I often tell my 11th-grade Sunday school class that they need to be wary of arguments that appear clever. Just because someone’s speech sounds good doesn’t necessarily mean they are speaking the truth.
Consider this, have you ever given thought to the heretical nature of various axioms we use in our daily conversations? For example, “the best things in life are free.” Oh really? Hmmm, and here I thought one of the best things, of not THE best thing in my life was that God loved me so much that He sent His only Son that I may not perish but instead would have eternal life. Okay, a bit of overkill, so how about another comparison that’s a bit more down to Earth? Free web hosting.
I realize that many churches are budget impaired, but what are you really saying about your church’s personality and purpose when you won’t even spend $8.95 + 19.95 per year on your web presence? Or as the saying goes, “put your money where your mouth is.” There are some other compelling costs, other than looking amateurish and cheap, you might want to consider before hosting your church’s site on a “free” web host:
- little or no customer support
- extremely small page size and bandwidth limitations
- inability or severe limitations in using scripting languages and/or CGI
- unless you use a redirect service such as MyDomains.com, you URL will be long to print and hard to remember
- no access to SSL or multi-media services
- you may not own your content
- no data backup &/or restoration services available
- no control over banner and pop-up ads to casinos and such
Now compare the above list to some of the nice features you get, even with an inexpensive hosting service:
- a real domain name that’s easy to print and remember
- real email accounts with your real doman name
- listserv and majordomo services
- robust access to scripting languages and CGI applications
- built-in scripts and applications
- statistical tracking
- customer support – including installation of various modules and libraries
- the server is usually shared by less parties (making it faster & more reliable)
- upgrade paths for when your site gets really popular
- security – especially regarding backups and restores
Obviously this is just the tip of the cheap iceberg. We still need to talk about branding and marketing your church. We also need to talk about whether or not you need to hire a professional to make sure your site doesn’t wind up as one of Father Flanders’ daily suckers.
However you determine to address these other factors, your church deserves a domain name that’s easy to remember, and your pastoral staff will love you for things like real email and listservs. Moreover, your visitors don’t deserve to be assaulted with ads for Britney’s latest lambada when they’re trying to find your sermons.