I have been building websites since I was in seventh grade, which was two decades ago – a fact that I’d rather not dwell on. Back then, I did everything the hard way: HTML 3.0 coding. My only visual cues coming in the way of Microsoft Frontpage, which should tell you a lot. Eventually, I found my way to WordPress, and I’ve never looked back.
Recently, I’ve started building websites for churches, and in my work, I came across a theme I’d never seen before, so I thought I share it with you.
Restore Church Theme is a WordPress theme designed by Mint Plugins. I found it looking for a theme that was compatible with the Church Theme Content plugin, and I have to say that I liked a lot of what I saw.
Overall Theme Structure
Restore is built by Mint using their plugin MP Stacks, which makes page design a bit more visual and moves the design process out of the traditional WordPress back end and instead brings to the front page side of the site. While this can be a bit confusing at first, in the end, I adjusted quite nicely and it didn’t take away from my ability to edit the site as quickly as I normally word.
In this system, you create a “stack” on each page. Within that stack, you place “bricks” that make up the content of your page. These bricks can contain up to two different items (text, video, images, etc.). You can use just one of these and give it the full-width of the brick, or you can divide the brick between two bits of content, using a slider to determine which bit of content should get more space, if either.
If my description and these screenshots aren’t giving you a full enough view of the theme, I suggest you look at this demo site built using the plugin. In fact most of the screenshots in this post came from that site. Also, this setup video was also helpful to me as I built my site using the Restore them.
[Video via YouTube]
And also, this video showing how MP Stacks works.
[Video via YouTube]
Now, with a basic understanding of the theme establish, let’s get into the pros and cons.
1. Beautiful Site
I love the look of the Restore Theme. It’s clean and attractive. What’s not to love here?
2. Lowers the Design Bar
Once you get past the nuanced method of building your site with MP Stacks, it’s a simple set up, made more simple by it’s use of the Church Theme Content Plugin.
3. Compatible with the CTC Plugin
This plugin is fantastic, and Restore incorporates it’s Events and Sermons components that I find indispensable on church sites. Plus, these functions, along with the Blog component, still function normally as a part of WordPress, which should make training for any non-technically inclined staff much easier.
Cons: More Options, More Plugins
1. Different Editing System
Seriously, the initial day or two spent building my site was a bit troubling, but in the end, I worked past it. Will you persevere? Might want to watch that setup video. (On a positive note, Mint does seem to have a lot of resources out there to help you learn.
2. Reduces Customization
I did find it a bit difficult to do some of the more advanced WP tricks that I’m used to, but if you’re not big on advanced design, it may not be a problem for you.
3. Lots of Plugins
So far, there hasn’t been a problem with this, but sometimes, a large number of active plugins can slow a site down. You might want to check with your webhost to see if they think that this could be a problem for your site.
Cost: $79 for the first year, $55.30 (30% discount) for annual renewals of the theme and plugins – This is within range many other similar themes that I’ve used, and if anything, is on the cheaper side.
Recommended: Yes, but make sure it will fit your needs and abilities (i.e. a clean design that won’t require much editing). If you do purchase the theme but decide to change your design after a year or two, remember that your Sermon and Event entries should be fairly easily carried over into any other theme that is compatible with the Church Theme Content plugin.
– Design (5.0)
– Features (4.5)
– Performance (4.0)
– Value for Money (5.0)