Don't panic, I'm not suggesting that every senior pastor or church leader drop the website creation and maintenance service they use, get a Mac; learn html, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop. The current service you use may be working out fine and if you have an affinity for the Mac and high-end graphics you are most likely comfortable in your work. I'm not trying to change that, but to challenge you to learn more about the process if you've been primarily delegating your website creation to others.
Why it's important
Just because you can paint a room doesn’t mean that when the church needs repainting that you pick up a paintbrush and begin. It doesn’t mean that because you change the oil in your car yourself that when the engine needs a tune-up, you do it. But as in the instances above, if you have experience in painting or car repair, even on a modest scale, you can better understand and evaluate the work of others, so too with work on the web, if you have done some work on the web, even on a limited scale, your work overall in the digital areas of church ministry will be far more effective.
Why you CAN create your own blogs and websites
If you can type an email message or a word processed document with the computer you can create your own websites and blogs.
As with many of the tasks that we do with the computer today, what used to be very difficult has become extremely simple. For example, in print communication, when desktop publishing was first invented and the primary way of doing it was with Aldus PageMaker, yes it was “easier” to create a church newsletter than in the days of when you have to specify and order type and then physically layout the page, but you still had to painstakingly set up columns, select type, leading, and line width. Adding images, especially photographs, was a complex and time-consuming job.
Fast forward to today, when a layout that took hours in the past, is available to anyone completely finished and ready-to-use in the form of dozens of templates in Microsoft Publisher.
Blog and website creation today is just as easy as creating professional print documents in Microsoft Publisher
When websites were first created they were most often coded in html (hypertext markup language). Complex and expensive programs like Dreamweaver or cheap and complex programs like FrontPage were required. These programs were not for the faint of heart or those who needed to do other things than sit at a computer for hours.
Just as print creation has changed drastically with the invention of MS Publisher, so too website create has changed drastically with the invention of systems such as WordPress. Yes, there are similar programs such as Joomla and others, but I will focus on WordPress because that is the system I use for this ministry website: www.effectivechurchcom.com and the one I use to create ministry blogs for our church. I LOVE this program. It really is as easy to use as word-processing (once you learn the basics, more about that in a minute) and using it to create a blog or website can be extremely empowering.
Don’t confuse vocabulary difficulty with skill difficulty
The skills you need to learn to use programs like WordPress are minimal. What is difficult and not intuitive is the vocabulary, especially for those of us who did not grow up with computers. Once you learn what the program creators are talking about, using it becomes simple. An example of this is the term “dashboard.”
For me “dashboard” has always been what is in a car. I was very confused when I first looked at WordPress and found that it was controlled through the “dashboard.” The term in conjunction with the web meant nothing to me and I had no idea how to control anything through it. After I watched an online video about it, I found out that the “dashboard” is the part of the website where you can add new articles, edit things, look at your site statistics and do other tasks. It was very simple to use once I learned what the term meant.
The language of the web is the language of the future of communications
One of the most important reasons for learning to do your own blogs and websites all communication is moving to digital formats and if you do not learn to communicate in this way, you will become mute in this method of communicating the gospel.
I don’t know how long it will take for digital communication to become the primary communication method. I have no idea how long we will to continue to create communications in many formats from paper to web-based. I do know that for the lifetime of many of you reading this that you will continue to carry the burden of needing to create communications in every form you can imagine from your bulletin to your church website. Paper production may never totally fade, but for certain, from now on, it will always be one of many forms, not the primary one.
Learning how to do even a simple blog with WordPress will teach you the grammar of digital creation. You may not become an expert in digital communication creation, but you will be able to navigate the digital landscape.