From announcing the times and locations of services, bible studies, and events, to clearly communicating what the church teaches through sermons and blog posts, all of that information can be found on a church’s website.
Unfortunately, many churches don’t have the resources to hire a web designer to help them build and maintain such an important part of the church ministry. Those who are able to help are generally volunteers, who may not have the experience to make website updates or changes.
This is where the right website platform for churches can offer a powerful solution by providing an easy to maintain website for volunteers, while making the website easy to use for its visitors.
Let us take a look at some of the website platforms for churches available today, review each of their advantages and disadvantages, and which ones might be right for your church.
Of all the church website offerings you’ll read about below, Subsplash is probably the most robust. They are known for their Church App solution, but in October of 2018, Subsplash acquired SnapPages, and added a website builder to their platform.
The web builder is a powerful drag and drop editor with custom church templates that can be deeply integrated into a church app, and church media for storing sermon video and audio. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of the web builder.
There is a reason why Subsplash is called The Ultimate Engagement Platform. How they integrate the app with the web is key. There is no need of using 3rd party apps like YouTube or Vimeo to host media, making the watch and listen experience fast and reliable with no ads.
You also get features like Live Streaming (without ads or 3rd party software), Giving, Messaging, TV Apps, and much more. In my opinion, Subsplash is the the complete package that will serve your church well, especially when you want to reach an audience that cannot physically attend your services.
- Power engagement tools
- No need for 3rd party ad-support apps
- Superb customer service
- Out of budget for smaller churches
- Too many features for very small churches
- Fragmentation between some of the products
CHURCH PLANT MEDIA
What makes Church Plant Media stand-out is that it is a home-grown content management system designed for churches. Secondly, they want to make sure they are partnered with churches who preach the Christ found in Scripture.
Below is a screenshot from their website.
By partnering exclusively with gospel-centered organization, Church Plant Media can remain focused on the task of making their websites work well for their audience instead of building for broad appeal.
Church Plant Media’s platform is not a drag-and-drop builder. Instead they use forms and fields to place content where it is appropriate. And each theme has their unique style which will require maintenance of the photos used within the website.
CPM also strongly recommends integrating sermon video using Vimeo instead of YouTube. The reason is that you cannot control YouTube’s ad messaging or recommendations during or after the video. I go into more detail in my post 6 Reasons to Only Stream to Your Church Website over on ChurchMag.
You can see more of Church Plant Media’s web management software in their product tour video below.
There is no hesitation in recommending Church Plant Media to a church needing a website builder. And it is not because of their features, but because of their commitment to using technology to spread the Gospel.
- Gospel centered ministry
- Affordable pricing
- Easy to use interface
- No drag and drop or customization options
- Requires 3rd party apps for forms and videos
- Added cost to change theme or colors
WordPress is an open source software platform you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. It is also a Content Management System (CMS) that allows anyone to create different types of content and display it in a variety of places on your website.
Since the software itself is open source, it means that the software is free for anyone to download, install and use. However, let me be clear, it is not free to install, and host, a WordPress website.
WORDPRESS.COM VS .ORG
There is also the matter of two WordPress websites that often confuse people. The first website, WordPress.org, is where you can download the free software, find plugins, and read forums for help.
The second website is WordPress.com (notice .com vs .org). This website is owned and operated by a company called Automattic, and they maintain the free software, but also provide hosting services for a fee.
There are hundreds of web hosting companies who can host your WordPress website with fees that will range depending on a variety of factors. My recommendation is to use a managed WordPress hosting provider. The difference with a managed WordPress hosting provider is they offer more support, and faster performance, than those budget hosting providers. The added cost is worth it!
The power of using WordPress for your church website are the vast variety of plugins and themes you can choose from. Companies like Church Themes have built WordPress themes to fit a church’s requirements, while plugins like WP Sermons help keep sermon files and information organized.
WordPress can be a great option for many different types of websites, however, for church websites, it is not my first recommendation.
If you have a technical team who can manage, maintain, and train people to use WordPress, then it can work. Otherwise, I’d recommend an alternative web platform that is specifically designed for churches.
- Powerful content management system
- Very flexible solution for just about every use case
- Widely used platform
- Cost of managed hosting, premium themes, and support can add up
- Very steep learning curve for church volunteers
- Not designed out of the box for church use
A church website builder by the makers of Logos is Faithlife Sites. The strength of their offering is the integration with other Faithlife products like Faithlife Sermons, Faithlife Giving, and Faithlife Proclaim.
Faithlife’s platform is truly an all-in-one solution for churches of all sizes. They integrate many of the features a church needs to be successful online. This includes digital bulletins, content libraries, members-only pages, event calendars, and email newsletters.
Those add ons are nice to have and do make a church website more functional, however, here are the features I think makes Faithlife Sites shine.
BUILT IN FORMS
This means you don’t need a 3rd party application to collect information from visitors.
FONT AND COLOR CUSTOMIZATION
Being able to keep messaging “on brand”, even for a church, builds trust with visitors, and removes objections. Inconsistent branding online, like different church logos, colors, and fonts, causes confusion and can make a visitor suspicious.
NO CODE WEBSITE BUILDER
Asking church volunteers to embed an iframe, or to update an image source, is asking a lot of someone who may not understand HTML. However, they likely do understand how to create a document with text and images, and a no code web builder is very similar to a document.
Faithlife Sites is a no code web builder with a lot of flexibility. Take a look at the video below for a demonstration.
There’s a lot to like about Faithlife Sites, and any church can take advantage of their suite of tools to meet the needs of their members. Most importantly, it doesn’t take a web developer to build and maintain the website.
- All-in-one church solution
- Built in forms, calendar, and media
- Very affordable starting at $20 a month
- Works best only if you are ALL IN with Faithlife’s products
- Fragmented experience involving multiple apps
- So many features can be overwhelming at first
The church website platform space has grown and is now a crowded space. I have personally used the the services mentioned above, but I know there a many I haven’t used.
Here are a few of those web platforms that your church may want to look into.
Like Faithlife, Nucleus is offering a full suite of tools for the church including a website builder, forms, online giving, and media.
Another full suite offering, Ministry Designs gives a church a website builder, church management software (ChMS), sermon media, online giving, and video courses.
With a website builder that is “made for everyone”, FaithConnector is a viable option for churches looking to an easy to build and manage website. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve been around since 2004!
There are a lot of options for churches to choose from when it comes to building a church website. And having an online presence for visitors that is up-to-date, and easy-to-use, makes a ministry richer and able to reach a wider audience.
I hope you can find one of these tools useful in spreading the good news of Jesus life, death, and resurrection with the people in you community.