List of CMSes used by Popular Church Websites

As the speed of communication increases with the mainstreaming of social media and mobile devices by your side, quicker updates and faster edits on church websites must be part of effective church communications. And from time to time, that also means changing the software (aka platform) used for managing the content on a church website. Social proof may be helpful to churches that are looking for the support of a website company for their current & future seasons of ministry.

What are popular churches using to run their websites? churchcms-chartedI believe it’s helpful to know what churches as a starting point of researching what’d be best for your church context. Here’s what I found about the platform powering these 80 popular larger churches (click on chart to view spreadsheet with details):

I’ll leave it to you to do the math for percentages of church market share.

Increasing numbers of websites on the Internet are running on content management systems (CMS), no longer editing one web page at a time using an HTML editor.When it comes to CMSes, there are ones developed for any kind of websites, and then there are ones developed specifically for churches.

This daily-updated dashboard, Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Management Systems for Websites, shows that 22.9% use WordPress, 3% use Joomla, 2% use Drupal. These 3 are open-source free software platforms; 27 out of the 80 sample churches researched are using WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, that’s 33.75%. Other generic website CMSes being used: ExpressionEngine, TYPO3, Squarespace. (And for church websites without findable CMS info, server info is listed, e.g. PHP/apache, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET).

Larger churches have more financial resources as well as more complexity. By using one of the generic CMSes and doing custom development, churches can build out their customized features. This means each church is creating its own software modules (or contracting with a web developer or company) to build something that would have to be maintained. Having this on-going development costs might be acceptable in certain context.

However, there are also quite a number CMSes specifically developed for churches. Rather than having each church develop its own CMS, more than several dozens of companies have built church website CMSes to provide the commonly-used features, leveraging an economy of scale.

Here’s the list of the website CMSes used by popular churches researched (includes ChurchRelevance’s 40 Great Church Websites of 2013), with notes of what I’d noticed:

  • Ekklesia360 by Monk Development (PHP-based; San Diego; since 2006) – used by 8,500+ churches of all sizes, from church plants to megachurches; robust set of features, API access, detailed documentation online, freely shares their thinking in white papers, case studies, and an active blog
  • SiteOrganic – full-suite online giving (ASP-based; metro Washington DC; since 2002)
  • iMinistries – (ASP-based; Chicago; since 2004) – “Equipping the Church to Share its Story”
  • Arena by Shelby Systems – (ASP-based; since 1976) – “Web based church management software” to “manage membership, groups, attendance, check-in, & more all online”
  • TAG Tools by The A Group (Nashville area; since 2001) – “a full-service integrated marketing communications and technology firm specializing in cause marketing to help faith based organizations”
  • AM Design CMS – (Dallas/Fort Worth area; since 1998) – a full-service communications agency
  • Cypress Interactive (PHP-based; since 2003) full-service technology solutions for non-profits and businesses
  • Sitefinity – (ASP-based) enterprise web content management system with 1 million+ developers; requires custom development
  • Sitecore – (ASP-based) enterprise customer experience management software, combining web content management with customer intelligence; requires custom development
  • Composite C1 – (ASP-based; Denmark; since 2010) professional open-source CMS; requires custom development

Though these large churches researched comprise of less than 1% of American churches, their influence is disproportionate over the other 99%. Several (not all) of the CMSes above are affordable to the average-sized church.

There are many other dimensions to consider when selecting the CMS that powers a church website; this post shows the empirical data for what this sample group of churches are using. For further research, these are great articles:

Using your favorite search engine, you’ll find more than several dozens of other companies providing church website CMSes. I have not found a currently active attempt at indexing all of them. (though someone tried back in 2008).

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5 Responses

  1. Steve Fogg says:

    Thanks for the shout out DJ!

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