As a minister of Christ and a leader of your congregation, you have a duty to be a good steward of the money that comes in. In doing so, pastors or church staff members will sometimes delegate a task to a willing volunteer to save resources. However, you should know; your website is NOT a task you want to give a volunteer. “Why not?” You might ask. If they can save you thousands of dollars and they have a passion for it, seems like a no brainer, right? Let me tell you a little story…
I once knew a church that renovated a wing of their building that housed a bunch of classrooms and utilized volunteers for some of the work to save money. That work included the heating and Air conditioning for that wing. While that volunteer work saved the church thousands of dollars in labor, it simply was not done properly. The temperature in those rooms ran completely amok, being unbearably warm in one room and shivering cold in the very next room. When they brought a professional to inspect the heating and cooling system, they discovered the poor workmanship and improper installation. They also discovered that everything would have to be gutted and redone to fix the problem, making it astronomically more expensive than it would have cost to have it professionally done the first time. All the materials that were originally used would also be trashed, thus losing more money. In short, it cost them at least twice the amount of money and way more time because they had a volunteer do it.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me and fire your volunteers. There’s still so many things that your people can do to save the church time and money so the gospel can be preached. But a website is something that can have big consequences if not implemented well. Here’s just a few of them.
It reflects your ministry poorly.
It’s great that a student in your youth group is learning how to build websites and wants to help, but there’s so many things that can go wrong when a website is built by inexperienced hands. A site that looks homemade, is hard to navigate, or doesn’t have easy access to crucial information is a lose for your church. Plus, having that student or volunteer build it and THEN having to get it redone later can hurt feelings and create issues. Professionals build websites right and build them beautiful.
No one can find your website.
Did you know that people’s ability to find your website online has a large part to do with how it’s built? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) depends largely on how efficient a website is built. Couple that with the fact that the vast majority of people will not even click past the first page of Google search result and you’ve got a real problem if your site was built by a volunteer. If you’re not familiar with SEO, check this post we wrote awhile back here.
Things can get awkward.
Pastors should carefully consider things before doing business with a church member. A pastor-parishioner relationship is not something to be taken lightly, and there shouldn’t be any weird or unclear expectations on either side. Plus, there’s always the possibility that the relationship between the church and the volunteer who designed the site goes south. That means you could suddenly be left without someone to fix or update the site, and in some extreme cases you could be locked out of the website altogether.
One of my professors in school said something that will always stick with me “being the best steward of finances in ministry doesn’t always mean going with the cheapest option”. I think that’s so true. When you’re thinking about a website, which is literally your digital front door, you want a complete solution.