Getting Serious

Just a note, this post is a duplicate from my new blog at Websterville.net. I won’t double post often, but since it’s my first one over there, I figured I could hype it a little extra.

So, here it is, the all new Websterville.net! I’ve been working non-stop to get this site up and running, and I’m very happy with the way it has turned out. I’d love to get feedback on the new look, so feel free to leave a comment.

If you’ve been following my page from the beginning, you know that this site is not the same site that was on Websterville.net a week ago. The look is different, the focus is different, and even the hosting and framework for the page are different. I really liked my last page and the company that I worked with to put it together was great. You can make some really great sites with them, especially if you’re building a site for a church. It was a really difficult decision to leave that site and make this one. I may have even hurt some feelings in the process. So why did I make the change?

It all came down to one question: Do I want to do graphic design/website building as a side business or is it is going to be my real job?

When I built my first site, I knew I wanted to do graphic design, but I didn’t have any real focus. The site was scattered, with links to 100 different project types and the general message seemed to be, “I’m desperate. Please hire me.” Even though I can still work on all types of projects, if I wanted to be serious about graphic design, I had to find my focus.

Since launching Websterville.net, I have been blessed with a pretty steady stream of work and a majority of it has come from small business owners wanting me to build them a website. After investigating my options for site building and trying a lot of possibilities, I’ve fallen in love with building sites using WordPress and the Headway Theme. (See why here.) After working on six or seven sites this way and getting completely sold on the idea, I realized that if I was serious about selling this to clients, I had to get on board myself.

If graphic design was just going to be my hobby or side business, I could keep my old site. If I was serious about making sites for living, I had to make some hard decisions and build a new site.

I chose to start getting serious.

I am now a full time freelance graphic designer making websites mainly for small businesses. I love my new WordPress site and the control I have over every element. I love working with clients and delivering websites and graphics that make them happy and help their businesses. I love learning new ways to customize the sites I build with CSS and HTML. I love the freedom that freelancing offers. I’m serious about graphic design now and I’m seriously happy about it.

Never Miss Any of the Wanderings

If you’re a Facebook user, you might have noticed posts from this blog and my other one (1000 Reasons I Love You) showing up on Facebook with a little RSS symbol next to them. Thanks to a handy little site called dlvr.it, when I post on either of these blogs, it will be automagically (that’s right) posted on my Facebook page. So if you’re using Facebook, you should never have to miss out on any my posts, whether you want to or not.

If you really, really want to make sure you don’t miss anything, I’ve added a subscription link in the upper right hand corner of the page. Click there to subscribe through any RSS reader like Google Reader, iGoogle, Netvibes, or others. If you’re not using an RSS reader, it’s a great way to keep up with web content on your favorite sites. I personally like Google Reader. And if you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, you can pick up an app like Feeddler that syncs with Google Reader to pull all your feeds over to your mobile for easy access.

Please subscribe and leave some comments every now and then. Hope you enjoy reading and interacting here on this page! I’m always open for suggestions, so hit me up if you have any ideas for stuff that would make this better for you.

Unprofessional Christian

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing something that I haven’t done since I was in college. I’ve been going to church on Sunday without being paid for being there. I don’t have to go if I don’t want to. But I actually do want to be there. I even want to serve and I don’t want or expect any money for doing it.

I’ve gone amateur.

I’m not saying that the paycheck was the only reason I went to church when I was on staff, but when going to church is also going your job, it’s impossible not to occasionally have mixed motives. For example, when the average church member misses a church service, they are missed and prayed for. When one of the ministers on staff misses a Sunday, the same things happen, but they also use a vacation day or a sick day. They must refer to the employee handbook to see exactly how many absences are allowed without it affecting their pay. For a minister, missing a day at church is not only missing out on worship and fellowship, but it’s also a business decision that could affect their career.

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that.

I realize that every paid job involves hours, absences, time sheets, and all that other administrative stuff, but this is church. Church should be different, right? But it gets even more complicated that. Not only is a minister’s church involvement affected by the job, but the minister’s own spiritual health can get mixed up in the pursuit of a paycheck.

According to a Barna poll, 70% of pastors admit that the only time they study the Word is when they’re preparing for a lesson. Even more, when a church member is struggling with sin, they can go to their Sunday School class or small group and pour out their hearts to get support and encouragement. However, when you’re on staff in a congregationally governed church, those small group members are not only your friends and companions, they’re also you’re employers. Most people only have one or maybe even two bosses to keep happy, but a minister has hundreds and they hold the power to hire and fire you. A minister who confesses their struggles to the church at large could be putting their job on the line (depending on how invincible a congregation wants their ministers to appear.)

So because they need to keep that job, many ministers hold it all inside, putting on a strong outward appearance to keep anyone from seeing their weakness. Then, because they have no one to turn to, the sin in their life is free to fester. Maybe that’s why 50% of pastors polled say they are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry, but they stay because they don’t have any other way to make a living. Sometimes, they keep their job by forfeiting their soul.

I hate talking about church using terms like “paycheck,” “employer,” and “professional.” The church is not a business, but it’s easy to forget that when church is your job. It’s easy to become a professional Christian. I’m definitely not opposed to paying ministers; they work extremely hard and deserve to be compensated. I admire the godly men who are able to serve on a church staff without letting the job (or the fear of losing it) take over their spiritual lives. I just personally am happy being an amateur for now.

If you’re interested in reading more about those statistics and the pressure that ministers face in their jobs, I strongly encourage you to read Mark Driscoll’s Death by Ministry series, compiled here in a handy PDF file.

My New WordPress Home

Well, after months (maybe years) of debating, I finally did it. I have officially moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.

From what I hear, a lot of bloggers out there really don’t like Blogger, but I always liked my site there. It was nice looking and easy to use, but there’s just so much more I can do with this site. From the better, shorter URL to the tons of customization options, there are a lot of advantages to this site.

Also, in case you haven’t heard, I’m doing some freelance graphic design work (check out my site at Websterville.net) and one of the ways that I’ll be designing websites is through the Headway Theme for WordPress. Headway is a framework for setting up and laying out sites that will allow me to really cut costs for web design, especially for small businesses. You might be wondering how a blog site can be used to make real non-blog sites, but if you browse the showcase at Headway’s site, you’ll see that you can do a ton of different things with the framework, with or without a blog. This site is a Headway site, and the more I play with the framework, the more excited I am about the possibilities!

So there you have it… new blog, new site, new job, new directions. Life has been pretty interesting lately, but man I’m loving the possibilities out there.