So, your church is looking for the best new website it can afford… and you’ve researched your options all across the internet, from the tiniest, independent website-building companies to the mega, custom businesses that charge $50,000 per site. So .. what about free? Could there be problems going with free? So … What’s Wrong with Free Church Websites?
If you’ve done any of this research thus far, no doubt you’ve also encountered a couple of “free” website-building sites as well. And these sites beg the question, “what would be so wrong with a free church website?”
We’re going to look at three pros and cons of free websites, and by the end of this article, hopefully, you’ll have your answer.
Here we go.
1. WEBSITE OWNERSHIP
Some churches are content to give up the idea of having their own website and simply using Facebook. Is this a problem? Well .. .ask youself … would you want to rent a car the rest of your life? Sure, I know that Facebook doesn’t cost anything … but the idea is the same. When you are always renting a car you are never OWNING the car. You also don’t own Facebook.
If they want to make a change there is nothing you can do about it. After all .. you aren’t paying for it anyway. Your photos, posts, etc are on THEIR account not yours.
Ownership should be a HUGE priority to you! Typically you give up ownership when you get a website for free. Are you ok with that?
2. SECURITY & PRIVACY
We can all agree that online security is of utmost importance. Presumably, you want to guard your church’s online presence from hackers, malware, spam, and viruses, to name a few. How well will a free site help you do this?
Good news: With the constant expansion of the internet, free websites continue to improve their security and privacy options.
Bad news: All of the online world is expanding, including the malicious realms. As fast a security measures evolve, hacking techniques evolve right along with them.
Free websites cannot always devote adequate time to keeping up with current malware trends, nor can they offer cutting-edge security options for your church. And in this present day, outdated security isn’t very secure. No church wants to inadvertently send out spam, encounter malware on its website, or have its website hacked.
3. PROFESSIONAL TOUCH
Your website presents the first glimpse some people will ever have of your church. This can be a double-edged sword working for you or against you, depending on what your site looks like. How will a free website influence your church’s first impressions?
Good news: The evolution of the online marketplace ensures that developers are constantly updating their material, providing fresh, beautiful web pages to draw in visitors and offer them a pleasant, rewarding experience. Even some free templates offered by developers can be streamlined, professional, and aesthetically pleasing.
Bad news: For a site to be offered to you for free, it must first be acquired for free (or at very little cost) by the developer. This means you will probably be getting the cheapest quality sites available to that developer. In addition, you may also be required to assemble the site yourself, to keep the developer’s overhead costs and time constraints down.
Truly-free church websites are built by well-meaning, but often impersonal citizens who must also have day jobs to support themselves. Unfortunately, because of this, you will probably not acquire much of the developer’s time or assistance. He/she has to make a living somehow, and providing free websites simply cannot support a person.
And if your site glitches, or you have questions later on, you probably shouldn’t bank on the availability of your developer.
Most churches have limited income. The fact that you’re considering building a new website (or even updating one) means you understand the value of your online presence. So, how will the costs of a free site affect you?
Good news: More and more developers are offering free websites for churches and other nonprofit organizations, especially as a means of charitably “giving back.”
Bad news: “Free” very rarely means truly free. A company simply cannot make ends meet by “selling” free websites only. To break even at all, or even make the barest profit, they must bring in some money. Unfortunately for you, this means your site is very probably going to cost you at least “something.”
You will be required to purchase something on your own: at the very least you will need a domain name, self-hosting and storage options. You may also be required to purchase templates, fonts, and other design options. And the sneakiest developers will ask you to help support their cause by offering outrageously priced add-ons such as logos, magnets, coffee mugs, brochures, and tract designs before you choose your website.
Personally, I would rather select an up-front developer with inexpensive rates, who provides good quality sites and is straight-forward about the cost, than be bamboozled into ultimately paying the same amount anyway after much time and frustration.
So … what’s wrong with free church websites? The cost of a church website is ultimately up to you. Perform the appropriate research, ask questions, read reviews, and decide which options are best for your church.
What do you think? Leave a comment or question below; we always love to hear from you!Share