For the last 9 years I have been blessed to serve as the Administrator for The Pentecostals of Sydney. Over those years I have seen how the necessity of a good online presence has continued to grow. Think about the last time you tried out a new restaurant, perhaps for a special occasion. Did you look it up in a phone book or just go to one you happened to drive by the previous week? Some of you may have but for the majority of us we probably found that restaurant online. We checked out their website and menu, we read reviews about them or we looked for them on Instagram and Facebook. Believe it or not, this is the same approach a lot of people are using to find their next church. Just in the past few months we have had guests via Google (our website), Facebook and YouTube.
Because of this reality, I believe that an online presence, that you and your church members can be proud of, is essential in seeing your church grow. When I have some of these discussions with church leaders, I often hear a combination of a few pretty valid responses – We don’t have the the necessary finances… Building websites are too complicated… We don’t know where to start… I don’t have the time.
Those conversations are why I have put together this short list as well as brief descriptions of what each platform has to offer. I haven’t listed them in order of preference but in ABC order. I hope this is helpful.
Clover Sites is a platform designed specifically with churches in mind. They have beautiful designs that are very easy to edit using their Greenhouse software. By visiting their site you can browse the different designs they offer as well as demo the design that you like with no strings attached. Clover Sites offer many great features that churches would find appealing like – events, forms, giving integration, mobile friendly & media. This is the most expensive option on this list but even in saying that, it is still quite affordable. They charge a one-time fee of $1,000 and a monthly fee of $29 to host your website (I’m not sure if that is USD or AUD).
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Facebook Pages have really developed over the years. You are able to post your location, contact info, opening hours as well as general information about your church in the ‘About’ page. You can also list events to let people know what is going on at your church as well as post photos and videos to let guests know what to expect and create community within your church. Facebook even allows you to pick specific photos & videos that you would like to highlight on your timeline. This is an easy option for those churches who want a simple online presence at a super affordable price (FREE).
I realise that I did say that I wouldn’t be ranking these options but I have to admit that this is my personal favourite platform. We just used Squarespace to revamp our church website last year. Their designs are outstanding and it is pretty simple to build a website using their easy-to-use platform. You can even transfer an exisiting domain to Squarespace which makes it easy to renew your domain registration when that time comes. Squarespace offers everything you will need to create a great church website – location, forms, blog, video/audio integration, mobile optimisation, donation button and even the ability to host an online store through Stripe. It is very affordable as well, costing just A$25 a month (that includes a free domain). They do allow you to have a free trial prior to any purchase.
Though I do not have much personal experience in working with Wix, my wife has used this platform to build a few websites over the years and she loves it. It is similar to Squarespace in that you have many design templates to choose from and it has an easy-to-use interface. No knowledge of code or expertise is required. They have a variety of plans that would appeal to churches of every level. The Unlimited Plan is US$12.50 and that includes a free domain, vouchers for online ads and more.
According to their website, WordPress powers 31% of the internet. It is a massive brand that has been around since the blogosphere was created. They cater to everyone from bloggers like me to global companies. They have thousands of website themes to choose from – you can go with a free option or you can pay a one-time fee for a premium design. A platform like WordPress knows what they are doing and are very good at it. It is simple to use and you can easily change themes if you get tired of the one you’ve been using or if you feel it is no longer meeting you needs. They have all the features you would need in creating your church website and the cost is only A$33 a month.
Remember that your church website is an investment into the Kingdom. Who knows how many lives you can potentially impact simply by having a presentable online presence for the Gospel. I hope that this has been helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment below.