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.
The 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]