One of the services we offer at the Rio Texas Media Center is called “Getting Started with a New Church Website.” It is a simple process. We ask for some information like whether or not the church currently has a website, what type of computer and internet access the church is using, what features are desired, and the level of technical expertise available. We also ask the all important question about money. How much does the church have to spend upfront and on a yearly or monthly basis?
The answer to the financial question is very often $0. I understand that. Some small churches have budgets that cover the pastor’s salary, building and maintenance costs, and not much else.
Fortunately, there is a decent free option out there that we recommend. However, before you jump at free, (who doesn’t like free?) let’s look at the numbers.
Weebly, who hosts the free option I will talk about below, offers a paid starter plan for $8 a month when you pay yearly. That comes out to under $100 a year, and they throw in a free domain name and hosting for the year.
The platform I recommend most, Squarespace, has a personal plan for $16 a month. If you pay yearly, it is only $144 a year, and they also throw in a free domain name and hosting for the year.
I know what it is like to have a budget of $0. However, I also know how much value is returned on a yearly investment of just $100 or $150 a year. So, even if the budget is 0, you may be able to convince someone in the church to fund something that may help new people meet Jesus.
But, getting back to 0. Sometimes that is the only option available. For those who just can’t find funding, Weebly is the way to go. Their free option gives you nearly all the features of Weebly’s excellent website building and hosting platform. The biggest drawback if the fact that your site needs to live on a Weebly domain. That means, instead of having a URL like mychurchname.org, you will have to settle for mychurchname.weebly.com. While this isn’t ideal, it still works, and I have seen churches achieve decent search engine rankings using this method. Other limitations include the lack of site search and the lack of hosted audio and video. Site search isn’t a huge deal for smaller websites. For churches wanting to record videos of sermons, YouTube is an easy way to get those videos linked to your website.
The real beauty of the free Weebly plan is this: If you do a good job of building the site and you get people involved in creating and maintaining it, you will likely find that some money will become available. It is simple to upgrade your Weebly site without having to rebuild or migrate the work you have already done. The site can grow with you as you have the need and funding.
Looking for more information on website platforms? Check out our list of web providers at riotexas.org.
Do you have a church website on Weebly? I would love to see it. Share the link in the comments below.