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Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - VP of Operations Michael Hewitt -

Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 22

September 2010

No. 9

7  cover story

Simplify Church Communication with One Call Now by Lauren Hunter

3  editorial

Copy Editor Gina Hewitt

What’s New?

By Steve Hewitt

4  press releases 13  special feature Facebook: Tag, You’re It!

By Kevin Fanberg

18  special feature

Corporate Home Office

Mailing address: PO Box 319 Belton MO 64012 Delivery address: 311 Manor Dr. Belton, MO 64012 Phone: (816) 331-8142 FAX: 800-456-1868 © Copyright 2010 by Christian Computing®, Inc.

Evolving Your Web Strategy

By Tony Ferraro

16  ACS ideas to impact Planning for Big Success with Small Groups

from ACS Technologies

21  accelerating the dynamic church Dynamic Churches Use metrics & Build Relationships

22  tech talk

Contributing Editors Dr. J.D. “Doc” Watson Lauren Hunter Terry Wilhite Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell C. Brian Smith Russ McGuire Drew Goodmanson Bradley Miller Michael Curylo

from Fellowship Technologies

Google Chrome Redux 2

26  higher power with kevin

By Dr. J.D. (Doc) Watson

e-Sword is Still One of the Best Free Bible Programs

29  launching online

By Kevin A. Purcell

Armed with AJAX

31 ministry communication

By Russ McGuire

How to Use Everything that’s Bad about Halloween as a Multi-media Tool

All Rights Reserved

Christian Computing® is a registered trademark of Christian Computing, Inc. Written materials submitted to Christian Computing® Magazine become the property of Christian Computing®, Inc. upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. Christian Computing® 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 Christian Computing®, Inc. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Christian Computing® Magazine, or Christian Computing, Inc.

By Yvon Prehn

Articles that are highlighed are provided by our partners

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010



What’s New?


Steve Hewitt -

have had the privilege of speaking or attending at least a dozen different conferences or ChMS user groups this last year (I will be giving the keynote address and leading a couple of sessions in November at the ParishSoft User Group Conference in Florida, my last for this year.) One of the reasons I like to do this is because it allows me the opportunity to meet Christian leaders and hear how they are using technology within their church or ministry! For example, I heard of a church that is now going paperless. No bulletin, no newsletter, no handouts at all. They depend on their membership to connect and gain all of the pertinent information they might need via their smart phone and texting services. Recently, I heard of a church that wants to use online giving during their offering time in worship and plan to pass iPads down the row of attendees, allowing those using such a service the opportunity to log in using a quick user name and password. They can select the fund amount and the ministry/group they wish to support (general, youth mission trip, etc.,) and then pass it to the next person! And, if you read Christian Video Magazine, you will have noticed the cover story in September covered my new love for Integrity’s iWorship FLEXX song movies. This is a fantastic tool that will be used by many churches, but especially by those wanting to start a new church but have been struggling to provide quality music with projected lyrics! I am sure there are MANY new products, services, or adaptations of ideas that are out there of which I am not aware. So, if YOU know of a church or ministry that is doing something new and exciting, using technology to enhance ministry, drop me an email and let me know about it! I will be happy to share it with others who might benefit from the knowledge! Remember... Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt Editor-in-Chief

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


Press Releases Free SiteOrganic Web site for ONE YEAR for new church plants!

SiteOrganic has announced that newly-planted churches can now receive its most popular website design and management service free, for a full year. The offer is extended to any church less than 12 months old, with 300 or fewer regular attendees. These organizations can now enjoy robust capabilities online with no fees for one year. There is no obligation to continue service after the free period. The “good soil” program, which allows a church to select a pre-designed theme with over 100 features and capabilities, will save church plant customers over $2,500 in the first year. “We know that new church plants need a strong, online presence to ensure a successful first year,” said Brad Hill, Founder and Executive Producer of SiteOrganic. “We have worked with very large and very small ministries for over 10 years and we are thrilled to apply that experience to the next generation of church plants.” With the new offer, a church plant will select a design theme and have its new Web site ready to use in less than two days. There is a one-time, up-front cost of $99 for the setup, but the normal $239 monthly fee is waived for 12 full months.  Free, live training is included, along with ongoing personal tech support.  The Web site, based on the SiteOrganic Growth platform, will include features such as audio and video players, blogs, secure pages, Twitter and RSS feed integration, image uploads, and integration with selected church management software products. “Our team is passionate about helping churches produce results with their online communications,” Hill continued. “This new program demonstrates our commitment to help churches of any size.” SiteOrganic allows prospective clients to view a comprehensive video demo of its services. Church plants can learn more at

Fall 2010 National Church IT Roundtables

Hey Church IT geeks! Like last year, instead of Christian Computing® Magazine

one location we’re having multiple event locations across the country to keep travel costs as low as possible. Cost=$35.  Follow announcements at and  Don’t miss this great opportunity for peer learning, community and inspiration Host Sites - Albuquerque, NM - Calvary of Albuquerque October 26 - Chicago, IL - Willow Creek Community Church October 26 - Cary, NC - Colonial Baptist Church - October 26 - Cooper City, FL - Flamingo Road Baptist Church - Dallas, TX - Watermark Community Church October 26 - Kansas City, MO – October 26 - Nashville, TN - Fellowship Bible Church - October 21 - Vienna, VA - McLean Bible Church - October 25 - Whittier, CA - Whittier Area Community Church October 25 For More info and registration links please visit What is CITRT? The Church IT RoundTable (CITRT) is a peer learning community of church IT people.  We’re an un-organization, a starfish rather than a spider, that values knowledge and initiative from all participants.  When we get together, we have an un-conference in which every participant is a presenter, every teacher is a learner, and everything is an experiment.   The community is not a membership organization, trade association, club, society, or guild and we aren’t trying to make money, raise money, or take money.  The Community exists for the purpose of encouraging and educating the community. We’re ecumenical and Kingdom-minded.  We’re Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox.  We choose in advance not to divide over theology (neither the religious kind nor the technology kind!).  What are the Goals/Mission of CITRT? September 2010


Press Releases CITRT exists to present opportunities of peer learning, community and inspiration for those involved in Church IT as staff, volunteers and vendors. Who is Involved/Who Should be Involved? CITRT is for staff, volunteers and vendors who support the Church in the area of Information Technology without discrimination to the maturity of the technology they use or the size of the congregation they support. Often we find ourselves with the skills and aptitudes to be successful but lacking in a critical piece of knowledge that may be found in a colleague within the Church IT community.  This is certainly true for those who are part-time staff or volunteers working in church IT.  We need information.  We need inspiration.  Above all, we need a community of like-minded peers.

Partnership between Icon Systems and Constant Contact!

Icon Systems has released software integration with Constant Contact for advanced e-mailing capabilities. IconCMO can now export e-mail addresses from the groups and talents modules to Constant Contact, eliminating duplicate entry between the church software and e-mail program. A challenge for churches in the past was how to leverage the data in their traditional church software to communicate effectively and easily using a sophisticated e-mailing program. Constant Contact provides rich e-mail templates, personalized features, and vital statistical tracking of emails allowing you to communicate with your congregation more personally and reach out to visitors more successfully. The statistical data can tell the church which recipient opened the e-mails, who forwarded them, which links within the e-mail were clicked, bounced e-mails, and many more statistics to help the church better serve their congregation communication and help with visitor retention. In addition to the e-mailing features, churches can use the Event Marketing and Online Survey modules. The Event Marketing module allows the church to market events on their website so people can register to attend those events. The church can receive payments for the Christian Computing® Magazine

events when cost is incurred. The online survey module allows the church to send a survey or poll out to their congregation to gather input on new ideas or concepts that the church is considering.

Free Web site makes Hebrew Bible fun and easy!

Serve-A-Verse™, a free service that offers the Hebrew Bible in a friendly and easy format, is now available to everyone in the world with access to the internet. Visitors can select a verse or range of verses from any book in the Old Testament, see it in the original language, hear it pronounced beautifully, and follow along easily with the help of syllable-by-syllable transliteration. English translation is currently available, and in the near future dozens of other languages will be added. Serve-A-Verse™ was created to meet the needs of those who are curious about the Hebrew language, what it looks like and especially how it sounds, but do not have the resources in which to acquire expensive software programs or enroll in classes. Regardless of one’s level of Hebrew literacy, age and culture, Serve-A-Verse™ offers a great opportunity to satisfy this curiosity. “We are proud to offer this unique and powerful tool to the on-line community”, said Benjamin and Shira Levy, creators of Serve-A-Verse™ and founders of Lev Software, a family-run company in South Florida that has provided Hebrew and Bible software products and services to customers worldwide for the last 20 years. Created with the beginner in mind, Serve-A-Verse™ offers you the Hebrew Bible with a system that is easy and fun, resulting in instant gratification. You can register with Serve-A-Verse at SAV and within moments you will have access to the complete set of 39 books of the Hebrew Bible! Call 1-800-776-6538 for further information or customer support.

September 2010


Press Releases Shelby Systems Joins the Constant Contact Partner Program as a Solution Provider

Shelby Systems announced it has joined the Constant Contact Partner Program as a Solution Provider Partner. Through this relationship, Shelby Systems’ customers gain access to easyto-use email marketing and online survey tools to help them build strong, lasting member relationships.

Contact to provide its customers with our online tools, and we look forward to working together to help Shelby Systems be an even bigger factor in its customers’ successes.” To learn more, please visit, or call 1.800.877.0222.

“Our customers are always looking for effective ways to deepen relationships with their members as an efficient means of growing their ministries,” said Frank Canady, Shelby Systems President and CEO. “The Constant Contact online tools are a valuable addition to our core services. Our customers will be very impressed with the ease-of-use and affordability of Constant Contact services.” As a Constant Contact Partner, Shelby Systems is able to provide its clients with email and online survey capabilities. With Constant Contact Email Marketing, Shelby Systems’ customers can quickly and easily create professional-looking emails, manage email contact lists, measure email campaign results from clicks to open rates, and review who joined an email list. With Constant Contact Online Survey, Shelby Systems’ customers have an easy-to-use tool to gather feedback that will help them meet member needs, generate new ideas, and grow their church. Constant Contact designed these tools specifically to help small organizations drive increased member participation and strengthen relationships. “Email marketing and online surveys are proven tools that help organizations connect with members and build successful relationships with them,” said Eric Groves, senior vice president, Global Market Development, Constant Contact. “We are pleased that Shelby Systems chose Constant Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


cover story

Simplify Church Communication with One Call Now


by Lauren Hunter

f you’re involved in church on any level—as a member or attendee, lay leader, small group leader, church administrator, or pastor—you know that church communication can always be improved. Whether people need to know about changes in service times, events announcements, ministry updates, capital campaigns, or prayer requests, having one system in place to reach out is imperative. I had the pleasure of interviewing Phil Elmore, a pastor and Senior Account Manager for One Call Now ( about this issue facing churches of all shapes and sizes: Q. What are some of the pains that churches feel when it comes to church communication? A. Poor communication puts the church at a big disadvantage. Churches can no longer rely only on Sunday bulletins and pulpit announcements to get the word out. Congregations on the go, demand a higher level of customized communication. If you want good turnout at an event, it’s imperative that the congregants not only know about its existence, but have details as to when, where, and how to attend as well as help. We all know that when events are poorly attended, it brings any momentum you’ve built to a screeching halt. Additionally, churches are businesses that depend on the support of their members. Gathering support for new initiatives through awareness and giving campaigns are crucial to the growth of your church. Adding a formal communication plan to your church not only improves communication, awareness, and giving, it reduces confusion and hurt feelings because someone wasn’t Christian Computing® Magazine

notified. A communication plan allows church staff more time for ministry, as they are no longer on the phone trying to call everyone with last minute changes. Q. How can One Call Now’s services help alleviate the pain churches feel when trying to keep in touch with members? A. People are so busy today. They are working more, their children are involved in more activities, and families have numerous outside commitments. They may want to be active in the church, but church events may slip their minds. A simple reliable communication system can send a gentle reminder in the form of a phone call, text, or email, and the results are amazing. When I served as a pastor, I observed this firsthand. If our church had a special service or event, I sent a simple reminder call a few hours before the event. The turnout was definitely higher and people would always tell me “Thanks for the call, Pastor— I almost forgot!” September 2010


Christian Computing速 Magazine

September 2010


Attitudes change and your congregation’s time is important, so respect it! Attitudes improve when people are kept in the loop for events and schedule changes. Members and staff appreciate a call or text when schedules or locations change. Good communication keeps everyone happy! Poor communication is a morale-killer. Jesus was the most prolific communicator in human history. He always attracted large crowds, and people would follow him from city to city. Two thousand years later his message is still being told. It is ironic that the church has not fully embraced the need and benefit of an established communication plan. The apostle Paul said (1 Cor. 9:19-21) “I become all things, to all people that I might win some.” He was determined to reach people where they were. Why shouldn’t the church take a similar approach? Reaching people as Paul would reach them might look like this: to those who text, I will text; to those who make calls, I will call. To those who email, I will email. Q. What are some of the most valuable features of your messaging system? Speed and flexibility are the hallmarks of the One Call Now system. We dial over 300,000 calls per hour, every hour of every day, so your message will be delivered almost imme-

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


diately. This is absolutely a necessity for last minute schedule changes due to weather, urgent prayer needs, or other emergencies. Flexibility is crucial. Send a call from anywhere you have a phone or internet connection. Pastors and church leaders have recorded and sent messages while standing in line at the grocery store, from the hospital, and even the mission field. One Church of God pastor called his entire congregation while he rode in a car following the ambulance that was taking his wife to the hospital after she was attacked by a pit bull. The congregation received his prayer request message and was praying before she even arrived at the hospital. One Call Now offers many features that are beneficial to new church plants as well as established churches: • The “Subgroup” feature gives you the flexibility to set up a call list within your main list, i.e. Women’s/ Men’s Group, Youth, Choir, Staff, etc. and send a message to any of these specific groups. • The “Message Reports” feature provides follow up information on whether your message was received by a live person, voice mail, or went unanswered. • The “Group Polling” feature allows you to send a message in the form of a question and have those

Christian Computing® Magazine

receiving the call enter their response. This feature is especially helpful for new church plants. Send a message to the community announcing your new church, and ask if they would like more information sent to them. Group polling is also a great way to get a head count for volunteers, vacation bible school, camp attendees, or even polling your staff for their input for planning a staff retreat. • The “Hot Transfer” feature is designed for you to send a message to your members, giving them the option of being immediately connected to a live person for more details, to schedule appointments or arrange home visits. • One Call Now is also the only message notification provider offering an iPhone application for calls, texts, and Message Reports on the go. Q. How do One Call Now’s solutions help churches of different sizes? •

We have solutions for any size church, ranging from a plan for fewer than 25 members all the way up to plans for congregations in the thousands. We offer three types of plans; Pay Per Call, Unlimited Silver, and Unlimited Gold.

September 2010


• Our Pay Per Call plan is designed to send occasional voice messages and it is great for special community outreach events or the occasional churchwide announcement, allowing churches to pay for what they need, as they need it. • For churches needing to send voice messages on a regular basis, our Unlimited Silver plan allows you to send unlimited messages to your entire congregation or small groups within the church, i.e. choir, staff, youth, etc. • Our Unlimited Gold Plan allows you to send unlimited messages to the entire congregation or a specific group in the church via voice calls, email, and text messages. This is our most popular plan as it offers congregations the opportunity to reach their members in the method they desire—voice, email and/or text messages.

Q. How do you ensure security when your messaging services integrate with social media? Keeping up with new technology using the most effective and efficient methods possible can be overwhelming. How do you reach your community-at-large and expand your outreach beyond the church walls? Entering the social media space allows churches to broadcast events and bring attention to work they’re doing in the community. It is important to tread carefully online to ensure that you safely and securely share only public information. This is not an appropriate venue for posting

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


personal information about individual members such as prayer requests for illness. Instead, use this space as a means for community awareness and to increase attendance at events. Once you’ve created a social media presence, One Call Now can assist you with the free and simple process to post your short email updates and text messages to your Facebook and Twitter accounts for quick broadcast of public information. Q. How can One Call Now be integrated in a church’s existing church communication plan and church management system? A. Nearly all church management software is compatible with One Call Now. The One Call Now system accepts member contact information in Excel or CSV formats. Additionally One Call Now offers One Call SYNC. This program automatically scans your church database looking for updates/changes. All updates/changes are automatically made to your One Call Now calling list. This technology saves your office staff a great deal of time, as they only need to maintain one database. Installing a “Family Profile” banner on your church website allows your members to add or update their existing phone numbers and email addresses listed in your One Call Now calling list. This assures that you always have the most up-to-date information. Q. What are some of the ways that churches have benefited from your solutions? A. I wanted to share just a few churches that have successfully used OCN’s services to help communicate well with their congregations: “Just last Sunday, I had a near 80-year-old pull me aside and tell me that he really appreciated the phone calls. They let me know what’s going on,” he said. Within a few minutes, a newly married twenty-something young lady told me the exact same thing. Thanks for the service you provide for our church - and for keeping your rates reasonable. I continue to tell fellow pastors about you.” - Jeff B. Senior Pastor, Bethany Church of God “Our bus broke down and we were stranded with 38 Youth, in the middle of nowhere, 2 hours from the church. With one call I was able to reach all 38 parents to let them Christian Computing® Magazine

know we would be late getting back to the church. We were even able to give the parents the option of having kids dropped off at the church or directly to their home… all they had to do was to press 1 for home or 2 for church.” - Pastor Janice C., Ansonia Church of God “In a moment of necessity, we tried One Call Now in order to get a quick message out about a location change for an event. The result was our normal attendance doubled. We have used it ever since. Thanks One Call Now for helping us to connect with our students that attend our Church.” – AmyJo G., Brentwood Baptist Church Lastly, the statistics do not lie: 92% of Churches report an increase in participation and support of events and activities; 98% agree that OCN is an effective way to connect to their members and 100% agree that it is fast and easy to send messages to members through their messaging system. In total, nearly 10,000 churches across North America use One Call Now as a part of their strategic church communication plan. During his career, Phil Elmore has served as senior pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor, and church planter. He currently serves as a chaplain for the Piqua Police Department, is involved in mission projects, and speaks at congregational conferences and conducts workshops on church growth and 21st century church communications. Phil currently works with the Church and Faith Based Organizations Market as Senior Account Manager for One Call Now. Phil can be contacted via email at Lauren Hunter is a writer, blogger, and church technology public relations consultant in Roseville, CA [;]. She is a contributing editor for CCMag.

September 2010


special feature

Facebook: Tag, You’re It!


By Kevin Fanberg

ith headlines in the news like 100 Million Facebook Users Learn True Meaning of Going Public and the changes Facebook made last December in the way they handle your Private Information or most recently Facebook’s Places (their new tag tracking locator) it is important for Facebook users to actually understand who can see their information and how widely spread their public information can be distributed. It is critical to know a few key things on how to use the privacy settings Facebook currently has to better protect yourself. Here we will unravel what you need to do looking at Facebook’s latest changes and limitations and then provide recommendations for how you can set up your account to best protect your private information. Now the only real way to protect yourself is to simply not have a Facebook account, but it is still a great way to stay connected to your friends. So the next option is to get educated on the steps you need to take to best protect yourself. Your responsibility as an informed Facebook account user is to take certain steps to better protect your information. This may seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The biggest step you can take when getting started is to use strong passwords that consist of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters for all your computer accounts. Make sure you have different passwords for your bank account than your social network and email passwords. Also, change your passwords often and choose something that you can remember without writing down for each online account. Christian Computing® Magazine

The next big step is to use secure https which works in your browser window just like http. This may take a bit longer because it gives you an encrypted connection that keeps you better secured. These tips aren’t Facebook specific and are essential steps for online banking, tithing, and various account management activities as well. Specifically, Facebook bases their Privacy Settings on four key groupings called: Only Me, Only Friends, Friends of Friends and Everyone. Understanding the definitions below will help you best decide what settings are best for you. “Only Me” is information that you don’t want shared to anyone else, but is required for some reason to be provided to Facebook (i.e. to prove you are who you say you are). Think of Only Me as a default setting for all highly sensitive private information like your email and home location addresses, birthday and age. “Only Friends” is information that you don’t want shared to anyone that you wouldn’t consider your close trusted friend. Think of this as a default setting for all sensitive information. “Friends of Friends” are people that your Facebook Friends have allowed to be their friends. September 2010


These are people that you may or may not know. They are often friends of yours but not necessarily. They can however, see much of your information, without your specific control. “Everyone,” like the word says, is everyone!!! Think of this as a post to the world, the Internet, present/future employers, co-workers, strangers, etc. Most people out there don’t have malicious intents in mind, but it only takes one. Furthermore, Everyone can sometimes mean everyone in the world even if they don’t have an account on Facebook. With an understanding of these four groupings, let’s explore the three parts of Facebook’s security settings called “Choose Your Privacy Settings”. From your regular Facebook screen, go to your “Account” profile in the top right corner, and select “Privacy Settings.” This screen gives you three primary sections, “Basic Directory Information,” “Sharing on Facebook” and “Applications and Websites.” From “Choose Your Privacy Setting” first click on “Basic Directory Information” and change the following items to match the suggested settings: The next step in Choosing Your Privacy Settings is to click on “Sharing on Facebook” and set the following settings. Facebook provides their suggested defaults, however they aren’t as private as you may like. Below these defaults is a small “Customize settings” option. Selecting this allows you to make configurations that best suit your needs. One of the most important settings in the section above, that is often over looked, is posting your birthday date and year. Since posting you birthday can make identity theft much easier it is important that you set this appropriately. If you want your friends to know your birthday, tell it to them, and avoid broadcasting it to everyone. The recommendation here is to set your birthday to “Only Me” or to “Friends Only” at the most. Your birthday is a critical piece of Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


information to someone looking to steal your credit and/or your identity. Like I mentioned at the top of the article, Facebook recently created an option to track where you are. By the way, this isn’t unique to Facebook, as Google Mobile Apps, the iPhone and other services offer such a tool, however you need to be aware and make sure you set it the way you want. Although this could be a fun and cool app, it also tells a lot of people when you not home, so make sure you configure your “Places” settings appropriately. The final Privacy Setting section we will discuss before getting back to Facebooking our friends, is setting up the configuration for “Applications and Websites.” Below are suggested settings for the privacy options you have available to you in your Facebook account. For some settings, you will have to click “Edit Setting” to go into and configure the individual fields. Remember with all these settings, only you know your situation the best, so apply common sense as you make your changes. Especially take note of your settings in “Info accessible through your friends” for more places tag tracking and your settings in “Public Search” for limiting your exposure to search engines like Google and Yahoo directly from the internet. After completing these configurations, you will be on your way to better privacy. Finally, remember to review your setting regularly looking for new feature settings Facebook adds and test it with a few friends. Skype them, give them a phone call, or better yet meet in person for cup of coffee! Author Bio Kevin Fanberg, CISSP is an IT Security Consultant in the government and healthcare industries providing security policy, compliance and technical solutions. You can reach Kevin via email at

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010



ACS ideas to impact

Planning For

Big Success With Small Groups


from ACS Technologies

mall groups are a great way for people in the church to develop closer relationships, encourage more responsibility, and foster growth. As the directional leader of these small groups, church leaders want a growing, vibrant ministry where people are strengthened and encouraged, actively engaged in their spiritual growth, serve others, and worship together. This article, excerpted from the ACS Technologies ministry guide Planning For Big Success With Small Groups, shows how the small groups puzzle can work from member to leaders to pastors. So why is it – with so many advantages for group members – that managing a small group ministry can sometimes seem like an impossible task? Despite all the benefits, many times groups lack direction and definition, leaving group leaders and participants feeling tentative and confused. Often, church staff members have no way of knowing vital information about groups and the members in those groups. Without organized systems and processes in place for managing small groups, staff members may have trouble finding information on: • • • • • •

what groups are available when they meet what topics are being studied how many people are in a group when new members join a group which groups are still meeting

While some leaders communicate well with church staff members about their groups, many don’t, which leads to an inconsistent, poorly organized small group ministry. The answer to this frustrating scenario can be found with Web-based small group management software that can be Christian Computing® Magazine

implemented by any church, from the newest ministries to the largest congregations with hundreds of small groups. With an easy-to-use, online interface, this innovative software solution offers small group ministries the ability to: • use the Internet to collect important demographic and contact information • connect prospects with group leaders • facilitate effective communication at all levels of the ministry In addition, the information can be easily accessed from the office, home, or a Web-enabled wireless device such as an iPhone® or a Droid™. For the Church Imagine if church members and attendees could go to the church Web site and search for small groups that interest them. At this site, they would be able to search for all available small groups and choose one to visit, based on criteria such as stage-of-life, geographic location, or current study topic. They could also find small groups that had childcare, if that was their need. In addition, they could request more information and have the leader of the group contact them. September 2010


For the Small Group Leader What if, when that person requested more information, not only did the leader receive an email asking them to contact the prospect, but a task was automatically set up to keep the leader accountable for contacting the prospect and inviting them to the next group meeting. What if the leader could even review and mark-off their task list online? For the Church Staff Once the assigned contact is made, the leader could return to the church’s small group Web portal and enter a brief report about the contact with the prospect and any resulting action from the contact. All this information will then be stored in the church’s central database and available to the church staff. For the Member When a member indicates to a leader that they are ready to join the group, the leader can go online and add them to the group’s roster, which will trigger an update to their record in the church’s database. Once they are part of the group, the member has access to a list of the other members and can email them or see their phone numbers to contact them, thus reinforcing the relationships between the members. Endless Possibilities Of course, the possibilities offered by today’s software solutions are not limited to the examples given in this article. There are virtually endless ways for these solutions to help your small group ministry run as efficiently as possible. This will result in the relational connections and spiritual growth that are at the heart of any small group ministry. To get more information about how ACS Technologies can help take small groups to the next level in any church and create lasting ministry impact, download the ACS Technologies ministry guide Planning For Big Success With Small Groups today.

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


special feature

Evolving Your Web Strategy


By Tony Ferraro

nce upon a time in a small desert town there was a schoolhouse, a laundry, a main street of rugged dirt, a town barber and a church. Yes, “a” church. It is hard to imagine that just more than 125 years ago, most of America was filled with small towns just like this one. The Pony Express brought the mail, stage coaches and rail cars carried payroll and families walked to church on Sundays. Life is different. Cell phones, computers, handheld devices, satellite global positioning and so many other technologies are quickly changing the way every part of our society operates, including that church. In fact, it almost seems that to be reading an article concerning websites would equate to reading last year’s news, irrelevant. If this were an article advocating a web presence, that would be a correct assessment. However, this article is about where the web is headed, how churches can take advantage of it and what they should do about it. In that small desert town, people ate together, they played together, they worked together, and they lived life and died together. Today people are spread out; they drive great distances to work, school and worship. Churches need to adapt their community tactics to meet the needs of a disparate congregation. Church websites are becoming anchor points for community life…a place where people can connect, engage, learn and worship. The core questions that any church should be asking themselves right now are, 1) how can we reach people where they are, 2) how connected do we want to be with our congregants and how connected do we want them to be with each other, 3) can we use technology to further spiritual discipleship, and 4) how do we do it? Reaching People through Technology Churches and Christians have a responsibility to take the gospel to people wherever they are. Technology Christian Computing® Magazine

removes all barriers to accomplish this. In communities surrounding churches across America, there are people that are disabled either physically or emotionally, people that unfortunately must work on Sundays, and others that will not go to church due to past negative experiences with churches. Ten years ago, only “super mega-churches” could afford the technology to broadcast their services on the Internet. Today, the technology is available to everyone, very affordably. With an HD camera ($150-$300), a computer ($500-$2,000), an internet connection ($50 per month) and an account with Livestream (free), any church can broadcast its services. Reaching the formerly unreachable is now very affordable and easily accomplished. Church websites will become vehicles for delivering the Great Commission. Many churches have gone the extra step of creating the “online campus” with great success. LifeChurch (OK), Central Christian Church (NV), Northpoint (GA), Flamingo Road Church (FL) and Liquid Church (NJ) are some good examples. Huge resources are not required. Liquid Church was experiencing weekly attendance of roughly 500 people when they initiated their online campus. Online campuses are reaching people around the world, wherever people happen to be. People are hearing Christ’s gospel and making life changing decisions, from troops in Iraq to hospitals in Las Vegas to Starbucks Coffee Shops to Shut-Ins, the gospel is being heard and received via these “websites”. Implementing an online campus can be done for as September 2010


little as $3,000.00. Connecting People There are so many options for connecting people via the church website. Facebook is quickly becoming a standard platform for social media users. Allowing members to bring their Facebook profile to your online church community is very affordable and easy to accomplish. The important question is, “How much connectivity and activity do we want to allow?” It is much safer to have congregants interacting in a captive church community; but, it does require work to maintain and monitor the community. Other important questions include, “Should we allow nonchurch members to participate in the community?”, “Should we allow people to personalize their profiles with pictures, etc.?” These are great questions. The reality is that most church online communities remain safe. People simply do not post unacceptable content to church communities and if they do, the church remains in control and can remove it easily. The important issue is how committed to online connection is the church. Church online communities can either be very successful or very useless. There must be an individual within the church that is an advocate. Someone on staff must care that relevant content is posted and maintained. If those two pieces of the puzzle exist, the opportunities are boundless. The future will hold continued attempts to bring people and content together via the church website. Churches will find new ways to use Twitter, Facebook and private solutions to create community. The website will be the hub for interaction, learning and connecting the church; but only committed churches will be successful Christian Computing® Magazine

with engaging this strategy. Spiritual Growth As a point for community life, the church website offers a unique way for spiritual formation to occur every day. Along with a “verse of the day”, pastors can now create specific discipleship plans, personal retreat ideas, a discipline labyrinth and many other formation tools allowing church members to intentionally choose the right path for themselves, each member building a personal formation process and then engaging with others to share their growth stories. Again, however, a church must commit to the process for this to be successful. Members will only respond if September 2010


they believe this process is going to be invested in. In order to insure that you do not “bite off more than you can handle”, a “duration” strategy is suggested. The duration strategy suggests that plans are made to promote online spiritual formation for a defined time period, i.e. during a specific teaching topic, series or calendar season. Creating small commitments allows congregants to feel that they “can do it” and gives them a short stretch, building confidence for more lengthy commitments later. Getting it Done As mentioned, steps to success require commitment. The key steps to getting it done are as follows: • Create a Vision Document: Build a vision document that details what the commitment is, the core objectives, the risks and what success looks like. This vision should also firmly define the financial and human resource commitment that will be made. It is important to know what you wish to accomplish and what your costs will be. That said, DREAM A LITTLE. Ask the question, “if we were building a new church today centered around an online strategy, what would it look like?” • Seek Help: Look to other churches that are doing what you want to do. There are many churches that will share their technology, advice and even staff, Flamingo Road Church and LifeChurch are two examples. Beyond that, ask some of your college aged and young adult attendees how they would do it. They are more than eager to help and very connected to what “can be done”. Finally, there are consultancies that can help you with this strategy. • Collaborate: This should not be a project for one person in your church. Today’s technologies are about collaboration. Put a team together from across your congregation and staff that can be the drivers. This will not only help to build the right solution for your congregation; but, it will also create many people invested in the process and create the best opportunity for success once it is launched. • Commit, Commit, Commit: Once you have your plan and have defined your costs and acceptable Christian Computing® Magazine

risks. Move with lightening speed and the strength of Solomon. Execute your entire plan. Do not cut corners along the way. See it through! Truly the world has changed. Life is no longer lived on a 40 acre parcel. The diverse lifestyles of our congregants demands that they be met in creative ways that can impact their life. Technology not only provides that but also provides a vehicle for taking those relationships to more meaningful places with greater frequency. Church websites are moving from being information to relational. As times change, so must our strategies in delivering purpose God has uniquely given each of us. It is now our burden to figure out how to take a very fastpaced, exploding community in which we live and turn it into that small desert town. A solid web strategy can help do that. Tony Ferraro is the Chief Visionary Officer for Logos Management Software, Inc., a leading provider of church management tools, providing solutions from fund accounting and database systems to online campuses. Tony can be reached at or check out the company website at

September 2010


accelerating the dynamic church

Dynamic Churches Use Metrics & Build Relationships


from Fellowship Technologies

ow do you measure “life, and life abundantly” (John 10:10)? Churches place a great deal of emphasis on spiritual growth of their members, but as this ¸ !CCELERATING4HE$YNAMIC#HURCH question illustrates, it is hard to measure. Since spiritual growth is subjective, churches need objective measurements to help quantify and qualify the effectiveness of their ministries as aids to spiritual growth. Barometers For Measurement Since churches can’t measure “life, and life abundantly,” they need ways to determine if growth is happening. The point is not to create an absolute measurement for spiritual growth, but rather a metric that provides leading indicators to help church leaders evaluate the effectiveness of ministry efforts. A barometer may be a better tool, as it reflects changes in circumstances or opinions, making it possible to measure external opportunities. For example, measuring how often people serve and how generous they are with their time and finances are the kinds of leading indicators church leaders can use to generally gauge the involvement and/or commitment of people. This kind of metric represents one method of qualifying growth.

realized. Sharing insights across ministries and from volunteer leaders up through staff leadership is key to making informed ministry decisions. In the end, qualitative metrics combined with personal relationships provide insight for making informed ministry decisions. Dynamic churches leverage tools, such as Fellowship One, to help aid them in centralizing information, sharing personal insights and measuring ministry involvement.

Numbers Alone Are Insufficient While metrics are useful barometers for understanding growth, church leaders cannot make ministry decisions on numbers alone. What numbers cannot represent are the insights that can only come through personal relationships through one-on-one connections from staff or volunteer leaders. As a church grows, having personal relationships with each and every person is simply not possible for any single staff member. Because of this fact, church leaders must share the responsibility of building relationships with other staff and lay leaders in order to create a scalable method for staying in touch with the life of the local church. To facilitate interpersonal connections, sharing relational information must be centralized for accessibility. In addition, this information must be available throughout the church organization for ministry insights to be fully Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


tech talk

Google Chrome Redux 2


Dr. J.D. (Doc) Watson -

ast time we began the second look at Google Chrome that has appeared in this column. While a committed Firefox user for years, I have switched to Google Chrome exclusively (except for one radio program stream that will not yet work in it). In this second part, we’ll examine some other features in Chrome that just might win you over as well. Search and Ye Shall Find If Chrome already recognizes a particular search engine, it makes searching really fast. Say I wanted to search for John Denver videos on YouTube (sorry, I’m just a poor old folk singer at heart). All I have to do is start typing YouTube’s address and a message appears on the right-hand side saying “Press tab to search” (Fig. 1). So I just hit the Tab key and type in my search string. Chrome even “learns.” The metasearch engine Dogpile, for example, was not at first recognized, but once I went there it was then added to this “tabbing” feature. Ah, but there is an even faster way—you can customize your search engines with keywords, another feature like Firefox. To create a keyword for, for example, click “Tools > Options,” click the “Basics” tab, and then the “Manage” button located next to “Default Search.” This displays a window listing all the search engines Chrome currently recognizes. Scroll down and see if You- is already there. If so, double-click it (or select it and click “Edit”). Now just give it a (or change the current) “Keyword” (e.g., tube for in Fig. 2). If necessary, click the “Add” button to add other search engines, adding a keyword for each. Now whenever I want to perform a Google search for content only on YouTube. com, I simply have to type tube followed by your search string. Posting the Watchdog Similar to Window’s Task Manager, Chrome has its own. Just press Shift+Esc to display it. You’ll see a basic view of running Chrome processes and how much memory and CPU percentage each one is using, as well some network stats. If you run into a troubled plug-in or simply a tab that’s taking up too much memory, just click the “End process” button. For the geekier user, click the “Stats for nerds” link in the lower left corner, which displays an

Fig. 1 – Chrome automatically recognizes search engines Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


“about:memory” page (more about this below). You can also right-click anywhere in the Task Manager window and choose to display or hide other items to display, such as: Image Cache, Script Cache, JavaScript Memory, and several others. Looking Good While minimalism is good, some users at least like it to “look pretty.” Additional themes are constantly being added to Chrome galleries. Just go to “Tools > Options > Personal Stuff” and then click “get Themes.” You will also want to check out for even more. No need to be leery of changing the theme. If you don’t like what you see, just go back to “Tools > Options > Personal Stuff” and click “‘Reset to default theme.”

Fig. 2 – Creating keywords for search engines.

More About Everything Fourth, About:Plugins lists all installed plug-ins, One of my few disappointments with Chrome is that specifying which ones are enabled, along with a short deit doesn’t have tweaking capability in its “About” pages as scriptions and an option to disable each. does Firefox. You can view a lot of things, however. Here Fifth, About:Version simply provides a more detailed are a few of the more useful pages. Just type the appropriate description of the current version of Chrome than does the command in the address bar. “Tools > About Google Chrome” option. First, About:DNS displays data about which sites Here are a few more hidden pages: are cached and how many of them have benefited from • about:net-internals displays an overview of netChrome’s “DSN [Domain Name System] prefetching.” In work status and usage short, instead of waiting for DNS to resolve domain names, • about:credits displays credits and links Chrome does this while you are viewing a web page. This • about:crash displays a crash tab results in about a 250ms speed up from traditional brows• chrome://extensions displays extensions installed ers. If you want to learn more, go to: http://blog.chromium. in Chrome org/2008/09/dns-prefetching-or-pre-resolving.html • chrome://history displays web history Second, About:Cache lists all the items, complete with • chrome://downloads displays Chrome’s download its own hyperlink, currently contained in Chrome’s cache. “How to have more time for ministry!” Third, About:Memory (mentioned earlier) displays a plethora Do you want to save time, get more done and have fewer headaches? Then Donarius Church of memory stats, such as how Management Software will make it easy for you much total RAM that Chrome, to track your members, contributions, pledges Starting at $63.97 Firefox, and other browsers are and more. Imagine what you can do with the for the base version with chewing up, as well as breaks 25% off for small churches extra time! Donarius will also: down Chrome’s individual proDownload a free demo at: • Print your tax receipts cesses and tabs. If you still have • Show the giving pattern of your members any doubts about Firefox’s well• Print your church directories 1-888-479-4636 known memory leak problem, this • Send personalized letters, emails and text Nuverb Systems Inc. messages to keep your members informed should erase any doubt. “Software tailored for you” Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


manager • chrome://bookmarks displays Chrome’s bookmark manager Out of the Gate Chrome supports a staggering number of startup switches. For a quick how-to; right-click the shortcut you use to start Chrome, select “Properties,” and click “Shortcut.” Now note the “Target” field; it will read something like this: C:\Users\ [USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Google\ Chrome\Application\chrome.exe. To add a switch, just type a space after chrome.exe and then type any switches you want, adding a space between each. To be honest, the vast majority of Chrome’s startup switches will not appeal to the non-geek, but here are a few that might be of interest: • -start-maximized starts Chrome maximized, regardless of any previous settings • -enable-sync enables syncing bookmarks to a Google account • -incognito launches Chrome in Incognito Mode (see my original November 2009 article) • -omnibox-popup-count increases or decreases the number of suggestions in the address bar drop-down (Eg., -omniboxpopup-count=10 increase it to 10 suggestions) • -bookmark-menu adds a Bookmarks button Chrome’s toolbar Glutton for punishment? Here’s an exhaustive list (but consider yourself warned): component/content/article/261-google/1713google-chrome-exhaustive-command-lineswitches.html. Keep Your Options Open While Chrome does not have as many options as other browsers (then again, how many do we really need?), it has several very good ones. Click the “wrench” icon in the upper right corner and select “Options.” On the “Open” tab, note the “Open the following pages” option. Like Firefox, Christian Computing® Magazine

Chrome can set several tabs as your Home page. Just click the “Add” button and select URLs from the list. Alternately, since this dialog is a separate window, you can switch back to the browser, go to any page you wish, copy its URL to the Clipboard, and then switch back and paste it. Also on this tab you can specify your Home page and default search engine, assuming you don’t want Google in one or both September 2010


cases. Also here is the “Reopen the pages that were open last” option. Again like Firefox, Chrome will automatically restore the tabs from your last browser session. While Chrome’s toolbar is purposely meager, you might want to use the “Show Home button on the toolbar” to do just that. The “Personal Stuff” tab also has some nice tidbits. One is the “Set up sync” button, which enables you to easily share your data (such as bookmarks and preferences) between your computers. Chrome synchronizes your data by storing it online with Google when you login with your Google account. The “Under the hood” tab contains some advanced settings. “Content settings” enables you to control cookies, images, JavaScript, plug-ins, pop-ups, and your physical location tracking. Another option here that I immediately used was “Downloads” to specify another location for downloaded files instead of the default “My Documents.” Let’s Get Down Finally, Chrome has improved a little on managing downloads. You can now click the “wrench” icon and select “Downloads” (or press Ctrl+J) to display a separate page on its own tab listing your download history. For each file listed, you can click the “Show in folder” link to open an Explorer window that takes you to the correct folder. There is also a “Remove from list” link, but all this is obviously minimal. Alternately, there are several free download managers available if your needs are more demanding. One of the better ones is “Free Download Manager,” a pretty robust little open-source program. It has download acceleration, file splitting, and multiple transfer protocol support. Take a look if you like at: Enjoy!

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


higher power with kevin

e-Sword Is Still One of the Best Free Bible Programs Kevin A. Purcell -


t has been some time since we have taken a look at eSword, now in version 9 with a whole new file format designed to take advantage of the more modern formats for files. The old e-Sword system was built on a now outdated Microsoft technology. The new file format will allow for more security meaning publishers will be more likely to grant e-Sword permission to sell their books without fear of piracy, something that is a real problem even with Bible software. Sadly, the change has angered many long-time e-Sword users who had a lot of self-published content in e-Sword. They put a lot of time into creating their book files and they were not happy about the change. But the increase in up-to-date commentaries, translations, dictionaries and content made the switch well worth the struggle. And if you are in the situation many found themselves after the update, check out the e-Sword 9 Converter at It is a simple utility designed to bring version 8 files into the version 9 universe. Because of the update, sites like (http:// are offering more exciting content than ever for the eSword engine. I was fortunate enough to test out some of their best content within the program including the following:

Christian Computing® Magazine

• Baker’s NT Comm. - $45 • Believer’s Bible Comm. - $14.99 • Jon Courson’s Application Comm. – $14.99 • Life Application Study Bible Notes - $11.24 • Bible Knowledge Comm. - $26.24

September 2010


• Bible Teacher’s Commentary - $14.99 • Preacher’s Commentary 35 vol. - $60 • Thru the Bible, 5 vol. - $29.99 • Wiersbe’s Bible Comm. - $18.74 • Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines - $11.24 Some of the great translations they offer are: • HCSB - $7.99 • NKJV - $11.99 • NLT - $11.99 • NRSV - $11.99 • NIV Family Bundle - $23.99 • Complete Jewish Bible - $11.99 • The Message - $7.99 • RSV - $7.99 Of course these are all current prices and are subject to change. Not wanting to sound like a commercial, I mention this because many have the false impression of e-Sword that you cannot get good quality content for the application. Sure they

Christian Computing® Magazine

have a ton of free books, most of which are public domain works. But many are not and the above lists show that great content is available in the program. So what makes e-Sword one of the best free Bible study programs available? First, it is simple to use. Everything you want or need is right there ready and within site on the main screen. Second, the little features like the ability to view hyperlinks as popups, something all Bible software should do, the simple to use notes feature with the ability to add hyperlinked Bible verse references, and a printing feature, something one of the biggest Bible programs didn’t have until a recent beta update. I think the most powerful feature is the ability to create your own books and share those with others. This makes e-Sword a wonderful tool for those who create content, for missionaries who are translating the Bible into new languages and want to study it in that language, or just the average user who wants to have his or her own self-published study Bible or commentary. The editor used to create these tools has spell checking, a Thesaurus, and the ability to make a hyperlink to a verse

September 2010


very quickly. Like every Bible study app, it can search the Bible in advanced ways and display maps. It also has devotional reading and even a prayer request feature. Verses can be bookmarked or highlighted. When you open the program there are Tips displayed to help you learn the program. These can easily be turned off with a check box. The scripture memory tool can help you “hide the word in your heart” and the illustration database helps you collect illustrations for teaching and preaching. One thing that sets it apart from others is the ability to view STEP content. If you are new to Digital Bible Study, you may not know that STEP is a Bible study format for books and translations designed to allow multiple vendors to distribute their content in a format that all could read. It was great to be able to buy a book from one vendor but use it in another application since the format was compatible. Sadly, STEP is no longer used. But many people still have hundreds of dollars of books in the format. e-Sword is just about the only tool still being developed that will display STEP files. To help you understand the interface, I have created some videos going over the various features. They are not meant to be in depth help videos or reviews. Just demos. They can be found at: http://www. Check out other Digital Bible Study content at and you can follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter. com/kapurcell.

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


launching online

Armed with AJAX By Russ McGuire -


ast month we discussed client-side programming, especially JavaScript. A few months ago we discussed web services. We’ve also spent most of our time studying different aspects of server-side programming. This month, we’re going to tie all of those concepts together in looking at a very powerful programming technique known as AJAX. What is AJAX? AJAX is an acronym standing for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Let’s look at each part of this name to understand what’s involved: Asynchronous: Asynchronous literally means Not Synchronous. A synchronous system works in a fixed, ordered way. One thing happens, followed by another, in pre-determined fashion. Therefore; asynchronous means that the program can operate with independent actions not waiting to go in a specific order. JavaScript: We studied JavaScript at length in last month’s column. JavaScript is a client-side programming language that runs inside the web browser. (Note that the capabilities represented by AJAX can actually be achieved with any client-side programming language – not just JavaScript.) XML: eXtensible Markup Language is a set of rules for encoding a document in machine-readable form. XML is extensible, meaning that specific types of documents can be defined using the structure of XML. These document types are defined with a Document Type Definition (DTD). XML is organized as markup and content, with markup tags contained in < brackets >. If you’re familiar with HTML, this is probably starting to sound familiar, and in fact HTML has become a subset of XML defined by a DTD. The first line in each HTML page at is: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C// Christian Computing® Magazine

DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “ xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”> which tells us that this website is using XHTML 1.0 Transitional which is defined in a DTD at the website. The important thing about XML as it relates to AJAX is that it provides a language for two programs to talk to each other. (Note that the capabilities represented by AJAX can actually be achieved without using XML – as long as the messages can be understood by each program.) So, what does it mean when we put all these things together? It means that there are programs running inside a web page which are communicating in an asynchronous manner with server-side programs. This means that the web page can change dynamically, probably based on user interaction, and the content of the page can be updated with information coming from the server. Why use AJAX? A popular example of AJAX is Google’s Gmail service. Gmail uses AJAX to mimic the capabilities of a standalone client program (like Microsoft Outlook) within a web application. When you click on Inbox, a portion of the page redraws listing the messages in the inbox, and when you click on an individual message, a portion of the page redraws displaying the message. September 2010


Technically, behind the scenes, Gmail is using AJAX to fetch the list of messages or the body of the message and display it. But to the user, the end result is simplicity and ease of use. It’s comfortable and natural, not like most web interfaces. That’s the beauty of AJAX, and why more and more web sites are using it. How to deploy AJAX AJAX requires you to write two programs – the client side (probably in JavaScript) and the server side (in our case, we use PHP). Writing the client side program is easiest using a framework like jQuery. JQuery includes a full suite of methods and functions to simplify implementing AJAX. The simplest is the .load() method which fills the specified page element with content retrieved from the specified url. This method is good for loading a page with static data – for example in implementing a tabbed interface or an interface for stepping through multiple pages of content. A more likely implementation would use a function like .get() or .post() to pass data to the server as if a form had been submitted. The returned data can then be copied into an element on the web page. This can be used, for example, to load a specific Bible passage into a section of the web page when the user makes a selection without having to reload the entire web page. An even more sophisticated approach is to use the .getJSON() function to retrieve back from the server structured data that can be used to manipulate elements on the page. For example, I’ve used this approach to populate known churches in a pull-down list (<SELECT> element) based on a city and state input by the user. (JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation and is a simpler alternative to XML.) Writing the server side program is pretty straightforward. In general, it works just like any other web server program, simply outputting the text to be returned to the client side program. For the .load() method, the server side “program” could even be as simple as just an HTML document. For the .get() or .post() function, the server side program would be very similar to a normal form handling program. For a .getJSON() function, the server-side program has to take the extra step of formatting the output as JSON objects. Even in the most complex implementations, the server side program is typically the easiest part of an AJAX implementation. One really important limitation to be aware of is that, for good security reasons, you generally can only use AJAX to Christian Computing® Magazine

communicate with a server side program in the same domain as the client side web page. If you’re trying to access a web service in another domain (for example the Living Stones web service we discussed in June), this is easily resolved by writing a simple server side program on your web server that passes along the request to the web service and then passes along the response to the client side AJAX program. The most challenging aspect of implementing AJAX is testing and troubleshooting. Since we can’t “see” the interaction between the client and server components, it can be very challenging to figure out why an AJAX solution isn’t working. But what fun is programming without a few challenges to work through? I hope and pray that this article will help you in making your websites better serve your visitors to the glory of God. Russ McGuire is an executive for a Fortune 100 company and the founder/co-founder of three technology start-ups. His latest entrepreneurial venture is (, a social network for Christian families (especially homeschoolers) which is being built and run by three homeschooled students under Russ’ direction.

September 2010


ministry communication

How to Use Everything that’s Bad about Halloween as a Multi-media Tool to Reach People with the Gospel Yvon Prehn -


f there is a holiday that causes lots of controversy in the church, it has to be Halloween. Some churches welcome it as a great time to do community outreach with alternative Halloween events, while others shake their fingers and condemn churches that even mention the term. Taking our cue from the Apostle Paul who used the pagan idols in Athens as his bridge to sharing the Gospel, here are some ways you can use this time of year to share the Gospel in a variety of multi-media ways. Read on... Turn dislike into outreach There is a lot to dislike about Halloween—it’s emphasis on and even glorification of evil, its focus on death and the macabre. At the same time, the topic of death is not something that most people in our pleasure and prosperity obsessed world consider very often. Instead of running away from this, let’s use it as a bridge to share the Gospel of our Lord who is the only Savior

who conquered death. This approach was the one taken by the Apostle Paul who not only in Athens, but in writing to the Corinthians said: To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Cor. 9:20-22 Use multi-media to reach out and bridge to Gospel interest On my website: http://www.effectivechurchcom. com, I will have a link on the home page to all of the

Christian Computing® Magazine

September 2010


resources mentioned below, plus additional ones for Halloween evangelism through the month of October, but here are some overviews, plus some things you can create without having to go to the site. Three short videos for motivation and follow up These three videos were created using the software. It is one of the most fun programs I’ve ever used as you can easily create full-motion videos with music using your works and images. You just enter your material into little boxes; click a button and a great little video appears. It is free to try and then available for fairly low yearly rates: Each of these videos is under two minutes in length: Halloween is more than a candy grab --an overview of materials the congregation can use for Outreach Volunteer motivation for Halloween --motivation for the congregation to invite their friends Outreach events Something to Consider at Halloween --a video that could be put on a CD for people to take home and consider after an outreach event Print or web invitations and bulletin inserts Words are still one of our most powerful tools to motivate our people and reach our world. Here are three options you can use. The illustrations here are the images used on my website, but feel free to take this content and use it in any way useful to you either in print or on the web. Small invitation card: this text was used on business card-size invitations. Halloween, a fun time for tombstones, ghosts, and all things scary. . . . But, what about when it isn’t Halloween? This Halloween, take some time to check out the one person in all of history who conquered death—Jesus. On the back of this card are resources for you to explore. Halloween can be fun, but it’s also a time to consider eternally serious and truly scary questions.

Christian Computing® Magazine

A postcard invitation: this text was used on postcard (1/2 of an 8 ½ by 11 sheet). Halloween… Fun time for tombstones, ghosts, and all things scary... But, what about when it isn’t Halloween? We can laugh at death when it’s part of a Halloween spook house, but we don’t laugh when it touches someone we love or when we must face it. This Halloween, take some time to check out the one person in all of history who conquered death—Jesus. His resurrection is the key belief of the Christian faith and what makes Jesus unique among religious leaders. We invite you to be part of activities at our church or you can check facts online and in private. Take time, ask questions, and research the answers. September 2010


Halloween might be a fun time, but seeking serious answers to lifechanging subjects is always important. On the back of this card are events, websites, and other resources for you to find out more. Motivation for your people: text for a bulletin insert Your people may have concerns about why you are sponsoring an Alternative Halloween event and this bulletin insert can ease their fears and get them excited about your event and inviting people. On the back of the insert, I recommend putting a prayer list, so people will be intentional about inviting. A reason to be part of our Halloween Event— It’s a way to share your faith that isn’t scary. Halloween is all about getting scared—for real or makebelieve—with ghosts, spiders, witches, and scary faces all around. But as scary as Halloween is, there is something even scarier for many church people, and that is sharing their faith. Deep down inside, most believers feel they ought to be doing more to let people know about the joy of salvation in Jesus, but at the same time, many would rather meet a real ghost or walk through a pit of live slimy creatures than share their faith with a neighbor. Why is this so scary? Every individual has his or her own reasons, but I find much of the fear comes from mistaken ideas about “witnessing” that are not any truer than the masks worn on Halloween. The false boogeyman version of faith sharing for many involves going up to a total stranger and asking “Are you saved?” or some similar question and then painfully going through a short tract or little memorized presentation. Please don’t misunderstand me here. There is nothing wrong with that approach if you are comfortable doing it, but many of us are of somewhat more timid temperament and would welcome an alternative method. Christian Computing® Magazine

A non-scary way to share your faith: One alternative to the above described confrontational method is to simply invite people to come to an event where they can meet Jesus. That’s what the disciples did. With the exception of Peter, we don’t have a record of any of them preaching—maybe it was scary for them also. What they did was bring people to Jesus: Andrew brought Peter; Phillip brought Nathaniel; Matthew invited his friends to a party to meet Jesus. Simply bringing people to Jesus at a church event—that’s not scary. Pray that once they meet him and his people that they will continue the journey to know him personally and to trust him as forgiver and leader. Bringing people to Jesus—that’s what our fall celebration is all about. Details for the upcoming event are on the back of this sheet, for a wonderful, fun, non-scary time for everyone. Some people will still be unhappy that you promote Halloween for any reason, but for others Halloween may be the opportunity for them to, as the videos suggest: consider Jesus and live…live forever. To see more on Halloween outreach and to view the videos, go to: September 2010



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