I’d like to share with you some tips and tools for building an effective Internet ministry team. To address these topics, I recently spoke with Lonny Nelson, support staff for Adventist Church and School Connect (ACC). He shared some important things you should know about Internet ministry.
A misconception about Internet ministry is that you have to know a website programming language, such as HTML or PHP, to be involved. That is not the case at all. New website technology available to churches today, such as the ACC content management system, allows for quick and easy publishing with very little technical experience. If you can send an email or type a letter on the computer, you already have the knowledge needed to update your local church website.
Nelson says the first step in starting a local Internet ministry at your church is to identify a committed lead person-who is also a good listener-to direct your team.
The youth of your church are a great resource and asset to this type of ministry. Often they are tech savvy and able to commit the time and energy to do a great job.
Your team could include photography enthusiasts to capture great photos for the website; writers and text editors to produce great content; as well as graphic designers, an audio/visual team to add media; and many others. Your audio/visual team, for instance, will be instrumental in hosting videos online. Nelson says the best tool for this is Vimeo because it allows you to embed videos right in the church’s website.
The next thing to consider when you have one or more people involved in an Internet ministry at your local church is the audience you are connecting with. Nelson suggests that there are three important audiences to keep in mind.
The first and most obvious audience is your local church members. Nelson says an Internet ministry team can “supply the members with dates and information online to help the church programs run more smoothly.”
The second audience is the surrounding local community. “Anything that we can do that can be opened up to the community should be on the website,” says Nelson. He suggests that the home page of your church website be used to display the latest information and upcoming events because it is the first contact many will have with your church: “If you can put something in front of them that is news and interesting to them, they might bite at it.” He also suggests that each website have an up-to-date, well-organized and displayed visitor page that details information about your church environment and culture.
The third audience to be mindful of is the people around the world who may stumble upon your website in the quest for truth. Search engines have bridged the gap between you and any location on the globe, making it easier for people to find God.
Nelson also says, “everyone on the Internet ministry team needs to be thinking about how to get the information out.” Remember that people may not necessarily be visiting the church website; they may be going to the church’s Facebook page, Twitter account or other online source instead. Your local ACC website has integrated a system that allows for a quick and easy way to push out the latest website content to a Facebook page or Twitter feed. Displaying familiar social media icons – such as “visit us on Facebook” and “follow us on Twitter” – on your home page visually grabs people’s attention and provides multiple opportunities to connect.
I want to leave you with this thought: “You will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world” (Acts 1:8, The Message).