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July 2016

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How to Get Along with Others




HOW TECH & 4 ACCOUNTING CAN LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER What’s the difference between toilet paper and technology? Not as big as you might think!


Internal 8 Marketing, Social Media, and . . . Discipleship!

Before your switch to cloudbased systems, do a little homework. Here’s how.

Winning people to Christ is only the first step in church communications. There’s more.

Tech Support 12 Means Showing the Love Technical people focus on problems and risk. Ministry focuses on people.

START-UP | The Entrepreneur Who Modernized Bible Memorization . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Protect Your Church From Hackers and Cyber Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Why is “Growth” Such a Dirty Word in Some Churches? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 2 |


Review These Simple Tips Before You Get Hacked!


A Word from the editor Ray Hollenbach Editor Ray Hollenbach

Art Director Beth VanDyke

Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Russ McGuire Jonathan Smith Steven Sundermeier Kevin Purcell

Copy Editor Rachael Mitchell


Outreach Inc. 5550 Tech Center Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80919 (800) 991-6011 Ministry Tech® is a registered trademark of Outreach, Inc. Written materials submitted to Ministry Tech® Magazine become the property of Outreach, Inc. upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. Ministry Tech® Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be

Ministry Means Service


n every area of ministry— whether we labor in preaching, teach in Sunday school, or apply our tech skills in video, sound, or software—loving service should drive all ministry. July’s issue of Ministry Tech features five articles on the intersection of loving service and technical skills. Jonathan Smith’s “How Tech & Accounting Can Live Happily Ever After” contains practical wisdom that can help church staffs live harmoniously with one another as they serve their congregation. We are called to model God’s peace while we work together. Yvon Prehn’s “Internal Marketing, Social Media, and Discipleship” reminds us that we communicate not only the details of community life, but also the spirit of Christian community. We use and choose whatever media serves others. Nick Nichalaou finds a lesson about God’s love at Apple’s Genius Bar (“Tech Support Means Showing the

Love”), and Russ McGuire reveals how entrepreneurs combine their love of God and service to others (“The Entrepreneur Who Modernized Bible Memorization”). Even something as down-to-earth as Steven Sundermeier’s piece on password protection (“10 Password Basics Most of Us Ignore”) is based on helping others find safety and peace in the wilds of the World Wide Web. If we invented an ultra modern translation of 1st Corinthians 13, it might include a line like this: “If I possess all tech knowledge, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” As the new editor of Ministry Tech (don’t worry, Joey Tindell is still with us, but in an executive capacity) I’m grateful that our contributing editors understand the connection between technology and loving service. Doing our jobs well is a practical expression of God’s love, and it serves others in ways they may not even recognize. But Jesus does—and He’s always pleased when we pour humility, service, and love into our technical tasks.

copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of Outreach, Inc. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Ministry Tech® Magazine, or Outreach, Inc. © Copyright 2016 Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Ray Hollenbach is the Editor of Ministry Tech magazine. He has previously served as the editor of Outreach’s Better Preaching Update, and as the editor of the Pastor channel at You can reach him at July 2016 | 3


How Tech & Accounting Can Live Happily Ever After Practical ideas on how two very different ministries can thrive together. by Jonathan

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reparing an Information Technology (I.T.) budget can often be a dreaded task. Tech people seem to always want to spend more money and accounting people want to make sure funds are spent wisely. Both parties are striving to be good stewards of God’s resources, but there’s a critical disconnect between the dollar signs associated with a request and an understanding why the technology is needed. When the accounting department sees a request or PO for toilet paper they don’t often ask many questions. Everyone knows what toilet paper is for and why it is needed. However, when Accounting sees a PO for a virtual server host they tend to ask a lot of questions. (Granted, one virtual server host costs as much as a year’s worth of toilet paper for most ministries.) This challenge is further compounded when normal ministry politics are involved. Budgeting for IT, Audio Visual, or any other aspect of technology in ministry doesn’t have to be a bottleneck. Both technology and accounting folks need to work at making sure technology purchases like virtual server hosts are as easy to accomplish as purchasing toilet paper. But it takes teamwork. Technology is complicated. So is accounting.

Accountants learn as much about technology in school as tech folks learn about accounting. Tech folks often think accounting is just math and the accounting folks might think that technology is just browsing the Internet. It’s vital that the communication lines remain open. Technology folks should have nothing to hide. Here are a few guidelines to smooth the process of IT budgeting:

Accountants learn as

much about technology in school as tech folks

learn about accounting. Tech folks often think

accounting is just math and the accounting

folks might think that technology is just

browsing the internet.

Spell It Out: While it’s easy for us to spout acronyms, we shouldn’t. Our requests for funding or explanations of how we are going to accomplish a project should be easy to understand. It is far better to invest the time to communicate than to attempt to snow someone in an effort to save time. Investing the time in communicating builds trust.

Trust One Another: Trust is vital to all aspects of ministry. Without trust, giving decreases; without giving there won’t be any money to buy toilet paper or virtual hosts. Trust is sometimes compromised unintentionally as good people try to work towards a common goal. To maintain trust you must not try to hide anything. No question should be ignored and (Cont. on page 6)

July 2016 | 5

no request for additional data should be put off—whether reasonable or not. Building trust leads to cooperation. (Cont. from page 5)

Play Nice Together: Cooperation is the sweet spot when the accounting team and the technology team are working together at maximum efficiency. As projects and requests come up both teams are able to quickly process information and produce results without unnecessary drama and without any additional drain on resources. And maybe, just maybe, through this cooperation the tech folks will learn a little about accounting and the accounting folks will learn what a virtual server host is (and why it’s needed). Accounting is able to be accountable while Tech is able to be productive. Productivity is the ultimate goal—being productive to maximize effectiveness for the Kingdom. The technology team is a trusted resource that communicates effectively and the accounting team is valued for ensuring proper tracking of all funds and stewardship. These foundations are critical to managing

technology projects and budgeting. Technology expenditures should be planned, and not surprises. Equipment wears out: planning hardware replacement cycles is the duty of every technology manager. When you buy a server you know it won’t last forever, just like toilet paper. These plans can be done numerous ways and it’s important for the technology team to work with the accounting team and church leadership to determine the best way to save for and handle these ongoing expenses.

A member of the tech

team should have a seat at the leadership table, not

because technology is the driving force but so that

when ideas, projects and

There is also the matter of special projects and new construction. It is easy to let the tech costs reach towards the heavens on new construction, but tech budget requests should be prepared and presented knowing that if there isn’t enough money to build the building then there won’t be any need for the technology. Trust can be built when the tech folks show they understand the fiscal realities of a project and don’t attempt to sneak in things just because it is a new building and a much larger overall budget. The technology staff should also be looking ahead. At any moment the tech team should

budgets are discussed the tech team can provide

input and answer ques-

tions. Technology should be a valued resource, not a necessary evil.

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Special Needs:

be able to enumerate their top three projects, whether those projects are for software, infrastructure, hardware, or employees doesn’t matter. They should also communicate as items age and need to be replaced. Not that every request will get approved, but at least if something important does fail you have communicated in advance—and not in crisis mode. This is also why a member of the tech team should have a seat at the leadership table. Not because technology is the driving force but so that when ideas and projects and budgets are discussed the tech team is available to provide input and answer questions. Technology should be positioned as a valued resource that improves effectiveness, not a necessary evil. Too many times the people behind the technology cause the technology to be improperly positioned.

There is a great deal of comfort and security that comes when the technology and accounting teams work together as part of the King’s community. Surprises are limited. There is security in knowing what you can and can’t afford. Ministry impact increases. Besides, who wants to be part of a community without toilet paper? MT

Jonathan Smith is the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN. You can reach Jonathan at and also follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith.

July 2016 | 7

Good Communication Supports Making Disciples

Internal Marketing, Social Media, and . . .

Discipleship! [


ost churches put the majority of their church marketing and communication efforts toward getting people to the Sunday morning service. Though this is essential, we shouldn’t stop there. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not

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simply worship attendees. We need to learn to use every tool of technology available to get people involved in the activities and ministries of our churches that will take them to the next step of Christian maturity. We need to add internal marketing, using

by Yvon Prehn


both social media and print, to our church communication ministry.

Internal marketing defined Internal marketing includes all of the communication you create for people already attending your church, to get

them involved in activities that will help them grow to maturity in their Christian life. Far too often this aspect of marketing and communication doesn’t happen in the church, and if it does it’s often done in a haphazard and spotty manner. It’s seldom intentional, but it happens because we have an unspoken assumption people will automatically want to attend small groups, training times, and other church activities. When the congregation doesn’t attend these ministries they miss out on spiritual growth opportunities. Here are three suggestions on how to remedy this situation.

Become convinced of the need for internal marketing Outside of the four gospels, the rest of our New Testament was written to people who were already Christians. Paul, Peter, and John all realized that becoming a Christian was just the first step in the Christian life. Their letters taught that people must grow to spiritual maturity in order to be the kind of people the Lord intends them to be. That’s what it means to make disciples, to fulfill the Great Commission. For that to happen, churches must intentionally market spiritual growth activities repeatedly. If you are effective at reaching previously unchurched people, they don’t know what Sunday school is, or why they should be involved in small groups and discipleship classes. You have to educate them about the value of the events, invite them, remind them, and do everything you can to get

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not simply worship attendees. We need to use every tool of technology available to get people involved in the activities and ministries of our churches that will take them to the next step of Christian maturity. them involved. This is the essence of internal marketing. In response to this advice I often hear the complaint, “People just don’t care anymore” about small groups or Sunday school classes or similar events. When I hear this, after probing the communication plan in the church to promote these events, I find it often has nothing to do with people caring or not. The reality is most people have no idea these ministries are going on in the church because the church isn’t intentional about communicating it to them. When a person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit prompts that person toward spiritual growth. But the Holy Spirit most likely will not tell him or her, “Go to the small group that meets at the Johnsons at 456 Elm Street, 7:30 on Thursday night and you’ll learn what it means to grow in your Christian life.” You’ve got to communicate the specifics of the message to connect the person with what will help them grow as a believer in Jesus.

Train volunteers to help In light of the immense amount of work involved to successfully

market ministry programs, your current staff, no matter how talented or hard-working they are, probably can’t do all the work. You need volunteer help. Not only do you need help for the amount of communication that needs to be done, but also few people are skilled in every channel of communication. Some write well, others take great pictures for Instagram, others compose Facebook posts and tweets people actually enjoy reading. Assemble a team of people with skills in each of these communication areas. You must use all channels of communication: all the social media as well as print channels, if you want to get a response from all the people who need to grow to maturity in your church. There is no one perfect channel to reach everyone in the church: different people prefer different media. That’s why successful churches have a diverse group of volunteers. I know even the suggestion of these actions will cause some people to react in horror because communications produced by volunteers cannot be continuously supervised. Some worry that such efforts will “get out of control” and “won’t (Cont. on page 10) July 2016 | 9

(Cont. from page 9) reflect the ‘standards’ of our church.” Maybe. But most people will have no idea if a reminder postcard or a series of tweets reflect the high graphic quality standards of the Sunday Bulletin. They will simply appreciate the reminders.

Make a plan for successful internal ministry marketing The keys for a successful internal ministry marketing plan are: repetition, Repetition, REPETITION! And each repetition needs to communicate all the details, every time. Classic advertising theory tells us people need to hear or see something at least 7 times for it to sink in. Contemporary marketing goes far beyond that—think about how many times you see the same ad in the course of one evening when you watch TV, or how often a movie is advertised before it is released. Repetition is also important because not every person will see every promotion you produce. They may not be in church each week; your mailer may be tossed out with the food advertisements; they may not download the church newsletter. Not everyone checks social media every day. Much of social media is a flowing stream and if you don’t catch an important announcement within a few hours after it’s posted it will be swallowed up by the flow of other messages. As you create these pieces, remember you do not need to be original or different in each one. It is far more effective to come up with one way to advertise an event and repeat it exactly the same through all your 10 |

repetitions. Professional marketers do not change their message through an entire advertising campaign, sometimes for years—think of Nike’s “Just do it” campaign. You should also keep your core message, graphics, colors the same in order to avoid confusing your audience. McDonald’s Golden Arches are always gold—not purple or teal or forest green. If they changed the colors in every location or because the location owner got bored with gold, we’d never recognize the company. Repetition is especially important if your church is growing. People with little or no church background have no history of loyalty to any

church program. If you are successful at winning unchurched people to Jesus, they have no idea why a small group is good for them, or what studying the Bible will do for them. First you must make the activity familiar. Then you have to win loyalty, acceptance, and excitement about your ministries. Ministry marketing messages have to be consistent for this to happen. Granted, this is a huge amount of work, but if we are to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples, if our goal is as it was for Paul, “to present everyone perfect, mature, complete, in Christ” when we stand before Him, it will be more than worth it. MT

The keys for a successful internal ministry marketing plan are:

repetition, Repetition, REPETITION!

For more advice on church communications from Yvon Prehn in our constantly changing communication world, go to

July 2016 | 11

Tech Support Means

Showing the Why Efficiency Is Not Enough | by Nick Nicholaou


he best tech support fixes problems and demonstrates God’s love. I’d like to tell you about a personal experience I had as a tech support recipient, and then draw some applications about tech support in ministry settings. I made an appointment to see an Apple Genius so they could resolve a battery issue in my wife’s iPhone. I was also going to have them replace my phone’s screen because of a scratch it picked up when about two weeks old. What happened is an example of how badly support can go wrong, and serves as a good reminder for all of us who do tech work as a part of ministry to others.

use similar apps, so our battery consumption has always been similar. In fact, we have never run out of battery! We’ve been very pleased with our devices, and consider them very reliable. My wife’s phone battery started fully depleting a couple weeks ago by early evening. Batteries are consumable items, so I expected Apple to tell me I would have to pay to replace the battery. No big deal: the phone is nearly 2 years old. I also expected to at least pay a deductible to replace my screen since the scratch was my fault, not theirs. So we went to the Apple Store to meet with a Genius with good attitudes and, I think, appropriate expectations.


What Happened

Our phones are fairly similar—both iPhones with maximum capacities; hers is a 6 and mine is a 6s. We

We started on the battery issue first. The Genius ran some diagnostics and told my wife that her battery is not

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really bad (though the chart showed it is acting like an older battery that has been charged many times and is losing some capacity); that it is more likely the third-party apps she was running causing the problem. Examining her apps showed that one had consumed nearly 30% of her battery! And using her phone in weak service areas had consumed nearly 20% (not a third party app). They also made a few other recommendations, each one focused on how she was the cause of the problem, suggesting that the phone was okay. It felt like they were trying to stop a request for a free battery replacement before we made it. My wife said what she cared about most was that she could rely on the phone when she needed it. Last week while traveling on business, she was driving in an unfamiliar area and her phone shut off because of the battery issue. So

she asked whether the Genius was certain these issues were the cause. “We cannot guarantee that…” was the reply. I said I was willing to buy her a battery—or even a new phone if necessary—but that the key was her having a reliable phone. The Genius called a manager to help us further. The manager said they wouldn’t recommend replacing the battery or the phone unless we did a full reset (to factory condition) so we could adequately test it. I’ll do that for her since I want to grab some screen shots before losing all of her configuration details, but doing so will cost me a few hours and may not determine the cause of the problem. Regarding my screen replacement, they told me there is a 50/50 chance I would lose everything stored on my phone, and asked if it was backed up. My data is backed up, but configuring a phone for how she used it would take hours, so I asked them for more details: do they really lose 50 out of 100 phones’ data? The manager came out to help us again and confirmed that replacing the screen was risky. It felt more like they were protecting their possible liability and exaggerating the problem more than was warranted. After all, if my firm lost 50% of computers’ data when we worked on them, we would have been out of business a long time ago! I should mention that I like Apple, and that the store manager came over and apologized about our poor experience there. This article is

certainly not about bashing Apple, but about improving the support experiences of those we serve.

What Should Have Happened Non-technical technology users don’t like talking to tech support folks. They typically feel intimidated. Most non-tech users wait until they get to a breaking point before turning to support. The best techs try to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and respond in a caring way, rather than blame on the customer or talk about high probabilities of data loss—which intimidates the customer further. The best techs take the customer’s side and care for them as if they themselves were the customers. In our firm we talk a lot about relationship management. It’s hard for most techs to treat each customer in a caring and empathetic way; it’s simply not in our DNA. Our vocation attracts those who are focused on analysis and engineering rather than on warm and fuzzy relationships. The problem is that users only feel comfortable among people with whom they have a friendly relationship.

Ministry is based on Love? Supporting the technical needs of a ministry means supporting the

values and goals of that ministry. Good ministry communicates God’s love and care for both staff and the members of the organization. This is something I struggle with daily. In my job, every time I write an email or help with a support ticket, my tendency is to give the necessary details as efficiently as possible. Efficiency is good! But good relationships are not (and cannot be) efficient. And good ministry is built on good relationships, so that means our communication must be more than efficient. It must reflect the values and practices of God’s community, the church. One way I overcome this separation is by taking the time to re-read my emails before clicking the send button. While doing so I slow down to get the feel of them by actually pronouncing every word. I ask myself if I left things out in the name of efficiency, or if I said things in such a way that the reader won’t sense that I care about them and their perspective. That is a hard habit to develop and to put into practice, but relationships matter! Those of us in the ministry technology world need to show we care. (That, or have a life plan of regularly looking for new jobs because we did not appropriately care for the relationships our organization has established.) MT

Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, an IT consulting firm specializing in church and ministry computer networks, VoIP, and private cloud hosted services. You can reach Nick at, and may want to check out his firm’s website ( and his blog at July 2016 | 13


The Entrepreneur Who Modernized Bible Memorization by Russ McGuire (


n this article series, we’ve defined a Christian entrepreneur as a person driven to glorify God in all he does, ruled by the Word of God, who starts a new venture and is willing to risk a loss in order to achieve success. Each month I’ve been introducing you to specific Christian startups and entrepreneurs, some of which may be helpful to your church, ministry, business, or family, but my main intent is to encourage and inspire you to be entrepreneurial in your ministry and career. Recently I was introduced to a mobile app that has become my new favorite. It was developed by Brett Golson, an entrepreneur you need to meet. Brett was gracious to tell me his startup story.

The Problem with Index Cards

account) and you can share verses with others to be encouraging one another in the Word. Throughout his life there have been times that, like many of us, Brett has been convicted about the need to memorize scripture. Also like many of us, he turned to the trusty old index card: write out the verse, and carry it with you wherever you go. While this approach generally worked, Brett found two main problems. The first problem was that, though he may remember the verse, he often would forget the card and it would make an unsuccessful trip through the laundry. The second problem was a good one to have. As often happens when the Lord puts a scripture in our mind, Brett would encounter someone who really needed to be blessed by that scripture, and he would give his index card away. Both of these problems were easy to fix, but Brett

Brett’s company is Millennial Apps, LLC and their main product is Scripture Typer, a mobile and web app for memorizing scripture. You can use Scripture Typer on any device (your memory verses are linked to your

thought there had to be a better way. Brett also noticed that if he typed out the verse he was trying to memorize, he would learn it more quickly. The combination of the audible (saying the verse out

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Russ McGuire A trusted advisor with proven strategic insights, Russ has been blessed by God in many ways including serving as a corporate executive, co-founding technology startups, and writing a technology/business book. More importantly, he’s a husband and father who cares about people, and a committed Christian who seeks to honor God in all that he does. His newest venture is as Entrepreneur in Residence at Oklahoma Christian University.

loud), visual (reading the verse), and kinesthetic (typing it out) resulted in much quicker learning. All these experiences are the first step towards entrepreneurship—seeing a problem and starting to imagine a solution.

What Happens When You Pray In the mid-2000’s Brett was happily employed as a software developer. He felt called to take a sabbatical year to focus on the Lord and prayer. God blessed him in many ways that year, including meeting McKenzie, the young lady who would become his wife. While Brett had planned to return to his former job, after getting married, McKenzie’s family started working on the National Prayer Bank, a not-for-profit website where people can share prayer requests and pray for others. Brett was excited to join in this family venture. That led to the for-profit family startup,

Millennial Solutions, LLC, a web development firm with a particular focus on helping churches integrate the features of the National Prayer Bank into their websites. During Christmas 2009 Brett took a short break from all the craziness and as a fun project put together a web-based app to help solve his “index card problem.” He was pretty happy with the results, so he grabbed the domain name, published the app, did a little search engine optimization, promoted it on a few blogs, and the traffic started to grow. Other

apps, the existing user base on the website provided tremendous interest in the new apps, helping lift the rankings in the app stores, which increased visibility, drove more interest, and led to even higher rankings. Before long, Scripture Typer was the top result people saw when they searched for Bible memorization in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore for Android. The revenue model for the app is pretty straightforward. Initially, Brett charged for the app, but with the release of version 2.0, he made the

Bearing Fruit I asked Brett how his faith impacts his approach to business. He pointed me to the beginning of John 15. “I’m always trying to be intentional about abiding in the Lord. It’s not that He’s with me in what I’m doing as much as it is that I need to be with Him in what He’s doing. That’s the only way that I’m going to bear fruit, whether that be in my business or in the kingdom.” That sounds like a great perspective for us all. As I introduce you to these entrepreneurs each month, I hope

“I’m always trying to be intentional about abiding in the Lord. It’s not that He’s with me in what I’m doing as much as it is that I need to be with Him in what He’s doing.” —Brett Golson, Millennial Apps, LLC bloggers noticed it and the traffic grew even more. The only challenge was monetization. Brett tried using Google AdSense to provide advertising revenue, but even with the right filtering settings some ads appeared that really weren’t appropriate for a Bible memorization site. About that time, Brett started appreciating the value of mobile apps. He realized new business models enabled by the Apple App Store (and later Google Play) could begin generating revenue for Scripture Typer. As he launched the

basic app free and introduced a Pro version with a few extra features. (The Pro price is so low and the value of the app is so high for me that I didn’t hesitate to upgrade.) Writing a mobile app also created a new line of business for Brett. While continuing with Millennial Solutions, he formed Millennial Apps, LLC as the home of Scripture Typer, but has also been taking on a diverse set of mobile app development projects for new clients, many of whom found Brett because they were impressed with Scripture Typer.

that the focus isn’t on what men and women are doing, but what God is doing through them. A verse that Scripture Typer has helped me memorize I think appropriately reflects that: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV) MT July 2016 | 15

Protect Your Church from Hackers and Cyber Attacks What makes a church so appealing? To put it simply, churches are notorious for being treasure troves of sensitive information.”


iving in the information age, we all know the benefits that modern technology brings to our lives. For faith-based organizations, the effects felt by technology are apparent as well. Technology improves the efficiency and productivity of overworked, understaffed church offices, offers a new way for churches to spread their message, and appeals to younger generations. This reliance on technology will only continue to grow as younger generations become the regular donors, volunteers and worshippers at churches around the country. However the improvements that modern technology provides also bring with them added threats and risks that the majority of churches are ill equipped to handle.

The rise in modern technology usage has also brought along a rise in cybercrime, a dangerous trend where anyone can be victimized. Cybercriminals are often motivated by financial gain 16 |



and achieve this goal by obtaining sensitive personal information that can be used or sold to the highest bidder. Cyber-attacks can happen at any time and affect individuals, businesses and organizations, including churches. In fact, churches make an especially appealing target for the average cyber-attacker. What makes a church so appealing? To put it simply, churches are notorious for being treasure troves of sensitive information. With the presence of donors, volunteers and staff members, this information can come in a variety of forms. Social security numbers, bank account information and contact information are just a few of the valuable nuggets that churches across the country collect every day. With reliance on technology, the majority of this information is stored electronically, typically on whatever management or accounting software is being utilized. To

put this into perspective, Capterra estimates that more than 140,000 churches are using church management software today. When you consider the number of records each church holds, it’s easy to see why the level of exposure of the church industry is massive. To make matters worse the vast

majority of churches aren’t just unprepared for a potential breach, they are oblivious to the fact that it can even happen. A recent internal study suggests that while 81% of churches admit to housing sensitive information electronically, 73% don’t think that their information is at risk. This level of unawareness, and the associated culture of inaction, is an enormous problem facing the church industry. Adding to this problem are the potential consequences associated with a breach. Aside from the risk churches are placing on their members’ information by not protecting it, the fallout of a breach can be catastrophic. In the United States, fortysix states currently mandate that a

victimized organization must report a breach. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Annual Study of U.S. Companies, the average costs associated with reporting and remediating a cyber breach is over $7.7 million, with a minimum of over $307,000. These costs, which are uncovered by the vast majority of general liability policies, can be enough to financially cripple a church. While this is a problem that all companies and organizations face, the challenges facing the church industry are especially unique. It’s easy to give a large business or non-profit a blueprint for successfully keeping their information more secure; but for churches, it’s different. Many church staffs are made up of just a handful of people, some of which are just part-time employees or volunteers. These are the people responsible with keeping

a church running and can wear a number of different hats on a daily basis that don’t necessarily fit their job description. With that in mind, information security can be seen as a complicated, involved topic that many church staffs simply don’t have the manpower or time to tackle. In fact, one recent study suggests that only 16% of churches have an IT professional on staff. Unfortunately for these churches, their level of understanding and ability to address the problem doesn’t make it any less of one. It’s for this reason that churches need a unique information security solution that caters specifically to them. From our century of experience in the church industry, we’ve witnessed, time and time again, the challenges churches face from the lack of available resources. Due to this problem and the growing threats outlined earlier, we

created 5ifthWall, a unique information security solution for the modern church. 5ifthWall brings together

leaders of the faith-based and risk management industries for a service that meets the special needs of churches. 5ifthWall is

built on three pillars, each equally important for the sustained health of a church. These pillars are education, certification and insurance. While 5ifthWall provides insurance, we don’t truly consider ourselves an insurance company, as doing so overshadows the comprehensiveness of our service. We like to think of ourselves as a risk mitigation service, which we provide in a number of ways. While insurance is an important safety net to have, it can’t be the only measure of protection a church has in place. After all, is health insurance an excuse to not take care (Cont. on page 18) July 2016 | 17

of your body? This is where our education and certification comes in. As noted before, information security can be a confusing and intimidating topic. At 5ifthWall, we keep things simple with easy-to-follow courses that teach the best practices for keeping your information safer. Our argument is that optimizing information security isn’t always about implementing a sophisticated IT infrastructure; often times the best steps to take are the simplest ones. Our courses provide a basic understanding of common security threats and ways to promote safe computer habits throughout the office. Upon completion of our courses, we provide resources to apply this new knowledge and create a better security plan for each office. But much like technology, the world of cybercrime is always changing. It’s important to constantly stay educated and updated on the latest threats. 5ifthWall certification does just that. We ensure that our client churches are ahead of the curve every year with the latest recommended practices. If the unspeakable were to happen, we can provide the safety net that’s needed. Our specialized insurance policies cover a variety of areas that are overlooked by standard general liability policies. (Cont. from page 17)

Three Out of Four Churches Are Unprepared for a Data Breach. Is Your Church One of Them?

educate. certify. insure. Studies suggest that over 80% of churches store

sensitive information electronically, but 75% leave that information unprotected. This oversight puts both churches and their members at risk of a costly data breach. Introducing 5ifthWall, an information security

solution created for churches. Built on education, certification and insurance, 5ifthWall gives your

church the resources to keep your information safe.

Visit Us Online or Call Us Today!


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10 Password Basics Most of Us Ignore Simple Suggestions Even Betty White Could Follow | by Steven Sundermeier


remember watching an old sitcom with my parents, The Golden Girls. My favorite character on the show was Rose Nylund, played by the Emmy Award-winner Betty White. I mention Betty White today because she seems to be everywhere these days, from past and present sitcoms, to Saturday Night Live and many commercials (I love the recent Snickers one!). One place I didn’t expect to see Betty White was as the spokesperson for the website “,” a site dedicated to promoting World Password Day. But there she was, videos and all, giving “Password Pep Talks” on how to make your online life more secure. [A disclaimer: while I, as a security professional and Rose Nylund fan, found the short videos to be comical, I fully disclose that the content isn’t exactly G-rated so please be advised.] Creating and maintaining passwords is one of the most critical (and easy) steps a user can take to keep information safe and secure. Recently, in fact, the popular business social networking site LinkedIn announced an update to a past major security breach where a

mind boggling 165 million accounts may have been compromised. This number is up from the originally reported 6.5 million accounts. The alert suggests that ALL LinkedIn users should change their passwords immediately before hackers have the opportunity to use their stolen credentials against them.

Just how bad are our passwords habits? Well, one source estimates 90% of passwords can be cracked within 6 hours. While I won’t go to the same extreme as Betty in the ‘Friendly Advice’ video in describing maintaining passwords, I do agree that selecting and remembering passwords can be annoying and inconvenient. This is one reason many of us have a habit of creating bad passwords. Just how bad are our passwords habits? Well, one source estimates 90% of passwords can be cracked within 6 hours. If you prefer to shop online like me, or check your

banking account online, then creating a strong password is a critical step for us to take.

Four steps to stronger passwords:


Avoid common passwords. Some of these passwords include ‘123456’, ‘password’, ‘111111’ and ‘qwerty’. Simple words like ‘football’, ‘baseball’ and ‘welcome’ are no better. (If you utilize one of these—change it NOW!) According to some studies, it’s reported that the 100 most commonly used passwords make up over 60% of all passwords. Avoid simple dictionary words that can be easily guessed, or selecting easy to remember passwords because of keyboard key positioning. Don’t kid yourself; cybercriminals are fully aware of our lazy practices, and they make their living by capitalizing on us.


Steer clear of personal passwords. When creating

passwords avoid passwords that are based solely on personal information about yourself or your family and that can be (Cont. on page 20) July 2016 | 19

neighbors and friends at school and work. They don’t belong in your “stuff” and you can always invite them over when you are present!

2 seen readily online on your blog or social networking site. For example “10865” is not a strong password if your birthday is October 8, 1965, especially after you just announced your age and birthday on Facebook publicly. (Cont. from page 19)


Take the extra time to create a strong password. Strength of a pass-

word is measured by a combination of its length and complexity (mixing in numbers, letters, capitals, symbols, etc.). Believe it or not, length plays a bigger role in password strength than complexity. Passwords should be at least 8 characters in length, but 12 characters or more should be the norm (I’m serious!). You might think you don’t have the time to spend logging in with a complicated password each day, but trust me—you do if it saves you the time of attempting to obtain your “ransomed” files from a nameless hacker, or your password discourages an online cybercriminal from choosing your bank account over someone else’s because yours is taking too long to crack. It’s worth it!

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Get creative when arriving at passwords. I

feel that individuality can make creating strong and easy-toremember passwords enjoyable, especially when sharing the importance of strong passwords with small children and even young adults. Taking in to account tip number 3, I would suggest using a short phrase as a password. For example, MyD@distheb3st (“My dad is the best”). Something a child could be trained to remember based on a phrase they understand. (And don’t underestimate a child’s capacity to retain information!)

Keeping Passwords Secure: Creating a strong password comes first, but here are some additional tips on how to keep your passwords secure. Most of them may be seen as common sense but research proves that they are not being practiced. Be different! Be secure with your information and your identity.


Don’t share your passwords with others. Treat

your password like your house key. It’s probably best not to share your house key with all your

Never text, email or post your passwords online. Any time you share

your passwords in this fashion you are essentially allowing full public access to your account information. Using the example above, it would be similar to leaving your front door wide open when you leave home or go on vacation. If it is necessary to share your password with someone else, take the time to share in person or in a phone conversation, rather than a text.


Change your passwords regularly. The hard truth

is that no password is truly secure. You also have the human element (socially-engineered schemes, phishing attack victims, etc.). Yes, it takes some time to keep passwords updated, but the time wasted and lost with an infection or when your machine is hacked is far worse. Prevention is better than trying to find a cure.


Use different passwords for different sites and activities.

As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The same can be said in relation to passwords—do not use the same one for everything. It’s easy (it’s also lazy) but it can cost you dearly. Although we are creatures of habit, it is unacceptable to use the same easy password for years across your all your log-ins. The reality is you will be hacked

and then you will wish you had spent some time on being creative and switching things up more frequently. If you happen to get tricked into sharing or entering a password or an e-commerce site falls prey to hacking, you will not have all of your various accounts exploited if you have various (and strong!) passwords.


So what do reruns of our favorite old shows and online security have in common? Not a whole lot, except for Betty White, who has connections to everything, apparently. But if we don’t want our personal information and files to be re-run by a hacker, then strong passwords are the key to keeping our online doors locked. The truth is, by just taking

Make use of a password manager. A good password

You want the freedom to

manager safely stores all your passwords and organizes passwords. Password managers usually store passwords encrypted, requiring the user to create a master password: a single, ideally very strong password that grants the user access to their entire password database. This feature was created with the intention of keeping us safe and organized. Why not utilize it?


the time to keep passwords fresh, not sharing them, and putting levels of length and verification to them—we are head and shoulders above the rest of most online users. Sometimes that’s all it takes to separate an infected machine from a secure one. Like Betty White says in one of the videos, “love is a battlefield, but your online security doesn’t have to be.” MT

… reach out … minister to people … create fellowship … contribute to your community PowerChurch Plus was created for just that!

Utilize two-factor authentication. Two-factor

authentication (aka “2 Step Verification”) is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components. A quick example is a bankcard. You have the physical card itself that needs to be present in order to withdraw money but as a second step also need your PIN, as this is a number only you should know. Many websites will have you login to their site with a username and password, but then request a mobile number or similar to continue with the login process. Two-factor authentication does not provide absolute security of but it does provide you an extra level of security by making it harder to breach your accounts.

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July 2016 | 21

Consider these five practical advantages:


What is the Cloud, and Why Make the Change? Before you switch to cloud-based systems, do a little homework. Here’s how.  |  by Mark Thompson


e are standing at the center of a new era of technology. Each passing day brings new tools, new opportunities, and new ways to work more efficiently and securely. Naturally, technology can always be a bit daunting at first but once you’ve equipped yourself with the right tools and knowledge, you’ll spend less time maintaining systems and more time doing the job that matters most: ministry. Chances are, you’ve heard the words “cloud computing” at one point or another, but do you know what it actually means? Cloud computing is when you store your records on computers that aren’t kept at your church. You access

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and update them from any phone or computer that has Internet access. (“The Cloud” just sounds much cooler than “the Internet,” so the term’s caught on.) One or more companies own the Cloud software and storage used to manage your records. You pay a subscription fee (usually monthly) for the cost of their computers, IT departments, and software programmers. Corporations were the first to see the financial savings from cloud services. But, as a church, you can benefit far more since cloud computing now gives you access to sophisticated technology that was out of reach to small users just a few years ago.

You no longer have to buy new and more powerful computers every couple of years since most of the computer processing is handled by the cloud company. Your computer or cell phone becomes little more than a viewing device through which you update your data.


You don’t have to worry about losing all your records. The best of these companies keep backups of your data in more than one location, so it’s highly unlikely that any single disaster will cause your information to be lost.


You can quit losing sleep over the constantly changing world of tech security: viruses, hacking, and the like. A good cloud-based church management company employs teams of experts and maintains the latest data protection. In fact, most experts now agree that the cloud offers a significant increase in security over on-site computing.


You no longer have to install software updates. Since cloud computing is located on the Internet, your cloud-provider creates and updates your church management software for you.


Best of all, you can work with your records from practically anywhere: church, home, a ball game—all you need is the Internet.

Ready to switch? Well, before you do you need to do a little homework. Since you’re trusting a business with your congregants’ records, it’s vital to make sure your cloud company meets some basic requirements. Don’t get slack here: a church has every right to expect the best.

Examine the software The software is what you see on the screen when you log in from your phone or computer. Here are some important questions to ask about that software: In addition to your staff, does it allow your congregants to log on, stay in touch with their groups, read announcements, register for events, and update their profile information? Those new to this technology might be unsettled letting members use these features. If this is you, ask, “Is there the option to turn off this kind of interaction?” But for most churches, the advantages of “crowdsourcing” the administrative workload is a godsend, allowing them to spend less time and money on record keeping while engaging more worshipers. Does it track attendance and contributions? You should also be able to easily create any member’s contribution statement at tax time. A “nice to have” option is the ability to track pledge campaigns. Does it let you take contributions online? In other words, can members and guests make offerings to your church over the Internet? You might not think your church needs this right now, but each year, more and more of us are (Cont. on page 24) July 2016 | 23

choosing online giving over any other contribution method. Church people of all ages now prefer to give this way. Another “nice to have” is text giving. Does it present your statistics in an easy-to-understand format? Can (Cont. from page 23)

There are two possibilities here. First, most of the software’s features (and your data) can be accessed on a phone or tablet. This is called responsive design: the full program just resizes for your device. The second possibility requires a mobile

It’s ok to trust your records to the cloud. In fact, you’re missing an opportunity if you don’t. it easily search your records and present figures quickly as graphs and charts? Can you use the results to send mass emails or export the stats as spreadsheets? Does it provide a check-in system that prints security badges for safely managing children’s events? Is it easy to learn? If you remember how long it took to learn the old desktop church management systems, you’ll know how important it is that your staff can hit the ground running with your cloud choice. Usability has become much more important in software design in recent years. Customers rarely have to tolerate crowded, complicated windows with new technology. If your staff can’t quickly see the improvement, find another product. How mobile is it? Mobility is a prime reason for going to the cloud. 24 |

app to be downloaded to let you access your data and some of the software. It’s faster, but you give up a number of features when mobile. Is there a matching accounting solution? You might not be in the market for this right now, but why not make sure you can get something that interfaces with your record keeping system if the time comes? Is support included? When pricing cloud solutions, factor this in. If support costs extra, make sure you find out how much it adds to your bottom line.

Examine the company as well as its hardware Do they have a long church management track record? A

lot of businesses sprang up in the past few years promising to cobble together “cloud” solutions for churches. They combine a patchwork of existing programs from other companies that may or may not work well together and then charge you a regular fee to maintain this system. Since there are one-stop solutions designed exclusively for churches, you should avoid these ad hoc consultants. Do they make security a priority? Where is our data stored? Who can see it? If stored on your servers, how easy is it to access your company’s buildings and equipment? Do you (or the companies you contract with) have dedicated IT staffers to maintain firewalls, the latest virus protection, and operating system updates? Do you perform nightly backups, store copies of data off-site (either physically or in the cloud), and have an uninterrupted power supply? Understand, of course, that the company you choose might not store your data on site. It’s quite possible that they, also, use cloud solutions, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But if anything goes wrong, there should be somebody at the business who has certified expertise in the IT field. Preferably a team of somebodies.

Don’t stress too much It’s ok to trust your records to the cloud. Really, it is. In fact, you’re missing an opportunity if you don’t. There are companies doing this who have good reputations. Just do a little research. Your ministry deserves it. MT

Why is “Growth ” Such a Dirty Word in Some Churches? Part 1 New perspectives on a familiar dispute.

I work for a Christian company where it’s our passion to ensure that the church is growing in influence and has the resources needed to fulfill its mission. It’s interesting that we’re always getting comments like these: “Yeah, cause that’s what God and Jesus and church is all about . . . mo money . . . you ghouls . . . ” “Increase giving? Really? Show me scripture where Jesus said to ‘increase your giving’. “Our focus should not be on manmade tactics to grow a business. The Church is not a business it is a body. The Church will naturally grow if you follow the Holy Spirit, and let go of your agenda. God wants you blessed more than you want to be blessed. It’s really not that complicated. If you do it God’s way you will get his Result.” [sic] When it comes to topics related to “growth” and “money” in the church, maybe you feel the same way. That’s completely OK—lots of people would agree. Let’s look at why “church growth” is such a hot-button issue.

What is “church growth”? The way people generally respond to the words “church growth,” you’d think it is just about creating megachurches. But that’s just

not true. Church growth is about churches reaching more people with their influence and ministry. It’s also about increasing the resources they have to make that happen. If a church of 75 becomes a church of 150, that’s “church growth.” Paul’s epistles are sprinkled with church growth advice. Consider this advice to the Corinthians: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Cor. 9:20–22 Paul is sharing a technique to build a rapport with people so they’ll be more open to hearing the gospel. Does it work all the time? No. Paul says it only saves “some,” but he holds up this approach as an example the Corinthian church should emulate. If they’re able to add to their numbers by learning to identify more closely with the people, they’re experiencing church growth.

My “church growth” experience — I completely understand the emotional reaction some people have to the words “church growth”. Throughout my twenties I served as an associate pastor and worship leader in many different churches. The largest one was about 500 people. In my thirties, I pastored a church plant that eventually closed after five years because it wasn’t able to sustain itself. Over time, I found that I’d developed a pretty dim view of large churches. But after spending some time attending Willow Creek Community Church and doing some consulting with some churches that had 5,000+ members, I had to repent. My negative outlook didn’t stack up with my experience. For the most part, these churches were staffed by focused and spiritually mature believers who simply wanted to reach more people. They were completely aware that the percentage of people truly following Jesus was considerably smaller than the number of people who attended, yet they believed they had a better chance of influencing them if they came to the church than if they didn’t. They had programs with the sole intention of turning believers into disciples.

Why is “growth” such a dirty word in the church? Is there a way we can seriously address concerns about church growth, while advocating for the value of offering growth advice? In this twopart series, let’s examine the objections to church growth and perhaps explore some new perspectives that might help smooth the differences July 2016 | 25

between us. This month we’ll examine the first two objections, and next month address three more.

1. Megachurches are portrayed as the standard. Think about the way that the media standardizes female beauty. You’d think from reading ads or watching movies and red-carpet events, the standard for beauty is often judged by size. The skinnier you are, the prettier you are. This emphasis creates what’s commonly known as “body shaming”. When this standard is consistently reinforced normal, everyday women who are healthy and beautiful are made to feel ashamed for not matching a certain cultural expectation. The same is true in ministry. In fact, megachurches are the supermodels of churches. All the celebrity pastors lead huge churches, and publishers flock to large-church leadership to create content and produce books. When my denomination met for annual conferences, the speakers were always from huge churches—even though the average church size was only a couple hundred people. They’d talk about some of the things they were doing to grow, and we’d all rush back and try and implement them. The standardization of size as one of the most important indicators of church/ pastoral health (instead of faithfulness and service) has set up unreal expectations and solidified the weary cynicism of an entire generation of pastors who lead smaller churches. Gaining perspective: In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus shares a parable about three servants entrusted to care for different amounts of money. 26 |

With wise investing, two of the servants increased the money they were given, while one hid and saved it. When the master returned, the wise servants who grew the master’s investment were applauded. The last servant, who was able to return everything the master gave him, was condemned. Why? Because he didn’t prioritize the master’s interests. When it comes to the church, we, too, need to be concerned with multiplying what has been entrusted to us. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add more bodies to your church. But you do have to consider how your church can be increasing its reach and effectiveness.

2. “The way growing churches spend money is disgusting.”  I remember the first time I walked into Willow Creek Community Church. It was huge. As my wife and I made our way to the sanctuary, I turned to her and said, “We’d better run, or we might miss our connecting flight!” When you talk about church growth, people instantly make a megachurch connection. The next connection they make is about money. The aversion people in smaller churches feel toward seeing the extravagance in some large churches makes perfect sense. It doesn’t help when some churches make news trying to raise funds to get their pastor his own private jet. So anytime you offer advice related to increasing a church’s giving, hackles go up. The instant response is, “All church people care about is money. This is all a big scam to empty

our wallets, and if you really trusted God to provide you wouldn’t need to talk about this.” Gaining perspective: Let’s be frank: It costs money to run a church. It costs money to maintain whatever level a church is at, and it costs more money to grow. There’s just no way around it. I know so many smaller churches that struggle to simply stay open because they can’t keep cash flow at a consistent level. Addressing the issue of giving doesn’t display a lack of faith. Paul addresses the same issue with the Corinthians when he says: “Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.” 2 Cor. 9:1–5 Paul’s been bragging to the Macedonians about the generosity of the Corinthians. Now he’s sending some workers ahead to ensure that the monetary gift he’s promised the Macedonians is ready. After talking up the Corinthians, he’s worried that he’s going to get there with a contingent from Macedonia and be humili-

ated by their lack of preparation. Is this a sign of Paul’s a lack of faith in God’s ability to supply the Macedonian’s needs? Of course not. It represents Paul’s appropriate sense of responsibility. God’s provision always fills in the gaps of our best efforts. God might feed the birds of the air, but he doesn’t throw the food in their nest. It’s likely that God is supplying the needs of struggling churches, but people aren’t being as generous with his provision as they should be. It’s not inappropriate to address this. Every church is responsible for the resources God has provided. And while a coffee shop in a church annex might feel like an extravagance to a smaller church, it might represent a strategic plan of a larger church to keep people engaged and involved after a service. There will always be some who, like the disciples, say, “How can you spend money on that extravagance when the money could be given to the poor. (Matt. 26:8–8)” But in the end, Jesus will judge the work of every church. If a church feels strongly about giving to the poor, they should work hard to raise as much money as possible to do so. If you’re interested in learning more about church growth, check out 5 Proven Principles of Fast Church Growth. We interviewed the 100 fastest-growing churches and compiled the top five things they all have in common. And you’re invited to come back next month to discover three more reasons some people object to “church growth.” (See our August




issue for Part 2.) MT July 2016 | 27


. . . Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10 ESV

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