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Designing Goals for Ministry Tech Teams Setting the Stage for the New Year


January 2017





DESIGNING GOALS FOR MINISTRY TECH TEAMS What will be the fruit of your leadership or influence in the next year?



““Deepest, Deepest, Darkest Secrets” Moves From Children’s Game to Cyber Threat 20

ONE PASTOR’S BATTLE WITH HIS IPHONE Leaders must think carefully about how they are stewarding technology

ARE YOU “BATTLE READY” FOR 2017? The preparations and planning that take place beforehand contribute the most to the outcome.

24 Tech Etiquette for 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 START-UP | Show Stopper! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 COMMUNICATION | Figure It Out: What Works in Church Communication . . . . . . . . . . 17

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27 Bad Weather? 5 Best Practices To Notify Your Church Members

A Word from the editor Ray Hollenbach Editor Ray Hollenbach

Art Director Beth VanDyke

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

Copy Editor Rachael Mitchell


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

Resolutions for a New Year


very year starts with good intentions. All over the world people greet a new year with hope and expectation. But a predictable pattern often occurs: our hopes and expectations are cast aside as soon as we become busy with the everyday work of life. In January the streets are littered with the debris of New Year’s resolutions—some are even thrown away even before we get home from a New Year’s Eve party! I love the cover artwork for this month’s issue because it reminds us that planning is more than making a list: planning involves creating values and priorities for the coming year. Good planning starts with deciding what’s most important. Any leader (in ministry or business) will tell you that plans fall apart as soon as the difficulties of life present themselves. But having a plan is indispensable because it provides direction and focus. Having a plan reminds us of our priorities. This month’s cover story by Mike O’Brien (“Designing Goals for

Ministry Tech Teams”) reminds us that plans start with prayer, but the story quickly moves from prayer to people, and finally to action items that gives expression to our work and the way we serve. In “Figure It Out: What Works in Church Communication,” Yvon Prehn outlines communication goals for the coming year, and Jonathan Smith recommends a renewal of “Tech Etiquette for 2017.” All these articles start with the foundations of prayer and respect for the staff and volunteers who serve in church tech ministry. Each article presents a reminder that our goal of technical competence always needs something more: the Spirit of Christian ministry. What plans do you have for 2017? If you have not made any plans yet I encourage you to take some time, find a quiet place, listen to God and commit your plans to him. Sometimes that help comes by providing direction and insight at the beginning of the year. The Lord will help you!

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

Ray Hollenbach is the Editor of Ministry Tech magazine. He has previously served as the editor of Outreach’s Better Preaching Update, and as the editor of the Pastor channel at You can reach him at January 2017 | 3


Designing Goals for Ministry Tech Teams Setting the Stage for the New Year

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by Mike O’Brien

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t’s common for many to make New Year’s resolutions for weight loss, dropping bad habits or saving money—but have you ever thought of making plans and commitments for the ministry teams you lead? Will you be able to look back in 52 weeks and see new people, new leaders, new gear, new systems, or will you have simply maintained what is already there? What will be the fruit of your leadership or influence in the next year? For over 15 years I have taken a few weeks in January and February (no rush!) to get with Jesus, tell Him about my dreams and ask Him what He wants from me. Whether you are a volunteer or staffer, take some

time to listen to God and ask where He is taking you and your team this year. The yearly goal setting process has been one of my most important tools for keeping worship ministry vibrant and life giving for me as a leader. I take a blank sheet of paper and fill it with dreams and goals for the next year in each area of ministry. There are personal goals, team goals and material goals. Over the course of a few weeks I refine that sheet down to an email—a plan that goes to my leaders and teams. I add notes to my calendar. At the end of the year I evaluate my wins and do it all over again. Try it: take all your “I wish” desires and activate plans to make them into reality. It’s

If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re leading a team thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a good chance the people on the team have insights and desires that will either give you new ideas or confirm ones you already had. January 2017 | 5

OK to dream of impossible things, practical things and everything in between. Here are some ideas for a personal growth with specific and measurable examples:



This might seem like the standard Sunday school answer, but it’s actually the secret. The gospels tell us that in the middle of casting

•   Ask God, “What do you want to do  in me and through me this year?”  •   Pray for your leaders and your team  by name. 

2 Set Personal Goals Leading yourself is the foundation of being able to lead others. For many of us, we are the people most informed about the technical aspects we oversee in our ministries. Because of this we can grow

can set goals for the recruitment, training and releasing of leaders to serve at higher capacities.

Examples of Goals to Build People •   Book a location for a sound and  media party in May. •   Schedule and invite your team for an  after-church lunch (January, April,  August, December). •   Recruit three middle-schoolers for a  social media team by end of year.

If Jesus gave us the command to make disciples then He certainly will give us the steps to help do it if we take time to listen. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18). out demons, healing the sick and training disciples, Jesus would disappear to the mountains to seek the Father. Like Jesus, we want to seek to do what the Father is doing and not fill our schedule with activity that doesn’t align with His desires! If Jesus gave us the command to make disciples then He certainly will give us the steps to help do it if we take time to listen. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18).

stagnant in our growth. Consider adding some goals that promote your growth within your ministry field.

How to Pray for Your Goals:


•   Alert your leaders and teams that  you will be praying on a specific day,  and ask them to pray for you as   you pray. 

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•   Send Johnny to a trade show to  learn a new software program. •   Send Becky to a conference for  encouragement and growth.

Examples of Personal Growth Goals: •   Attend one spiritual retreat at a  monastery or retreat center in May. •   Attend one industry conference or  trade show in the Fall. •   Watch two Online Class on new  products or software.

Set Goals to Build People

People before production. As we are building tech systems and structures we must be vigilant to train and equip others in their tasks. We


Set Goals for “Stuff”

Set Specific Goals for refreshing the stage, the sound or whatever tech you want. Many of these considerations will align with existing budgets, but as you pray you might have creative ideas for existing assignments and future budgets. Keep in mind there are items you bought 10 years ago that will serve you another 10 years, and there are items you bought last year that already need to be updated.

•   Refinish stage floor by March 1   for Easter.  •   Repair and tune Hammond Organ  by March 1 for Easter.  •   C reate backup CPU system for all  staff computers by June 1. •   Make a list and take pictures of  items to sell by November 1.

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 seven 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

Additional Tips for Designing Team Goals Add deadlines to your calendar. I use iCal for Mac and sync it with Google calendar so it syncs on all my devices. When I wake up on Sept 1 there is a reminder that I need to have the Christmas conversation with the Pastor! If you are leading a team there’s a good chance the people on the team have insights and desires that will either give you new ideas or confirm ones you already had. Ask your team about what they want to see happen. There are people lurking in the shadows that would be perfect for our teams. Use a church directory or Facebook group to search through and find hidden talent that is underchallenged. Some goals don’t need money. Include goals that both need money and can be done for free. Have interns, newbies and emerging leaders help you purchase items. This is the fun part, and you should include people in this process. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is good, solid planning. Take time to pray, listen to the Spirit, think hard and have a great 2017! MT January 2017 | 7

One Pastor’s Battle With His iPhone “Good Stewardship” Is Also About Time and Attention | by Erik Raymond


e tend to embrace  technology without  much consideration.  Advancements must be good  because, after all, they are  advancements. If we can be  more connected to people and  process more information then  it must be a win. Right? Why  should we even give it a second  thought? The ubiquity of smartphones  should cause us to think for  a minute. According to Pew  Research data, 58 percent of  Americans have smart phones  while 90 percent have a cell phone.  This is a very connected society.  It is also a very new phenomenon  in history. This should cause us to  think and ask some questions. Is  this level of connection necessary?  Is it good, harmful or indifferent? 

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Is it changing me? Is it changing  the way I relate to others and do  my job? I am a pastor. I also have an  iPhone. As a result, I have had to  think through a number of things  and make some adjustments  in terms of productivity and  technology. It has been a process  over the last several years. I think   I am actually thinking about   this and applying it in a healthy  way now. It’s been said before, and rightly  so: Technology is a tool, not a  master. It cannot dictate our lives.  We cannot be frozen without it.  Below are some considerations  and conclusions based on my own  personal examination. This is  slanted towards pastoral ministry  but not limited to it.


An iPhone is neutral; it is not inherently bad or good. We can fall off the cart

on both sides here: Technology is bad, therefore stay away; or technology is awesome, therefore immerse yourself and your life in it. The technology is neutral. It has unfathomable potential, but the moral assessment of how it is used pivots on the user. This helps me keep the conversation where it needs to be: on me, not simply on technology.


Our phones are more of a mirror and magnet than anything else. The phone

tells us what we truly value. Like a magnet, it pulls out of our heart what we think is important. What do we learn about the woman who is always on Facebook or Pinterest? How about the guy who

is constantly refreshing the sports scores? What about the man who looks at pornography? How about the student who is obsessed with taking pictures of himself or herself and staring at pictures of others? How we use technology tells us who we are. It is a mirror and a magnet.


Alerts are mislabeled: They are interruptions.

I used to have alerts for pretty much everything. New email? Alert. Someone tweets at me? Alert. Facebook like? Alert. Breaking News? Alert. You get the idea. You can guess what would happen. My phone would beep and buzz all day long. Then I’d get curious, “What is it? I should really check and see.” You know what happens then right? You become enslaved to whatever alert there is. And the odds are, whatever you are working on at the moment is actually much more important than whatever else “just happened.” A number of years ago, I began turning off alerts, one by one. At present, I have no alerts on my phone except a phone call or a text message. I cannot imagine it being any other way. If I want to know something, I go and find out, when it is convenient and appropriate. Limiting the alerts means limiting the interruptions.


I don’t “need” to have email on my phone. I

used to think that I needed to have email on my phone. I felt as though

if I could know something, then I should. I would check my email many, many times a day. You know what I found out when I assess this? If it was very important, somebody usually called or texted me. A lesson learned for me is, just because I have access to information does not mean that I need to know it in real-time. Some people need to have email on their phones because of their job. My suggestion is simply this:

and Reformers. In so many ways, I want to be like them, emulating their commitment to Christ and his church. I got to wondering, how much different does my day-to-day ministry look than say, Thomas Watson? And why? Could I be a pastor in his church? Would I even know how to do it without my iPhone and laptop? In the ministry, the technology is to aid us, but I don’t think it should completely

It’s been said before, and rightly so: Technology is a tool, not a master. It cannot dictate our lives. We cannot be frozen without it. If you don’t need to have it, then don’t have it. If you can, define the terms of your email. Perhaps you can afford a reasonable plan to check your email in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the days that you are working. This has been so very liberating for me (and my family).


A pastor’s job should not be fundamentally changed by technology, but served by it. I like to read the

old guys with fantastic hair and beards: you know, the Puritans

recast what we are doing so that it looks drastically different than it has throughout history. The same could be said for being a mom. Sure, there are technological developments that enhance and simplify your life, but they do not completely reshape or replace the core elements.


My phone (and technology in general) must be seen through the lenses of stewardship. A steward is someone who is not the January 2017 | 9

owner but the caretaker. He is the one who has been given something for the purpose of using it faithfully, even improving upon it, in view of giving an account. We are stewards of our lives. Therefore, everything we do should be seen in light of the reality of stewardship. Nothing, even when there appears to be nothing to do, escapes this reality.


Saying “no” to things is saying “yes” to other things. I love the standoff between

For clips, screenings and more info go to:

OUTREACH.COM/THESHACK Features clips from the movie!

my news apps and my Bible. It is a powerful moment of resolve and commitment to say “no” to something, because when we do we are saying yes to something else. When I say “no” to distractions on social media or the news then I am saying “yes” to those around me. I am saying “yes” to thinking, planning, meditating or praying. Saying “no” is a powerful sanctifying work to a flesh that loves to be told “yes, you can have this.”

There is no doubt far more that could be written on this. I just want to encourage people to be thoughtful when using their technology. The fact that iPhones are not standard issue by our Creator should cause us to think carefully about how we can use them well, and potentially not so well. MT Erik Raymond is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (, a church plant south of Omaha, Nebraska. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.

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Tech Etiquette for 2017

Let’s make Emily Post proud! by Jonathan Smith


nother New Year is already upon us. The days, weeks, months and years all seem to go by so fast—or maybe it just seems that way since we are mostly looking down at our devices. For many the past holiday season saw us gathering with family and friends in the same geographic location to break bread and stare at our devices in awkward silence. You know, just like they did at the first Thanksgiving and around the manger. Etiquette seems to be a lost art in general but tech etiquette seems to

be at an all-time low. Somehow the pieces of glass we carry around with us have become elevated to a level of importance that supersedes any conversation or communication with which we might be involved. Getting notified of what might be happening or what is happening in the world through our devices takes priority over what actually is taking place in our presence in the present. I’m always amazed anytime anyone wants to have a conversation with me, whether over a meal or just passing in the hallway. What is even

more amazing is that people will stop me in the hall or invite me to a meal and then mid-sentence pause to look at their device. Often times they don’t just pause but there is a complete stop in communication with me as they quickly become fully engaged in whatever is happening on their device. We’ve all been there. Buzz, buzz . . . ding. Awkward pause. It is even more awkward when I’m the one talking and the buzz, buzz . . . ding happens. All of a sudden eye contact is lost and no one is paying attention to what I’m saying. Not that January 2017 | 11

Remember,   people are important!   What are you   communicating when   what’s on your device   is more important than   the person you are   talking to?

that makes us so oblivious to what is happening? Surely the world will survive if you don’t check your notifications for a 10-minute conversation or even a 2-hour meeting? If you can’t handle knowing that you have notifications thanks to the buzz, buzz . . . ding of your device, then put it on Do Not Disturb or in airplane mode so that it isn’t constantly tempting you to look at it. Remember, people are important, and what are you communicating when what’s on your device is more important than the person you are talking to?

n Be disciplined and

what I’m saying is all that important or really matters anyway, but I’m left to wonder if I should carry on or just pause with uncomfortable silence and wait until eye contact and body language is focused back on our conversation. To quote an ’80s sitcom character, “How rude!” We are all guilty of allowing our devices to interrupt and rule our conversations. It’s nothing new. Before there were smartphones there were just phones—remember those days? We used to have them wired up all around our houses so we could drop everything and risk life and limb to get to them to answer them when they rang regardless of what was going on in the house. Now the phone goes with us—along with countless other communication platforms all conveniently stuffed in our pockets. I’d like to propose that this New Year, or for that matter the rest of time, that we work hard to bring 12 |

some etiquette back to how we use our technology. Let’s make Emily Post proud. Here are some ideas.

n People are more

important than technology. We communicate a clear message when our devices are more important than the people near us. We must understand that people are important and those we are with deserve our attention. We teach our kids not to interrupt when someone else is talking, but then we let our devices interrupt us constantly. What kind of example are we setting? None of these other tips will help us unless we believe fundamentally that people are important and worthy of our time and attention.

n Be willing to discon-

nect—even for short periods of time. What is it about what else is happening

stay focused. There is a lot around us to distract us. It is hard to stay focused on anything for any period of time because technology makes it so easy to connect us with distractions. When was the last time you sat through a church service without checking your device? Or a wedding or a graduation? It takes effort but most things worth acquiring take effort. You don’t become an Olympic athlete by constantly interrupting your training to eat Twinkies. You become an Olympic athlete by being disciplined with your training and staying focused on the goal. If the goal is to communicate you care about a person through a conversation, then it shouldn’t be that hard to not look at your device. The same is true about attending business meetings or sitting through a church service—what is the goal and what do you communicate when you constantly check your device?

n Use technology to

manage notifications. There are many ways to use technology to help you manage notifications and help cut down on distractions. You can set different text tones and vibration patterns for different people. This is very helpful as I can tell by the sound or the vibration if it is a weather alert, a news update or my wife trying to reach me all without even having to look at the device. Wearable tech also makes it easy to glance at your wrist and see what’s going on. The challenge here is you can’t look at your wrist and then get out your phone to follow-up with what you’ve seen on your wrist. You have to be able to quickly glance at your wrist the way you would look at your watch to see the time and then look away without completely disconnecting from the conversation—this is why you need to be disciplined. If you can’t ignore the wearable notification after glancing at it, then don’t look at it.

n Be honest. Face it: there are times when we get notifications that we need to act upon. You are talking with a friend while waiting for a text to go pick up the kids or you are at a lunch meeting but are expecting an important call that you need to take. It happens. If you glance at your wearable or hear a buzz, buzz . . . ding that you know is something important, admit it. Let the other person know and excuse yourself to take care of the matter. Don’t just zone out on the conversation: own it! Let the person know you are

sorry but will be back as soon as you can. Otherwise the other person is left to wonder if you are constantly checking your device because the sports scores are more important than they are, or if you are getting updates on a sick family member. Communicate: use your words, and be honest. Folks will appreciate your honesty as it shows you value the other folks with which you are communicating.

them and they are a priority—I’m pretty sure the Bible has a few things to say about that. Perhaps even a resolution would be appropriate, one that commits to people over notifications. And the ’80s sitcom character who said, “How Rude!”? Stephanie Tanner from Full House—or did you know that already because you got distracted and pulled up Google on your device? MT

This isn’t easy but we all need to take some steps of growth in this area. We are not slaves to our devices so let’s not act like we are. Let’s show others that we value

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

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Show   Stopper! Three secrets for making great video by Russ McGuire


how Stopper! is the new book by Shonda Carter that has grown out of her startup company, Shonda Carter Productions. Set to release later this month, it has been a bestseller among Amazon preorders. So: how did a former prison employee become a best selling author and what does this have to do with ministry technologies?

Paid to be Mean Shonda wasn’t raised in the church. When she went to college, she wanted to become a judge; she wanted to have power. She studied Criminal Justice, but unlike high school, she found that it took more than smarts: it took hard work to get good grades. She wasn’t willing to put in the work to pursue a Law degree so she graduated with her Criminal Justice degree and started her first career. She got a job working for the prison system as a probation officer. She loved that she got paid to be 14 |

mean. And she was good at it! From there, she moved to a child support enforcement role. Even though these jobs seem to have nothing to do with her current calling, Shonda points out that God never wastes anything—these jobs taught her how to tell people what to do, which has made her a better video director!

God Saves the Mean Lady Shonda and her husband began attending church, but she just didn’t “get it.” She looked around at all the people that were full of joy in the Lord and she prayed, “God, don’t you want me?” One night, Shonda and her husband took their kids to the local drive-in to see a movie. It was a double feature, and although they didn’t really have any interest in watching the second movie, The Passion of the Christ, they figured they were already there, so they stuck around. Shonda realized that she was a visual learner, and once she saw what Christ did for her, she could finally understand all

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.

that she had heard at church. God literally opened her eyes to see and understand the gospel. Not only did God use the film to save Shonda and her husband, it helped her realize the power of video in communicating His deepest truths. As she began studying the Bible, she saw that Jesus is the master storyteller. In gratitude to her pastor, instead of simply writing him a thank you note, she wrote a play for him. A year later he asked her if she would start a drama ministry with live, on-stage monthly productions. Shonda loved applying her creativity in service to God’s people, but the live productions were too unpredictable.

Technology to the Rescue Thinking back to The Passion of the Christ, Shonda realized that video

might be the answer. Her computer had some software called Movie Maker, so what could be so hard about making a movie? “I realized I knew nothing about making videos, but the Holy Ghost and YouTube taught me enough to get started.” Eventually she went back to school to learn video production, quit her child support enforcement job and took a minimum wage job as an Associate News Producer for the local television station. She felt called by God to spend a year there, but she got promoted to News Producer and overstayed the 12 months before

God made it clear that she was to move on. As she continued to make videos for her church, she thought about creating a YouTube channel with spiritual content. Jesus went to where the people were, and video, if it’s engaging, can help people understand the message. To figure out the business side she plugged into the local startup community. Video marketing on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook was becoming increasingly important to entrepreneurs, so Shonda started helping her new

friends with their videos. I asked her what the hardest part of starting her business was and she said it was believing that she was good enough to get paid for video production. It’s called the imposter syndrome. Everyone told her she was good and her work was valuable, but she didn’t feel comfortable charging for her service. She finally bit the bullet and Shonda Carter Productions was born.

Three Video Tips I asked Shonda if she could share three tips with us for making great

December 2016 | 15

Praying for God’s wisdom in all things   is Shonda’s most powerful business tool.  When opportunities come her way, she  turns to the Lord for direction in who to  work with and who to decline. As a startup  with limited resources, she also prays  constantly for wisdom on spending money. 

videos. Her best advice boils down to this:

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Make it short. The shorter the better.


The music matters. Special effects don’t impress anyone anymore, but music helps the audience get in the moment faster.

Tell a story. People want to feel, not just hear. Jesus used stories to powerful effect.

Finally, I asked Shonda how her faith impacts her as an entrepreneur. She said praying for God’s wisdom in all things is her most powerful business tool. When opportunities come her way, she turns to the Lord for direction in who to work with and who to decline. As a startup with limited resources, she also prays constantly for wisdom on spending money, for example, on which conferences to attend. She is thankful that the Lord has been faithful to her. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25 NIV) 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 16 |


Figure It Out: What Works in Church Communication This year, try tracking your effectiveness


hurch communicators have been entrusted with the words of eternal life. As partners with the preaching and teaching ministries of the church, we have tremendous responsibilities and we want to do the best we can to fulfill them. With that in mind, here are four suggestions to help you be more effective as church communicators in the coming year, along with a link to a free e-book that will help your church grow through improving your church communications.


Evaluate last year’s church communications program.

Far too many churches never take time to evaluate the success of what they are currently doing and so they have no idea what to do to make it more effective.

This is often the case when a new way of communicating is adapted and people are so busy simply learning new systems they don’t bother to check out how well these are working to bring new people to the church or to involve people in the ministries of the church that help them grow to mature disciples. One area especially important to track is social media. If you have no idea how your church is doing in this area, you aren’t alone. The 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry  Report stated: “Though many marketers  are using social networks to  promote their sites, not all of  them actually know what they  are doing . . . the vast majority  of marketers are either not doing  very well on social media, or 

they are not getting the results  they would like.” To evaluate your marketing efforts, make a chart that lists the various activities and ministries you want people to attend. Then across the top list the various ways to communicate it: through printed bulletins and postcards, bulletin inserts and flyers, through digital media including your website, emails, social media. Mark the times you use each method and finally record the attendance at the event. Vary the ways you communicate about an event or ministry and after a few months of recording, you should have a better idea of what works for your church—and what doesn’t. Commit to careful tracking in 2017 and it will help you make wise decisions in coming years.

January 2017 | 17


Re-balance your marketing channels. Even without

evaluation, many churches are moving to digital communications and away from printed communications. However, this shift has not always brought about the response many churches hoped for. I recently did a large research project on this topic that was inspired by an advertisement from Outreach Marketing (the parent company of this publication). The ad stated something about the effectiveness of print (in this case postcards) over digital marketing. They quoted a statistic that seemed hard to believe, but I checked out the citation and here it is: Direct mail outperforms all digital channels by nearly 600%. (2015 DMA Response  Rate Report)

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The take-away from these quotes is that as you plan your communications for the coming year, remember we live in a time of multi-channel communication of BOTH/AND, not either/or. If you find you’ve done away with some of your print ministry and you aren’t getting the response you want to events, add a postcard, a flyer, more information in the bulletin, and track to see if it makes a difference. Don’t argue about what works best, track it and make a professional decision. For an extended report on my results from this and related research, I’m giving away a free e-book or PDF of the report I did on this topic. Click the link that follows to go to it: Declining  church attendance and how your  communications can help turn   that around.  I was amazed! Additional research verified similar statistics. There are lots of reasons for this, but one conclusion is that many marketers have mistaken popularity for effectiveness. Yes, lots of people may be on Instagram and Facebook, but that doesn’t mean in the flow of all the updates on friends, gossip and events that they will even notice or act on your church post that will be lost in the stream of disappearing posts. In contrast, another quote from Inc. magazine stated: “People receive so many digital  messages all day now, while  their stack of mail is getting  smaller and smaller. . . A direct  mail piece stands out. It gets  noticed, it gets read, and its  offers and coupons get used.” 


Make sure your technology assets match your goals. Many churches assume

that somehow no matter what goals are set the people who do the communications work in the church will be able to make it happen, even if their computer hasn’t been updated in five years and there’s no budget for adequate software or training. Obviously, this is neither realistic nor kind. Usually the person doing the communication work knows exactly what they need to do their job. Ask them, and then commit to finding the funds for it! Many churches have been successful in upgrading the equipment and resources for their communications ministry by asking for designated donations rather than trying to get

an increase in the overall budget. Designated funds typically come from a member in the congregation who has a heart for a specific ministry and doesn’t see it supported enough. It can be any concern: a video system for the church communications overall; print resources so that seniors always get a printed newsletter and other updates; social media training for a youth pastor. Whatever it might be don’t expect great things from your church communication staff if they are under resourced.


Pray for wisdom in how to most effectively apply what you’ve evaluated and learned. If we are going to communicate with God’s blessing and the power of the Holy Spirit in the coming year, we must take time with our Lord and listen to His voice above all else in our church communications. Commit each week to pray for the communication ministries of the church, for wisdom in the many decisions that are made, and for strength and godly inspiration for everyone involved. Church communications is a challenging ministry, but in every challenge, you can rely on the promise in James 1:2-5 (TLB): Dear brothers, is your life full  of difficulties and temptations?  Then be happy, for when the  way is rough, your patience has  a chance to grow. So, let it grow,  and don’t try to squirm out of  your problems. For when your  patience is finally in full bloom,  then you will be ready for  anything, strong in character, 

full and complete. If you want to know what  God wants you to do, ask him,  and he will gladly tell you, for  he is always ready to give a  bountiful supply of wisdom  to all who ask him; he will not  resent it. Knowing you can trust your Lord every step of the way, charge into 2017 with excitement and joy! MT

>>>Be sure to download your free e-book or PDF: Declining church attendance and how your communications can help turn that around. Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church Communications,, 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.


e-book format at  print format at January 2017 | 19

PROTECTED WITH PURPOSE by Steven Sundermeier

“Deepest, Darkest Secrets” Moves From Children’s Game to Cyber Threat How to keep your information your information.


s a security professional, the start of the New Year has traditionally been an ideal time for me to reflect back and provide a detailed recap on the major malware outbreaks, cyberattacks and security stories of the past year. And we had a few biggies this Year: 1 the largescale DDoS attack in October targeting Dyn, the domain name service company providing service to a majority of the high-trafficked websites in the world: like CNN, Netflix, PayPal, and Twitter. 2 The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency system hack that forced the public transport system to allow passengers to ride for free over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. 3 And of course, all the highprofiled ransomware massive attack on the Hollywood

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Presbyterian Hospital where the largest recorded ransom was paid to cybercriminals. However, despite a significant number of huge and often scary security threats in 2016, I’d like to direct our attention towards yet another new (and creepy) ransomware tactic; I predict the continued development of this type of attack in the future, and I want you to be prepared. Here’s a real-life example of what’s coming online: Typically it is part of our daily routine in our household that when the children come home from a long day at school, we go through their backpacks before dinner and discuss the schoolwork, test scores and homework sent home for the day. Last week, while going through our normal process, we happened upon a completely crumpled-up note in my middle child’s backpack. When we straightened the paper

out enough to read it, we deciphered the following, written in my child’s handwriting, “I drank out of a sippy cup until I was six.” As you can imagine, this struck my wife and I as odd (albeit true), so we inquired more about it. As it turns out, my son and his best friend decided that they would secretly admit to each other their “deepest and darkest secret,” I suppose as a testing-bond of their friendship. I would assume that for most, the very thought of our “deepest and darkest secret” being revealed and made public (whether that is something as innocent as a “sippy cup” or more personal like a child still wetting the bed, or whatever) would be far worse than losing the item itself, and this is what cybercriminals are banking on. Be aware and beware of “mental malware.”

Ransoc is the latest in a long line of ransomware variations. Unlike most ransomware to-date, Ransoc does not look to encrypt files it locates on the system. This is a different behavior, as encrypting files has been the motivating drive behind ransomware, as users often times pay $300 or more to decrypt their files that the attacker holds ransom. Just remember how I started this article noting that recently the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital forked over tens of thousands of dollars to receive their data. In contrast to that example, instead of encrypting your files, this Ransoc Trojan attempts to

collect all your personal information stored on your system. In particular, Ransoc will retrieve your Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media profiles. It will also note your IP Address, your Geolocation, record your Webcam image capture. Finally, it will conduct a complete scan on a compromised system for Torrent files. Once collected, Ransoc will connect back to various remote locations and drop a highly customized ransom note on the system comprised of their social media details including their profile picture. The ransom note threatens the user with a fake legal proceeding and the threat of all collected data going public.

Fortunately (for most I pray!!), at the time of this writing, Ransoc will only display a ransom note and the threat of public humiliation if it finds evidence of child pornography or illegally downloaded Torrent media files. However I believe copycat variations will be created much more often in 2017 that will attempt to embarrass and humiliate users with a far less benevolent intention. Once the code and sequencing of this type of attack is introduced and thus understood by hackers, I predict the hacks will become more frequent and less-discerning, by which I mean it could be used as almost an emotional-blackmail over people, and because of my experience in

January 2017 | 21

this field, I sense that these initial Ransoc hits are the predecessors of a complete new-wave of ransomware. Time will tell, and we will watch closely to see what 2017 brings. The other interesting tidbit about Ransoc is that it does not require Bitcoins as its means of ransom payment, instead it demands payment via a credit card (unheard of with ransomware!).

Thirtyseven4 Endpoint Security has been updated for this threat as Ransomware. TorLocker.PB5. However, as a reminder, here are the preventive measures that Thirtyseven4 and

US-CERT (United Stated Computer Emergency Readiness Team) recommend six proactive steps users and administrators can take to protect their computer networks from ransomware infection:


Employ a data backup and recovery plan for all critical information. Perform and test regular backups to limit the impact of data or system loss and to expedite the recovery process. Ideally, this data should be kept on a separate device, and backups should be stored offline.


Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious

software and unapproved programs from running Application whitelisting is among the best security strategies, as it allows only specified programs to run, while blocking all others, including malicious software.


Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches. Vulnerable applications and operating systems are the target of most attacks. Ensuring these are patched with the latest updates greatly reduces the number of exploitable entry points available to an attacker.



Resources from husband and wife team and #1 New York Times bestselling authors Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott can help your church form strong, God-honoring relationships.


Perfect for a New Years or February sermon series or study!


Take your whole church through a four-week sermon series featuring the Deep Love principles that will lead your members to establish healthy relationships in every area of life. Although the series has particular relevance to couples, it does not exclude single adults and applies to everyone invested in establishing strong relationships.


Maintain up-to-date antivirus software, and scan all software downloaded from the Internet prior to executing.


Restrict users’ ability (in permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications, and apply the principle of “Least Privilege” to all systems and services. Restricting these privileges may prevent malware from running or limit its capability to spread through the network.

become blatantly public by a hacker is not a process that I would like to go through. Third graders trading secrets is one thing, but your geolocation and webcam image are personal and to be shared only by your discretion. Keep your eyes open for the risks of Ransoc and follow our security guidelines to keep your personal information YOUR personal information. Happy 2017, Everyone! Let’s make it a safe one! 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.


Avoid enabling macros from email attachments. If a user opens the attachment and enables macros, embedded code will execute the malware on the machine. For enterprises or organizations, it may be best to block email messages with attachments from suspicious sources.


Do not follow unsolicited Web links in emails.

If you are a follower of my column, these tips are redundant but important and effective, and will strongly increase your odds of staying safe against the latest vulnerabilities. I am aware that there is a humility and freedom in sharing a secret, or a sin, and often our hardest times are used in our lives to challenge us and grow us, and also give us wisdom to encourage others in similar situations. But that being said, I think we can all agree that our business is OUR business, and having our personal information January 2017 | 23



It Depends on the Preparations You Make Now

Going into a new year is like going into a battle. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says, “Every battle is won before it is fought.” His point is the preparations and planning that take place beforehand contribute the most to the outcome. Victory is won off the field before a single sword is drawn. The same is true of the new year. Much of what will make 2017 your best year depends on the preparations you make now. > > > 24 |

Revisit your mission and values statement If you do not have a mission and values statement, your assignment is to write one. The vision is why your organization exists; the values are how you fulfill that vision. (If you already have a mission and values statement the goal is to revisit, not revise—this is a moment to renew your commitment, to remember what you’re about.) Find someplace quiet to sit down with your statement. Read through it twice. The first time, go micro: Ask yourself if you, personally, are following this mission and living up to these values. Go through each one. Take your time. Identify where you have succeeded in each area and where you have failed.

When you read it the second time, go macro: Ask the same questions of your church as a whole. Where are you as an organization failing and succeeding in your statement? What needs to change to renew your vision?

Write down the top three successes of the current year This is not just for reminiscing. Identify the top three successes of 2016. It could be a financial goal that was met, a new program launched, a debt that was paid, or a successful sermon series. Cement the milestones of your church’s recent history in your mind. How do these relate to your mission and values statement?

Write down one crazy change to make in the coming year You heard right: one CRAZY change. Not a plausible change, not a reasonable change, not a realistic change. Write down one impossible change to make in the year to come as though you had to change something and resources were unlimited. Imagine that all you had to do was want it in order to get it. Now, I’m not asking you to be fantastical (e.g., “I would incorporate cloned velociraptors in the music ministry”). I’m asking you to articulate what you want when nothing else is a consideration. Go wild, but keep your answer confined to the present material realm.

Meet your budget If you don’t have a budget, the new year is the time to start one. Clarification: A “pretty good idea” of how much money you have and how much you can use is not a budget. Budgeting is the cold hard math of financial stewardship. Put numbers on every gateway where your money is going out and coming in. Eighty-four percent of churches are either below budget or just breaking even. The best way to break even, according to Michael Mullikin, executive pastor at NewSpring, is to hold your budget in one hand and your mission statement in the other. “I could go to any church,” says Mullikin, “and if I open up their books and I look at what they spent money on, I could tell them: This is what you find valuable. This is what you find important.” If a church puts its money where its mouth is, it

will open up the giving spirit in its membership. And most likely, they will meet budget.

Tidy up programs and ministries It’s always exciting to launch a new program or ministry, but over time these tend to pile up. Too many programs can choke church management or drift the church from its mission. Programs can also feel important and personal even after they’ve stopped being effective. Lawrence Fudge, executive pastor at Mosaic Alliance, says, “You always have to evaluate those programs and ministries to say, what is the actual effect? Size does not always equal effectiveness. It could mean it was effective, but it no longer is.”

aged. Many of the fastest-growing churches in the U.S. are taking a minimalist approach to ministries and programs. NewSpring restructured 70 percent of its staff in an attempt to become people-focused after years of being programs-focused: “We woke up with this commitment: Simplify to strengthen, and to put people over programs,” says Mullikin. A new year is a new beginning. Take a fresh look at the ministries and programs in your church. Ask yourself the following: n Are you excited about the  program or ministry? n Does the ministry equip people  or just manage people? n Can you reasonably argue  that the ministry or program  advances the church’s stated  mission?

84 percent of churches are either below budget or just breaking even. The best way to break even, according to Michael Mullikin, executive pastor at NewSpring, is to hold your budget in one hand and your mission statement in the other.

“Effectiveness for [the church],” clarifies Scott Thornton, pastor of Life Church, “is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry and seeing lost people saved.” Shrinking, reorganizing or eliminating programs can be painful, but necessary. It’s tantamount to restructuring how a church is man-

n Is the ministry or program  taking more than it gives? n Do you have numerous  ministries or programs serving  the same or similar goals? Can  you combine them into one? n Not all ministries are equally  important. Can you identify  January 2017 | 25

which ministries are “core to  the mission,” and which might  be diluting the effectiveness of  those ministries?

Write realistic goals for the new year Name two or three things you want to improve on. Set goals. Do you want to increase your membership numbers? By how many? Be as specific as you can, then develop a battle plan with your team.

Blue Van Dyke, executive pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley, believes a balanced score card is the best goal-setting methodology for “any organization, whether corporate or ministry.” Goals need to be set in four key areas: n Financial Stewardship: What are your financial goals? n Operational Efficiency: What do you do that you can do better (not necessarily cheaper)? n Member Engagement: How can you give members a quality experience? n Staff Development: Do you have the right people on the right task? Any organizational goal is reducible to one of these four buckets. Meet with your staff and leaders and examine what needs to change in each. Set two or three dates throughout the new year to revisit these goals with your staff. MT 26 |

Bad Weather?

5 Best Practices To Notify Your Church Members Make Sure Your Automated Systems Covers All Five Practices by Lisa Eifert


rom hurricanes to blizzards and everything in between, inclement weather is a part of nature. So are the challenges of managing the logistical factors involved in protecting your members when harsh weather comes calling. While a wellorganized plan can minimize confusion and maximize safety, failure to properly address severe weather conditions can threaten everything from engagement to human life. How can we avoid unnecessary negative fallout due to inclement weather? Follow these best practices for communicating with your congregation about closures and other important information during

weather-related emergencies.

Expectations 1 Manage

The first step to having a good plan is having a plan in the first place. A recent Travelers Insurance survey revealed just under 44 percent of all small organizations in the U.S. do not have any plan outlining what actions should be taken during a weather emergency. Does your house of worship have an inclement weather policy? If so, when was the last time it was updated? Are your members aware of the plan? Is it easily accessible to them? Each of these questions must be asked and answered in order to achieve both clarity and transparency. January 2017 | 27

In addition to communicating to members that a plan exists and where/how to find it, it’s also important to inform them of updates to the plan as they occur. Constant communication is a critical component of effective communication.

they will be informed of a cancellation decision via email is only a small part of the equation: it’s also important to tell them when the decision will be made and communicated. This eliminates member frustration by sparing them needless waiting, uncertainty, and risk.

A recent Travelers Insurance survey revealed just under 44 percent of all small organizations in the U.S. do not have any plan outlining what actions should be taken during a weather emergency.


Address the Specifics

It’s not enough to have a general plan in place, you must also establish and communicate detailed procedures. When leadership decides to close or delay services or events due to inclement weather, does your congregation know how you will communicate this information to them? More importantly, can you trust that they will receive this information as quickly and directly as possible? It all comes down to specifics, from who will send the message to which channel(s) will be used to the time of delivery. The more detailed you are in defining and communicating policies, the more likely they are to hold up in actual emergency situations. For example, telling members that

28 |


Embrace Technology

While phone trees might have been the only option for communicating with large numbers of contacts 20 years ago, they were never without their share of problems. From miscommunications to the complete breakdown of communications due to a single failure in the chain, phone trees have historically led to more confusion, not less. The latest mass messaging services offer an innovative solution by allowing both leaders and members to have more control regarding how and through which means they receive pivotal communications. For example, leading notification provider One Call Now offers a multichannel approach which allows faith-based communities to send time-sensitive

messages via the recipient’s choice of voice, text, or email with just a single click or call. Not only that, leaders and administrators can see which members have received messages and which have not, which results in new levels of assurance that important messages are being received. Real-time reporting further improves the weather cancellation process by offering instant access to crucial live information, including everything from the time of contact for each member to erroneous phone numbers. One Call Now allows senders to designate subsets of members for mass message delivery. For example, you can cancel the Youth Ministry Retreat without sending a message to the entire membership base. Sending targeted messages to specific groups is the most efficient communication.

and Save Time 4 Streamline

There’s no time to spare in an emergency, which is why several additional features make emergency notification systems far preferable to other methods of communication. Make sure your calling service offers all of the following advanced functions designed to further facilitate communications:

n Call scheduling: lets senders prerecord and store messages to be sent at later times or dates.

n Real-time polling: offers leaders instant feedback from members via keypad response. (This is especially useful for learning if a member needs help or assistance, or for obtaining RSVPs for an event.)

n Hot transfer: allows calls to be automatically transferred to the administrative office at the end of this message. All of these added options promise unprecedented assurance and peace of mind for faith-based communities in fulfilling their missions.


Maximize Your Message

Shorter is better when it comes to conveying messages in today’s fastpaced digital world. Members don’t want to have to repeatedly listen to a message to be sure that they’ve absorbed every relevant piece of information. While messages should be brief and to the point, subject lines should be descriptive and action-oriented, particularly when a response is requested. One way to make the most of your message is to deliver it in the member’s language of choice. One Call Now’s multilingual feature offers the translation of text and email messages into more than 50 different languages ensuring that messages are not only received, but easily understood by all congregants.

While harsh weather can put a damper on services and events, it doesn’t have to ruin on your overall community engagement. Establishing a clear communication plan and sharing it with congregants is not only beneficial to your house of worship (in terms of preventing misinformation), it also protects the safety and wellbeing of your greatest assets: your members. MT

Good communication is at the heart of every growing congregation MAKE IT SIMPLE WITH ONE CALL NOW. QUICKLY SEND MESSAGES TO EVERYONE (OR ANY GROUP) •

Recorded voice calls

Text-to-speech calls

SMS text messages


Great for sending cancellations, schedule changes, prayer requests, bereavement messages and more. account set up




Import your names, phone numbers and email addresses from an Excel or .csv file. You can also add or update contacts individually.




Create subgroups within your contact list for group-specific communications (Board of Directors, Staff, Clients, Volunteers, etc.)


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Click here to download this FREE article from One Call Now.


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January 2017 | 29


When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;4 (NIV)

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