Sometimes we’re asked for recommendations for hosting, plugins and WordPress-related services. These are services and products that we use or have good reason to trust. By good reason we mean that they are recommended by people we trust or have a generally good reputation. None of them are required.
Disclosure: Clicking a link below and making a purchase may result in us receiving a commission. We only recommend products that we would (or do) use ourselves Let us know how things go for you.
SiteGround is the best choice for hosting a WordPress-powered church website. We conducted a survey of churches who use our themes and found that SiteGround scored the highest overall. We have used SiteGround ourselves so we were pleased to see that churches have had having the same positive experience. WordPress.org recommends SiteGround too.
Compared to other hosts in SiteGround’s price range, they are the only one we know of that will help with WordPress-related issues. Other “managed” WordPress hosts will provide this but typically cost two to three times as much and not include any type of email hosting. We’ve found SiteGround’s support to be quick and helpful.
SiteGround’s balance of features, support and cost is ideal for churches using WordPress. Their cheapest plan is a good choice for most churches. You can get started easily with their one-click WordPress installer or they can move your existing WordPress site from your current host for free. You’re covered by their 30 day money back guarantee.
- Choose a host whose support covers WordPress issues. Typical hosts usually don’t.
- Make sure your host includes a free SSL certificate to enable https://. Some hosts are still charging for this. It’s included with SiteGround.
- Many hosts discount the first year’s price. This is nice, but be sure you know what the regular price is.
- Be aware that hosting “review” sites in general are commission-driven and usually favor hosts who will pay them more. Read our Church Web Hosting Rated and Ranked article.
- If you’re looking for hosting, you may also be about to pick a domain name. Read How to Pick a Domain Name for Your Church Website for our tips.
You can search thousands of WordPress plugins in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. Commercial plugins are not found in the directory. For those, try Pro Plugin Directory or give Google a search. Here are some plugins that we use on a regular basis.
- Ninja Forms or WPForms for building contact forms
- Antispam Bee for protecting comments from automated spam
- Yoast SEO for search engine optimization
- WP Featherlight for lightbox image display
- Jetpack Publicize for automatically sharing posts, sermons and events on social media
- Jetpack Sharing for showing social share buttons on your posts (also see JP Sharing)
- Loginizer for securing your login form against automated password attempts
- Simple Page Sidebars for showing custom sidebars on specific pages
- Companion Auto Update to keep your plugins up to date (or email you when updates are available)
- Google Analytics for WordPress for automatically embedding your analytics code
- WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin that helps increase your site’s speed
- SG Optimizer is a free alternative to WP Rocket for SiteGround hosting customers
- Wordfence offers a complete set of security features to help keep hackers out.
We very much recommend having a backup solution in place.
Recommended: If you’re hosted with SiteGround, your website is backed up automatically daily. You can also generate and download backups on demand (it’s a good idea to download a backup periodically just in case something ever happens to the host itself). Free website transfer is offered to new customers to make switching hosts easy.
- Your web host is likely to have a backup service you can take advantage of. There are also plugins…
- VaultPress – A very good, automated backup service for $3.50/month as a part of Jetpack.
- UpdraftPlus – A good free backup plugin. There are optional paid add-ons. This is our favorite free solution.
- BackUpWordPress – Another highly-rated free backup plugin. We have not tried but the maker is reputable.
- BackupBuddy – Another paid backup plugin that we have not tested but have heard great things about.
You can do manual backups of WordPress as well. Read WordPress Backups on the WordPress Codex. See Best Backup WordPress Plugins According to 21 Pros for other options.
Here are places you can obtain photos for your church website. We recommend using photos taken at your church whenever possible. In some cases, it may be appropriate to use professional stock photos.
- Lightstock provides church-oriented photos. We use them ourselves and highly recommend them.
- Unsplash provides a growing selection of free photos. We curate a collection of Christian-themed photos there.
- PhotoDune is a low-cost stock photo provider. We look here before iStock.
- iStock is a good place to look for higher quality stock photos. We look here when PhotoDune disappoints.
- The Creative Pastor published The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources
- See 31 Sites to Find Free Stock Photos for Your Church (and 33 More) by Darrel Girardier
Our theme demos use stock photography to show how a real site might look. These photos are not included with the theme. If you see a photo used in a demo that you want to use, you can find its source in Specific Themes.
Some of our themes feature video backgrounds. It can be economical to buy a stock video shot and edited by a professional instead of using a video of your own.
- Lightstock has church-centric stock video footage
- VideoHive has a wide selection of lower priced videos
- Dissolve has moderately prices videos of high quality
- iStock has higher quality videos at a higher price
- Shutterstock is another source worth considering
Important: Videos should not be used on the web without first converting and compressing them. Read our Video Backgrounds guide for how to prepare your video.
Read our How can we handle giving? article for several options for online giving.