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Church Website Redesign Part 2: Volunteers

Posted by MatthewSnider

So we have covered “The Culture” in a previous post and explored the overall complexity of that piece. Now we will dive into the world of working with volunteers. An adventure that seemingly is a harmless one, but can cause cuts and bruises so deep, it may not be worth the trek!

As with most projects at a Church, you find yourself amongst many folks who want to help out. It is an amazing thing to see folks come together for a project and see it through to the end. With a website redesign, especially one that is close to the heart of many folks, it is not quite that easy.

It is a long hard road full of miss-communications, sweat and sometimes even tears. But, it can be very profitable.

Letting Go of Control

You see, I stepped into a world of committees, and decisions that took years to decide upon. For a geek such as myself this was a very hard thing to do. I could have a WordPress site up and functioning withing hours and they take years to decide on the colors of a logo?!? So we quietly started to distant ourselves from the pack and start on a straw man to present to a select few folks.

Stepping back and realizing that this process would not be a quick one (it took 7 months), I realized that I needed to forgo the control freak inside and let things go where they were going. And all that meant was we were not going anywhere fast.

With volunteers in tow, along with the Director of the church we set off on an adventure. One that would not hurt feelings, that would not end in tears and not make anyone leave the church over some color on the site. This was an exercise in so many things for myself, a true growing experience to say the least.

Volunteers are an awkward entity. How do you turn someone away who wants to help so badly yet has no skill set? How do you say no? How do you say we are not in need of help? All of this when they are offering you help for free!!!

The Good:

With anything in life there is always a good and bad, well with Volunteers there is no exception. The passion, and the willingness to do almost anything is such a great thing.

Especially for a church with as little as 7 full time employees. The help I have seen come from no where is really God’s work. An amazing feet for sure.

How does one wrangle in that attitude to serve without getting wrangled in themselves?

The Bad:

With the above said, we have the negative aspect of a Volunteer. They are always opinionated, and awkwardly open about it. This really puts folks in odd positions, and possibly in a position to argue over such minimal things.

Volunteers as with all of us humans, have too many feelings attached. When a logo color is changed, or an icon is used instead of this one – people get upset. How do you work around obstacles like this? You have to be very light footed.

Volunteers can’t be fired. While no one wants to fire anyone, they do want to work in a professional environment where a decision can be made and not remade or undone based upon too many outsiders.

The work put in by volunteers, myself included, is an awesome thing. It also is a hard thing to manage. Volunteering for the position of Web Admin at my church was anything but easy.

How do you manage your volunteers? Does it drive you nuts or am I super sensitive to it all?

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jsaddington@churchleaders.com'
John Saddington is a full time blogger (http://tentblogger.com), loves leading his creative team building web apps, and is a passionate enthusiast of WordPress. Follow him on Twittter @TentBlogger.