Maranatha has come.
After many months of design, development and testing, our newest WordPress theme for churches is available. We celebrated our two year anniversary last month and have learned much from working with thousands of churches since launching. Maranatha is the result of what we’ve learned churches and church website visitors really need.
Maranatha has all the same core features as our other WordPress themes such as sermons, events, people and locations. Let me explain the innovations that make Maranatha different and better.
Maranatha has a unique design. We don’t follow trends in church web design. We start them. This is a look at a sermon.
Sticky Menu Bar
Maranatha features a sticky menu bar. What this means is that when the user scrolls down on a page, the menu and logo “stick” to the top of the screen in order to be reachable at all times. There’s no need to scroll all the way back up to the top to navigate to a new page. This is especially useful to mobile users.
Our previous themes have an area in the header for showing upcoming events (or latest sermons, blog posts or other content). Maranatha sticks this area to the bottom of the screen so that it is visible on all pages without being distracting. The result is added convenience with an even cleaner header area.
Optimized for Today’s Users
Sliders, while attractive and popular, are often not as effective as assumed. With Maranatha, instead of showing a handful of slides, you will show a handful sections that the user scrolls through. Each section has a background image (with parallax-inspired effect), title, description and several buttons. These are widgets so you can use the Customizer to create them with a real-time preview.
In years past, it was considered a necessity to have all of the most important content “above the fold” (visible without scrolling) as with a slider at the top. That time is long gone because today’s users scroll. Mobile browsing is extremely commonplace and requires a whole lot of scrolling. And that scrolling has become habit, even while users are on large screens.
Simplicity and Readability
Users are most comfortable reading when each line of text does not exceed a certain number of characters. The result is a narrow content area and somewhat enlarged font for improved reading comfort. This also creates the opportunity to make important elements like photos, galleries and blockquotes pop out beyond the narrow column, creating a dramatic effect.
A sidebar can be distracting and is often less than ideal for mobile users. We found that churches most often use sidebar widgets for section navigation. For example, to provide lists of sermon topics or series. Other widgets are often added simply to fill space, not because they are needed. These are not deal breakers, but they can create unpleasant clutter.
Maranatha avoids this with dynamic controls under the header for navigating between areas in the current section. Widgets can be added to the footer area.
Topic, Series and Other Indexes
We’ve had many requests for the ability to list the latest series on a page. You can do that with Maranatha’s Sermon Series page template. There are also templates for creating indexes for topics, books, speakers and months. Here’s an example.
List Your Ministries
Another feature we’ve had a lot of requests for is Ministries. You can create a page for each of your ministries and use Maranatha’s Child Pages template to list them automatically in a manner similar to sermons and blog posts. This template can be used in a similar way for other content.
Finding You Easily
One of the problems we see with too many church websites is difficulty finding where the church is. The most important thing a potential visitor needs to know is where your church is. If they can’t tell if you are close enough to them right away, they may leave your website.
Maranatha shows your location details on a wide map, front and center on the homepage. It also shows the map in the footer of all subpages. If you’re into details and polish, you might notice that the map is more elegant than a typical Google Map embed. This is because we’ve custom styled the map to match Maranatha’s design.
You can drag-and-drop widgets into your footer with Maranatha. This is a great place to share your latest sermons, upcoming events or to add a newsletter signup form.
Switch to Maranatha
As you would expect, Maranatha has the same core features that our other themes have because they all leverage the Church Theme Content plugin (which makes switching themes easy). Read the details page to learn more.
We hope you’re as thrilled about Maranatha as we are. If you have any questions, please submit a comment below or send in a contact us.