Church Websites: To Hub or Not to Hub

Church Websites: To Hub or Not to Hub

May 17, 2017 by

The recent release of Nucleus has sparked some discussion about the effectiveness of church “hub” tools. A hub tool is a website resource that is designed to put all of your church’s next actions in one spot. The idea is that your primary church website is repurposed to only serve would-be guests and all the other information—registrations, giving, event info, sermon notes, calendars, etc—is hosted on another website… the “hub.”

There are advantages and disadvantages to using a hub system. I’d like to explore a few of them to help you in deciding whether or not to choose a hub for your church.

Hub Positives

First, a few positives…

Everything in One Place

The biggest advantage of a hub is it puts everything in one place (unless you are a visitor, then your stuff is in another place… but more on that below). Instead of searching for something in the bulletin, something else on the website, yet another thing on a flier that your kids are bringing home from the children’s ministry, you—in theory—get every piece of information and the next steps in one place.

The trick is training staff to post everything in the hub as your “one place” and training your people to go to the hub to find what they’re looking for. If you can get over this hurdle, your hub has a chance at success and you’ll be doing your regular attenders a favor by reducing clutter.

Replace the Bulletin

Another big potential advantage to the hub model is the intention of it eventually replacing the bulletin. I’m a fan of anything that moves the needle on replacing print bulletins, but I’d say tread lightly here. Most churches need to navigate the move from a printed bulletin to a digital solution very carefully in order to honor those in the congregation who prefer print.

The Cost

Churches that are successful in implementing a hub tool will likely be able to save in other costs. Nucleus, for example, is around $50/month. If you can reduce your bulletin printing, brochure printing, or possibly get rid of your church’s app because you’re using a tool like this, you’ll probably save your church money.

Helps With Visitors

If the hub model is executed properly, it frees your main website up to be a tool that is primarily (in some cases, exclusively) targeted at those checking out your church. That means a first-time guest doesn’t have some of the stumbling blocks that they might otherwise have to overcome to attend your church—such as seeing a giving link (money is a big obstacle for the unchurched). In my opinion, this concept alone is one of the biggest arguments in favor of the hub.

Hub Problems

I do think there are some potential pitfalls with the hub model…

Philosophy Problem

I think it’s possible that the need for a hub solution might be indicative of a bigger philosophy problem: We’re asking folks to do too much.

Why is it that we need a place where we can house multiple (potentially dozens!) next steps or calls-to-action for our attenders? It’s a topic we’ve covered often, but we’re trying to do too much. I get it, we want to be all things to all people, but instead we should identify the single next action that our church needs to take each week and drive them toward that. If we’re doing that, I don’t think we need a hub to make it happen.

Leadership Required

In order for your church to get on board with a hub approach, your senior leadership is going to have to get behind it big time. They’re going to have to teach about it and inspire people to use it. There will need to be storytelling and training (no matter how simple the tool is to use, people will need to be trained to use it).

The simple fact is, most pastors don’t have the time, energy, communications training, nor willpower to help people adapt and adopt this kind of system. If they are the type of leader who can lead people to adopt a hub-type solution, they’re probably already good at helping the church know what the communication priorities are and how to sign up.

Brand Equity

Another potential downside to using a separate website for members is the loss of brand equity with having to constantly promote two sites. Think carefully how this might work for your church. Take a stage announcement, for example:

This week is the big 4th of July Men’s Cookout. Men, we know you’ll want to be a part of this time of fellowship, fantastic food, and fireworks. To register, go to ourchurchhub.com. Be sure to invite your neighbors too—they can get info at ourchurch.com.

Multiple Systems

Speaking of sending people to two different locations, you also now have two systems to maintain: the website for guests and the hub. I realize the concept is for your main site to become more static and most of the updating should be done to the hub site, but what about on-ramp events?

Many guests come to church because they’re invited to an on-ramp event other than the worship service. If the main website is for guests, there will need to be a listing of and information about those events for them. But you want your regular attenders who will also be attending those events to use the hub, right? All of a sudden you have multiple information points to maintain.

Let’s be honest: Most churches have enough trouble keeping the information in one location updated. You need to evaluate whether you have the capacity to sustainably maintain another system.

Until someone figures out a way to syndicate a “guest module” embed of some type into the main website, I see this multiple systems issue being a real problem.

Conclusion: A Properly Built Website

A properly build website system (with good user interface and user experience principles), combined with a solid simple(er) church philosophy should make the need for a hub for church attenders unnecessary. Having said that, if your church leadership insists on being a program-driven church with dozens of events each month, you might consider some adaptation of some type of hub.

Please just make sure if you’re going the hub route you’ve thought through your strategy well. You’ll need to make sure your leadership is on board with it and is prepared to give it the push it needs to make it successful. You need to give thought to how you will maintain two systems (and your sanity). Think through your URL selection carefully to make sure your brand makes sense. If possible, try to use the opportunity of implementing a hub to sunset another system such as your app, your bulletin, or those brochures littering your welcome center desk.

When done well, hub systems have the potential to be helpful. However, like most systems, if we’re just following a trend and aren’t approaching it with a sound strategy, it can add unneeded complexity to our already too-complicated communications approaches.

Post By:

Chuck Scoggins


Chuck is the executive director of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication. Hit him up on Twitter or on his blog, ChuckScoggins.com.
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One Response to “Church Websites: To Hub or Not to Hub”

  • Chris
    May 17, 2017

    Thank you for your pro and con list, Chuck!

    We’re implementing churchtools.de (German) as our central calendar, team and room management tool. That is our “hub”.
    My goal is to use this for every organisational part for the church members. The calendar should send all official meetings to the calendar of the website. So I (and all other leaders) have to care about the central calendar only.
    The bonus: if I’m logged in at church tools the calendar at the website will show internal meetings, too.

    So the first address is and will be the website.



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