5 Best Reasons to Pick a Church Website Company

Is SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix, or GoDaddy Your Best Option? Maybe not.

Many searches for church websites will return links for SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix, or GoDaddy. Why? A simple reason is that these companies have large SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and design teams. That means they’re able to hype their slick-looking systems and the few templates they have which are fairly church-specific.

Now, we’re completely sympathetic to the fact that these companies often appear to have really low pricing. For many churches, that (unfortunately) is their top priority in their final decision. But we’d like to suggest there are 5 important reasons why you should think seriously about choosing a church website company, especially right now.

1. Church Website Companies are Focused on Ministry, Not Business

The needs of churches are similar to but different from those of most businesses. For example, here’s a comparison of the typical features many small businesses and churches want.

Common Sm. Business Site NeedsCommon Church Website Needs
EcommerceOnline giving
A new domainDomain assistance
Product descriptions Ministry and small group descriptions
Live chat or chatbot Way to contact & show staff/team leaders
A few basic pages Full-featured pages & calendar
Appointment scheduler“Plan a Visit” capability
Email list signup formForms: Email list, registrations, many more
Content creation helpSermon manager
Blog (for occasional use) Blog (for regular use)
Custom coding3rd-party tool integrations

There is a lot of overlap, to be sure. Business websites, though, tend to treat a site visitor as a customer rather than, as a church does, as a guest or member. As a result, website companies that focus on businesses will frequently promote tools useful for a sales-oriented system and a sales funnel. A church website company will tailor the tools to better fit the needs of ministry settings. For example, a sermon manager isn’t just an way to offer audio or video, but the tool probably contains fields for the preacher, sermon series, scriptures, and so on.

2. Church Website Staff Speak the Language of Ministry

The simple reality is that your ministry is grounded in a particular theological understanding of who people are, why they should be connected to one another in a church, and what they can offer the world. No non-church website company will fully appreciate that.

In church website companies, it’s quite likely that some or all of the staff members have worked in churches. Possibly, they are bi-vocational, working part-time in both. At Aboundant, for example, we currently have 4 people on staff who have worked in churches and church-related organizations, including three seminary graduates – a pastor, a deaconess, and a specialist in faith formation ministries. We speak ministry, we understand the life (and calendar!) of churches, and we’ve been doing digital ministry for a very long time. Send in a support request, and it’s pretty likely one of the four will respond to your request. Will that happen at a secular company?

3. Church Website Companies Support Churches, Not Shareholders

While there undoubtedly are exceptions, it’s a safe bet that a church website company has as its mission supporting the work and ministry of churches, not just make a profit. Of course, a profit is important too if they hope to stay in business. Ultimately, though, they’re more likely accountable to their clients than to their shareholders.

Church website companies likely do things such as…

  • Do pro-bono work for church-related organizations. Here’s one we support. Here’s another, and a third.
  • Regularly offer help in facebook groups for churches.
  • Offer church-related graphics or content.
  • Work closely with denominations, seminaries or colleges, or other businesses or individuals that support churches and train church leaders.
  • Keep their rates as affordable as possible for the nonprofit organizations they support.
  • Lead workshops at denominational and church communications events.

4. Church Website Companies are Connectional

To be connectional means to be in partnership with other related churches, individuals or organizations. It’s something that many denominations do particularly well. (Google “connectionalism” and you’ll discover it’s the theological understanding and foundation of Methodist ecclesiastical polity, for example.)

Hang out at a church communications conference, and sooner or later you’ll meet someone who is involved in company that offers one or more of the following specifically for churches:

  • Ministry consulting
  • Stewardship and giving products
  • Graphic design for churches
  • Curriculum
  • Copywriting or other website-related services
  • Tech support
  • Photography
  • Social media training
  • Video creation
  • Text messaging services
  • Website themes or plugins

At Aboundant, we have informal partnerships with numerous church-related individuals and companies that we trust and know do effective work. Clients typically come to us needing more than one digital ministry solution. If we can’t provide something, we are more than happy to refer people to companies we trust that really know and help churches well.

5. Church Website Companies Help Shape Our Shared Future

Almost across the board in the United States, church denominations and church attendance are on the decline. The reasons for this are numerous, complex, and hardly universal from congregation or denomination to another. But it’s a worrisome trend for those who, like us, believe that churches can be a “studio of love” in the world.

As our lives become more and more connected digitally, many are yearning for both meaningful offline connections and relevant digital engagement. Churches that treat their website like a digital brochure will continue to slowly die, because the message they send out is: “We’re static. Come and be static with us.” That’s not exactly an appealing message to a guest or occasional attendee who is ready to take a risk and get more involved.

On the other hand, there are churches who are actively seeking new ways to create new and innovative kinds of online experiences for people. They are experimenting with online worship, hybrid small groups that meet both online and offline, curated daily faith formation content, apps, and lots more. A church website company – not one of the big guys – wants to help you create dynamic churches that reach people and share God’s love with all.

A Final Note

In some cases, sites like the four I’ve mentioned can offer terrific pricing. They do benefit from economies of scale, for sure, and can likely provide long support hours.

On the down side, your site will be run on a shared server, so the speed may be somewhat lower than at many church website companies. They may or may not provide you with any tools for exporting your site if you want to move it somewhere else. They may have values you don’t support and offer hosting to groups with messages that are utterly incompatible with Christian faith. Pricing is certainly important, but when you consider the whole package, you’ll likely find a church website company is a better and more wholistic fit for you in the long run.

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