Free church websites are possible. I’m talking about a free site with no setup fee and no monthly or yearly costs for hosting or domain name. Some might think I’m crazy for writing this because we sell a church website solution (an inexpensive one) but I have observed that most churches do not want a free website. Most want something of high quality that is supported and maintained. There are situations in which a free church site is needed, however, and I want to show you how.
It’s no secret that there are many churches struggling financially. Our solution is ideal for many churches with a low budget because it weighs in at only $24/month with hosting and domain considered (we also offer a 20% off coupon). Still, we hear from churches every now and then that have absolutely nothing to budget for a website. If this is your church then know that you can still have a website and you can have it entirely for free.
What to Expect from a Free Church Site
It is important to understand what you can expect from a free church website before going down that path. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Simply put, free is not ideal unless you truly have no other option. It should be a last resort option for churches with absolutely no budget for a church site, even after reevaluating priorities.
It’s not surprising that you get better products and services when you pay for them. It’s why our church WordPress themes are much more popular than free church WordPress themes. It is important to have continuous website uptime, a professional design, theme and plugin updates for stability (and security). It’s helpful to have support standing by.
If your church has zero funds whatsoever and does not expect that situation to change and if you are willing to take some risks then a free website is better than nothing. Some churches go partially free to save money. They’ll use our themes and go with free hosting or will use a free theme and buy hosting. You can always switch hosting or themes later.
What You Need for a Free Church Website with WordPress
You will need several tools and services to build a free church website. WordPress is the most popular website building tool and it is what we know best so it is our recommendation. This is a quick list of what you need with more detail on each further in the article.
- WordPress is free. Many hosts have an automatic installer to make getting started easy.
- You need web hosting. This is where you will install WordPress. Your domain name will point to your hosting space. I will share a free hosting option with you.
- You need a domain name. This is yourchurch.com or yourname.church or similar. It’s your address on the web. It is possible to register a free domain.
- You need a WordPress theme which is what makes your site look a certain way. I will recommend a specific free theme for churches further in the article…
- You need a WordPress plugin for publishing sermons, events, etc. A plugin adds features to WordPress. Many plugins are free and I will recommend ours to you.
Free Web Hosting for Churches
Web hosting can make up half of your total annual website costs. Most hosts will offer a first year at a deep discount. It’s not always clear that this discount ends when the service renews the following year. Still, typical web hosting is relatively inexpensive (about $10 or $15 per month).
We surveyed our customers to find out which web hosts are best and which should be avoided. Nearly all of our customers pay for web hosting but I can suggest an option for free hosting. Dreamhost’s nonprofit offer is available to 501(c)(3) organizations, which most churches in the United States are.
Note: We used to be able to recommend a second option for free hosting that was not limited to US churches, but it is no longer available. If you know of another choice, please let us know and we’ll update this article.
Free Domain Name
A domain name is the one aspect of a church website that I always believed could not be free, simply because domain name registration costs money – and not much (only about $15 per year for .com or $30 for .church). I had not seen a free offer until it was brought to my attention. Let me share some caveats of a free domain name before sharing where to get one.
- The domain extensions are uncommon and therefore do not inspire confidence in the way that .com, .church and .org do.
- You will not be the registered owner because you are not paying for it. The domain registrar will own it and let you use it at their discretion.
- Some users have reported losing their free domain names without warning.
Consider if these risks are worth taking in order to save only about $15/year. A domain name will likely be the cheapest part of your website compared to the cost of hosting and a theme so I advise against using a free domain. However, it is an option if you are okay with the risk. Now, which domain extensions are free and where to get one?
- Domain extensions: .TK / .ML / .GA / .CF / .GQ
- Register at Freenom for $0 (free renewals)
If you will play it safe and plunk down around $15 – $30 to buy a domain then know that you can usually do that while signing up for hosting. Otherwise, I have used and recommend Google Domains for domain registration. See our article on choosing a church domain name that you may find useful if you will be registering a domain for the first time.
Free Church WordPress Theme
There are many free WordPress themes but the most suitable for a church website is one designed specifically for churches. I have been suggesting the Restful theme by my friend Galen Gidman. He developed this theme a few years ago specifically for churches. It works with our free WordPress plugin for publishing sermons, events and other church-centric content. The code is solid and there is no other free church theme this good.
It has not been updated in some time but still works. You may or may not get support for it. Hundreds of churches are using it as a free option right now and it may be a fit for you as well. If you find that it’s not then you can easily switch to one of our themes without having to re-add your content since both themes share the same plugin for sermons and more.
Free Church Content Plugin for Sermons, Events and More
We developed the free Church Content plugin as a way for churches to publish sermons, events, team profiles and campus locations with WordPress. It requires a compatible theme (ie. a theme made specifically for it). We and several other church WordPress theme makers support it to make switching between different church themes easy. The only free theme that is made for it is the Restful theme mentioned above.
Steps to Launch a Free Church Website
Let’s recap with tangible steps so that it is clear how you can get you going with your new church website, at zero cost. Remember, you’ll pay nothing now, nothing monthly and nothing yearly.
- Sign up for web hosting under Dreamhost’s nonprofit offer.
- Register a domain with Freenom if you decided not to invest $15/year for a domain you own. Your host will give you instructions for pointing the domain name to your web hosting.
- Install WordPress on your hosting account. Dreamhost has a tool in their account area to automate this for you. No need to install WordPress manually.
- Install the free Restful theme in your WordPress admin area by going to Appearance > Themes > Add New (search for Restful).
- Install our free Church Content plugin similarly by going to Plugins > Add New (search for Church Content).
- Add your pages, sermons, etc. via the WordPress admin area.
And that’s how you can get a free church site with WordPress. You’ll pay $0 to start, $0 every month and $0 yearly if you take advantage of every free option presented in this article. It will take some time to get set up but that’s the case with any church website solution, free or paid. The good news is that it is absolutely possible to have a church website entirely for free.
I hope you will consider our themes if you decide to use a low cost or partially free solution. With us you will have access to technical support and theme/plugin updates to keep your website running smooth. We also include starter content and guides with videos to show you exactly how to do things. You may use our themes/plugins with a free host.
By the way, when I write “Forever” in the title I mean that there are no monthly or yearly fees. Keep in mind that a product or service that is free now may cease to be free in the future.