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]

copyright-noticeRyan

Check out Part 3 of this series

10 Ways that Churches can Improve Communication

communicate It seems that the Information Age has been one of the most aptly named epochs in history.  The popular meme may be true, that the average American accesses more information every day than was accessed by our grandparents in their entire lifetimes.  But even if it isn’t, no one can deny that everywhere we turn some advertisement, announcement, print ad, or electronic message is vying for our attention.  The advent of the Internet has done nothing but make matters worse.  Now, instead of a couple dozen pieces of junk mail in my mailbox, I have an email box full of “cheap replica watches,” “free iPods” and unmentionable others.  Unfortunately, the church is doing a worse job at communicating that most of these spammers in my inbox.  Here are 10 ideas for your church to improve communication. Continue reading

What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 1)

It is time for a paradigm shift among most churches when it relates to the web.  This starts with the very nomenclature that is used to describe it.

Most churches “have a website.”  That is great!  Who doesn’t?  Most churches look at their “website” the way everyone did about 15-20 years ago, Web 1.0.  They have a site that includes some information about the church.  This is so that people who find the site will know what time the service is, how to get there, and maybe some info about how to dress and etc.  This paradigm looks at the site as a thing, sort of like a yellow-pages ad (really bad idea!) or a billboard on the freeway (in most cases an even worse idea).  It is a thing that displays information.

Might I suggest an idea that really came into my mind while preparing to speak about this very subject at a national conference last summer?  We need to stop thinking of church websites as a thing, and instead as a place.

As long as your church website is a billboard (or as we in the industry call it, an “ebrochure”) it will have no life, few visitors, and will be a waste of your resources.  Even with a free site donated by someone in the church, you get what you pay for.  I have talked to hundreds of pastors, and I have yet to hear one tell me that the free site donated to the church a year ago has been a great source of life and growth.

Instead, look at your website the same way that you do part of your building.  You church website is the sign out front, the foyer where people first make their impressions of who you are as a body, the Fellowship Hall where people gather, the sanctuary where people meet with God.  If you change your paradigm from thing to place, you have started in the right direction.

But that leaves one little detail unanswered.  You can’t really call it a website anymore.  A website is a thing.  To me “web ministry” better defines what churches end up with when they start thinking this way.  I will continue calling it that.  This blog is really meant for those who want a web ministry.  Folks who are looking for a website would do well to look up angelfire (do they still exist?).

Ryan

Check out Part 2

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A Great Church Tech blog

Drew of Monk Development, who makes Ekklesia360 (one of our partners at Epiphany Systems), just did a big Church web survey.  He blogs about some of the things that they discovered on his site: www.goodmanson.com.  I can’t even begin to describe how enlightening the webmeeting that we had the other day was.  I’ll include more of my thoughts as they coalesce.

Muchas gracias to Jon Bourne for using his secret spy tactics to share this with me.

What is Communication

I had an interesting day at church today.
One of the things that I don’t like as much about being in church ministry is that I go to the same church every single Sunday. Not that I want to be one of those people who church-hop, in any way. But I would occasionally like the freedom to go elsewhere when I have a friend invite me, when I know of a worship team that I am interested in listening to, or when there is a speaker that I want to hear. In reality, I have that freedom more than I think, but I don’t feel quite right leaving my church on a Sunday many times. Continue reading