Technology Volunteers in the Church

Technology Volunteers in the Church.

I am often asked how Fellowship Church utilizies technology
volunteers. Ironically, whenever I visit another church, this is the
first question I ask! Why? Because every church struggles with this

For those of you outside of the church world, it may seem curious
that all churches no matter their size rely on volunteers for nearly
everything. Fellowship is blessed to have a staff of our size, but our
church could not exist without the thousands of volunteers who serve
each month. At Fellowship, we empower our volunteers by giving them
great responsibility and often authority in their area of service.
Churches consistently make the mistake of only offering volunteers the
jobs no one else wants to do, which guarantees failure. We make it
clear that each person is critical to the health of the church and that
serving is an essential part of the Christian life.

In the church as a whole, this approach has been a great success.
However, within technology, it is terribly difficult to implement these
principles. Due to security concerns, the temptation within IT is to
delegate low-level, low-risk, time consuming, and monotonous tasks to
volunteers. In some cases, this is exactly what people want. I've been
told before, “Look, I code [troubleshoot, project plan, secure
networks] all day long. That's the last thing I want to do in my spare
time.” But generally people want to use their unique talents when they

Within the web team, we currently utilize volunteers in two main
areas: check-in and research. Our check-in volunteers operate the many
check-in machines located throughout our campus, greeting and tracking
the attendance of adults, students, children, and volunteers. We track
attendance for everything except the main worship service, and with
events happening throughout the week, we always have a need for more
volunteers. Technology people are somewhat drawn to these positions
because they do involve a slick touch-screen process (Fellowship One by
Fellowship Technologies), but many of these volunteers are not technical at all and simply love greeting people.

We also have volunteers who periodically help with research for new
projects, such as an e-commerce or chat solution. This is a great way
for someone to help, because they can volunteer from anywhere, at
anytime, and at their own pace. And many technical people are great at
online research. We've also utilized people as content editors and beta

There is a significant downside, however. People respond to a cause, challenge, or community
– this offers none of these things. The volunteer is not inspired by
the cause (let's see…should help with baptism or with the SQL Server
bug), does not see the challenge (yes, I'm sure my work would be
helpful, but they'll solve this with or without me), and is missing out
entirely on any sense of community.

So, like most churches we struggle with how to truly empower
technology volunteers without impacting security. Every ministry must
come to a high level of trust with volunteers, but few have the
potential of widespread harm as the world of networks and data.

How can a developer work on the website from home without VPN and
SourceSafe access? How can a DB help with the database without
significant access? How can a designer help with graphics when we
typically go from need to release in the space of a few hours of a

There are fantastic, talented technology people at Fellowship every
weekend. I know this because nearly every technology hire comes from
our membership. We are still searching, however, for the best way to
involve these great people in a way that truly utilizies the many
talents God has given them.  [Leave It Behind]

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