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Tech Tune-ups

March 2017

for Successful Easter Communications




TECH TUNE-UPS FOR SUCCESSFUL EASTER COMMUNICATIONS Take action now to guarantee maximum effectiveness



Raas and our lack of contentment


Who can resist the lure of get-rich-quick?

How to keep the main thing the main thing

16 Spring cleaning leads to High-performance tech How to bring order back to your ministry’s physical and digital environments


START-UP | EPA Made . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Are You Getting the Most Out of Your ChMS? . . . . . . 26 Let Church Members Carry All the Information They Need . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

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6 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING AN A/V CONSULTANT These questions can save you plenty!


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 or form without the express permission of Outreach, Inc.

Easter: Where Ministry & Tech Intersect


aster consistently sneaks up on us, which is strange because it happens every year. Perhaps it sneaks up on us because it happens at a different time each year. Easter, based on the Hebrew (lunar) calendar can occur as early as March 22nd or as late as April 25th (start prepping now for that late Easter—it happens next in 2038!). Whatever date on which it falls, the March issue of Ministry Tech is the right time to cover the topic, because early or late, Easter involves special preparations in almost every area of church tech: we need to make sure to invite people before it happens, which means updated church management software is a must; many churches have special programming for Easter Sunday, which means stagecraft and sound upgrades need to be in place (and tested) before the big event; and our follow-up with new visitors (or the “annual member”) needs to employ every means possible to connect with those we serve.

In this issue Yvon Prehn gives us practical advice on how to take action now that will result in maximum effectiveness. Jonathan Smith reminds us to focus on what matters: keeping the main thing the main thing, because all of our church technologies should point to the Lord Jesus, whose resurrection we celebrate on Easter. Perhaps this month is the time to bring in an A/V consultant. If so, Brad Gallagher helps us know what to ask. Mike O’Brien’s very useful article will help you bring order back to your tech ministry’s physical (and digital) environments. Easter is also an excellent time to remember—and recommit—to our calling and work within the church. Whether we are staff members or volunteers, the object of tech ministry is still ministry: serving God and serving his people through the practical application of secular tools. That’s the reason the word “Ministry” appears first in our title, because serving others is our great mission. May God bless you (and your gear!) this Easter Season!

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 2017 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 March 2017 | 3


Tech Tune-ups


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by Yvon Prehn


ne of the biggest challenges churches face in the Easter season is that after all the hard work done ahead of the service (and they get an incredible turnout for Easter!), most churches see few visitors return the following weeks. This happens for many reasons, but in order to turn things around, you’ll need the following two tech tune-ups to get visitors coming back on a continuing basis. You need to pay attention to getting these things in place now because as it gets closer to Easter, you will become involved in the events of Holy Week, or you’ll be too tired, overwhelmed and distracted to strategically decide how to follow up with the many visitors you will get at your church for Easter.


Leverage Your Church Management System

This is one of the key tech tools you have for the growth of your church, but having the software and using it effectively can be two very different things. Here are some areas to look at before Easter:

Timely, well-trained data entry: Do the people who enter your data need training? Are there guidelines in place of how quickly data must be entered? This is important because no matter how diligent you are in collecting information, if it isn’t put into the system in a timely manner, it loses its usefulness. This is especially true for Easter and other seasonal events. A recent church communicator recently shared with me that the person who was supposed to enter in all the new visitors from the

Christmas services just notified her that the entries were finally in—the last week of January! The person doing the data entry apologized and said she had been busy. The church communicator (and the staff overall) was understandably extremely frustrated: it was too late to follow up on Christmas guests with the automatic visitor emails and postcard mailings the church had worked hard to produce. Though we all understand busy schedules and how data entry is one of the least enjoyable of jobs, we need to be reminded that it is the basis for many critical connecting and ongoing ministry actions.

Recruit and train volunteers for data entry IMMEDIATELY after the Easter service: I’ve known several large and successful churches that do this on a continuing basis. They have their data entry

people working immediately following a church service. One church has people in the basement of the worship building who get the latest cards right after the service. If a visitor attends an early service there is an upbeat email waiting for them by the time they get home from Sunday brunch! No ChMS software can do this on its own, but most churches have the resources to enter the data quickly.

In advance: write follow-up content for your auto responders: As soon as you know the topic for the Easter service, write your follow-up content. Do it weeks ahead of time! Again, you might think you can do this later, but get it done now and it’s taken care of. When you work in advance of the event you’ll have time to link to places for more information. This leads into the next essential area to tune-up ahead of time—your website. March 2017 | 5

We all understand busy schedules and that data entry is one of the least enjoyable of jobs, but we need to be reminded that it is the basis for many critical connecting and ongoing ministry actions.


Clean Up Your Website

Do it now: before you start inviting people, before you plan your Easter follow-up, be sure your website has a tune-up. In the same way people will check out a website, ratings and comments about any product or service in which they are interested, they will go to your website if they are interested in finding out more about your church or the Christian faith. Here are some things to be sure to do:

Make certain all your ministry areas are carefully explained:

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This is so important because many churches put on great Easter events for kids, but are disappointed when people don’t bring their children back to church after Easter. They forget many unchurched people have no idea what churches do on a regular basis for children, or when these ministries meet, or why they should bring their children. If you don’t have that information easily accessible, people won’t return: not because they didn’t like you, but because they simply don’t know what is going on.

Set up connections: How to find out more about your church and the Christian faith: For an unchurched person, the Easter service may be very entertaining, but also confusing. For that person, you must provide opportunities for them to learn more about the Christian faith.

Using the automatic responses you send out, make sure you offer connections to where to find out more about the Christian faith. Here are some ideas of things you can do ahead of time that you can either post before or directly after Easter. n Post videos of your Pastor thanking people for coming to the Easter service and explaining more about the Christian faith. n Have a list of seeker small groups following Easter where visitors can explore the Christian faith. n Post links to sites that answer questions about the Christian faith with comments on why they are useful (just posting a list of links isn’t really helpful).

Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church Communications, www.effectivechurchcom. com, a ministry that helps churches create communications that will help them fully fulfill the Great Commission. She has been writing and teaching about church communications for over 20 years. Her latest book is The Five Steps of Effective Church Communication and Marketing.

Church Communicator's Bookstore

n One of the most important things you can do is to post videos or written testimonies of people who have become Christians recently or at your church. Record these testimonies now and get them ready to go live immediately after the Easter service. Technology gives us the ability to do these things ahead of time and safely store them and share them with people in a timely way. If you do these things, you’ll make the most of your Easter service and help people connect with Jesus—and your church—in an ongoing way. MT For many more outreach ideas for Easter, communications, and ways to follow up, check out http://www.

from Yvon Prehn March 2017 | 7

Easter Matters Most — How to keep the main thing the main thing —

by Jonathan Smith


hink for a minute about what would happen if we didn’t celebrate the resurrection. What if Jesus went to the cross, died, and that was the end of the story. Really, stop and think about that for a bit. What if there was no Easter? What if the tomb wasn’t empty and Jesus was still buried inside? Where would that leave us today? The good news of the gospel wouldn’t be so good anymore.

The resurrection is what makes Christianity work. It completes the Old Testament 8 |

prophecies that foretold what we now celebrate on Christmas and Easter. That’s why churches make such a big deal out of those two days and why so many people only attend church on those two days. Do we truly understand the importance of the resurrection and why we celebrate it with such emphasis? The church where I serve does a large Passion Play production each year at a theater in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. It is a drama/ musical that tells the story of the passion of Christ in a contemporary way. We’ve been doing it since 1991 and I’ve had the privilege to serve in each one.

Live theater can be stressful from a technical standpoint. There is a lot that can go wrong, especially for an amateur production that is only done once a year. Everyone involved has to deal with a level of stress as we all work through the mechanics of what it takes to put on a production like this. We work all week at setup, rehearsal, and performances, and it can be easy to be tired and worn out before Easter Sunday has even arrived. That is just one small example; all over the world churches big and small are pulling out all the stops to deliver the message that He is Risen! It doesn’t matter if you are putting on a musical in a theater,

renting a stadium so a megachurch can have a consolidated Easter celebration service, or having an intimate sunrise service in the park; it is the resurrection, and not any technology wizardry, that makes it all possible.

Despite all that may go into an Easter service or special production, at the core should always be a focus on the resurrection and why we are doing what we are doing. It is very easy to be caught up in the details, and while we may deliver an outstanding production, I’m not sure that Jesus is as interested in our production value as much as He is in our heart value and what we are personally learning and how we are individually growing through the Easter production process. Jesus didn’t die and rise again just so we could put on a fancy production. He didn’t die and rise again so we could show off our technical ability or how good we are or how cool our gadgets are. He died and rose again so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. That, and that alone, gives us the reason and motivation to make Easter special and use the resurrection to its maximum potential to reach our community with the gospel message.

Let’s not get so caught up in the details of celebrating Easter that we forget what we are celebrating and why it matters. While it may be rather complicated to figure out those details, Easter is the reason we are celebrating and its importance is not complicated and should always be the focus of all we do this Easter season.

He is Risen! He is risen indeed! 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.

“I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. Revelation 1:17-18 (NLT)

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Easter is an awesome time of year,

despite the fact that it is hard to know when Easter actually falls. Typically, the weather is getting warmer, we can start spending more time outside, and there is excitement in the air about celebrating the event that makes our life in ministry possible. So why is it so hard to figure out when Easter falls on the calendar? Figuring out when Easter is can be more challenging than any technology trials we may face gearing up to celebrate. The date is based on the spring equinox. In 325, the Council of Nicaea determined that Easter would be on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox unless the first full moon after the spring equinox is on a Sunday, in which case Easter is delayed by one week. Clear as mud? The spring equinox is when the sun is passing over the equator, making the hours of daytime and nighttime equal. This happens as the earth orbits the sun and the tilt of the earth changes, in the spring that means the northern hemisphere gets closer to the sun while the southern hemisphere moves further away. This is what creates our seasons and brings those of us in the northern hemisphere into spring and summer. This year the spring equinox is on March 20 at 6:29 am Eastern time. The first full moon is determined by the lunar phase that happens when the moon is fully visible and illuminated as seen from earth. For this to happen the earth must be located directly between the sun and the moon. The full moon phase doesn’t always 10 |

happen at the same time due to how the moon orbits the earth and how the moon and earth together orbit the sun. Are we having fun yet? As a result, the date for Easter can be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. The next time Easter will be on March 22 is in 2285. The next time it will be on April 25 is right around the corner in 2038. Several other Christian holidays are then based on Easter, including Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Ascension Day. Thanks to the Internet, we can easily google when Easter is each year. It must have been all kinds of fun to do the math and figure out when Easter would be back in the old days before the Internet. So what does all of this have to do with Easter, technology, and the resurrection? It is easy to get bogged down in all the details of celebrating Easter and forget what we are actually celebrating, just like it can be easy to get bogged down and completely lost trying to figure out when Easter is each year. By the way, next year it’s on April 1. MT

March 2017 | 11

Spring Cleaning

Leads to HighPerformance Tech Make Your Sound and Media Areas Shine by Mike O’Brien


or 18 years I served in one church, most of those years in one building. I understand how easy it is to become so familiar with your environment that you no longer see the things newbies immediately recognize. Wobbly music stands, LCD screens coated with fingerprints, and software programs with outdated passwords seem to be the norm until someone (like you or me) takes the time to repair, replace or replenish that item or system. In many of our areas, it’s not only visitors we are serving, but also new incoming staff and volunteers. You might know that you have to tap twice to get the remote to work, but the new staff could spend two hours trying to get something to work that you failed to maintain or replace. A clean, working and organized area can remove obstacles to the gospel and discipleship. Here are some ideas on how to bring order back to your ministry’s physical and digital environments:

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Dust In the electric world (things like computers and audio power amps) dust is the enemy. Projector, computer

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m/Zd eslav

For many of us, readily acceptable storage is at a premium. Take some time to throw away anything that is unrepairable and taking up space. A good rule of thumb is to remove anything you haven’t actually used in the past year. 1997’s sermon illustration can go; those now-illegal wireless units can go; and that old artificial Christmas tree can go. Make a pile of gear that you can offer to other churches (via Craigslist). Set out gear in your lobby with a “FREE” sign and you’d be amazed what disappears. You can also give used gear to your short-term mission teams to take to the third world. One man’s trash is truly a treasure in the third world church. We have a friend in India that has been using our crusty old church laptop to complete his Masters degree! Order a box of these contractor trash bags to handle heavy and bulky items. Bag ‘em and fill ‘em up!

and audio power amps collect dust in their fans, and overheating is typically the number one reason those items fail. Clean dust from every area that uses cables. Stage boxes usually collect a ridiculous amount of dust and this can adversely affect how cables connect. A general dusting and vacuuming of all areas is advisable, but it’s good to focus on critical internal parts. Purchase an ample supply of Canned Air to remove dust from all areas. Follow up this job with a good vacuum. Alternately, you can purchase an Electric Blower Duster as a good maintenance tool for your sound and media areas. FreeI mag

Trash It or Give It Away

Repair Your average church storage area has a virtual treasure chest of gear in disrepair. Take stock of what you have and determine if it’s worth the cost of repair. Consider selling broken gear to purchase new gear. Many times things you thought were broken actually work—how often it turns out that “user error” was the problem! I have found folks in our local church community that take delight in fixing electronics. A quick request on

your social media feed might net a great inexpensive solution.

Maintain In the world of church production there are a million little things that when they go bad we can still survive so we forget to maintain them. Little specialty light bulbs, felt pads, tubes, and batteries can be replaced, but we often have to hunt for the replacement parts. A quick search on Ebay with the model number usually provides the answer. u Tighten music and mic stands. u Oil anything that needs lubricant (like doors or organ parts). u Replace tubes on house guitar amps. u Order replacement parts for microphones, headphones and musical instruments. u Replace batteries on all clocks, wireless mouses, and keyboards. u Update operating systems and software of computers (leave time to check and test all crucial elements). u Flip Flop makes some great digital apps to help keep your media computers in good working order.

Replenish Fill up the storehouse: now is a great time to purchase for the next season.

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u Sharpies, pens, pencils and Post-It Notes! u Batteries for every digital item (look around your facility and identify remotes, microphones, clocks: everything!). u Extra guitar strings.

u XLR and 1/4� Instrument Cables. u Console Marking Table (for the soundboard). u Gaffers Tape for taping down cables without leaving residue.

Organize + Label One way to attract more volunteers and avoid problems is to have clearly marked areas that communicate where items are located. Plastic bins, drawers, and well-placed hooks can turn a disaster area into a welloiled machine. If you don’t already have one, consider purchasing a Label Maker for the church. Clearly marked areas will be a blessing for your team leaders and volunteers. u Old filing cabinets, toolboxes and dressers can make inexpensive and compartmentalized storage areas. u A couple of these Storage Hooks will work wonders for storing microphone stands horizontally against a wall.

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u On computers and other digital gear go through old folders, files and templates. Remove clutter and rename files clearly and consistently. It’s a bit sad, but remove users that no longer work or volunteer at the ministry. Make room for new users.

Extra Tips for a Clean Environment Because some people live to clean (they actually love doing it), set aside a workday on a Saturday or

an after-church cleaning party for other volunteers to help. Make sure you pre-purchase all the tools and supplies for the workday. When you purchase replacement items, buy more than one so you have more on hand. Keep an Excel or online spreadsheet with all replacement model numbers. If your church or ministry has janitor services, make sure you give permission and instruction for those crews on how to clean sensitive areas. 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 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

March 2017 | 15

PROTECTED WITH PURPOSE by Steven Sundermeier

RaaS and Our Lack of Contentment Ransomware just moved to another level.


sn’t it uncanny how sometimes a weekly sermon, which has the potential to be about anything in the world, can hit so close to home with exactly what you are experiencing? How does God do that? This month at church we began a sermon series titled “Financial Fitness.” The series directly tied into the kickoff of 2017, and the resolutions many of us made. What family doesn’t want to be better financially fit, right? If Jesus spoke about this topic (money) more than any other in the Bible, it obviously deserves some attention in our lives. The sermon this week covered the topic of contentment. During the course of the sermon, the pastor clearly illustrated (humorously and biblically) how wanting “more” brings about more fatigue, expenses, anxiety, conflict and dissatisfaction.

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We all know people where discontentment looms and who seek to get rich quick. (And let’s be honest, we can also look inward to ourselves.) I can’t even count the number of times last year I saw record-setting state lottery jackpots despite impossible odds, poverty rates, and joblessness. People don’t have $4 for a gallon of milk, but they have $2 to blow on a one-ina-billion lottery chance. Many of us can relate to those friends and family members who travel to Las Vegas in hopes of that one lucky pull on a slot machine that will “change their life.” (Is that even possible? What are they really looking for?)

In my cyber-security world I am seeing get rich quick schemes in increasing (and downright scary) numbers. Cyber thieves are capitalizing on our discontentment

and our desires for more and more stuff. For example, at this point most of us have heard of the notorious “Nigerian Email.” You know the one, where the user receives an email promising them a huge chunk of money simply by fronting a very small financial payment. Facebook and Twitter are full of Ponzi-style schemes; in fact just this past Christmas the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” was circulating widely (the idea was to send a $10 gift in hopes of receiving many more $10 gifts in return). These are scams, people! Wake up! Earlier this week, my Virus Research Team at Thirtyseven4 was asked to look into a new ransomware family that was reportedly being offered via a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). Like state lotteries or the allure of Las Vegas, RaaS can be a very attractive offering, as its premise

is to allow someone quick rewards with minimal effort: allowing the authors to do the “hard” work (coding, financial setup, tracking and payment, or language translations if necessary). The noted ransomware in question was being referred to within the industry as the “Satan ransomware.” While RaaS is not new to Thirtyseven4 (i.e., the infamous ‘Cerber’ ransomware) what differentiates the Satan ransomware is that its service

allows any wannabe criminal (sadly, think grade-school kid, angry teen, disgruntled employee, or a dejected boyfriend) to register an account on the evildoers website and create their very own customized version of the Satan Ransomware. For example, a negatively motivated individual can configure their own financial ransom demand, and then partner with Satan ransomware writers to wreak havoc (technically speaking) on a person of their choice. The author(s) of the Satan

ransomware, upon a successful (for lack of a better term) mission, would receive a certain percentage of the total money collected according to their website. Like most forms of ransomware, the Satan ransomware will encrypt data and append the .stn extension to encrypted files. It will also display a ransom note named HELP_DECRYPT_FILES. html shortly after execution. Bottom line: it will bring emotional stress, financial chaos and other turmoil on its victims.

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Jesus’ death and resurrection is the perfect reminder that He paid the ultimate price for us so that we can experience contentment—financial, mental and spiritual—and everlasting peace with Him.

I’ve had the opportunity to analyze a few of samples of the Satan ransomware that we have received but thankfully found the samples to be inactive at the time of this column. Additionally, we have also not received any (live) Satan ransomware cases from end users as a result of our Thirtyseven4 Next-Gen Detection Technology, which proactively blocks suspicious files from executing, based on behavior checks, and then relays the files to our Virus Research Team for immediate analysis. Given that, I feel the distribution of the Satan ransomware is minimal. (As a precaution, Thirtyseven4 has added detection for these ransomware files, and they are currently being detected as “Trojan. Dynamer”). Nevertheless, we are aware that similar RaaS attacks are circulating, and gaining popularity, especially in the emotional market. I noted this Satan Raas not because of the hideous name given to it, but for a couple of reasons:


Due to the increasing popularity of cybercriminals to utilize RaaS. We will likely continue to see this method grow exponentially in the coming months/years.


To really illustrate what lengths people will go to for quick financial (and emotional) gains. Can you imagine turning a “profit” by specifically targeting your friends, family, co-workers, and local businesses with custom created ransomware? It’s appalling. It’s wrong. It’s mean, and the intent goes against

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everything our parents and pastors ever taught us. I hope that our Thirtyseven4 Labs and intuitions about growing types of Satan Raas are incorrect. I would love for “Love Your Neighbor” to resonate instead of disintegrate. But I fear the namesake of these latest threats has a foothold in the world, and in some people’s motives.

The allure and draw of money are dangerous and deceiving. There is no depth or satisfaction in wealth. True wealth is family and friends to share life with. True wealth is the health of yourself and those you love. True loss is the lack of these things—ask anyone who has suffered. This coming month (April) marks Easter. Jesus is the perfect reminder. His death and resurrection paid the ultimate price for us so that we can experience contentment—financial contentment, mental contentment, spiritual contentment and everlasting peace with Him.

Enjoy what we have. Focus on what will last forever. 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.

March 2017 | 19


EPA Made An eCommerce Startup That Makes a Difference!

by Russ McGuire


llen and Ayaka Lu live in Silicon Valley. They run an eCommerce startup but their story is not your typical entrepreneurial story, and their business is not your typical Silicon Valley startup. For starters, EPA Made isn’t just a company, it’s a part of their nonprofit ministry, and while the goal is to be a financially sustainable business, the real goal is to impact lives in a very tangible way for God’s glory.

Suddenly a Single Mom Allen and Ayaka weren’t raised in Christian families. They met Christ and they met each other at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Allen studied Information Systems and Ayaka is a graphic designer who studied Communication Design and Human Computer Interaction. After graduation, Allen became a programmer with a focus on eCommerce. He developed a passion for helping people connect with the brands that they love. He led major projects for American 20 |

Eagle Outfitters and GNC. Ayaka and some of her classmates started a new venture doing youth education design. They were recognized for their work with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Family Communication (the corporate entity behind Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). While in college, Allen and Ayaka were very active in discipleship and felt that ministry was a “full-time” part of who they were. They had a little girl, and God was blessing them. But then, Allen had a moral failing. He left Ayaka and their daughter, and moved to Silicon Valley to continue to build his career. Ayaka had become a single mom. She looked to scripture for guidance, spending much time praying to God through Matthew 19. She committed to live that truth, to not divorce, but to pray for Allen. She spent that time crying out to the Lord through Psalm 25, Psalm 73, and Romans 5, and learning how to find hope in Jesus and survive as a single mom. It was hard and it was lonely, but God would redeem even this.

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.

Broken Hearted for Single Moms In time (two years!), God answered her prayers. Allen, in his words, “came to his senses” and asked Ayaka if they could restart their marriage. They spent another two years in intense marriage counseling. They worked really hard, and today, they say that their marriage is way better than it originally had been. They see in it a picture of the redemption that God is working through Christ. Allen continued to have success in his career, and God provided an opportunity to combine his work and ministry when his cousin Jeremy Lin became an overnight NBA sensation. Allen produced a film, Linsanity!, and continues to manage Jeremy’s brand, which provides a platform to share the gospel and encourage Kingdom values around the world.

Meanwhile Ayaka was praying for God’s direction for her life. While many people see Silicon Valley as a place of wealth and happy endings, that’s not the complete picture. In 2011, Ayaka met a director of a home for single mothers in East Palo Alto, and started volunteering. Palo Alto is home to Stanford University, Hewlett Packard, and Tesla, and it was the early home of many companies including Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and Intuit. But East Palo Alto is like a totally different world. About 65 percent of East Palo Alto is Latino, with another

EPA Made shop, East Palo Alto, California

15 percent being African-American. The prosperity of Silicon Valley has largely passed by this community. When Ayaka met the ladies at the home, it broke her heart. She could relate to the challenges of being a single mom, but she saw the cycle that many of these families went through, going from group home to group home and eventually ending up back on the street. Ayaka and Allen prayed for wisdom in what they could do. They felt convicted that they had been primarily using their God-given talents to help rich people get richer. They especially

felt convicted by Leviticus 25. The Lord is speaking to Moses and says, “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you” (Leviticus 25:35-36).

Working With Single Moms Even before feeling called to start a ministry, Ayaka used her skills to work with the ladies to make a product and sell it at a fundraiser for the group home. For the first time, they didn’t feel like they needed to cash in on pity, but were proud of the product they produced and how it was valued by the buyers. This experience became the basis for EPA Made. Ayaka works with the ladies to develop new products and produce them. Allen’s eCommerce leadership helped make them available around the world. They have also opened a thrift store and a physical shop for the EPA Made products. EPA Made is providing more than jobs for single-mom families. It is providing them with practical skills in design, manufacturing, pick-pack-and-ship, retail, and eCommerce that can prepare them to participate in the economy growing around them. They also provide discipleship and accountability toward change in important life skills, such as financial literacy, healthy parenting, and growth mindset. More than anything, EPA Made provides hope to the hopeless. March 2017 | 21

“ If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.” — Leviticus 25:35-36

Ayaka says, “In the scriptures, we see God’s heart to care for the widows, the orphans, those who are forgotten, those who are weak, those who can’t take care of themselves. It’s a community response. We as a neighbor have a responsibility to care. And if we are given enough, or more than enough, then we should care; we should share. That is the heart of EPA Made.” She goes on to explain, “People are so stuck in depression, so stuck in generational poverty, so stuck in this dark pit that they think they can’t get out of. But that’s not true. We want to let hope rise in EPA.” 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 22 |


6 Questions

to Ask Before Hiring an Audio/Visual Consultant Make the Most of Outside Help by Brad Gallagher


f you’re planning a project with audio or video involved, someone has to design these technology systems. This decision will impact the facility for years. Maybe decades. Should you use someone from your staff? An electrical engineer? A low voltage systems integrator? An independent design consultant? Regardless of the type of person you select, what questions can you ask to tell if the person or company is a good fit for your needs? The answers depend on the type of project, timeline and budget.

The design of audio, video and technology for facilities is unique because there is a lack of standards in the marketplace. This means that it’s not just important but absolutely essential to find someone with significant experience. More importantly, they have to have the right kind of experience. This can be tough to even know where to begin. First, let’s cover the six questions that you should ask any technology consultant before getting them involved in your project.


What experience do they have in your particular context?

Overall experience is great, but you want to make sure that you are not the first classroom, casino or

church on your consultant’s resume. Overall experience can carry over greatly into the inner workings of a system, but this is not a substitute for the deep understanding of user needs that is gained in the course of a project. Try not to be the guinea pig. If there is someone you really want to work with, who doesn’t have experience in your exact type of facility, maybe there is someone they can bring on-board to clarify operational requirements. At the very least, be certain that you have someone on the owner’s staff that can accurately communicate the exact workflow needs.


What experience do they have with the scope? Audio designers don’t March 2017 | 23

A partnership between staff and a designer can bring the best of both worlds: someone who understands the needs of the organization in great detail and someone who understands the architectural and construction design process in equal detail. necessarily make good video designers. Video designers don’t necessarily make good lighting designers. Lighting designers probably shouldn’t be tackling acoustics. Might seem pretty obvious, but make sure your design team isn’t biting off more than they can chew.


What experience do they have as part of a design team?

This is often a challenge for smaller AV design/build firms. If you are accustomed to contracting to an owner or general contractor, rather than working as part of a design team under an architect, you may not understand the workflow. This can be a bigger problem than you might suspect. Many integration firms cut their teeth by working on bid projects designed by someone else and doing gradually larger turnkey projects. In these cases, there are several requirements that have either been handled by a consultant, or are not a requirement due to the smaller size of the project. Just make sure that the person that you are considering for design services has experience with designs of similar scale, not just experience in implementing designs that were created by someone else. 24 |


Do they have real world experience?

There is no substitute for experience. Obviously, you don’t want to needlessly reduce your available pool of candidates, but everything else being equal, it is always helpful to have someone who has at least some form of AV operator experience. This helps “put the designer in the user’s shoes,” to consider concepts like operator booth ergonomics and workflow. After all, a good system design centers on its user base as a core consideration. A good designer starts by asking how many people will be available to operate a system. Running a broadcast studio with 10 people is a much different experience than trying to accomplish the same functions with half the staff. This always must be a consideration.


What level of drafting expertise does the company have?

Increasing 3D and BIM are standard project requirements. While standard fare for architects and engineers, many AV professionals come into the field via a different route and only learn these skills along the way. As a result, drafting

can increasingly be a workflow bottleneck for AV. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the drafting capabilities of the firms you are considering. If the project is being done in BIM, make sure that you have an experienced designer and be sure that this scope is clearly laid out and understood by both parties. There are multitudes of ways that a BIM project can be delivered, particularly with regard to the AV consultant. You should also confirm the version of software that the firm has available. While AutoCAD allows files to easily be down-saved to an earlier version, many people don’t realize that RevIt does not work this way. In order to maintain a synchronized model, all design team members must be working in the same version of RevIt.


How well does the firm understand architecture and building systems to leverage maximum value? There are many designers, both on the integrator side and the consultant side, who entered the industry from an operator perspective. These people will be very comfortable with the flow

of signal through the equipment, but less comfortable with the integration of that technology into the building. Remember that the name on the door is not necessarily the name of the person you will be working with on the project. Ask how much construction experience that person has in their background.

designer can bring the best of both worlds: someone who understands the needs of the organization in great detail and someone who understands the architectural and construction design process in equal detail. MT

Brad Gallagher leads the Base4 Technology team. Brad is an evangelist for creating architecture and technology in harmony, based on specific project goals. He is a strong advocate for eliminating marketing hype and explaining technology in a way that people can clearly understand. For more insight, follow him on Twitter @bradgallagherav.

Conclusion The timeline, budget, complexity and scope will generally dictate the right solution for a project. For instance, on a very small project, you may be able to utilize the electrical engineer on the design team. This option is best for systems of low complexity, like distributed background music systems and the like. The option to use your internal staff will vary widely from one organization to another. These people should be well versed in the type of system being installed. For many corporations this is probably a challenge. On the other hand, universities and large houses of worship often have extremely knowledgeable staff. In these cases, it often still makes sense to bring in an outsider (though with a more limited scope). While internal staff often has the best possible understanding of the organizational needs and operations, it’s usually not an everyday occurrence that they design these systems. The problem typically isn’t on the technology side as much as the construction design side. In these cases, a partnership between staff and a

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March 2017 | 25

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your ChMS? Insights to drive your church forward What’s the next step in your church members’ development? What teaching, ministry, or outreach would help them to become more like Christ? There are so many choices: Would your church benefit from new weekday activities for retirees? A course in God-honoring financial management for young families? Or a smallgroup startup to engage an influx of new visitors? 26 |

It’s not uncommon to base these choices on an anecdotal understanding of your congregation, or on what the church next door has implemented, or on the preferences of the loudest members. Your programs should be designed for your whole congregation—who they truly are and what they need. Good decisions start with good data. But getting clear and accurate data on your membership is easier said than done. Your best data-gathering (and decisionmaking) tool is a holistic church management softwarwe (ChMS) package. Today’s ChMS developers pluck tech features directly from the business world to help you cut through the clutter and overcome the church’s biggest barriers to reliable data. Here are some barriers to break:

Barrier #1:

Too many records Perhaps the biggest advantage of a ChMS is to prevent the distortion of data from redundant records. Luke Taylor, IT director for Highlands Church in Scottsdale, Ariz., finds this duplication especially challenging when churches need to fill volunteer roles. “It’s what happens when

ministries are managed separately,” Taylor says, “with an Excel spreadsheet on one guy’s desk, another off the top of his head, another on a cell phone.” Without the central data storehouse of a ChMS, several ministry leads may think, That guy always helps—I’ll call him. The danger, Taylor notes, is that “you burn out volunteers pretty quickly, not from malicious action on the part of the church, but just from a lack of visibility into who’s doing what.” Church management software can provide your ministry leader with a global view of the volunteer pool, including who’s served with which ministries and when, as well as the training or background checks that would qualify them for specific roles. Some even have a visual calendar that reveals how heavily a volunteer is scheduled in the coming weeks or months.

The best ChMS systems prevent data duplication right from the beginning, flagging any new entry that seems to share contact info with an existing profile—and giving you the option to link people from the same family or household (a great advantage for your children’s ministry registrars!).

Barrier #2:

Patchy information It’s never easy to get accurate data from a visitor form that’s quickly scrawled and dropped in an offering plate. The traditional cards also fail to capture complex situations, like children and parents who don’t live in the same household, or do so only on certain days of the week. With their data housed in a ChMS, churches can increase their March 2017 | 27

More important than looking nimble is the church’s ability to act nimbly, backed by real data. When you understand what’s brought newcomers through the church doors, you can design your outreach to build the church’s influence in your community. understanding of attendees with each visit, gradually filling in a clearer picture. Has someone been attending services for months but not yet engaged with a ministry or small group? Are their children attending youth group and other activities? Has attendance or giving fallen off suddenly? All of these facts can help the church customize communication to an individual level—communication that can range from an automated email to an in-person invitation. While there are many reasons for attenders to withdraw from a church, we can’t be content when some fall through the cracks. Christ doesn’t want a single one of his flock to be lost. Data management is one way—and in a large and busy church, perhaps the most reliable way—to ensure that no one is overlooked.

28 |

Barrier #3: Delays in data collection

Hosting a big event at your church used to mean hours of transcribing handwritten attendance forms—or abandoning any hope of capturing more than a rough number of participants. But with today’s technology, there’s no reason you can’t log exactly who attended and when. Look for a ChMS that integrates solutions for mobile and social media, and you can collect registrations that feed directly into your database, during or even before your event. With church management tools, you can also slice, sort, and graph your data to see trends in attendance. Then you

can make reasonable predictions about which age groups, socioeconomic groups, or first-time visitors might be interested in future programs. Messages can also be automated to reach out to attendees directly after an event. Your ChMS might capture real-time impressions, say, by texting out a survey to VBS parents, or give traction to a topic, with an emailed Bible study that digs deeper into a seminar’s lessons. By speaking to people with the immediacy and mediums they’re used to, the church can appear as nimble and responsive as the hippest Millennial brands.

Use data to forge deeper relationships More important than looking nimble, though, is the church’s ability to act nimbly, backed by

To track aendance, my church uses real data. When you understand what’s brought newcomers through the church doors, you can design your outreach to build the church’s influence in your community. Luke Taylor shares that before they started using Seraphim church management software, gaining visibility into infrequent attendees was a challenge. “Say someone shows up on a Sunday morning and puts an envelope or a prayer request in the offering. They go in your system, but you don’t really know what they’re doing after that.” Now, he says, “we’re working with the Seraphim guys to capture who’s coming and then learn how best to follow up and minister to those people.” Our consumer-driven culture makes it comfortable for people to keep the church at arm’s length, attending as a spectator and perhaps never experiencing for themselves the full meaning of a Christ-filled life. The Message translator and pastor Eugene Peterson sees it as “my job . . . not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.” Our plans and programs may draw people in, but it’s only by knowing people—first through recorded facts, then a more personal understanding—that we can help them discover God’s unique plan for their lives. MT


Fills in the blanks

Member Management

Safe Check-in Ministry Planner Giving Tools Reporting & Analytics The Church App

March 2017 | 29

Let Church Members Carry All the Information They Need How One Church App Combines Multiple Functions.


here’s so much church technology out there. It’s easy to invest in one tool and use its most basic functions to perform the tasks we need, but when we delve deeper we can discover new ways to use these tools. Consider the Total Engagement Solution (TES), a full-featured, native church app powered by Pushpay. It enables your congregation to give quickly and securely. Church members can use this (completely customizable) app to stay engaged all week long. Here are three useful components:

30 |


Push notifications


Church has been canceled this morning due to the storm


We just uploaded a new podcast!



n Please pray for our membership classes


Prompt people to drop their kids off at childcare before the service

n This Friday’s the last day for mission-trip donations


Provide a digital copy of the bulletin

TES empowers churches to send messages to users’ mobile devices, even when they don’t have the app open. Provided you don’t spam them with content (that will only get them to bail on the app), it can be a simple way to keep them engaged. Here are a few examples of engaging push notifications: n If you missed Sunday’s sermon, give it a listen this week!

Set up an invisible perimeter around your church that allows you to send messages to app users within the boundary. This helps prepare people for the worship service as well as to remind them of important events and needs. Use this feature to:


Let them know what Bible passages will be discussed during the sermon


Remind people of special events or service elements: communion, baptisms, birthdays, or anniversaries.


Encourage regular church members (who have the app) to reach out to visitors and unfamiliar new faces (who do not have the app).


Expand your blogging community


Blogs for the heads of various ministries (feature blogs for every age group in your church)


Daily or weekly family devotions


A blog that offers encouragement for small-group leaders and lessons and questions for weekly group meetings


A theology/doctrine blog that delves deeper into Sunday morning’s message

Pool multiple blogs, the church’s or pastor’s blog, and get really creative with blog posts from other ministries in the church.

A lot of the hardware and software around you has more uses than you know. The key to unlocking them requires investing the time to think up creative ways to best use their functions. MT Click here for eChurch’s Total Engagement Solution, and get a free demo today. March 2017 | 31


You make known to me the path of life; In Your presence there is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

Ministry Tech Magazine - March 2017  
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