I was recently helping my son with his homework. He asked me a question about a concept and I was having difficulty explaining it well. So I consulted the resource every parent has relied on for generations: Wikipedia.

There is something impressive about Wikipedia. It is a system maintained mostly by volunteers, using the expertise of its audience to improve and sustain the quality of its product. Is the information flawless? Well, no, but there’s no denying the impact of Wikipedia on the way we learn about certain topics.

It has taken the power out of the hands of a few powerful gatekeepers and distributed the load across a network of contributors. As a result, the information we gather through Wikipedia is more in-depth and up to date than previous traditional encyclopedias.

What are the principles that have led to Wikipedia’s success and how can they help your church multiply its impact and make more disciples?

Steve Murrell asks this very question in his book, WikiChurch. It is a great book and well worth a read.

3 Things Your Church can Learn wikipediaThere is one line in the book that stands out to me every time I read it: “Imagine if every believer, not just paid ministers, did ministry. That’s the WikiChurch.” Think about that for a moment. What would it look like if everyone at your church played an active role in advancing the gospel? Would you have opportunities for them to get involved? How would you equip them? How would your city be transformed as a result?

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1) Be empowered by volunteers.

Wikipedia knew that to stay current and keep pace with the exponential growth of data, they would need help — lots of it. In their case, it takes the form of countless volunteers writing and editing the over 30 million articles. If we are to experience exponential growth in our ministries, we will also need help. The faithful leaders and volunteers of your church are its greatest resource. The WikiChurch treats their volunteers as a valuable resource to be developed, not exhausted. This is the foundational principle behind our call as church leaders in Ephesians 4. By engaging and investing in people, churches can live out God’s design for his church: to “equip the saints for ministry”.

How are you engaging volunteers and giving them a sense of ownership in the mission?

But Wikipedia has lots of errors! This is true. Any system that relies on people will be flawed. This is also true of our churches. Wikipedia knows that perfection is an impossible mark to hit. They aim for quality through community. They have built systems and processes to help make corrections when bad information is posted, and they have a sophisticated system to settle disputes and approve content.

What system does your church have for developing the quality of your leaders? Do you have a plan to settle disputes?

3) Wikipedia is more focused on growth than control.

This is an important principle for church leaders to understand, especially when it comes to developing a thriving volunteer ministry. You can’t be a church that equips the saints for ministry and then hold onto the reins. Effective leaders know how to ‘establish the banks of the river’ while positioning their church members based on their giftings and equipping them for success.

3) Create a culture, not a program.

You cannot become a WikiChurch by following three easy steps. It is not about a program run by your church. It is a culture you create, and culture takes time and intentionality. If you are successful in creating an equipping culture, a movement will emerge among your leaders. The ingredients are simple: engage, establish, equip, and empower. If you want your church to continue to thrive 50 years from now, there are things you can do to become a church that lives out the call of Ephesians 4.

The same framework that enables Wikipedia to be effective can help your church create a multiplying movement in your community. Everything we do at Church Community Builder is centered on how we can help church leaders fulfill the calling of Ephesians 4.

If you’re not using technology in a way that helps guide people through the process of becoming more like Jesus, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Technology can do more than help your church communicate more effectively. It can help you make disciples. But it’s your decision as a leader.

How much do you value technology when it comes to making disciples? Does the way you make ministry decisions and implement processes reflect that?