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

Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 23

March 2011

No. 3

3  cover story

Meet ParishSOFT

By Steve Hewitt

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 Copy Editor Gina Hewitt

8  special feature BombBomb - An Email Service Provider with a Twist, Include Videos!

Steve Hewitt -

12  ACS ideas to impact

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

Your Ministry On Demand

from ACS Technologies

© Copyright 2010 by Christian Computing®, Inc.

All Rights Reserved

14  accelerating the dynamic church Church Small Groups – Like Herding Cats?

from Fellowship Technologies

15  higher power with kevin WORDsearch Books in Bibleworks: Two Great Apps that Work Great Together!

Kevin A. Purcell -

17  big ministry - small resources Google Calendaring

Bradley Miller -

22  tablet time What About Android?

By Russ McGuire -

25  ministry communication How To Tune Up Your Website NOW So You Won’t Disappoint Easter Seekers

Yvon Prehn -

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.

Articles that are highlighed are provided by our partners

Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


cover story

Meet ParishSOFT


By Steve Hewitt

henever I am asked, “Who reads Christian Computing Magazine?” I am always at a loss to describe our “average” reader. We don’t have an average reader! We have readers at all levels of technology implementation and they come from every Christian denomination that can be found. Over the years I have been aware that we also had a good number of readers who serve in the Catholic Church. For example, I remember seeing the Archbishop of Boston on our mailing lists back in the day when we used to send out the magazines in print form. And, last year, I was given several opportunities to speak at conferences designed to help Catholics better use technology to enhance their ministry. One of those speaking engagements was at Villanova University where I was honored to give the keynote address at the center for the study of Church Management. While there, I had the opportunity to meet with the representative from ParishSOFT exhibiting at that conference and catch up on what they have to offer. In November of last year, I was invited to give the keynote and lead some sessions at the ParishSOFT national user’s conference. I always love opportunities such as these, because it gives me the chance to meet the staff as well as really get to know their customer base. I had a fantastic time, and left with a better appreciation for ParishSOFT as well as the goals of Catholic churches to use technology! I also discovered many long time readers at their conference, and the opportunities to speak at more of their conferences have continued into this year. I am looking forward to leading some sessions at the Diocesan Information Systems Conference in Boise, ID, in June of this year. So, this month I thought it would be a great idea to interview ParishSOFT and let our readers Christian Computing® Magazine

know more about their company, their ministry, what they have to offer and where they are heading. They already introduced me to Faith Interactive, which is the company from Higher Logic that is helping us create our upcoming Online Community. I hope you will benefit from learning more about what they have to offer to you as well! And, starting next month, I have asked them to host a column in CCMag, providing information specific to the technology needs for Catholic churches! Enjoy the interview... Tell us how ParishSOFT got started Our founder, David Rosenberg, was happily working in medical information systems in the 1990s when he boarded a flight and found himMarch 2011


self seated next to Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Harrington from the Archdiocese of Detroit. Their conversation quickly turned to the challenges of demographic trending and strategic planning in a world where there really was no information management software to serve the Catholic Church. In Detroit, parishes were closing, and Bishop Harrington knew that if the archdiocese had had access to better data in prior years, they could have better prepared parishes for the transition and perhaps even spared some from closure. Rosenberg recognized this experience as the tap-tap of God’s hand on his shoulder and said yes to putting his talents to work for the Church—it was an answer that would set the tone for ParishSOFT’s long-term vision. When staff in his own parish, St. Joseph in Dexter, Mich., showed him their existing software tools and processes, he discovered that not only did the software fall far short of meeting the informational needs of the diocese; it wasn’t serving the day-to-day operations within the parish as it should. There was no integration with tools like Microsoft® Word®, Excel®, e-mail, or the Internet. Worse, there were no relational databases, so in parish after parish, the people who did religious education, scheduling, offertory, and general parish communications each had their own separate lists of names and addresses. Trying to keep them all updated was impossible, and so was getting an accurate census. Rosenberg formed a technology team and partnered with several parishes to define, develop and take to market the first suite of integrated Catholic parish software. How did Catholic parishes receive the technology? In the early days, there were times when we had to work really hard to overcome the notion that technology had no place in the Church. Staff had strong emotional connections to their paper files and manual processes. They were also reluctant to give up control over their personal lists of parish family and member information. Once we showed them how they could maintain just one database of families and members and manage their census, sacraments, religious education classes, ministry scheduling, and offertory all from a central place, the response was tremendous. From the beginning, parish staff recognized that being able to target communications to any group of families or members and generate e-mails and letters directly from their church management software had significant advantages for ministry and administrative cost reduction. What makes ParishSOFT unique? Our commitment to focus on the Catholic Church and to listen to our customers has been vital to understanding their needs and providing products and services that support their mission. Each of the 194 Catholic dioceses operates as its own entity. That means in every diocesan implementation, we have had to address a unique set of regulations and processes, as well as keep our products current with canon law and the guidelines of organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Without Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


the devotion of the entire company, powered by men and women who embrace the work of the Church, we could not have blazed this trail successfully. We’re blessed with an incredible staff of men and women who understand that what we do each day makes a difference in the ministry of every diocese, parish and school we serve. Their dedication complements our technology, and it’s been essential to earning the trust of our customers and opening lines of communication. Our customers take the time to share their ideas with us because they know we’re listening—they’ve seen the fruits of their efforts in our new products and enhancements to the tools they’re already using. Building the parish suite around the way Catholic parishes operate has given us a great advantage in the Catholic Church software market; but our collaborative partnership with our users has kept us on-mission so that our technology now does so much more than manage church data: it gives staff and parishioners new ways to connect with each other and serve. How has the technology evolved? As we learned about the annual parish-to-diocese reporting and census update requirements, one thing became very clear: the census, sacramental, and financial data being maintained at the parish needed to be available at the diocese. Parishes were spending countless hours doing painstaking diocesan reports and census updates that our software could easily automate. Diocesan development programs were kicking off campaigns each year with outdated addresses and census information. And the disconnect between parish accounting systems meant that although Canon 1284 gives the bishop the responsibility to ensure that no abuses exist in the administration of church goods, he did not have technology to help implement standards, ensure compliance, or consolidate financial data across parishes and schools within his diocese. All of this inspired development of our Archdiocesan Information Management (AIM) suite, which, like the parish products, offers modules so that a diocese can purchase just the tools it needs. We are the first and only company to offer a system that synchronizes data between the parishes and the diocese, so that when an address is updated at a parish office, the change is available right away to diocesan staff. It’s revolutionized church data management. The implications for development alone are huge: better addresses equal a more successful campaign. What has surprised us is how much this technology has fueled collaboration. Parish and diocesan staff who otherwise may never have met now attend training and user groups together, where they share best practices, establish data management standards, and work together from a common technology and reporting platform. We’ve seen the exponential growth of teamwork in dioceses where parish and diocesan staff are using ParishSOFT products. In that same spirit, we developed the ConnectNow Church Accounting suite, building on the financial software expertise of our sister company, Church Management Solutions, and our customer focus groups. Now, dioceses can provide their parishes and schools with a standard, Web-based fund accounting system that allows transparency, oversight, and consolidation. The days of manually compiling financials for the diocese are long gone for our customers—they can roll up, drill down into transaction details, and get reports that reflect church ministry any time they like.   What specific benefits do Web applications bring to ministry? As we take our other products to the ConnectNow Web platform, staff and parishioners are gaining new opportunities to connect, collaborate, and spread the Gospel using the tools of our time. ConnectNow removes the obstacles that can get in the way of ministry—unread mail, delivery or response lags, Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


paper forms, outdated informa“How to have more time for ministry!” tion, forgetful parishioners— Do you want to save time, get more done and and gives God’s people a way have fewer headaches? Then Donarius Church to engage directly with each Management Software will make it easy for you other and with their parishes on to track your members, contributions, pledges Starting at $63.97 the Web. The implications for and more. Imagine what you can do with the for the base version with ministry are incredible. Instead 25% off for small churches extra time! Donarius will also: of mailing census update forms, Download a free demo at: • Print your tax receipts have your members log in to My • Show the giving pattern of your members • Print your church directories Own Church and update their 1-888-479-4636 • Send personalized letters, emails and text own records. Let them log into Nuverb Systems Inc. messages to keep your members informed “Software tailored for you” ConnectNow Ministry Scheduler to sign up for ministries and set to cut costs in this area is significant enough that their own scheduling preferences. Offer Online the software very quickly pays for itself.   Giving so they can contribute and pay fees on your Accountability is essential. Parishioners need parish Web site. Is forgetful Phyllis scheduled to know that the money they give is being safeto serve on Sunday? Religious education classes guarded, handled properly, and used as intended. cancelled? Meeting moved to a new location? Get Online Giving lets them control their own account a message to exactly the right person or group by information and donate to the funds they want, text, phone, or email to keep everyone informed when they want. And our ConnectNow Church Acand participating. counting suite lets churches record income from To meet the social networking needs of our all sources, track dedicated donations and projects, users, we’ve partnered with Faith Interactive and pay the bills, and answer to any group of parishiowill be launching our new Connected Community ners, the finance council, and the diocese. to give parishes a safe place to interact and share ideas and resources. Parishes can give members What does the future of ParishSOFT look like? access to their own Connected Community pages, Very bright! Today we serve nearly 5,000 branded to look like part of their parish Web site. churches and 48 dioceses. Parish suite sales have Integration with My Own Church makes this a always been strong, but as more dioceses transigreat collaboration area for ministry. Plug-ins for tion to standard technology for census manageother services like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkement and accounting, we’re growing rapidly. dIn let churches tie all their social networking What’s most exciting is the demand for our Conefforts together in a central place.     nectNow Web applications, especially Church Accounting and the products that engage members in What is the financial impact of technology on church life. As we improve our existing products the Church? and develop new technology, one thing is certain: One of our goals is to help churches take good parish and diocesan staff are helping to shape the care of the resources entrusted to them, so they’ll ministry tools of tomorrow, and we’re listening have the funds needed for ministry. We accomplish carefully. this goal from several angles. Our software is designed to make church administration as efficient About ParishSOFT as possible, so staff can handle their day-to-day ParishSOFT offers a complete suite of church tasks and still have the time and energy they need and diocesan management software to connect to be creative, develop programs, and interact with people and the church and to reduce administrative parishioners. Integrated communication tools let work. For more information about ParishSOFT’s staff reach any group of members by email, text, products and services, visit or phone right from our programs. And, when they ccmag.htm or contact Mike Cusick, Vice President do need to prepare statements and mailings, we ofof Sales and Marketing, at 866.930.4774.   fer Mailroom Solutions so they can take advantage of the best possible postage rates. Churches spend thousands of dollars on mailings, so the potential Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


special feature

BombBomb An email service provider with a twist, include videos!


By Steve Hewitt

love attending user group conferences and meet new service providers. I was honored to get an invite to speak at the Church Community Builder’s annual user group meeting last year, and while there I met an incredibly enthusiastic man by the name of Conor McCluskey. Conor happily introduced me to BombBomb (Don’t you love the name?). BombBomb was there to show churches their email service. I have seen and used several email service providers, but since Conor was so enthusiastic, I stepped in to see why. I soon became enthusiastic as well, when I saw what BombBomb provided. Besides HTML templates and the reporting you would get with a broadcast email service, BombBomb included the ability to add video! They provide a free trial on their site (www., and I gave it a spin. It was easy to include any video directly into the email and send it out to your entire church, or specific groups. Since we just finished up our annual Christian Video Awards, and I viewed a good number of fantastic videos created by churches to either promote their church, or as a way to announce a new ministry, service or event. What a fantastic service BombBomb would be for these churches! They could include such videos directly into an email, mail it to their members, and encourage them to forward it to their friends! I recently interviewed Conor, as I believed our readership would benefit from learning more about their cool service. Check out this interview, and be sure to visit their site for more information or to give their service a try! Christian Computing® Magazine

What exactly is BombBomb? BombBomb is an email service provider that focuses on delivering professional-looking HTML email messages for ministries, non-profits, and small businesses. We differentiate ourselves by giving our clients the tools to use video in their emails for a more personal approach with their communications. How did BombBomb get its start? The idea for BombBomb came in early 2006 while I was working in sales for a local media company. I had grown my client list to the point where I physically wasn’t able to keep up with each client. Being in sales, personal touch was everything to me – I needed a solution. I had this idea that using video in an email would be a better way to communicate my personality, and presMarch 2011


ent my product. The issue in 2006 was the email technology; nothing was even close to giving me a service that catered to my needs. So, I created BombBomb around the end of 2006 with aspirations to help improve the way we communicate electronically. Why is video email better? These days with the prevalence of the internet, marketing has morphed from internet marketing to ‘interactive marketing’. Truly, there’s nothing super-interactive about traditional HTML email marketing. Email marketing needs video to compete and succeed in regards to how people are using the internet and what their expectations are. The days of long over-written static emails are leaving us; people are gravitating to video for quicker access to information that’s more appealing to them. BombBomb’s video email service gives our clients the ability to put a real voice and face to their messaging that people can relate to. It also removes recipient literacy barriers, time constraints in regard to reading the email as well as increasing appeal with the email recipients. What are some of the benefits video email brings to a church? Video email is a great fit for churches, because church communications are typically meant to connect with people rather than market a product. By sending video messages, a church can communicate with large numbers of people in a way that still feels personal and authentic. People are more likely to engage with the message when there’s a human face and voice attached to it. It has the power to connect people in new ways. It’s effective, and it maximizes time and resources. Pastors are typically great communicators, and the video application comes naturally to them. They are not afraid of the camera, they usually have something to say, and they have a community of people that want to hear from them. Can you share a specific example of how churches use BombBomb? A great example is a church called The Gathering – They have been a customer for almost 4 years, and they send a weekly video message from the pastor, sometimes he shares a scripture that he has been studying, and other times it’s simply what’s on his heart, or talking about things that are going on within the church. They also use BombChristian Computing® Magazine

Bomb to communicate face to face with specific groups within the congregation. That may be the youth pastor talking to students, or the Small Groups Pastor talking to the small group leaders. They’ve had a great response, and people say they feel more connected to the church body. They get really excited when they talk about their email program and that gets us excited too. Are there other features that BombBomb offers? BombBomb provides a variety of useful features, like free email templates, form builders, auto-responders, multi-list management, campaign scheduling, and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML email editing. We offer detailed statistics on delivery, opens, clicks, and video plays – so you can measure the effectiveness of your emails. A new feature we’re excited about is video hosting, which means you can not only include video in your emails, but also store your videos in BombBomb, to embed and share without using multiple video services. Combine those features with our videos playing in the majority of smart March 2011


phones and the reach of the email and video go even further. I’d also like to highlight our deliverability rates. It’s not a feature, but it’s important for ministries to know that we build, monitor and foster relationships with internet service providers so that we can ensure our clients get over 90% of their emails in the inbox on average. Industry average in deliverability varies in the mid 80’s. Is BombBomb integrated with any other Church Management systems? We currently integrate with Church Community Builder and Icon Systems. Our integration allows churches to manage their lists within CRM and reduce workload around importing and exporting lists for email deployments – which really helps ministries get emails sent out quickly and easily. We’re also evaluating other management systems for potential integration in the future. How much does it cost the average church to use BombBomb? Our email marketing services start at $12 a month. The pricing scales by the amount of active contacts within the account, not by the amount of email you send. Ministries also get a 25% per month discount compared to for-profit companies and another 15% on-top of that if the whole year is paid for upfront. Do you help the churches design the emails? Absolutely, we have free pre-built email templates that are ministry focused, but we also build email templates for clients that request them. I’d actually like to promote that here if that’s okay. Christian Computing® Magazine

Through the end of April, anyone who mentions this CCM article to our team and purchases our product for a minimum of a month – we’ll build you a custom email template for free. Why did BombBomb decide to get into the church market? Great question; first of all we believe in the core mission of the church, and at BombBomb we operate from a set of core values. BombBomb got into the church market because of our number one core value which is people.  We believe people matter and that the way churches communicate to people matters.  The church community plays a vital role in people’s lives and we have a passion for March 2011


helping the church communicate in a personal way. We are a company with purpose; we all have the opportunity to make the world a better place than we found it. By connecting people through better communication we are helping to strengthen relationships and we are living our core values. There is one thing that I want to hear when I get to the end and that is well done good and faithful servant. We understand that this is not about us. Our thanks go to Conor McCluskey and BombBomb for taking the time for this interview. If your church is interested in learning more about what BombBomb has to offer, visit https://bombbomb. com/ministries to watch testimonials from other churches, sign up for a Free 14 Day Trial, or request a demo session with one of their trainers.

Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine

March 2011



ACS ideas to impact

Your Ministry On Demand


from ACS Technologies

server crash is a scary thing, no matter the size of your church. In July of 2007, Trinity United Church of Christ, which operates a ministry that includes 8 properties in two different states, had a big network crash – everything was down for days. It was indeed very scary! The megachurch had to spend a lot of time and money to try and recover what they could. The experience made Trinity United administration realize how vulnerable they truly were and they vowed to never let it happen again. “It pointed out to us that we needed to move away from having things on our own network and server,” said Wilfred Bentley, the business manager at the church. At that point, they began a search for the best safety measures to avoid the inevitable next crash and sleepless nights wondering when it was going to happen. The crash was a big motivator to the church in deciding to look into a hosted software solution, rather than a desktop option.But a more important reason to get church software off of local servers, Bentley said, was so they could do their ministry more effectively. “We utilize on demand tools as we try to use all tools: to support those that are doing ministry,” he said. “Those who are doing ministry need to be able to access information someplace other than our particular network. So if they are out of town, at the hospital, or someplace else, the ministers need to be able to get the information.” “We have a minister who is dedicated to the sick and shut in — primarily those people who are hospitalized or in hospice –and their ability to Christian Computing® Magazine

utilize our database gives them the ability to bring up not just the member, but to get directions to where they live or to be able to call them at their preferred telephone number, or email them, even though that minister may be at a hospital.” Bentley said he was happy to find that the same solu tion that allowed ministers on-thego access to important member data also allowed staff to work from home, especially with the sometimes-severe weather in the Midwest.The paper “Your Ministry On Demand” outlines how churches can benefit from hosted software solutions, just like Trinity United Church of Christ did. For larger churches like Trinity United, the ability to manage and access important church data from multiple locations is certainly key. But for smaller churches, like Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church in Brevard, North Carolina, which serves 300 people at services every weekend, hosted software is useful for the flexibility it gives to the staff of two. Nita Padgett, the church administrator at March 2011


Brevard-Davidson, was a fan of the hosted software solution her church had begun using right away. She liked that her data was backed up regularly. She loved knowing that everything was secure in an offsite area, and that she didn’t have to worry about doing her own updates. But when Nita broke her leg, thathosted software solution came in handy. “I was at home for three months. I just set up my computer with the recliner chair,” Padgett said, and added with a chuckle, “I had it made.” You can read more about how a hosted software solution can help your ministry by downloading the free paper “Your Ministry On Demand.” In the paper, you’ll find detailed information on how your ministry can use a hosted software solution to add flexibility and efficiency to your day-to-day work. Information in the paper includes: • Tips on how to ease workloads for your staff and volunteers • Ways to focus on ministry, not technology • Details on how you can gain 24/7 access to your data • Information about how you can be sure your data is truly secure. Download “Your Ministry OnDemand” today for the full story on how your ministers and staff can worksmarter with anytime, anywhere access to your software and data.

Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


accelerating the dynamic church

Church Small Groups – Like Herding Cats?


from Fellowship Technologies

anaging the growth of small groups can be a lot like herding cats. Organizing people and right-fitting them into groups has the potential to become administratively exhausting. In addition, keeping track of ¸ !CCELERATING4HE$YNAMIC#HURCH group membership, attendance and leader updates proves to be hit-and-miss. The growth of small groups can be better managed when self-service for group leaders is part of the solution. Instead of managing multiple databases or spreadsheets, church staff need a single point of connection and collection. Fellowship One, 100% web-based church management software, provides full administration of small groups anytime, anywhere for any staff with an Internet connection. It’s also easy for church members and attendees to search for a group right from the church website, thanks to a tightly integrated {incomplete sentence}. By sharing the workload between staff and volunteers, organizing and keeping up with group activity is robust, concise and simplified. Staff and volunteer group leaders can enter new contacts and update status of existing group members, all in realtime, online. It’s important for small group leaders to be able track attendance, add group meeting notes and even notes for a specific prayer request. When they do, it provides visibility for church leaders to see into dozens or even hundreds of small groups. With the right software, like Fellowship One, church leaders can view reports over a multi-week period for an instant snapshot to see small group trends. Christian Computing® Magazine

Since small groups are a key part of connecting with people and meeting needs, churches require the right tools and processes to manage the individuals in each group efficiently and effectively. Herding cats may be difficult, but organizing small groups shouldn’t be with the right tools in place.

March 2011


higher power with kevin

WORDsearch Books in Bibleworks: Two Great Apps that Work Great Together!


Kevin A. Purcell -

inding two Bible software makers working together to create modules that work in their competitor’s application is something we don’t expect to see in the post-STEP world. For more information about this see last month’s edition of this column (“Both Exciting and Troubling Trends in Bible Software Development” January, 2011; Having just written that article last month, I was surprised to hear about the partnership between Bibleworks ( and WORDsearch ( WORDsearch is now making some of their resources available for download in Bibleworks 8 format. There isn’t a huge selection yet but we have been told that more are coming. For now, to see what is available, see the list on WORDsearch’s web site (http:// We were given a couple of test books to try it out and found that while the process is a little more complicated than we’d prefer, the result is that I now have two WORDsearch books available in Bibleworks 8. After logging into your WORDsearch account, you will be able to download the Bibleworks installer for those books. You will have to register and purchase some of the books if you are not already a WORDsearch customer. To find it click on the “My Account” tab in the upper right and then click on “Unlock and Download eBooks” link in the center of the page. Midway down the page is the link to download the installer. It will run and ask you for the ID# and passcode. Do not use your WORDsearch login information here. This tripped me up. The two strings you input are on this same page. The installer will download and install the modules you have available in your account. Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


After the installer is finished, start up Bibleworks 8 and you will find them in the Resources menu. Below are screen shots of the menu. I have one commentary and one dictionary in my list. The first is the New Bible Commentary. The second is The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. When a WORDsearch resource is opened, it will not be a typical Bibleworks 8 tool that is accessed either in the Bible reading window or in the Resources tab in the right hand side of Bibleworks. They are only in the Resources menu and will open as Bibleworks 8 help files, much like Bibleworks users are used to opening things like grammars or Matthew Henry’s Commentary. While it is not as ideal as it would be if you could have a Bible file pane and a commentary pane side by side like you would in WORDsearch or another application, it does give people who love Bibleworks access to references and books other than language study tools. I’m personally sticking with using my WORDsearch files within WORDsearch. But if you don’t want to use a separate tool and love Bibleworks for all things related to Digital Bible Study, then this is a great development and I hope to see more of this kind of cross platform cooperation. One last note: if you are a Mac user, WORDsearch has new version of its port available. For those who follow my Twitter account ( you likely read my negative comments back in November regarding their Mac version. But there is now a much better version that is the WORDsearch we love. If you want to see this updated version running I have a video here: archives/1126. I will be covering Mac Bible software more and more on my personal web site. Don’t worry Windows users. I will still be keeping things here mostly Windows related. But I will have a review of Accordance for Mac coming up in the next couple of months.

Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


big ministry - small resources

Google Calendaring


Bradley Miller -

he phone rings and it’s another excited bride on the other end of the phone, anxiously wanting to plan out when her special day will happen. A quick glance at the desk calendar . . . “oh ok, yes I think after you go through your six month pre-marital counseling . . . and yes that weekend next year in June would be available.” (It’s a year away . . .what could possibly be conflicting now?) After digging around for a calendar a post-it note is carefully placed and the call is forgotten. A few weeks later the pastor reminds you of the upcoming projects for the next year and you can only imagine the ensuing mayhem as you tell the bride to be that she will have to reschedule the VanDenboom Variotones Polka band - even though it was their only free weekend. Church facility scheduling is like a tight-rope balancing act between needs and wants, but keeping track of it all can be a logistical nightmare. I’ve looked into this several times and tried approaching it a multitude of ways at our local church and I’ll share some of the insights I’ve found. (Not to discredit our church at all, the story above is totally fictional . . . no Polka bands have ever been turned away!) It has to be in one place! Yes, from the scribbled notes to the calendars of so many activities, having everything in one place should be the utmost concern. For some it literChristian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


Press Releases

Christian Computing速 Magazine

March 2011


ally is that gigantic wall calendar plastered on the side of an office somewhere that becomes the sole resource for scheduling. It’s better than nothing but becomes cumbersome because everyone has to sync their schedule to the master paper one. I hope you invest in erasers! To move your church into the 21st century, let’s turn to a free service that Google offers - the Google App. You can sign up under the Educator and Non-Profit umbrella and put in your FEIN (Federal Employer identification number). You will need to use your domain name, and from personal experience you want to make sure it’s the right one you want to use. We originally started out with a sub-domain for the site ( and that ended up being very problematic because although we could receive mail at our regular domain name, several users had problems with mail messages sending the sub-domain name as their reply to address. When I first signed up and tried to get the calendar system working in 2008, there were many technical issues that I couldn’t quite figure out and it didn’t seem like there was much in the way of support from the Google organization. I was very pleasantly surprised when I needed to migrate from the sub-domain to our actual domain name - a representative contacted me and was able to get things setup in less than 24 hours. Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


If you have played at all with the Google calendar (or any type of computer based calendar) it should be very easy to figure out how to get things rolling. But here are some of the gotchas that you need to know about: Once you get signed up you will want to access your Control Panel area. In the Educational edition you’ll see a new link under the calendar settings called “Resources”. This can be rooms, equipment, or whatever you have a need to associate with a calendar event. Here you can see we have our room areas listed for the church. This was because of a bit of trial and error on our part on how things work. The first thing that put a strangle hold on things was how Google shows the “Where:” on an event. I originally put in our resources as “Main Sanctuary”, “Multipurpose Room” etc... and then when you would click on an event it would list the “Map” link. The map link would search for “Main Sanctuary” anywhere . . . not actually putting it to your specific location. I got around this issue after finding you could specify an area like this: address (what you want to say). The “what you want to say” part makes the marker pin show that text instead. When you add an item to the schedule you can click on the “Rooms, etc.” part (on the right side of the form) to add what rooms or resources you need. It might look a little funny with the address stuck in there multiple times, but it works. (If you have multiple campuses you probably don’t need the free route on Google. Perhaps looking into a service like MinistrEspace would be worthwhile?) The best part of this is when you add your calendar to your web site for others to view. There should probably be

Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


Christian Computing速 Magazine

March 2011


some good thinking put into what you want displayed on the site versus what needs to stay private. It might not be the best idea to list Suzy and Johnny’s Wedding on the church web site if Johnny’s formerly jilted girlfriends go Googling his name and decide to crash the party. You want to make sure people can see your calendar, and not only see it, but know if you are doing something. If you don’t get the settings right, it will show an event but the event will be listed as “BUSY” when you are not logged in . . . hardly informative for someone looking at the calendar on a web site. Clicking on the specific calendar (“Public Events”) Shared: Edit Settings link allows us to fix that. You want to “Make this calendar public” and select the “See all event details”. When you click on the Calendar Details you can get the link to embed a calendar. Clicking on the “Customize the color, size, and other options” link brings up a great little helper. You can customize a wide variety of things to make the calendar match your site needs. You can also select multiple calendars to display on one master page. You can then use the copy and paste code to put the calendar into your web site via an iframe (inline frame). Here’s an example of ours: The beauty of this becomes even more apparent as you use the ever changing landscape of connected devices like tablets and smart phones to subscribe to your events via RSS (really simple syndication) or iCal feeds. Suddenly a change can be known to your leadership teams and scheduling conflicts can be minimized. Allowing everyone to knowing what is going on is a huge step forward in comChristian Computing® Magazine

munication. To allow people to request days on the calendar, I would recommend building a Google Form (which is a fancy interface to the Google Spreadsheets and worthy of another article in the future) that allows people to request the resource and day they need. Then your facility planner can simply look at the requests and schedule accordingly. I like what it says in Psalm 39 about numbering our days. What we have here is literally not even a blip compared with the infinite time we will spend with our Lord. I pray that through researching your own calendaring solutions you can be the best stewards of both time and resources to further God’s kingdom among all those who are lost. Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV 2011) “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

March 2011


tablet time

What About Android? By Russ McGuire -


few months ago I started this series discussing the impact that tablet computing is likely to have on our lives as Christians. I started by talking about the iPad, and Apple recently announced the iPad 2. But last month I introduced you to my new tablet – the Androidbased Samsung Galaxy S Tab. It seems like it’s a good time to revisit a topic I first addressed during my series on “The Mobility Revolution.” What about Android? Way back in 2009, I wrote an article about Android. At the time, Google’s operating system was almost unknown. T-Mobile and Sprint each had two Android handsets on the market, but Verizon hadn’t yet launched their first Motorola Droid and AT&T wasn’t even talking about Android. Even so, at the time I wrote “That last paragraph speaks volumes to the difference between the Apple approach and the Android approach. Just in the U.S., there will soon be at least five different Android handset models from three different major manufacturers running on three different wireless carriers. Meanwhile there are only two models of iPhones, from one manufacturer running on one wireless carrier.” I went on to compare the mobility revolution to the PC revolution. “For anyone who Christian Computing® Magazine

has been around technology for long, it’s not hard to see the parallels to the PC revolution. Apple was the early leader in personal computers with the Apple II… Apple really moved the PC industry forward with the ground breaking Macintosh… However, for the most part, Apple refused to enable other companies to manufacture Macintosh computers, believing that a vertically integrated business model was critical for producing the highest quality product. … However, Microsoft worked with Intel to enable lots of companies to produce DOS and then Windows-based computers. Companies like Dell and Compaq flourished and Windows-based PC sales quickly surpassed Macintosh sales…More importantly, software developers needed to decide whether to [develop for the Mac or Windows] – the more Microsoft-based PCs that sold, the more attractive the PC was for developers.” March 2011


At the time, I reported that there were over 10,000 applications available for Android compared to over 100,000 for the iPhone. I said “I believe it won’t be long before the gap closes and there are more Android apps than iPhone apps. … I also believe that the iPhone’s days are numbered as the leader in the smartphone space.” In a post at my blog last October, I continued this theme with a focus on innovation. “Unlike Apple, Google has allowed the Android ecosystem to innovate in all dimensions, and even in the app ecosystem, Google’s lack of constraints is winning over developers. … Think about it - Apple makes great handsets. But they introduce one new iPhone handset a year. How much real innovation is represented in that one handset? Only as much as one company can imagine and productize. Now think about all the different Android handsets you’ve seen and the level of innovation that handset OEMs are bringing to market. … Think about it - here in the U.S. Apple has limited the iPhone to one carrier. How much innovation has that operator delivered to customers since 2007? … The Android ecosystem benefits from [all the innovations introduced by Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile], but the iPhone ecosystem doesn’t.” (Note: Earlier this year, Verizon also began carrying the iPhone, so now Apple is leveraging the innovation of two of the top four

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mobile operators in the US.) What Does That Have To Do With Tablets? This same dynamic is now playing out in the tablet space. At the recent Mobile World Congress conference, Android tablets were all the rage with Acer, Asus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Toshiba, Viewsonic, and ZTE all introducing new models. (Computerworld provides a good overview of highlights.) The scope of innovation and choice being delivered by all of these manufacturers is almost overwhelming. It certainly puts to shame the few catch-up improvements introduced by Apple in the new iPad model. That’s not to say the iPad isn’t a great product – it is. The iPad will continue to benefit from Apple’s vertically integrated model and iron grip on the supporting ecosystem. I won’t be surprised if 10 years from now Apple’s tablets are still the highest quality, classiest, and most stable products on the market. However, for consumers seeking innovative new features and different form factors, Android will be the better choice, and I expect Android sales to surpass iPad sales. I’m not alone. A financial analyst from RBC recently projected that Android tablets will lead the market by 2014. Raymond James analysts also expect Android to be the long term tablet winner. Already, many of the trends I anticipated are

March 2011


playing out. In the smartphone space, Android has taken the market lead. Nielsen reports that Android has 29% market share to Apple’s 27%. Android is also attracting software developers, with nearly 300,000 apps available (growing by 30,000 per month – and accelerating) – but I believe Apple’s iPhone still offers more. And when it comes to applications designed specifically for the tablet form factor, the iPad has a large lead – for the moment. All that being said, what we really care about here at Christian Computing is how technology can enhance our walk with the Lord. As we make personal investment decisions, what’s the best device to help us in our daily walk? Next month we’ll take a closer look at Bible software for Android to help answer that question. 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 (http://hschooler. net), a social network for Christian families (especially homeschoolers) which is being built and run by three homeschooled students under Russ’ direction.

Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


ministry communication

How To Tune Up Your Website NOW So You Won’t Disappoint Easter Seekers Yvon Prehn -


hen you see an advertisement on TV, in the newspaper, or a magazine, what do you do if you want to find out more? Most likely you’ll check out the website. We go to websites to find out the details about a product: about the company, about the costs and benefits of our possible purchase.What’s true in our everyday perusal of products is also true for the people who check out and who will be visiting your church website this Easter season. Read on to make sure yours doesn’t disappoint. Beyond their initial response to your site, people will continue to explore In addition, we make judgments about the company itself from the overall ease of use and completeness of the website. We may use the website to contact the company.How they answer our request will probably influence our decision to do business with them. A seeker will make the same decisions regarding their decision to visit you at Easter. So, what does your church website say to them? If you are doing a postcard mailing, a door-hanger distribution, an advertisement in the newspaper as outreach for Easter or any other special event, before you create or send out the outreach piece, take some time to work on your website.  Take time to do this NOW. As Easter nears and work demands increase, it is easy to forget the website and nothing is worse than for someone to get an intriguing advertisement that makes Christian Computing® Magazine

them immediately go to your website only to find one that has not been updated for months. Though I’ll use Easter as a primary example, these tips apply to any event. Following is a checklist of essentials: Practical website essentials for Easter or other big events: • Have items that people can download to help them

celebrate Easter. A wonderful one for the Easter season is a handout about Resurrection Cookies. You could have it on your website in a ready-to-download and print PDF. The link below takes you to free download of why do the cookies (to teach kids about Easter), how to do them, and the recipe and verses that go along with it, all ready-to-print. You have my permission to copy, print, make a PDF, put these on your website or run off as many as you want for your church and guest, no attribution needed: March 2011


http://www.effectivechurchcom. com/2009/03/childrens-resurrectioncookies-for-easter-outreach-teachin/ • Have an “If this is your first visit

with us” section. People might think they have to dress up for Easter. If most folks do at your church, you may want to let them know that; if your church is California casual (anything outside of a swim suit is OK), let them know that.

• Clarify the parking situation. On

Easter some churches have off-site parking, whatever it is, let them know about it. Provide maps and directions.

• Be sure to have a section titled

“What we do when it isn’t Easter” After Easter what we do on a regular basis. Invite people back for your regular service and ministries and let them know your regular events and times.

• Answer the special questions Easter

brings up. Have questions and answers about life after death, the resurrection, many of the questions about Jesus, why he had to go to the cross and what his death accomplished.

• In the midst of doing special things

for Easter, don’t forget to be incredibly clear about your schedule of events for Easter. Explain them, keeping in mind that many of the traditions that are treasured activities many mean nothing to a seeker. Be sure your guests know who the events are for, e.g. some events for children may have age limitations.

Essential website care on an ongoing basis Just like we often clean the house before a special event, now is a good time to make certain that various house-keeping tasks are taken care of Christian Computing® Magazine

March 2011


for your website. Some of these include: • Updated and com-

plete bios of your staff. People want to know who your leaders are, their background, education, why they do what they do. In an age when almost all business leaders have Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts and almost everything else you can imagine for maximum exposure, for your church leaders to not have at least an updated and complete bio on your website does not communicate a positive image of your staff. If the church leader is not able to do this for him or herself, as is often the case when the leader is a baby-boomer who went to seminary prior to the days of the personal computer, assign a “web buddy” to update or create this content. This is a wonderful expression of how we can serve and support one another in the church.

• Be sure ALL ministries have descriptions and

updated schedules. Without this very basic information, your church will not be taken seriously by visitors or seekers. Think about it: would you do business with a company that did not tell you when it was open; what products or services it offered or anything about the staff? Ask yourself what you would want to know about a church and its programs and be sure you have complete information on the website.

• Be sure to have a clear explanation of the Chris-

tian faith. It is astounding to me, how few church websites what it means to be a Christian, how one becomes a Christian, and links to either pages on the website or to other sites that answer questions about the Christian faith. Check out your site--what do you have on it in these areas? If not, you may want to take some time and create sections that clearly share your faith.

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The richer the content of your site, the more credibility you will have There are so many other areas you could put on your site, both practical and theological. For example, in the children’s ministry area you could not only have the basics about what you teach, what the children do, how you screen your workers, who to contact about the program, times, dates, etc., but you could also have practical parenting tips, a Q & A section hosted by your children’s pastor. You can attach blogs, link to other helpful sites, whatever you can think of to connect with people who are looking for the answers to life. Pray for wisdom that the Lord will give you eyes to see the needs of the people in your community, of those who come to your church and put on your site whatever is needed to answer their questions and to enable them to trust your church as a place where they can find Jesus. For many more resources to help your church create communications for an effective Easter outreach and celebration go to

March 2011



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