Let me start by offering you a warm welcome.
The last thing I wanted this article to be was just a long list of all the church website builders that I could find.
Too many options with a superficial, generic write up of each wouldn't be helpful to you.
In fact, it could quite easily lead to procrastination or "paralysis-by-analysis" and you'd be no better off than before you arrived here.
To avoid this, I spent several days with my sleeves rolled up actually testing out church and ministry-specific website builders.
And the result?
Out of the nine platforms I tested, the four below stand head and shoulders above the competition.
Now we just have to take a look at the pros and cons of each builder to find the best fit based on your technical abilities, requirements, and of course, budget.
I've also left you a checklist towards the bottom of the page to ensure you're new website hits the ground running!
The best website builders for your church (Pros, cons & pricing)
Option 1. Wix for churches
Wix is the only option on this list that's not church specific but don't let that put you off.
Wix is more of a general website builder and one of the most popular and versatile platforms available today.
As you can see below, it's more than capable of handling a great looking, functional website for your church!
It's also perfect for anyone who's looking for a simpler and more cost-effective solution.
Aside from being the cheapest, Wix is also one of the easiest website builders I've tested and allows you to customize your template with a sense of freedom you don't find with many other platforms thanks to their drag and drop editor.
Speaking of templates, Wix has 6 dedicated church templates for you to choose from.
While not quite as much choice as some of the others, Wix's templates are modern, well designed, and come complete with sample images and text which you can easily swap out for your own.
You'll find many of the main features you'll need such as a contact form, newsletter, ability to accept donations, and a calendar.
I quickly created a page for sermons to be streamed or downloaded by using an add-on feature called Wix Music. Some of the templates already have this feature in place.
The most obvious drawback with using Wix is it doesn't have some of the more advanced features that you'll find with Ministry Designs or Sharefaith.
As Wix isn't a specialist church platform, be sure that it has all of the features you require to prevent any headaches down the line.
The easiest way to do this s by taking advantage of the free trial before deciding to commit.
Wix offers a free plan but your website will display ads and it doesn't allow much space for visitors or pictures etc.
If you're creating a modest website then Wix's cheapest premium plan, the "Combo" may be all you need.
The Combo costs $13/month for a 1-year plan and is billed upfront (1 x payment of $156).
If you'd rather pay on a month-to-month basis, it'll cost a little more at $17/month.
The Combo plan allows you to remove ads, gives you more bandwidth & storage space, and if you opt to pay annually you'll get your own website address (domain name) free for the first year.
For larger websites (or as your site grows), I recommend the "Unlimited" plan at $17/month billed annually (1 x payment of $204).
Again, you can choose to pay monthly which costs $22/month.
The Unlimited plan gives you more more bandwidth and storage space which you'll need to handle lots of visitors, more images, videos, audio files etc.
- Dig deeper: In-depth Wix review
Option 2. Sharefaith
Sharefaith is another specialist church builder and has plenty of happy customers.
You can see a snapshot of the results after around 30 minutes below (once I’d got used to everything that is);
Sharefaith also has some good looking templates to help you hit the ground running.
They all come pre-loaded with pages such as about, contact, giving, and calendar etc. All pages come with sample content which you can swap out for your own images and text.
What's more, Sharefaith is built on top of WordPress which is one of the most robust and common ways to create a website today.
For me, Sharefaith stands out due to its features which include the ability to create an app for your church which people can download to their phone, an integrated giving platform, and even the ability to stream your sermons live.
They also have other products available depending on the plan you choose such as worship software, Sunday School lessons, and vacation bible school.
From my time spent using Sharefaith, the main drawback (for me personally) is ease of use.
I'm not saying that it's particularly difficult, but it did take me a lot longer to feel comfortable creating my site than with Ministry Designs or Wix.
I should point out that things started progressing much quicker once I discovered the training videos and tutorials which were a great help!
You can try Sharefaith for free by creating a demo site.
If you decide it's for you, you'll need to go with a premium plan which is $45/month billed annually (1 x payment of $540).
If you'd rather pay monthly then you can do that too although it'll cost a little more at $50 each month.
Option 3. Nucleus
Nucleus is the newest addition to this list and boy, does it deserve its spot!
Nucleus is very beginner friendly and you don't need any previous experience to get started.
Your website homepage will be clean, modern and it's been thoroughly tested by the team to encourage your visitors to take action.
You can upload your sermons which your congregation can access at any time, integrate an online giving form, and create just about any type of form you wish to help increase visitor engagement.
My main gripe with Nucleus is that's it's not very customizable and you only have a choice of two designs as you can see below;
It's then up to you to make your website stand out by incorporating your own logo, text, and images.
Aside from the lack of customization options, the only other thing to consider is the price. It could be a little steep if you're on a tight budget.
You can get started by taking advantage of Nucleus' free 30-day free trial.
After that, it's $79.99/month when billed annually (1 x upfront payment of $959.88) for a website.
If you also want the sermon manager it's $99/month (1 x payment of $1,188).
Nucleus also gives you a monthly payment option costing $99/month and $125/month respectively.
- Dig deeper: Full Nucleus review
Option 4. Ministry Designs
When it comes to specialist platforms, Ministry Designs appears to be in a league of their own.
Rather than simply providing a do-it-yourself website builder, they do everything they can to help on your journey.
Note: This is the only platform I tested that I wasn't able to create a test site for as I've only had access to the demo account. While it allows you behind the scenes and lets you go through the motions, you can't actually change anything or preview your site unless you're a customer.
One of my favorite features has to be the quality of their beautiful design templates.
Choosing a template is the first thing you'll do and controls the look and feel of your website.
Once you're inside the main drag and drop website editor, everything's well laid out and within easy reach so you'll be able to start customizing your website in no time at all.
In addition, they have a secure online giving platform making it easy to collect donations through your site or via text, and a long-term sermon storage facility so you can record sermons and upload them to your site allowing your congregation to stream or download them at any time.
After spending quite some time inside Ministry Designs, I can only find one real disadvantage to using this platform and that's the price (below) which means it may not be the best solution for smaller churches on a tight budget.
There's a $1000 upfront setup fee and $20 per month thereafter.
If you like what they have to offer, I recommend contacting the team first, ask for a live demo, and talk through your requirements to make sure it's the right fit before joining.
Building a church website - Your personal checklist
You may be wondering what makes me qualified to tell you what your website should and shouldn't have on it right?
Am I a web designer? Nope.
Have I ever created a church or any type of religious website before? Nope.
However, after recently getting married, it's fair to say that I've seen my fair share them!
And as an outsider looking in, I feel that makes what I'm about to share with you today much more valuable wouldn't you agree?
With that in mind, I've put together a simple "checklist" below of things to consider when creating your church or ministry site that I'll think will make your life a little easier;
Homepage: I recommend displaying a nice large image of the inside or outside your church rather than using a generic stock photo that you found online. Also, keep it clutter free. I found it hard to navigate around one particular website due to the sheer amount of information that had been crammed onto the page. Keep it for the most important info such as a welcome message and details of your Sunday Service.
About page: Okay, so I've seen a beautiful image of your church upon entering your site, now I want to know all about it. I want to know when it was founded, its history, the parish, your religious beliefs. I'd also like to know a little about the team such as the Reverand(s), organist, and the administrator.
Life events: I think out of the websites I visited, two never made any mention of weddings, christenings, baptisms, or funerals. I think all churches should dedicate at least a page, if not one for each event. For example, can I just call to talk about a wedding, should I fill out a form, is there a certain day and time that I could drop by to discuss it?
Calendar: Every church has a year packed full of events so it only makes sense to dedicate a page to let people know exactly what's going on and when including Sunday Services, wedding rehearsals, choir practice etc.
Donations page: During my search, I wasn't looking to donate at that particular time but most of the sites I visited had a page set up to either explain how to donate or better still, allow you to make donations directly through the website. I've since found out that churches that accept tithing online increase overall donations by up to 32%.
Newsletter: I'm not for one minute suggesting that you have to become a serial "blogger", but it's a fairly simple process to add a form to your website and gather visitors email addresses. You can then send them a weekly/monthly newsletter informing them of church news and upcoming events with yourselves or in the wider community.
Sermons: To be honest, I didn't realize that this was a "thing" until I started testing out church website builders, but many churches now record their sermons and upload them to a dedicated page of their website as an MP3. This will make them available to your congregation at any time day or night so they can listen to or download them.
Contact page: The church where we'll be married, although close, is in the countryside and do you think we could find it? The answers no, not for a while anyway so it's a good idea to integrate Google Map into your contact page so people can navigate there as well as the obvious address, phone number, hours of opening, and maybe a contact form, or at the very least an email address.
Conclusion & summary - Which platform is right for you?
Despite the title of the article, the truth is there's no such thing as the "best" church website builder. Only what's best for you.
With the four options listed here, I tried to offer a little something for everyone regardless of your technical abilities, requirements, and budget.
Here's a quick reminder...
#1 Wix - Wix isn't a church specific website builder but it's easy to use with 6 great looking, customizable church templates. You can accept donations, upload your sermons, create a newsletter and it's also the cheapest of the bunch.
#2 Sharefaith - Great designs, jam-packed full of features, no upfront costs, but the most difficult to use out of the options here from my experience.
#3 Nucleus - Very easy to use, online giving integration, customizable forms, upload sermons. The main downside is that I didn't find Nucleus to be very customizable.
#4 Ministry Designs - Beautiful designs, very customizable, online giving, upload sermons, and the team goes above & beyond to support you. Comes with a rather hefty upfront cost.
Whichever platform you decide to go with, I strongly recommend creating a demo site first to get used to how things work and make sure it's a good fit for you and your church.
I'd love you to come back here after and let me know how you got on. Or even better, give me a sneak peek of your finished site!
You can do so using the comments section below.