How to Build a Great Church Website (and why you can't afford not to)

How to Build a Great Church Website (and why you can't afford not to)

Breeze Church Management

Digital giving apps and tools

Not long ago I was talking with a pastor friend of mine about what the typical first time church attender is like.

During the course of the conversation, he mentioned something I found fascinating.  He said:

"The typical first time church attender has changed more in the last 20 years than at any other point in recent history".

Now that my curiosity was piqued, he continued with the reason:

"The Internet."

He went on to explain that 20 years ago, when someone walked through the doors of your church, that was the first experience they were having with your church.  They might look around for a welcome table to ask who the pastor was or youth pastor, if the church had some material on what they believed, and as they sat through the service they were evaluating the experience for the first time.

Now, all that has changed.

Today, the first time attender has often already checked out your website to learn what your church believes, who the key staff are, and may have listened to a previous sermon or two.  They come not with as many questions about what your church is about but more with a sense of excitement to experience what they've already researched.

This means having a phenomenal church website is critical to the mission of the church.

While it's important to have a great environment when people actually do arrive, if your church website isn't great, many people may never make it through your front doors.

[tweetthis]If your church website isn't great, many people may never make it through your front doors.[/tweetthis]

So how do you either create a great church website or evaluate your current site to make sure it's hitting the mark?

4 Point Checklist for a Great Church Website

The following is what I believe creates a great church website.  As you think about creating a site or evaluate your current site, keeping these areas in mind will serve you well.

1) Design

Is the design clean, updated, and professional?  Is it easy to navigate? Does it communicate the same high-quality standards that you strive for in your Sunday morning services?  Or does it look like someone threw it together in Microsoft Publisher with minimal content and called it good?

If your site has been up for a while, it's possible you may not see the room for improvement that may be more clear to others.  Ask for honest feedback from friends, family, or church attenders who have a sense of design and style.  Send them a quick email to see what they think, something like:



2) Mobile-Friendly

As more people browse the web on smartphones and tablets, it becomes increasingly important that your church website works on mobile devices.

In fact it's been over a year since Google announced that more people are searching Google on mobile devices than traditional desktop or laptop computers.


It's not too much of a stretch then to assume that the majority of people accessing your church site will be on mobile devices.

If your church website doesn't respond and resize for smaller screen size ("responsive design" is the industry word), you're providing a sub-par experience to a significant number of people who access your church website.

3) Avoid Insider Language

Many churches develop trendy names for their different ministries.

"Small Groups" becomes "Life Groups".

"Children's Ministries" becomes "Kid Zone".

"Youth Group" becomes "Blaze", "Fuel", "Ignite", or some other pyrotechnic-approved name.

This branding is great, in fact, I recommend it.  It builds identify, loyalty, and energy.

For the outsider visiting your church website however, seeing all of these names can be more than a little confusing.  Add to this that often the typical person visiting your church website is someone who is not a regular part of your church.  The regular youth group attender isn't the one who needs information on what your youth group is all about.  It's the new person who may not know that your youth group has been given an alternate name.

As a result, I'd recommend using outsider-friendly language as much as possible, especially when thinking through the navigation of your site.  A site with a navigation like this can look confusing to a new visitor:


Whereas renaming those same categories to more generally recognized names can help new people much more quickly find what they're looking for.



4) The Right Information

Lastly, your church needs to include the right content on your church site to have it be the appealing front door you really want it to be.  While there's a lot of content that could be included, here's what I see being the bare minimum:

Location: Where your church meets.  This should be clearly placed somewhere on the home page and more ideally, on the footer of every page.

Service Times: When your church meets.  This combined with location will account for a significant number of visits and having this information in an easy-to-find location will serve your digital visitors well.

Contact: Either a phone number, an email address, or both would be critical for any church site.  Be sure they are listed in a place that's easy to find.

Statement of Beliefs: People looking for a church home will want to know what your church stands for before walking through the doors.  Including this on your website and having it worded so that anyone can understand it can be really helpful.

Staff: Who works at the church, what are their positions, and how can you get in touch with them?  Having this information readily available will help people get a better idea of those involved with running your church.

It's worth noting what's not on this list as well.  Things like a church blog, church calendar, member directory, and many other items that are common on church sites.  Now let's be clear - these additional items aren't bad (in fact, many of them can be really helpful and should be on your site).

Rather, if you're starting from scratch, don't feel like you need to include every last item in the first phase of your website.  Treat the items listed above as your starting place and then, as your church needs it, expand from there.

Tools to Build Your Church Website

So let's say you're convinced.

Your church website needs either a major facelift or needs to be created to begin with.  You're not a technical wizard and you don't have the budget to turn to a professional web design firm.

How do you make this happen?

Below I'll recommend three different options that, if I was running a church, I would strongly consider to use to build the church website.  Depending on your budget and technical expertise, one tool may be better than another.

It's also worth noting that I'm not receiving anything in exchange for recommending these services - these are my true, unbiased, kickback-free recommendations :).

1) Clover Sites

One of my strongest recommendations would be to check out Clover.  Clover has been in the church website industry for years and has a really strong product.


Ideal for churches with limited technical abilities, Clover makes it easy to select a theme and add content in without needing to know any code.  Furthermore, Clover focuses on church websites meaning that they most likely already have a way to quickly create the church-specific features you're looking for (such as displaying audio or video messages).

While the most expensive of the options I'll recommend ($1,000 up front and then $25 per month), it's also arguably the easiest and worth a serious look.

You can learn more about Clover at

2) SquareSpace

SquareSpace is one of the leaders in easy-to-build websites and with good reason.  They offer beautiful designs, a great editor to build your site, and with a starting price of $12 per month, they are very affordable.


While they cater to a larger market than just churches, their product is great. If you're looking for a top-notch website and want to avoid the higher costs associated with Clover, I'd highly recommend SquareSpace.

You can learn more about SquareSpace at

3) WordPress

When it comes to web programming, if you know enough to be dangerous, WordPress may be a great route to consider.


WordPress provides hundreds of different designs to choose from and they have an editor that is fairly easy to use. The real power WordPress provides however is in their plugins. Thousands of people have built additional plugins for WordPress that you can install for additional features such as allowing people to subscribe, listen to audio files, and hundreds of other capabilities.

WordPress is a great option for those who like to tinker around and experiment a bit. Those who know a little code and are fairly comfortable with technology will likely enjoy the flexibility WordPress provides. Update: 12/19/16: Also, for Breeze users, there's a (third party) WordPress Breeze Plug In available to quickly integrate Breeze with your WordPress website.

At under $9 per month WordPress is the most affordable option and if you host it on your own server, there's no cost to using it at all.

You can learn more about WordPress at

As you look at creating great experiences for new visitors to your church, it's my hope that this article will help you make your digital front door - your website - a fantastic experience, ultimately causing more people to walk through your physical front doors and experience Christ's love through the people at your church.

Have you found any tools useful for your church website that I didn't include here?  I'd love to hear about them!  Share them in the comments below.

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