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The Definitive Guide to Building a Church Website with WordPress

Are you in the market to create or upgrade your church website? There is a massive amount of information out there and many church website solutions to choose from. How do you choose the proper foundation for your church? There are many features to consider and plenty of pitfalls to avoid when considering the best platform. Getting up and running with a website can be easy or very difficult, depending on the path you choose. The goal of this post is to offer a solid foundation for creating your church’s next website. While there are no scriptures in the Bible on building websites, Matthew 7:25 does offer some insight on the importance of a building on top of a solid foundation:

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

This leads to a few questions to ask yourself when planning a church website:

  1. How can we create a website that sets our church up for growth and adding new contributors/volunteers?
  2. Should we pay top dollar for a hosted church-specific platform or use something more budget-conscious that we have to set up ourselves?
  3. Does a hosted solution offer enough flexibility for my church and its content requirements?
  4. How can I set up something on my own that has all the basic features you need plus room to grow?
  5. Where does stewardship fit into this equation? At what point is building a website too expensive?

While I think some hosted platforms have their purpose and certainly work well for many churches, I’d like to introduce you to a highly cost-effective, easy-to-maintain, and flexible way to set up a church website using WordPress, an open-source content management system.


What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system that allows you to create and manage a website without writing or editing source code manually. WordPress is an open source project, which means thousands of contributors from all over the world have contributed to making it secure, easy-to-use, and full-featured. WordPress powers over 20% of the Internet. Being a part of this large community means you are not alone and can easily find tutorials, development help, and other resources. Using WordPress, you can use plugins and themes to set up a website with features specific to your needs. There are thousands of themes and plugins to choose from and many of them are freely available from

Why use WordPress instead of a hosted church solution?

Researching this very question can lead you to a variety of articles all with drastically varied opinions and advice. In the battle of WordPress vs. hosted church solutions, I continue to see WordPress come out on top. Why?

Flexibility.  Yes, one word, flexibility.

WordPress allows you to choose which features are right for YOUR church. Not every church needs an iCampus. Many churches don’t even have enough folks to write new blog posts every week. With WordPress, you can easily utilize the features you need and omit, hide, or remove the things you don’t. Speaking of features…

WordPress comes with a TON of built-in features.

WordPress offers a number of seemingly basic but useful and necessary features like a user system, management of posts and pages, categories, tags, the ability to customize themes in real-time, widget and sidebar management, link management, media management, commenting, and the ability to easily search for and install free plugins and themes. These features may sound basic but it’s not just the fact that WordPress has them, it is that they are easy to use.

One of the best built-in features is the user system. It allows you to easily restrict access to certain parts of your WordPress admin panel to different users. For example, if you have volunteers for creating and editing content, odds are you don’t want to allow them access to changing themes or plugins. By selecting the “Contributor” or “Editor” role when creating their user accounts, these users will only have access to the areas they need and permissions for doing things these types of roles typically allow. Using plugins, you can even tweak the capabilities for user roles.

In addition to core features, there are some fantastic plugins and themes made specifically for churches. Themes built for churches will provide additional content types for the needs of the ministry such as sermons, locations, events, and staff. Many hosted solutions consider these add-ons or part of a more costly package. WordPress provides the basics for free and if you want something more complex, you can easily find a free or a low-cost alternative.

WordPress Means Freedom

When picking from a list of church website services, one of the constants is that you will never have full control over your site’s feature list, design, and performance. You are at the mercy of the decisions each service has made on your behalf. In addition, hosted website solutions typically have a limit to how many pages and forms you can create (if you even have the ability to create forms). There are often different plan levels and packages, making it more expensive as your church grows and website becomes more and more complex. With WordPress, there is never a limit on the amount of content you can create or the number of pageviews you can serve. In addition, most themes offer customizations for header images, colors, fonts, sidebar areas, and other ways to quickly make your church site look great.

WordPress is Scalable

WordPress is easy for a beginner to learn and also robust enough to build additional functionality a larger church may need.  With the ability to change and customize it, WordPress can easily grow with your church as needs change.

WordPress is Free

In the long run, WordPress is going to be extremely cost-efficient. Most themes are a one-time fee including 1 year of support.  If you want more support, it’s as simple as renewing your license key.  The only other fee is with your host provider. Hosted church solutions, in many cases, require a setup fee ranging from $500-$2000. That same amount of money with a WordPress site including hosting would last anywhere from 1 – 10 years. On top of the setup fee, there is a monthly fee for hosted church solutions ranging from $5.95 – $295 a month. The bottom line is this: WordPress provides a great foundation that can allow you to keep your budget small while providing the features and flexibility you need.

Oh, plus there’s a huge community of users

With a large WordPress community there are many themes and plugins to choose from making it easy to make your church website unique and not cookie cutter. This community is constantly building new plugins that will help you achieve your goals as a church.


Getting Started with WordPress


To get started you will need to purchase web hosting.  Most major web hosts now offer WordPress as a one-click installation option. There are also many WordPress-only hosting companies that tweak their servers to be more efficient and scale WordPress websites easily. We’ve created a quick comparison chart showing some of the more popular hosting companies that allow you to quickly get started with WordPress.

WordPress-friendly Hosting Comparison

Host Cost per Month # of Sites Monthly Visits Data Transfer Storage
WP Engine 1404265667_wordpress $29.00 1 25,000 Unlimited 10GB 1404265667_wordpress $24.00 1 Unlimited 5GB 5GB
Flywheel 1404265667_wordpress $30.00 1 25,000 500GB 10GB
Pressable 1404265667_wordpress $25.00 5 15,000
Hostgator $8.95 1 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Bluehost $24.99 5 100 Million 30GB 30GB
MediaTemple $22.00 3 Unlimited Unlimited 20GB
DreamHost $3.95 1 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
SiteGround $3.95 1 10,000 Unlimited 10GB
1404265667_wordpress Sites with this icon only host WordPress sites

Domain Name

If you don’t already have a domain (ex:, you will need to register one.  Some hosting companies allow you to register a domain and add website hosting while others require you to purchase the domain separately. In these cases, we recommend Once you have purchased your domain, your hosting provider can help with what’s next.


There are two ways to get WordPress installed within your host provider.  You can download WordPress manually from and then follow the “Famous 5 – Minute Install.” Or as a more automatic alternative, many host providers have an easy install with one-click.  Once you have installed WordPress you will be able to log in to your site and see the dashboard of WordPress. Success!

Installing Plugins & Themes

Once you have your WordPress site set up, now you need to install the themes and plugins your church needs. To make it easy to add the content you need, you will want to install a plugin that creates church-specific content types like sermons, staff, events, and locations with service times.  By installing the Church Theme Content plugin, it will give you access to managing sermons, events, people and locations.

Plugins We Recommend

For most WordPress websites that are more than just a simple blog, there are a few different plugins that can really enhance your site. Considerations like SEO, load time, site backups, social sharing, and website analytics come to mind.

The plugins we recommend to every customer include the following:

Picking a Church-specific WordPress theme

Choosing a theme built around the CTC plugin is ideal. Themes that utilize this plugin are already optimized to display church-specific content beautifully and in an organized fashion. We built the Uplifted Theme to make it easy to manage all the content a church might need. Things we considered when building it were:

  1. Easily upload a logo or change the site name
  2. Change the color scheme to suit your church’s brand
  3. Create pages by dragging and dropping elements onto the page
  4. Edit the homepage by adding slides and widgets with a live customization view
  5. Advanced event management using the Events Calendar Pro plugin + add-ons for selling tickets to events and additional features

There are also quite a few other themes we recommend for churches that utilize the Church Theme Content plugin, which means you can switch between any of these themes and your content will always be visible, easy to manage, and look great to site visitors. As long as your custom post types are created using a plugin, you can be assured to never suffer from the lock-in effect.

Managing Content

Most website owners can agree the hardest part is keeping your website updated and maintained.  This is crucial to the long-term success of your online presence. Think about that newlywed couple that just moved into your area looking for a new church.  How are they going to find a church? People generally find a new church through the recommendation of someone they know or by searching for a church in the area on the web. At that point, selecting a church typically comes down to finding one with a welcoming website and easy-to-find service times and locations. Whether you have a new sermon series, new staff, or multiple locations, it is now easy to update content quickly and effectively to enable website visitors will feel comfortable visiting your church and members to feel connected and engaged at all times.


Getting Support & Training for WordPress + Themes + Plugins

There will come a time when you will have a question or need help. Everyone does at some point, even the most advanced web developers. It is important to have a good support team there to help when you need them. When purchasing a commercial product, odds are you are going to have access to support via email or a support forum.

In addition, how are you going to train your users on managing content? What if your volunteers are unfamiliar with WordPress? You need to have a plan in place for training staff and volunteers in order to provide structure for performing their website management duties.

Training Videos

Here at UpThemes, we offer over 20 training videos to guide users through the process of using the basic features of WordPress. These videos cover basics like adding posts, pages, categories, tags managing comments, embedding video, audio, images, and managing basic settings. These videos can provide a valuable foundation for any non-technical user and are offered to all purchasers of our themes.

Basic & Advanced Documentation

Commercial themes and plugins need easy-to-understand documentation. This is critical when selecting a theme or finding plugins for your WordPress site that cost money. Does this theme make it easy to replicate the theme demo so you can have a good starting point to work from? Does a plugin provide tutorials on how to integrate more tightly with a custom theme? These are the types of things you should be looking for when researching new plugins and themes for WordPress.

Documentation should also provide you with the steps necessary to operate any additional features your theme or plugin might offer. This is critical in ensuring you’re not wasting time or sitting around waiting for a support rep to “get back to you.” Good support documentation should be geared toward users of all levels, providing developer-level documentation as well as basic workflow and feature explanations.

One-on-one Customer Support

When you need a little more than a video or documentation, one-on-one customer support is crucial.  With our support you are getting answers directly from the developers that created the theme. Support and training materials equip you with a solid foundation to be successful in creating and maintaining your church website.  You will not have to feel alone in this venture and you can even have fun.

Welcome to Team WordPress

I hope you have found this guide helpful and choose WordPress as your church website solution.  We would love to know your thoughts, feel free to tweet at us @UpThemes to keep the conversation going.

To help you get started with WordPress and the Uplifted theme, we’re offering a 25% discount code for making it to the end of this guide! Simply enter WPGUIDE25 on the checkout screen to redeem it!


Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you sign up for or buy something from one of them. We always strive to recommend products and services who treat their customers the right way and offer great value.