Is your congregation considering new tech staffing? This is for you! Please share this with any congregation you know who is in discernment on this issue.
Here's the question I keep getting, often when the process is far along and jobs are being threatened....
Peter, should we downsize our existing program staff and invest in a full-time tech person?
Quick Answer: No! In my professional opinion that's a horrible idea for most congregations. Better to invest in your existing staff & volunteers, cultivate new volunteers, see how far you can go and grow together, adding tech & media skills and associated tasks to portfolios of your staff and volunteers. If there are tech tasks that you must have covered, start with temporary contracts to supplement your existing team.
Watch this for my long answer:
All congregations need to be working to develop their media and tech capacity. But this shouldn't be implemented as knee-jerk actions throwing money at staffing. I know it is easy to want to fix the problem by hiring a new staff person.
Some day you may need to, but if you are in an emergency "Ah!!!! We need to go hybrid / multi-platform, and I can't do one more thing lets hire a new staff position" state, that isn't fair to your team, your congregation, and isn't a responsible use of funds.
I hear staff saying that there are no volunteers so they have to hire staff ASAP!
Well, congregations that haven't been talking about vision, mission, their calling, the future, and the role of social media, technology, and other aspects of digital life won't have tech and media volunteers hanging around. They haven't been needed or appreciated.
Hiring tech and communications staff, especially if budgets are tight, should follow a process that highlights the importance of media and technology and the building of an associated volunteer & ministry capacity.
What, there are no volunteers in this area? If you have never done a THING before, of course, you have no associated THING volunteers around. But if you start talking about why that THING is so important, all of a sudden the people who are good at that THING and LOVE your congregation are like to show up.
It is also important to recognize that we are being called to integrate our ministry and technology. For most congregations, this means not thinking of technology as a separate role from other staffing, volunteer, and ministry roles but an integral part of them — a part we need to carefully and intentionally cultivate.
At the heart of any viable hybrid future are staff and volunteers (with appropriate skill & strategy training) who are actively BUILDING relationships, FACILITATING conversations, and ENGAGING with members, friends, and newcomers in digital and physical spaces.
Instead of rushing to hire a new staff person to handle all the tech, keep in mind that you can't outsource ministry. Yes, you can hire AV people to run cameras, and hire Zoom worship associates to do the logistics, but at the heart of our ministry is relationship.
We can teach existing staff and volunteers new skills and strategies!
• How to engage with newcomers in digital spaces!
• How to run amazing Zoom-based connecting events that out-perform anything you've done offline for newcomers to date!!!
• How to use social media video to tell the story of your congregation.
• How to use multi-platform streaming tools like StreamYard allowing you to reach more people, more spaces, and do it all LIVE like a digital rock star!
• How to use small groups to make your ministry more relational, meaningful and transformative while being able to move between online and physical gatherings with ease!
• And more....
But it is much HARDER to get a turn a tech staffer into a minister, a membership coordinator, a pastoral care associate, a passionate member, and a new-found friend.
I know many of you feel the urge to GO BIG with tech staff because you need the help making whatever is going to come next happen.
I understand. I get it.
But rushing in this direction while cutting other positions and failing to do the visioning, leadership, and volunteer development work is not the way forward.
Instead of new tech staffing, invest in your existing staff & volunteers, cultivate new volunteers, see how far you can go and grow together, adding tech & media skills and associated tasks to their portfolios. If there are tech tasks that you must have covered, start with temporary contracts to supplement your existing team.
Hope this helps!