This is a guest post by Chris Ames
One of the advantages of an online ministry is the inherent asynchronous nature within which it executes. Historically, if you wanted to get something accomplished in a church or non-profit the expected modus operandi would be for the team to be centrally located (or at least available) during a specified block of time on a typical work day to collaborate synchronously with other living, breathing human beings.
And while some of this also translates into the world of online ministry, a good bit does not. I want to focus on that for a moment because it is a game-changer.
Ready to recognize? Read more after the jump.
The Good Bit That Does Not
Instead of a team of physical volunteers changing diapers and nursing a serious goldfish fetish among toddlers from 8-11am on a Sunday morning, online volunteers can often do the rewarding work of ministry at their leisure. They spend that same few hours per week serving others, they just do it in smaller, more convenient chunks. By “more convenient” I mean “more convenient for the volunteer.”
For example, as an online volunteer I can squeeze in twenty minutes before work on Tuesday responding to ministry-related emails from my home. I can monitor and respond to some wall posts on the Facebook Causes or Fan page over my lunch break as I eat at my desk. I can research content for a blog post on my BlackBerry or iPhone while I sit in the waiting room at the dentist. I can catch up on new forum threads and write a few replies while I’m still riding the emotional high that follows another riveting episode of So You Think You Can Dance.
My point is, the nature of most online ministries lends itself to being accomplished within the cracks of everyday life.
Go Go Gadget Volunteer Base!
This knowledge considerably widens the volunteer pool. A massive mob of volunteers exists for you to leverage, if you know how. The first step, of course, is to find them. John wrote about this last week in the article Finding the Right Volunteers for Online Ministry.
But what comes next?
As you may have already assumed, or experienced directly, the convenience afforded by the online ecosystem also comes with a cost. And if, as an online ministry leader, you don’t manage your volunteer staff well… the advantages quickly become disadvantages and work against you.
So What’s Next?
This is the first in a series of articles to help you, the online ministry leader, leverage online volunteers to build and maintain momentum for your ministry or non-profit.
The first step is to recognize that they exist. They are out there, they have the time, and they really do want to help. You’ve started off on the right foot by enlisting the help of the volunteers that are enthusiastic about your cause. But that is just the beginning.
In the end it will be up to you to empower them, and not stand in their way.
[Image from Rogile]