Churchthemes.com – The Beginning Of A New Business

ChurchThemes LogoSteven Gliebe recently launched a brand new theme business built around a niche audience. It’s called Churchthemes.com So far, there is only one theme available for purchase on the site, but that will soon change, as outlined by Steve in a detailed post that explains the reasoning for starting the business. It’s a great story of how an experiment that started on ThemeForest with a theme called Risen led to Steve leaving Themeforest and starting up his own business, providing him complete control.

Resurrect Theme
The Resurrect theme with the Concrete style applied

A few weeks ago, we linked to the results of Justin Tadlock’s one year ThemeForest experiment. One of Justin’s follow-up experiments was to separate functionality in themes to plugins:

These plugins handle functionality that I often see in themes at ThemeForest. The idea is to get theme authors to adopt a standard (whether it’s my plugins or someone else’s). Think of the standards that BuddyPress, bbPress, WooCommerce, and others have set. That’s the type of thing I’m interested in.

At least one person was paying attention. Learning from his mistakes with Risen, Steve built a content plugin that contains post types, taxonomies, and custom fields. This enables users to switch between any theme that supports his content plugin without the content disappearing.

I love how Steve has outlined the process from idea, to launching the business. He’s at the beginning stages and based on what I’ve read, he’s put himself in a good position both from a pricing stand point and he’s provided a method of recurring revenue. It helps that Resurrect is a great looking theme. I can see people using it for more than just churches. Please stop by Churchthemes.com and use the comment form here to provide feedback for Steven.

10 Comments


  1. Hey Jeff, thanks for the coverage of churchthemes.com.

    I hope many have been inspired by Tadlock, in particular on this issue. It’s probably safe to say he’s right about everything when it comes to WordPress development practices. It’s to everyone’s benefit to do what he suggests. As a community, we owe a lot to his example over the years.

    (Small note: We represent ourselves as “churchthemes.com”. There’s another shop at churchthemes.net called “ChurchThemes” and we’re conscious not to confuse)

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  2. I was actually just looking at the Church Theme Content plugin today (it’s free, by the way). Now, I want to build a church theme because half of the headache with building one has already been taken care of. I haven’t fully reviewed the code, but it looks like a solid release. I do know that I’ll be recommending it to anyone who wants to build a church-type theme.

    Other theme authors should take notice of this. This is exactly the type of thing they should be happy about. It will allow them to do the thing that they’re good at (designing themes) while leaving the more complex, PHP stuff to the rest of us.

    I’m glad someone else is creating a new standard for the WordPress theming community. I was starting to think I’d have to do all the work myself. :)

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  3. @Justin Tadlock – Thanks for taking a look at the plugin. Shoot me an email if you find anything that could be improved. I’ve always considered myself first to be a designer, although years of being asked to do development work has had some effect on me. Hey, post a rating, even. I wouldn’t mind a plugin rating from Tadlock himself! :)

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  4. Definitely headed in the right direction! I know 2 years ago I would have loved a Church theme, but the ones available were sparse. Looking at the current theme he offers, looks very promising! Interesting too about leaving ThemeForest. I know a lot of developers do really well on there, but then also you give up some control.

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  5. The atheist part of me is sadden that there is still a need but the capitalist in me thinks its a great idea. Religion is booming with all these economic crises and what not going on so there is probably an influx to some congregations etc. (Not in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe though I think)

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  6. @Ryan Hellyer – There are about 400,000 churches in the U.S. alone and WordPress powers an insane percentage of new websites. Add to that the fact that building a WordPress site is much more economical than most other solutions and you’ve got a pretty good market for church themes.

    There’s an established industry of proprietary hosted church CMS solutions with setup fees of $200 – $1000 and monthly fees of $20 – $60. They’re economical alternatives to a fully custom site but with WordPress the cost is more like $100 once then $10/mo for hosting. That’s an attractive difference, especially for small and new churches.

    I’ve counted about 50 church themes out there at this point. Like @Okay Marketing hinted at, two years ago that might have been less than 10 in all.

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  7. @Ryan Hellyer

    I’m amazed there is any market for themes specific to churches.

    One-third of the world’s 7 billion population are Christian. A quick Google search tells me that there are almost 4 million individual congregations worldwide.

    No, I don’t see a market there at all…

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  8. @Chip Bennett – Its a matter of perspective, me (and Ryan, if he does not deem me presumptuous) come from very secular places so understanding the domination of religion is perplexing some times.

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