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The 7 Best CMS Systems for Your Church Website

As a web designer, developer, or church staff member, you have to update your church website. Usually it is a small change, updating an event, posting a new sermon, or writing a blog post. The best and simplest way to update your website is using a content management system. These systems provide an easy user interface that makes your website easy to update, come with add on components that add in additional functionality, and allow you to easily change the design of your church website. Today I wanted to share the 7 best CMS systems you can use for your church website, enjoy!

LightCMS


This is by far my favorite platform to design and develop for! When designing a church website, I first suggest them to use the Light system. Developed with the church in mind, the system easily allows your staff to update your website, with very little (or no) HTML knowledge. It allows for ANY element to be drag and drop ready, so you can move anything to anywhere on the page. Also, simple donations, email forms, and calendar features are included. The software is hosted, so there is a monthly fee, depending on the amount of pages you have, but a great system!

If your a designer/developer, you will love the way the system works. Design two pages, one home, one interior, code them, drop in LightCMS tags to define what is an edible region and you’re set!

WordPress


If you’re looking for a great content management system, easy to use, and are on a budget, nothing can beat WordPress for your church’s website. I have received such an overwhelming amount of requests for WordPress sites in the last year that I am launching a WordPress focused design company!

WordPress offers a lot in terms of features, with a large community of developers offering free or low cost plugins, a huge template market, and WordPress is free! All you really need is a web host and you can be up and running. For churches on a budget, this is the way to go.

Resources:
Official WordPress Site:
WordPress.org
Paid Themes:
ThemeForest WP Themes
Woo Themes
Free Themes:
Free WordPress Templates

Pagelime


Pagelime is a unique offering, focusing on designers, this simple CMS allows you host your own website, then update it using their hosted CMS. I have used this on a few client sites and I was very impressed. Simply plug-in their code into any area of a site you want to make editable and you’re set. They offer a free account for up-to 3 sites.

Halogy


This one is probably unknown to a lot of users, but I stumbled across this CMS a few months ago and was blown away with how simple this CMS is to use. This is one of the few systems that allows you to buy the source code, host it on your server, and develop on top of it. Created using PHP, this system is extremely fixable.

Features include the ability to add templates, add a shopping cart, and edit content in a simple way! Check them out.

Expression Engine


One of most complete and advanced CMS systems on the market today. Some of the biggest companies run their sites using this system and the features are outstanding! A large development community and support will be able to help you get started.

A few downsides include a larger start-up cost and because the system is complex, the learning curve is steep.

Ekklesia 360


One of the only two CMS on this list that was built specifically for churches. I have not used the system, but I have heard from a few companies that swear by it for church websites. Church specific modules, sermon manager, and member system all make this system very unique.

SquareSpace


SquareSpace has come a long way and is one of the best CMS systems available. For only $12 a month, you will get a hosted website, that you can hand to anyone to update. Easy to update, templates, and blogging are all a few features that this CMS includes.

36 replies on “The 7 Best CMS Systems for Your Church Website”

We are looking to use Light and love it for all the same reasons that you list. One of the area’s that I am a little hesitant in is the sermon management part. How have you handled this with Light?

Interesting that you point to sermoncast.com when they seem to just be a third part vender of http://sermonstudio.net/pricing.html – looks like they just grabbed this screen shot. You can also find sermonstudio.net labeled as http://sermon.net/ – you can find the same pricing structure on this page: http://site.sermon.net/broadcast/features/

The problem I have with their service is that I don’t like the look of their player and it does not give a very good video option.

I personally love Joomla for church set ups because of the amazing components that can be easily integrated into the website with no hassle. I also like Joomla because I can design a site and then leave it to the church staff to easily manage their own content……

Thanks for a great list. I use an new up-and-coming Church CMS provider – iMinistries. Their CMS has tons of features, is scalable, has free templates and also nicer looking templates for $75. And if your church or ministry uses them now you can have an iPhone app for $999, too. Hard to beat.

We did our church website using Drupal. Overall a great experience, and you can’t beat free. Good community support, hundreds of useful modules, some nice themes, almost too much capability. If we hadn’t done Drupal, I expect our next choice would have been WordPress, although it seems most WordPress sites end up looking like blogs.

Jesse – 

Great list! 
You might also want to check out SteepleConnect (www.steepleconnect.com), which like Ekklesia 360 is actually designed from the ground up to be specifically targeted towards churches (unlike WordPress, Joomla, LightCMS.. etc).  It’s got some pretty neat social features like a Prayer Wall and Facebook Integration as well.  It also has a totally free pricing tier.  

(Full disclosure, I am the developer of SteepleConnect so I may be a bit biased!)

-Tim

Hey Sally, 

It really depends on your budget. If you need something free and are ok paying a small hosting fee, WordPress is great.

If you are developing out 100% custom website, Expression Engine is fantastic. Expensive, but wonderful.

I would stay away from Halogy at this point, it is difficult to setup and has been lacking in support lately.

If you want someone to develop a custom site for you, the team over at Monk Dev and ekklesia360 are wonderful people.

In one of your comments you said LCMS has been doing more business than church, would that still be your choice for a church web site ?

Hey Kenny,

I have used Ekklesia 360, just a demo not on a live site. I still prefer LightCMS.

Both are great platforms. If I was building a large church site, lots of people updating it, and using lots of media I would look more at Ekkesia. For a simple church site, with less tech savvy users updating it, I would go for Light. It all depends on your need.

Jesse

My church is gonna use Joomla. They tasked me with building it so I turned to a Scout leader who does this stuff and he uses Joomla so that’s what I’m using. I’m also building one for the Troop using it, and the the church and Troop will split hosting costs, but get two different domains.

I realize I am a little late to this party, but I have a question. Exactly what is CMS? Is it more than a website builder and/or host? Is it something that I should be using?
I have built our website from the ground up using Expression Web. It is a culmination of several different websites our pastor liked. We went in this direction because we wanted something custom – that does not look like every other church site out there. But, knowing that I will not be working here forever (I just received my teaching degree!), I am not sure if I should be using something a little more user friendly. I have no formal background in web design. When I need to know how to do something, I just go find a tutorial and try to learn. I know not everyone can do this. So I worry about the person who comes after me here.

I am in the process of updating our site and getting rid of pages, adding more elements, etc. so that it can become more of a ministry and more useful to both members and visitors. Now would be the time I would make a change, if one is needed. Please let me know what you think.

http://www.fellowshipbaptistvienna.com

BTW, Jesse… thank you for all the articles on this site. The information is very thought provoking and will be quite useful in the revamping of our site.

Thanks for your comment, Joanne. My name is Grace. I acquired Church Website Ideas from Jesse last Summer. You can learn more about that here.

You’re never too late for this party. Questions about anything you find here are always timely and most welcome.

First things first: CONGRATULATIONS on your achievement! I also thinks it’s wonderful that you’re thinking about, and planning for, the time ahead when you’ll pass the baton of your church’s Web ministry to the next worker. It’s unfortunate that many small churches get left in a lurch when the Web worker they’ve relied on leaves, and no else knows what to do or how to do it. You’re proving your love and commitment by taking steps to make the transition easier for them.

What is a CMS and how does it differ from a website builder or host aren’t questions easily answered in one or two sentences here in the comments section. But, I thinking you’ll find this article extremely helpful. I agree with you: now would be a good time to plan a move and execute it, if that’s what you decide.

Having worked with a few CMS systems running church or other non-profit websites (Joomla, Drupal, Squarespace), I am quite biased towards WordPress for church websites. There are many reasons for my preference, but the #1 reason is the short learning curve. When I redesigned my church’s website, I moved it from Drupal to WordPress. After just 4 hours of training, my non-technical team was up and running the next day. None of them had ever worked with WordPress before.

If you want to get an idea of the basics of working with WordPress, I’d suggest going over to WP Beginner, and signing up for their free WordPress 101 video tutorials.

May God continue to bless the work of your hands!

Hey Shannon…nope, you’re never “late” on my blog. Thanks for your question. Actually, I don’t know much about SiteOrganic. I’m mostly a WordPress girl myself. But, I do know that SiteOrganic powers the website for my old church, McLean Bible Church.

If you want feedback from churches who are using SiteOrganic, try Googling “powered by siteorganic” (but don’t include the quotes). Google will deliver you pages and pages of churches using SiteOrganic.

Check out the sites. Try to find churches that are the same size as yours. That’s important, because it makes no sense to ask a large church (with lots of human and financial resources) what their experience is working with SiteOrganic if you’re the sole Web worker in a small church.

Make a list of specific questions, then contact the churches you select (use email or the contact form on their website). Just explain who you are, what you’re doing, and ask if they wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about their experience. Fellow Web workers are usually pretty happy to share their experience with a service…good or bad.

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