An online presence is no longer optional for churches that want to remain relevant in 2019 and beyond. A website allows a church to extend the work it carries out in its physical location online, which is important because the web is where the younger generations are.
Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the internet, and they consume news and information in a very different way compared with the previous generations, relying on the web instead of print media and television. So far, everything indicates that Generation Z, the first cohort to be immersed in the online world from an early age, will consider the internet to be their home even more than millennials do.
Churches without a website will very likely struggle with attendance because an online presence is necessary to bring young people to church. A church website also extends the reach of a church across the globe, allowing it to spread its message as far as Africa, Asia, and Europe.
But with so many web hosting options out there, it’s understandable that churches often struggle to decide which one is the best for them. In this article, we cover several categories of church website hosting to help churches establish an online presence without paying more than necessary.
Best Affordable Hosting Companies for Churches
For most churches, price will likely be the most important factor when choosing a web hosting, but should it be? Speed, support, security, reliability, and extra features are just a few other factors that arguably matter just as much as price. The best web hosting for churches must excel across the board, instead of just being affordable. We’ve selected three web hosting companies that meet our strict criteria and can meet the needs of all churches.
Bluehost is headquartered in Utah, where it employs over 700 people who manage over 2 million domains. The company has been around since 2003, and it’s now part of Endurance International Group (EIG), which owns nearly 100 other web hosting businesses, including HostMoster, HostGator, and EntryHost.
Over the years, Bluehost has established itself as a reputable choice for anyone who’s looking for excellent performance at an amazing price point. Bluehost’s shared hosting starts at just $2.95 a month with our Bluehost promotional code (down from $7.99/month), and it includes 50 GB of SSD storage space, 1 website, 1 domain name, 5 parked domains, 25 subdomains, and 5 email accounts with 100 MB per email account. Churches that would like to have more than one website can upgrade to Plus shared hosting plan, which is mostly unlimited.
Besides shared hosting, Bluehost also offers VPS and dedicated hosting options, which are great for very large churches with an international presence. Because Bluehost makes it easy to upgrade from one plan to another, there’s no reason not to start with the most affordable plan and upgrade only when necessary.
Besides being affordable and flexible, Bluehost is also extremely reliable. For most months of the year, Bluehost maintains an uptime of 100 percent, which is truly phenomenal. Thanks to its extensive network of powerful servers, Bluehost is able to provide very low average page loading times, which are important for search engine optimization.
Perhaps because Bluehost has personal experience with cyber attacks, security is another area where Bluehost outshines its competition. Three levels of spam protection have been implemented by Bluehost—SpamAssassin, Spam Experts, and Spam Hammer—and you can be sure that each of these three layers alone would be enough to stop most spam emails. CloudFlare, a provider of content delivery network services and DDoS mitigation, is also supported, so your website will be safe even if it attracts the attention of some of the hate groups that have been targeting churches on the internet.
All in all, Bluehost is a fantastic choice for all churches that would like to establish an online presence without breaking the bank. Unlike many other affordable hosting companies for churches, Bluehost doesn’t compromise in any way, offering unlimited everything at an unbeatable price. All new customers receive a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no reason not to sign up right away.
SiteGround has become known for its highly knowledgeable and helpful support, which processes thousands of online tickets, phone calls, and chat request every single day. Support is provided in three languages—English, Italian, and Spanish—and it goes well beyond hosting-related issues. For example, SiteGround customers can ask questions related to popular content management systems like WordPress and instantly receive accurate answers because SiteGround employs only experienced and highly knowledgeable customer support staff.
Of course, a good web hosting must have many other positive qualities besides helpful support, and SiteGround is no exception. The company has built its infrastructure on SSD technology, and it uses a special in-house tool, called SuperCacher, to increase the loading speed of hosted websites.
Prices start at $6.99 a month thanks to our SiteGround discounts, but SiteGround’s plans don’t include nearly as much storage space as Bluehost. The most affordable plan, StartUp, comes with only 10 GB of storage space, which really isn’t much these days. What’s worse, even the most expensive web hosting plan, GoGeek, which costs $14.99 a month, doesn’t include unlimited storage space. In fact, it comes with less storage space than Bluehost’s most affordable plan, only 30 GB.
That’s why SiteGround doesn’t hold the top spot in our list, but Bluehost does. That said, most churches should be able to live happily with 10 GB of storage space, so it’s not like SiteGround is a bad choice. It’s just that in the day and age of online video streaming and 4K content, 10 or even 30 GB of storage space just doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Hopefully, SiteGround will upgrade its plans in the near future and offer at least one plan with unlimited storage.
Since 2001, InMotion Hosting has been offering shared, dedicated, reseller, virtual private server (VPS), and WordPress hosting to customers around the world. This hosting company is especially popular among network administrators, who appreciate that all InMotion Hosting support staff undergoes a thorough training process that includes subjects such as LAMP stack support, CentOS system administration, email client management, and more.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure to try InMotion Hosting’s live chat support knows just why it’s so important for a web hosting company to employ trained customer support staff. You can ask about any topic that’s even remotely related to web hosting, and you’ll promptly receive the right answer. Everyone you’ll talk to is guaranteed to be based in the United States, so you won’t ever encounter broken English and bad grammar.
InMotion Hosting operates fully redundant, climate-controlled data centers on both coasts of the United States, and the company leverages the networks of four Tier 1 ISP providers, which means that it would most likely maintain access to the internet even in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster. All data stored on the servers of InMotion Hosting are safely backed up, so you can be sure that you won’t ever lose your website to a cyber attack or hardware failure.
Shared web hosting plans offered by InMotion Hosting start at $7.26 a month, which InMotion Hosting them considerably more expensive than Bluehost and SiteGround. However, all InMotion Hosting plans include unlimited email, storage, and monthly data transfers, which goes to show that this web hosting company is not willing to cut any corners just to make its services more marketable.
It’s evident that the quality-first approach is serving InMotion Hosting well because the company wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. Such a long money-back guarantee goes to show just how confident they are in their service.
At the beginning of this article, we’ve said that price shouldn’t be the only factor when choosing a web hosting, but what if there’s no other way? Just like most non-profits, churches typically have very tight budgets, and even such affordable web hosting services as Bluehost may be too expensive.
While there are many free web hosting services available, we can’t recommend most of them because they support themselves by inserting ads on hosted websites. When you manage to find a free website hosting service that won’t try to modify your website, you’re almost always guaranteed to run into severe limitations, from mediocre storage space to strict bandwidth limits.
So, are there really no free web hosting services where churches can host their websites without paying? Not really. DreamHost is a Los Angeles-based web hosting provider and domain name registrar that was founded more than two decades ago and now employs about 200 employees and has close to 400,000 customers, offers free shared hosting for non-profit, charitable organizations registered in the United States. Read more about website hosting for nonprofits here.
The non-profit discount applies to a single shared hosting plan per non-profit, hosted within only one account, for US-based 501(c)(3) organizations, and it remains active for the lifetime of the DreamHost account. To apply, all you have to do is fill out and submit this form here to sign up for service with DreamHost.
The free plan includes 1 domain you can use for your website, 5 subdomains of your single domain name, 50 GB of storage space, a maximum of 6 FTP/SFTP/Shell users, and a maximum of 6 MySQL databases. The plan doesn’t, unfortunately, include a domain and email, making it suitable only for very small churches that are willing to rely on free email services like Gmail.
All other churches should, instead, take advantage of DreamHost’s 35-percent discount for non-profits, which brings the price of the company’s WordPress hosting, called DreamPress, to $12.95 per month if you pay annually, or $14.95 per month if you pay monthly. To apply for the discount, sign up for DreamPress, add your domain to DreamPress, send DreamHost proof of your tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3), and enjoy your discount.
DreamPress is a hassle-free, high-performance hosting service that comes with free email, SSL certificate, 24/7 expert customer support, and is guaranteed to support as much as 100,000 monthly visits. Should your website ever receive even more traffic, you can upgrade to DreamPress Plus or DreamPress Pro to benefit from a high-capacity architecture for sites demanding extreme performance.
What About Christian Web Hosts?
Believe it or not, but there are a handful of Christian web hosting services out there, providing a caring, Christian-based hosting experience and helping others realize their missional vision. While it might be tempting for a church to partner with a Christian web hosting service, we can’t really recommend any.
From Christian Web Host to TruePath to The GraceNet, all Christian web hosting services cost too much for what they offer, and they don’t measure up to popular web hosting services such as Bluehost. Unless your budget is so large that you can afford to pay a premium for a lesser service for ethical reasons and receive second- or third-rate infrastructure, we highly recommend you use a regular web hosting service instead.
Bluehost, while not a Christian company, shares many Christian values. Unlike most other web hosting companies, Bluehost refuses to host pornography. “Bluehost does not and will not tolerate adult material of any kind on our servers. Sometimes profit comes second, and personal responsibility and ethics come first,” said Bluehost founder and entrepreneur Matt Heaton on his blog. “I am not telling other hosts to not provide adult hosting services, but I wish that they would come to that conclusion on their own.”
Bluehost also prohibits the use of its services to provide, sell, or offer sexual products and other content deemed adult related, controlled substances, illegal drugs, and drug contraband, pirated materials, information used to violate or destroy others’ intellectual property or information, and information used to illegally harm any people or animals, making it an excellent choice for all churches that don’t want their websites hosted alongside websites that go directly against fundamental Christian values.
Free Christian Web Hosting Services
With Worthy of Praise, registered churches can get FTP access and unrestricted hard drive space and data transfer as well as a free subdomain (e.g., churchname.worthyofpraise.org). Upgrading to a custom domain name is possible, but Worthy of Praise registers new domain names on behalf of its partners only via Network Solutions, which charges a nominal fee for the domain name registration and annual renewal.
Witness Today provides unlimited space and bandwidth quotas, and the service supports most popular web technologies, including PHP, Perl, and ASP. It’s great that the service is 100 percent free of advertisements, banners, and pop-ups, but it’s unfortunate that it seems to be stuck in the year 1996. Everything about the hosting is outdated, which is probably why it hosts only around 1,400 sites.]
While these solutions may be beneficial to getting a small church plant up and running, you’ll eventually want to move to a larger more capable web host like Bluehost. At just $3.95 per month shared web hosting services are affordable, scalable, and offer much better service for far less hassle than most free Christian web hosting providers.
Top Church Website Builders
Web hosting is the first step when it comes to establishing an online presence. The biggest expense for most churches is actually the design of the website itself. The good news is that it’s no longer necessary to hire a professional web designer or web design agency to end up with a beautiful and fully functional website.
Drag-and-drop website builders have come a long way, and they’ve simplified the creation of websites to such a degree that even people with absolutely no previous web design experience can create websites that would cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago.
Powered by advanced artificial intelligence, Wix is an easy-to-use website builder that makes it possible for anyone to create stunning websites without knowing anything about web design or web development. At the moment, Wix is by far the largest website builder in the world, hosting a whopping 110 million websites, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
Wix features a massive collection of professional templates, which are designed for everyone from small businesses to restaurants to online stores to churches and nonprofits. Surprisingly many templates offered by Wix are free, and it takes just a few clicks to edit an existing template and turn it into a professional church website.
Several premium plans are available, and they remove Wix ads, which are otherwise displayed on every page and favicon in URL, and unlock many other benefits. The most affordable premium plan costs $11 a month, but the price goes down considerably with the annual payment method.
DreamHost, our favorite free church website hosting, has a great website builder that allows its customers to build beautiful websites for free. Templates are available for many different kinds of businesses and organizations, including churches, and the entire web design process consists of just four simple steps: layout, colors, images, fonts.
Absolutely no coding is involved when building a website with DreamHost Website Builder, and you can easily customize your page by adding different page sections like contact forms, image galleries, location maps, menus, and others. What we like the most about DreamHost Website Builder is the fact that it allows you to easily export the finished website to WordPress, the most popular content management system in the world.
iPage Website Builder is a likable website builder from iPage, web hosting and domain registration company owned by the Endurance International Group, the same company that owns Bluehost, our favorite affordable web hosting service for churches. With iPage Website Builder, you can drag and drop your way to a beautiful website using professional, mobile-friendly themes that can be easily customized to fit any niche or industry.
iPage Website Builder is free with web hosting from iPage, but two premium plans—Professional and Business—are available as well. The Professional plan costs $6.99 for 3 years, and it includes unlimited pages, SEO tools, PayPal integration, Google Analytics integration, and more. The Business plan, which costs $15.99 for 3 years, adds an e-commerce shopping cart, inventory management, the choice of several payment processors, and support for coupon codes.
Common Questions About Church Website Hosting
To better understand which web hosting service and web hosting plan you need, you should ask yourself a few important questions:
- Are you planning to host a WordPress site? WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, supporting blogging as well as other types of web content, including more traditional mailing lists and forums, media galleries, and online stores. Because WordPress requires PHP version 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL version 5.0.15 or greater, it doesn’t work with every web hosting service.
- Do you expect to get a lot of visitors? There’s no point in paying for an expensive web hosting plan that can handle hundreds of thousands of unique monthly visitors if your church has just a few dozen members. It’s much better to start with an affordable plan from a web hosting service that lets you easily upgrade to a better plan in the future.
- Will you store images galleries and videos? Static websites consisting of just a few pages are unlikely to exceed 100 MB in size. Such websites can be hosted even on free hosting services without constantly running into storage space issues. However, most churches want to host large image galleries or even high-resolution videos, which can very easily take up multiple gigabytes. Your best option is a web hosting plan with unlimited storage space because then you can use your website as your personal cloud storage.
- Do you need email hosting? Having a custom email address associated with the domain name of your website, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, makes you look trustworthy and professional, but many free web hosting services don’t offer email hosting. Unless you’re willing to use a free email service like Gmail, you should choose a premium web hosting service like Bluehost, which includes multiple free email accounts even with its most affordable plan.
- How much can you spend on web hosting? This is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before you sign up for any web hosting service. Without knowing what your budget is, you can easily spend hours comparing features of web hosting services that are well outside your budget.
- How many websites will you create? Some web hosting services let you create only one site, which might severely limit you further down the road. For just $5.45, Bluehost allows its customers to create an unlimited number of websites, so you can create a brand-new website for each project your church organizes.
Use Bluehost for Your Church Website
After reviewing countless popular and not-so-popular web hosting services, we’ve come to the conclusion that Bluehost is the best web hosting service for churches. While very affordable, it offers unprecedented reliability, speed, security, and extra features. You can get started with Bluehost for just $3.95 a month, and you can cancel within 30 days to receive a full refund—no questions asked.
Recommended Resource / Further Reading: If you’re a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, check out this list of Top 10 Web Hosting for Nonprofits » Updated for 2020 & beyond!