When it comes to maintaining an effective church website, the most common excuse is, “I don’t have time.” I’ve heard that excuse from both big and small churches, both full-time and bi-vocational pastors.
Trust me, I’m a church planter; I understand the limits of time.
But time isn’t why a lot of church websites are a waste of cyberspace. More often than not, it’s the volunteer who has been assigned the task of managing the church website.
Pastors make the mistake of thinking “techy” people are the perfect match for managing a website. The reality is, the skill sets don’t match up. It takes more than “computer knowledge” to make a website effective. And, a lot of the time, it’s that “computer knowledge” that gets in the way.
How to Choose the Best Volunteer to Manage Your Church Website
Most pastors I’ve talked to describe the person over their website as, “techy.” It’s someone who has experience with electronics, or they “work with computers” in their job.
9 times out of 10, assigning this person to the website is a mistake!
Websites are creative spaces.
They aren’t engines to work on. They are nothing close to mechanical.
They are artistic.
That’s why the computer technician or network specialist is usually worst kind of volunteer you can put in charge of a church website. Where they are strong on the technical side, they usually do so at the cost of the creative side – which is where your website visitors are living.
Creativity Can’t Be Taught
Churches make a similar mistake when it comes to picking a volunteer to run sound. Most of the time, they pick someone who is technical, who has experience with knobs and electronics.
Churches fail to realize that the sound system is as much of an instrument as the keyboard. It’s not a technical tool; it’s a creative one.
Figuring out what each knob can do is something that can be learned. Understanding what should be heard is a talent you can’t teach with an instructional booklet.
It’s something relegated to the musical. That’s why the best sound volunteer will be a musician.
It’s the same for the website. It’s a creative space.
Why Technical People Aren’t the Best Website Volunteers
Working in startups I learned one thing: programmers are the worst judges of websites. They care more about if something works than they do about should it work. They focus more on the gears of the vehicle, and less on the interior leather the driver has to sit on.
That’s the difference between function and user experience.
Your church website should be functional, but it should focus on having a positive user experience.
It’s about communication.
A church website has to do much more than look pretty. It has to engage an audience. It has to have the right voice, the right message, and it has to relate to the visitor.
Having a pretty website without these things is like having an attractive, well-dressed preacher who mumbles so bad no one can stand to listen to him.
The Best Kind of Website Volunteer
Instead of getting the church techy to manage the website, talk to the writer. This is the one who can put into text things that sound good, are easy to read, and are engaging.
They are the ones that can look at your homepage and say, “the message is all wrong.” They are the ones who can take your blog and write something people will care to read.
They have the natural inclination to make things communicate.
Of course, they may have to recruit the techy people to help them turn their vision into reality. But that’s what is needed. That’s putting the skills to work in the right place. The artists create the art, the techy people help them to make the art reality.
With a writer, you’re starting from the standpoint of communication and working out the technical details after the fact. It’s important to get the message and user experience right.
So put the musical people in the sound booth. And put the creative writers on the website.