Your church’s website is essential to your church’s online presence. There are many platforms out there for churches to utilize, and because of the price tag plus the flexibility in design and function, WordPress is often the first choice for church websites.
That being said, WordPress can be challenging to use and difficult to navigate for a first time website creation user because by default, WordPress is a completely blank slate that needs to be populated by a designer/developer (professional or DIY).
The purpose of this post is to help you understand the WordPress platform, learn the benefits of WordPress for your church, and determine if WordPress is the correct choice for your church.
What is WordPress?
Simply put, WordPress is a free, open source content management platform that allows users to easily manage the backend of their website. WordPress is a foundation by which you have to install a theme, build out its core functionality, and then put in your content. In order to make the website work, you have to add on plugins and other tools to create your pages, add in functionality like an event calendar or sermon media engine, and layout the design of the website’s headers, footers, and menus.
When you think about it like a house, WordPress is the foundation, but you have to pick out a floorplan, put up the walls, layout the ebb and flow, and design the rooms. To make it easier on users, WordPress has themes (click here to read more about themes in WordPress) that designers have designed to make this step easier, but you still need to learn how you are supposed to build a website using the theme of your choice.
Other website builders like Squarespace, WIX, and Weebly are softwares that has the setup for the house completed so that all you need to do is paint the walls of your house, put up some decorations, and invite people over – which is the reason for the higher price tag for these types of website builders. To finish the illustration, WordPress lets you have complete control over your design of the house. Plug-and-play builders have already build the core of house for you; you just have to put in your content.
WordPress is not a Page Builder.
Many people believe that WordPress is a plug-and-play website builder, but sadly, that is not the case. WordPress is not a page builder where you simply need to sign up for an account and get to work. Because of this reason, people often feel tricked or “bait and switched” when it comes to using WordPress for their church and quickly leave the platform.
That being said, there are some amazing tools and pages builders out there that help you build a great website inside of the theme of your choice. The popular pages builders are Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder, but my page builder of choice is Pro by ThemeCo.
Each page builder has its own abilities, but page builders are what allow users to make custom layouts on website pages and it brings in the functionality of the standard website builders like Squarespace, WIX, and Weebly. Each page builder works inside the theme selected inside WordPress, but many pro versions of page builders let you build your own header, footer, and designs. Generally speaking, though, it’s much simpler and easier to work inside the theme you’ve selected.
If you’re choosing a theme to use with a free page builder, here are my suggestions:
- Astra (theme) with Elementor Free (page builder)
- X (theme) with sister software Cornerstone (built in page builder) by ThemeCo
Benefits of using WordPress as a church.
So here’s the question: should your church use WordPress to power its website? As a full time web designer in South Bend, I work inside of WordPress every day building websites for churches and businesses. Although WordPress can be a challenge to learn, I still believe it’s the best platform out there for churches. Here’s why:
You aren’t locked into proprietary software
WordPress is a free, open source content management system. You aren’t locked into a host, development company, marketing firm, or software until the end of time. When you build on WordPress, you own your website, have the ability to quickly change website hosting companies, and can be sure that no matter which designer/developer serve you, they can manage the website! In fact, even WordPress websites that are maintained by massive marketing firms can quickly be migrated to a private server owned by the client!
When you use standard page builder companies or church specific website companies, you are stuck using their software and cannot easily leave their systems, which can be problematic when your sermon media is forever locked into a company’s software, rather than being owned and controlled by you.
Better integration ability and plugins
Because most websites are powered by WordPress, there are many plugins and third-party add-ons that help you build out the perfect website! For churches, you can use a sermon media plugin that is powered to your website, event calendar plugin that syncs with Google calendar, quickly get email signs, and many times, integrate your Church Management Software.
Generally, most churches don’t need a crazy amount of integrations, but if you could save time by having a calendar plugin that syncs automatically with your Google calendar, wouldn’t that be great? What if you had a sermon media manager that let’s you organize your sermon content, embed your YouTube videos, upload your audio AND it creates a sermon media podcast for free? Pretty great, huh?
Here are some of my favorite church specific WordPress plugins and third party integrations:
- Sermon Series Media: https://seriesengine.com
- Event Calendar: https://webnus.net/modern-events-calendar/
- Small Group/Sunday School display: https://groupsengine.com
- Third Party Calendar Display for Planning Center and Church Community Builder: https://display.church
Easy to upgrade your design
Because WordPress is simply the foundation of the website, you can decide to change your website’s theme and design without destroying the integrity of your website! Many companies, like WIX, force you to stay with the design that you chose at the signup.
If you want to use WordPress and are intimidated by the platform, what should you do?
Although WordPress can be hard to navigate and setup, I promise you that you can build your website on WordPress! Here’s a few tips that can help you along the way
- Watch a lot of YouTube based on what WordPress page builder you’d like to use
- My favorite YouTube channel for YouTube is WP Crafter
- Join a facebook group to match your theme and WordPress page builder of choice
- Take a budget friendly WordPress course online
- Josh Hall’s WordPress Courses are fantastic! I’ve never taken this course, but I have taken some of his other courses.
- Hire a church website designer to set up the website for you
- Hire a website designer to maintain your website to ensure it’s always perfect
Examples of church websites built on WordPress
If you’re curious about what your church website can look like on WordPress, here are a few different designs:
Other resources about WordPress for churches:
Over the last couple years, I started a podcast for small churches and we covered WordPress and other website builders! You can listen to those episodes here below or click the button below to visit the podcast on Spotify.
Types of Church Website Builders & How to Choose the Right One
What is WordPress and Should You Use It for Your Church’s Website?
Ready to have me build your church’s website on WordPress?
If you’re ready to get started and have a perfect WordPress website for your church, here’s what I’m able to do for you! Many of the third party plugins, including giving plugins, cost time and money to set up. When you build a website with me, we are able to set up everything including your sermon media player, events calendar, and recurring giving software, with no recurring fees!
If you’re ready to learn more about how I can serve you and your church, please fill out the contact form below.
Hi! I'm Marc.
I serve businesses, bloggers, and organizations by way of creating great websites that are able to be found online. Web design is a passion, but serving you is my joy.
Curious about my services? Here's a quick list:
Ready to started on your project? Contact Me to get started.