Best Church WordPress Themes

You’re looking for a free WordPress theme for your church, right? I know, I’ve been there. I’ve used WordPress since 2006 and use it to manage my church’s website. After doing this for all these years, I’ve learned one thing: paying for themes is usually worth it. Here’s why:

  • It will save you hours upon hours of time, because they come with instructions.
  • It will work. I’ve played around with enough poorly-coded free themes to know that you get what you pay for.
  • It will be supported. If you pay for a theme, you can get technical support from those behind the theme. You can’t do that with a free theme.
  • They’re affordable. All of the paid themes suitable for churches that I have seen are less than $99.

Below is a list of my favorite premium and free WordPress themes for churches.

The Absolute Best Theme for Churches: Maranatha

Learn More & Purchase View Live Demo

Maranatha Church Website

Maranatha is the newest theme put out by Churchthemes.com, and it is the best WordPress theme I have ever seen for churches. I reviewed the first ever theme by ChurchThemes.com in 2012, and it was amazing four years ago. Maranatha is leaps and bounds better.

With Maranatha, you get:

Appearance features

  • Mobile-friendly- Maranatha has a responsive design optimized for smartphones and tablets.
  • Customizer- Customize the design’s colors, fonts and other elements with a real-time preview.
  • Sticky menu bar – The menu and logo conveniently “stick” to the top of the screen as you scroll.
  • Add your logo – Upload your logo image or use text while choosing a custom font and size.
  • Section navigation – A compact menu specific to each section helps users navigate sermons, events, etc.
  • Custom colors – Easily customize your site’s main color and the color for links and buttons.
  • Simplicity, readability – A single content column with carefully chosen width and font size emphasizes contentand improves comfort.
  • Custom fonts – Choose from a hand-picked selection of Google Fonts ideal for Maranatha.
  • Header images – Show images for different sections (e.g. one for sermons, another for events).
  • Custom styled maps – Custom styling of Google Maps ties them into Maranatha’s unique design.
  • Sticky notice – A notice bar sticks to the bottom for showing upcoming events, recent sermons or other content of your choosing.
  • High resolution – Maranatha is optimized for high resolution screens, including Retina®.

Content features

  • Long homepage – Drag and drop sections to create a stunning, informative homepage.
  • Sermon archive – Share audio, video and text sermons. Upload or use YouTube, Vimeo and others. Topics, books, series and speakers.
  • Events calendar – Display events as calendar or list. Set weekly, monthly or yearly recurrence. Show maps, directions and categories.
  • Sermon podcasting – Podcasting for audio sermons is included and works with iTunes®.
  • Locations – Single or multiple locations with service times, map/directions and photo tour.
  • Staff and leaders – Show staff and leader profiles with contact details, organizable by group.
  • Ministries – Create a listing of your ministry pages using the Child Pages template.
  • Blog – Publish articles or news on your church’s blog. Nothing beats a WordPress blog.
  • Photos and videos – Add galleries to any content and upload or embed videos from popular sites.
  • Footer widgets – Show widgets in your footer for sermons, events, blog, photos, giving and more.
  • Footer map – Make it easy for newcomers to find your church with a map in the footer.
  • Site search – Users can click the search icon in the header to find things on your church site.
  • Sample content – Get started fast by importing sample content similar to the demo.
  • Portable content – The Church Theme Content plugin makes switching themes easier.

Making it easy

  • Made for beginners – WordPress and Maranatha are made for regular people — design skill not needed.
  • Helpful support – Get answers to your questions with private, one-on-one support by email.
  • One-click updates – Updates for compatibility, bug fixes and new features with one click.
  • Guides and videos – Step-by-step guides and videos walk you through setup and use.
  • Translation-ready – A guide is included to help you translate Maranatha into another language.
  • Child themeable – Advanced users can modify the code. Filters and actions abound.

The best part? ChurchThemes.com offers a 45 day money back guarantee. Try it out for 45 days and if you don’t think it will work for you, you can get a complete refund.

Premium Themes:

StuidioPress

StudioPress Premium WordPress ThemesStuidioPress has been making high-quality WordPress themes for a long time. I have recently used Genesis and I am loving it. The Genesis Theme Framework is all the rage right now–it seems like there are all sorts of websites using it to build custom sites. They have one great theme for churches, Outreach, but some of their other stuff would work well for churches, too. These guys are definitely worth checking out.

iThemes

iThemes Builder themeiThemes is often times my top recommendation for a novice WordPress user trying to build a church website. iThemes has a lot of different themes, all paid, many of which would work fabulous for churches. In fact, I decided to purchase Architect for our church’s website. Now they even have a theme built just for churches with Foundation Church Builder. iThemes could have the perfect solution for your church.

ChurchThemer

WordPress Themes For ChurchesThis is a new company that I’ve never used personally, but their themes are built specifically for churches and claim to be very user-friendly. I know one thing, they sure look greak. If you use them, drop a comment below detailing your experience.

Risen

Risen WordPress ThemeI had the privilege of testing out this theme, and let me tell you, it is top-notch and very user-friendly. It has a lot of features, including a mobile-friendly responsive design, sermon archive, photo and video gallery, church events calendar, support for multiple locations, staff profiles and church news. The sermon archive is complete with the ability for visitors to search for audio, video and text sermons by category, tag, date and speaker. Risen has customization options that make it easy to change the theme’s colors, fonts and background. (Updated 7/23/12)

Disclosure: If you click on the links above and purchase a theme, I will receive a small affiliate payment for referring you. I originally wrote this post in March 2009 (I’ve updated it periodically since) to help people with their church websites, and I didn’t know anything about affiliate links. All of the above themes were in my original post. After about a year and a half of doing this, I realized that I could earn a referral fee for sending these businesses free traffic, so now I use affiliate links. I never recommend a product I don’t believe in. Contact me if you have any questions about this.

Some of the best free church WordPress themes:

  • Arras – I don’t know anything about Arras, other than I saw it on a church site the other day and it looks real nice.
  • [UPDATE – Ministry Theme is no longer free] Ministry Theme – As you might guess, this theme is built specifically for ministry websites. I’ve never come across it before in the wild, but it looks really great. Thanks to Bill Robbins of Organized Themes for pointing this one out.
  • Ashford – This theme claims to be among the most user-friendly for the novice. Among the unique traits of this theme is the ability to edit certain aspects of the website from the front end rather than having to login to the back end of the website at do all the editing. I have never used tried it, but if you have never used WordPress before (or will be allowing other people to edit the site who have little experience), this might be perfect.
  • LivingOS UPSILON – A very clean theme with a rotating picture header. Changing the pictures takes a little bit of code work, but it’s pretty easy to figure out. I used UPSILON to create PassingOnFaith.com for a conference I helped organize. UPSILON was designed specifically for churches. Check out the other themes at LivingOS.
  • [UPDATE – Organized themes appears to only have paid themes now]Organized Themes.com – Run by a guy who worked as an associate pastor and realized churches need a simple way to present their web content and began designing WordPress themes. I’ve never used them, so I can’t speak for their user-friendliness but a few of them look really nice.
  • Ocean Mist – Another really simple site, but I’ve never used it so can’t speak for it.
  • Vigilance – I used Vigilance for a long time on MattCleaver.com. It has some really sweet features that could make it a great site for churches to use. Go to the linked page to see the extra goodies that I am not using right now on my site. I can also vouch that it is very user friendly, a great place to start for newbies who want some flexibility and customization options. This is one of the best free themes I’ve run into in a long time.
  • Titan – Just released on March 11 by the same guy who made the above Vigilance, Titan looks great. Titan offers drop-down menus that are helpful for sites with a lot of pages.
  • WooThemes (mostly paid themes, but some freebies) – WooThemes has some really sweet themes, most of them paid. There are a few free ones though, like the Original Premium News theme that Tim Schmoyer uses.

Using Themes

So far in this series we’ve learned the advantages of a self-hosted church website, hosting it through HostGator, and how to install WordPress to manage your website content. But now your website looks really ugly and boring, and we can’t have that. Thankfully, giving your WordPress website a whole new look is as simple as downloading a few files and then uploading them to your website (click here for step-by-step instructions to install a theme). These collections of files that style your website and give it a particular look are called “Themes.” There are tons of both free and paid themes available for WordPress, from the simple blog theme to a complex news and video website. If you Google “best WordPress themes” you will get a ton of websites who have compiled a list of themes that they think stand out. If you want a really great-looking website a paid theme is probably the way to go ultimately. Be warned though, that some of these themes require a significant amount of customization that may not be really easy to do at first. Most of these paid themes include step-by-step instructions for how to customize things like rotating picture banners, but you might have to dig a little bit to find it. Also, for the best appearance, you will need to crop pictures to certain sizes at times, which can be done pretty easily online at sites like Picnik.com.

Please leave some links and comments in the comments section below if you know of other great themes for churches. And yes, you can promote your own, paid or free! If I like them, I’ll add them to the body of the post.

Use the Coupon Code “ChurchWebsite” when you sign up for website hosting through HostGator and you will get a 25% discount from HostGator. That also makes sure I get credited for referring you. Thanks! Find out more about HostGator.

Comments

    • Matt says

      Patrick, no problem. I just want to point people to quality work and I liked what I saw. Looking forward to future releases at ChurchRoot.

  1. says

    Hey Matt,
    Thanks for including Organized Themes in your listing. I think WordPress is an amazing tool to help churches, so everything we can do as a community to help churches take advantage of this fantastic software is good.
    I’d also mention the Ministry Theme that Brandon Cox created http://www.ministrytheme.com/). He intended it to be a paid theme, but choose to release it for free.

  2. says

    I believe that Ashford would not disappoint any of you readers. It is still in development — the most recent release adds many new features not found in other free themes.

    • Matt says

      Hey Tim, I was wondering if you were still developing the theme. Glad to see that you are. I’m looking forward to 1.0.

  3. says

    Hi Matt, Great list of themes and sources here. There are a lot of free themes out there but the trick is finding a good one. I can speak from experience that a lot of time can be spent trying one theme and then ditching it because the design breaks in various browsers or you dislike the coding style of the creator or for whatever reason. I suggest to your readers that if they are going to go with a free theme, at least try to find a free theme from someone who puts out premium themes. Those doing theme creation for a living have a lot riding on their free themes since it must be quality work or no one will buy their premium themes. I encourage everyone to check out Matt’s links above and also you can check out http://www.ithemes.net which has a huge collection of premium themes if you still can’t decide.

    • Matt says

      I need to update my list of free themes. I just haven’t looked for them lately. If you come across any, let me know.

    • Matt says

      Hey Steven, thanks for the comment. I actually do update this periodically. I should probably date when the latest update was, but I just updated this page a couple of weeks ago.

      I’ve mostly updated the premium themes because those are only what I use now. I just haven’t perused the free theme marketplace lately. If you have any suggestions for the free themes, I’ll definitely take them.

      Maybe I should start a list in the sidebar for other premium themes like yours that are out there but I’m not familiar with. I know this page ranks well in Google and it gets a lot of traffic, so I try to keep it as helpful as possible for people looking for help. If you have any suggestions for me, I’m all ears.

  4. says

    Hi Matt,

    I’m not very up on the latest free church themes (I think there are more premium ones?) but I do keep track of the premium ones and I know of 22 that I have added to ThemeSorter’s church category: http://themesorter.com/wordpress-themes/niches/church. Maybe you can add the best of that list to this post. My favorites are Mint Themes / Church Themer, ChurchThemes.net and the newer batch in ThemeForest’s Church category: http://themeforest.net/category/wordpress/nonprofit/churches (the three from jsheetz look particularly nice). And of course I recommend my own Risen theme which is the newest at ThemeForest and off to a good start.

    • Matt says

      Cool, thanks for the input. I’ll check out your list. Most of the time, people who find this page are looking for free themes, so I’m reluctant to clutter it up with a bunch of premium themes. I’ve used Genesis and iThemes before and know they have good support to users and put out good products. Mint themes seems to be worth recommending, but I’ve never used them.

      I’m hesitant to recommend themes on ThemeForest because there are so many authors and each has their own framework for designing their sites that I’m not sure how user-friendly they are. I know some of them make their sweet layouts with lots of custom HTML coding and shortcodes, which isn’t necessarily friendly for beginners. If you want to send me a copy of your theme that I can play with on my localhost, I will review it and recommend it if I think it is worth it. I promise I won’t use it on a live site or give it away :)

  5. says

    It’s good that you’re selective. I’ll e-mail you a copy of Risen. So far I’m getting good feedback on it being easy to use and customize. Thank you for offering to give it a try!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *