on my previous knowledge to make it through. (And I’ve learned to keep a backup now!)

        • Hey man, I found the theme you guys used and have used more themes with that author. I’m new to themeforest so I hit an unexpected snag…no automatic updates or notifications within wordpress. Going into the Cpanel everytime to load the update is so time consuming. How do you guys keep your theme updated within wordpress itself?

    • We get a lot of business from churches coming FROM WP installs. “Doing it yourself” means a volunteer doing it. The issue with churches and WP is that most of them in the U.S. are small. Not all have a knowledgeable tech person or even a committed volunteer to build and manage a WP install and remain interested in the “project” well beyond the build point and keep the site up-to-date with patches, etc. In the end, if the church needs to hire someone at $30+/hour to figure it all out and keep it up-to-date, why not hire a company like us, FaithConnector, to be that entity for $45/month for a staff of 10 people to help you out whenever you call, not at our whim?

      It’s really simple when you play out the whole scenario over the life of a church’es website needs. We like to say “volunteers come and go and commit for periods of time, but we’ve been here for 10 years now and have not outgrown your needs.”

      Speaking honestly, after you are done building your own church’es website, how willing are you to take their calls and emails all week long and make the changes they need and fix errors and update the site’s patches, and install new plugins for new features and manage security and email and help them with their iphones, etc, as an unpaid volunteer? We see that excitement go down over time for volunteers.

      Good discussion. We’ve seen it all though, and the wise church tends to want to outsource critical parts of the system that they might not be able to manage over time or is not their expertise. That’s smart.

    • andrew peters : June 12, 2014 at 11:48 am

      I agree man. We changed from a designer and hosting company to wordpress and I’m happier with my site and the control I have. In fact, my experience with the change prompted me to start blogging about WordPress in ministry. Just launched a site called http://wordpressforchurch.com

  2. Hey Alex, Steve and Kendall – I have to agree with what all three of you had to say :) For many people WordPress is a great, cost effective alternative. But you’re right that it does sometimes take a bit of learning and expertise to get it up and running (and looking really good). That’s something not all churches have.

    That’s why I’m in the midst of launching an alternative – http://www.churchsites.co. It’s similar to the examples you mentioned – but all running on WordPress. So we can get churches set up with hosting & and a customised template for a WordPress site. We’re happy to host it for them and handle backups, support and security for an annual fee. But as it is WordPress – their always free to take it elsewhere and do what they want with it!

    • I was thinking about Jordan and some others when I said while WordPress is a great “do it yourself” solution, you can have somebody “hold your hand” from start to finish and beyond. There are services and professionals who specifically build and host WordPress websites for churches. If you want to do it yourself, you can (lowest cost). If you want extra levels of help, that’s available too.

  3. Great entries for sure, but amazed that churchplantmedia.com was omitted. They’ve got great designs and affordable hosting–and they’re more than willing to help mold their designs to suit your church’s needs.

    Thanks for the list!

    -Josh

  4. Great list, guys. All of these companies are noteworthy for a variety of reasons. Great group of people, too. But, you forgot us at NetMinistry! We’ve served over 7,000 churches, ministries, and Christian businesses for the last 12 years. We’re the only company in the world that offers truly custom, hand-crafted web-design for as little as $99 and a full CMS/CRM/E-commerce solution for $34.95 a month. We’re a great value, but our platform and services are just fantastic. Just wanted to plug myself in here in case folks are looking for options.

    Kendall, I’d love to meet you, brother, and talk with you about our latest developments.

  5. Hey y’all, love the list provided and I wish we could afford them. So I would just also like to put out another option for low budget churchs like the one I serve at. Check out squarespace, I pay $10 per month.

    • Could I please see what your site looks like? My church is considering Squarespace but they want to see at least one sample from a church, not a business.

  6. Kendall,

    Love the site! We have been following you for a little and believe you bring tons of value to the Church community.

    Thank you so much for the mention. We feel very honored to make this short list of church website providers.

    I want to let you know that we recently lowered our prices. We are now only $199 and $29/mo. for our websites. We also just launch Church Apps http://bridgeelement.com/church-apps.php

    Again thanks for the mention and keep up the good work!

    Brian and the Bridge Element Team

  7. Thanks for the shout-out Kendall!

    Sharefaith Team

  8. I just want to share a bit of experience from Europe. I do WP sites for churches which are not bigger than a 100 members. Being an admin of a site I set a goal of equipping a person from the church to maintain it. It took about 1 months before a teenager was able to keep the site updated without my help. No idea what his plans are for the future but now he can teach another person in case he leaves and then another. Sounds like discipleship to me :)

    The teenagers love to be involved just as Kednall wrote in http://thecreativepastor.com/six-surefire-ways-to-recruit-media-volunteers/ and WP sites are a good idea to help them finding their place in church. In my opinion it might be a matter of a local discipleship culture.

  9. new, and late, to the conversation but i’ve recently discovered weebly and currently use it for our student ministry site….love it! the flexibility and ease is right up my alley. we use Ekklesia for our main church site..not too happy with it really and would change to Clover in a heartbeat due to ease of use as well as cost in the long run.

    have loved discovering your site! thanks

  10. Another thought to consider. All of the companies that you mentioned charged an ongoing monthly fee. You can fire someone to build you a church website on a CMS (Content Management System) like Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress and only pay around 2k to have that built. Then anyone who can use a simple text editor can make the changes. That monthly expense adds up so I encourage you to make the investment up front and avoid the monthly. You can also use a company like Upwork that hires people from other countries to build your site and you can get a great site for as little as a few hundred dollars. And it is legit, they have portfolio’s a review from other jobs. I use them all the time. Hope this helps as I hate seeing churches spending monthly expenses when they don’t have to. Blessings.

    • DCoJ:

      just my $0.02: i agree with you that monthly fees add up and, often, you may not be getting a great value, however there is one issue that came to mind with your suggestion.

      any CMS (like WordPress or Drupal) needs to be actively managed and maintained. i use wordpress for our church site and it’s definitely not something you should let sit for too long, if only because it becomes a security liability when the code becomes outdated. that’s not just for the WordPress code, but also any plugins you utilize.

      frequently popular plugins are targeted and exploited by hackers and malware in order to gain access or control over a site.

      don’t get me wrong – i LOVE wordpress and i think it’s fantastic, but it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it solution (nor is Drupal, Joomla, etc.).

      if you’re going to use a personally managed CMS, it does have to be managed. and if you don’t have someone who is comfortable learning how to work with the actual code of these systems, then a Squarespace/Wix type solution may make more sense.

  11. I tried ShareFaith and when you think you are buying a 1 month subscription, you are locked into a 3 month minimum. You don’t know this until after you’ve already signed up. Deceptive and deplorable. Customer service will not work with you. I needed 1 powerpoint for a Christmas program and ended up spending $90 on it.

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