by Bill Anderton
This online course is dedicated to teaching the planning, building and operating the online assets of churches.
This free online course is the first of a series of resources for helping churches improve their websites, social media and other online presences.
Some of the most important constituencies served by this community will include people without previous technical backgrounds such as clergy, church Boards, leaders and volunteers, without prior experience, who need to plan websites or lead teams that develop and operate online assets for churches.
We also serve experienced webmasters with content on advanced subjects.
Development of leadership and planning skills and best practices for implementation and operations of the Church's online assets are critical priorities of the course. The course focuses on the best practices of being the stewards of the Church's online assets, creating content and getting the content found and used.
This course is guided by Matthew 5:14–16: "14 You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (NRSV)
In the age of the Internet and ubiquitous connectivity, there is no brighter light or taller lampstand that can be used in ministry than the power and global reach of the Internet. "Effective Online Ministries" is dedicated to helping local churches, judicatories and other ministries to make a difference on the Internet by building and operating effective online assets of the Church.
Too often, church websites fall far short of their potential as a true ministry. They too often focus on only tactical aspects of making the website and miss the larger opportunity to provide a truly interactive and vibrant ministry to their parishes and to the world.
In a real sense, less-than-optimal websites are directly analogous to hiding one's light under a bushel.
Further, it is the position of this course's instructor that churches need EFFECTIVE websites. Not just only a container for your address and telephone number and some long-stale static brochure-type information, but something that engages your parish, reflects the Christian community of your church, causes visitors to return to the site frequently for more and (most importantly) listens and engages in dialog with your visitors. Done correctly, an effective website becomes a true ministry in every sense of the word!
There is a world of difference between a website and a web ministry. The difference begins with the envisioning and strategy-setting processes, goes through executing and operations and culminates to measuring effectiveness and reaching defined goals.
Actually, armed with a bit of knowledge and some guidelines, building and operating an effective web ministry is relatively easy to accomplish.
This special-interest community will be dedicated to teaching and encouraging how to use the Internet to build a comprehensive and effective web ministry.
This course takes the form of a special-interest peer-learning community. Its Virtual Classroom allows interactive participation among its members as well as with subject-matter experts dedicated to mentoring the community. The content of the Virtual Classroom is available to read, listen or view. With the benefit of reviewing the course's content, the members of the community can discuss the topics among themselves and ask questions. Mentors and experts are available when need to provide expert guidance and advice.
The blogs, tutorials and news contain in the Virtual Classroom are available on an on-demand basis as self-paced learning. You can log into the course's Virtual Classroom and use the content at any time. Your membership in the course never expires. New content is posted on a weekly basis, but back-issues of content rarely expire. Therefore, the content grows steadily over time.
Anchoring the Virtual Classroom are two feature-length blogs that directly address topics that apply to the online ministries within the Church. Also, weekly video tutorials are for posted weekly.
The Virtual Classroom has a Rookie Section devoted to inexperienced volunteers work on church online assets for the first time. The Virtual Classroom also has a webmaster section devoted to more advanced topics for more experienced personnel. Over time, it is expected that rookies will gain knowledge, experience, and knowledge to "grow into" the more advanced topics.
As a free public service, your registration to this course never expires. Once registered, you can use this special-interest peer-learning community as long and as often as you wish. You may come and go into this course’s online Virtual Classroom as often as needed.
New students can join the Virtual Classroom at any time and begin their studies with being behind. They can go on to study back issues for whatever depth of knowledge is desired.
Existing students can return as needed to top-up their general skills or look for learning on a specific topic not previously learned.