Choosing a church website’s platform can be like choosing a dentist…it’s something you have to do but you’re just not sure which one will treat you right (and not rip you off).
In today’s episode, we’re uncovering the only website platforms you should consider, PLUS what to do once you pick your platform to make sure it works for you.
In This Video
- 1:09 – Why your church needs a website (and shouldn’t rely on Facebook only)…
- 5:21 – The easy to use and less expensive platform used by many churches…
- 7:31 – The close #2 with a hopeful future to make your site easier to use (so easy your Pastor can update it)…
- 10:37 – For full customization, here’s the platform you want…
- 15:04 – The proven, simplest to use church website platform…
- 16:21 – The best website company to get a site set up for you, tailored for your needs…
- 18:05 – The Cinderella of church websites, this newer platform has got us all impressed, both in design and in cost…
- 21:54 – Before you pick your platform, this is the one thing you need to know about your church website…
Important Links & Shoutouts
- Related: The Real Reason Your Church Can’t Rely On Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
- Get The Definitive Church Website Formula and learn what your website needs to compel new visitors (regardless of your platform of choice)
- WordPress (We recommend Site Ground)
- Ministry Designs
- The Church Co
Choosing a church website platform comes down to what you need. Sticking to a low budget means you’ll have to pick a “build-for-all” site that you have to customize yourself.
But if you can afford a website platform built for churches you’ll have a little more at your disposal to accomplish your website goals.
But remember that your church website is just a tool to accomplish your church’s mission, and the platform itself is not going to bring new people in. It’s all in the way you use it.
Visit The Definitive Church Website Formula after you pick your church website platform to find out what it really takes to make your church website a visitor-generating machine.
What church website platform are you using?
Dave: Hey guys, in this video we’re going to be talking about why your church needs a website and what platforms are out there for you to use. There are some that are really easy and we’re going to show you exactly which ones they are.
Dave: Hey guys, welcome to the Church Media Guys show where we learn how to use an exploit media and technology so we can take the Gospel to the world. I’m Dave and with me as always is the CO founder of ChurchTrainingAcademy.com our website, my partner Justin Nava. Good morning my brother from another mother.
Justin: What’s going on guys? My name is Justin. Glad to be here. Glad to be talking about websites. Because we have some fun stuff happening this month regarding your website and we want to make sure you’re completely prepared to have success. And we’ve got quite a few people watching live because today for this kind of show you live folks are really going to be guiding the conversation and the things that we talk about. So real excited to have such a large group here.
Dave: What I’ve seen I guess basically is that there’s this fluctuation, there’s churches of like really big churches and they have really involved really great websites and stuff. Then there’s like medium churches that sometime have websites that blow away, you know, even the larger churches and then there are small churches that don’t have anything. I know for a fact that, that my church that I grew up in still to this day does not have a website. The only thing they have their domain, they have a Facebook page. What dude is going on.
Justin: Yeah. Well so often people just kind of take the easiest way out. And that’s not a knock against 90% of the churches that don’t have a website because either it’s not a priority for either time sake, lack of volunteers or just set up a Facebook page for us and it’s available to the public. So why not? Now for those 90% of people you’ll hear us talk a lot and this is just a brief statement. The website is your Hq. Okay. It’s fine to do church in a movie theater. It’s fine to do church at the Starbucks. It’s fine to have groups meet, around the community. You have a group that meets in homes, maybe some in the park, but your church still has a headquarters. It has a place that it meets and conducts ministry. Okay. It’s a place where you meet and then go out. And if you’re at a church plant, you know the, the movie theater is fine, but the end goal is to have a building of your own, a headquarters for your ministry. And that’s what your website is. The website is your headquarters for your online presence. It’s your home base. And while you can go out and do ministry across all the other platforms, Facebook and YouTube, you still need a place to call home. And that’s exactly what your church website is.
Dave: Okay. So, and that’s basically have a website and then do your presence in other places as well. Like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and stuff like that. Don’t rely on that as your primary place. Right?
Justin: That’s right. And that often brings up the question that we’re mainly talking about today is, well, where do we do a website? Okay. Cause we see ads all the time for godaddy and Squarespace. And you hear everyone and their father talk about wordpress and then you got emails and direct mails coming in from these church website people that promise that they’re going to build you a website that’s going to impress your pastor. Or do you spend money and get someone like me to do it for you. That’s kind of what we’re talking about today.
Dave: All right, cool. So tell me about what’s out there? Because like I said, I mean there’s wordpress which I’ve been using for, I don’t know, I mean like since 2005 or something or if not earlier than that I’ve been using like forever. but I know you use a platform called Duda, which few people really know about, but you and I love it between wordpress and duda to you. You got a couple of powerhouses there. What about all these other places and what’s good, what’s good for a church, what’s out there? If you’ve got somebody who has no clue what they’re doing, they do know they have to have a website and they need to do it very quickly. What, what’s out there?
Justin: Yeah. So I’m going to split it into two sections. I’m going to split it into publicly available and advertised platforms. Then I’m going to do a second half on the church website specific church platforms, because when you’re starting out and you have different needs and these companies provide you with different things. So I want to make sure that I cover basically what I consider the top three. And if you have a website that’s not in these top three, I’m not saying it’s not going to work for you and I will end with that. Okay. But for right now, let’s go into the top ones first. I’m going to talk about the publicly available platforms. and I wanted to, just do a quick little disclosure Here. I am a web designer. like Dave said, I run my website’s out of duda…
Justin: It is primarily for web designers and developers and agencies. it’s getting more and more harder as time goes on to just go buy a website from them and that’s, that’s the business decision that they make. So even though that’s my favorite platform and Dave loves it too. In fact, I think I’ve kind of moved them away from wordpress as the end all be all…
Dave: No, No, see now, now you’re just having verbal diarrhea here.
Justin: I’m getting a rise out of Dave. So let’s get into the public, available ones. Okay. So you’ll see a lot. And again, these are the top three that I would recommend. Yeah. And number one is going to be Squarespace. Okay. You’ll see, you’ll see videos for Squarespace websites. They never go down.
Justin: They’re very clean. They’re very simple and you can manipulate them and if you know code, you can code up a website to make it look even prettier. Yeah. Let me talk about the pros of Squarespace. Number one, it’s pretty darn cheap, for less than $20 a month. they have some pretty good templates that you can set up and just get started with. And it’s exactly what you need. If you just need to get that HQ going, okay, this is the equivalent of moving into a building that’s already built, to start your church. Maybe it’s an abandoned Starbucks or an abandoned warehouse and you decide to, you know, move your church in. The cons are as much as they advertise that they’re easy to use. I sat there for 10 minutes on my first Squarespace site and I could not figure out how to edit the hero text and image.
Justin: You have to go into like a setting and then you have to type text and then you have to save it and then you can see what it looks like. The rest of the website is what you see is what you get. Like you can type into it like a word doc. That was a little confusing to me. It can also be a little bit difficult to add elements. So as you scroll down, you see more information. Now I know all of the Squarespace guys, there’s a whole group on, on Facebook that Squarespace for churches that are going to be mad at me and I’m sorry guys, but I can’t figure out how to use your software in 10 minutes. I’m going to call that a con. Okay.
Dave: Well and that makes sense. That’s right. And that makes a lot of sense because My mother is the church secretary, so if you tell my mother, you need to put together a basic website for the church and she goes to Squarespace. She needs to be able to very easily figure out how to do it because she is not a computer genius. I mean, she, she uses a very specific set of tools on a regular basis, but she’s not adventurous. She doesn’t go out and explore a whole bunch of stuff. So, yeah, that makes lot of sense. I know that it’s a little easier with the next one that we’re going to talk about.
Justin: Yes. And number two is Wix and it’s a very close number two. And actually in a couple of years they are going to overtake Squarespace I believe. if you know anything about me, if you ever learn anything about me, I root for the underdogs. I get my phone plan from t-mobile and I listened to my music from youtube music, not the top two dogs. Okay, I enjoy rooting for the underdog. I enjoy the American Alliance football league, that Spring football league. I enjoyed the minor league games. I enjoy the underdogs. Okay. And Wix, first started and I was like, no thank you. Now they are really doubling down and they’re innovating to try to take on the big dog is like Squarespace and wordpress. Wix is exactly what you see is what you get. So whatever’s on the page, you click on it, you edit it, they’re building out their library.
Justin: So you can add all types of widgets and features. even learned last night, one of our mastermind, an insider was like, they do live streaming now. You can actually use OBS to live stream to your website. Okay.
Dave: So they have a platform?
Justin: They have their own platform. You Plug in their RTMP into obs and it streams straight to the site. That is very cool. Now we’re not, I’m not saying use that, but it’s the start. It’s the foundation. No other website platform is doing that right now.
Dave: Here’s our church’s website…
Justin: Yes, I was just gonna say Tate Springs uses Tix As their front end. Yup. And you can see exactly. Dave, did you do this website or did your pastor? I don’t remember.
Dave: No, pastor Jared did.
Justin: The pastor made this.
Dave: Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly what our pastor did it. And he actually showed me how to make some of the changes and do stuff, in case he’s not able to. But it is if I were to log in, everything is what you see is what you get. So I would just basically start highlighting stuff and changing it and adding a button and doing this and doing all that, our backend for our media and all that sort of stuff is on wordpress though.
Justin: Yes. Which we will get to. Sure. The cons for Wix is it’s still difficult to SEO properly to search engine optimize. So if you have a wix site, you’re really gonna have a hard time getting into the, to the first page of Google when people search churches in your town. They are getting better. You used to not be able to edit it at all. And that’s why I did not recommend it one bit. Now they’ve added some features in there. They’re getting back on their tail. That’s a really good one. And I think it’s the same around 20 or less than 20 a month.
Justin: Before we get to number three, just to answer a couple of questions in the live screen, Caleb said, Squarespace is super easy to use but hard to customize. And I think that I agree with that. it’s a little bit easier to use if you just want to start with their template and just that’s it. But if you want to customize it, if you want to add elements in there, add some features in there, maybe add your podcast, it can be a little bit difficult. And, Tom said, do I have an opinion on Weebly? They’re number three or four in that what you see is what you get space, I’m not a fan of it too much yet yet. And again, I always have my eye on the underdog. Yeah.
Justin: So next is actually, I’m going to have to challenge you, Dave, to keep it to less than five minutes. No problem. Next next option for you would be wordpress. So Dave, how can someone go about, because this is why I don’t like wordpress, but maybe you can simplify it. As you got to get a template and you gotta get a host or you kind of get a theme. What, give me the three minute overview of how you would go about doing that.
Dave: Well, first off with wordpress, there’s a couple of different ways to go. You can go to wordpress.com and set up a website just like you would with a Squarespace and wix. You know, you’ve got that, that flexibility. They’ve got plans and pricing just like, you have to pay to, you know, to have, different things. it’s been a while since I, since I looked at, all the details in this and they’ve really fleshed it out, especially when they’re now in competition with all these others. But, you can get started for free and not have any real issues. I mean, you can do a lot with the free. It’s actually really cool. Now doing it like this has wordpress, basically hosting your thing. They’ve got their server infrastructure, they’ve got everything put in place and
Dave: basically you build a website and it all sits right there on their service. Okay. Just like with Wix, just like with Squarespace, Weebly, any of these others. Okay. Now the other way to go in and just real quick, just these hosted platforms so that we’ve been talking about Squarespace, wix, wordpress.com. Okay. That’s there. There’s your differentiator. wordpress.com, these kind of places, they have, a box that you can work in. Okay. They have a very secure environment. They’ve optimized it, they’ve done all this kind of stuff so that everything is going to work really good. With that comes limitations. You can only do so much. Okay. You can’t go crazy and bring in just a million different plug ins to do a million different things. You have to work within this frame set. Okay. Now it’s a little bit more flexible plugin wise with wordpress.com stuff that they verified you have access to.
Dave: When you want to really go to the next level, then you want to do your own hosted website and you can literally download all of the code from like, I think it’s wordpress.org. You can literally download a zip file that is a wordpress website. Okay. And then go set up an account somewhere on a web server and Apache server or whatever, expand files and go crazy. Okay. Or you can use something like what we use, which is siteground. And let me jump over to that real quick. There. We use siteground and what siteground is, it’s a platform that hosts different types of places. So you can get wordpress, you can install other types of things. If you have a, you know, Joomla or Drupal or one of these other kind of platforms. they have built the infrastructure so that you can have your own copy of wordpress, not limited, basically only limited by what you want to do to it.
Dave: And it’s great. I mean it’s, it’s really cool. you’re able to go way beyond what you can do easily. you know, with other, these other hosted things, you can do stuff like really easy. You can do stuff really easy with wordpress if you understand some of the conventions. Okay. But you can extend it and customize it like crazy. You would be surprised how many websites on the web are running wordpress and are doing things that you wouldn’t think that a blog engine would. WordPress would be able to do some of the really big ones. So that’s wordpress in a nutshell. Let me cut to the two shot here.
Justin: Yeah. In a super nutshell. And if you are interested, if you, if you really want to use wordpress, I put a link to a site ground, a little affiliate link. It’s no extra cost for you. It just helps us out a little bit as far as your support. now let me move over to church platforms.
Dave: These are something I don’t have any experience with.
Justin: I’m going to help you out here. I’m really excited for the last one. That’s a new one. It’s the underdog, the underdog platforms. These are website content management system, CMS. These are website platforms specifically built for churches. Okay. The first one and yes, I have to mention it at first. I haven’t used it. Nucleus is the first one. This is built from the ground up by Brady Shearer and the Pro Church Tools team, to host church websites in a pretty much turnkey fashion.
Justin: The design is completely unique. It’s designed for simplicity and it’s designed for action. And the way it works is it basically lays out in a church page, in a fashion that is proven. and you just basically input your information. You have a couple of things you can tinker with and then you add events, ministries, et Cetera as cards. and then that way the cards display people, you know, hey, pick a card, any card, and then they can select it. You kind of see the cards, listed on the display that Dave has up, and then they can find out information at their church. if you’re looking for like, just, I want to do whatever I want the nucleus, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for “just make it work,” do what’s proven so I don’t have to think about it that much. Nucleus is where you’re going to go, but you will spend a pretty penny on nucleus. Okay. There you go right there. If you want just the website, it’s $80 a month, $79 a month. You are paying for that simplicity and for all that time back into your life. So that’s nucleus in a nutshell. Go to, you can go to nucleus.church.
Justin: The other two I’m more excited about because I am more of the underdog guy. Okay. and there are a few more nice church website platforms. I’m just telling you the top three. Number two I would recommend is cMinistry Designs.
Justin: Yeah, Ministrywebsitedesigns.com but I think they’re just called Ministry Designs.
Dave: Okay, cool. yeah, they’ve been around for a few years and I believe I was looking around their website and I don’t think they have it on there anymore.
Justin: They are what’s called a hosted wordpress platform, which means it’s built on wordpress but they host it for you. So it’s Kinda like you’re going through Squarespace and you just buy a website from them. It comes with the hosting, it comes with the template, it comes with the theme. It comes with the editor, it comes with all the widgets and plugins you’ll ever need for a church website. It’s built on wordpress, but it’s managed so you don’t have to worry about going through all that stuff and finding and downloading plugins and stuff.
Dave: It’s the best of both worlds.
Justin: Kind of the best of both worlds. That’s right. And I think it’s more affordable. There is a set up fee and a design fee. but it pretty much does everything a church website needs in a typical way that websites have always been used.
Justin: Their support is fantastic. I have heard zero negative things about them. And if you want a website that’s going to have great support built for churches, knows the needs for the church, Ministry Designs is going to be a great place to go. And especially if you’re familiar with wordpress, I’m not sure how much tinkering you can do. But yeah, it’s $1,000 to set up and $20 monthly. So again, you’re paying that setup fee so they can design it for you. Similar to what I would do for my clients. And they just hand it off and you just maintain it. Okay. So you’re paying for that time back. Understand that.
Justin: Number three that I’m really excited about. This one just came on my radar last year. I’m not sure how long they’ve been in business, but this is called The Church Co. I know nothing about the platform except that I want to try it. In fact, the guy who runs it is on my short list of people to get on here because number one, they’ve stood the test of time. It looks like they’re super easy to use. Their templates are beautiful. They’re very similar to the websites that I would build. Lots of pictures of people, lots of easy to find buttons. They are built for the church. So they have online giving, they have sermons available and the thing that will make you most excited, especially the kind of people that just kind of gravitate towards Church Training Academy, there is no set up fee, no setup fee you so you pay them. You just say, I’m going to start paying you every month, give me a website. They will give you a website.
Justin: It’s about a seven day turnaround. and they give you a website and they even like build it out for you. I think so you just tell them what you need. You tell them what pages you need, what ministries you need, they build it out for you and then you just start paying, now $20 a month, gets you the basic package. $50 a month gives you the premium package and the ultimate is a $200 a month. I think it is. Yeah, they all come with unlimited, pages, elements, editing, all that good stuff. You’re really paying for the extra features inside. So if you want a members portal, a small group engine, you want prayer requests. If you want planning center integration, you’ll pay a little bit extra for that. But again, you’re not paying for the setup.
Justin: So it’s a real low barrier to entry. And the thing that really kind of solidified them that made me excited was they added planning center integration a couple of months ago. I want to say at the end of 2018 maybe the beginning of 2019. The reason that gets me excited is because that stuff is not cheap to implement. Nucleus has it, I think ministry designs have it, but not every church website platform has integrations with church management systems in places where you do your members. So that stuff costs tens of thousands of dollars to build. So the fact that they’re investing in the platform like that, it means that they’re taking it seriously. That churches are their primary concern. They’re not here to make a quick buck. They’re not reselling you A Squarespace or a wordpress site. They are in it for the church game. And, the fact that they started with planning center, they’re going to build more out, I’m sure even more like that.
Justin: So that gets me really excited for their future. They are the number one underdog that I’ve got my eye on. And if I ever find that my services do not fit a church anymore, or that Church Co can fit it better, they’re the ones that I’m going to recommend as like a, hey, let’s try this out and let’s see if it works. So I’m excited for The Church Co.
Dave: And long have they been around a year or so?
Justin: I have no idea. Like I said, they just came onto my radar last year. And it was in one of those church communications groups. Like, I need a website, Who should I get? And everyone and their mom says, hey I do website. My cousin does websites, my brother does that. We did this. But someone was like, hey check out this company. We got a website and they do great work. And I was like, I hadn’t heard of that. And I clicked on it and I was like whoa. It does look like they do great work and it looks, I mean they’re serious. There’s no set up fee that gets me excited. I’m sure that gets you guys excited as well. Yes, there are other ones, not a fan of them. Not a fan of a couple of other ones that are being mentioned in the comments, but you know that’s, I’m not going to sit here and dog on websites but I will sit here and leave you with one note. Okay. Dave, put me on full screen cause this is important.
Justin: Okay. I want you to understand that there is no magic bullet. There is no silver bullet magic pill that’s going to make your church website great, okay? Just because you have a paintbrush does not mean you can create a work of art. Put a paintbrush in my hand, you will have a mess, okay. Cause I do not know how to paint. All right. and a paintbrush is not responsible for the Mona Lisa. The paint brush is not responsible for all the artwork and in our house. Okay? the tool does not make the work of art, okay? The artists does. Right? So just because you purchase a Squarespace site, a Wix site or a WordPress site, Nucleus site, Ministry Design site, a Church Co site does not mean that you’re done.
Justin: Okay? It does not mean that, just cause I buy paint brush does not mean I’m an artist. Just because I buy a wrench does not mean I’m a mechanic. It means I have a wrench, it means I have a tool. You still have to fill it out. You still have to use what’s called copywriting to compel people to come to the church to come visit you. Okay. Because again, when people go to your church website, they’re really not learning or looking to learn what you do. They’re looking to learn what you can do for them. So, don’t be fooled and don’t be lulled into the security that you just buy one of these things and you’re done. Okay. you can, you’ll spend a few thousand dollars to just get it done for you. Okay. And you’re going to have a couple of hours of meetings.
Justin: So that’s what it takes to get a real done for you website, you know, hand it over to you completed. What these do is they are a tool, okay? Some of them are the $50 paint brush that you buy from a paint supply store. That’s meant for professional artists that’s going to sell that, that art for $2,000. Some of them are going to be the paintbrush you get at hobby lobby. Okay. And some of them are going to be, oh man, I told you you would paint today, my dear daughter, but I don’t have any paint brushes. Use this old toothbrush. You get what you pay for. Okay. So in the hands of a great artist, they could probably take that toothbrush and create a fine work of art. You are not a great artist. I am not a great artist.
Justin: Okay. The tool is not the end. Okay. And like we said on the show last week or two weeks ago, a hammer is a bad hammer. if you don’t know how to hit a nail, okay. You ever have someone that’s like, I bought this thing and it sucks. And it’s like, well that’s just cause you don’t know how to use it. Right. This chainsaw sucks it cut off my arm. Because you didn’t use it. So that’s, that’s what I want to leave you with the church website. These platforms help you get what you need to go. It’s the tool. It’s the vehicle, but you also need the route. You need the map of where you need to go and how you need to go about it. what to write a on your ministry pages. What do you put on your plan a visit page.
Justin: How do you form format a website to get people to actually sign up for your newsletter or plan a visit or watch a sermon or email you or call you. All of that stuff is available in these platforms, but you need to know how to manipulate and you need to use it. And let me end with this. That is what the Definitive Church Website Formula is for. Yes, this is the course that we just created. by the time you’re watching this published, it will be out. This is where you will learn how to manipulate those websites, whether it’s Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, Nucleus Ministry Designs, the Church Co, how to write for your websites and how to basically design your site. So it compels new visitors every week, every month because a website, while you do want to maintain and update it, it shouldn’t be something you have to constantly fidget with to get it working and to see what’s working.
Justin: There is a formula out there and all you have to do is plug in your variables. Who is your church, where are you at, what ministries do you have, what are you trying to accomplish and what can you do for me… Those are the variables. You plug those into the formula. You will have a set it up once website that generates visitors or guests or New People, whatever you call them over and over again. So that course is out. Now we’ll have the link down below, churchwebsiteformula.com go get the course, churchwebsiteformula.com
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