What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 2)

See part 1 here

Starting with the next post. I’ll start to get to where the proverbial rubber meets the road.  I am doing this quickly in this course of this blog because I believe that practicality is the name of the game.  We could discuss paradigms of effective communication in the Internet Age all day long and it won’t give any church an increased ability to do ministry online more effectively.  It might be best to look at some examples and then maybe pull back and see why what works.  I think that this might be more effective because of what I call the People/Code Dilemma.

codeThe People/Code Dilemma works like this:  The people who are usually great at developing websites are the people who like to look at code.  To them the WordPress tagline, “Code is Poetry,” rings true.  They like to look at numbers and formulas, and prefer things to be neat and logical.  These are not usually the people who are in church ministry.  Church ministry people are very often people people.  They realize that people are emotional and often illogical.  Looking at formulas is usually the last thing that these people want to do.  Sometimes, it is difficult for these people to communicate together in a way that makes an effective website.

To illustrate this further, I often work with a particular company that manages the CMS (Content Management System) for many of our company’s clients.  I am in a really unique relationship with them because I am a retail partner with them, and I am a user of their system through my own ministry.  Though I am definitely not a programmer/designer, I have realized as of late that my ministry uses their CMS at a level that is far above any of their other clients.  In fact, in a recent call one of their service guys told me that I know more about the CMS than any one person that they have.  This is not to say that I am brilliant.  It is just that each one of their programmers knows the code and functionality of one specific piece, but those people don’t know how to relate what they do to the whole of the system, or one particular customer’s need.

This means that in your average church, the people who have a vision to do ministry online don’t know anything about how to implement it.  The people who know how to implement the ideas often don’t have the people knowledge to connect the code to actual ministry application.

So what is the solution?  I would love to say “Do this and it will solve all your problems.”  I’d be lying.  There is no quick fix.  There are some general best practices that work well.  I’ll be listing and explaining them as they come along.  But, I will start out by saying this: Whatever you can do as a church to get your online ministry out of the hands of the techies in your church, and into the hands of the people of the church, the better.  No, you (pastor) are not going to be blogging weekly on your site and adding new picture galleries.  You may think you will, and you might for the first couple months, but then life is going to happen, and you’ll stop.

Like anything in ministry, whatever you can do to get the ministry of the church to be done by the people in the church and not just the paid staff,  will lead to success.  If you have hospitality food ministry, you need people in your church to take ownership of that  Otherwise, the pastors will get burned out, or other things won’t get done.  It is the same for the web.  Techies are nice and valuable people, but we do not need to burden them with things they can’t handle.

[A guy right behind me at the coffee shop just spilled coffee all over his laptop while I was writing this—but I think it is OK]

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Check out Part 3 of this series

5 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 1) @ Come on in

  2. “Whatever you can do as a church to get your online ministry out of the hands of the techies in your church, and into the hands of the people of the church, the better.”

    Two things to say about this: 1) In many churches – the techies never get to touch anything. Someone gets the “vision” for a website, takes a few basic DreamWeaver lessons, and then builds a fortress around their badly designed and implemented “ministry” and never lets anyone else help, no matter how much they offer. This is the complaint I hear from most techies – they never get to use their skills for their church.

    2) I think you need to meet the modern version of techies called “EduGeeks”. That is the field I work in. They have to know the code AND the people skills to design effective online communities and courses. In fact, a little bit of social learning theory usually fixes a ton of problems with online websites. FaceBook is one of the ultimate examples of social learning theory snuck into people lives without them knowing it. What you see as worthless quizzes are actually learning tools – people learn a massive amount of trivia from those things. And they take them over and over again just to beat their friends. Just think what you could do with some focused, intentional stuff like that designed to disciple people? See http://www.edugeekjournal.com

  3. Thanks for the comment, Matt.

    You bring up something that I haven’t thought much about. I am very curious as to how many edu-geeks feel that way. I apologize if my statement you quoted led you in a different direction than I was intending. Let me zoom out a bit on that issue, and see if I can explain.

    Of the hundreds of churches that I’ve talked to regarding their web ministry, many tell me that they “have a web guy in our church who does all of that.” In the course of the conversation what I find out is that most of these churches have leaned on this guy to the point that he can’t handle it really well. His own business takes his time, and he does what he can, but it never seems to be enough. These are often the churches with really outdated stuff on their site.

    My point was really aimed at pastors, for the most part. I don’t want to have them get the web ministry completely out of the hands of the edu-geeks at all. They are a valuable part of the body. But I do think that it is really a step in the right direction to free that person up from being the only one who can update anything.

    A great example of this can be seen in my very own church. At Grace Vineyard, we have a website that can be updated by many members of the staff and leadership. I have added things on the homepage quite a few times. It also contains a complete social network. We also rely on one of our edu-geeks (an incredible, awesome man of God) to keep many of the things updated. Perhaps his skills aren’t used to his fullest, but he does play an active role.

    Does that explanation make more sense?

  4. That does make sense. My experience has been with just a few churches, all belonging to a particular family of churches that, while being great churches, aren’t as good at delegating tasks beyond one person. So, I think we are probably saying the same thing from different perspectives – basically, get more people involved.

    There was a good seminar today at UTA that you might have found interesting: “Learning 3.0: Noisy, Open, and Deep.” Pretty good stuff – I’ll have to see if the speaker has resources online to check out.

    Also, I need to watch my reactions to the word “techie.” People in my field get lumped in with techies all the time, and we get a little tired of it. The stereo-typical view of techies are still alive and well out there – those of us in the Ed Tech field are just usually different than that. So disregard any knee-jerk reactions to that term 🙂

  5. How can I get my hands on the stuff from that seminar? Tell me of any upcoming that I could attend, if you can.

    What would you suggest I use instead of Techie? Code Monkey? Trekkie? J/K. I try to be sensitive to words, because sometimes they get loaded with meaning that is different than what I intend to communicate. Suggest a different one, and maybe I’ll adopt it.

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