Church Web Site Hosting
You've decided to put up a web site. Now you are looking for church web site hosting. But where do you start?
I’ve tried to do the hard work for you. I read all the fine print, tested out software, talked at length with many company representatives, and compared the various web hosts.
Now, I couldn’t look at them all. But I believe that I was able to research the best. And as long as I'm qualifying, I have to say that first, you should do some research of your own; Second, things might have changed since my reviews – so again, do some homework.
Having said that, I am confident that the information provided about the church web site hosting companies is a good indicator of the quality and reliability of each service.
What I Am Assuming about You
When I researched the Christian web hosts, I assumed certain things about you and the people in your church who will be working on the site.
- I assume that your church is small to mid-sized.
- I assume that at least some of the people who will work on the site don’t know html (the programming language of the web).
- I assume that no one in your church can reliably create and maintain the site. You may have someone in your church who can build a site. But building a site is only half of the challenge. The site needs to stay up to date – sometimes even daily updates. So it is likely that your site needs to be updated by people who can’t do programming.
- I assume that you are looking for an inexpensive option. There are a wide variety of prices. You need a balance between cost, value, and reliability.
How Did I Review the Church Web Hosts?
Based on those assumptions, I used the following qualifications to review the various church web site hosting companies.
- The web host should have an online editor. You shouldn't have to create your pages offline and then upload them to the web.
- You shouldn't have to know html – though it might be good if it had that as an option. That way you have an option should someone doing the updating knows the programming language.
- The company should have excellent support. At minimum, they should be able to be reached by phone or live chat during daytime hours. 24 hour support is ideal – but very rare in church web site hosting.
- The company should understand the needs of a church. Larger hosts such as SiteBuildIt are excellent for starting your own online Christian business – but they don't know the needs of local congregations.
- The company should offer as close to unlimited disk space as possible. Disk space is what determines how much content you can put on your site. Pictures, text, audio, and video all take up disk space. You shouldn't have to worry if you are putting up too many pages or showing too many sermon videos.
- The church web site hosting company should offer as close to unlimited bandwidth as possible. Bandwidth is a measure of how much can be transferred from the site to visitor’s computers. Whenever you go to a web site, almost everything you see gets transferred to your computer. You don't want your site to be offline just because you had too many visitors!
- The church web service should show a dependability of at least 99%. That means that your site is guaranteed to be live and showing at least 99% of the time. The industry standard is 99.9%
- The plan you choose should have a very reasonable cost. There are a wide variety of hosting plans and just as many prices. You need to balance value, reliability, and cost. How much is too much? That depends on what you need. More on that below.
- Speaking of cost. Your site shouldn't have a setup fee. If it does, it should not be more than about $50.
- The computer your site is stored on should be monitored 24 hours a day. If something goes wrong during the middle of the night there should be someone who knows about it and does something to fix it.
- Your church web site hosting company should have what's called redundant systems and daily backup. That means that your site is stored on more than one computer at the same time. That way, if one computer breaks down, the other will still keep your site online. The company should also do daily backups of the sites on their computers.
- One final note – the church web hosts don’t provide references. They typically offer sample sites, but no references. At first I was discouraged by this. However, one host explained to me that they used to offer references. But the churches were getting so many phone calls that they were too frequently interrupted. So look at sample sites – but don't try to get references.
The Main Contenders
Based on my assumptions about your church and the qualifications mentioned above, I recommend you take a serious look at the following church web site hosts.
- DiscountChurchWebsites.com – This church web site hosting company offers their full line of features for about $10 a month! Need I say more? Read the Full Review…
- OurChurch.com – I love that this church web site host offers search engine optimization. That means that they help you get listed in Google, Yahoo, and Bing’s search result pages. However… Read the Full Review…
- ChurchAddress.com – This church web host understands the needs of local churches. Read the Full Review…
- Church111.com – The first thing I notice about this church web site hosting company is it's name. What's that all about? Read the Full Review…
The church web site hosting companies I discuss above are in no way the only ones available. There are plenty more. Those listed below are worth considering. But in my opinion, for one reason or another, they are not as good of options as those listed above.
- ChurchSquare.com – Their online sitebuilder is pretty easy to use. But to get help setting up your site's look and feel (banner and navigation) you will need to spend $500. If you use one of their generic templates and have them modify it, you will only pay $50. Then it will cost $60 a month to maintain. I think that a unique look and feel is important. So for me, $500 for setup is too much to pay. You could probably get away with using the $50 setup option. That may create a unique look and feel. However, another issue is the type of support. The manual for the directory alone is 24 pages. In my opinion, if you can’t explain something in far fewer pages, it's too complicated.
In their words, "Did you know that 80% of churches want web sites but less than 20% have the knowledge or expertise to craft a site? That is why we created ChurchSquare.com - so churches and ministries can create and update their sites easily and quickly just by using their web browser. If you need assistance in getting started, we offer free assistance to new customers or can build your site for a modest fee."
- TrinityWebHosting.com – This church web site hosting company has a $150 startup fee, and the features seem to be a little thin. For instance, I don’t see anywhere where they offer an online directory. Nor do they state that they provide a database in which to store contact information. I was also turned off by the lack of good, helpful information about their plans.
- Ekklesia360.com – This is a great product! It has nearly everything you will ever need. But you'll pay for it too: $1,250 setup fee for a generic site; $3000+ for a unique design. Then there's a monthly fee of between $50 and $215. It might be one of the best products out there. But most churches won’t be able to handle the price.
- ThisChurch.org – This church web site hosting company offers plans starting at $30. But at that price your site will have advertisements all around your text. You don't want that. To get what you need you’ll spend $50 for churches of 100 – 249 people. There are no setup fees. And there are a lot of great features. But it's a little pricy for me.
- E-Zekiel.com – Their plans start with $12 – pretty great. But you only get one email address and not very much disk space. To get what you really need, you will have to spend $64 a month.
- Church-Webs.com – I like the fact that there are no setup fees. But there is limited disk space. Though the site is called, Church-Webs – it doesn’t really seem to understand the real needs of church web site hosting. For instance, it appears that to be able to collect offerings on the site, you have to have a plan that allows for online shopping. But a church doesn't need all that's included with their shopping plan. And churches shouldn't need to spend extra to be able to collect offerings.
- MinistryWeb.org – They advertise an easy site builder. But I can't find any information about it. All I can find is a choice between Linux, Cold Fusion, etc. And if I can't understand the provided information, I'm skeptical that site building will be any easier.
Ok, now you have an idea of where you might get your church web site hosting. But you or others in your church may be asking, "Why do we need a web site?" Take a short side-trip from this page, church web site hosting, to find out why you need a church web site .
So you don't want to pay for your site. You want free church websites. Read this for more information.