Using sustainable resources is getting a lot of attention these days. Bamboo is touted as a great sustainable resource, serving as raw materials for flooring, siding, furniture, dishes and even clothing. What thoughts occur to you as you look at the picture of a man, walking through a bamboo forest?
As someone involved in the web, you are already having an impact on your environment by reaching out online instead of through printed materials. But what about you? You are a resource - have you considered your sustainability? What would happen to your church or ministry projects if you were hit by a bus tomorrow?
Many Christian webmasters operate with few other resources. Most have come forward and have taken on the challenge of creating and maintaining a website for their church all on their own. Or, they may have inherited it from a previous leader. The day-to-day tasks can be overwhelming and quickly become a burden, especially if you are also compelled to champion the 'new' venues and opportunities to other leaders. How do you establish a healthy rhythm between family, work, God and your desire to bring the good news of salvation to people on the Internet? As an Internet Evangelist, you need to be aware of and address some deep issues, but, you don't need to face them alone.
There are several sides to sustainability, two of which are practicality and spirituality. The practical side addresses the 'bus factor'. What happens when you're not available or unable to do what you do? Does anyone else know what you really do and how you accomplish it? If no one does, it is as much your fault as theirs. Even if you haven't documented how you do everything, you should at least have a list of tasks you complete and how often they are done. I also highly recommend you determine the roles for your web team - divide the work among many workers and volunteers and clearly define how they contribute to the overall goals of your web ministry.
Sustainability also comes through discipleship. God has given each of us unique gifts and talents to be used for his glory. He also has sent us out into the world, but not alone. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he sent them out, not as individuals, but two by two. (Mark 6:7) We have been given our talents so we can connect with other people and share with them in our relationship with God, not just to please or amuse ourselves. So, who is with you on your journey?
Another of the spiritual aspects of sustainability is sabbath. As someone driven by passion and gifted with talents, do you find yourself without enough time for everything? Did God rest on the seventh day because he was tired? I think not! It was to give us an example for our own lives. In spite of all the work that needs doing, take time to pause, reflect and recognize that what you have done with God's gifts is good. Connect with other Christian webmasters in your area and online to share your successes, encourage each other and equip new Christian webmasters for their work.
If you find yourself on the leading edge of the online ministry for your church - know that you are called, not just to complete tasks, but also to lead others in this. You may not feel gifted as a leader, but God has other plans for you. He gives to each, according to their abilities (Matthew 25:15) - yours is to lead and you cannot lead without followers. Cultivate a core group of people, find a mentor and follow God's lead.
To become sustainable, you will move through several phases - Model (you do it - most of us get stuck in this phase), Mentor (you do it and someone is with you), Motivate (they do it and you are with them), Monitor (they do it themselves, you provide feedback and encouragement), Multiply (they do it and someone else is with them)*. This is discipleship in action. You will need to invest additional time deepening your relationship with God and with those coming after you. As Maxwell states in Developing the Leaders Around You - 'there is no success without a successor.'
*If you want to learn more about these phases, pick up John Maxwell's book - Developing the Leaders Around You.