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December 2016

: <[ {) * Gift Guide for





12 servants behind the technology Our Savior also takes notice of the sacrifices you make during this time of year.



The Hidden Dangers of a “Smart Home”


gift guide for geeks

The “Internet of Things” presents new advances— and new risks.

Suggestions from Santa’s high-tech helper.

15 the season of sharing with your community Community engagement doesn’t happen overnight, but effective use of communication software can help.

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START-UP | Widows, Orphans and Waiting . . . . . . . . 18 COMMUNICATIONS | Sometimes, More Is Better! . . . . 21 5 Ways to Engage Guests During the Holidays . . . . . . 24 Can Technology Be the Answer to Better Church Communications? . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 2 | MinistryTech.com

Removing Obstacles To Jesus Tech work really can help connect people to the Master.

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


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. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed

Soli deo Gloria: Glory to God!


f you ask enough people, you’re sure to find someone who began their relationship with Jesus at a big church event: something like a Christmas pageant. Christmas time means lots of extra projects for ministry tech workers, but the rewards can produce eternal results. December is showtime for churches big and small. Special effects abound, whether we’re talking about bathrobecostumes as children portray the three wise men or a lazer light show that portrays the song of the heavenly host announcing “Peace on Earth toward men of goodwill.” For me, there’s one word that helps underscore the importance of ministry and technology; that word is “Glory.” The angels who sang “Glory to God in the highest” reflect the calling and mission of ministry tech—we want God to be glorified in all we do! Our “ministry signature” should be soli deo Gloria: Glory to God alone! Our work is not a success if people come away from a service thinking, “Wow! Those special effects were amazing.” Rather, our goal is to have people walk away thinking, “Wow! What a glorious Savior has come into the world.”

This month’s issue of Ministry Tech is wide-ranging, because the needs of Christmas ministry are (literally) all over the map, whether we are talking about an outdoor Nativity scene in the city square or a candlelight Christmas Eve service in the sanctuary. For example, Kevin Purcell’s cover story (“Gift-Guide for Geeks”) helps stimulate our thinking about how to find the perfect thankyou for the members of your tech team, while Jonathan Smith’s article, “Servants Behind the Technology,” reminds us of the goal of all ministry: putting Jesus front and center. Mike O’Brien reminds us how tech ministry can help remove barriers to Jesus, while Yvon Prehn provides practical advice about how to communicate effectively with all the members of our congregation. Our service is our gift to Jesus, but He is the Father’s gift to all the world! Our preaching should point to Jesus, our music should point to Jesus— every aspect of ministry should point to Jesus. He is the good news who came into the world on that very first Christmas, and he is still coming into our world today.

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. December 2016 | 3


: <[ {) * Gift Guide for by Kevin Purcell

4 | MinistryTech.com


Gadget and software lovers enjoy gifts, too! These ideas are budget-friendly and tech-savvy: pick one or more to give away to your favorite nerdâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or to get for yourself!

Services If you have a movie or music lover on your list, consider giving them some free months to their favorite streaming service like Netflix (www.netflix.com), Spotify (www.spotify.com), Pandora (www.pandora.com), Apple Music (www.apple.com) or Google Play (music.google.com).If they don’t already use a music service, I recommend that you go with Spotify. It’s the best music streaming service available.

Amazon Echo Devices The Amazon Echo bills itself as a personal assistant baked into a cylindrical Bluetooth speaker. Amazon makes three of them, ranging in price from $50 for the Echo Dot, $99 for the Echo Tap and $179 for the flagship Echo. In addition to listening to music or getting news, weather, sports and traffic info, you can do other skills. It even plays audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible service. Other skills include playing games or getting trivia. You can ask the device about information like sports scores or movie show times. It has new briefings from popular news services. The Echo will also connect to your mobile device with Bluetooth and play music on your device using the Echo. I own both an Echo and a Tap. The Tap runs on battery life making it mobile (if there’s Wi-Fi available). All of them can work as a Bluetooth speaker, but they do more. I’d pick the Dot, which connects to external speakers like your stereo or a separate Bluetooth speaker. Amazon Echo

Gift Cards Are Not Lazy, They’re Great! People often give gift cards to their loved ones because they’re easy to get, but they sometimes feel bad about it, thinking, “I didn’t put enough thought or care into the gift.” However, I LOVE getting gift cards! It means I get to pick what I want, and you’re giving me two gifts: the thing I end up selecting plus the fun of finding it. Geeks love gift cards too. Get one of the following: •  iTunes for Apple users •  Google Play for Android and Chromebook users •  Amazon for just about anyone • Visa or Master Card gift cards often charge extra fees, so consider these last. I recommend checking out Tech Bargains (www. techbargains.com). They often post links to discounted gift cards, like a $100 iTunes card for $85. Sam’s Club often sells discounted gift cards too. December 2016 | 5

Chargers and External Batteries We all use a lot of mobile electronic devices from phones to tablets and even laptops. A backup battery that the user can plug their device into helps. Also, chargers can help. I wrote an article at GottaBeMobile.com listing some great car chargers. See it here: http://bit. ly/2cZJJWu. Go to Amazon and search for Anker (www.anker. com). That’s a great brand for inexpensive external batteries. They offer some unique products including wireless chargers for phones that support it and high capacity batteries that let you charge even a laptop. One of the best mobile power solutions in my arsenal comes from Belkin. The Belkin 3-Outlet Surge Protector has three AC outlets and two USB outlets. It’s a great thing to put in your computer bag and bring to a hotel on the road (http:// amzn.to/2cZJUkh). It’s less than $20 right now on Amazon.

Mobile Mouse and/or Keyboard Do you know someone who loves his or her laptop, but Logitech Anywhere 2 hates the trackpad? Consider Bluetooth mouse the Logitech Anywhere 2 Bluetooth mouse. I love this mouse. It connects via Bluetooth and has a battery that lasts a long time. Recharge it with a micro-USB cable. You can connect it to up to three different devices making it great to take on the road and use at home connected to your desktop. Find it here for $80. Logitech has a similar product on the keyboard side. The Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated K810 Keyboard has backlit keys and connects via Bluetooth. You can connect it to an iPad, a Phone and a computer all at the same time. Switch between them using the shortcut keys on the top left. It connects via Bluetooth and recharges via micro-USB. It’s $100 direct but if you search Amazon for the K810 or K811 (it’s the same keyboard essentially) you’ll find it cheaper.

12000 mAh Anker Astro 3 external battery

Bluetooth Speakers or Headphones For music fans or people who like to listen to any kind of audio, a good set of Bluetooth speakers or headphones/ear buds makes sense. This is a highly competitive market with thousands of options. Let me make a few recommendations. Steer clear of Beats and Skull Candy. They are popular name brands that sound terrible and cost more than they should. They add too much bass and don’t sound natural. Bose is a good brand if you pay for high-end audio equipment. Also consider Sennheiser and Phiaton—they make nice in-ear ear buds and over-the-ear headphones. For rugged Bluetooth speakers with a lot of sound look at Braven (www.braven. com). They’re not as well known as some, but make awesome battery-powered Bluetooth speakers with line-in ports for wired sound. Braven BRV1 wireless bluetooth speaker

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Tablets Gift buyers should focus on one of four kinds of tablets— Apple iPad, Google Pixel, Samsung Tab S or Microsoft Surface. The Microsoft Surface ($799 and up) is a fullfeatured Windows computer meaning it runs any software you run on a laptop or desktop. It has a Surface Pen stylus making it a great option for artists or business users and students who take notes by hand. It’s the best and only Windows 10 tablet I’d buy right now. If you don’t need to run full apps and live inside the Apple ecosystem consider the iPad (www.apple.com). Now you only have to pick one of the many iPad models. Here’s the list of models with starting prices and who they are best for: •  iPad mini 2 or 4 ($269 or $399)—A small 8-inch tablet that is better for reading, email, entertainment and simple web surfing; it is also good for kids playing mobile games. •  iPad Air 2 ($499)—At 9.7-inches it is the workhorse of the iPad world. It doesn’t work with the Apple Pencil stylus or Apple Smart Keyboard Cover, but is the best option for budget-minded people who need a bigger tablet than the iPad mini for work and writing using a Bluetooth keyboard. This could stand alone as your only computer. •  iPad Pro ($599 or $799)—9.7 or 12.9 inch options that works with the great Apple Pencil or Apple Smart Keyboard cover. They are great for artists or writers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Students and business users will enjoy them too. Remember that the Apple Pencil costs $99 and the Smart Keyboard Cover costs $169. The above prices are for 32GB models—that’s almost always too small for hardcore users. Here’s a list of the best Android tablets to buy: •  Google Pixel C ($499)—A high-end 10-inch tablet from Google, which means it will always get the latest update to the Android operating system. The Pixel also has a nice keyboard which makes it work a lot like the iPad Pro or Surface Pro. (http://bit.ly/2gzLC2U) •  Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 ($399 for 8-inch, $499 for 9.7inch)—Samsung makes the best Android tablets not made by Google. They have beautiful screens and run any apps you can throw at it. (http://bit.ly/2g8qgVy) If you don’t know which to get, start with the recipient. Do they own an iPhone? Then get an iPad. If they own an Android phone, then go with the Google Pixel C or Samsung Tab S2. Samsung sells cheaper tablets, but they’re mostly junk. If the person needs Windows app and could use a laptop replacement, then get the Surface Pro 4.

Google Pixel C 10-in. tablet with optional Pixel C keyboard

December 2016 | 7

Flash Drives and Cards Everyone needs a good flash drive or an SD card. They’re cheap and sometimes come with creative housings like super heroes or other fun things. You can steer clear of the cutesy and go conservative. I also love the small-form-factor USB flash drives. Make sure you get a brand name drive. Sandisk, Kingston and PNY are a few. Off-brand flash drives often lie about the capacity. They tell you it’s a 64GB drive, but you really only get 16GB that they’ve hacked to make the computer think it’s larger, but doesn’t really hold that much. Consider the various devices a person uses, but I think he or she most likely would want a USB 3.0 flash drive. For a phone or tablet, they want a micro-SD card. However, some people may want USB Type-C, and some cards have both USB 3.0 and micro-USB for connecting to some phones or tablets. MT

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Obstacles to Jesus

Discover the Power of Seamless Technical Execution

A [ by Mike O’Brien ]

s we recruit, train and encourage our sound and media teams it’s vital to remind them of the importance of invisibility and “seamlessness.” Certainly, the Lord can use imperfect productions for His glory, but when our tech work is smooth and seamless it clears the way for the God’s message to be heard. It can make an eternal difference! Invisible, seamless, service certainly made a difference in my life: when I was 10 years old my mom and I visited a small church near our house as a last ditch effort to find a remedy to a domestic abuse situation we were involved in. That one little service changed our lives forever. The songs, the sermon and collective community made a huge deposit into my soul and led me on a pathway of salvation of discipleship that continues to this day. All the men and women of that church worked together to lead me to Jesus, and I am thankful! December 2016 | 9

When we clear the way for the story of

God to be clearly communicated, our work can make an eternal difference!

Our gatherings are vital not only for the believers who gather, but also for the souls who come church searching for a place to belong. One of our most important tech roles is to remove barriers between the people who attend our services and the one true God. Things like microphone feedback, missed cues, sloppy transitions, and poor grammar on presentation slides can all become unnecessary obstacles. These seemingly small things might indirectly become barriers to meeting Jesus. In Luke’s gospel, we see a picture of several men doing everything they can to get a paralyzed man in front of Jesus so He could heal him. There was an impossible barrier around the house so they found a way to get the man to Jesus: And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay 10 | MinistryTech.com

him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. (Luke 5:18-19) Jesus had the ability to simply heal the man despite the crowds, but this story reveals how faithful servants can remove barriers to Jesus. When we clear the way for the story of God to be clearly communicated, our work can make an eternal difference! Here are a couple ways we can help remove barriers to Jesus in our weekly productions:

Go to the Roof

Be inventive in looking for solutions that are not obvious. Sometimes our modern church culture gives the idea that “easy beats better.” We would rather

be consistently mediocre than occasionally excellent. Excellence comes not from merely checking off a to-do list, but also opening our eyes to what God might be doing in any situation. In this example from Luke’s gospel the men could have given up and gone home when they the saw the crowds—but they didn’t! They resorted to extraordinary measures. Each week at our services the solutions might require the same from us. Are you prepared to crawl under the stage? Return home to get your laptop? Run from one side of the building to the other to address a need? For the men in Luke’s story there was nothing easy about bringing an invalid up a flight of stairs! Teach your teams the value of removing barriers in solving problems. Allow those under your care to identify problems and implement solutions. Ask them, “Do you see anything going on here that

could be distracting?” and, “What do you think we can do about it?”

Be “Invisible”

The servants in this story are the nameless, faceless heroes. This idea is no surprise to those who have served behind the scenes, but it’s good to be reminded that church works best when we don’t get the attention (or the credit). We fix problems that 99 percent of the people in the room didn’t know were problems. However, never equate being invisible with being unseen. Later in the passage after Jesus heals the man he says, “And when He [Jesus] saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you’” (Luke 5:20). The Lord sees you in the sound booth or media station! Tech leaders should excite the idea of invisibility on their teams. They should celebrate the ordinary. We should all make an effort to praise our teams when nothing goes wrong!

his presence. It’s a question worth asking: how can tech volunteers help people better encounter Him? What obstacles can we remove so people can see a greater revelation

of God? Sometimes faithful service is opening a space where there wasn’t one before by removing the barriers to Jesus. MT

Mike O’Brien holds a B.A. in Music from Kennesaw State University and Master of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. He has worked as a producer, engineer and mixer at Lucko Sound Studio, and with a collective of over 25 musicians called Poured Out Like Wine. Together, they produced 7 albums with over 15 published songs with Vineyard Worship USA. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Susan, and son, Ezekiel. You can reach Mike at vineband@hotmail.com.

Make the Meeting “Seamless” We should identify each transitionpoint in a meeting, and rehearse those transitions with worship leaders, speakers, ushers, and prayer and ministry teams. Do it for the glory of God, knowing that these seamless transitions help people focus on the message—and not our missed cue! Every week our sound and media teams have the privilege and honor of helping people experience the Love of God the Father through Jesus. God gives us His Spirit as a guide, a comfort, and motivator to move us along. It’s not our job to make God show up, or bring in His presence; rather, we are to host December 2016 | 11

Servants Behind the Technology Tech Volunteers Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Serve for the Glory of Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Praise by Jonathan Smith

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here is no doubt that Christmas and Easter are the high points in most church calendars. Attendance is up, the fields are ripe for the harvest, and our buildings are packed. The opportunities for ministry and reaching our communities for the Kingdom abound, thanks

to these holidays. We start planning (or at least we should) months in advance. Vacation time during the holidays is scheduled around ministry opportunities, and we all move at full speed towards the goal. As your ministry approaches this Christmas season, allow me

to encourage you to not lose sight of the unseen people that make these ministries possible, humanly speaking. It is easy, and natural to thank those who are on the stage or whose name is at the end of an email or invitation. For obvious reasons, the attention falls on those who are seen. However, as part of the body of Christ, there is no one part that is more important than another. That means we have to work hard to make sure those unseen parts of the body are also encouraged through their service this Christmas. As a tech person, I can attest that we aren’t in this for the glory or gratitude. We believe we do our job the best when no one knows we are around. In many cases, any kind of attention makes us uncomfortable. We want the technology to empower the message, and if the message is hindered by the technology then the focus is on the wrong thing. If there was ever a time of year to show the people behind the technology that empowers the message that they are loved, that their contributions are valued, and that their sacrifice is appreciated, it would be Christmas time. No one serving in a church during Christmas should feel they aren’t valued. For those who are in technology, whether you work in IT, web, Creative Arts, sound/video/lights, production, etc., remember, our rewards are not on this earth but in Heaven. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where

thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NASB) Even if no one else notices the long hours you are putting in, know that God does take notice. Matthew 10:28-30 and Luke 12:5-7 tell us that God knows the details, He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground

encouraged that even if no one else knows or communicates that they notice or care, the only One that matters does. We are celebrating that Jesus came to earth as a man to perform the ultimate sacrifice—if He can do that, we can serve Him with excellence no matter the circumstance.

No one serving in a church during Christmas should feel they aren’t valued. and He knows the number of hairs on our head—granted for some of us, me included, that may not be very hard. God clearly takes notice of the details in His creation, and I believe those details include the super geeky stuff we do, like having the perfect sound mix, the right video transition, the impeccable font, and just the right amount of effects in the lighting. Our Savior also takes notice of the sacrifices you make during this time of year. He knows that your family Christmas celebration was scheduled around the church production schedule. He knows that you may even miss a gathering or two in order to work late to get all of those details just right. He knows you may sleep through New Year’s once the marathon that is the Christmas production schedule is over. Take comfort and be

If you are a manager or worship pastor or someone who oversees those who work in technology (IT, web, creative arts, sound/video/ lights, production, etc.), there are some simple things you can do to show your appreciation of those behind-the-scenes. Simply acknowledging verbally that you appreciate all that your team is doing can go a long way in avoiding any appearance of taking advantage. I know you are busy too, but as leaders you must take time to show your gratitude to those you lead—especially during the holidays. Be specific, thank them for the long hours, or missing that family gathering. Thank their families for being flexible around the production schedule. It has always meant the most to me when our leadership thanks my wife and kids. While it may not always be December 2016 | 13

May you serve this

Christmas season with

excellence so that the King

possible, you might consider giving gifts to those on the behind-thescenes team. All tech folks like Amazon gift cards. You also may want to be discreet. It can be very discouraging to see one person receive a gift and wonder why you didn’t get one. That’s human nature and it can easily be avoided through a bit of tact. My prayer for everyone involved in communicating the Good News this Christmas season is that they will serve with excellence and that the King of Kings may be glorified. I’m convinced that we are all working toward this goal, and it is my sincere hope when all the musicals have been sung, all the lines recited, all the sets put away,

and all the nativity scenes stored, that everyone will feel closer to their Savior as a result of serving Him and not feel discouraged, unappreciated or left out. If there was ever a time of year to get this right, this is it. Merry Christmas! 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.

of Kings may be glorified.

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PROTECTED WITH PURPOSE by Steven Sundermeier

The Hidden Dangers of a “Smart Home” How Christmas gifts with the latest technology challenge your security.


nd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2: 8-12] Christmas is quickly approaching, and I am getting excited (it’s my favorite time of the year!). In fact, even as a kid growing up and for as far back as I can remember, my mom nicknamed me, “Mr. Christmas.” As a Christian, I understand the true meaning of Christmas, and my wife and I do our very best to instill this into our kids, although I do have to admit that we got into a slight argument over our choice of lawn decorations this year. My wife wanted

to go with a manger scene, and I was pushing for a pre-lit Cornelius Yukon display (I love that guy!). The truth is I’ve always enjoyed decorating the inside and outside of the house with Christmas flare (and yes, almost of all of which is Christ-centered). I also get excited to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf over and over with my kids, and even sneak in a viewing (or six)

does all his shopping the last few hours on Christmas Eve. Anyhow, you as a fellow gift giver—what are you planning on having wrapped under your tree this year? Or what are you hoping will be waiting for you under those (imitation or real) pine branches? According to a couple top retail online sites I researched, trending Christmas wish lists for families in-

Progress is exciting, but security and safety measures (including strong passwords) must be in place or else smart home technology in the wrong hands will turn sadly sobering. of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Really, what is there not to like about the Christmas season? However, for me one of the greatest aspects of Christmas is gift giving. I honestly enjoy giving presents much more than receiving them. I am definitely not the proverbial male who

cluded: the Amazon Echo or Google Home (both are voice activated speakers), Fitbit One (the Fitbit One tracks your steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep quality), Apple Watch, XBox One S and various large-screen, LED Smart 4K Ultra HD TVs. And one of the most December 2016 | 15

When your phone unlocks your door or turns on your heat, it’s not so hard to imagine a scenario of a hacker unlocking the front door and robbing you. popular applications this season “due to its affordability and availability” (what?) are products developed for the “smart home,” a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices connected to the Internet that can be controlled remotely by a phone. While I can’t speak for you, I am sure glad that none of the Christmas wish lists that my family penned while sprawling out over the Thanksgiving Day ads included these expensive items. However, when I was preparing for this column and read through these sites, I was truly amazed that almost everything on these lists could be classified under the category, ‘The Internet of things’ (or, IoT). It is truly amazing to see how far technology advancements have come even in the last five years. I sometimes wonder if these “lists” were developed by the desires of actual people like you and me, or by the advertisers that hope we (literally) buy into the idea of IoT. Can anyone remember the good ol’ days when toys like ‘View-Master’ and ‘Speak & Spell’ were considered cool? 16 | MinistryTech.com

Well, even if you come from a simpler time, with simpler gifts, the age of IoT is upon us, and if you are unfamiliar with this term, by definition IoT is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles, etc. embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. In other words, these devices allow for the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring your interaction. Could there be risks involved with such pricey, high-demand items on wish lists this year? Sure, there’s always a risk of disappointment of not being able to afford or get the top gift this year. Also, as with all electronic devices, there’s always a slight physical risk with these items (outside of the threat of a Black Friday stampede); just think to the news coverage of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 a while back. But what if these IoT devices posed a broader risk to all of us? Back in late October, hackers

unleashed a successful Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the servers of Dyn, a major DNS host that quickly crippled popular websites such as Amazon, Paypal, Spotify and Twitter. DDoS is a type of DOS attack where multiple compromised systems are used to target a single system. These style of attacks are not uncommon; however, there was one glaring difference between the DDoS attack in October and others—this incredibly historic scaled attack was carried out with a botnet not comprised of computers, but of Internet connected devices (i.e., compromised DVRs and webcam devices) infected with the malware, named ‘Mirai. Mirai is a DDoS Trojan that targets Linux systems and, in particular, IoT devices. Once the system is infected it can be used as a Bot for DDoS attacks. It has been recorded that at the height of the October Dyn attack, the targeted websites were receiving more than 150,000 requests for information per second eventually over-powering them, resulting in the sites crashing. Making matters worse, it is also known that the source code that powered the destructive botnet attack has been published and made readily available online. (On a side note, at the time of this writing, over the last month or so I’ve observed approximately twenty samples/variations of the Mirai malware. As the malware targets Linux systems, the samples received are ELF files, only supported in Linux. However, as a precautionary measure our Thirtyseven4 products—including Windows Operating Systems—have added the necessary signature based detections and a level of generic detection against Mirai.)

As the New Year approaches, I predict attacks like we those saw in October will increase in frequency as IoT devices often are commonly configured with poor security and lazy default passwords. It has taken years (I might even say decades) to educate computers users of the importance of strong, hard to guess passwords for their computers, and even here we are still losing this education battle at times. The learning curve for properly configuring IoT devices will take time, and hackers know it. They are capitalizing on our laziness. Of course I am a techie, and the latest gadgets fascinate and intrigue me. But I also have the security wisdom to identify the risks of interconnecting the facets of our lives. When your phone unlocks your front door or turns on your heat, and an activated speaker can order you pizza or a pair of shoes, does anyone else see the not-so-hard-toimagine scenario of a hacker unlocking our front door and robbing us, or of a cyber-criminal cracking our password and ordering a lot more than a large pizza? Progress is exciting, but security and safety measures (including strong passwords) must be in place or else that same technology in the wrong hands will turn sadly sobering.

sleigh of desires and wants, because we all know that acquiring devices for a “smart home” won’t give us purpose in our days or a feeling of value. It will fill a momentary void, but the real meaning of Christmas is much more valuable and so much deeper. The best gift of all is a free one. He was born in a lowly manger and yet is King of Kings. The house with Christ at the center of Christmas is truly a “smart home”! 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 antivirus 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.

So again I ask you, what is under your tree this year? Maybe, going back to the days of Tinker Toys, Etch A Sketch, Slinky and a Red Ryder BB Gun wouldn’t be so bad. And on a grander scale, entering the Christmas season with a sense of contentment for all that God has given us and sacrificed for us would be refreshing. Let’s think twice before jumping on the chaotic December 2016 | 17


Widows, Orphans and Waiting Why the Creator of the Basedeploy App Longs for a New Mission by Russ McGuire


efore launching Basedeploy, Stephen Key tried to start an online matching site called Giver. From his short-term missions work with orphanages in Central America and his work with foster care organizations in the U.S., Stephen knew that these kids have needs for things throughout the year, and not just at Christmas time. His vision was for an online marketplace where individual needs could be met by individual givers. But after several months of trying to get Giver off the ground, Stephen realized that, at every turn, God was closing the doors on Giver and opening the doors for a different opportunity. This reminds me of Paul’s experience on his second missionary journey: “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia,

18 | MinistryTech.com

they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:6-10 ESV).

It All Started at Church Stephen didn’t have a master plan for his life. He just took each step, making the best decision for himself and his family at the time. But God has a plan for Stephen. He grew up in the church. He went to the high school associated with his church, Victory Christian in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating he literally moved across the street to Oral Roberts University. Stephen knew he’d be an entrepreneur. His dad was an entrepreneur and all four of his older siblings had gone on to start their own businesses. He knew from watching his brothers that he would eventually need to promote

Russ McGuire russ.mcguire@gmail.com 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.

whatever business he started, so he majored in Public Relations and Advertising. One summer Stephen participated in a Computer Science Boot Camp at ORU and loved it. From that moment, he knew that software would be at the center of his career. Shortly after graduating from Oral Roberts, Stephen landed an exciting job. He was hired as web developer for Victory Christian, the large ministry that included his home church, his high school alma mater and a wide variety of global ministries. The pay wasn’t as high as he could’ve gotten in secular work, but he loved being part of an organization making an impact for the Gospel, and with so many different ministries, there were always interesting projects to work on. One of the projects that stuck with him was creating a

templating tool to make it easy for small Victory Christian ministries around the world to easily create an internal web page.

The High Tech Startup World Calls After three years, Stephen had the opportunity to join a New York-based high tech startup. The company helps match patients to healthcare providers. It was difficult to leave Victory Christian, but Stephen wanted to learn about building software platforms at a scale much larger than even a global ministry required, and this startup

first projects was very similar to what he’d done at Victory. The platform needed to create microsites for thousands of physicians. Stephen automated the process, integrating the data that already existed into an attractive and effective profile for patients to review. His time at the startup also affirmed that his ideas and his work were valuable, generating significant revenue for the company.

Crossing the Software Chasm After two years, his wife finished her education and they moved to

the “software chasm.” “For most organizations, tools like WordPress and Weebly provide very high functionality at a very low cost. You can go a long way without spending much money at all,” he explains, “but at some point, your need exceeds their capabilities, and to take that next step you go from spending hundreds of dollars to spending tens of thousands of dollars for custom software development.” Some of those needs include user registration, the creation of an API and persistent user data, and integration with multiple

Stephen Key didn’t have a master plan for his life. He just took each step, making the best decision for himself and his family at the time. But he has learned God has a plan for him and he must wait on God’s timing. provided that opportunity. Since they had a Tulsa office, Stephen was able to be part of a fast-moving startup without leaving Tulsa, which was critical since his wife was finishing her education there. Although in many ways, working for a startup was dramatically different from working for a Christian ministry, one of Stephen’s

Oklahoma City to begin her career. Stephen left the New York startup behind and started taking on work for clients. At first it was a fun and exciting change, but he started to notice that his clients were asking for many of the same features, but in slightly different combinations. He realized that these clients had fallen into what he now refers to as

other services on the web. Stephen has created Basedeploy to bridge this chasm. Starting at $39 a month, users point and click and the code and API are dynamically generated behind the scenes. Basedeploy provides a growing library of building blocks, and independent developers can also provide building blocks December 2016 | 19

for specific functionality or external integrations. Stephen says that he felt guilty in his custom web business, like he was taking advantage of clients, charging them lots of money to do relatively simple things that they should be able to do themselves.

With Basedeploy, they can do it themselves, and Stephen can focus on building new capabilities as those needs emerge.

God Opened the Door Early in 2016 Stephen had started fleshing out the Basedeploy vision.

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He had a Minimally Viable Product (MVP), which was a nice front end, but with him doing lots of work connecting the pieces manually behind the scenes. Then someone posted Basedeploy on Product Hunt, and suddenly the doors were flung open and hundreds of new customers started flowing in. Stephen had to implement a private invitation-only beta to keep it manageable. Since then, he’s been able to automate the flow to better handle that initial rush of customers and is considering when to open the floodgates to all comers. Stephen and his wife still feel a call on their lives to help orphans around the world. They love working with kids in need, and because of their love for the orphans, their hearts ache over their unmet needs. But they know they must wait on God’s timing and His plan, and for now, Stephen is excited to see how God will use Basedeploy. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27 ESV) 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 russ.mcguire@gmail.com.


Sometimes, More Is Better! Why “Less Is More” Might Be Disastrous at Christmastime


he saying “less is more” has become a guiding principle for some church communicators. The results have been disastrous for resulting church attendance at special events and at ministries in the church. In addition to the tragedy of people attending fewer events and therefore missing out on vital church growth opportunities, what is really sad is that the practice of creating fewer and shorter communications is based on a false understanding of the phrase. “Less is more” came from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the pioneers of modernist architecture, and his words have been totally misinterpreted to mean that if you do less of something, somehow it’s better. When you look at his style of architecture, it’s clean and uncluttered in form, but it’s certainly not less, not smaller, and not lacking in the essentials that make the building what it needs to be to accomplish its purposes.

Churches misunderstood this entirely Unfortunately, the way many churches interpreted this phrase is to think that, if we communicate less—meaning less paper (so no bulletin inserts or postcards, flyers or announcements, all of which are some of the most powerful pieces of communication and connection churches can create)—then people will attend the events. But that doesn’t make sense! People don’t attend things more if you communicate about them less. Others took it to mean that shorter announcements in paper and on the web make more sense to people (important details are left out in the interests of “white space”). White space is supposed to make them want to attend more than if you fill the page up with the details of where is the event, time, duration, availability of child-care. Don’t even bother with additional information such as them why they should be there or who is teaching or what difference it can make in their life. Again: no matter how tech

savvy and cool the person making these statements appears to be, it makes no logical sense. Leaving out connecting details means leaving out the connections that actually get people to an event. Some churches take the “less is more” mantra to mean that almost no communication should be put on paper, and it all goes to the web or digital formats (ignoring the many people in the church who still have little or no access to these forms of communication, or even if they do, prefer not to use them hourly). This raises two issues:


 hat to do about the W people who don’t get digital communications?

Didn’t Jesus say we should always be concerned for “the least of these”? Many of the people in this category today would be people who don’t have all the digital gear some of the more privileged of the church have. The answer of some churches to this situation (true story: I’m not making this up) is that people who December 2016 | 21




don’t access all digital communication channels aren’t part of the target audience the church wants to reach so it can grow, so that’s just how it is. To be obedient to our Lord, to care for the least of these, to be a servant to all, we cannot simply ignore people because they don’t access the communication forms we prefer. Elitism in digital communications in the church is a kind of “reverse Reformation.” The Reformation was all about access of the scriptures and church doctrine to all. A digital elitist attitude reverses all that.

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Churches then quit printing as much as they need to

This is a natural result of the decisions above. Many churches quit printing essential information and the print pieces that connect people to the programs capable of changing their lives or demonstrating why they should come to church. Please don’t misunderstand me there. I’m not saying at all that churches should avoid using the tools of the web and technology, digital tools should be used, and used effectively, but they should be additions to church communication programs and should not take away the print communication programs in churches. You simply cannot get people to come to church and become involved with the ministries at the church by not telling them about it or telling them about it through channels they don’t use, or through channels that aren’t intended for the kind of message you have to get across. Less in church communications has not resulted in more of anything in the church. It has resulted in less

attendance at church on Sundays, less involvement in church ministries, less spiritual growth.

How this applies to communications at Christmas During the upcoming Christmas season, you want to communicate more to visitors and to people outside the church. We live in a post-Christian world where people really don’t understand why “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” To help them understand and respond to him as Savior, here are six suggestions on how to communicate: n In all your communication remind yourself that you may be reaching out to someone who knows nothing about the true, biblical Jesus and pray for insight on how to explain Him fully. n Use every technology you have to communicate completely. Make sure your website has complete explanations of Christmas traditions and links to explanatory materials. Make certain all the information about ministries in your church are up-to-date. n Make sure your social media explains and reminds people of events. n Create printed materials such as postcards and invitation cards for your congregation to use to invite their friends to Christmas events. n At each event be sure you explain all your traditions and what is happening. Many of the traditions that are most precious to us during the holidays make no sense at all to unchurched people. n For many more tips on how to communicate effectively during Christmas, go to: http://bit. ly/2fHRJ0b

Finally, let’s be honest, “less is more” is very appealing to us because we are overwhelmed with work. We feel we can’t get the work done in the church we want to, and if there were an area that we feel we can cut back and achieve even greater results, we’d love for it to be true. But it isn’t. You can’t communicate less and achieve greater ministry results. Yes: we want to communicate as precisely, cleanly and gracefully as

possible, but we can’t cut back to the point where we aren’t communicating enough for people’s lives to be changed at Christmas time. MT Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church Communications, effectivechurchcom.com, a ministry that helps churches create communications that help 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.


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5 Ways to Engage Guests During the Holidays


he holiday season is when your church needs to be on the top of their game. Christmas and Easter are when churches have the most visitors. So not only do you want to make sure that the services are powerful and meaningful for attendees, but you also need to make sure that visitors feel valued and appreciated. I’ve put together five tactics to make sure that you’re touching the lives of the people who show up during the holidays:


Coach your members to invite friends and family

Of course you want everyone to invite the people closest to them at the time of year when they’re most apt to come. But that’s not the only reason you want people at church inviting their friends and family. You also want the members who 24 | MinistryTech.com

have friends and family attending to act as chaperones and tour guides. You have to communicate the need for people to invite their loved ones and help them understand how to guide them through the church service. They can explain what’s going on and introduce their guests to new friends who might share similar interests.


Deputize people to look out for newcomers

The people who don’t have loved ones with them should be watching out for visitors who are not attached. It’s their job to create an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. They should introduce themselves and find out a little about their visitors. If they discover and area of interest that is shared by someone else at the church, they should help make a connection between the two.


Get their email addresses

In many ways, this is priority number one. It’s so important, but there’s no way to do that if you don’t have a way to contact them. The great thing is getting an email address is a pretty small ask. People generally don’t have a difficult time giving out an email address. You can use contact cards, but I’d also encourage you to train church members to ask for email addresses. It doesn’t have to be weird and awkward. It can be as simple as, “We’d really love to be able to reach out to you. What’s your email address?”


Provide a celebration dinner for people new to the area

There are a lot of people in your area who might have nowhere to go for the holidays. Maybe they’ve moved here for a job, are going to college,

or lost a spouse. Consider putting on a holiday meal that you can invite these people to. The meal doesn’t necessarily need to happen at your church facility—maybe one or two families can make room in their celebration for others. As people interact with visitors, inviting them to a holiday meal can be an option if they feel it’s appropriate.


Let visitors know what to expect in the coming months

Make sure you take some time to fill visitors in on what you’re planning for the future. The key is to not only let them know what they can expect, but to share in a way that clearly communicates what’s particular about your values and enables them to imagine themselves being a part of the exciting things you’re doing! So let them know all about your upcoming: •  Sermon series •  Sunday school classes •  Ministries •  Outreaches

Preparing for visitors is important You can’t expect to capture the attention of visitors and get them to return without some strategy behind how you engage them. Once you start making intentional decisions about how you deal with visitors, you can improve your ability to convert them into attendees. MT Download a FREE copy of the New Visitor Success Kit. It has everything you need to help get more people to make their first-time visits to your church, and get them to return. Get yours now! December 2016 | 25

Can Technology Be the Answer to . . .

Better Church Communications? How New Tech Can Be the Solution | by Lorin Bristow


espite heroic efforts and substantial talent, churches across the country struggle with communicating effectively to members and visitors. The many initiatives planned by church staff and volunteers are exciting and vital to the health of a church. However, if they lack one key ingredient—great communication— they will ultimately fail to achieve their full potential.

The Unique Communication Challenges Faced by Churches Why is great communication so difficult? Consider these factors relating to challenges unique to the church environment.

n  A Multigenerational Audience—Your members’ ages likely span from cradle to grave, so all members do not share the same perspectives or worldviews. They don’t necessarily speak the same language, and some have vastly different time commitments and priorities. 26 | MinistryTech.com

Communication fails because church leaders have not tailored information, language cues and motivational points according to differences in generational groups.

n  Communicating Through Many Devices—With this wide range of age groups also comes a spectrum of communication device preferences. Do you want to alert the teens in your youth group to a schedule change? Forget about using email—you’ll need to send a text message or post your announcement to a social media account instead. How about reaching older adults? A voice call through the standard landline telephone might be the preferred method. Communication falls short when churches fail to recognize and appropriately leverage the multitude of available communication channels and devices.

n  Dealing With Information Overload—We are bombarded daily with thousands of print advertisements, billboards, commercials and

signs. Even within churches there can be a multitude of activities, requests and announcements that compete for mind share. As a protection mechanism, our brains were created to filter and discard the vast majority of these stimuli. Communication can miss the mark when church leaders fail to adequately capture people’s attention and rise above the noise and filters of daily routines.

n  Dealing With Urgent Needs — Another challenge in church communication is the fact that urgent needs arise on a routine basis. Volunteers for Sunday morning become unavailable and need to be replaced. Members face difficult times and need prayer and support. The church’s response to these things either contributes to or detracts from the creation of a feeling of community. Yet, efforts here are often slow, manual or reliant on poor processes such as “call trees.” Communication efforts can be perceived as inadequate when people are not informed quickly and precisely

when urgent needs arise.

n  A Call to Sacrifice—In a church environment, much, if not most, of our communications contain an element of personal sacrifice for the listener. Whether asking for commitments of time, money or talent, our messaging often involves at least some degree of “pain” for the audience. When there’s a gap in communication it may have been that an emotional connection was missing.

Can Group Messaging Technology Close the Communication Gap? These and other challenges make communicating in the church environment difficult. Trying to address each of these challenges in a manual way is time consuming, costly and inefficient. Is there anything that can be done to make communications more streamlined and effective? For many, the answer is yes. Churches across the country are turning to group messaging services to boost their communications. Group messaging applications (also known as mass notification systems) are online software packages designed to help people easily manage contacts and send all types of messages through virtually any device. These systems can deliver thousands of voice, text and email messages in minutes. They also offer ways for message recipients to provide feedback, which is accessible to the sender via real-time, online reports. Older systems required churches to purchase a server and dedicate or utilize their own phone lines; today’s group messaging services require nothing but a computer or mobile device and an Internet connection.

How Churches Use Group Messaging Software What are practical applications for this technology? Here are a few ways churches commonly use group messaging.

n  Urgent Prayer Requests— When unexpected needs arise, groupmessaging software can be used to quickly inform people and request prayers. In addition, some churches utilize the service for weekly prayer reminders.

n  Emotional Connections—Adding emotions to cold facts is critical to motivating people. Many churches utilize the voice recording capabilities to deliver sensitive information or offer more passionate pleas. For example, they believe hearing the voice of the pastor provides a much stronger emotional connection and a greater likelihood of action compared to receiving an email or text message.

n  Service or Event Cancellations—Churches are not immune to severe weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Group messaging technology can be used to alert the whole congregation of a service cancellation or change within minutes, keeping people from being exposed to dangerous situations.

n  Volunteer Coordination—Most churches rely heavily on volunteers, and these volunteers must be coordinated to ensure people are aware of their duties or find replacements. Group messaging software can be used to notify people of their service responsibilities and confirm participation. Notices can be sent to groups of volunteers when someone who was previously scheduled cancels. Two-way feedback can be used to fill

gaps in an automated way.

n  Visitor Welcome—Immediate feedback from the church helps reinforce a visitor’s experience and makes them feel truly welcome. Computers at the visitor help desk can feature a self-registration portal in which visitors can enter their information. Messages can be sent via SMS or a recorded voice call sent from the pastor. While not a substitute for true hospitality, technology can help “systemize” the visitor welcome process.

How Group Messaging Technology Works Like all software, each solution on the market approaches their user interface differently. However, they do typically share some common capabilities.

n  Contact Management—Group messaging solutions allow users to manage their database of contacts and personal information. Contact information can be manually entered, imported from a spreadsheet or, in more robust systems, integrated with other software packages (such as a church information system). Some also provide the ability to set up a self-registration portal, through which members and guests can create and update their own contact information. n  Dynamic Subgroup Selection—While it’s easy enough to send messages to everyone in the congregation, most churches also utilize the software’s dynamic grouping capabilities for selecting targeted subgroups. Information such as service preferences, volunteer teams, youth or other group memberships, or special needs can all be queried to create subgroups for messaging on the fly, or saved for future messages. December 2016 | 27

n  Messaging through Virtually any Device—Group messaging solutions also solve the problem associated with communicating through today’s plethora of devices and preferred channels. Voice messages can be recorded, or typed and read by the computer (text-to-speech technology), then delivered to land or mobile phones. SMS text messages or emails can be sent to large groups of people at once. Some solutions will even post a message to your church’s social media account automatically. The selection of the devices used is completely up to the message sender.

n  Two-way Communications and Online Reporting—In situa-

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tions ranging from routine volunteer staffing to urgent needs, often there is a need for feedback from message recipients. Simple questions such as “Are you available to serve?” can be complex and time consuming to evaluate when not utilizing a group messaging application. With group messaging, questions and responses can be incorporated into the message, so when recipients receive the message they can indicate their preferred response (e.g., press 1 for “yes” 2 for “no”). Some systems will allow for responses through any device.

While technology can’t replace a smiling face and a friendly handshake, thousands of churches across the nation have turned to group messaging services to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of their communications. Whether for urgent situations or routine tasks, these applications can help church members feel connected and motivated instead of feeling disengaged and uninformed. MT

The Season of Sharing With Your Community

Christmas is a great time to forge deeper connections between your church and your local community. A season of giving and get-togethers makes it even more natural for churches to share resources with neighbors in celebration or the pursuit of a common goal. That sharing can take many forms. Maybe your church takes a role in an existing community event—like Plattsmouth Baptist Church in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, whose choir always sings and plays instruments for the town’s annual

tree-lighting ceremony. You could add some holiday cheer to a yearround partnership: Highlands Church of Scottsdale, Arizona, regularly supports the local school district, but at Christmas, their Angel Tree gets decked with gift cards to be distributed to children in need. Or you can invite the community in for a unique event, like Reality Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s international holiday banquet, where neighbors dig into new foods and festivities from a whole range of cultures. Whatever the format, the goal is the same: to introduce the community to your friendly and caring members. So many voices are telling your neighbors that

Christians care only about their souls, their politics or their moral code. Your church becomes the proof of a deeper Love when you invest in personal connection and thoughtful support. So how can you go from being just another building on the block to becoming an integral part of your community’s health and optimism?

Connect First, you link up with the right organizations. Tyler McGraff, pastor of outreach at Highlands Church, says that many of their partnerships start internally, when “someone in the church already has a relationship with an organization doing good in the community.” If December 2016 | 29

it fits the church’s vision for local engagement and reflects something members already feel called to support, it could signal a mutually beneficial partnership. Many nonprofits, even if their work isn’t explicitly Christian, welcome the many hands and the added visibility that a church can bring.

Coordinate Coordination is key, especially for events that can draw Christmassized crowds. The right church

who have a gift for hospitality, building projects or teaching. It’s equally important to ensure that your event coordinators are coordinating with each other. Luke Taylor, technology director at Highlands Church, recognizes “it’s really common to have multiple ministries using the same volunteers. When ministry leaders are tracking their volunteers separately—one in an Excel spreadsheet, one on her cell phone, another off the top of his head—then you could have three

on a single, customized point of connection.” Leaders can start to get to know people as soon as they attend a service, submit a prayer request or volunteer at a community-based event. “When you have more access to information about your attendees,” Batterman believes, “you can be more thoughtful in how you engage and encourage them.” Recruiting new volunteers for events then becomes a great way of plugging people in and letting them experience your church’s authentic heart for your city.

According to a recent survey, 57 percent of Americans who don’t normally go to church at Christmastime would be willing to attend if they were invited by someone they know. That’s why getting members involved in spreading the word is critical. management software can be instrumental here in identifying volunteers, scheduling facilities, setting up tasks and roles, and facilitating sign-ups. Susan Gossic of Plattsmouth Baptist loves their software, Seraphim, for the fact that “we can edit and create special fields to help us group ministry volunteers” in ways that are useful to their congregation. For example, you might want to know whether a person is likely to be available on weekday mornings vs. evenings, or filter your directory to find people 30 | MinistryTech.com

people thinking, ‘John always helps. I’ll call him.’ The problem is that people become overcommitted and you burn out volunteers pretty quickly, just due to a lack of visibility into who’s doing what.” Sam Batterman, co-founder and CTO of Seraphim, confirms, “We’ve all seen it in churches. It can take months or years for new members to get fully settled and discover the ministries that fire them up. Meanwhile, a handful of active churchgoers are stretching to fill all the volunteer roles. That’s why we designed tools that can build

Communicate According to a recent survey, 57 percent of Americans who don’t normally go to church at Christmastime would be willing to attend if they were invited by someone they know. That’s why getting members involved in spreading the word is critical. Highlands Church provides tools in print and social media to help their congregation share Christmas events with friends. Through their community partnerships, they can also customize an external invitation and ensure they reach a broad local


base. “The biggest thing is to cast the net pretty wide,” McGraff advises. “You can reach people with different types of communication, from calls to email to texts, but no one thing’s going to work for everybody.” The local paper or Facebook may even be part of your strategy, like it is for Plattsmouth Baptist church. Community engagement doesn’t happen overnight. In the words of Christian community developer Wendy McCaig, “There is something very powerful that happens when we enter into the natural rhythms of a community—eating, drinking and being present with the same group of people consistently over a long period of time. There is a ‘we-ness’ that forms and it is that ‘power of we’ that ultimately transforms neighborhoods.”

This holiday, let’s be a part of bringing “peace on earth, goodwill to men.” Let’s make sure that our neighbors start seeing the church not as a faceless entity that’s pointing at them, but as friends who come alongside them and care about the things they care about. MT Looking for more great ideas to connect with the community over the holiday season? Visit Seraphim Software’s Facebook page for ideas and to see how Seraphim enables our customers to resource, staff and program their most important outreach activities.

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SeraphimSoftware.com December 2016 | 31


...Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

Profile for Now - Ministry Tech Magazine

Ministry Tech Magazine - December 2016  

Ministry Tech Magazine - December 2016