TECHNOLOGY EMPOWERING MINISTRY www.ministrytech.com
DEADLY SINS of Visual Presentations
ACTUALLY, SOCIAL MEDIA REALLY IS ROCKET SCIENCE
HOLIDAYS AHEAD! WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS?
Actually, social media really is rocket science How many people were motivated to attend your church last Sunday because of your influence on social media?
A Shocking outcome: how an app helped a church double its missional goal
4 7 deadly sins of visual presentations Go ahead: use presentation software—people expect it! Just be sure to use it effectively.
28 Holidays ahead! What are your plans? For Seasonal and Special Event Success, it takes the whole church to grow the church.
10 START-UP | Entrepreneurs With a Kingdom Worldview . 14 NICK’S PICKS | Hardware: Time-Tested Solutions to Help You Through the Maze of Hardware Choices . . . 17 5 Ways to Transform Staff and Volunteer Meetings . . . . 23 Discover the Digital Great Commission . . . . . . . . . . . 24
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A Word from the editor Ray Hollenbach Editor Ray Hollenbach firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Director Beth VanDyke bethvandyke.com
Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Russ McGuire Jonathan Smith Steven Sundermeier Kevin Purcell
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The Medium, the Message & the Ministry
ore than 50 years ago Marshall McLuhan taught us “the medium is the message,” but it seems every generation needs to learn the secrets of this vital insight. McLuhan, a committed Christian, observed that each new technology also changes our way of thinking. That is, our hardware and software have deep—often unseen—effects on how we perceive the world around us and communicate with it. His insight carries extra significance for the church, which is entrusted with the unchanging message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. How do we present this eternal, unchanging message in the midst of great technological change? For centuries the world was largely illiterate: the gospel was presented through stories and stained glass. When Gutenberg invented the printing press common people learned to read. Our “technology” became ink on paper; printed Bibles reached the whole world. In the last hundred years radio and TV allowed us to shout the
gospel from the rooftops. Now, in the digital age, the gospel is presented through yet another medium. Those of us who work at the intersection of tech and ministry need to consider the implications of tech. From sound to software to email and apps, we must not only possess technical excellence, we must also make sure the message speaks louder than our methods. We not only steward gear and tech, we steward the message. Kevin Purcell’s cover story “Seven Deadly Sins of Visual Presentations” is a good place to start. Each article in this month’s edition of Ministry Tech magazine is an invitation to think through how we safeguard the gospel even as we strive to make it accessible. Missionaries have become technical entrepreneurs; holiday programs are opportunities to build community; and our hardware choices must support our missional goals. Tech ministry is about more than the on/off switch on a laptop, we must humbly make sure our hearts are using the most important element of all—the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
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 email@example.com. October 2016 | 3
> > > COVER STORY
DEADLY SINS of Visual Presentations
Each one can rob your sermon of its power and impact.
by Kevin Purcell | Last month we looked at How to Find and Create
Great Sermon Visuals (and make sure youâ€™re not breaking the law!). But the work isnâ€™t finished! Here are seven common mistakes when using presentation graphics. Think of them as the seven deadly sins of visual presentation, because they can rob your sermon of its power and impact. 4 | MinistryTech.com
Use only high quality media.
Quality is a composite of many factors. Don’t use low-resolution images or video. You need to know the native resolution of your projector or monitors. If you don’t know how to find this information, ask the expert who installed the equipment. Most commonly, you’ll want to work in full HD (1920x1080) resolution. It’s rare that a projector or monitor will exceed that resolution. Using anything lower than 720p (1366x768 most commonly) will likely result in a poor-quality image.
Don’t use low-quality graphics like the clipart that comes in some versions of Microsoft Office. It looks unprofessional. You can also find these kinds of files online. Don’t use them. Photographs usually work best. If you can’t find a good photo, then professional quality art is second best. Most of the time clipart makes your images look bad. It will distract people thinking more about the ridiculous looking images than the content of your sermon. Some Photoshop artists might attend your congregation. Ask them for help in creating high-quality slides for your sermons.
Use only images whenever possible. A picture is worth a
Never put more than 10–12 words on a screen at a time.
thousand words. Besides the thousand words in your sermon! One exception is a slide supporting major sermon ideas. Use short phrases in large type font for these pictures (see Deadly Sin number 5).
If I break that rule, it’s for a Bible verse or a meaningful quotation that I want to use. With quotes I often just grab the most important phrase to display while
reading the rest of the quote from my preaching notes. (I do put the entire text of Bible verses, however.)
When using text, make sure it can be read. Sometimes text
Never try to cover more than one idea on a slide.
Never show your preaching notes word-for-word on the screen. It’s the deadliest sin of all:
looks OK on a computer screen, but the background’s too busy to read it on a large screen 30–100 feet away. In that case, add contrasting outlines like white text with a black outline. Or put a gray box behind the text but in front of the background image. Use the opacity slider in Photoshop to make it about 50 percent to 70 percent opacity. Preachers often forget that the text on a slide will be read by an older person in the back row who can’t see the words on a screen 100 feet or more away. I work with Photoshop to create my images. I create a slide as a 1920x1080 image. All text must be at least 100 point or larger in Photoshop on this high a resolution. When dealing with software like MediaShout or PowerPoint, I make sure the text is at least 40 point or higher. That results in images a few inches high on our large screens at church.
In other words, avoid bullet points! Instead of a slide with four bullet points, make four slides with an image per slide that illustrates that idea and if necessary one word or phrase to communicate the idea in that bullet point in your notes. Bullet points usually complicate the slide and make each slide less clear. Using four slides makes each slide simpler and more engaging or interesting to the audience.
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If you show your entire outline on the screen, then people get too focused on the structure of the outline instead of the content of the sermon. Some sermons get very complicated. For example, I might have a sermon with three main points related to my one Big Idea. Under each point I need to explain the sermon point, illustrate it, prove it and finally apply it to the lives of my hearers. That’s at least four sub-points below the three main points of the sermon. Each subpoint might have a few bullet points in my preaching notes. All of this complexity makes it possible for me to present a rich sermon, but the structure will overwhelm my audience. Instead of showing all that structure, I will show the slide for the main point and maybe a few images, one that supports the explanation of the sermon point, one for illustrating it and maybe one for proving it or applying it.
o ahead: use presentation software— people expect it!
But be sure to use it legally (see last month’s article) and be sure to use it effectively as well. Preach with power! MT
Kevin Purcell is a news and reviews tech writer for gottabemobile.com and brings more than five years of mobile technology experience to MinistryTech magazine. You can email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on Twitter @kapurcell.
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Actually, Social Media Really Is Rocket Science What NASA can teach us about connecting with our congregations | by Jonathan Smith
veryone needs a hobby. Without hobbies we might all go insane. Our hobbies provide us with a mechanism to relax and do something we thoroughly enjoy. For me that hobby is chasing rockets. I love rocket launches, rocket manufacturing and factories, rocket tests, rocket science, rocket communication and control, rocket ground transportation, rocket payloads, and rocket museums. Pretty much anything else to do with rockets. Over the past decade my rocket-chasing obsession has been made easier thanks to technology and social media. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has set the gold standard when it comes to using social media and interacting with others on social media to grow their brand and influence public opinion. NASA utilizes social media better than anyone else on the planet. Thanks to NASA we can all learn how to use social media to maximize our ministry effectiveness. What has impressed me the most is the passion NASA has to share its message, and it makes me wonder if the church has the same passion about its message? Does the church even know what its message is, and does it know how to effectively use social media to communicate that message? NASA is able to motivate their social media followers to spend their own money to travel to events, called NASA Socials, that allow their social media followers exclusive access to NASA personnel, facilities and rockets in hopes that they will in turn share their experiences on social media. I have been to many of these events all across the country over the past 10 years, and each time Iâ€™m more and more impressed with how NASA uses social mediaâ€”and how the church should learn from them. How many people were motivated to attend your church last Sunday
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While NASA’s use of social media is among the best, their message will pass away with time. The message of the church is eternal and
everlasting: that alone should motivate us to use social media to reach our planet for the Kingdom. because of your influence on social media? How many donated? Here are a few things the church can learn from how NASA uses social media:
Be where the people are. This may seem obvious, but technology changes fast and social media trends change even faster. If your church or ministry is just now starting to experiment with Instagram, you are already far behind. While Twitter and Facebook are still valid platforms, they are nowhere near the cutting edge anymore. Instagram, while once popular with Millennials, has also been left behind by Snapchat. Text-based social media is so 2010. Snapchat, and other video/ picture-based platforms, are the latest trend but most churches aren’t prepared for it. Does your church have a Snapchat account? Even Instagram? What about your youth group? Are you prepared for the next big trend, whatever it may be? Can you adapt quickly so your message reaches that audience? NASA wants to reach everyone regardless of social media platform. That’s why they manage over 500 accounts across just about every
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known social media platform. They want to get their message to the people, so they go to the platforms the people use.
Feed the monster. How often do you post? What is the quality of your posts? Once you start using social media you have to constantly feed the monster that is your social media followers. If you don’t feed the monster, the monster will leave and follow someone else. Many now consume social media without actually creating a connection with those they follow. This means your actual follower count could be much higher as folks consume your content without you knowing it. If your Facebook page or Snapchat account hasn’t been updated in months, the odds of them being visited again are slim-to-none. This requires strategy and planning. NASA regularly posts on over 500 accounts and they don’t post the same thing to all platforms.
Have the right team. In order to be strategic about the content and frequency of your posts, you need to have the right people helping you manage your social media presence. In smaller ministries this may be a volunteer who has a passion and uses social media with excellence on
their own. For larger ministries this might mean getting the marketing and communications folks involved— just make sure they have some sort of social media background. Taking someone from the IT team or one of the print media folks and dumping social media in their lap might not lead to the best results. Since much of social media is moving away from text-based communication there are also tremendous opportunities for the video production teams to produce video content. It takes a lot of creativity to communicate a message in a 6-second Vine (assuming of course your ministry is on Vine). Graphic designers can also get involved to help take a text message from Facebook and turn it into a graphic for Snapchat.
Know your message. NASA’s goal is to communicate their passion for space and exploration through social media so they can influence public opinion and ultimately ensure the security of their existence within the federal government. NASA does it better than anyone, both inside the government and outside in the private sector. What’s the message of your church or ministry? What are you trying to communicate both to your regular
followers and also to those who just pass by your social media accounts? It’s been said that first-time visitors to your church check out your website before they set foot in your building. I believe they first visit your social media accounts and then your website before they set foot in your building. They want to see what your message is, if your message is current, and if you actively engage with folks through social media.
Jonathan Smith is the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana. You can reach Jonathan at email@example.com and also follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith.
You want the freedom to
hether your church attendance is 100 or 10,000 you can have an effective social media presence. For smaller ministries, look for some young folks to help you out and be willing to learn from them. I admit, I’m not the best at Snapchat, but at a recent NASA event I was able to learn from younger folks about what I needed to do better on that platform. For larger churches, get a team together. Don’t just dump it off on someone, be strategic. Be willing to learn, adapt and change. Are you ready for the next platform that will eventually replace Snapchat? Remember, the message of the church is eternal life. If that doesn’t get you fired up to use social media effectively, then I don’t know what will. While NASA’s use of social media is among the best out there, their message is temporal. It will eventually pass away with time. The message of the church is eternal and everlasting: that alone should motivate us to use social media to reach our planet for the Kingdom. MT
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HOLIDAYS AHEAD! What Are Your Plans? Three great strategies for multi-channel communication especially for the holidays. by Yvon Prehn
e’re entering the time of year when churches hold seasonal and special events, not only to celebrate the various holidays, but to reach out to the community—with the ultimate goal of helping unchurched people connect with the church and begin to come on a regular basis. As anyone who is involved in these plans knows, attendance on the Sunday after the big event (even if the seasonal celebration itself has a huge attendance) is almost always less than hoped for. Solving this problem is more complex than many churches realize, and to help you be successful this holiday season, in this article
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and next month’s article I’ll share three strategies to help you develop a strategic, multi-channel approach to seasonal communications. These strategies can result in lasting growth for your church, not only in numbers, but in the discipleship growth for your people. The three strategies we’ll be discussing are: n STRATEGY #1—Involve the whole church in seasonal communication n STRATEGY #2—Create communications for before, during and after the event n STRATEGY #3—Maximize the power of multi-media integration in your seasonal communications Let’s get started—
Involve the whole church in seasonal communication Everyone in the church needs to be involved for holiday and special events to be successful. Everyone needs to be part of and feel responsible for the outreach and growth of your church. When Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20) And: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He did not qualify these commands by saying: “The command to be my witness and to reach your world is only for pastors and for the communication director of the church.” No—outreach, witnessing, sharing our faith, is every believer’s task. Seasonal celebrations and special events are a great way to be obedient to Jesus’ command to be his witness and reach our world. The tools of technology available to us in ministry today make it possible for everyone in the church to have
a significant part in the outreach of the entire church. Unless the whole church is involved, the congregation can slip into the attitude that seasonal celebrations are something the church does primarily to entertain existing members. This will result in seasonal celebrations that focus on primarily church tradition and may not make sense to unchurched people. This is a tremendous loss of outreach opportunities. Though everyone should be involved in positive and pro-active seasonal outreach, various parts of your church need to be involved in different ways. Here’s a suggested breakdown of each group’s tasks:
CHURCH LEADERSHIP The church leadership decides which events will be celebrated and when. Along with the communication team, they determine an overall theme and activities not only for the event itself, but how they are going to involve the congregation— and how they will follow-up with visitors. The decisions on congregational involvement are critical and essential because seasonal celebrations can be used as a time to grow people as disciples. They can do this because we all know we are supposed to teach our people to reach out and share their faith, but that’s very hard for people to do today. However, to invite a neighbor to a great seasonal event, to pray they attend, to plan to meet them at the event, to introduce them to church members at the event, and to be sure they know what the church
has to offer after the event and invite them to it—these actions are actually spiritual growth exercises. But it won’t happen if leadership does not intentionally cast the vision for these actions and then provide practical training for your church in each of these areas of seasonal celebrations. Once they commit to do this training, the leadership needs to continuously encourage, motivate and constantly talk about the importance of what they want the congregation to do. Leaders should continue to motivate in sermons, blogs and social media. They can share stories of how neighbors invite neighbors—for example, one group decided to “egg” the neighborhood before Easter by distributing invitation filled plastic eggs on people’s porches. Do more than just announce an event—challenge people to invite because the eternal destiny of their neighbor might change, all because of a persistent invitation by a caring neighbor. The congregation’s actions are incredibly important from an eternal perspective and they need to be reminded of this. Finally, leadership should decide on the goals for the event and assure accountability for measuring and evaluation to make each event more effective than the last one. Accountability makes everyone take their tasks more seriously.
COMMUNICATIONS TEAM Based on their guidance from the church leadership and their knowledge of the community, the communications team decides on the print and digital communications October 2016 | 11
for before, during and after the event (more on the specifics of this collection of communications next month) that both the church office and the congregation will use. Please note the term “communications team.” Even in the smallest church it takes more than one overworked person to make seasonal
communications successful because of the variety of communications needed through both print and digital channels. Some communication pieces may be purchased, some created in the church office, some by volunteers in ministry areas like the children’s ministry. A great looking invitation mailed
out to the community might be a starting place and foundation of a seasonal campaign, but the team needs to go beyond to make a successful seasonal event. A church staff person may be in charge of print pieces including bulletin inserts, postcards, flyers and posters, while a volunteer could do updates and “more information” sections on the website, and another volunteer could do continuous reminders and updates in social media. While doing these varieties of tasks, the communications team tracks materials created, sent, frequency and response to the type and number of communications for essential evaluation after the holidays to see what worked and what could be improved. During the process, the team continuously prays for wisdom and insight as they create communications for their congregation and for audience receptivity and positive response.
CONGREGATION The congregation should be involved in every step of the process: motivated by the leaders and equipped by the communication team to pray for the events, volunteer to make them happen, invite their unchurched friends, and follow-up with visitors. The congregation can be involved because the congregation has access to ministry technology through email and social media beyond anything possible in the past. They need to take responsibility to use these tools to make the most of their contacts to get them involved in the 12 | MinistryTech.com
seasonal celebrations at the church. The congregation has the primary responsibility for inviting and bringing unchurched friends to the event, interacting with them at the event, and following up with them afterwards. This process needs to be continuously taught and reinforced, until it becomes part of the DNA of the church. The congregation needs to understand that these inviting and involvement actions aren’t something to do just because they feel like it, but are what it means in practical ways to be Jesus’ disciples. When the congregation looks at seasonal and special event celebrations with anticipation as opportunities to share the joy of the Christian faith with their unchurched friends, the church will experience natural growth in numbers and the people will grow in spiritual maturity. Technology in the service of ministry helps make this possible For the holidays and special events to be more than traditional church family celebrations, all of the church needs to be involved in new and creative ways. With technology we can do so in ways we couldn’t imagine in the past. Each area of the church involved: Leadership, Communication Team and the Congregation interacting via email, social media and the web will all exponentially help the church grow because of seasonal celebrations. MT For advice on specific holidays, go to http://www.effectivechurchcom.com and hit the “SEASONAL” tab for a listing of holidays and seasonal communications topics.
Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church Communications, www.effectivechurchcom. com, a ministry that helps churches create communications that will help them fully fulfill the Great Commission. She has been writing and teaching about church communications for over 20 years. Her latest book is The Five Steps of Effective Church Communication and Marketing.
Are your church communications accomplishing all you want them to? Yvon Prehn's new book can help you organize your communications into a 5-Step process that takes unchurched people and moves them step-by-step to become mature disciples of Jesus.
INVITE INFORM INCLUDE INSTRUCT INSPIRE
e-book format at www.effectivechurchcom.com print format at www.amazon.com October 2016 | 13
Entrepreneurs With a Kingdom Worldview Meet Praxis, a Christian Community Filled With Entrepreneurial Spirit. by Russ McGuire (firstname.lastname@example.org)
’d like to introduce you to Dave Blanchard, whose calling is to equip and resource Christian entrepreneurs to better understand and achieve the integration of their faith with their business. Dave is the co-founder and CEO of Praxis, a community and education-oriented venture group. Here’s his story: Dave was raised in the church—he’s a pastor’s kid—but his entrepreneurial bent was also clear at an early age. He and his friends collected baseball cards, so in elementary school, Dave launched his first for-profit venture: creating a baseball card trading market by renting out space in his family’s garage to his buddies. Dave studied entrepreneurship at Babson College, where he also started a late-night sandwich shop. After college he co-founded DiscLive, a company working at the intersection of music and technology. During this period Dave’s business skills were sharpened but his focus was very much on
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financial success, and he wasn’t walking with the Lord. That started to change when Dave was 26. He began to pray, “Lord, you made me as an entrepreneur. What does that mean in serving you?” Seeking of God’s will in prayer, scripture reading, meditation and godly counsel set Dave on a new path. He simultaneously earned an MBA from Kellogg and an MEM in Design from the McCormick school of Engineering at Northwestern. Upon completion he landed a job at IDEO, a leading innovation and design firm, where he was tasked with helping the firm think about how best to support entrepreneurs. He spent time with organizations in the world that were best at enabling entrepreneurs to accomplish big things, including Y-Combinator, TechStars and venture capital firms. While helping IDEO discover their role in serving new ventures, Dave started to see a market opportunity with even greater impact. Entrepreneurship is grueling, but it is also for-
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.
mational, and startups are working with a blank canvas. In that formative stage, infusing the gospel into the venture could have world-changing impacts. It was at this time that Dave met Josh Kwan and the two started a discussion about creating a space where faith and venture could intersect and blossom.
What Praxis Is and Does Praxis operates as a non-profit, but it doesn’t look like most non-profits you know. Praxis is an expanding community of people who are passionate about growing the impact of the gospel through entrepreneurship. This community includes the small Praxis staff, a network of successful entrepreneurs, others in the startup ecosystem and a multiplying collection of entrepreneurs who have been transformed through their interactions with Praxis. Each year, Praxis accepts a dozen
ventures into their business accelerator and non-profit accelerator. These ventures go through a six-month process that takes a holistic view of their life: the financial and organizational health of their business, the state of their personal relationships, and their spiritual health. Although Praxis helps most of these ventures accelerate their success, in some cases, the business has to decelerate to achieve health in the other dimensions. The Praxis process involves teaching, coaching, mentoring, strengthening spiritual disciplines, and building lifelong support and accountability relationships with mentors and peers. Those ventures that pass through
previous columns, have both been through the Praxis accelerator), the leader of the organization must be a Christian who is sincere in his or her desire to integrate faith and work—someone who isn’t content with the compartmentalization that is so common among Christians in business. He or she will also be very thoughtful about the cultural or social impact of what his organization does. But Praxis is also very focused on the rising generation of Christian business leaders. I have just returned from the annual Praxis Academy, a week-long experience for college-aged students that immerses them in rich content, introduces them to incredible
view that encompasses creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration. (We are made in the image of God, designed to be creative as He is creative. But we also live in a fallen and broken world. While Christ has come to redeem His people, He also taught us to pray, “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We await His final restoration of all things, which only He can accomplish, and yet He calls us to participate in redemptive and restoring work.) At this recent Praxis Academy students heard story after story of Praxis alumni who have used their businesses to have a positive impact in the world, bringing beauty with
Praxis also has a tremendous set of tools and models that can help with building out a venture to the glory of God, including their book, From Concept to Scale.
the Praxis accelerators have already demonstrated some level of success, but often are just on the cusp of scaling to tremendous impact. While the companies or organizations may not necessarily present themselves as “Christian” (e.g., Webconnex and SOMA Games, who I’ve featured in
role-models and potential mentors, and helps them build a network that will encourage them as they seek to love God and love their neighbors through their businesses and careers.
What Praxis Teaches Praxis starts with the biblical world-
dignity and grace into the world. They have lifted people out of hopelessness through meaningful employment, and provided basic needs of the poor. They have saved babies. They have demonstrated and shared the gospel with the lost. But throughout the Academy were also October 2016 | 15
The Praxis process involves teaching, coaching, mentoring, strengthening spiritual disciplines, and building lifelong support and accountability relationships with mentors and peers.
warnings for humility, because we can’t aspire to increase ourselves and expect God’s testimony to increase at the same time. Closing speaker Skye Jethani said there’s a temptation in living our life for God. We may be tempted to selfrighteousness, thinking that God needs us. God doesn’t need us. He wants us and He loves us. Before we are ever called to some place or some task, we are called to Someone. Every mission will eventually end. What will never end is our communion with God. Praxis also has a tremendous set of tools and models that can help with building out a venture to the glory of God. I recommend their book, From Concept to Scale, to you as you consider how God may be calling you to be entrepreneurial for His glory. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28) MT In this article series, we’ve defined a Christian entrepreneur as a person, driven to glorify God in all he or she does, and 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. Are there Christian startups I should know about? Contact me at email@example.com.
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Nick’s Picks by Nick Nickolaou
Hardware: Time-Tested Solutions to Help You Through the Maze of Hardware Choices More choices means more variables—let Nick help you choose wisely
s a team of consultants who work on church and ministry networks nationwide, we have wrestled through many hardware options. There are two issues we always consider: 1) hardware that improves system reliability vs that which hurts it, and 2) budget sensitivity. In this article I’ll share with you the hardware we currently spec for our clients— specs that affordably help ministries build the Kingdom.
Locally Built vs Name Brand I’m surprised every time I learn of a church or ministry that still buys locally built computers. In the early days of personal computers many preferred buying locally built computers because the support would be more convenient. Maybe in the 1980s that was sometimes true, but more often than not locally built systems need more support because they do not have the benefit of the level of R&D (Research and Development) a larger company, like Dell, can invest in them.
Even consumer-class systems have some R&D; but locally built systems are only assembled. A local shop may do its best to buy great components, but local shops have limited ability to test how each of those components work together. There is no way a local shop can compete with the quality, reliability and support of a well-engineered system, like Dell.
We have found the two most reliable workstation manufacturers to be Apple and Dell. Though both are about equally good from a quality perspective; Dell is the clear winner from a support perspective. The truth is that both are manmade systems that occasionally have support needs. Dell comes to you to replace the failed component (for up to three years), whereas you need to take your Mac to Apple.
tion. For a graphics workstation, be sure to get a video card with its own memory (rather than borrowing from the logic board memory), and the more RAM and processor speed, the better. For a general workstation, 8gb RAM is probably more than adequate. n Dell—Dell is our preferred Windows desktop provider. We recommend Dell Optiplex desktop computers because they are Dell’s enterprise (optimized for corporate networks) line of desktop computers. These reliable systems come in a number of configurations. Our basic church desktop spec is an Optiplex 7040 small form factor (3.4ghz Intel i7 Quad Core processor, 8gb RAM, 180gb flash storage, Gigabit NIC, 22” monitor, keyboard, and optical mouse) running Windows 10 Pro. With a three-year next business day on-site warranty, the cost should be under $1200.
DESKTOP COMPUTERS n Apple—The 27” iMac is terrific for most graphics processing, and the 21” is a great general worksta-
NOTEBOOKS & TABLETS n Apple—Most Mac users will be very happy with a MacBook Air configured with 8gb RAM and
October 2016 | 17
256gb of flash storage. For those doing higher-end graphics, though, a MacBook Pro is the only way to go because it’s Apple’s only notebook with the option of getting a video card that has its own RAM. n Dell—For those wanting a more traditional notebook, we recommend the Dell Latitude 5470 (2.6 i7 Dual Core processor, 8gb RAM, 128gb flash storage). With Dell’s three-year next business day onsite warranty including accident coverage, the cost is about $1560. n Microsoft—Surprise! For those wanting a Windows tablet, you can’t beat the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Under 2lbs, configured with an i7 processor, 8gb RAM, and 128gb flash storage, and docking station, the cost is about $1980.
Network Servers Servers come in many shapes and sizes. Because ministry teams rely so heavily on these systems (the most important part of the network), they need to be engineered with The Right Stuff. We usually recommend three levels of servers depending on our client’s needs. Though we work with tower and rack configurations, to save space I’ll only mention our tower configuration here. n Level 1 (about $3665)—Dell PowerEdge T430, two Intel Xeon 3.0ghz Quad Core Processors, 16gb RAM, dual 8gb SD Boot Module, three 1tb SATA drives w Perc H730 RAID Controller, DVD, four Gigabit NICs, iDRAC Express, two Power Supplies and Cords, three-year Next Business Day On-Site Pro Support n Level 2 (about $4690)—Dell Power18 | MinistryTech.com
Edge T630, two Intel Xeon 2.4ghz Six Core Processors, 32gb RAM, dual 8gb SD Boot Module, six 1tb SATA drives w Perc H730 RAID Controller, DVD, four Gigabit NICs, iDRAC Express, two Power Supplies and Cords, three-year Next Business Day On-Site Pro Support n Backup/Light Purpose (about $1150)—Dell PowerEdge T110 II, one Intel 3.1ghz Quad Core Processor, 8gb RAM, two 1tb SATA drives w Perc H200 RAID Controller (requires Windows), DVD, one Gigabit NIC, one Power Supply with Cord, three-year Next Business Day On-Site Pro Support We usually put into a network server as much hard drive capacity as we think will be needed for the next two years. As technology continues to improve, more can easily be added later, and probably for considerably less than it would cost today. We also like to go large on RAM; it is inexpensive, and the more you have, the better your network will perform.
SANs SANs (Storage Area Networks) are large external hard drive arrays. They are optimal for those with large hard drive capacity needs (10tb or more), though they are expensive. The key is to make certain your SAN has full redundancy of all components to keep your services running and available in case any components fail. SANs are different from NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices in that they do bit-level storage (much more efficient) rather than file-level
storage. NAS devices cost less than SANs, but don’t have the reliability of SANs and so should not be used in mission-critical roles.
Firewalls Every network must be protected from intruders and malware. Firewalls, like servers, need to be refreshed periodically to make certain your network and users are protected from the latest schemes that have been devised to hurt them. Our favorite appliances to keep your system safe are: PROTECTION FROM SPAM: Barracuda Networks’ SPAM Firewalls are king when you’re looking to keep your team focused on mission. They eliminate SPAM very well, and that keeps most malware from getting into your system. n Many think that by going with Microsoft O365 they can rely on Microsoft’s anti-SPAM solution. Our experience, however, is that an inappropriately high amount of SPAM makes it through Microsoft’s anti-malware solution. n To help churches and ministries save money, my firm inexpensively hosts SPAM filtering using a Barracuda SPAM Filter 600, and thus see statistics on a large scale. Surprisingly, more than 83 percent of all email is SPAM! PROTECTION FROM INTRUDERS: There are computer programs and people trying to exploit your networks’ vulnerabilities. The best appliances to protect your system are from SonicWALL, which have a sweet spot match for the services churches and
ministries need while staying budget sensitive. SonicWALLs even have an option for Internet content filtering that works well, and does not overburden your system or team. We consider it essential.
tures. The switches we believe offer the best balance of reliability, features and price are Dell’s Networking X Series. They combine high performance, management and reliability with a very reasonable cost.
Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs)
When building a network, the best you can hope for is that the process is trouble free, and that the system is, simply, reliable. Foundational elements such as cable and switches must be dependable. Our team has worked with just about every brand of switch available. Many mistakenly think they need what’s referred to as Level 3 features, but it is the very rare church or ministry that can take advantage of those expensive fea-
Network servers and switches should be protected by uninterruptible power supplies to keep them up during short power outages. These unsung heroes of the computing world keep our data from being scrambled like an omelet. We prefer the American Power Conversion series of Smart UPSs. A ‘smart’ UPS is one that communicates with the servers and can be programmed to shut the servers
down when necessary; then bring them back up again when power is restored. Our favorite models are the APC Smart UPS 750 and 1500. Well, there you have it. These are tried and tested solutions that work in ministries of all sizes: from smallstaff churches up to the largest ministry networks in the country. Your networks will earn a reputation for very high reliability—based in part on choosing the right hardware. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his firm’s website (www.mbsinc.com) and his blog at http://ministry-it.blogspot.com.
October 2016 | 19
PROTECTED WITH PURPOSE by Steven Sundermeier
Keep the Bugs Out: Seal Out Your Cyber Doors and Windows Why Fighting CRYPMIC (and Other Ransomware) Is Like Fighting Insects!
am not sure if this is an Ohio thing but one of my least favorite things about fall is the gradual invasion of insects fleeing the cooler outdoor temperatures in favor of the warmth of a heated home. Over the last few years, we’ve dealt with a little brown bug about a half inch long, spade-looking in shape. It’s the Halyomorpha halys, or more commonly known as the brown stink bug. The Asian transplant brown stink bug earns its name and reputation from the stinky odor it produces when it gets smashed or squeezed. My family likens this awful stench to smelly feet. Gross! However, a positive spin on the brown stink bug is that they don’t bite or sting, they’re certainly not poisonous or deadly, and unlike other invading insects they aren’t going to do structural damage to your house. No biblical-sized insect plague here! They’re more annoying than anything else. While I’m sure my friends the
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stink bugs will certainly frustrate and annoy me again this Fall through Spring, I fully understand that their mere existence in my living area can also be traced back to my homeowner shortcomings (and possible laziness!). I’m smart enough to know that stink bugs don’t just magically appear by a wave of the wand or appear out of thin air: Stink bugs enter your living space by making their way through small cracks and openings (i.e., poorly sealed windows, roof vents, holes in screening, doors left open, etc.). Proper maintenance and inspection on my house would probably alleviate most of my stink bug problems. And so is the case with protecting your data/files from these latest variations of ransomware.
This past summer, the Thirtyseven4 Behavior Detection System, integrated within the Thirtyseven4 Endpoint Security product line, began proactively blocking thousands of files
as suspicious and automatically relaying these suspicious files to our Virus Research Team for further analysis. Upon detailed analysis by my Virus Team and me, we quickly discovered a new variation of the CrypMic ransomware. The interesting (and for the most part unusual) thing about this variation of CrypMic is that unlike past infamous ransomware like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall, and even newer ransomware like Locky and Zepto, this latest CrypMic ransomware doesn’t spread through the traditional email attachment methods using large scale malware spam campaigns. Instead, this variant uses a Neutrino Exploit Kit (what!?) infecting users simply by visiting a compromised site. By definition, an exploit kit is a software kit designed to introduce malicious code onto a web server, with the purpose of identifying software vulnerabilities in client machines communicating with it, and using these vulnerabilities and the compromised web server as a mechanism to deliver malware. This
technique does not require any user interaction and happens silently in the background at the user’s expense. Like most observed ransomware, after the encryption is completed on the user’s system, this variation of the CrypMic ransomware deletes itself to avoid any traces of it being left behind—only the dropped ReadMe files remain on the system. (The ReadMe files contain the payment information.) However, unlike most ransomware, CrypMic does not append any file extensions to the encrypted files (i.e., .crypto, .locky, .zepto, etc.). Is anyone else confused? This is brandnew ransom ware—and it’s unlike any that we have seen previously! How does this new variation of CrypMic operate? As noted, CrypMic does remove itself from a victim’s system, so replicating exact scenarios can be challenging: however, collected/blocked samples do contain very similar functionality. Given the severity of the CrypMic threat, here are some recommendations moving forward:
n It is important to download
and install all the latest third party software updates. For example, update your Browser Plugins like adobe flash player, java
and silver light plugins to the latest version that would help reduce the chances of such attacks. In the noted case above, it was observed that the affected system had an old adobe flash player version [Adobe Flash Player 13 ActiveX (184.108.40.206)].
n With a software like
Thirtyseven4 installed, we highly recommended that you enable the Thirtyseven4 Secure Browse module. Browser Sandboxing restricts any possible encryption activity to limited user locations (UserProfile and Subfolders: where browser sandbox has write access).
It is important to note that due to the high profitability of ransomware, cybercriminals are continually altering their strategies and techniques
n Install strong security
(anti-virus/antimalware) software. Thirtyseven4 not only has superior signature-based detection but its behavior-based detections are industry leading. This threat was stopped in its track proactively as ‘Ransom. CrypMIC.PB5’ by means of Pathbased detection within our Virus Protection/Scanner modules.
to evade security detections and extort your hard earned money by keeping your files hostage. Even during the writing of this column, Thirtyseven4 Labs are coming across new variations of the Troldesh ransomware (also known as XTBL) that is spreading by gaining direct access to a victim’s computer through Remote Desktop. This is a type of Brute force attack that capitalizes on lazy security practices by guessing generic usernames (i.e., admin, administrator) and weak passwords to directly gain access to a system using the RDP-Remote Desktop Protocol. But, I guess more on this will have to come in a future article. The threats are real, and all security practices most be constantly followed. October 2016 | 21
Proper maintenance and inspection on your house would probably alleviate most stink bug problems. And so is the case with protecting your data/files from
these latest variations of ransomware.
Like the pesky brown stink bugs, cyber-threats creep and sneak in, doing their absolute best to be undetected. But the worst part about a stink bug is only their stale odor. In contrast, ransomware bites us, and leaves a mark. Sometimes the cut is deep, when data is encrypted and is unrecoverable. I strongly
encourage you to take the time and effort to “seal your cyber windows and lock your computer door.” Use caution when visiting websites and be diligent with passwords and protection measures. Stay current with program updates and install a strong AV program like Thirtyseven4 Antivirus! Strong security software is no longer a recommendation but a requirement because of the aggressive nature of cybercriminals. Unless your files and data don’t matter much to you. Then open the windows and throw up the screens. A few bugs won’t bother you and the smell goes away after a while. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15), and I will do my best to keep our files protected from ANY sort of bugs! MT
Steven Sundermeier is the owner of Thirtyseven4, LLC, a leading provider of antivirus/security software. With 17 years of experience in the cybersecurity field, he is one of the nation’s leading experts in virus, malware and other threats. Before founding Thirtyseven4 in 2009, Steven worked in a number of roles in the anti-virus industry dating back to 1999. His desire is to serve the public with the most aggressive antivirus software on the market accompanied by unparelled support services. 22 | MinistryTech.com
5 Ways to Transform Your Staff and Volunteer Meetings Meetings are an unavoidable part of ministry leadership. If you want to move the ball forward in ministry, you have to have meetings. But what’s the difference between a productive and effective ministry meeting, and one that sucks the life out of everyone in the room?
Here are five tips from the MinistryU course, Building Healthy and High Performance Ministry Teams, to ensure your next meeting is a great one.
Determine if a meeting is even necessary. Many times, a meeting isn’t even needed. Whatever has to be accomplished can be done via a simple email or phone call.
Think of your meetings like an airline flight. Good meetings are like a great flight— there’s a takeoff, the time in air and a landing. If you come into a meeting with no clear agenda and no clear outcomes for the meeting, your takeoff is off to a rocky start. Make sure you know the purpose of the meeting before you set it. Have a clear path to get from point a to point b. Agenda items will help you stay on track and
avoid getting derailed and off topic during the meeting. Lastly, you need to land the plane. Remember, it doesn’t matter how clear the agenda was, or how good the snacks were, or how much discourse there was, without a clear action plan for what was discussed. How do you land the plane?
Confirm what has been decided. We have an amazing ability to interpret things differently. Write down on a whiteboard or flipchart the decisions that were made so there’s no ambiguity around those decisions.
Determine who needs to know what was decided. Write down the decisions that were made in the team meetings. This minimizes the chances of decisions being reinterpreted between the team meeting and the time a decision gets
communicated. Communication not only shares information, it also demonstrates value.
Determine who is responsible? As important as it is to have clear decisions and clear communications, it’s just as important to know who is responsible for certain actions. Ultimately, all those decisions boil down to hard work. Write down the action items related to the decisions that have been made and who is responsible for those action items by what date. Following these tips will help move good decisions toward great outcomes.
Want to learn more? Sign up for our free MinistryU course Becoming a Healthy Team Leader at https://ministryu.com/ free-church-leadership-training/. October 2016 | 23
Discover the Digital Great Commission
DIGITAL CHURCHES GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE DIGITAL IS BIBLICAL Digital technology has revolutionized how we do church. Congregations live stream their services. Pastors are active on Twitter. Websites are mobile compatible and ministries use Instagram and Facebook to spread important announcements and words of encouragement. Some see digital technology entering the sphere of the church as an attempt to be relevant or “cool” and reach the younger generations. But when you consider scripture and the biblical call to discipleship, churches going digital is about much more than relevance; it’s obedience to a biblical command. Jesus’ command to us in scripture 24 | MinistryTech.com
is clear: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). In Acts 1:8, he gives us the strategy for making those disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Discipleship begins by being a witness in our concentric circles of influence: n our local community (Jerusalem) n our near-local community (Judea and Samaria) n the global community (the ends of the earth)
Discipleship becomes effective when we intentionally and tangibly reach into these three areas with the love of Christ. In order to do this, we have to know where our community is. Where is your community? In the U.S., 207 million people have smart phones and the ability to receive HD video and digital content. Globally, that number is 2.16 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau reported (2013) that 74.4 percent of Americans people have access to the Internet. The percentage of Americans who now own smart TVs is up to 49 percent. People are online, streaming video on their mobile devices and at home. If we want to meet them
where they are, we must show up on their screens. We should take our church community online, not because we want to be relevant and cool, but because we take the call to discipleship seriously.
THE DIGITAL STRATEGY In order for a church to use digital technology effectively, it must have a digital strategy in place. A common mistake in digital strategy for churches is to take on too much too soon. Each church needs to start where it is and build its digital strategy from the ground up. Life.Church, based in Oklahoma City, has been at the forefront of the digital movement in churches for over a decade. A major part of their digital strategy has been developing and fostering an active community at Life.Church Online, an online church they originally launched in 2006. Since then, Life.Church Online has grown to over 100,000 people who tune in each week. But Life.Church didnâ€™t start out as a technologically progressive body. In fact, before Pastor and Innovation Leader Bobby Gruenewald came on staff in 2001, Life.Church wasnâ€™t even using email. With a background in technology and business, Gruenewald got to work brainstorming how the church could use technology to reach and disciple people. After email was securely in place, the next step, he says, was content sharing: â€œWe progressed from that to making our content available and widely available for free. We had video and audio, streaming, on-demand, podcasts downloads, whatever was available at the time . . . essentially we wanted to have high availability October 2016 | 25
of the teaching and any content we produced.” Every church’s progression through the digital landscape is different, and necessarily so, but the Digital Maturity Model provides an overview of digital strategy. Figure out where your church is today, and work your way around the cycle. n Audio podcasts/audio streaming—Before you buy a camera, master the art of audio. Start posting weekly sermons online that are organized, easy to find and high quality. You won’t be ready for video or streaming until you have this step down. n Video on Demand—Once your audio is solid, then you can start thinking about video. Invest in the right
equipment and start experimenting by filming the weekend message and posting it on your website the day after. n Live Stream—When a church has been successfully posting audio and video online and feels ready for the next step, it’s time to start live streaming the weekend service and other events. This is one of the best ways to engage your community and allow them to feel like they’re at church on the days they can’t be at church. n Stream to Over the Top—Over the top streaming is simply taking the live stream to mediums like Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. By adding your stream to these services, you will reach an even broader audience.
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n Integrated Studies—The next step after taking live stream OTT is using live stream on a more intimate level by streaming mid-week content for those who want to go deeper in their faith. For example, this could be a video from the pastor about the week’s sermon or video content for small-group studies. n Online church—This is the ultimate in live stream technology for churches. Online church is a virtual church campus with 24/7 worship services, its own staff and online chat capabilities. After mastering audio, video and live stream, some churches decide to take the leap to a full-time online church. Today, Life.Church has cycled through the digital maturity model. With the use of live-stream technology, Life.Church Online now offers everything a physical church would without having to step foot through the church’s doors: worship, prayer, tithing, serving and even small groups. Though it’s tempting to be in awe of the technology that Life. Church has developed and utilized, Gruenewald stresses that technology is simply a means to a gospel end. “Things like church online or ministry online is not about technology,” he says. “It’s completely about people. Technology is merely a tool that you’re using to either bring people together, to communicate with people, [or] to help connect with people who otherwise you couldn’t physically connect with. “I do agree that churches have to map out a strategy that fits their abilities to some degree, but I also don’t necessarily believe that people
have to go back and take the same linear path to progression. Because technology has this amazing leapfrog ability that’s built into it, where someone can come in today and do so much more than what we were doing when we got started. And it so much easier to do it today than when we did it before.” Digital is easier than it’s ever been before for churches. It’s also cheaper than it’s ever been.
MediaFusion is a media platform built to amplify the message of the Gospel through digital discipleship. Digital discipleship utilizes technology to train, teach and equip the church by sharing encouraging content. MediaFusion manages that content in one place and distributes audio and video podcasting, live stream and on-demand video. MediaFusion is at the forefront of the worldwide digital discipleship movement. Distributing content through different mediums is one way to reach more people. Having that content centralized in one hub makes discipleship that much easier and more effective. MediaFusion equips churches of all sizes around the world with the same cutting-edge technology used by the largest organizations. MediaFusion deploys content to over 175,000 servers worldwide so that video can be viewed in full HD on smart phones and tablets, as well as flat screen TVs, using devices like Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.
P DISCOVER MEDIAFUSION: mediafusion.church or 877-878-4007.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT STEP? Making disciples is a clear biblical command. The church has been instructed to start by making disciples in their local community, then in their near-local community and finally, in the global community. In order to do that in the year 2016, the church must go where the community already is: online. Maybe your church is ready for live stream. Maybe your church is just now considering putting sermons up online. No matter where you are in your digital journey, it’s crucial to have a digital strategy in place. You don’t have to jump into online church right away. Do what’s right for your community and do what makes sense. “I think God placed all of us here at this time in history for a purpose,” says Gruenewald. “We get to be a part of this exciting time when there are more people alive than ever before, and we have these amazing tools and technologies that have the potential to knit us together as a population like never before in human history.” The command is clear. The technology is there. The community is waiting. Is your church ready and willing to be a part of history? MT
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October 2016 | 27
A Shocking Outcome: How an Easy-to-Use App Helped Emmanuel Church Double Its Missional Goal
hen pastor Danny Anderson of Emmanuel Church in Greenwood, Indiana, decided to visit a small orphanage in Haiti, he had no idea what to expect. His experience would have a profound impact on him—and his church. In the end, he’d discover that his church was more ready to give than he ever imagined. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its infrastructure is so weak that it can’t even be considered a thirdworld country. Pastor Anderson saw this poverty first hand. In one orphanage made of sticks and earth, the 29 children were only being fed two meals a week. The children were literally eating mud pies in order to stop the hunger
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that constantly plagued them. Danny Anderson knew his church needed to do something.
Emmanuel Church Responds: As soon as pastor Anderson returned to Emmanuel, his team began looking into what it would cost to feed these precious children. When they realized that for $50,000 they could build an orphanage and feed the kids two meals a day, they were galvanized. Sure, it was ambitious—but they knew that it truly was a life-or-death decision. Since they were already using Pushpay to collect donations and offerings, they were able to easily add this need as a potential fund for people to contribute toward. They kicked off the drive that weekend.
The Shocking Outcome: Even though Emmanuel was firmly resolved to make this dream a reality, they were not prepared for the response. The simplicity of using Pushpay to make donations, coupled with the ease of sharing the cause with friends, helped the drive spread like wildfire. Within 24 hours of kicking off their campaign, they had raised nearly half of the needed $50,000 through Pushpay. And by the time the campaign was over, they’d raised more than $100,000! With all the money that came in—much of it from people who had never given to the church before— they were able to provide two meals a day, improve on the orphanage they were building, and provide the children with health care and a fulltime teacher for two years. In fact, there was still money left over to provide food and clothing for many other families as well. In the end, Emmanuel Church learned a valuable lesson about how involved a congregation can become when they’re energized to meet a legitimate need. This is the kind of lesson that they’ll not soon forget, and will empower them to impact their world. It’s also interesting to note that after the campaign was over, the church saw an increase in regular giving, much of it propelled by new givers moved by the good work they were able to take part in. When people
Emmanuel Church learned a valuable lesson about how involved a congregation can become when they’re energized to meet a legitimate need.
are able to make a connection between their giving and a specific need, they’re eager to give. Sacrificial giving is exhilarating. When people get a taste of it (and see the fruit), they can’t wait to do it again . . . What about your church? MT October 2016 | 29
THE LAST WORD
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7