Churches have fully embraced websites and are reaching people online better than ever before. You have to realize that the first thing most new visitors do before they ever park in your church’s parking lot is look up your church online to see if they can find anything out about you. Of course it is not enough to have only a static website that has a ten year old picture of your church, the time and location of your church’s services (I pray they are up-to-date), and a photo of your church’s pastor.

It should be noted that the type of website your church goes with is going to limit what you can do with it. Many churches nowadays want to have a blog on their site, requiring a fancy and powerful Content Management System (CMS) and other times they would rather put time or money into a great design. Below, is an infographic of really great CMS’s your church can use, but we have also done a great comparison of church’s using paid versus free CMS.

Free CMS

– Free Is A Good Price

You can actually get a great quality product out of a free CMS. Companies like ROAR use WordPress for custom church apps for mobile CMS. We even run it on ChurchTechToday and love the features and flexibility it offers.

– Free Isn’t Always Free

Just because the CMS is free because you are using something like WordPress or Drupal does not make everything free. You need to get a custom URL, you may have to pay for a design, and if you host the website yourself (this is recommended) you will have further costs.

– Who Is Going To Set It Up

The best part of paid services is that the company you are buying it from will help you set it up. While it is not too difficult to get a WordPress site running, making it unique from any other website as well as getting it to look like a church website and more than just a church blog will take time and knowledge. Do you have that kind of talent just sitting around in your congregation?

Paid CMS

– You Get Beauty

There are some amazing Christian companies out there like Clover Sites and Olive Sites that have beautiful designs that are perfect for your church’s website and best of all, unique. A church without any IT staff but has a desire for a church website can easily accomplish this by themselves. The designs are already made for churches and the administration side is easy to navigate.

– Do You Have A Budget Line-Item?

These services are not the cheapest costs and when doing the budget, pastors can tend to not be able to get past the dollar signs. My personal recommendation is to give up the donut ministry once a month or reduce spending on a high-dollar stage design once a year so that you can reach a huge number of lost people in your community and be able to share the Gospel with them.

– You Get Customer Service

One of the biggest issues is customer service. With a free CMS, you do have web forums that you can surf through, but unless you know what you are looking for and have a few hours to research and play around, free is not the way to go. If a website goes down, can your staff or volunteers get it back up? A paid service would cover that for you.

There is no one solution. Hopefully we have given you some things to chew on in this article. Note that both options have their costs (monetarily and otherwise) and benefits, so know what you can do, what you want, and what you are willing to pay to get them.

content-management-system-infographic

[Image via dci]

What web platform do you use for your church’s website?