One of the most visible manifestations of your church’s ministry is your website. It’s worth having one, and it’s worth doing it right. As you invest time and resources into the best church website you can have, you’ll find yourself needing help from volunteers. We’ve assembled a list of the best seven tips for training volunteers to update the church website.
How to Train a Volunteer to Update Your Church Website
1. Choose your CMS wisely.
I’m going to start this discussion with something that has little to do with volunteers, but everything to do with your website’s CMS. What is a CMS? It stands for “Content Management System.” Basically, it’s how you get your website on the Internet, how you change stuff, how you add content and update things. There are really complicated CMSs, and there are really simple CMSs. If you have a complex or outdated CMS, it will make the task of updating a church website really difficult.
Not everyone in your church will be able to code their own content, or bust out amazing lines of CSS. If you want to have help on your website, your website’s CMS needs to be user friendly.
We recommend WordPress. WordPress is the most popular, most enduring, and most used CMS in the world today. It is also very powerful, simple, and inexpensive. That’s why Sharefaith’s church websites are built on this platform.
Once your CMS is in place, you’re ready to get volunteer help on the website.
2. Keep one person in charge.
A website needs a central person to coordinate things. Usually, this is a “webmaster” or “admin.” This is the person who holds the master key to the church website. He or she can assign users, make backend changes, and control major functions of the website.
Make sure that this person is in place before you start training volunteers. A website, like any organization or committee, has a hierarchy in order to keep things secure and organized. One person should be the go-to for both technical issues and managing responsibilities.
3. Select the tech savvy.
Your most obvious choice of help on the church website will come from the tech luminaries in your church. These people are the perfect source of help, especially if you’d like to make changes to the way that the website works. If it’s a question of plugins, templates, code, or databases, these are your go-to people. A person of tech-savviness is a helpful resource for any church.
4. Select the non-tech savvy too
Don’t overlook the not-so-tech-savvy people, though. A website isn’t all about code. It’s about content. And content is about putting words together to create a compelling message. If you’re looking for someone to write blog posts, devotionals, announcements, or other content, look to those who may not have the technical qualifications, but who have other skills.
5. Maintain oversight and review of submitted material.
One of the helpful things about most websites and CMSs is that you — the administrator or webmaster — can approve any new content or changes before publication on the website. This is a good safety measure for ensuring that all the website’s content is up to par before it goes live.
Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s say one of your volunteers has written a blog post. When finished, he or she can press “submit for review” on the article. At this point, that article moves over to you. You can choose to approve it for publication or make any necessary changes.
6. Create an editorial calendar.
One of the smartest ways to keep on track with updating a church website is to create an editorial calendar. Editorial calendar sounds kind of jargony, but it’s not that complicated. Basically, it’s just an agenda of who’s writing what and when. The power of an editorial calendar is that it keeps a steady supply of web content being published on a regular basis. This is helpful for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is your sanity and peace of mind.
You can create your editorial calendar the low-tech way — a good old fashioned calendar and a pencil. Just jot down the topic and author on the appropriate date, and let the right people know.
7. Recruit more than one volunteer.
A website is not a one-man show. It’s helpful to have the perspective of several people. There are practical reasons for this. For example, if someone is sick or on vacation, you’ll want some replacement help. Additionally, it helps to have the various vantage points of other people. One person may be gifted at backend management, one person may be a skilled graphic designer, while yet another person is a talented writer. A church website will benefit from the expertise from each of these people.
In today’s church culture, a website is imperative. Just as important as having a website is keeping that website updated. Getting the volunteers trained and involved is a crucial part of your web presence and ministry.
What are some other tips you have for updating and managing a church website?