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TECHNOLOGY EMPOWERING MINISTRY www.ministrytech.com

August 2016

How a

Hairdre sse r Created a Mobile Prayer App -----------------------------

God used a man who hated technology and turned him into a tech entrepreneur.

>> BIBLE READING IS DOWN! >> SHOULD CHURCHES & MINISTRIES EMBRACE THE CLOUD? >> 6 REASONS YOU NEED OLIVE TREE BIBLE STUDY 6 FOR MAC


CONTENTS

8.16

8 bible reading is down! Technology is poised to make a difference in how we hear God’s word.

4

How a Hairdresser created a mobile prayer app

should churches and ministries embrace the cloud?

Mobile tAPPestry connects prayer warriors with prayer needs.

Some decisions are too important for IT to make alone.

know your church software provider

10

27

Just because you have used the same system for the last 10 years doesn’t mean it’s still the right choice for your church today.

This Summer Give Your Website a Facelift . . . . . . . 12 Part 2 | Why Is “Growth” Such a Dirty Word in Some Churches? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Chromebook Hardware Now Runs Android Apps . . . 21 “High Tech” Can Also Mean “High Touch” . . . . . . . 24 2 | MinistryTech.com

HIGHER POWER

6 Reasons You Need Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac

18

If you were worried about Olive Tree after Harper Collins purchased it, you can relax.


A Word from the editor Ray Hollenbach Editor Ray Hollenbach rhollenbach@outreach.com

Art Director Beth VanDyke bethvandyke.com

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

Copy Editor Rachael Mitchell

Publisher

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 copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of Outreach, Inc.

Wise and Creative

O

ne of the great things about the world of technology is its openness: great ideas and great inventions can come from the most unlikely sources. For example, our cover story details how a hair stylist and salon owner connected prayer needs to prayer warriors by helping develop a mobile app. It’s a real-life parable of God’s Kingdom. The Holy Spirit moves through the church inspiring service and comforting those in need— and the Holy Spirit almost always uses people to do God’s work. John Wimber, a church growth consultant (and founder of the Vineyard Church movement), used to tell people, “Everyone gets to play” when it comes to ministry. That’s certainly the case when it comes to creative applications of technology among God’s people. Thanks to cloud-based computing (see Jonathan Smith’s overview in this edition) nearly any church member can contribute to the organizational work of their church. Entire congregations can encourage

and support Bible reading using portable devices to both read the Bible and encourage others to do the same (see Yvon Prehn and Kevin Purcell’s contributions this month). As technology opens up new avenues for serving the church, our models of ministry will continue to grow and change: what used to be the private work of a church staff can become the joyful collaboration of crowd-sourcing within an entire congregation. Contact information is no longer the stuff of a once-a-year church directory; church communication is going real-time and mobile, enabling instant response to those in need; the needs of the community need not wait until a Sunday morning service, they can be shared—and addressed—as a part of everyday life. Church leaders have longed to see the day of a fully mobilized congregation. Wise and creative uses of technology can make the church effective in ways we have never imagined. What ideas can you implement in your local church? Take a peek at this month’s edition and find something new to share!

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 Churchleaders.com. You can reach him at rhollenbach@outreach.com. August 2016 | 3


COVER STORY

How a

r s r d ser e ai H Created a Mobile Prayer App ----------by

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( STARTUP ) - - - - - - - - - - -

Russ McGuire


God used a man who hated technology and turned him into a tech entrepreneur. --------------------------------------------------

I

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 the success of the venture. 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. This month I’d like to introduce you to Josh Bellieu, who told me that his normal response to technology is wanting to throw it out the window, and yet God now has him as a co-founder of a technology startup that could revolutionize how mobile apps are developed. How could this be?

It Starts With Prayer Josh spent nearly 20 years as a hair stylist and salon owner. During that time, his prayer life matured and he developed the habit of asking his customers if he could pray for them—and began praying publicly with them. So it wasn’t a big surprise when 19 years ago one of his clients called and left a message with the receptionist asking for prayer. Josh later called his customer, but just got their voicemail. Despite Josh’s technology discomfort, he felt led to leave a prayer as a message. Many years later he heard from his customer that they had planned to take their life, but God powerfully used Josh’s prayer. Josh started regularly leaving prayers as voicemails and was amazed by the impact they had. Much later, in November 2010, Josh was in the midst of a career transition. He was driving between cities one day, praying, asking for God direction. Josh

says that he was excited and shocked to get the clear sense that God wanted him to start a website where people could request prayer and could leave audible prayers for others. When he returned home, Josh started writing out the vision for this new venture. He then took it to Scott Seitz, a partner in a recent business venture who is a talented software architect. Scott seized the vision and together they started putting it together. Over the next few years, the team filled out with Dennis Clark and Mark Krienke joining the team, bringing their deep business and operational experience to serve God’s kingdom. The PrayOut website was built; people showed up; and prayers were being requested and prayed out loud.

Necessity Drives Innovation The team knew they really needed a mobile app with access to a smartphone’s microphone and the ability to create push notifications if they were going to serve people when they most needed prayer. They looked at outsourcing development of an app, but they simply couldn’t afford it. They tried using existing tools for simplifying app development with limited success, and kept looking. That’s when, in answer to prayer, Scott had a breakthrough. He found a new and better way to leverage the basic tools available to any full-stack web developer to create a fully functional mobile app. In September 2014 the PrayOut mobile app was finally in the Apple App Store. Josh shared that he was at the State Fair the night the app was published in the App Store. His adult daughter was also there with her family. Early in the evening, Josh got a text from Scott with the news about the app and he downloaded it to his phone. By the end of the evening, he was one of the first to use it, as he requested (Cont. on page 6)

August 2016 | 5


prayer for his daughter who had been rushed to the hospital after a freak accident. The small PrayOut community ministered powerfully to Josh and his family, and they were blessed that his daughter was released with no injury.

Web Developers Are App Developers After solving their own mobile app challenge, the PrayOut team realized that they could help turn the hundreds of thousands of web developers around the world into mobile app developers. They have created Mobile tAPPestry, LLC to provide web developers with a tool and mobile apps-as-aservice so that developers can offer mobile apps to their existing web clients. Because Mobile tAPPestry requires no new coding languages to learn, the web developer now has a rapid and familiar path into the attractive mobile app market. (Full Disclosure: I have been interacting with the Mobile tAPPistry team for a few months, and as our relationship has progressed, the team has asked me to serve as a strategic advisor to their business.) To see how this could work, they helped Origins Community Church integrate PrayOut into their website and use their patent-pending technology to develop a mobile app. They also helped mainStreetOpen.com develop the MinistryCOM mobile app. Most recently, they’ve launched a beta program and open source community around the technology. Their full apps-as-a-service offer is now available to remove the complexity of building a

6 | MinistryTech.com

mobile app and getting it into app stores. I asked Josh what his six-year journey has been like from technology skeptic to technology enabler. He said, “When our Father implants a dream or vision within the heart of an individual, we need to recognize that it is highly likely this will result in a great deal of discipline, transition, hardship, loss and discouragement. It will likely take a great deal longer to fulfill than initially imagined. I believe God intentionally leads us into these places so as to create a total dependency on Him in each moment. The resultant transformation is intimacy, brokenness, trust and closeness with the Lord. And it’s not just me. The whole team has been through this together, giving us a greater depth of serving each other and those the Father places in our path.” Over the years, the team has experienced many ups and downs. They have experienced God providing at just the right time. They have persevered. And now they are excited about how God has brought this new opportunity to them. As I’ve had the chance to interact with them, I sense the same attitude expressed by David in 1 Chronicles 29: “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” May we each have that perspective, appreciating how God has blessed us, using what He has given us to be a blessing to others. MT Russ McGuire is a trusted advisor with proven strategic insights. He 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 he’s 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.


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addition, a larger than ever percentage of the population has no interaction with the Bible at all. This is hardly a newsflash. After the requisite amount of hand-wringing, let’s set aside the bad news and evaluate how we got here—and how technology empowers us to re-engage people with the Bible today.

Evaluate and strategize

Bible Reading is Down! How We Can Respond Positively in a World of Declining Bible Engagement Part one of a series | by Yvon Prehn

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ecently the Barna organization, in conjunction with the American Bible Society, released a study that reports among other conclusions that though Americans still have a positive view of the Bible, Bible engagement (reading or listening) continues to decline, particularly among Millennials. In

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We are in a war for the eternal souls of people. This means we need to constantly evaluate how we are doing and if we need to modify our strategy for reaching our world. Just as in an actual battle, if we sent troops to fight today with bows and arrows we couldn’t expect success against automatic weapons and attack helicopters, so too we need to look at how we are equipping our church members for spiritual warfare. The importance of the Bible will never change—it’s the Word of God—but how we receive it and how we communicate God’s Word is in flux today. If we loudly bemoan the lack of Bible reading in condemning and whining ways, or if our church looks with suspicion and ignorance on electronic devices for reading or studying the Bible, we are fighting with only bows and arrows. But if we look upon the rich arsenal of technological tools and tactics we have today with excitement and a spirit of adventure, and if we strategize wisely how we can involve our church members in them, then we can go on the offensive with confidence.

Foundations: A brief history of Bible engagement (and why we need to keep it in mind) Before making specific suggestions on how we can engage with God’s Word, a brief history of how humanity has done so may be useful. This is important because it’s easy to think that reading the Bible out of a big book is the only way, and will calm the concerns of many. Let’s look at the three methods of Bible interaction throughout human history: listening, drama, reading.

1

LISTENING: When God created humanity he

walked with them and talked to them. This was God’s first and most intimate interaction with his people. Listening to God’s Word has been the primary way of intake and interacting with it throughout human history. Only in modern times (since the invention of the printing press) could individuals have a Bible of their own to read God’s Word silently and alone.


In biblical times, people primarily listened to God’s Word read to them in public assembly, either in large groups or later in the synagogues. The New Testament letters were designed to be read in churches. The history of church liturgy revolves around a public reading through the Bible each year because for many centuries this was the only way people could take it in.

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DRAMA: The prophets did more than preach

or write God’s message—they were frequently called to act it out either in small dramas, such as when Ezekiel acted out the coming captivity of Judah (Ezekiel 4), or in an all-encompassing picture of their lives—as when Hosea was called to marry and love an unfaithful wife in order to show the way God loved Israel. Throughout human history, there have been creative types who wanted to see as well as hear God’s stories, and so Bible dramas and plays came about. Medieval mystery plays portrayed the events of the Bible and were popular from the fifth to the 16th centuries (and are still performed in England today). They started as simple enactments of Bible stories and soon developed into elaborate cycles of plays (e.g., the Life of Christ) performed over several days. Performers used large and elaborately decorated wagons that served as traveling stages for their performances.

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Book, read for daily devotionals, followed along in a church service, and marked well from frequent study simply is not a Bible. But times have changed, and will continue to change. Church leaders need to be OK with changes, but expanding our view of what we consider OK or not isn’t enough. Allowing people to bring digital devices to church is an obvious start. Yes, some will text and play games rather than following along with their online Bible, but that’s no different than the doodling on the bulletin and other actions of previous distracted generations. We have to do more. We have to communicate and demonstrate to our congregations how they can make the most of the digital resources available to them, and that’s what I’ll share with you in Part Two of this article series next month. MT For more on topics related to church communications from Yvon Prehn, please go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com.

READING: Though reading God’s Word has

been a way of taking it in from the earliest days when Moses first wrote the Pentateuch, what has varied is the percentage of people able to access this method. As was stated earlier, throughout most of human history, only a very small percentage—the scribes, teachers, prophets, and preachers—actually had the opportunity to READ God’s Word.

We have all three methods available today The exciting news about Bible technology today is that we have all three methods, listening, drama, and reading, available today in ways that can increase our knowledge, understanding, and love for God’s Word, accessible 24/7. Helping our congregations engage in these ways will take some shifts in thinking and practical shifts in how we share the Bible. First of all we have to change our attitudes. For many leaders in the church, anything other than a well-worn August 2016 | 9


T

o embrace the cloud, or not to embrace the cloud, that is the question. Pardon the Shakespearean paraphrase, but there are a lot of questions swirling around churches and ministries as they consider using cloud services for everything from email and file services to Active Directory. There is also a disconnect between what the IT team says is best for the ministry and what church leadership thinks in terms of utilizing cloud-based services.

Cloud-based services offer many benefits over hosting your own services, but you’ll want to make sure you are using a reputable vender. It is important to look at the SLA, or Service Level Agreement, to ensure that your provider will keep their services running so your ministry effectiveness isn’t impacted. When you host your own email and/or file servers 10 | MinistryTech.com

Should Churches and Ministries Embrace the Cloud? ( . . . and Who Should Make the Call?) you have much more control over downtime because you probably have physical access to the server and the people running those servers. When you host in the cloud you may not have direct access to the servers so you are dependent on your provider to resolve any issues that create downtime. Using a reputable host like Microsoft or Google will ensure reliability, but there are other companies that provide cloud based services for just about everything, and you want to make sure a provider’s reliability won’t

| by Jonathan Smith negatively impact your ministry. One of the biggest benefits of using cloud-based services is that they take a huge support load off the IT team. No longer are they responsible for maintaining and patching servers. If the servers are on your site then you may also have cooling, power or data issues to consider as well. What happens when the cooling units fail? Do you have sufficient battery backup or a generator for power outages? What happens when your Internet connectivity goes down? Moving to the cloud


avoids all these issues as cloud-based services are hosted in large, commercial data centers where power, air conditioning, and data reliability are taken care of for you.

Cloud services can also play a huge role in your disaster recovery and backup strategies. Remember that disaster recovery and backups are not the same thing. Backups are for recovering data, while disaster recovery refers to how much time is necessary to get your services (like email, files, ChMS, etc.) back into operation after a disaster. By placing these services in the cloud you can enhance these strategies. If a natural disaster wipes out your on-site datacenter what would you do? In the church world think of what happens if a significant tornado or hurricane or earthquake (hopefully not all three at once!) hits your area on a Saturday night. Do you have a way to notify your congregation about your plans for Sunday morning? How fast can you get your email and ChMS back up and running? By placing services like your email and ChMS in the cloud, the responsibility of keeping things running falls to your provider. A cloud-based provider will more than likely have your data spread out across servers and datacenters in multiple geographic locations. The same is true for your backups: they are no longer located on your site and you no longer have to relocate backup tapes to ensure your backups are spread out geographically. Most cloud vendors can also provide more backup space then many churches or ministries would be able to afford on their own. This means when the natural disaster hits your area, your services continue to operate. How many churches or

ministries are able to provide geographic and hardware redundancy on their own? And if they are able, is it good stewardship of those funds? By now you may be thinking to yourself that the cloud sounds too good to be true. “You mean I can place my data, my email, my files, my ChMS, my whatever in the cloud and not have to worry about natural disasters, power outages, cooling equipment failures and maintenance, internet outages, security patches, backups and disaster recovery all while saving the IT team a lot of time, effort, and money? Sign me up!” Hold on, not so fast. Whether to move your ministry to the cloud may not be so obvious. While there are obvious benefits, there are also a few challenges. Many in the IT profession believe it is their job to protect the data and ensure it is kept safe. This is why I do not believe this is an IT decision, but rather a church leadership decision. The IT team should make recommendations based on their knowledge and experience, but the data belongs to the church, and the church leadership should decide how to keep that data safe, including how and where it is stored. For some that may mean moving to the cloud, for others, they may feel more comfortable keeping their data on-site and managing it locally. There is also the challenge of the IT team. IT folks don’t like to give up control, and moving data and services to the cloud means they will be giving up some control. I strongly believe the benefits to embracing the cloud far outweigh any negatives, including any control IT might lose. For some IT professionals, especially those who have come out of the corporate world, this can be particularly difficult, but

it’s one of the many ways ministry IT varies from corporate IT. As an IT staff member in a ministry I view my primary objective to be constantly working myself out of a job. My goal is to equip and empower those I support for greater ministry effectiveness. I have no desire to attempt self-preservation by keeping data or services tightly locked up in my control to ensure the long-term security of my job. That level of selfishness only benefits the IT person, not the ministry. Most ministries run lean, so there is always plenty for the IT team to do. The more I empower others and work myself out of some jobs, the more I can focus my time on other areas that may require a specific technology skillset.

Every ministry has to decide where to spend their money. I would much rather use technology— including embracing the cloud—to save money so they can hire additional ministry staff as opposed to hiring additional technology staff to manage technology that could be moved to the cloud. Again, these are leadership decisions, but this is often where the IT team and church leadership may not see eye-to-eye. So, should your church or ministry embrace the cloud? I think so—provided the IT team and church leadership have worked together to understand the issues and implement the cloud in a way that empowers the ministry for greater effectiveness. MT

Jonathan Smith is the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana. You can reach Jonathan at jsmith@ faithlafayette.org and also follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith. August 2016 | 11


This Summer, Give Your

Website a Facelift

Summer’s Slow Time Is a Perfect Time for Tech Upgrades

S

ummer slows things down in churches. Families take vacations, programs dial down, and staff members prepare for the next season of ministry. Summertime is a perfect time to invest in different areas of your church: too many pastors and ministry leaders burn out down the road because they don’t take time to rest and refocus. Two ways in particular are especially helpful to take care of during the summer months: giving your church website a facelift and live streaming your Sunday services. Your church website probably isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of maintenance at your church. But the image you portray of your body of believers to potential visitors is just as important as the material image

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people see as they drive by your campus. Simply having a presence online with a static website is no longer sufficient. You must take a deeper dive. The people who live in your community, whether they are church members or not, expect a certain level of visual appeal and ease-of-use when it comes to the websites they frequently visit, and that bar is set pretty high. An appealing and well-organized website can be a high-value asset to your church; an outdated or cluttered website can be the cause of much heartburn and detriment. The latter can portray a lack of concern for your church or show that you don’t put much of a priority in staying with current technology trends. Keep your website simple and clean. A disoriented or confusing site

will often hurt more than it helps. Your website should seek to appeal to two groups: Current members—Those within your church body should be able to use your website to find updates about your church, its ministries, a comprehensive calendar with detailed event information, ways to give online, and more. It should also provide current members with a link to the church management software you use so they can update information as needed. n 

Potential Members—For those in your community who do not attend your church, think of your website as the face of your church. First-time visitors should be able to easily access contact information, service times, a list of small groups, n 


upcoming events, how to become actively involved in your church, and what you are all about.

When thinking about ways to make your existing church website better, or starting from scratch, you’ll need to consider a few steps­:

Assess your current functionality. Is all of your information (service times, address, mission, vision, values) well organized and easy to find? Is all information accurate and up to date? Is your calendar synched to your church management software? It’s always best to evaluate your existing site from the shoes of someone who has very little technology experience. Your website should be relatively easy for even the most technologically challenged person.

Fix any problems you identify. Make sure you update out of date information. Fix any grammatical and spelling errors. If not already done, re-organize your home page and use a header, breaking down your church website into multiple areas, each with a clear focus.

Renovate the user experience on your site. This is key in terms of keeping people engaged on your site. Do you have pictures? If not, add some. Evaluate your color scheme and make sure it isn’t obnoxious. Use more modern fonts. (Yes, it’s time to do away with comic sans!) Consider adding links for online giving. Add pastor bios, pictures of the family and a way to get in touch with each staff member via (Cont. on page 14) August 2016 | 13


email. Last, but not least, provide links to your social media channels. Many people will choose to engage with you there on a daily basis. A fully functioning and engaging church website brings your congrega-

Live-streaming is an asset to your church no matter the season, but especially important during the summer months when members are on the go. And it doesn’t take much to get this up and running. You already have the

Live-streaming is an asset to your church no matter the season, but especially important during the summer months when members are on the go. tion and potential members together in an organized fashion. There should be something for both groups of people on your site. A great site makes it easy on your members to become informed and stay involved. It also makes it easy for potential members to get a sense of your church culture and access important information at the click of a button.

Is It Time for Streaming? In addition to your church website, here’s another way to think about updating your technology this summer. It’s summer time and people are on the move. Families are enjoying much-deserved family vacations across the country. Individuals and couples are sneaking away for relaxing weekend experiences. And, some stay-cationers are simply sleeping in and taking it easy. And yet, many will miss (and feel the loss of) your weekend services. In addition to updating your website, this makes summer quite possibly the best time to start livestreaming your weekend service. 14 | MinistryTech.com

website to house it. In fact, you probably already have most of what you need on hand. All you need is: n  A Camera—It doesn’t have to be fancy (but hopefully something a step up from a smartphone). n  Decent Lights—For the picture to come in clear, people’s faces can’t be too dark. n  A Computer—Make sure you have the proper cables to hook it up to your camera. n  A Tech-Savvy Volunteer— Someone’s gotta hold the camera (or at least stand it up and turn it on) and make sure things are going smoothly. This person doesn’t need to be an expert, but at least have the ability to troubleshoot and learn best practices. n  A Live-Streaming Service—This is the service that takes your video and broadcasts it to whoever is watching. You can use either a free social media platform for streaming, or a dedicated, paid service. —Periscope and Facebook Live allow you to stream live video to your followers and fans for free. —Other free options include

Ustream.tv and Google Hangouts, each with their own limitations. —Good dedicated services include WorshipChannels.com, MediaFusion.com and ChurchStreaming.tv—all of which charge a fee. n  A Website or ChMS—which you probably already have. This will make it easy for members to find the live streaming straight from your church’s online home base.

Whatever you decide to use for your streaming service, keep in mind that giving people access to the media is important. You’ll want to provide a link a few hours or even a day before the live streaming begins. Using your ChMS to send ongoing notifications and reminders of upcoming streams is a great way for people to stay connected. And what if they can’t watch it live but still want to see it? You should host a library of past services on your Church Ministry Software or website so people can access service archives whenever they want. Don’t be daunted by the technological hurdles and vague mysteries of live-streaming. It’s really not that hard, once you sink your teeth into it. Gather your resources, equip your people, and start streaming. Focusing your summer months on updating the face of your church technology will help you increase connections. It offers a great growth tool to those inside and outside your church. Take your ministry beyond Sunday by giving your members the insight into your church they need this summer through an updated church website and live-streaming services. MT


Why Is “Growth ” Such a Dirty Word in Some Churches? Part 2 New perspectives on a familiar dispute. Our June issue highlighted two sticking points about church growth. Now, continuing the conversation, is Part Two of this important discussion: Is there a way we can seriously address concerns about church growth, while advocating for the value of offering growth advice? I think so. Let’s continue to examine the objections to church growth, and perhaps explore some new perspectives that might help smooth the differences between us.

3. “Discussions about church growth make me feel inadequate.” This frustration makes complete sense to me. With huge churches being held up as the standard, those who serve faithfully in smaller churches feel like complete failures—even though they might have incredible and powerful ministries. It doesn’t help when celebrity pastors of large churches say things like Andy Stanley did in a recent message: “When I hear adults say, ‘Well I don’t like a big church, I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say, ‘You are so stinking selfish. You

care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids [or] anybody else’s kids.’ . . . If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church. Instead . . . you drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church. They go to college, and you pray that there will be a church in the college town that they connect with. Guess what? All those churches are big.” This instantly caused some anger and hurt in the smaller church community. And, to Stanley’s credit, he immediately issued an unequivocal apology: “The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend’s message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize.” Not only do small church pastors frequently hear comments like this— they sit through discussions about church growth as if it’s a process that anyone can replicate. The inability of small-church pastors to duplicate this

growth is seen as a professional failure. The constant struggle to grow creates a deep exhaustion and animosity to church-growth discussions. Gaining perspective: I have experienced this weariness myself and in pastors I have served with. When I’m honest, I recognize that a lot of my antagonism with discussions about growth stemmed from a sour-grapes mentality: I wanted it, but when I couldn’t achieve it, I had to convince myself that there was something flawed about it. When people expect the church to grow and it’s not, I have one of three options: n  Throw in the towel. Some pastors develop this deep sense of shame and give up. They don’t stop pastoring, or even wishing that the church would grow, they just stop pouring energy into trying to make it happen. n  Make growth look less desirable. This option is kind of strange. Some pastors go out of their way to make growth seem bad or even unbiblical. They seem to make a virtue out of not growing. n  Turn the ship around. Some church leadership teams will never give up, and they keep plugging away at it, rejoicing at every step forward.

4. “Church growth is a zero-sum game.” I live in a smallish town with a lot of older, established churches. Many years ago a larger church planted a campus here and there was an exodus of young people and families leaving their old church families and flocking to this vibrant new (Cont. on page 16) August 2016 | 15


one. The animosity many churches felt toward this interloper was almost palpable. This is why a lot of churches feel like church growth is a zero-sum game. For someone to win, someone else has to lose. From the perspective of many smaller churches, big churches are doing nothing but siphoning off believers from other congregations. Gaining perspective:  I have lost my share of congregants to larger churches, and have felt this way

The truth is a lot of the growth in larger churches comes from people who are coming back to church after an absence or people who are brand new to Christianity. Large churches aren’t simply building congregations out of disenfranchised people from other churches. Jesus reminds us that the fields are ripe for the harvest. Let’s not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of feeling like there are only so many people to go around. It’s ridiculous. If

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I know of huge cell churches that only meet as one large church once a month, and the rest of the time they meet in smaller gatherings of two to four cells in smaller venues. Your church can grow to reflect your values—you just have to be intentional. Gaining perspective:  As a church grows, it goes through various cycles. Some of them are wonderful and some of them are extremely trying.

If someone leaves your church, praise God that you now have an empty seat to fill with a new or growing believer. myself. In fact, I once made a snarky remark about someone leaving my church to go to a megachurch, and the woman I was talking to said, “How come you never feel this indignant when someone leaves another church to come to ours?” Ouch. She was right. My frustration was because I felt like something was being taken from me. But it wasn’t. Maybe I could have made them happier and they would have stayed. Perhaps they left and it was an act of willful disobedience on their part. In the end, it might have been the best thing for them—and us. I need to trust that God’s sees these things more clearly than I do. 16 | MinistryTech.com

someone leaves your church, praise God that you have an empty seat to fill with a new or growing believer.

5. “I don’t want to lose what makes our church unique.” Growth requires change. I find old photographs of my kids as toddlers and it makes me incredibly sad and nostalgic. As much as I miss that time in their life, I would have been more concerned if they remained toddlers forever. Children are supposed to grow into adults and hopefully churches grow too. There is a legitimate fear that as your church grows it will start to resemble every other huge church.

Of course you look at the salad days and think, “I wish it could be like this all the time.” But trying to hold onto those moments is a slow drift away from maturity. Decide what healthy growth looks like for your community. And start aspiring to see that growth materialize. As you grow, it’s important to pull off at some rest stops, relax, and enjoy the scenery. But you can’t decide to live there.

We still need to talk about growth. When Jesus gave us the great commission, it wasn’t “go into the world and create a disciple.” It was “go into the world and make


disciples [plural] of all nations” (Matt. 28:18–20). A church’s work is never done. You want to grow your church, not because everyone who comes to your church is going to become a disciple, but because you have more of an opportunity to get involved with people’s lives and influence them in that direction. The book of Acts, along with the epistles, tell the story of a tiny spark of a religious movement growing into a raging fire. Your church is part of a story about the ever-growing kingdom of God. That’s exciting right?

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Growth affords you opportunities. The 80/20 rule states that only 20 percent of any organization is doing 80 percent of the work. Obviously, if your church is 100 people, that’s only 20 people doing all the work. But if your church is 1,000 people—that’s 200 people doing work. Sure, it might still be 20 percent, but the amount of work getting done is growing exponentially. I believe every church has the capacity for growth on some level. There are things we can do to facilitate more growth, and there are attitudes and behaviors that can stunt our growth. While we can’t recreate the exact experience of large churches, there are definitely ways we can learn from them and adapt elements that have helped them grow. 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. MT

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August 2016 | 17


HIGHER POWER

6 Reasons You Need Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac by Kevin Purcell

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he new version of Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac arrived this summer with a significant update that now makes it compatible with the company’s new book format. This process started awhile back with an update to the iPad, Android and Windows versions of Bible Study. The Mac finally joined the party. The Mac App now has a new color scheme. It flattens the icons and looks more modern compared to the previous version. Let’s look at six reasons you need to get Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac. The first couple of reasons have to do with the significant update.

1. Olive Tree Bible Study 6 Update Opens Up a Bigger Library — Olive Tree Bible Study 6 gives users access to more books than ever before. Users can download every book they’ve used on the other platforms and they don’t need to worry about buying new books that might not work on the Mac. Until now, many of the newer books didn’t display properly on the Mac version (so Olive Tree didn’t let users install them at all). That’s not the case now. Some of the new books you can use include: n Harmony of the Gospels n  Interlinear Bibles n n

Newer sets of Commentaries Some of the newer study Bibles

18 | MinistryTech.com

n Zondervan’s Visual Theology

(a personal favorite) n BHS with Critical Apparatus n Reformation Study Bible n Tyndale Commentaries In addition to getting access to all of your books, the new version will hopefully come with some performance improvements and better display of visual information. If a book includes a table, the table doesn’t present itself as a graphic. The new modern display engine shows things like tables with text. A Bible reference in a table in earlier versions didn’t have links, and didn’t display a popup like other Bible reference links. Now they do, thanks to the better book format.

However, users can get to this content with a single click, or two at the most. To view the Resource Guide, click on the button on the toolbar at the right end. It looks like an open book with lines on the right page. This opens a new window to the right of the Bible. It holds tabs for the Resource Guide, Notes, My Stuff, Search and Library. Click on Resource Guide to see the content. Scroll down to see all for the different entries related to your passage. What’s in the Olive Tree Resource Guide? n  Related Verses—gets content from cross references and study Bibles as well as translation notes like you’d see in the margin of your paper Bible. n Commentaries—jumps to that reference in a Bible commentary and shows introductory material for a book or passage. n Bibles—open another translation to

that reference quickly. n People—shares library content about

Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac Resource Guide

2. The Awesome Resource Guide —The Resource Guide is like a digital assistant that searches the user’s library of books and finds all the content related to the text that’s displayed in the Bible window. Olive Tree’s not the only Bible study program that does something like this.

a person referred to in the passage. n Topics—shares library content about a topic referred to in the passage. n Maps—maps in any atlas or book that includes maps will show up here. n Charts—find things like Timelines or other charts from books with them in your library. n Outlines—gets outlines from any book that includes one, like a study Bible or commentary. n Introduction—most commentaries


include a book introduction and this shows all of them in one place. n My Notes—see notes you’ve already recorded about a given passage. n Get More—links to content in the Olive Tree store related to that passage. The Passage Guide alone makes Olive Tree useful, but take note: It will only return quality content if you add books to your library. Users can customize the Resource Guide to include what they want and in the order they want. Open Preferences from the Olive Tree menu and choose the Resource Guide tab. Uncheck the items you don’t want to see in the list on the right. Drag and drop the items on the left to place them in the order you prefer.

their titles and their subsidiary companies. Go to http://www.olivetree. com to find new books.

5. Quick and Simple User Interface — One of my favorite reasons for using Olive Tree is the user interface. It’s quick and simple. New users can open Olive Tree Bible Study 6 on their Mac and quickly get to work without learning a lot of intricate features or arcane search tools. It’s all right there and easy to find.

4. A Rich Library of Books — There are some awesome Bible study programs that get handcuffed by a limited digital library. That’s not a problem with Olive Tree. Many feared that when Harper Collins bought the company last year, they’d limit the library to their titles. That hasn’t happened. Instead it’s opened up a larger library of content from

A news and reviews tech writer for gottabemobile.com, Kevin brings more than five years of mobile technology experience to MinistryTech magazine. You can email Kevin at kevin@kevinpurcell.org or connect with him on Twitter @kapurcell.

n Click the drop down arrow in the up-

per right corner and open the book in a new window n Click on the Search for button that searches for that Strong’s number n Click on the Lookup button which looks up the Greek or Hebrew word in a mini Resource Guide window listing articles from your dictionaries, notes you’ve created on a word or links to the store with content you can buy related to the word.

3. Version 6 Runs Faster — Users will get a faster version of the Mac app thanks to performance improvements. This affects scrolling and the speed of the Resource Guide. Jump to a new passage in the Bible and the resource guide repopulates with new content for the new verse almost immediately (at least it does on my MacBook Pro, which is pretty fast). This used to take up to half a minute depending on the speed of your computer.

Kevin Purcell

Single Click Strongs Tagged Words in Olive Tree

At the same time, the program offers some advance features. The program includes interlinear Bibles. You can easily right-click on a verse or word and get at some great original language features. Use the regular left-click on a word including Strong’s Numbers tagging, like the ESV, KJV, NIV or my favorite, the HCSB. It pops up with a short definition entry from the Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary. You can: n Read it in the pop up window

Olive Tree Right Click Menu

If you right-click the word instead of doing a normal left-click, a popup menu offers a number of powerful tools: you can highlight the word, add notes, search for it in different ways and even post to Twitter or Facebook. The last two would be more useful after selecting a verse or passage. Here’s a cool right-click tip: Select a word or verse and (Cont. on page 20) August 2016 | 19


then right-click it. At the bottom of the menu that pops up you’ll see the Services menu that we see on a lot of Mac apps. A fly-out menu will then let you do a few different things. For example, it lets you search for the selected text on Google. This opens up a whole world of research for topics or verses. Another Services menu item lets you, at the selected text, create a spoken track to iTunes. A dialog box pops up asking you which voice from the Mac you want to use. You can test the voice by clicking on Play. Then give it a title (like the verse reference) and tell it where to put the resulting file. Click on Continue and it adds this to iTunes. (The services menu in the right-click menu is a Mac thing, not just something you find in Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac.) Hovering over a word also shows information in the Quick Details window in the lower left. Resize this window by dragging the separator between the Quick Details window and the library book list above it. Dragging handles won’t show up, but it still works. Click and hold the mouse button to drag it up or down. The Resource Guide, the new Interlinear Bibles, the Strong’s tagging and popup window, and the Quick Details helps Olive Tree users quickly and simply find original language information on words and passages even if they don’t know Greek or Hebrew. If you do, you can still open those Bibles and work directly in them.

6. Personal Information Syncs Across Multiple Devices/ Platforms — Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac lets users add some personal study content like: 20 | MinistryTech.com

n Notes

H  ighlights n Book Ribbons n  S  aved Passages n Reading Plans n  Tags These will all sync across multiple devices and even multiple platforms. If you won a Mac laptop and a Windows desktop and an Android phone plus an iPad, then all your information syncs between these four platforms and devices. Your notes will show up on every device and so will your highlights. Study out and about using n 

your iPad or phone and any tags or book ribbons (bookmarks) will sync to your computer. All of this saved data shows up so long as you don’t delete it and use the same account. Some people might fear saving their data on a third-party site. You can back it up on your computer, but I’ve never had a problem with Olive Tree failing to properly sync data. That’s it—six excellent reasons to check out Olive Tree’s Version 6. MT

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Chromebook Hardware Now Runs Android Apps Google Play Store Migrates to the Chromebook |

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oogle recently announced that they would add the Google Play Store, which normally runs only on Android phones, tablets and Android TV devices, to the Chromebook. By the end of the year most recent Chromebooks will include the Google Play Store and the great Android Bible study apps. As a result of this change, Chromebook users can finally study the Bible in-depth using advanced language study tools and great search features. The Chromebook is a low cost computer that runs a version of the

Logos Bible on Chromebook

Linux operating system. A lot of schools invested in Chromebooks because they’re simple, easy-to-use notebook computers often costing less than half the price of the iPad. Chromebooks boot to a familiar looking desktop with a row of app icons along the bottom of the screen. These apps run mostly on the web, but many of them now can run without an Internet connection. The core display engine uses the Chrome browser to show us these web apps. A Chromebook eventually needs to connect to the Internet to sync the data stored locally with the data online.

by Kevin Purcell

People pick Chromebooks over Mac or Windows notebooks because: n They’re cheaper with the average Chromebook: about $300. simpler with few settings to configure and with an operating system the user can erase and reload with all of their web apps in place in under 20 minutes. n Most Chromebooks boot in seconds and run quickly on low-end systems. n  Not a single virus has ever infected a Chromebook! n A user can log into a borrowed Chromebook and get all their settings and apps in place within minutes and then erase them as quickly. n They’re

Putting the Google Play Store on a Chromebook means the user can install some of the great Bible study apps that run on Android. The five best Android Bible study apps include: n  Olive Tree’s Bible Study app — https://play.google.com/store/apps/ developer?id=HarperCollins+Chris tian+Publishing n Logos Bible Software’s apps — https://play.google.com/store/apps/ developer?id=Faithlife n Tecarta’s Bible apps — https:// play.google.com/store/apps/ dev?id=6127710176424954328 (Cont. on page 22)

August 2016 | 21


n Laridian Pocket Bible — https://

play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.laridian.pocketbible n WORDsearch Bible — https:// play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.lifeway. wordsearchreader

Which Chromebook Is Best for Running Android Apps? Not every Chromebook will support Android apps. Check if yours will get it here. (If you’re even thinking about buying a Chromebook to run Android Bible apps, be sure check that list first!) Here are a few Chromebooks I’d recommend: n The ASUS Chromebook Flip is a cheap system with nice hardware, a decent quality touch screen. It flips the screen back to form a tablet, and it also works in tent mode with the screen pointing towards the user and the keyboard on the back serving as a kickstand. The keyboard’s good enough to type on for short stints, but I wouldn’t want to type on it for hours a day. n The most recent versions of the Acer Chromebook 11, 14 or 15 all work well. I also own an Acer Chromebook 15. It’s plastic, but it’s sturdy with a great keyboard and an acceptable trackpad. It’s not a touchscreen, though. You can type on it all day thanks to the great keyboard and excellent battery life. n Dell makes great Chromebooks most buyers love. (Again, get a recent model.)

22 | MinistryTech.com

2015 Google Pixel is the Cadillac of Chromebooks. However, it costs way too much (up to $2,000 depending on the model you buy). n The newest HP Chromebooks 11 and 13 are great. They’re not as cheap as some systems (about $500-$800). It’s like getting Pixel quality for half the price. By the time you read this they should be readily available or coming soon. n You can’t go wrong with the Lenovo ThinkPad models. n The

Want just one recommendation? Get the newest HP Chromebook 13. It costs more than most, but it’s also the best quality system and will last forever.

Chrome OS Settings

1. Open Settings by clicking on your user icon in the lower right corner of the screen along the right end of the Shelf (Windows calls this the Taskbar and Macs call it the Dock). 2. Click on Settings from the pop up window. 3. Click on the About ChromeOS link at the top of the page. 4. In the middle of the box that opens up there’s a button that reads Check for and apply updates. Click on it. 5. Reboot the computer when it finishes downloading the update.

Chrome OS Settings Menu

How to Install Android Bible Apps on a Chromebook First, check the latest news about the Google Play Store on the Chromebook. By the time most of you read this article the Google Play Store will likely run on more Chromebooks and it could come on the stable version of ChromeOS. You can also test to see if the Play Store’s already available on your Chromebook. Get the latest version of the operating system using the steps below.

About Chrome OS Screen

Your Chromebook will download the latest version of ChromeOS. (If it’s already installed you’ll see “Your Chromebook is up to date” just above the box.) You should see the Google Play Store icon on the Shelf. If you don’t see it on the Shelf, click the search icon in the lower left corner of the screen on the left end of the Shelf to make sure it’s not hiding in the app


launcher instead of the Shelf. Click on All Apps and scroll through the app icons to see if you can find the Play Store icon. (What if you don’t find the Play Store and you know it’s available on your model? That likely means you need to install either the Beta version or the Developer version of ChromeOS. As of the writing of this article you have to install the Developer version.) The Developer version of ChromeOS is cutting edge software that’s intended for ChromeOS developers only. It might include serious bugs that could cause significant problems, although I’ve been running it for a week on my Chromebook Flip and only had one significant problem: One night all the Android apps I installed went away and the Play Store wouldn’t launch. I had to erase the computer and start over to fix it. I haven’t experienced a serious problem since. This could cause problems if you’re not patient enough to deal with these kinds of bugs; you can always wait patiently for Google to release the Play Store to the stable version.

Chrome OS Settings More Info

Let’s check to see what version of ChromeOS you’re running. Go into Settings the same way you did above and click on About ChromeOS from the top of the Settings box. You’ll see a Version with a long number after

it. Mine shows “Version 53.0.2768.0 dev.” Your version number might include beta at the end of that number if you’re on the beta channel. To change to the Developer build, click on the More Info link on that page. Then click on the Change channel box. The next box that pops up offers three options—stable, beta or developer. Change to developer unless you know it’s available on the beta build already, which might happen by the time you read this article.

as you would on an Android phone. (If you’ve never owned an Android phone, then follow the steps to install Android apps at the following link: http://cnet.co/28SvTpQ.)

How Well Do Bible Apps Run on a Chromebook?

Chrome OS Change Channel

The Chromebook will begin to download the new version of the operating system. When it finishes downloading the update, you’ll see Relaunch on the button. You’ll also see an upward facing arrow in the lower right corner of the screen. Backup any files you want to save and then click on the button to restart. The computer restarts and erases the drive. When the computer finishes, it will relaunch. Make sure you log into the Google account that you use to download content from the Google Play Store. When you open the Google Play Store you need to accept an agreement, sign into your Google account and then accept another license agreement. Then search for your favorite Bible app and install it

The apps I’ve loaded all ran fairly well. However, the Shelf covers up the bottom section of the screen. The splitscreen controls on the Logos Bible app were hidden under the ChromeOS Shelf. You can right click on the Shelf and choose Auto Hide to make it disappear and make these controls visible. Some Android apps let the user share pictures or text to places like Facebook from within the app. I couldn’t do this because that sharing feature is part of the Android operating system. Google hasn’t built that into ChromeOS yet. Also, I couldn’t share Bible verses or images from my Bible app. Other than these two issues and the sudden disappearance of all my Android apps, it works well. I’ve enjoyed working with the Android apps. I use most on my ASUS Chromebook Flip, but I can’t wait till it also works on my Acer Chromebook 15 and its excellent keyboard. MT August 2016 | 23


“High Tech” Can Also Mean “High Touch” by Jazmin Laskowski

Communication is the key to any growing, thriving relationship. We know how crucial it is as human beings to feel important, remembered, thought of, loved and cared for. When people in our lives take the time to make us feel special, it creates an opportunity for a stronger, deeper connection with that person.

I

f you’re a Pastor, your commitment to creating secure, longlasting relationships between your church leaders and members is probably a top priority. Sometimes it can be quite challenging. Sometimes a tech tool can help. You may want to consider looking for a database that can facilitate this goal.

24 | MinistryTech.com

Putting communication systems in place to ensure that your people don’t ever feel forgotten or insignificant will help your congregation feel individually important. Communication with your members and visitors via email and text should be seamless and convenient. Never want to forget or miss anyone’s birthday or anniversary again? Find a program that will keep track of whose birthdays and anniversaries are upcoming every month, one that allows you to personally congratulate them on their special day with a simple email or text message. It requires only moments of your time. If you are a larger church and you don’t typically send out individual emails and texts to your congregation, no worries. Let your database do the work for you. How productive would it be to write one email for every birthday or anniversary each month, then let your database automatically populate the first names of everyone on the email/text list? Each member would feel cherished and appreciated. What about taking it a step further? What if you could write your emails or texts months in advance and choose the exact date you wanted them to be sent out on your behalf? It

would give you the ability to schedule messages to be sent out as much as you would like, as far in advance as you wished. This feature would also be great for reminders for upcoming events, projects, or volunteer commitments, making it easy for you to connect to your people without taking too much of your time or resources. You might ask, ‘What if I want to send a message to a specific group of people in my church, like the single moms with young children, or young males between 18 and 24 years old?’ It would take too much time to go through your entire member list in the database and search for every person who falls into the specific category you want to communicate with. Find a church management program that helps you filter through your database to find the specific people you want to communicate with. For example, let’s say the first filter you choose shows you how many ‘Active Members’ you have in your church and that number is 500. The second filter you choose is ‘Female’ and that number goes down to 300. Then add the ‘Member in ministry’ filter for the ‘Women’s Ministry.’ The total number drops to 200 members. Now you are able to communicate


Churches that make it their priority to successfully communicate to their members their individual significance are the churches that stand head and shoulders above the rest. with your female members who are actively involved in your Women’s Ministry. You can save your filters so you can continue to communicate to those specific groups of people whenever you need to. As a Pastor, you may have a core group of people you communicate with on a regular basis and you don’t want to filter through your database to find them. It should be just as easy to create a hand-selected group of people, searching by name, and adding them into one group. Don’t forget to decorate each email with your personalized email signature and church logo to give every message warmth and human connection. When talking about church management software it’s highly valuable and effective to have a system that allows you to make the majority of your communication

and management of your members automatic. An area of your database dedicated to personalized automatic communication is a must. An Assimilations module is especially useful as it helps establish efficient and proper follow-up with your people. This feature allows you to create Campaigns that will be triggered by either a Member Status, such as ‘First Time Visitor,’ a Service/Event, or Ministry. Anyone who has the criteria you’ve selected will receive the communication that is associated to that Campaign. For example, if you created a New Visitor Campaign, whenever a person was entered into the system with a ‘New Visitor’ status, they would receive the follow up Connection Points you set up within the New Visitor Campaign. You may have it set up so that the same day they are

entered into the system with a ‘New Visitor’ status, they instantly receive a ‘Welcome to Our Church’ email, maybe three days later they receive a text about upcoming Home Life Groups, and a week later a welcome letter is generated for them. All of these emails/texts/letters would be pre-written and only sent out when triggered within a Campaign. Again, you do the easy part, and let the database do the work for you. Assimilations are great for not only firsttime visitors, but also new members, new Christians, people attending a specific service or event, or people within a chosen ministry. The generated, personalized, automated emails, texts and letters that are triggered by specific criteria you chose is vital to keeping a healthy church connected and thriving. (Cont. on page 26)

August 2016 | 25


Whether you’re referring to politics, sports, or business, the best leaders are the best communicators. In the wise words of James Humes, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” If you can communicate well, you can lead well. We also know that one of the strongest human needs is to feel valued and important. Churches that make it their priority to successfully communicate to their members their individual significance are the churches that stand head and shoulders above the rest. No one wants to feel like a blur in a sea of faces. Ask yourself, “Is my church missing the Personal Touch?” MT WCC-Lite is intentionally designed to help you build and sustain strong, long-lasting relationships with each visitor, member, and family in your congregation while making each person feel valued and important. Visit the website at www.wcclite.com and sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how to have to have personal and meaningful communication with your people. 26 | MinistryTech.com


Know Your Church Software Provider Practical Tips for Any Church Management Software Upgrade

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he week starts again, a cup of coffee, small chat with a few co-workers, and then you head to your desk to get the day going. There is a good chance that it is just second nature now, when you sit down you fire up your PC, MAC, or even tablet. Click on a few programs, and then open up your Church Management Software (ChMS). You have things to do. Info from last weekend’s events to enter, profiles to add or update, emails to send, texts to type out, contributions to enter, and a host of other responsibilities that you hope your ChMS can handle. A lot depends on the

technology you are using. You use this software every day, but do you really know your church management software provider? When was the last time you dug into your ChMS? Have you evaluated what is out there for your church? Just because you have used the same system for the last ten years doesn’t mean it’s still the right choice for your church today. What is your provider’s plan for new features? Since technology doesn’t sit still, your ChMS should not be sitting still either. If you’ve seen the same features for the last year with no updates, your ChMS is standing still.

If you’re considering a ChMS evaluation and a possible change, here are few things to think through: Church Software Service and Training Changing your ChMS, even if it’s the right path for your church, is a big task. Many churches have not evaluated or changed their ChMS in years, so moving to a new system in some ways is like learning a new language. Regardless of how good your new ChMS is, regardless of how advanced the (Cont. on page 28) August 2016 | 27


Just because you have used the same system for the last ten years doesn’t mean it’s still the right choice for your church today.

technology is, if your new ChMS partner can’t train and support your staff, the change will be a disaster. The biggest area of complaint in the ChMS arena is that the serviceproviders deliver sub-par service. Churches can’t talk to anyone who can help them, or they have to wait days (even weeks) for a response from Support, or only a few people within the church are even allowed to call. Even worse—it costs a premium to get the ChMS provider to provide adequate support. If your current experience is like this, you must ensure that any new partner will not be duplicating the same service and support experience you have now. If you have great service now, but the technology is lacking, you have to know that your new partner can support you. With all this in mind, it is important to consider the following:

— What does service and support look like?

28 | MinistryTech.com

— D oes the ChMS assign as specific person to supportyour church? — What does implementation look like? — Can you call and get someone on the phone? — How quickly does your ChMS provider respond to support requests? — Are only certain people at the church allowed to call? — Will they reach out to you proactively? — D o you pay more each month for a premium support package? — Are there online tutorials and forums to assist you?

Church Software Mobile Functionality Our world is now mobile. Your ChMS needs to be able to assist you in reaching the people who walk through your doors each week through the medium they want to be reached, which is usually a

mobile device. If you haven’t thought through your mobile strategy, you are falling behind and will soon be unable to reach the majority of people who walk through your doors. If the ChMS you are looking at does not have an effective mobile solution, it should not even be considered. If they do, consider the following:

— Does it have the core functionality you would expect a mobile solution to have? — Can you edit profiles, take notes, move through processes, take attendance, look up data, or check in children to an event? In essence, can your staff interact and do their job effectively through their mobile devices? — Can you send push notifications? Register for events? Give donations through the App? Can your end users take their own attendance, check their own kids into events, read a bulletin, or watch a sermon?


Church Software Thought Leadership and Roadmap It’s critical for you to know the road map of your new ChMS. If the new ChMS you have chosen has no new releases scheduled for this year, or generally relies on what they have done in the past, they may not be the right choice for you. Technology changes so fast that any ChMS you consider must have a roadmap planned out for the next 12 to 18 months. You should know what is coming next from your new provider. (Equally important is to understand what they have released in the last 12 months: If they claim to have a robust roadmap in the future, but have not released a new feature in 12 months, are you confident that they really will deliver on those projected release dates?)

There are so many solutions available to churches now that it is an incredibly challenging task changing software systems. You may want to find a partner not just in the final

ChMS decision, but also even in the search process. If the candidate provider is not helpful during the search process, it is highly unlikely that they will be helpful when you are an actual partner of theirs. So, take your time, ask questions, dig as deep as possible, and above all else know your new software provider. MT

August 2016 | 29


THE LAST WORD

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17 (ESV)

Ministry Tech Magazine - August 2016  
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