Categories
Perspectives

Who Cares About Your Church Website?

Who cares what you’re doing? Seriously. Who cares about the work you do maintaining your church website?

Not long ago, I spent some devotional time looking at passages where Paul speaks of the need for believers to “build up” one another.

I started thinking about the impact of my service to my local church.

For sure, the skills and abilities I’ve been given provide practical benefit. I’ve seen that. But I wanted to know how people are being refreshed and encouraged by the work I do.

In other words, does my web work spiritually build up the body at my local assembly and beyond? And, if it does, how?

Maybe you’ve wondered that, too. I don’t think it’s uncommon to feel that way.

Though the product of our work is laid bare before a global audience, web work is still very much a “behind the scenes” ministry.

Church web workers work their magic while going largely unnoticed and unknown. And, truth be told, we kinda like it like that.

But, we’re still as encouraged as anyone else when we learn that our work has made a real impact in someone’s life.

I see the trees

When my pastor walked with me during the year I wanted to read the entire Bible for the first time, he did a practical thing sending me an “accountability” email every week.

Instead of asking me a simple “yes or no” question, he took it a step further by having me explain what insights God revealed during my daily readings.

The obvious, practical benefit was that, with his help, I was able to reach my goal.

But, the kindness and patience and sacrifice he made also built me up spiritually. During that year, I grew in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, learned more about God than I ever imagined, and matured in my faith as I did what I heard (James 1:22).

So, it’s easy for me to know how, even now, I benefit spiritually from his work.

But from my perspective, I can’t see how others likewise benefit from my work. That “behind the scenes” nature of the work makes it easy for me to get all caught up in the technical and creative aspects of it. So, I have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

Add to that the ever-shifting environment of the Web. Staying on top of the changes and their effect on what I do is a real challenge. That tension makes it tempting to focus on the temporal aspects of the work.

It’s a daily fight. And, that’s what prompted me to ask my pastor for help.

I asked him to help me see how what I do is up-building to him and to the body. Though I was energized by his response, it took several days for me to realize that I still could only see the “trees.”

Oh, there’s the forest!

At first glance, his list reveals that practical needs are being met. That’s certainly encouraging!

But, the more I thought about it, it still didn’t seem particularly “spiritual.” I still couldn’t see what “eternal value” my efforts produce.

If he’d told me people were growing in their faith (or, even being saved) as a direct result of visiting our website, I’d be counting that for sure!

But, what eternal value is there to updating plugins, taking down outdated content, or compressing images and PDF files?

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this article that it hit me: the body is built up through practical means, and in practical ways.

[slogan size=”small” color=”#88200ee”]”[…] even a cup of cold water, given with the right spirit, brings its own reward.”  –Warren Wiersbe[/slogan]

Working in the name of Jesus to make our websites safe for people to visit, easy to navigate, convenient to use, and useful for learning and getting things done, means as much to Him as handing someone a glass of water (Matthew 10:42).

And, giving a thirsty person a drink of water is about as practical as it gets!

So, who cares what I’m doing?

What does it matter? Well…

  • It mattered to the man in Detroit, Michigan, the woman in Moshi Tanzania, and that other guy in Albuquerque, New Mexico who were able to get answers to their questions about spiritual matters.
  • It matters to my pastor because he has access to a knowledgeable source for answers to all kinds of technical questions, and help to accomplish ministry goals online.
  • My work also matters to him because he wants his teaching ministry/efforts to be strengthened and enlarged as his voice (speaking God’s truth) is carried across the globe.
  • My work matters to people all over the globe, especially those who want to learn more about God, and are able to do so, as they hear the Word and insights my pastor shares.
  • My work matters to brothers and sisters in our assembly who want to be able listen to sermons and otherwise stay connected and “in the loop” when they’re away due to travel , illness, etc.
  • My work mattered to visitors to our area who wanted to locate and fellowship with like-minded believers while they were away from their own home church on a short-term work assignment.
  • My work mattered to a young Marine newly-stationed at a nearby installation who, before he arrived, wanted to locate a body of like-minded believers to assemble with.

The campus where my small church assembles is one mile off the main road in a rural, heavily-wooded area. During the Summer of 2014, we lost the lease on a patch of land on the main road where our sign had been pitched for more than 25 years.

Since then, we’ve made our plans, but we’re still waiting for God to provide land and signage replacements.

And yet, He’s shown me that my work matters to Him. Even as we wait on Him, He guides weary souls down that narrow road to our church each week, and many times He’s used our website to do it.

During the last 10 months we’ve welcomed 61 guests, 23 of whom found us online and came after visiting our website.

Who cares what you’re doing?

So, what care do you take with your church’s website? Who are you thinking about or caring about as you perform your work to maintain it?

Is your attitude and motivation God-honoring or self-serving?

Do you think anyone cares about what you’re doing?

If you think no one cares about the work you do, you also might be tempted to not care about it. That attitude will most certainly be reflected in what people find when they visit your church website.

The web is littered with dead or dying church websites that no one cares about.

I hope you won’t let your website be counted among them.

Find out who your church website matters to

If you want to know what impact your work is making, start asking questions.

Who greets new visitors to your church? Do they ask your guests how they heard about the church? Ask them to share that with you.

Do you use guest cards to gather contact information and track new visitors attending your church? Do you ask “How Did You Learn About Us” or include a similar question on the card? If not, take steps to get it added in.

Our guest card didn’t include that question. So, I asked our Office Manager to add it. Now we’re all encouraged when visitors arrive on our doorstep as a result of finding and spending time on our website!

Talk to your pastor, your Office Manager, or anyone who’s on the “front lines” at your church. Ask them to share what they’ve heard people say about it.

Of course, on this side of eternity, none of us can truly know the full extent to which God is using our work. But you can be sure your work matters to Him.

Our duty is to remain faithful in our service to Him.

Remember, God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for Him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. (Hebrews 6:10 GNT)

Categories
Web Security

Boost Church Website Security By Updating WordPress

To boost security and help protect your website against attacks, one of the most important steps you can take is updating WordPress.

WordPress 4.2.2 is now available, and addresses the security issue I recently reported to churches using WordPress 4.2 and earlier to run their websites.

Categories
Tools & Resources

Church Website Maintenance: 25 Tasks You Can Outsource Today

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase “church website maintenance”?

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Church website maintenance is time-consuming

If you’re a busy leader in a small church, you may be thinking something like, “I don’t have time to maintain the website.”

Yep, I get that!

And, with so many other demands heaped upon your shoulders, it can be easy to prioritize church website maintenance behind them all.

Easier still is considering it a “non-essential”, and putting it off altogether.

We see the evidence of that kind of thinking strewn all over the Web in the form of abandoned church websites.

Poor church websites do little to help meet the needs of the people who visit them.

Dying, dead, or poorly constructed church websites also fail to bring glory to a creative God (which is the ultimate goal of all that the believer does) (1 Corinthians 10:31). Oswald Chambers comments on this verse in His Utmost for His Highest,

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God . . .Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did.

The shallow things of life are those things which lack depth, or that are considered “superficial”. When compared to spiritual things or the things of God, building and maintaining a church website is a “shallow” thing in our modern lives.

Yet, it is ordained by God.

Did Jesus make websites? No, but that’s not the point. What He did do is honor God in everything that He did.

Since a disciple is not above his teacher (Matthew 10:24), believers are called to do the same.

If you’ve invested time (and money) in building a website for your local church, and if you’re aiming to effectively use it to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, then investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Church website maintenance is vital

This is worth saying again: if you’re aiming to effectively use your church website to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Keeping software, add-ons, and plugins updated, researching, implementing, and monitoring security features, and regularly writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, and publishing new content just scratches the surface of all that church website maintenance involves.

Yes, these things are necessary. And, yes, they are incredibly time-consuming.

But, the good news is these tasks and more can all be delegated and accomplished, with minimal expense, through outsourcing.

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Church website maintenance made easy

Now, you might be thinking, “Hmm, outsourcing? That’s not for churches.”

I can’t imagine why not! In fact, if you have a church website you’re probably already outsourcing church website tasks.

Do you pay a monthly fee for a third party hosting and technical support solution like FaithConnector or WP Engine (as opposed to hiring staff in-house to build and maintain your Web server)?

Guess what? You’re outsourcing.

Outsourcing is simply contracting out a business process to another party.

Many churches have already realized the benefits of outsourcing such administrative processes as payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, and legal services.

Leaving these tasks in the hands of experts is a no-brainer.

But, have you considered that trying to figure out how to design graphics, edit and produce videos, or design and build landing pages for church events is a HUGE waste of time if you don’t know what you’re doing?

Why not contract people who DO know what they’re doing?

They’ll get the job done right the first time, and you’ll be able to spend your time accomplishing the core ministry work the Lord’s entrusted to you.

25 church website maintenance tasks perfect for outsourcing

You’d be amazed at how many website maintenance tasks can be outsourced!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 25 website tasks you can outsource immediately to lighten your workload, as well as that of staff and/or volunteers:

  1. Designing banners, icons, and headers
  2. Designing landing pages for special events
  3. Editing and producing video
  4. Editing audio
  5. Updating content management software
  6. Installing, configuring, and updating add-ons, plugins, and themes
  7. Monitoring website security
  8. Customizing or “refreshing” themes
  9. Integrating your website with social media accounts
  10. Calendar management
  11. Updating website content
  12. Sitemap submissions
  13. Basic graphics editing
  14. Podcast setup
  15. Transcribing audio
  16. Online research
  17. Adding media to web pages
  18. Adding new web pages
  19. Writing, proofreading, and editing website content
  20. PDF conversion
  21. Forms creation
  22. Keyword research for church blog content
  23. Creating backlinks and linkbuilding
  24. Monitoring Google Analytics
  25. Troubleshooting and fixing website errors

The bottom line

No matter the size of your church or what church website solution you’re using, outsourcing is a low-cost option for getting the expert help you need to keep your website updated and properly maintained.

What would outsourcing church website maintenance tasks help you free up time to do?

[framed_box width=”625px” bgColor=”rgba(245,242,134,1)”]FEATURED RESOURCE:
Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]