When those of us who are history buffs hear that term, we recall those opportunistic citizens of occupied countries during World War II who aided the Nazi regime. Those shady characters weren't very popular people at war's end, to say the least! (OK, the slimy Captain Renault from Casablanca - pictured at left - proved himself a decent fellow by the time the credits rolled, but until that point, he had that negative sense of "collaborator" written all over him.)
When Google uses that term in relation to its wikis, it doesn't have that connotation at all. Not even close. Wiki collaborators are wonderful people: members of the wiki community who volunteer to provide content on a regular basis, and also to help police the site, making sure contributions are accurate, appropriate and useful.
From the theological standpoint, there's a better name for them: fellow-workers.
The apostle Paul uses that word frequently - it's sunergon in the Greek. In Philippians 2:25, he refers to "Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier." Again, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, he speaks of Timothy as "our brother and co-worker." What's remarkable, here, is that Paul's describing more than a mere casual partnership. He calls these men "brother."
Fellow-Workers are partners in a common cause, who are passionate about WikiPreacher and how it can be useful to others.
Our Fellow-Workers are also generous people. Their greatest gift is their time, which they're willing to contribute, in large amounts or small, to make the world just a little better.
They're like the people who, on a walk through their neighborhood, stop to pick up a discarded bottle and carry it home for recycling. They call to mind those parents who always seem to be behind the snack counter at Little League games, cooking hot dogs, even covering others' shifts.
Fellow-workers are good neighbors - in the virtual world, as well as the physical one.
As for the church, where would we be without our fellow-workers? As any pastor knows, few churches could even keep their doors open, were it not for the legions of members and friends who selflessly respond to God's call, giving of their time even before they're asked
WikiPreacher needs just that sort of person: in large numbers. As Grandma used to say, "Many hands make short work." This little experiment in open-source resource-gathering depends on participants who feel called to do more than just surf over to the site whenever they feel stuck for something to say on Sunday morning.
How To Become a Fellow-Worker
"So, how do I become a Fellow-Worker?" you may be wondering...
In the wiki world, it couldn't be simpler. Once you've signed up by joining the free WikiPreacher Google Group, you just get to work.
When you're coming in to add or edit something, you do need to access the site by a different URL than the www.wikipreacher.org URL you probably used to get here the first time. You can still have read access through that URL, but to add or edit material, you need to access the site here:
There's no vetting process, no term of office. Sad to say, there's no remuneration, either - but you probably knew that already. We can promise lots of satisfaction, though, as you play a role in building this site into whatever it is becoming.
Take a look at this highly-recommended little article from the How Stuff Works website, called "How Do Wikis Work?" You'll catch how counter-intuitive this model seems, at first. You'd think, at first blush, that giving the whole world unfettered access to a web site, with power to change most anything about it, would result in disaster.
When that's what repeatedly happens, the vandals give up and go elsewhere.
That's the model, anyway - and, if Wikipedia can do it, we have even more confidence that an online community of Christian pastors and teachers will grasp the concept and make it happen.
The Fellow-Worker's Toolbox
"I'd like to go beyond contributing and help edit what others post. What do I need to do the job?" (If you've gotten this far down the page, that's probably your next question.)
How To Post" page - but if you really want to embrace your fellow-workerhood, here are a couple more. Both these advanced tools are accessed by clicking on the "More actions" button, located at the upper right of most WikiPreacher pages, then clicking on the item in the pull-down menu:
Revision history - Starting from the page you're concerned about, click on this item in the "More actions" pull-down menu, and you'll see a listing of several dozen of the most recent versions of that page. If a page has been seriously damaged by some user - either accidentally or maliciously - you can quickly and easily restore the most recent undamaged version from this list.
Subscribe to page changes - There may be some pages you're especially concerned about - either because you have contributed them, or out of general interest. Using the second item on this menu, you can click to subscribe to email alerts reporting any future changes to those particular pages (don't worry, you can unsubscribe just as easily, if you change your mind). If, after getting such an alert, you visit the page and see that damage has been done, or something malicious has been posted, you can use the "Revision history" procedure, above, to restore the original.
Not all changes are malicious. The nature of wikis is such that others in the community sometimes make changes to material posted by others, in an effort to make the information more complete or useful. If you see a change in material you've posted, please don't jump immediately to restore it to the way it was. Instead, pause for a moment and consider carefully whether the change isn't, in fact, an improvement. It just may be.