Building a Church Website With WordPress

WordPress is a great option for church websites. It’s an especially good option if your church doesn’t have a web designer or the resources to hire someone to build a site. But even if you have the personnel and the resources, WordPress is still a great option!

Several years ago, WordPress began as a blogging platform, but has developed into a CMS (Content Management System), which means it can be used for all kinds of websites, not just blogs (see WordPress’ showcase for sites built on WordPress).

This blog is built on WordPress. Centre Grove UMC’s website is also built on WordPress. Here, I’ll simply lay out the process I followed to build the church site. While some technical ability is required, you don’t have to be an expert (I’m not!). This probably won’t be detailed enough to walk you through building a site, but it will at least, describe the general process.

1. Signup for web hosting.
It’s easier if you choose a host that offers an auto install of WordPress (see WordPress’ recommended hosts here). If you choose a web host that doesn’t offer to install of WordPress for you, you would have to install it yourself.

I’ve been using DreamHost since 2006, which has been a positive experience for me, so far. DreamHost also offers free hosting for non-profits (find details on this page).

2. Choose a theme.
Unless you are a web designer, or hire one, you will need to choose one of the many, many themes that are available from WordPress or elsewhere. There are many free themes, but you can also purchase a theme (from various sources).

I looked at many, many (free and paid) themes over the years, but decided I wanted more control over the design. Last February, I purchased the Headway Theme, and used it to build this site. In the past month, I replaced the previous church site with a new one, which is now also built on Headway.

Many themes offer a complete design, out of the box. But, as I said, I wanted something that offered more control. According to Headway, the theme framework gives you the ability to take full control of your website’s design with an “intuitive visual editor.” That’s what caught my attention. You can build a site using their layout editor.

I am looking forward to the new Headway 3.0 version, due out this week. As much as I’ve enjoyed Headway 2.0, the new version looks like a major development!

3. Plan the layout.
Plan the site layout and content on paper, then build the site. In Headway, I used the built-in visual editor.

4. Configure theme/site.
You will need to tweak the Settings in WordPress to your need/liking.

5. Add content.
Create pages with different kinds of content. The church site has About, Events, and Calendar pages, at the moment. I also incorporated a Google map for the church location in the footer. This page shows you how to add a Google map to your site.

7. Work on the design.
Again, in Headway, you can do this through the visual editor. Otherwise, you’d need to get into the CSS code (you still can in Headway, if you want). Both this blog and the church site would look a lot better if they were designed by pros, but I prefer a minimalist look, anyway.

From what I can tell, Headway 3.0 will give even more capabilities to design the look of the site. Headway 3.0 will also allow for the use of “child themes.” Child themes allow you to use designs built by web designers for use with Headway.

8. Add plugins.
There are many plugins that provide extra functionality. For the church site, we’re using Akisment, Google XML Sitemaps, Jetpack, and WP-DB-Manager. This blog currently has 24 active plugins installed.

Well, as I said, this post isn’t intended to walk you through the process of building a church website in step-by-step detail, but just enough to show that it can be done.

WordPress is a great option for church sites. WordPress is free. You will need web-hosting (free hosting for non-profits is available through DreamHost). You will need a domain name (approximately $10/year); some hosts, including DreamHost, throw in one free domain name. And you will need to install a (free or paid) theme. So, WordPress is a great option, especially if resources are limited.

Hope this helps. If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “Building a Church Website With WordPress”

  1. Joomla Web CMS is a better option for church websites. It’s especially a good option if your church have a web designer or the resources to hire someone to build a site. Even if you have the personnel and the resources, Joomla Web CMS is still the best option.

  2. Thanks for chiming in. I can’t speak to Joomla, but as you said, it may be a better option for churches with greater resources. As I stated above, WordPress seems to be a great option for those with fewer resources.

    I think WordPress is good option even for churches with greater resources; I just can’t compare to Joomla.

    Certainly, anyone looking to build a website should check out all of their options.

  3. I found your blog and took your advice and signed up with Dreamhost for their free non-profit website. I really like the site you designed for Centre Grove and I am trying to figure out a way to more or less use that site as a template for ours. Our church is small (about 50 avg attendance) and we have’t had a web presence in over 7 years. I looked into Headway. Should I purchase the $89 or $119 version for what I need? I am a pastor and I have no office staff and no church members with any knowledge of website design. I can’t figure out how to adjust the free templates at WP to fit what I want. And I have added a couple of free church website templates without much success. Sorry for the rambling post.

  4. Michael, thanks for the comment!

    While I wouldn’t say Headway is the only option, I certainly like it. Headway is constantly being developed/improved.

    Re: which license to purchase, the Base ($89) is enough (unless you need to build more than one site or you want some of the extras).

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • I’m afraid I can’t be much help with that. I am by no means a designer; I’ve just learned what I needed to do what I did (via Google searches). And I usually have to re-learn some stuff whenever I do an update.


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