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Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com VP of Operations Michael Hewitt - mike@ccmag.com

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

May 2011

No. 5

11  cover story

MyChristianTeaching.com

By Steve Hewitt

Copy Editor Gina Hewitt

3  editorial

Corporate Home Office

CCMag’s New Online Community is OPEN!

Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

6  press releases 13  ACS ideas to impact

Up at Night Worried about Data Security, Overloaded Servers and Overworked IT Staff?

from ACS Technologies

15  accelerating the dynamic church 17  parishsoft’s catholic connection

from Fellowship Technologies

10 Tips for Writing Brilliant Email Copy

from ParishSOFT

20  logos cms

Technology Tears Down Prison Walls

by Tony Ferraro

23  higher power with kevin Just 1 Word

Kevin A. Purcell - kevin@kevinpurcell.org

Copier Buying Tips

27  the power and the danger

Nick Nicholaou - nick@mbsinc.com

When the Cloud Fails

30  digital evangelism

By Russ McGuire - russ.mcguire@gmail.com

May Is Digital Outreach Month

32  ministry communication

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.

All Rights Reserved

Technology Helps Churches Recover After a Natural Disaster

25  nick at church

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

By Michael L. White - info@parsonplace.com

Tag Clouds - How They Can Help You Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Website

Yvon Prehn - yvon@effectivechurchcom.com

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 www.ccmag.com/2007_03/2007_03editorial.pdf

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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editorial

CCMag’s New Online Community is OPEN!

L

Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

et me start by stating that there is absolutely no way to share with you all of the exciting new features CCMag is offering on this new community, at least not in this one article. However, it is up and running and there are several important things we want you to know, in order to get started! First, Christian Computing and Christian Video Magazines are now being hosted on the same site! Second, both magazines are now being made available in a new FLASH viewer! Simply go to our site, www.ccmag.com and click on the link just above the “search” box. It says, “Login to see members only content”. We are doing it right this time to keep out the hackers and abusers. So, to log in you will need to provide an email address and password and THEN check your email for an authentication email. You WILL need to click the link provided, in order to gain access to the new site. Once you click on the link provided in the email, you will be on your way. And, once you make it to the home page (for those logged in) you will see both the covers of CCMag and CVMag. Clicking on either will open the magazine in the new viewer! The viewer allows you to select if you wish to see the magazine one page at a time, or two pages (just as if it was sent to you in print). Text too small? No problem, click anywhere in an article and it will zoom in for a closer look. Still too small? Move your mouse near the top of the page and you will see some menu controls appear, including a slider bar that will allow you to adjust your zoom range, allowing you to get even closer! You can now Our thanks to ACS Technologies, go back and read all of the issues Fellowship One and Elexio for partnering from 2010 and 2011 (those pubwith us to help complete our new online lished so far) in the new viewer! What if you don’t like the community! new FLASH viewer (or don’t like FLASH)? No problem. The email we send out each month will still contain links to the magazine in PDF format. As well, once in our online community, you can view the latest issue as well as back issues in PDF format. Go to “Resources” and click on all libraries to read the magazines as one file, OR join one of our many writers in their communities to access their past articles in PDF format. Or, do a search on a writer’s name, or any topic, and you will be given a list of magazine articles in our libraries, all in PDF format. Our New Community is PUSH Technology Someone has already started to sigh. “I don’t want to have to join a new online community and have to log in to participate!” Here is the good news. Our new community is largely “push technology”. You WILL have to log in each month if you want to read the magazine in the new FLASH viewer. But, frankly, it works so fast that it is easier to do that than to click and Christian Computing® Magazine

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pull up the magazine in PDF format. However, after you log in, hopefully fill out your profile and join a few communities, you actually NEVER have to log back in to participate. If you join the new “What’s Hot” community (for example), once a week when I post an exciting news item that catches my eye about technology that I think is hot, you will receive an email with my post. Our system won’t just send you the first sentence or two, and make you click “more”, like LinkedIn. With LinkedIn, you get a small portion of the email, have to click a link, which takes you back to the LinkedIn login page, and then enter your user name and password, just to read the rest of the email. How about Facebook? Someone posts on your wall and you get an email telling you someone posted something on your wall. They COULD tell you what it was, but instead, they make you go back and log in. Our site doesn’t do that. Another example: Join the Ask CCMag community. If someone has a problem with their computer or some software, they can ask a question. Everyone in the community can either get an instant email or a daily digest (your choice when you join a community). When you get an email, you see who asked the question (if they filled out their profile). You see the entire question or comment, and are provided a list of helpful links. You can easily reply to the person directly, reply to the discussion, etc., and are NEVER asked to log back in. It works seamlessly. So, join some of our communities. They are like Yahoo Groups on steroids. It is NOT like “discussion groups” you are familiar with on other sites. This system pushes the content out to you. And, in one month, we will be announcing our new smart phone apps (iPhone, Android and Blackberry), so you can connect with these communities through these apps as well. Please Fill Out Your Profile One of the things we are most excited about with our new community is the ability to connect with others! In the past, our magazine sought to connect our readers with sponsors who were providing technology solutions they were seeking. Now, with this new online community, we can help our readers connect with each other! The main way of accomplishing this is by filling out your profile. Please take some time to fill yours out. Once you have logged into our site, you will notice a profile completeness bar that appears below your name in the upper right portion of our website. As you fill out the profile, and as you make contacts, the bar will move to the right. If you get 100%, there are some exciting things that can happen! But first, what about privacy. The profile might ask questions that you do not desire to share with just anybody. Under the “My Profile” section of our menu bar, notice “My Privacy Settings”. You can decide who can see your picture, view your email address or read your bio. You can allow any and all members who are registered on our site, or set it so that only those you have agreed to be a contact can see this information. You can also select “nobody”, which allows you credit for filling in your profile, but will keep the information completely private. If you select “public”, this means the information might appear (such as your picture) on the home page where people can see it (for example, if you were listed as one of our top most active members) even though they are not registered users. So, what can happen when you fill out your profile! First, each month in each of our magazines, we are going to select a reader to profile in a new column “Who Reads CCMag” and/or “Who Read CVMag”. We will only select from those who have reached the 100% connection from filling out their profile and making connections with others. Christian Computing® Magazine

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In addition, we are working on an exciting drawing to be held Aug 15, 2011 with a variety of prizes. Those that have reached 100% by that time will be included in the drawings! At present, several companies are working on what they will offer for the contest, but FellowshipTech has already offered three Apple TV’s to be awarded to some lucky readers who have taken the time to use the new community to the fullest!

“How to have more time for ministry!” Do you want to save time, get more done and have fewer headaches? Then Donarius Church Management Software will make it easy for you to track your members, contributions, pledges Starting at $63.97 and more. Imagine what you can do with the for the base version with 25% off for small churches extra time! Donarius will also: Download a free demo at: • Print your tax receipts www.donarius.com • Show the giving pattern of your members • Print your church directories 1-888-479-4636 • Send personalized letters, emails and text Nuverb Systems Inc. messages to keep your members informed “Software tailored for you”

What are Networks? One more thing you should note. If you fill out your profile, it will help you connect with other people who have similar interests. For example, we ask your position (and you can select multiple answers). If you are a Worship Leader, Church Treasurer and a Deacon, you can select each. Then, check your networks (again, found under the “My Profile” drop down menu). You can see who else is a reader and also a Worship Leader, Church Treasurer, member of NACBA, or many other items we will have as selections in your profile. This will allow you to make contacts, and will help determine future communities. Communities We obviously have some great communities and blogs started on the site. However, if you would like to see a specific community established, drop me a note either via regular email (steve@ccmag.com) or on our site. I would like to see readers step up and unite together in communities such as “Church Secretaries” or “IT Directors”. You will have your own libraries for your community members to upload files, as well as your own discussion group that will push your discussion threads out to each other’s email addresses! There are many, many cool features and functions available on our site. We will be announcing more in the upcoming months, but for now, I hope many of you will log in, register, fill out your profile, make some new contacts and friends and join a few communities! Let me hear from you. What do you think? What would you like to see us include in the future? And, if you don’t understand something, drop me a note and let me help! If nothing else, I would encourage you to join the CCMag Help community as well as the What’s Hot and What’s Not community! But there are many others to check out as well, so log in and have some fun! Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt Editor-in-Chief steve@ccmag.com Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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Press Releases Fellowship Technologies®, part of Active Network™, Joins Forces with Church Multiplication Network to Plant New Churches in 2011

Fellowship One® Church Management Software Enables Churches of Any Size to Improve Effective Ministry, Administration and Community Engagement Fellowship Technologies, a newly acquired business unit of Active Network and the developers of Fellowship One church management software, today announced a technology alliance with Church Multiplication Network (CMN), the church planting department for the Assemblies of God (AG). CMN selected the Fellowship Technologies’ Fellowship One product to help its new church plants get established and grow their congregations. The webbased system allows a church of any size, from new church plants to multi-site mega churches, to be more effective in ministry, more efficient in administration, and to engage the community. New AG churches can start using the fully-hosted SaaS product for a nominal $250 set-up fee, which includes at no additional cost the first twelve months of access. CMN averages over 275 new church plants per year. “The technology alliance with Fellowship Technologies is a great fit for CMN and addresses the needs of our national church member base with a feature-rich, attractively priced software option,” said Steve Pike, National Director for the Church Multiplication Network. “The ability to engage a new congregation in a timely and meaningful way, while employing the latest technology to streamline administrative duties is vital to any new church.” “One of the first challenges churches leaders face in building a church is finding resources, both financial and personnel. We developed Fellowship One with a goal of helping churches of all sizes better leverage their resources and best serve the people in their communities,” said Jeff Hook, general manager of Fellowship Technologies. “Being able to collaborate with church leaders from the very beginning will be a great advantage, as we help them establish and strengthen their churches.” Fellowship One is the leading 100% web-based Christian Computing® Magazine

church management software used by ministries around the world. The product now supports over 1,800 church and non-profit organizations. Fellowship One and related church management assets were acquired by Active Network from Dallas-based Fellowship Technologies L.P. in February 2011. More information about Fellowship One and the free ‘Software for One Year’ program is available at www.fellowshipone.com/churchplants. About Church Multiplication Network The Church Multiplication Network collaborates with church multipliers to effectively equip, strategically fund and innovatively network new faith communities. CMN is the church planting arm of the Assemblies of God. The AG has been the largest international church planting movement over the last 20 years, now with more than 312,000 churches worldwide and has planted over 2,700 churches in America over the last 10 years. For more information about CMN visit www. ChurchMultiplication.net. The Active Network, Inc. The Active Network, Inc. is the leading provider of organization-based cloud computing applications serving diverse market segments including business events, community activities, outdoors and sports. Our technology platform, ActiveWorks®, transforms the way organizers manage their activities and events by automating online registrations and streamlining other critical management functions, while also driving consumer participation to their events. Our flagship media property, Active.com, is the leading online community for people who want to discover, participate in, and share activities about which they are passionate. Headquartered in San Diego, California since 1999, the company has over 25 offices worldwide. To learn more, visit us on the web at www.ActiveNetwork.com or www.Active.com. ____________________________________________

5 Ways to “Green” Your Church

Many churches have found that taking a leadership role on environmental stewardship fits squarely into their existing role of fulfilling the Great Commission. What has been dubbed “greening your congregation,” May 2011

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Press Releases really means nothing more than making a concerted effort to lessen your negative impact on God’s beautiful creation, leaving you free to focus on the Good News. Not only is going green important for sustainability reasons, but it will help your church’s finances be put to better use. Here are five ways you can introduce sustainability to your church: 1. Assessment. Call your local energy company or hire an energy auditor to assess your church’s energy usage. Assessing your church’s current impact is important because it will allow you to acknowledge those areas in which your church already complies with standards of sustainability, and helps you identify steps for improvement. Assess you building’s energy consumption, water usage, and waste. Are lights on in the sanctuary when no one is using it? Do you fill trash bag after trash bag with Styrofoam coffee cups after services? In this assessment process, keep in mind that government and utility rebates for energy efficient improvements that are available to individuals and businesses are absolutely available to churches as well. Also, there are energy management software solutions (http://www. energycap.com) available to specifically monitor energy bills to make sure they are accurate. 2. HVAC. The Goliath of energy usage, your church’s heating and cooling system has the potential to offer the most in savings of energy, money, and time. Keeping your sanctuary a comfortable temperature year-round can be a real challenge, and the various activities and events your building hosts can be complicated to manage. ServiceU offers an impressive solution that makes it possible for churches to integrate their heating and cooling system with their online events calendar. EventU Green can be used to program your building’s existing HVAC system to coincide with your scheduled events and services. Read more about EventU Green, as well as scheduling tips to help reduce energy costs here. 3. Lighting. While it’s probably not a good idea for your congregation to hold candles for lighting the church services, there are many less dramatic ways to save energy and money on your church’s lighting costs. Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs) last Christian Computing® Magazine

about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, and offer 75% in energy savings. During your assessment process, take note of all the fixtures with old bulbs and replace them as soon as possible. Replace your old T12 fluorescent tubes with more efficient T8 ones. For bathrooms, kitchens, office spaces and meeting rooms, install occupancy sensors on the light switches so lights don’t accidently get left on when no one is there. Recycling old light bulbs is very important, as well. Make sure to check with state and local regulations on how to properly dispose of old bulbs because they contain toxic waste than can pollute the environment. 4. Appliances. Is the dishwasher in your church kitchen an avocado green color? The color’s not necessarily the problem (depending on your taste), but that popular color of the late 1970’s means its energy efficiency today is sub-par. The U.S. Environmental Protection’s Energy Star program identifies appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and stoves that use as much as 30% less energy as their standard counterparts. Visit the Energy Star website to find a list of appliances to include in your church. Replacing old appliances goes hand in hand with water savings as well. Most newer appliances use less water; this coupled with other water savings tools, such as installing low-flow toilets or “toilet jams” as well as installing aerators on faucets, can help cut down on overall waste. 5. Reduce Waste. The key to reducing waste is the old triangle, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Consider putting your new Energy Star dishwasher to use by using reusable cups for coffee and juice. Those plastic bottles of water take a staggering amount of energy and oil to produce, and surprisingly cannot be recycled into food grade materials. Encourage staff members to bring their own, reusable water bottles, and offer congregants filtered tap water instead. If using paper goods is a must, consider biodegradable compostable paper plates, bowls, and cups that can be ordered in bulk online. During your assessment process, take note of paper usage for handouts, church bulletins, and notices. Could May 2011

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Press Releases some of those be eliminated by directing people to your online calendar? EventU is a great solution for managing your facility and church calendar. Instead of printing a mass amount of notices at one time, print in smaller batches as needed, so less will go to waste. Encourage families to take and share one notice, and print on both sides of the page. Obviously, install a recycling facility for any waste your do create to be taken away and given a second life. This list is by no means comprehensive. If you are doing a massive remodeling project, consider installing solar panels as your source of electricity, or purchasing wind power instead. Remember that many of your services happen in the daytime, and energy efficient windows provide a free and beautiful source of light. While not a problem in parts of the country, water is a scarce resource in many regions, and watering your landscape wisely will, once again, preserve a valuable resource while lowering your utility costs. Many churches and business of all sizes have found that removing grass in medians or easements and replacing it with beautiful varieties of low-water flowers and shrubs maintains the desired aesthetic for a fraction of the cost. Additionally, hiring a LEED certified consultant to help with remodels and new building projects can prove to be of great benefit to churches and to the environment. Remember that your members’ monetary contribution to their congregations is a blessing, and should be wisely spent. By saving money on heating, cooling, and lighting costs, your members can feel confident that their donations are being used in the most efficient ways possible, and not floating out a poorly insulated window. About ServiceU Corporation Since 1999, ServiceU Corporation has been the trusted solution for providing software that helps churches, schools and nonprofits simplify and automate administrative processes by moving them online. ServiceU’s core product line includes: EventU™ for event, resource, and facility management through webbased calendar scheduling software; EventU Green™ is an add-on to EventU that automates facility heating and cooling (HVAC) online based on a facility’s events schedule; TransactU™ is the one solution for secure online donation, payment, and event registration tools Christian Computing® Magazine

from an organization’s website, via mobile devices, and kiosks; TicketU™ provides online ticket sales, box office management, and theater software. ____________________________________________

BombBomb Breaks Down Barriers of Church Communication Through Video Email Marketing Tools Churches Use Simple Video Email Marketing Software to Reach People Personally Keeping people connected to their church in order to build relationships and foster growth in the 21st century can and should include many types of technology. For churches, incorporating video into their email communication practices can increase membership retention and help foster a deeper sense of connection when members aren’t physically present at church during the week. BombBomb (http://www.bombbomb.com) is an innovative email marketing service provider that has led the church market in video email and email marketing software since 2007. If you had the choice of reading a message from your pastor or watching a short three-minute video, you’d choose the video - it’s a no-brainer. People crave the human touch that video provides and churches love the overall simplicity of BombBomb’s video email system. For one affordable price per month ($20 for most), churches can use BombBomb’s simple, elegant system to upload up to 2.5 megabytes (larger than Vimeo and YouTube) of video in over 150 file formats. Pastors and church staff can use any video equipment - from a simple webcam or mobile phone all the way up to HD production equipment - and every kind of video device in between. “In order to effectively reach people using email marketing tools, it has to be simple and extremely easy to use,” comments Conor McCluskey, Co-Founder and CEO of BombBomb. “We’ve broken down all the barriers in order to simplify the process of sending church video email so that anyone can do it in very little time using the equipment you already have.” any of the email marketing competitors out there offer bells and whistles that are unnecessary for churches; BombBomb has simplified and streamlined their email May 2011

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Press Releases marketing service in order to break down the technical barriers that are often in place when it comes to church technology. “Once I have created the video, it generally takes between 15-20 minutes to add in text announcement details and send the email out to our church households,” says Carol Davis, Administrative Assistant for The Gathering in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It is a simple, straightforward process that anyone can easily do.” With a monthly subscription, churches get full support, full access to the online knowledge base, a host of templates that can be customized for each campaign, and integration with many of the top church management systems (ChMS) including Fellowship One (http://www.fellowshiptech.com), Church Community Builder (http://www.churchcommunitybuilder.com), and IconCMO (http://www.iconcmo.com). This integration means that BombBomb automatically updates email contact information in real-time before each campaign goes out, saving churches hours and hours of time usually spent exporting and importing contact data from similar email systems currently on the market. “Our whole philosophy is ease of use. We’ll bring in a trainer and walk churches through the steps. We often find that once a church gets the process down, it becomes extremely simple for them,” adds McCluskey. “We can walk through the process on the phone or via email. We’re here to help with the video email service any way we can.” One of the nicest features about using BombBomb is that each customer receives detailed report cards that will demonstrate a return on investment. BombBomb’s efforts are based on your church’s goals - and they are completely measurable so everyone can see what’s really working, what needs improvement, and what needs elimination. BombBomb offers comprehensive video email services complete with video email templates, video analytics, and auto-responders. The company also offers real-time email and email marketing services where churches can send HTML emails with or without video using the company’s easy editing system that requires no previous technical knowledge. To sign up for a 14-day free trial, visit http://www. bombbomb.com or call 1.888.492.2695 today! Christian Computing® Magazine

About BombBomb Founded in 2007, BombBomb (http://www.bombbomb.com) is a Colorado-based company that was founded on simplified video email marketing solutions. Through its email marketing platform that offers all the features you need, want and expect, including list management, auto responders, web forms, pre-built templates, quick-and-easy email editing and comprehensive statistics, the company aims to help churches, ministries, and nonprofits reach their email marketing goals with ease. ____________________________________________

IconCMO Offers Cloud-Based Financial and Administrative Technology Advantages to Churches As churches seek to increase efficiency on smaller budgets, looking to cloud-based church management software (ChMS) has incredible advantages. While there are many church technology providers on the market offering robust church management solutions, few have complete fund accounting, contribution, and payroll modules in addition to membership management-all in one integrated web-based church management system. IconCMO (Church Management Online) makes it possible for church staff and members to access their data from any internet connection, thereby increasing their ability to connect with members and “do ministry” well within the community. “We love working with churches to show them how they can manage their church finances from any Internet connection AND give their members the ability to participate in groups online, register for volunteer opportunities, see the church-wide calendar, and communicate via email with anyone in their church,” notes Bill Gifford, president of Icon Systems, Inc. Some church management systems on the market are not fully web-based, but IconCMO was built for web-access since its launch in 2003, and has undergone significant system-wide enhancements over the past years to provide the best features for maximum church management productivity. “I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about May 2011

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Press Releases backing up the software every week or so. The fact that it’s ‘all taken care of ‘ makes my life much easier. I’m not a computer guru and yet I’ve ended up being responsible for making sure everyone’s computer is upto-date with everything and this is one less thing to deal with,” says Joella Miller, Treasurer at Brodhead United Methodist Church. Top 10 Key Features of IconCMO: 1. Access and edit IconCMO fully web-based church software from anywhere in real-time. 2. Comprehensive membership tracking including attendance, households, visitors, groups, talent, and communication. 3. Track and manage church contributions, including envelopes, statements, online pledges, and online donations. 4. Effortlessly prepare donor contribution statements and reports through complete fund accounting system. (Supports FASB 95 and 117 reporting requirements for nonprofit organizations.) 5. Quickly and efficiently send individual or group email church communications. 6. Integrate your church directory and church calendar of events directly into your website from information stored in IconCMO. 7. Access to IconCMO web services for custom church API integrations through the Icon App Market. 8. Access to Icon services offered by our partners. 9. Unlimited users and technical support. 10. Nightly off-site backups. Additionally, IconCMO+ includes all the features of the IconCMO church software solution plus specialize church management tools that were created specifically for regional and national denominational offices, as well as multisite churches in need of a way to manage multiple locations, offices, and church plants. If your Christian Computing® Magazine

organization is looking for multisite church technology, IconCMO+ can be customized to fit your church management needs. “We sought to assist urban mission congregations that were challenged to find volunteers with backgrounds for financial positions,” says Tom Kull of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “The IconCMO+ tier system was selected to be the web-based accounting system and has enabled us to train members of these congregations to grow into financial leadership positions. IconCMO is competitively priced to give churches all the features they need to manage their church without any up-front costs. Monthly plans begin at $27 per month and there are no set-up fees; annual payment discounts are available. Icon only charges based on the number of families (not individuals) entered into the system at time of billing (Payroll module is the only extra charge if a church chooses to add this). Additionally, IconCMO provides comprehensive support at no additional cost. IconCMO+ for church offices or multisite organizations is priced separately. Contact Icon Systems - Email Sales - for a customized proposal. Icon Systems, Inc. (http://www.iconcmo.com) has been a leader in the church management system industry for nearly 20 years, developing high-quality software exclusively for religious organizations from church plants to denominational offices. The company continues to enhance its cloud-based church management software with new features to meet the ongoing administrative and communication needs of the churches it serves. Icon Systems has three prominent offerings: 1) IconCMO - a web-based church management solution that meets the needs of individual churches, 2) IconCMO+ - a web-based multisite church management solution for multisite churches and churches with denominational offices on the local, national, and international level, and 3) Revelations - a single user or network-based church management software package. Icon Systems has a deep software engineering heritage that has enabled its products to achieve unprecedented performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

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cover story

MyChristianTeaching.com

Your Digital Download Mall for Christian Teaching

R

By Steve Hewitt

ecently, I found myself in Dallas, preparing to join my friend Nick Nicholaou for another of those “What’s Hot and What’s Not” panels we have chaired for several years at the Christian Leadership Alliance conference (CLA). I was only in Dallas for the day, but I enjoy going to conferences, especially to walk the exhibits and see who is offering new and exciting services. It gives me the opportunity to really see what they are offering and it provides me the opportunity to ask questions. I am also an observer of people. You can tell right off if the person at the exhibit is excited about their ministry, product or service. I was at the CLA on the last day, when exhibitors have already talked to a thousand people and are ready for the last bell so they can pack it up and go home. This, to me, is another good sign to see who REALLY believes in what they are doing! This year, I ran across an exciting new website and service and I was able to meet David West, CEO and founder and Natalia West, COO and Co-founder of MyChristianTeaching.com. I liked them right from the start. MyChristianTeaching.com offers a fantastic place to find Christian resources. Looking for some pastoral resources? Or maybe you just want some devotional materials or you are in need of some spiritual renewal materials to improve your life God’s way, MyChristianTeaching.com has it all! They have audio and video sermons, teachings, eBooks, study guides and much more. Advantages for Ministries? There are many. If you are a church, ministry or even a publisher, MyChristianTeaching.com is a download mall for Christian products (audio & video sermon Christian Computing® Magazine

products, eBooks and Study Guides, things you would normally sell in a church bookstore or speaker’s table). You can think of MyChristianTeaching.com as the one website where people go to find all kinds of downloadable Christian products. These are products which provide additional funding for your ministry, church or publishing company. They are helping organizations to make a smooth and easy transition to the DOWNLOAD ERA.  MyChristianTeaching.com, as David expresses, exists to be a distributor for God’s kingdom connecting awesome ministries like yours and your products with people desiring to improve their life God’s way. It can become an extension of a ministry’s website or existing web store to handle all the download products or can be an additional outlet for selling your ministry’s products offering greater distribution and exposure to more potential consumers world-wide. They help you to do it all! Some additional benefits include marketing for your organization and its products, positive National & International expose of your organiMay 2011

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zation and it products, increased traffic to your web site, reduced fulfillment cost, and no internal cost for development, management, & support for your own digital download store. For those that are looking for Christian products and resources, MyChristianTeaching. com is a very user-friendly website. You can find content based upon selecting one of their many categories which include audio and video downloads, audio books, eBooks, music, and then a listing of categories based upon the topic, ranging from Angles to Youth. Using the category features, I clicked on the subject “Prayer”. At the top of the screen I can see several “Top Prayer” items, the first being an eBook titled “Your First Ten Steps”, provided by Shull Ministries International. I am presented with a description, a listing of the 10 steps included in the eBook (chapter 6 is titled “Begin talking to God), and, at the bottom of the page I can follow a link to Shull Ministries International’s profile page and see a listing of other Products they provide, most ranging in price from $4.99 to $9.99. And, if it is an audio or video file, there is the option to listen or view a little bit of the product before you buy. A very cool feature since it allows you to connect with the product before you buy it! And, right where you can’t miss it, I can easily click the Download Now button to purchase and download the product I found. MyChristianTeaching.com offers a free newsletter which is useful to introduce you to new ministries and content. Every newsletter includes a free product download, a great value! You can also click on the “View All Ministries” found in the menu bar on the site and see a listing of ministries that are posting content at MyChristianTeaching.com. David tells me that the number of ministries and the amount of content on the site is growing at a fast and consistent pace. More and more ministries, churches and publishers are realizing what a fantastic technology platform MyChristianTeaching.com can be for them since there is no charge to post their digital content on the site. MyChristianTeaching.com works on a very favorable revenue share with their partners, which is based on product sells. So, if you are looking for some great content Christian Computing® Magazine

for spiritual growth, or as a resource if you are a pastor or teacher, check out MyChristianTeaching.com. If you are a producer of digital content (audio & video sermons, eBooks, study guides, music, etc.), or publisher looking for a solid digital platform visit their site and contact them about becoming one of their partners, and they will help you begin distributing your content to thousands of Christian leaders, laypersons and people desiring to improve their life God’s way around the world. Additional links: http://www.mychristianteaching.com/ http://www.mychristianteaching.com/pages/ForMinistries

May 2011

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ACS

ACS ideas to impact

Up at Night Worried about Data Security, Overloaded Servers and Overworked IT Staff?

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from ACS Technologies

im Panosh, operations officer at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., was wracked with worry about what would happen if his server went down or if there was some sort of catastrophic event. He was tired of everyone coming to him in a panic every time something went wrong with the servers. So when was researching a new platform for church software, he didn’t even consider locally-hosted desktop software. “I didn’t want it on my servers,” he said. Now, those worries and that panic are gone. The guide “Your Ministry On Demand” outlines how churches can benefit from hosted software solutions, just like Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church did. Having switched to an on-demand version of his church management software, Panosh likes having the flexibility to let his staff work anywhere, but more than that, he likes having someone else take care of many essential IT duties. “We have a server farm on our facility, but we’re very light on IT staff. Technically, I’m the IT person – but I’m not an IT person,” he said. “Now, if my facility burns down, all my data is protected, and it’s protected by professional IT people,” Jim said. For larger churches like Our Saviour’s, 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. Christian Computing® Magazine

Nita Padgett, the church administrator at 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, that hosted 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.” For a lot of churches, an on demand software service is nothing new. For some though, it’s a new idea. The bottom line is this: Any church would benefit from a flexible, secure hosted solution that lets staff access your church management software whenever and wherever they need it. With that type of access, your staff and volunteers can work from home, while traveling, or anywhere they have an Internet connection. Your organization would be subscribing to a monthly service, which means you have the freedom to select what you want and need at any time. Information security is no light matter. That’s why church consultants recommend that churches look for a software partner with the skills and May 2011

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resources to invest in best-inclass security infrastructures. Your church has critical, confidential data that you want to protect and preserve, and a remote setup is one key way to assure that your data is in the best hands. Many churches have staff members who fill multiple roles, such as being a part-time IT director and a part-time youth minister. It is possible to reduce the IT needs of the church so your multitasking minister can do more. With a remote solution, IT duties like upgrades, network support, backups, security, and training are no longer a burden. You can read more about how a hosted software solution can help your ministry by downloading the free ministry guide “Your Ministry On Demand.” In the guide, 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 guide 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 On Demand” today for the full story on how your ministers and staff can work smarter with anytime, anywhere access to your software and data.

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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accelerating the dynamic church

Technology Helps Churches Recover After a Natural Disaster

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from Fellowship Technologies

n April 27, 2011 from 8 AM until 8 am the next day, the United States witnessed the worst outbreak of tornadoes since 1974, with a total of 362 ¸ !CCELERATING4HE$YNAMIC#HURCH tornadoes and over 340 known fatalities. Just this week, another string of tornadoes ripped through Joplin, Missouri, leveling over 75% of the structures in the city and killing, as of this writing, more than 60 people. Entire communities and, in some cases, whole cities were destroyed – including the churches. Dozens of churches took direct hits from these storms. No church can guarantee avoiding physical damage, but it is possible for churches to protect themselves from the loss of critical information. The storms may have come from physical clouds, but virtual clouds of information, immune to natural disasters, have allowed churches to continue connecting with their communities.

begin responding and built a special landing page on their website (http://www.churchofthehighlands.com/recovery) to provide up-to-date information and route the people, supplies and resources to the appropriate areas.

Mobilizing Relief Efforts Mobilizing relief efforts starts with mobile phones, and Fellowship One makes their mobile apps (F1 Touch for iPhone and F1 for Android) available for free, giving churches real-time, anywhere access to their entire church database right from their smart phone or any browser. In the middle of this devastation, we continue to hear reports of churches organizing relief efforts, contacting their entire membership and serving their communities in spite of the damage. Steve Blair, one of the pastors at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, a city hit by the April storms, took charge of relief efforts for their church and began coordinating the efforts of other churches immediately after the storms hit. The church used Fellowship One to reach staff and key leaders to Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine

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To date, the church has been able to raise over $629,000 for relief and their people have donated over 50,000 man-hours of volunteer time. In the first two weeks alone, Church of the Highlands volunteers worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to prepare meals for victims and all first responders. To date, they’ve handled 50 tractortrailer loads of food and supplies for the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas. No Data or Contribution Records Lost Because every person who attends a church and has been entered into Fellowship One is saved to remote servers, a church never has to worry about saving information to computers at their office. Instead, all data is saved to “the cloud” – online servers – making it completely safe and secure from natural disasters. In addition to personal contact information, all contribution data, including check scans, are saved to Fellowship One online. For churches that had their data literally blown across acres or even entire counties, the recovery process is not only difficult, but also presents a confidentially problem as sensitive information can be compromised. Fortunately for our church partners, even if their church is tragically destroyed, they are immediately able to harness the power of online, cloud computing to connect with people, keep track of information, coordinate relief efforts and begin to rebuild their communities. In a time of disaster, having the right information can make all the difference.

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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ParishSOFT

ParishSOFT’s Catholic Connection

10 Tips for Writing Brilliant Email Copy Boost your Read Rates and Member Participation

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from ParishSOFT

n the frenzied pace of a busy parish office, getting email communications out the door can make you feel like a short order cook. Whip up that omelet, slap it on a plate, DING! the bell, and grab the next ticket.

To take charge of your emails, and make them work for your mission, envision yourself as a gourmet chef (the calm, confident type). You simmer flavorful sauces and present beautiful, delectable portions that nourish and have members reserving places at the many tables in your church. Your from and subject lines serve as the appetizers, so let’s start there. 1. Be a trusted “from line.” Establish “from lines” for all your church communications, so members will recognize that the message comes from a trusted source. For example: Super: Fr. Tom Callahan or FrTom@stjoe.org St. Joseph Religious Ed Lousy: tcall@hotmail.com horsegirl@gmail.com info@stjoe.org It’s okay to use more than one from line identity— in fact, they’ll help members differentiate between your all-members communications and emails about specific ministries. Just be consistent, so your newsletter isn’t sent from Fr. Tom one month and your parish administrator the next. 2. Write über cool, creative subject lines. Readers take no more than three seconds to decide whether your email is worth opening. Subject and from Christian Computing® Magazine

lines work together to win them over. While you might write your subject line last, these 50 or fewer characters are just as important as your primary body copy. Think “tight,” like a journalist—or a Twitter poster—and distill the content of your message into a compelling statement and call to action.

Super: RSVP for Fun & Friendship at 6/18 Parish Picnic (calls to act, sells the event) Lousy: Parish Picnic Scheduled for June 18: Food, Fun and Prizes for the Whole Family (too long, no action) Super: Register Now for Fall 2011 Youth Classes (targeted to school-age parents, calls to act) Lousy: Reminder: Religious Ed Fall 2011 Information (vague, uses spam word)

Smart phones may cut off the ends of from and subject lines, so keep them short, and put the most important information at the front. 3. Meatloaf, again? Keep subject lines fresh. Are you sending out a regular newsletter to members? One MailChimp study shows that using the same subject line for every issue reduces open rates over time. Still, some ParishSOFT users report great success with consistent subject lines for newsletters, homilies, and bulletins. You know your parishioners best, so watch your statistics, and be willing to adjust to engage readers. If your open rates drop for St. Joe Offerings NewsletMay 2011

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ter, try changing your subject line to tease readers about the main news item. They’ll know it’s the church newsletter, and they’ll instantly see what’s new. For example: SJO Celebrity Picnic Lineup, RSVP Online SJO Be Jesus for a Child in Need SJO 2 Weeks Until Online Giving Arrives 4. Pick out any bad apples. Avoid all caps, exclamation marks, and spammy words like reminder and help. Every ISP has its own spam rules, but if you use an email service provider, they’ll run your subject lines (and email body copy) through a spam check and alert you to potentially risky content. If you’re using MailChimp, try their Subject Line Researcher. It compares your text to the open rates of millions of subject lines sent through their system and gives you a 1–5 stars rating so you can gauge your expected open rates based on statistical data. Take advantage of the stats and tools your email service provider offers to get the highest possible delivery and open rates. 5. Serve the main course—promptly—in small bites Now that you’ve drawn them in, your email body copy mustn’t disappoint. The faithful are a busy people, so avoid long introductions, pontifications, and jibber jabber. State your business at the beginning, in a compelling way, and provide the information they need to make a decision (i.e., who, what, where, when, read more, sign up, call, or save the date). Keep the whole thing short. And avoid creating this impression: If it takes me this long to read the email about serving on the committee, there’s no way I’ll have time to actually serve on the committee. <Delete> If you have to communicate tons of details, whether in a limited-distribution email or in a newsletter that you send to everyone, sum them up in two or three sentences and link to your website, where those interested can read more. Use headers and graphics to give readers visual breaks and cues—good design lets them skim and easily digest your copy. 6. Be compelling. . . be interesting. All communications should draw an emotional response from readers. Give yourself time to be creative, and use humor, straight facts, or urgency in your body copy—whatever will resonate best with your audience—to get the message across. Okay: There will be a picnic Saturday from 6-10 pm on the St. Joseph parish grounds. Unlike last year, you don’t need to do your own cooking. We’ll have the K of C do that. Please bring a dish to pass. Yawn! You can always find a better word for “There.” “Unlike last year” is unnecessary and implies the previous picnic was a dud. Which “Saturday” do you mean? Better: Don’t miss the parish picnic and pot luck, Saturday, June 18, 6-10 pm on Christian Computing® Magazine

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the parish grounds. Compete in the St. Joe Family Olympics, meet a Detroit Tigers celebrity, and enjoy a delicious meal prepared by our K of C. Learn more and RSVP online by clicking here. Choose words that evoke action, pleasant sensory experiences, good feelings, Christian duty, urgency, and even “me” time. Have fun with it, bounce ideas around with someone, and you’ll come up with great copy, tailored to strike a chord with your target audience. 7. Simplify your language. Because we work every day immersed in church life, we can forget that church can be an intimidating place. Your copy should welcome, not make people feel inadequate. If you’re asking for new Eucharistic ministers, don’t use terms they might not know, like ciborium, when bowl communicates the same thing. If your goal is to get people to volunteer for liturgical ministries, don’t flood them with details about the dress code and training requirements— too much detail at this stage makes the ministry sound complicated. Instead, assure them that “it’s easy” and “we’ll show you the ropes.” Provide a link to your website, where the “Type A” personalities can view the full requirements. 8. Call them to act. A clear call to action, like online signup, is critical to getting results from your email communications. Capture their commitment while they’re engaged in your message. . . the “I forgot” rate soars once they move on to other items in their inboxes. Online signups are easy with Signup Genius (free!), .html forms, or the event marketing tools from email service providers. Add links from your calendar, website, or

Christian Computing® Magazine

Facebook page to the Web page version of your email or invitation. With so many avenues to reach your members, be prepared to see more of them participating in church life. We created a sample parish picnic email and RSVP using Constant Contact’s email and survey tools. Sign up (just for pretend), see who’s coming, and tell us you’ll bring the baked beans by clicking here. 9. Sleep on it. You’re too close to your own work to give it an objective review. If time permits, draft one day and edit the next. If you’re having a “short order cook” type of day, ask a colleague to review it and give you an honest opinion of the email’s effectiveness. Be sure event logistics are correctly provided, all links are working, and the grammar is perfect. Run your spam check, and let your service provider alert you to any red flags. Be sure to fix those and proofread one last time before sending. 10. Know what the critics are saying. Watch your results to see what’s working and what isn’t. And don’t beat yourself up when every email doesn’t get rave reviews. MailChimp reports the average open rates for “religious” communications at about 23%, which is quite high compared with other sectors. Some ParishSOFT users report open rates between 40-50%—fantastic! Consistent, well-done emails will become a powerful tool in your communications toolbox. And how could they be anything less? Your message connects people with God and each other, and that’s best dish on the menu.

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LOGOS LOGOS CMS

Technology Tears Down Prison Walls

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by Tony Ferraro

wo years ago, I met a media team member from one of the three largest churches in the United States. As I was applauding the work his team does at their church, he said, “I just wish the rest of the church saw us as actually functioning in ministry.” As I reassured him that he was absolutely contributing to ministry, my heart broke for him. With the explosion of Sunday service media teams, online church communities, and online campuses, the traditional church “operations guy” is becoming the front line of ministry distribution. In 2008 Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, under the stewardship of Central’s Executive Pastor Kurt Ervin, launched its online campus, http://centralonlinecampus.com, using the turnkey online campus solution from Logos Management Software, formerly a 360Hubs product. Today, Central boasts over 10,000 unique online campus attendees per month around the world. While that is impressive enough, that is where this story begins. Shortly after the launch of the online campus, Jake Bodine, a member of Ervin’s operations staff, had a vision to use the online campus to reach prisons. Bodine began planning and relationship building, and with the support of Central Christian Church, launched “God Behind Bars”, a 501c3 with a passion for delivering church to prison using technology. In December of 2009 at Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas, Bodine saw his vision become a reality as Pastor Jud Wilhite was broadcast on a 17’ tall by 10’ wide screen. That service now has over 300 women in weekly attendance. While that is impressive, it was not far enough for Bodine. His vision was to see lives changed by God’s grace. Christian Computing® Magazine

In January of 2010, a year later, under Bodine’s leadership, a Celebrate Recovery chapter was initiated in the prison. Since then, there have been over 110 graduates of the program. One former prisoner, “Jana”, has attributed this effort as the touch that changed her life forever, “By reaching into the prison, I know I’m loved and cared for. I know that I’m seen even when I’m trying not to be.” Because there are many more women with stories like “Jana’s” that have felt the impact of God’s love through the internet broadcast of Central’s Sunday service in prison, it would be enough to end the news here, call it a success and give a hand to the creative use of technology by this “operations guy.” While that is impressive, it is not far enough for Bodine. His vision was to see lives changed by God’s grace. Bodine’s vision was to bring the message of Christ to the prison, be a vehicle through which the Holy Spirit could reach people, and provide a bridge of hope that would extend in their lives as they left the confines of prison walls. Using technology, Bodine has further implemented a complete “Design Studio” within the women’s prison. The “God Behind Bars Design Studio” is a fully functioning graphic design production house employing 10 female inmates at any given time. Within the prison walls, Bodine has installed 12 computer workstations with the Adobe design suite of products. Maintaining aspirations of providing a May 2011

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solid foundation “after prison”, Bodine invites inmates to “apply” for a job within the GBB Design Studio. Inmates that are selected through the interview process are offered a job within the GBB Design Studio in the prison. They are paid a stipend based on state penitentiary limitations. Volunteers from Central Christian Church teach them: • Graphic Design • Web Design • Financial Planning Skills • Presentation Skills • Life Skills GBB Design Studios then solicits clients from the general Las Vegas community. Clients literally go to the prison for their consultations and meet with their designers. This simple act provides a relational bridge between the inmates and the productive society, allowing them self dignity and building self-worth as they gain respect for their talents and their ability to contribute to a society and economy from which they previously felt disenfranchised. GBB Design Studio’s motto is “Giving Back While Getting Back” and it makes sense. Bodine is using technology to rebuild women’s lives. When women leave the prison having been through the GBB Design Studio experience, they are exiting with: • A Relationship with Jesus • A Job Skill • A Resume • A Portfolio • A list of companies that hire ex-felons • Life Skills Christian Computing® Magazine

• And, A Whole New Outlook On Life! Of course, any church in America would be proud of this ministry. It is a flagship, state of the art, “prison ministry.” But once again, Bodine did not stop there. His vision is to impact lives with Jesus, course correct people’s lives by giving them a second chance AND help to provide the best destination for them when they leave prison. Understanding that technology allowed the church experience to be exported to prison, Jake also asked how it could be extended into the families of those that are behind bars. This is where the internet and, subsequently, the online campus, take their second step on this road to recovery and restoration. May 2011

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When inmates meet with family members during visitation, they can provide a marketing card to their family with a day and time circled on it. That day and time tells their family members when they will be “at church”. It also provides the web address where the family can watch online what the inmate is watching on the large screen in the prison, thus allowing the inmate and their family to effectively “go to church together”. God Behind Bars is then helping to create support groups for inmate family members, wives, husbands, children, etc. The hope is that inmates and family members will be able to engage in Christ-based conversation during their visits providing everlasting hope and helping to mend and restore relationships even while inmates are still incarcerated. God Behind Bars has another prison set to go this summer in Nevada and is reaching out to others as far away as Oklahoma. Jake Bodine, the church “operations guy”, has squarely heard the call of the Holy Spirit on his life. He was handed technology as his resource and truly became a minister of God’s gospel both in word and indeed in the lives of broken people. It all started with a Sunday service produced using lights, cameras, and sound boards. Rendered, it was pushed through the internet and rebroadcast in a place with high walls. It was then used to teach and train women valuable life skills and serve the community. Finally, it was used to connect families. Church technology and operations teams perform meaningful ministry every day; are you encouraging them?

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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higher power with kevin

Just 1 Word Kevin A. Purcell - kevin@kevinpurcell.org

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ust 1 Word Ministry is a web site, a mobile app and an online Bible site all in one. I first took note of the ministry because of their iPad app which is simple but excellent. The app is not an advanced Bible tool like many of those I’ve reviewed here in the past. But it has some nice features and is worth a look for free. There are add-on books for a fee. To get their iPad/iPhone app go to http://bit.ly/just1wordipad. The ministry also has an Online Bible which you can use while on your PC or Mac. See the image or link below. There is an online word scramble game too. See the link/ image below. For those who have a web site you can find things like pictures, verse links, devotions and a Bible search tool that you can use to embed a search box into your church or ministry site. Check out their widgets at http://www.just1word.com/ widgets. We caught up with managing director Bryan Miller of Just 1 Word and asked him to tell us about the ministry. Their passion is to help people engage with the Bible as they grow closer to Jesus. They are small ministry but they have a lot of hope that their vision for God’s kingdom will have an impact around the world. Founded in 2008 as an online Bible reading tool, they launched their Bible app for the iPhone and other Apple iOS devices in June, 2010.This summer they are planning some really nice new features for the web site. Miller Christian Computing® Magazine

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world easily accessible to everyone. Of all the books in the world, the Bible is the only one that talks back. It is alive and relevant to people, no matter who or where they are.” How true. The Bible itself says it is “living and active” so making the Bible living in a digital way for the 21st century just makes sense. Just 1 Word is about doing just that. With their online and mobile apps users can do the following: • Highlight passages • Bookmark passages • Take notes • Share what they learn with others through email and social networking said: “Our efforts are being blessed and we are seeing exponential growth.  The Bible will be accessed over 4 million times this year through our website and apps.” That is having a significant impact. We asked Bryan why they added the iOS app last summer and he said that it relates to the schedules people are keeping. “Life is busy, people are on the move…” so they had to expand from their online efforts to a mobile presence. Mobile apps work for mobile people. He explained: “The Word is relevant to their lives we so need to deliver it in a relevant package and today that’s by means of an app.” They are Mac people so they started out with Apple apps but hope to expand for Android later this year. That will be a nice addition to the present Android Bible study content which is not as rich as the iOS side. I liked what he said about the Bible: “Just1word makes the number one book in the

Christian Computing® Magazine

The good news for the average user is Just 1 Word created their tools for you. Scholars or pastors like me have plenty of advanced tools. But the ordinary person can use Just 1 Word in a feature rich but still simple and clean interface. The mobile app has a lot to offer, so if you are an Apple iOS user, I recommend you hit the link above to download it. And look for the Android app if you use that platform. In the app and the online version you will find more than a dozen English translations as well as some Spanish and Chinese bibles. Users of Twitter or Facebook can share what inspires them right from the web site or app. There is also the ability to email content to yourself or others. If you use both the online and mobile versions of their Bible, you can sync your personal content between the two. This is something some of the biggest companies with multiple developers have not yet mastered. One great way to get started with Just 1 Word is to do as Bryan suggested and try their devotional reading plans like the 30-day challenge, which is a great way to get you started with a daily habit of reading God’s word. Just 1 Word is a ministry. They accept donations but the best way to support them is to get the app and buy some of the add-ons. Before you do, try it out first and be sure it meets your needs. We look forward to seeing more from Just 1 Word. Maybe they will also make a good Bible reading app for the Mac App Store, something still missing as of this writing.

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nick at church

Copier Buying Tips

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Nick Nicholaou - nick@mbsinc.com

hile at the NACBA National Conference last year I was talking with Rob Leacock, Christ Church Fort Worth’s business administrator. We were talking about his recent decision to replace their copier, and his process was impressive and effective! Especially how much money he saved! Here are the details. Starting At The Beginning Rob wasn’t happy with his copier, so he set out to find the best replacement copier for his team. The challenge was to get objective information, not opinions offered by marketers who want you to buy the systems they offer. He started by contacting other church administrators, but found that process to not be very helpful since everyone seemed to love and/ or hate different machines! “I knew there had to be an objective resource out there,” Rob said. He found an organization known as BLI (Buyers Laboratory, Inc., www.buyerslab.com) whose website states: For over 45 years, Buyers Laboratory Inc. (BLI) has been the leading source for unbiased and reliable intelligence for the imaging industry…. BLI is completely independent in all of our testing processes and subsequent reporting. With BLI, you can count on unbiased data and information. All of our product evaluations are conducted by highly experienced employees in our on-site testing facility where we evaluate and report on hundreds of new copier, printer, fax and multi-function (MFP) products each year. There are several BLI reports on each copier, and there are also reports that compare manufacturers against each other. Though they were all helpful, he found the most helpful to be the benchmark tests. A problem, though, was that getting access to BLI’s reports was expensive. A one-year license for access to their online database costs $1495, which is prohibitive for most Christian Computing® Magazine

churches. So Rob contacted the copier manufacturers’ distributors and asked them to provide their BLI reports, which they were happy to do at no charge! Next: Manufacturer’s Distributors Rob read the BLI reports and narrowed his focus down to three manufacturers. Then he began researching their distributors. What he found was that in his area there were multiple distributors for each manufacturer, and that gave him some leverage. Two even loaned him machines so he could give them real-world test drives! The distributors all wanted to meet with him. Like most church administrators, Rob is a busy guy, so he declined their meeting requests and instead sent each of them a spec sheet of his needs. That reduced his time drain considerably since he only needed to meet with the top contenders. Part of Rob’s distributor selection process included research on their service quality. He included service response guarantees on his spec sheet, and he also checked their references to see how well they delivered on the service component. Though most would agree that this is a good ‘due diligence’ test, many skip it because of the time it takes. In Rob’s case, it really helped him identify the top distributors. Contract Negotiations Having done his research well, Rob was ready to enter the negotiation stage. But this is where he did something that was even more unique. He discovered an attorney who specializes in copier May 2011

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lease negotiations! He hired Wade Cascini with Xippa (www.xippa.net) whose website states: At Xippa, we’re here to help you, the customer, get the most out of your Copier and Printer lease agreements, including Managed Print Services and Cost Per Page contracts. Our policy of free, no-obligation Copier and Printer lease contract review consultation means you only pay us if we can save you money…. With over 20 years of proven industry experience in Leasing and Service Level Agreements, we’re able to ensure that when you come to us, you’ll know exactly what your contract is giving you, and how to get what you need out of it. I spoke with Wade and he said, “Most people are not aware that there are experts like us that can save them a lot of money in these negotiations— bottom line! Having done so many of these has helped us know what’s possible, and we use that to our clients’ advantage.” Through Wade’s counsel and negotiations, Christ Church Fort Worth saved considerable funds in leasing the copier that rose to the top of Rob’s objective selection process, promising to meet their needs very well. At the time of this writing they have had their new copier in place for nearly a year and are very pleased with it— and with their distributor/ service provider in every respect. So much so that they recently got a second machine! This article is a Reprint from the NACBA Ledger Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, a consulting firm specializing in church and ministry IT and CPA services. You can reach Nick via email (nick@ mbsinc.com) and may want to check out his firm’s website (www.mbsinc. com) and his blog at http://ministryit.blogspot.com.

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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the power and the danger

When the Cloud Fails By Russ McGuire - russ.mcguire@gmail.com

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his issue I’m taking my monthly column in a new direction. I’m calling it, “The Power and the Danger” and I plan on discussing how technology give us access to new capabilities (power) in serving our Lord and advancing His Kingdom, but also how technology introduces new challenges (danger) that hinder our path and may even lead us astray. As I sit down to write this first column in the new series, a key danger is very evident. In the past few days, there have been major outages in networks and services on which many have become reliant in doing their daily work. These outages are causing some to question whether “the cloud” will ever be reliable enough for large enterprises to trust with mission critical applications. For those of us in ministry or running small businesses, we may not have a choice. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop and consider the implications of these failures on how we operate. What is the “Cloud”? Cloud computing is a new term that encompasses a number of not-so-new concepts. But it also is recognition that new types of services are providing flexibility, agility, and theoretically reliability that has previously been hard for organizations and individuals to achieve. Cloud computing gets its name from the concept of moving computing activities (processing, storage, database management, content streaming, etc.) off of dedicated resources in an environment controlled by the owner of those activities and into “the cloud” – the amorphous Christian Computing® Magazine

and ever-changing collection of resources connected to the Internet. Cloud computing is not-such-a-new concept because, in many ways, it’s a return to the timeshare model common in the 1960s and 1970s. Wikipedia describes this business model: “In the 1960s, several companies started providing time-sharing services as service bureaus. Early systems used Teletype K/ASR-33s or K/ASR-35s in ASCII environments, and IBM Selectric typewriter-based terminals in EBCDIC environments. They would connect to the central computer by dial-up Bell 103A modem or acoustically coupled modems operating at 10–15 characters per second. Later terminals and modems supported 30–120 characters per second. The timesharing system would provide a complete operating environment, including a variety of programming language processors, various software packages, file storage, bulk printing, and off-line storage. Users were charged rent for the terminal, a charge for hours of connect time, a charge for seconds of CPU time, and a charge for kilobyte-months of disk storage.” The best known cloud computing provider is Amazon. Wikipedia describes their offering: “Amazon Web Services May 2011

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(AWS) is a collection of remote computing services (also called web services) that together make up a cloud computing platform, offered over the Internet by Amazon. com.” Wikipedia identifies 23 different cloud services provided by Amazon, but the most significant of these include: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), and Amazon Flexible Payments Service (FPS). These services have sophisticated pricing structures that take into account processor usage time, data storage, and data transfer. Although the web has shifted the focus from single user business applications to mass market web applications, and the connection speeds have increased from bits per second to millions of bits per second, the general approach closely parallels the original timeshare model. What is new is how these services have become pervasive in how we interact with the world. In a sense, mass market services including social networks (where we store our photos and share them with friends) and webmail services (such as Gmail and Hotmail) have brought cloud computing into our personal lives – shifting computing activities off of our home computers and into the cloud. Cloud computing is attractive to us as individuals and organizations because they make it easy for us, especially with our increasingly mobile lifestyles. I can access my accounts, information, and content wherever I go from whatever device is handy. I can very easily and efficiently share the things I want to share with those I trust. And the cloud environment automatically (and invisibly) adapts to my changing needs – I don’t need to worry about adding storage or compute power or bandwidth, it all gets automatically provisioned for me based on my usage. Perhaps most promising of all is the apparent reliability of the cloud architecture. I assume that whatever I put into the cloud is safe because if one computer in the cloud, or one disk drive fails, the cloud architecture automatically fails over to a backup, usually without even my awareness that it happened.

Christian Computing® Magazine

May 2011

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Reliable, or not? That’s the theory that some are questioning this week. Amazon has provided a very detailed analysis of the major failure that their AWS suffered this past week. In short, starting early in the morning on April 21, a complex system that had numerous sophisticated failsafe mechanisms, managed to fail in a way that spread the damage across a broad set of resources. Many customers were impacted for 12 hours, and some were down for four days. On April 28, Yahoo’s e-mail service was unavailable for most of the day for over a million users. Although less significant than earlier outages impacting Gmail users, it did serve as a reminder of how reliant we have all become on our e-mail accounts. On April 27, Verizon’s new 4G network suffered a nationwide outage. Although not technically a cloud service, a network outage is actually worse, since it keeps you from reaching any of the cloud services on which you depend. Do these three failures mean that we should give up on cloud services? For most of us, the answer is a resounding no. These providers invest $billions to implement reliability well beyond what our small budgets could match. Yes, there will be outages, but in all of these cases, customers didn’t lose data, and the systems were back up relatively quickly. If you’ve ever suffered a major system outage, I’m guessing there’s a good chance you can’t make the same claim. These failures should, however, get each of us to think about how well we’re prepared for a system outage, whether we keep our systems and files locally, or whether we trust in the cloud. It is my hope and prayer that these articles on the power and danger of technology will encourage you in your daily walk with Christ. Whether it is the printing press, radio, television, personal computers, the Internet, mobility, or cloud computing, new technologies continue to advance our ability to know God and to serve Him, wherever we go. 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 Hschooler.net (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

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digital evangelism

May Is Digital Outreach Month

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By Michael L. White - info@parsonplace.com

ave you ever heard of Internet Evangelism Day? If so, wonderful! If not, let me bring you up to speed and encourage you to get involved. Since its inception in 2005 through the organization of Tony Whittaker and a consortium of other Christian evangelism entities (see www.web-evangelism.com for full details), Internet Evangelism Day was observed on the last Sunday of April. However, it was moved to the third Sunday in May for 2011 in order to avoid conflicting with the celebration of Easter. In fact, the entire month of May has been designated as Digital Outreach Month to give it further emphasis. I must confess that I have not been as zealous in promoting and observing this annual event as I now wish I had been, since I have only been announcing it for the last couple of years in the congregation where I pastor. Nevertheless, this is the year for all of us to give it our collective focus and truly make it the endeavor it was intended to be. In fact, in my congregation, I’m going to combine it with a special offering for the “Faith Comes by Hearing” ministry, which produces the Bible in audio format and distributes it via both CD and their digital player, the Proclaimer (www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/proclaimer). As the name implies, Internet Evangelism Day is an annual date set aside to promote participation in the myriad acts of evangelism we can all do during our Internet activities throughout the year. Whether you’re involved in a chat using IRC or IM (instant relay chat or instant messaging), or whether you’re posting a comment on a Web forum or blog, writing a periodic Christian Computing® Magazine

blog, adding a new page to your Web site, or sending an email to your email group or e-newsletter list, Internet evangelism (a major part of all digital evangelism) is the task of sharing the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ with whoever will pay attention. Granted, it’s not easy these days to find someone willing to hear us out with regard to telling what we believe about Jesus and how belief in Him impacts one’s eternal destiny, but that does not relieve us of the commandment from Christ to go and tell and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The way we tell people about Jesus today is often very different from the way people shared the Good News during Bible times. Back then, there were basically two key ways of going and telling: travelling and speaking or writing and sending. Today, while travelling and speaking and writing and sending are still options, the way we travel and speak and write and send has changed dramatically. Now, we can travel from one May 2011

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room to another in the comfort of our homes and, with a few keystrokes on our computer, cellular phone, or other hand-held device, send the Good News message about Christ almost anywhere in the world within a matter of seconds or minutes! Isn’t that amazing? What a time to be alive! Face-to-face sharing of the Good News about Jesus is intimidating for a lot of people, though practice and experience will build confidence and alleviate much of this. However, just as many people hide behind a façade of bravado when communicating with a faceless, anonymous person about practically anything else, telling others about Jesus in this way can likewise ease a great deal of the fears and inhibitions about being resisted or rejected. I’m not by any means saying we should be pretentious in our online presentation of the Gospel, but communicating the Gospel to a complete stranger via the Internet can actually be easier than approaching a complete stranger on the street, though we should certainly do both. That’s just one of the many benefits of Internet evangelism, and that’s why promoting and participating in digital evangelism of all sorts on Internet Evangelism Day and all throughout the year is a must for the sincerely committed Christian living in this digital age. If you need an idea for how to do digital evangelism, I asked Tony Whittaker for his recommendation. He says, “The biggest (and easiest) opportunity for the average Christian web user is social networking, especially Facebook. Conversational dialogue and relational evangelism have always been biblical and fruitful. Now Facebook enables them without geographical barriers. And two new resources, www.YesHEIs.com and www. GlobalShortFilmNetwork.com enable Facebook users to post a conversation-starting video clip onto the Facebook Wall with one easy click.” My book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! also has a chapter on using social media for digital evangelism. It’s available at most online book retailers, such as Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, as well as the publisher’s Web site at: www.parsonplacepress.com/store#de2 , in case you’re interested. For local churches wishing to observe the occasion, Tony says, “For churches, we encourage them to use IE Day itself, or indeed the whole of May (which we have designated as Digital Outreach Month), to explore the wide potential of digital evangelism. As a minimum, IE Day can be featured in a church bulletin, so that members can investigate the IE Day website resources. Additionally, focus spots can be created during meetings using our free downloadable video clips or PowerPoint, Christian Computing® Magazine

or even perform a drama sketch that relates to online evangelism. YesHEIs.com and GlobalShortFilmNetwork.com could be showcased live, to demonstrate how to add videos to Facebook.” If you’re serious about practicing your Christian faith to the max, participating in digital evangelism and promoting the practice thereof throughout the month of May, and on Internet Evangelism Day is just the ticket. Punch your ticket today, and join the rest of the world-wide Church on May 15, 2011, in observing and promoting Internet Evangelism Day. Michael L. White is a full-time pastor, part-time military chaplain, and part-time independent Christian publisher and author living in the Mobile, Alabama area. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! (Parson Place Press, April 2011) has been recently revised and expanded for a second edition.

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ministry communication

Tag Clouds How They Can Help You Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Website

Yvon Prehn - yvon@effectivechurchcom.com

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ag clouds – those collections of words that are automatically created in many blogging and website creation programs – do much more than provide interesting graphics. Because of the way they are created, they provide invaluable insights to help us evaluate the effectiveness of our church communications. They are also lots of fun to use in summer outreach and church marketing. For both the serious and creative uses, read on.... Don’t lie to yourself Church websites are a tremendous amount of work if you do them correctly. As church communicators we’d like to think that our website is a good representation of our church and of the Lord. If we are conscientious church communicators, we don’t want to deceive ourselves thinking that we’ve presented an important message to the world when we aren’t communicating that message at all. A very useful tool that gives us a reality check is a tag cloud. What is a tag cloud? Here is how Smashing Magazine, a tech website defines them: ”Compared to conventional navigation patterns tag clouds don’t necessarily offer a more convenient and intuitive navigation. However, used properly, they can provide visitors with an instant illustration of the main topics, giving a very specific and precise orientation of the site’s content. Since human beings tend to think in concepts and models, it’s easier to get an idea of presented content if the main concepts are given straight away — in digestible pieces, and prioritized by their weight. In fact, the main advantage of tag clouds lies in their ability to highlight the most important or/and popular subjects dynamically which is not the case in conventional navigation menus.” Christian Computing® Magazine

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/07/tag-cloudsgallery-examples-and-good-practices/ In practical terms, a tag cloud is that grouping of words you often see on websites, where the words are of various sizes. The size of the word depends on how many times it is used in key places (tags, titles, categories, etc.) in the site. WordPress, the software I used to create my websites and many other software systems will automatically create a tag cloud for you based on either the tags or the categories you assign to entries in your website. These are useful because if you put the finished tag cloud into the margin of your website, people can click on a tag and go to all the posts related to it. This type of tag cloud is useful, but because in a system like WordPress where you assign the categories and tags, it should reflect your intentions for the site. However, there is another kind of tag cloud that is based on key words (titles, sections, etc., in addition to tags placed by the site creator) throughout the entire site. This is a more honest representation of the content of the site because it looks at what you actually write about, not what you think you wrote about. The software that creates the cloud scans the site, usually drops out simple words and then creates an alphabetical list of the most often used words. The size of the word is a visual representation of how often a word is used. May 2011

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How a tag cloud can help you evaluate your church website Churches are the Body of Christ. Churches exist to introduce people to Jesus and to grow them into mature disciples. Churches share the message of salvation from the penalty of sin and death. Churches are to care for the weak, comfort the poor and suffering, be Jesus’ hands to a hurting world. Churches make the difference of literally heaven or hell in the eternal destiny of people. Jesus, God, reconciliation, evangelism, discipleship, outreach, mission, salvation, heaven, hell, prayer, Bible study— these are some of the words that I think we’d all agree communicate what the church is about. If that is the case, you would assume that these are the topics that are represented on your church’s website. To test and see if they are, there is a wonderful little tool: http://tagcrowd.com/ The instructions on how to use it are fairly easy, but if you’d like to see a video on how to use it, click here: http:// www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/05/video-demo-how-tocreate-a-tag-cloud-for-your-church/ What does a tag cloud reveal about a church? The best way is to test and see. To do that for this article, I created a tag cloud for quite a few churches in my town, but after seeing the results, I decided that for this article and the demonstrations on my website, it would be best to look at some churches objectively and far from my home. To do that I googled “church websites” and selected this list: http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/wordpress/best-church-websites/ I thought, if any, websites labeled as some of “the best” should have the content most reflective of the biblical purposes for churches. Though the list is a few years old, TabCrowd searches the current site for the current tag clouds. From a quick visual scan of the home page before I created the tag cloud, these are all large, active churches. I did not alter or exclude any tags or words. All of the sites I did the tag clouds on are at this link: http:// www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/05/church-website-how-atag-cloud-defines-it/ Take a quick peek and then come back for my comments. Is this what churches are about? As you look at the tag clouds of the results of all these churches (and all the other ones I looked at), what is most significant is what is missing from all of the tag clouds. Not one of the sites had any of these terms on them: Disciple, Forgiveness, God, Heaven, Hell, Jesus, Salvation, Sin Most church sites obviously had a big emphasis on their names, locations and programs, plus jargon terms popped up frequently, but the key words of the Christian faith, evangelism and discipleship simply were not there in key, search positions on the sites and did not show up on the tag clouds. Christian Computing® Magazine

This does not mean the words were not anywhere on the site—but for searches, finding material, etc., these terms were not primary. I’m not sure why this was the situation, but I do know from sites that I looked at more closely, many church websites are more concerned about looks, graphics, making things cool and exciting, making their programs seem appealing than sharing the gospel message. Look at your site: is there anywhere on it, that is easy to find, that actually tells someone how to become a Christian? Many sites have a “What we believe,” but that list makes little sense to someone unfamiliar with the Christian faith. This kind of evaluation is a chance for all of us who create church websites to take some time to evaluate what is it that we want to emphasize to the people coming to the church website. I assume that our emphasis is the truth that Jesus died, was buried, rose from the dead and is coming again. I can hear some respond that the important thing for websites to do is to simply get people to the church and then the church will share the message. I hope that happens, but what about the people who simply stop by the site and may not even be in the same town as the church? Does your website tell them about Jesus? We have the words of eternal life, we should share them with every opportunity that we have. _________________________ Yvon Prehn’s ministry Effective Church Communications, http://www.effectivechurchcom.com provides training, resources and encouragement to help churches fully fulfill the Great Commission. Follow Yvon’s church communication tweets & tips at http://www.twitter.com/yvonprehn and get special church communication offers, links, and advice at http://www.facebook.com/EffectiveChurchCommunications

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