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Popular WordPress Themes Your Church Should Avoid

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Picking a WordPress theme for your church website can be a daunting task. If you weren’t overwhelmed by the number of church themes available on ThemeForest, you certainly will be by the multitude of themes and theme shops online with the “perfect” theme for your church.

Choosing a theme built for churches can have a lot of advantages since they normally have built in support for sermons, staff, and such. That said, with the number of options (and so many of them bad) it is easy to give up on finding a church theme altogether and instead pick one of the more popular all-in-one-super-flexible themes.

I’m going to tell you why that might not be such a great idea.

There are a number of these super flexible, option-packed themes that have become very popular. Among the most popular are Divi, Avada, and X Theme. Since these themes boast tons of customizations, page builders, and more they can be great for setting up simple, professional websites really quickly. But they can also bring some serious heartache.

Here are a few reasons you should think twice before using one of these themes for your church:

  • Extending and modifying. Customizing a theme with so many options is often very expensive and time-consuming. If you think your church will want to add new features or modify the site design significantly, you will want to choose a different theme.
  • Training. Training staff can be very difficult with a theme that has so many options and settings.
  • Design consistency. Since these themes support TONS of different layouts and design styles, it can be very difficult to keep a consistent feel across your church’s website, especially if you have multiple content creators.
  • Content mobility. This is one of most important things you need to consider when building your church website. I can guarantee you that you will want to change the theme on your church site someday. If all of your content is created using one of these proprietary page builders, you will likely have to recreate all of your content by hand.

As someone who spends a lot of time building websites (both for churches and businesses), my focus is not only on what we can do with the website today but also on how well that site will be able to adapt as time goes on.

If you are just looking to put together a quick landing page to showcase your church, one of these themes may be a good option. But if you are hoping to build a site that will be around for the long haul where you can post sermons, newsletters and events, then I would recommend finding a theme that is as simple as possible while still meeting your needs. This will allow you the greatest flexibility moving forward and will also help you not spend too much time with training and maintenance.

If you are looking for a quality theme for your church that is worth using for a while, I would highly recommend you check out ChurchThemes.com. I’ve worked with their themes on multiple sites and they have a great balance of functionality, customizability, and simplicity.

Tanner Moushey
Tanner Mousheyhttps://missionlab.dev
Specializing in custom solutions, Tanner's work has pushed WordPress to its limits. He's even helped pioneer its future as a core contributor to WordPress’ source code and popular tools like Restrict Content Pro and BuddyPress. Tanner is the CEO at Mission Lab where he leads a team building church products like Study Church and serving mission driven organizations.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Take a look at the Churchly child theme for Divi by Rob Laughter. It enables Divi to work with the Church Theme Content plugin. This makes managing sermons easier when using Divi. It also make switching to another theme in the future easier (a theme compatible with the same plugin). Different theme providers leverage the same plugin which itself is free. Here are links to the child theme and the plugin for details.

    https://getchurchly.com
    https://churchthemes.com/plugins/church-theme-content/

  2. Well, I am the pastor of a small startup church and a web guy at a big church told me to use Divi. So am I in trouble? The way we have to post MP3 messages is awkward and doesn’t seem like a good way to me. Do I start over?

    • Hey Alan! Can you describe how your workflow feels awkward? Also, if you could post a link I’d love to see the site. Like I mentioned in the post, Divi doesn’t have to be a terrible option. But if your workflow doesn’t feel right, that may be a good indicator that you are setting yourself up for trouble long term.

  3. Tanner, you bring up some very good points. Using a theme with so many options can be overwhelming for the average “Joe-Church worker”. In fact, when we develop websites for church clients using a pre-made theme, we will will use different plugins than what is bundled in the theme. We do this for the 4 reasons that you mentioned above and because we use a set of plugins that we have already researched and found to be easy to use and updated regularly. The training issues are addressed by video tutorials that we created for each plugin so the clients can easily receive training on how to use the plugin and can access the tutorials for as many staff as needed.

    We have used a few themes from ChurchThemes.com but don’t have a lot of experience with them. How has your experience been with their support?

  4. Great thoughts Tanner. As a WordPress developer for churches, we use a variety of themes, depending on what we want to accomplish. From my perspective, there are some advantages to using one of those ultra flexible themes you mention. In fact, we even use some of those in specific situations.

    I would agree with you that the learning curve is steep for a church looking to design their own site in-house. For a church looking to have a site developed for them, we love using those themes like X Theme because there is so much flexibility, the ongoing updates are amazing, and we find the content to be very portable. For a church looking to build their own site from a theme, the ones you recommend look great.

    Keep up the great work! It is awesome serving the Church with folks like you.

    • Thanks for the comments and encouragement Thomas! Yeah I totally agree that there are some great scenarios to use a theme like X Theme for a site especially if you are a web agency. I’ve used Divi numerous times. The trick is knowing when is a good time to use such a theme.

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