Prior: Part 3: Yeah, I Use Them, But What Are They?

When the Internet got started, many wards started setting up their own websites. The Church instructed them to stop and remove the sites and wait for the Church to develop a uniform system -- which it did a few years later. They are now known as the Tools or Member Tools if used on a digital device.

We lost momentum.

By the time the Church rolled out the Local Unit Websites (LUWS) people had largely moved on, unfortunately.

The sites have changed dramatically over the years. However, they have all had directories, calendars, and email networks. These are the most important components of the digital tools.

Other tools were discontinued. Only about 700 units out of over 30,000 in the Church were using them so the Church took them away. They included stake and ward/branch newsletters and lesson schedules.

The current tools have had only limited, sporadic and ineffective use. Obviously, there are many reasons.

Here are some reasons and I do not want this to be taken as criticism, but more as commentary and reality. There are reasons why we are where we are. If we just face them and recognize them, we can address them.

Local church leaders are generally mature men with limited digital capability, knowledge, and incentive. They seem to have viewed these tools as optional or unnecessary. Other older people also seemed to discount them.

The Church issued the tools but provided limited training and guidance. As a librarian, we were schooled to study how people seek and access information. Technology people simply design tools and tell you how to manually manipulate them. I do not think the tech people paid much attention to implementation and best practices.

The Church expects people to access help and guidance online. It does not hand-hold anymore and people are used to being told what to do. They are not used to educating themselves on their church responsibilities.

Utilizing the tools requires doing things differently than they have been done in the past. This is always hard. People resist change. They fear the learning curve, thinking that things will be hard.

Utilizing the tools requires new callings and responsibilities that many are unfamiliar with, such as building schedulers, ward website administrators (now called ward email communication specialists), calendar editors, etc. Most of these positions are not being filled, either at the stake or ward/branch level.

Using all these wonderful tools the Church provides us with will require getting over these barriers and doing things differently.

However, the tools are straightforward and easy! I’ve got a simple checklist of items that can make things work even better! Anybody can do it!

This is what I propose:

Leadership needs to stop assuming they need to perform digital tasks themselves. In fact, it would be better if others did them. Others should be doing them. Leadership only needs to oversee them. They can assign others to do them. The new callings the Church created are entirely digital!

All relevant digital and technology callings need to be filled. What are they?
  • Building Scheduler(s)
  • Stake Calendar Administrator(s)/Editor(s)
  • Ward Calendar Administrator(s)/Editor(s). Note: The name has officially changed to Email Communication Specialist.
Standardized digital procedures need to be implemented. This is NOT as complicated as it sounds.

It simply means there needs to be some agreement on how some basic things are going to get done – like which calendar to put baptisms on. This is where my checklist comes in!

(For the record: I recommend Ward Clerks put baptisms on the ward/branch general calendar.)

Those called should be supported and not undercut in any way. Believe it or not, some leaders have put people in charge of managing the unit’s email system and then constructed their own email list on their personal email account and used that instead.

Leadership and others need to be trained on how to use the tools properly. This is straight from the Help Center:

Training Stake/Ward Councils and Building Schedulers

Stake and ward councils should be trained on how to create their events on the calendars and schedule the building and rooms. They should know which calendars exist and who the editors are for each calendar, and they should be shown how to create an event and at the same time schedule the building themselves.

Building schedulers should be trained to understand that for stake and ward events, the stake or ward leaders should create their own events and schedule the building themselves. As they do, the events will then appear on both the stake and ward calendars and also on the building calendar. Building schedulers should be taught that they should not put stake or ward events directly on the building calendar. If they do, it will indeed reserve the building, but the events will not be seen on the stake or ward calendars, leaving the membership uninformed. Usually, building schedulers create only approved family events on the building calendar. They also periodically review the building calendar to make sure events are being appropriately created by the stake and wards according to the local building policy.

 Next: Part 5: Calendaring Need No Longer Be Odious

Assignment for leaders: Read “Using the Calendar” on the Help Center.

Assignment for members: Read “Using the Calendar” on the Help Center paying particularly close attention to the fact that you have member responsibilities.

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