A tailored website designed well is an invaluable asset to anyone. If I didn’t believe this to be true then I wouldn’t be offering them. But there is a breaking point where the cost of a custom website outweighs the benefits for many. And a major demographic for which this is true is churches.

Numerically speaking the majority of my clients are churches. My very first paying client was a church and the last project I completed was for a church. Save for one church I’ve worked with, most churches have budgets set aside for websites that were I a large agency would get them a creative direction meeting and an exciting phone call from a sales rep.*

As it is though I’m a one-man operation and sometimes I take on projects with small budgets. It’s a tough assignment to build a website under these conditions — all the conventional processes you have to leave out notwithstanding. But with a cash flow business sometimes you are in a tight spot where it’s the only option and you try to make it work. Sorry to disappoint the business purists out there!

Usually what happens is you invest more time than you’re being paid for because you want the end result to be something you’re proud of. And it’s kind of a destructive spiral too: nicely done church websites beget more church website projects.

Don’t mistake my tone, I am grateful to have worked with the clients that I have had; but if you continue to fulfill these types of projects you’ll drive yourself out of business.

Churches still need website though. I could refer them to others, perhaps junior designers just entering the field or maybe spread it out over a lot of people like me who can afford to take on one or two projects with smaller budgets. But frankly my network isn’t that big and most professionals aren’t banging down my door to snatch up net-loss projects.

What to do?

As I worked on these projects it was soon apparent that each client had a lot in common. I was typing the same code and markup over and over, and much of the project scope was the same too. Same content strategy, same needs, same deliverables, same code. It was the same process more or less on repeat with each client.

Why not combine all of this in one handy package and offer it as a product? A completed, ready-to-go website that incorporates 90% of what most churches will need in an online presence. Then with the rest of their budget they can fulfill that other 10%.

So that’s what I’m doing.

The Church Plant Theme for WordPress

The Church Plant theme as I’m calling it has been created specifically for churches. Any church — old, small, new or large. But of course you don’t have to be a church to use it. I’m sure it would also work for businesses, professional organizations, non-profits, etc.

I’ve created other themes before, even running a separate theme business, but this theme is different from others I’ve created. In the past I just felt like creating themes and trying my hand at selling them because I thought it was fun. The Church Plant theme has arisen from years of first-hand experience and a clear purpose with very tangible benefits for the customer on the other end. So less fun and games and more purpose and usefulness.

At the very least it’s a framework on which to build a church website. Though for many churches it will be the only thing they need for a solid web presence.

It’s in active development and the first release should be soon, very soon actually. The initial price for the theme will be $239.00 and comes with support in setting it up and getting it running (only if necessary of course, for most it will be a breeze to install and get running on your own).

If you want to be notified upon the release of the Church Plant Theme enter your email below. This is a one-time list that will be deleted after the one and only email has been sent. (Update: The theme is released and available for purchase.)

I didn’t want to abandon a major client base, but the existing approach was not sustainable. The Church Plant theme is my way to close the gap between small budgets and professional services.

  • * Ding