How to Launch Your Church Website with WordPress

I’ve been designing church websites since 1998 when there were no content management systems for the average organization. Our current church website has been listed among some of the best on the web. Every page was hard-coded html an uploaded to the server separately. Now, a fourth of the internet’s websites are powered by WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system.

Grace Hills Church

According to WordPress’ own website:

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 25 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home” — we’d love you to join the family.

If you have little or no technical knowledge, there’s still a steep learning curve, which is why I offer creative services to churches when I have the availability to do so. But if you have a little bit of experience with web development, blogging, or church website management, you may be able to piece a fantastic website together yourself!

Here’s what you need in your toolbox…

1. You Need a Domain Name

And you need one that is basic and memorable. I recommend going with a .com. The .org is intended for nonprofits, so it doesn’t hurt to grab both versions, but when it comes to domains, people expect a .com most of the time. You can usually score a domain name for $10 to $15 using GoDaddy or another registrar. (I use GoDaddy for domain management, but nothing else.)

2. You Need a Web Hosting Package

There are plenty of options here, but one of the easiest companies to work with is Dreamhost, where you can usually score an adequate space for your church’s website for under $10 per month. Another is WP Church Host, which offers fast, secure, reliable cloud-hosting with some security and feature considerations tailored to churches at a great cost.

Dreamhost Web Hosting for WordPress3. You Need WordPress

And WordPress works like any software, but it runs on a web server rather than a computer. You can download WordPress for free from WordPress.org, but with Dreamhost and many other companies, you don’t need to do so. Rather, after you’ve set up your hosting account, you will be able to install WordPress with just a couple of clicks through the hosting control panel.

WordPress itself is free, but there are a host of products and plugins that extend its functionality that all have various costs associated with them.

4. You May Need Some WordPress Help

Book: Digging Into WordPressBefore moving ahead, it’s a good idea to have some reference help handy as you dig into the inner workings of a WordPress website. It’s simple to manage, but the capabilities of a WordPress-driven church website are virtually limitless, especially as you learn more about the system. I would recommend grabbing Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr’s reference book, Digging Into WordPress.

Also, be sure to check out my favorite website for learning more about WordPress, WPBeginner! Syed, who runs the site, has built an amazing business using WordPress and offers a bunch of free content, instructional videos, and tips and tricks.

5. You Need a Nice WordPress Theme

WordPress Themes For ChurchesA WordPress theme is like a website template, except better. With most website templates, you buy a set of html files, then you start filling in your website content in the html code, duplicating pages and creating, by hand, an entire website. But with a WordPress theme, you simply upload the theme via the WordPress administration panel (a couple of clicks) and click “Activate.”

WordPress stores your website’s data in a database, separately from the theme or design files. So theoretically, you can add all of your website content, then change the design theme multiple times and it will have no adverse effect on your data at all.

There are a ton of WordPress themes to choose from. Some are better than others from a coder’s perspective and some are certainly better than others from a communication and design perspective. My favorite sources for WordPress themes are:

Elegant Themes

In particular, Elegant Themes has launched the Divi Theme, which is one of the most beautiful and highly customizable frameworks on the market. Just check out the capabilities on their demo page.

divi-screenshot

StudioPress

Themeforest

Some themes are designed with churches in mind, such as:

Incarnation, by Kriesi.at

incarnation-wordpress-church-theme

Maranatha, from ChurchThemes.com

Maranatha Church WordPress Themes

Resurrect, from ChurchThemes.com

Resurrect WordPress Theme for Churches

Exodus, from ChurchThemes.com

Exodus WordPress Theme for Churches

My Religion WordPress Theme for Churches

My Religion Church WordPress Theme

Wise Church WordPress Theme for Churches

Wise Theme WordPress for Churches

I’m also a big fan of the Genesis Framework from Studiopress and have used many of their themes for past projects. The offer many that would work fantastically for churches, but have designed the Outreach Theme with churches in mind especially.

outreach-theme

6. You’ll Need Some WordPress Plugins

Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress. You upload them, similar to the way a theme is installed, and they add more functionality to the administrative side of your church’s website. There are way too many (thousands) to cover, but the plugins I’ve found most helpful for both blogging and building church websites would have to include:

And again, there are many more, but those are fairly essential to most of the church website projects I’ve worked on.

Is it really as simple as getting a domain, a hosting account, installing WordPress with a click or two and uploading a theme? Yes and no. Yes, that’s all it takes to launch a site. But you’ll find that while WordPress is super easy to use, it’s also very robust in its capabilities, so the learning curve is simple on the “getting started” side, but complex on the “wow, I didn’t realize I could do that” side.

If you don’t already have a logo, or if you are looking for a more customized website solution, contact me. If I can’t help you right away, I will know someone who can.

This post was originally published on November 4, 2011 and was recently refreshed and updated. Many of the links to products are affiliate links

Propel Conference 2017

Register Your Church Now!

About the Author

I'm Brandon. I'm the Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Northwest Arkansas, which my wife, Angie, and I planted in January of 2012. I previously served as a Pastor at Saddleback Church and still manage Pastor Rick Warren's online, global ministry to pastors, Pastors.com. I also lead a blog about blogging, a blog about social media, and a blog about men's issues. And I've written a book - Rewired, which challenges the church to adopt social media to spread the good news about Jesus. I sometimes take on church website design projects and I coach pastors and leaders as well. I'd love to hear from you!
2 Responses

Leave a Reply

The Local Church Guide to Social MediaWhen you join my email list, you'll get a FREE ebook all about how to use social media to help your church. Just use the form below...

Free Stuff!

25 Best All Time Christian Books

How Any Leader Can Build a Brand by Blogging

The Art of Delegation Free Ebook

2017 Sermon Calendars

My Book

Rewired Cover

Share This

Get Some Good Email!

Join my list and I'll send you a free copy of an ebook all about how the local church can use social media better, and I'll send you updates once or twice per week with updates, tips, and tools.

You have Successfully Subscribed!