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Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 23
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By Kevin Purcell and Lauren Hunter
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One of Our Greatest Issues Ever! Now Go Tell Someone!
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4 Press Releases ParishSOFT and LOGOS ChMS Have Joined Forces!
14 Special Featuure
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ServiceU Is Making Some Changes
17 Christian Computing Hall Of Fame
Steve Hewitt - firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Wheeler
20 ACS ideas to impact
Making Your Children’s Ministry More Secure
22 Parishsoft’s Catholic Connection
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Transitioning to VoIP - Our Experience
28 Higher Power With Kevin
Preaching and Digital Bible Study
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Why Every Church Needs Accounting Standards and a “Real” System
26 Nick At Church
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Craig Rairdin: Visionary, Leader and More
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31 Digital Evangelism
30 The Power And The Danger
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6 Special Featuure
Relationship Evangelism Revisited
Contributing Editors Lauren Hunter Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Bradley Miller Michael L White Chad Gleaves
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editorial One of Our GREATEST Issues Ever! Now Go TELL Someone! Steve Hewitt - email@example.com
Sometimes I find myself getting excited about the content of CCMag. Oh, I know that every issue has a few mistakes here and there, but we are really blessed with some of the greatest writers in the entire Christian publication marketplace. I want to challenge you, our reader. If you find the articles in this issue to be of value, will you tell someone about us? Please mention us on your Facebook or LinkedIn site, or Twitter us! Now you can tell people they can subscribe by simply texting CCMAG to 22828, and of course, it is free! Some of the articles that really impress me this month include the special features with important announcements about the ParishSOFT-LOGOS acquisition, as well as the new direction for ServiceU. And I would suggest that Russ McGuire’s article on Industry Consolidation is a must read for anyone that wants to understand the direction of mobile computing! Kevin Purcell’s article on how to approach expository preaching should be used by any and all Christian seminaries! And, I was touched by Michael White’s thoughts on revisiting his opinions and statements on relationship evangelism. In addition, this issue provides much in the way of practical and vital information to help churches and ministry make a better use of technology, such as Nick’s experiences in using VoIP, ParishSOFT’s warning about the importance of using a computerized accounting system, or ACS’s article on making your children’s ministry more secure! Christian Computing® Magazine
We have two cover stories this month, both showcasing some exciting services. And, of course, I am delighted to see my old friend Craig Rairdin being honored as one of our new members of our Christian Computing Hall of Fame. And, be sure to note the new webinar series announced in our Press Releases. I will be one of the presenters and I think the entire series is going to be very valuable. So, if YOU think CCMag has value, remember it is free! If you appreciate us, do us a big favor and tell others. They can visit us at www.ccmag.com and find a place to submit their email address to subscribe (they can do this without registering to enter our site, just use the Signup box in the center column of our home page). Help spread the word. I strongly believe the information we are providing would be of great help to many, so help us spread the word! Together We Serve Him,
Steve Hewitt Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Releases ParishSOFT and LOGOS Partner to Serve Churches ParishSOFT LLC and LOGOS Management Software, Inc., the market-leading developers of church management and fund accounting software, have partnered to serve churches, dioceses, and denominational headquarters, officials from both companies announced today. ParishSOFT has acquired LOGOS, and the two organizations are merging their resources into one unified team to become an even stronger provider of technologies that power ministry, improve communication and engagement and help make church operations more effective. ParishSOFT’s browser-based technology, first introduced in 2008 under the ConnectNow brand, will be incorporated into the LOGOS product suite, delivering great advantages over traditional desktop or hosted church management software. Browser-based products are accessed, updated, and backed up on the Web, alleviating the time and expense of managing in-house systems. More importantly, they provide church staff with secure anytime, anywhere access to information needed for pastoral care, stewardship, ministry, finance and administration, offering pastors and their staff the mobility they need to serve God and His people more effectively in today’s culture. Tony Ferraro, chief visionary officer for LOGOS, said, “When we looked at the strategies for taking LOGOS’ products to the mobile Web platform, we realized that partnership with ParishSOFT was God’s plan. They share our vision, and they had already developed the technology innovations we needed. Joining forces lets us stay true to our mission to serve the church and practice solid stewardship, and it puts LOGOS in a position to deliver tomorrow’s Web platform products today.” Bill Pressprich, president and CEO for ParishSOFT, said, “This partnership leverages the strengths of two companies with very talented staff in ways that will bring exciting new technologies to the faith-based organizations we serve. We’re glad to also announce that LOGOS customers will continue to work with the same staff and software they have always worked with. Christian Computing® Magazine
Over time, we’ll be introducing our ConnectNow Web applications to them so they can use these powerful, mobile tools when they are ready.” Pressprich added that product development efforts will be a collaboration among teams comprising staff from both organizations, allowing a more efficient, agile path for enhancements and new technologies for all churches. The move makes it possible for the new organization to gain efficiencies, share best practices and technology, and provide the highest level of service to the church. Mike Cusick, vice president of sales and marketing for ParishSOFT, said, “Dioceses that have had to choose between the top two software providers can now benefit from the best practices and years of experience of both ParishSOFT and LOGOS. And diocesan staff are in an ideal position to tell us exactly what they want in the next generation of solutions.” It’s the best possible scenario in strategic partnerships, with both companies working together to address diocesan organizational and business management needs with technology. And while dioceses can always set the pace of change, solutions are going to come faster than ever before with the powerful development and service forces now in place. “We’ve long known and respected ParishSOFT’s products and people,” said Wes Haystead, LOGOS’ president and CEO. “Moving from a competitive relationship to a partnership lets us channel all of our energies and strengths into a singular focus: providing the best software and services to churches.” ParishSOFT was founded in 1998 to serve the Catholic Church. Today, the company serves more than 6,800 Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches and 51 arch/dioceses with integrated products and services that connect churches with the communities they serve and help reduce administrative work. ParishSOFT’s products help churches manage membership, sacraments, volunteers, scheduling, offertory, pledges, Online Giving, religious education, communications, and much more from a single technology platform. Their ConnectNow Web platform, which includes the ConnectNow Church Accounting suite, leads the market in fully browser-based solutions for the church.
Press Releases LOGOS began in 1980 and has proven its commitment to meet the changing needs of churches with great service, reliable and easy-to-use products, and regular enhancements that empower ministries with current technology. LOGOS presently serves 4,600 Protestant and Catholic churches and 20 arch/dioceses with products that track membership, attendance, volunteers, scheduling, pledges, online giving, small groups, child check-in, and more. The flagship LOGOS Fund Accounting suite offers a full set of accounting modules including fixed assets and benefits. Both companies offer a full range of services, including U.S.-based, technical support, data conversions, training, implementation, and consulting. Together, ParishSOFT and LOGOS will serve churches with a combined staff of 85 full-time employees. Visit www.parishsoft.com/logos for more information.
New Webinar Series From Our Sunday Visitor, Americanchurch, Inc. And The Center For The Study Of Church Management At Villanova University Attendees can Attain a Certificate in Church Management Our Sunday Visitor, AmericanChurch, Inc. and the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University are offering the Church Management Certificate Program webinar series. The series of 12 web seminars starts in September 2011 and is designed to allow busy pastors, priests, business managers and other church administrators to participate without having to leave the privacy of their home or office. Attendees will hear presentations and view materials from national experts on topics ranging from website design and legal issues to parish security and pastoral planning. Those attendees who attend all 12 Christian Computing® Magazine
webinars and complete the additional coursework will receive a Certificate in Church Management from the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University. Individuals who are not concerned with earning a Certificate in Church Management may register for only those webinar sessions that they find to be of interest. “The webinar series is designed to help church leaders of all denominations deal with common temporal problems”, explains Charles Zech, Director of the Center for the Study of Church Management. “Church management has never been as important as it is today. Whether it’s financial, legal, strategic, or personnel issues, churches have limited resources. Webinar participants will learn how to use those resources as effectively as possible to meet their ministry goals.” “This series covers all key areas of management,” says Terry Poplava, Director of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service for Our Sunday Visitor and AmericanChurch, Inc. “Most of the topics can be expanded into more detail through additional webinars. We are pleased to be able to work with the Center for the Study of Church Management to make this education more accessible to church staff and leadership.” “This certificate program is definitely needed for the life of the church,” said Julie Kenny, Stewardship Services Manager for Our Sunday Visitor. “As I work with churches throughout the country, I hear the call for church leadership education and development programs growing louder and louder. People serving in this capacity want to do the best job they can, yet recognize they must have additional tools in their toolbox in order to successfully address the needs of the church that they face each and every day.” For more information visit www.osvoffertory.com/event.aspx
ParishSOFT and LOGOS ChMS Have Joined Forces
By Steve Hewitt
hen I was first contacted about LOGOS’ and ParishSOFT’s plans, I had some questions. Since both companies agreed to let CCMag be the first to break the news, I thought it would be best to pose a few questions to Bill Pressprich (President and CEO of ParishSOFT) and Tony Ferraro ( Chief Visionary Officer for Logos Management Software). They both provide honest and frank answers and some important insight that I thought our readers would appreciate. Enjoy... Question One - Explain to me exactly what is taking place? Is this a merge? One company absorbing another? Tony: Parishsoft bought Logos...pretty simply that. However, everything will remain “as is”; the same people, minus senior management, will be in place. Bill: ParishSOFT has acquired LOGOS, and the two organizations are merging their resources into one unified team to become an even stronger provider of technologies that power ministry, improve communication and engagement and help make church operations more effective. Christian Computing® Magazine
Question Two - Why? What are the advantages? Tony: For Logos it means more resources. ParishSOFT is a financially healthy company with more human and cash resources. Logos needed to move to the web and away from FoxPro with a true webbased accounting system. ParishSOFT gets our customers there much more quickly. Bill: ParishSOFT’s browser-based technology, first introduced in 2008 under the ConnectNow brand, will be incorporated into the LOGOS product suite, delivering great advantages over traditional desktop or hosted church management September 2011
software. Browser-based products are accessed, updated, and backed up on the Web, alleviating the time and expense of managing in-house systems. More importantly, they provide church staff with secure anytime, anywhere access to information needed for pastoral care, stewardship, ministry, finance and administration, offering pastors and their staff the mobility they need to serve God and His people more effectively in today’s culture. ParishSOFT benefits from Logos’ knowledge of Protestant churches, knowledge of accounting standards and reporting for churches, outstanding professional services team, and more. Question Three - How will this impact customers? Will Logos still retain an office? Tony: Logos will retain its office in CA. For customers the only impact will be better product sooner. The Logos products will remain and be fully supported for quite some time; however, ParishSOFT offers true web-based products today to those that want to move and will have a web-based alternative to Logos Accounting next year. Logos would have taken at least 3 years to make that move on its own. Bill: The good news is that Logos customers will continue to receive the same great products and service from the same people they have come to know and trust. Over time, we will introduce them to our web-based software, and they can choose to move over when they wish. Question Four - Will some churches need to change their software to a new program/service? Tony: Not today. Bill: No. We will introduce our web-applications to Logos churches, and they can choose to move over when they wish. Question Four - ParishSoft is known for their software specific for the Catholic church. While they have a program designed for protestant churches, they are “Parish”Soft. I know Logos has Catholic churches that use their program as well, but I believe most of their customers have been protestant churches. What are the advantages of a company providing software and Christian Computing® Magazine
services to both types of churches? Tony: Actually, Logos customers have been pretty 50/50 over the years. Logos served 10% of the total Diocesan market which also constituted over 25% of the ArchDiocesen market. The Logos brand and product will continue to be available to the Protestant space; however, much of the ParishSOFT product will also be converted to a non-denominational format making their forward thinking product available very soon to the Logos Protestant base. Bill: Right. Both ParishSOFT and Logos have served Catholic churches for many years and Logos is much better known by Protestant churches. It has been part of ParishSOFT’s vision that it would expand its offerings to include Protestant churches for several years now, recognizing that our new web platform provides better opportunities to tailor our software to meet the unique needs of the various churches. These are exciting times for using technology in the Church, as we are seeing the blending of traditional church management software and the web for churches to engage their congregations and to reach others. We anticipate that we will be leveraging the Logos name to market to Protestant and other churches. From Steve - And, finally, Bill provided this note of observation of his excitement as teams from both companies begin to work together. Bill: If I could share brief story – We sent eleven of us from ParishSOFT to meet with 30 of the Logos staff this past weekend. We started each of our meetings with either a prayer or a devotional and it felt completely “natural”, even though we were meeting each other for the first time. As we went around the room and had each individual introduce themselves, it was striking that the thing that the vast majority of the staff from each company loved most about their work was serving the church. The next day, as we broke up into small groups to brainstorm on what the vision and mission of our one, new company should be, there was a consensus that we not view ourselves as separate Catholic and Protestant “divisions”, but as one company serving both. It was truly a grace-filled day and a half and a great start for our one, new company.
MyStudyBible.com Offers Robust Online Bible Study Tools
By Kevin Purcell and Lauren Hunter
ith online Bible study now the way the majority of people seek to study the Bible, it’s no wonder that many options are available. When B&H Publishing, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, launched the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) in 2004, providing this incredible Bible version digitally was a part of the marketing plan from the get-go. MyStudyBible.com was launched this year and enhancements were made this summer to make this online Bible study destination a robust online study Bible that offers exceptional sermon preparation and study tools to anyone looking to dig deeper into the God’s Word.
Through its interactive and intuitive online interface, users can study passages in-depth through access to multiple Bible versions including the awardwinning HCSB Study Bible, Bible commentaries, Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, and many other valuable Bible resources. Whether a full-time or bivocational pastor, seminary student, Bible study leader, or church member seeking to delve deeper into the Bible, MyStudyBible.com offers valuable online Bible tools that can help people make better use of their time in Bible study. “Many individuals and organizations lack the financial resources to purchase expensive commentaries, dictionaries, histories, and other Biblical resourcChristian Computing® Magazine
es,” comments Aaron Linne, executive producer of digital marketing for LifeWay’s B&H publishing division. “MyStudyBible.com was created to give people online access to the full HCSB Study Bible, expanded commentaries and notes, dictionaries, and many other resources to facilitate comprehensive sermon preparation and exhaustive Bible study.” MyStudyBible.com is offered completely online, and users do not have to download or maintain any complicated desktop software—a huge plus for many people that crave simplicity when studying the Bible online. For pastors on-the-go, using a Netbook or tablet, using online Bible study software can solve one of the biggest challenges: hard-drive space. September 2011
Layout & Interface The interface of MyStudyBible offers a two-pane view with the left side designed primarily for your Bible and the right for references. However, you can put a Bible or reference tool in either side. On the right, there are tabs for Cross References where you find content referring to the passage displayed on the left. The study tools let you view original language information by clicking on a hyperlinked word in a Bible with Strong’s links. The topmost verse displayed on the right will be displayed in the right with each word listed with the Transliteration, Phonetic Pronunciation, Definition, Hebrew Word, Root, Part of Speech and lists of occurrences in the KJV. Under the Dictionary Tool important words are listed with their Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary entry and pictures when appropriate. The default commentary is Mathew Henry, but users can see other content here as well like the Hebrew OT/NT Commentary. Finally users will see footnotes for the chosen translation if they are available.
The “My Content” tab shows your verse notes or highlights. Along the far left are tabs for personal notes, featured articles and new material. A toolbar across the top lets users control the look of the text and control navigation in the book. Tools Available For free users get access to a few popular translaChristian Computing® Magazine
tions like the HCSB, NASB and ESV. The KJV is also present along with a few other public domain works. The categories of resources include: • Bibles • • • • • • •
Dictionaries Commentaries Study Bible Notes General Devotionals Christian Living Academic
Some of the most popular resources available include the Holman Old and New Testament Commentaries. Since MyStudyBible.com is provided by B&H Publishing, publisher of the HCSB, the online Bible study tool also has some other Holman titles like the Holman Illustrated Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary and HCSB Study Bible (the latter was just added in June). Cost MyStudyBible.com offers much of its content for free and expanded and enhanced content to those looking to delve in deeper. For $.99 you can try it out for a day and get everything. As little as $5/month gives you access to the premium content on a per September 2011
book basis or you can buy permanent access for as low as $20 so you don’t have to keep paying. If you plan to use a book for more than 4 months this is a good deal. Some of the premium content includes the Apologetics Study Bible, the HCSB Illustrated Bible ($5/month or $20/permanent access each), and the Holman OT and NT Commentary ($15 or $300 for both sets). For bivocational pastors and seminary students, paying for content on an as-needed basis would be ideal because the content is with them wherever they go once they sign in to MyStudyBible.com. Instead of buying expensive commentaries and dictionaries that are cumbersome to store and carry, all content is available anytime, anywhere there is an internet connection. Conclusion This is a simple Bible study tool to use online for multiple purposes. It has some valuable content, and will have more as MyStudyBible.com is enhanced over the next year. For pastors looking to access robust content and study tools, this is a wonderful option. Currently, MyStudyBible.com is offering free access to the book, Read the Bible for Life to the first 1,000 people who sign on and enter the free code, STDBEWMTAW. Kevin Purcell (http://KevinPurcell.org) has been preaching for over 20 years, is currently the pastor of High Peak Baptist Church in Valdese, North Carolina, and is a monthly contributor to CCMag. Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http:// ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.
Christian Computing® Magazine
Radius Web Tools From AmericanChurch, Inc.
By Steve Hewitt
n July, I attended and led some conference sessions at the National Association of Church Business Administration. I always love this conference. This conference is one of the best opportunities of the year for me to meet and view new products and services offered to the church marketplace. This year was no exception. As I worked my way through the exhibit hall I ran across a booth promoting Radius Web Tools from AmericanChurch, Inc.
Radius Web Tools wasn’t new of course, but it was my first time to become aware of what they offered, and I was impressed. As they state on their Web site, they offer a powerful suite of web tools where you can easily manage your website, email accounts, e-newsletters, multimedia, online calendars, blogs, podcasts, and more — all in one place. They gave me a demonstration of their service, and I knew our readers would want to know more about what they offer. I hope you enjoy this interview with AmericanChurch, Inc. What are the greatest challenges most minisChristian Computing® Magazine
tries face with their websites? In a word: under-utilization. Sadly, most ministries underutilize their website; they simply don’t take advantage of the powerful tools available to them to communicate with and engage their communities. Some ministries have websites that were started years ago and are difficult—if not impossible—to update. Others don’t utilize a website at all because they think it’s too technical or too expensive for them. This is complicated by the fact that there’s a pervasive misperception floating around out there that a programmer is still needed to maintain a website. To be sure good programmers are required to start a webSeptember 2011
site, but maintaining one can easily be done by any pastor or secretary with solid communication skills and comfort with basic computer skills (like word processing, etc.)
their own site just like they might edit a word processing document on their computer. But what makes Radius Web Tools different than many other content management systems is the quality of its user interface. This sounds a little techniHow does Radius Web Tools address these cal, but we all understand how important user challenges? interface is when we get into a car that we’re not Radius Web Tools is one of the premier webused to driving and can’t figure out how to adjust site services for ministries on the market today. the seat or turn on the windshield wipers. When What differentiates Radius Web Tools from many you get into a car with superb user interface, of the other services out there is how easy it is everything just seems to work how you expect. to use. I’ve personally met and interacted with We take this for granted every day, but thousands the Radius Web Tools team. They’re all active of hours of work go into designing a web editin their own churches and so they understand ing interface like Radius Web Tools that is not the importance of only powerful but a reliable, easy-toalso easy to use. In AmericanChurch, Inc - Founded in 1902, use website program fact, it’s so easy that AmericanChurch, Inc. (ACI) is a leading that allows ministry the vast majority of supplier of offering envelopes, printed and leaders to maintain a editors using it today web communications, and mailing services to meaningful website have absolutely no churches and organizations. Through years without having to first of experience, ACI understands the unique training! earn a degree in comchallenges of churches and non-profit organiputer programming. Is support available zations. ACI products and services focus on Radius Web Tools ad- increasing contributions, improving commufor those who do dresses the challenge need a little help? nications and developing vibrant communifaced by ministries Absolutely! In ties. Electronic services such as Online Giving with outdated webaddition to an onand Radius Web Tools, along with traditional sites by making the print materials and envelopes provide church- line user guide, the upgrade quick, painRadius Web Tools es and organizations a full solution to meet less, and quite easy. It their goals and mission. ACI educational team offers unlimhelps ministries with- workshops and webinars serve to better equip ited phone and email out any website at all support from their leaders and administrators in areas of man“dip their toe in the Midwest offices. agement and communications. For more inwater” by providing I’ve always been formation, go to www.americanchurch.com both DIY and turnimpressed by the fact key website solutions that calls and emails that are surprisingly are still answered affordable. But the great thing about Radius Web by the team that created the software—not by an Tools is that you don’t have to sacrifice features outsourced customer service department. to get a truly affordable and usable website soluWhat led to the development of a web solution tion. The single comment we hear most often by geared toward churches? new users of Radius Web Tools is “I can’t believe Unlike some church website solutions, Rahow easy this is!” dius Web Tools was not originally built just for churches. In fact, Radius Web Tools was built in What makes Radius Web Tools so easy to use the early days of content management systems for ministries? (nearly a decade ago) for a Christian university. It First of all, Radius Web Tools is a content was so powerful and worked so well and met with management system. This means that it’s specifi- so much success that local ministries asked for cally designed to allow normal people—not just a simplified version they could use themselves. Kligon-speaking programmers [laughs]—to edit When these requests began to increase, the RadiChristian Computing® Magazine
us Web Tools team spent the better part of a year building the user interface now enjoyed by ministries across the nation. Its genesis as a powerful software engine lends a great deal of stability and extensibility to Radius Web Tools that allows it to power websites of only a few pages with a single editor to its current record site of over six thousand pages and more than one hundred editors. How should a website fit into a ministry’s communication plan? First, it is important for any ministry to have a balanced view of its website. In our culture, the website is a critical part of any communication effort, but it’s rarely—if ever—the only part. We often counsel ministries to create a communication grid that includes specific communication efforts on one axis and specific communication vehicles on the other. For example, one axis might include things that require communication such as the Men’s Retreat, Easter Service, and the Youth Missions Trip. The other axis of this grid would include specific communication vehicles like the bulletin, the church sign, the website, newsletters, platform announcements, etc. By integrating the website into the communication plan from the ground up, ministries are more likely to be in a position to leverage their site for effective communication. More specifically, Radius Web Tools includes powerful communication tools like site-wide announcements (“All activities are cancelled tonight due to the weather.”), unlimited e-newsletters, the ability to accept online registration for events, and more! What makes Radius Web Tools different from other website software available to churches? The real difference is the way Radius Web Tools balances power with ease-of-use. This ease-of-use allows even the most timid editors to add pages, blogs, podcasts, photos, slideshows, etc. without fear of “messing up the site.” Its power allows more advanced users to edit in HTML, add Flash snippets, embed widgets, and social media feeds, and more. Radius Web Tools also offers one of the fastest deployment times available. For ministries in a hurry, a new website can be deployed within 5-10 minutes of submitting the request. So, a ministry Christian Computing® Magazine
Websites For Ministry Made Easy
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can literally be editing their new site within about a half hour of deciding to deploy their new site! What are some of the key elements of Radius Web Tools, and how do they benefit churches? Radius Web Tools offers a host of “content” tools including unlimited pages, e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts, photo galleries, FAQs, flipbooks, etc. Rather than restrict usage based on congregation size, everyone pays a low flat fee to use as much as needed. Radius Web Tools also includes a powerful online calendar tool that allows for complex recurring events, detailed descriptions of events, grid views, list views, and filtering by user-defined categories like men, women, youth, etc. Also included is a powerful email module that allows ministries to send unlimited e-newsletters at no cost and easily manage their own email accounts at their own domain. For more information, visit http://www.radiuswebtools.com/
ServiceU Is Making Some Changes
erviceU is making some changes! I found it interesting and thought our readers would appreciate an interview with Russell Daws, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ServiceU. Their new move will help clarify for many the wonderful services they offer. I hope you enjoy... Tell me about the recent changes at ServiceU. ServiceU has been and continues to be a very stable, growing company. The senior leadership has always worked hard to position ServiceU for continued growth. The greatest change has come through hiring qualified people. Because we were in a position to hire when others were letting people go, we took advantage of recruiting some very talented employees. For example, Client Services has added staff with undergraduate and graduate degrees that raise the bar concerning company-wide performance, expectations, and results. The direct beneficiaries of this talent being our existing and ever-growing client base. Other areas that have changed dramatically are marketing, sales, and client training. We have expanded those teams with employees and a few contracted specialists who are working as a team to bring about some of the most significant changes since ServiceU was first launched. There is an excitement being felt throughout the company about the direction we are headed. We believe our clients are feeling this infusion of energy, too. Why did you decide to make these changes? ServiceU has been around for over 10 years with more than 2,000 clients and a 97 percent retention rate. Even though we are successful today, the executive leadership team is careful that we never get complacent, comfortable, or too relaxed. We are constantly pushing our respective teams to reach their full potential for the Christian Computing® Magazine
betterment of themselves, the company, and our clients. This sector is in a perpetual state of change. You’ll be left behind in the technology space if you stand still for any length of time. What was the main focus in designing the new web site? In the early days, ServiceU wanted to maintain the “U” in all product names (e.g. EventU, TransactU, TicketU, and EventU Green) for brand consistency. After a recent deep dive into our customer base, we uncovered that our clever branding idea was actually creating confusion among our biggest advocates. It was a good reminder that what works today won’t work forever. For example, we conducted a survey where one long-standing client called us “ConfuseU”. That was sobering, to say the least. We chose to listen and change from the inside out. We responded by dropping the product names and moving everything under the “ServiceU” brand. We took this discovery as a wonderful opportunity to change our public brand as well as the look and feel of our web site which launched September 1. This has been an exhaustive, year-long process, but it was worth every minute. We think our clients and those we hope to service will like and appreciate our new look and feel.
Christian Computing速 Magazine
Who is ServiceU’s target audience? Our clients function in various industries and sectors, but the vast majority are churches, schools, and nonprofits. With more than 10 years of involvement and commitment to this space, we have become a trusted advisor, not just a software vendor. We believe we are uniquely positioned to understand the needs of our clients because -in many ways -- we reflect our clients. Many of our employees are former church staff members, nonprofit volunteers and leaders, and teachers and administrators. When we create new products, we remember what it’s like to be in the roles our clients fill within their respective organizations. How will these changes affect current clients? Potential clients? This is an important question. We believe these changes will achieve clarity about who we are and what we do. By dropping individual product names and concentrating on the functionality of our software solutions, our existing client and prospects can more clearly understand who we are, what we do, and how we can help them. Are there any new features of your software that our readers should be aware of? We are constantly adding new features and developing new designs to make the user experience as pleasant and efficient as possible. Most updates are simply routine and expected with software while others are deemed worthy of a special announcement. Our most recent update expanded the options for churches, schools, and nonprofits to offer their members the ability to donate or make charitable contributions using using debit cards exclusively. Let me be clear: we don’t take a stance on credit or debit card transactions. We believe the decision should be in the hands of the church, school, or nonprofit rather than limited by the functionality of the software. This new feature is a great example of how we respond to the requests of our clients. After hearing from Christian Computing® Magazine
a broad cross-section of our users who wanted a debitonly option, we added this feature to further increase the flexibility of our software solutions to fit the needs of the organization rather than the other way around. Why is debit-only important to your customers? With the economic collapse of 2008 followed by the recession, the dangers of excessive debt became very clear. Along those lines, many churches and pastors felt uncomfortable offering online giving via credit cards as they believed this might cause members in their congregation to increase their individual debt. Churches, therefore, wanted an option for online giving utilizing debit cards exclusively. We developed our debit-only option and released it after extensive testing. The initial reception and adoption has been very positive. Any other changes on the horizon? Absolutely! My former pastor was fond of saying, “You can’t steer a car while it’s sitting still.” In the same way, we will continue to steer our company in the right direction as we accelerate the enhancement of our software solutions while designing new ways to help our clients reach their goals. If we will continue to listen to the needs of our clients, I’m confident we’ll continue to see success in the days ahead. Russell Daws serves as vice president of sales and marketing at ServiceU. He can be reached at russell@ serviceU.com.
christian computing hall of fame
Craig Rairdin: Visionary, Leader And More By Jeff Wheeler
ne might choose to describe Craig Rairdin as “visionary,” given his ability to see what could be, while many of us merely see what is. At a time when software was available on 5-1/4 inch floppy disks, few churches had a personal computer, and other Bible software cost hundreds of dollars, Craig imagined software that would make it both easier and affordable for everyone to read and study the Bible. Using a printed concordance to identify verses containing combinations of words was a labor-intensive process, but “easily” harnessed by the computer. Today, such software features and free or low-cost Bible software are commonplace, due to visionaries like Craig. Another might describe Craig as an “entrepreneur.” Like many entrepreneurs, Craig started small. He worked all day to support his family, then worked from home at night on his Bible software dream. Before long, his product, which he called “Logos Bible Processor,” was ready. Rather than just give a copy to his pastor and use it himself, Craig decided to keep pushing ahead. He ordered disk labels, duplicated disks one at a time, and installed an 800 number that rang into his kitchen. Who would have Christian Computing® Magazine
guessed that such an inauspicious beginning would result in one of the best-selling Bible study packages for both DOS and Windows? Yet another might describe Craig as a “businessman.” After developing and selling the Logos Bible Processor from his home, Craig approached Bob Parsons (of MoneyCounts and Parsons Technology fame) regarding renting a mailing list of churches using MoneyCounts. After all, a church using MoneyCounts would at least have a computer, and may be interested in Bible software as well. That meeting resulted in a partnership that benefitted countless Christians. Logos Bible Processor was rebranded as QuickVerse, the price was reduced to make it even more affordable, and it was marketed by September 2011
catalog, direct mail, and magazine advertising. For the next ten years, Craig managed the Church Software Division, which grew from a staff of 1 to a staff of nearly 50, all dedicated to making the highest quality and most affordable Bible software. The product line grew to include sermon illustrations, church management software, and an American history product using spun-off technology. Along the way, he also spent some time managing the technical support departments, modernizing the company’s shipping department, and getting in an occasional accounting jibe. Bible-software insiders might describe Craig as a “leader.” With the growth of the electronic publishing industry, consumers were concerned about the long-term value of their investment when buying Bibles and books. Craig led in the formation of the Bible Software Industry Standards Group (BSISG) to address this concern. Craig was instrumental in the development and adoption of the Standard Template for Electronic Publishing (STEP), which allowed books published by one vendor to be used in compatible programs developed by another vendor. (Many might consider this an idea still ahead of its time, considering that Kindle books cannot be used on Nook devices.) This leadership was an embodiment of one of Craig’s core beliefs: it’s better to grow the whole pie than merely my piece of the pie. To describe Craig as an “early-adopter” might be an understatement. He had a mobile phone when mobile phones were barely mobile. He not only worked on militarygrade GPS technology, but had a commercial GPS before some had even heard of such things. He’s had Windows CE Handheld PCs with chiclet keyboards, wireless keyboards, and swiveling keyboards. Some of these devices remain exotic even today, while others have become common place. (Craig probably even has the original boxes for most of these.) Craig’s interest in mobile technology and love of the Bible led to the formation of Christian Computing® Magazine
What Others Say About Craig Rairdin .
“The word I would use to describe Craig is “contrary”. Because “contrary” to what others have done or thought was the right way to do things, Craig has made his own way. I can’t think of any time during the 15 years I’ve known him that I have seen him take the “path of least resistance” and, if he ever has, I am 100% sure it was because he knew it was the right path to be on. He holds himself to the highest standard and while he expects the same out of you, he is infinitely patient while you are getting there. Craig has the unique ability to compromise on a solution without wavering on his convictions which is why he continues to develop great software despite the challenges of constantly changing technology. A more accommodating person would have sold out or given up and Bible software users would have had to settle for less.” -- Michelle Stramel, Laridian Marketing Director The word I would use to describe Craig is “mastermind.” -- David Keirsey “There are many words that I can think of to describe Craig, most of them can be printed. For me Craig has been a ‘friend’ and a ‘mentor.’ Craig and I started working together on the idea and promotion of STEP. As that progressed, Craig moved me from New Jersey to Iowa and taught me a lot about the software business and licensing along the way. I’m grateful for the things that I was able to learn from my times with Craig. He never met a contract he didn’t think could be made better. And, there were times that we would walk away from the contract over something that I thought was insignificant only to realize later how important that one phrase had been. One of the biggest things he taught me is how important it is that you love what you do for a profession. Craig has loved being involved in Bible software (even though the concept has been declared dead by him for over 12 years), programming, contract negotiating, and collecting devices and gadgets. I no longer have the opportunity to work with Craig on a daily basis, but I do love the work I’m doing and am always looking to make sure I phrase what I say to mean what I want.” -- Jim VanDuzer, Laridian Co-Founder and Board Member
another entrepreneurial company, Laridian. Microsoft was aiming to advance the Personal Information Manager (PIM) and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) capabilities with the release of Windows … reach out CE Palm-size PCs and Handheld PCs. These devices allowed Craig … minister to people to leverage both this programming … create fellowship and industry experience, step back from management, and return to … contribute to programming and product develyour community opment. A Christian Computing PowerChurch Plus was Magazine profile of Laridian at created for just that! its beginning stated that Laridian was “small, and liked it that way.” While this referred to the small profile of the mobile devices, it Membership We provide you with the tools to also expressed Craig’s, and the increase administrative efficiency other principals of Laridian, deand streamline accounting tasks, sire to remain small, rather than Accounting freeing you up to perform the work to grow into a giant, corporate conglomerate that made decisions that matters. Contributions based on shareholder value instead of customer delight. Install on your PC or network, or access online. Those who know Craig well Events Choose which fits your needs. might describe him as a “comCalendar municator.” Whether he’s discussing his thoughts on lap pets being Check In brought into restaurants or teaching from the Bible, Craig is a clear Completely communicator. Craig communiWe provide software tools, Integrated cates through the code he writes, freeing you up to fulfill your mission. through the user guide and training material he authors, through his www.PowerChurch.com • 800.486.1800 blogs and Facebook posts. His wit is apparent (occasionally sharp) optimistic 1attitude. Of course, through the years, PCS-11301-ChurchExecutive_4.75x7.25.indd 7/14/11 10:23 AM and writing clear. In fact, one of the professional Craig has learned that things often take longer than writers at Parsons Technology described him as he first thinks, but this doesn’t stop him. “How one of the best writer’s she’s known. He’s rarely hard could it be?” might not be one his mantras, short of opinions or knowledge. As long as you but it does describe his attitude that has helped him steer clear of comparing the merits of various local lead and innovate in the Bible software industry hot dog eateries, you’ll find Craig to be quite a for over two decades. conversationalist! Finally, Craig could be described as “optimistic.” When discussing a new idea, Craig has been known to say such things as, “that doesn’t sound too hard” and “that shouldn’t take long at all.” Many ideas have borne fruit due to this eternally
You want the freedom to
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ACS ideas to impact
Making Your Children’s Ministry More Secure
from ACS Technologies
ummer’s over, and families are coming back to church. Now is the time to take a serious look at your children’s ministry security practices. With kids of all ages going back to school and attendance picking back up, it’s crucial to make sure you already have a great system in place. Whether you like your current plan or need help with the next steps, this article, based in part on the ministry guide “How Secure is Your Children’s Ministry?” can help.
The dangers According to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, more than 350,000 family abductions occur in the U.S. each year—that’s more than 1,000 incidents each day in which a child is taken in violation of a custody agreement. The abductors include estranged parents, step-parents and grandparents.Careless churches could become easytargets for family abductions if they don’t take care. Unlocked doors, distracted kids, trusting volunteers,and lax security measures all increase risk. Many churches still depend on older, manual security systems for these threats. Numbered stickers and attendance sheets are popular tracking devices. But if these manual systems fail, churches are at risk of costly lawsuits and a damaged reputation. Old, manual methods of tracking check-in and check-out, with hand-marked lists or numbered stickers, leave the burden of judgmentat pick-up time up to the volunteer, who could very well get overwhelmed by eager parents and kids at pickup time. A better plan
In contrast, imagine a world of children’s ministry
Christian Computing® Magazine
without checklists or clipboards.Upon check-in, returning families would swipe a security card at a kiosk placed in a convenient location. The child’s information would be confirmed, and then two security badges–one for parent and one for child – would be printed. The badge would also feature a bar code and the child’s photo and important information such as food allergies. New families could visit a second, hosted kiosk, where a greeter would guide parents to enter the child’s information. Then the same detailed security badge would be printed, along with directions to the appropriate classroom. At pick-up time, volunteers are free from registration lists and numbered stickers. Instead of making a judgment call about the person picking up the child, the volunteer would be sure they were doing the right thing. A note on volunteers What about the volunteers who spend three hours with your ministry’s children on a Sunday morning? Is your church doing everything possible to ensure those volunteers can be trusted? Internet security companies can also help ministries conduct valuable background checks on volunteers so they can maintain the highest level of integrity, as well as maintain a database of
volunteers that outlines their special qualifications. Though every ministry hopes to avoid an emergency, only the most naïve avoid preparing for one. Intentional preparation and planning is the key to success should an emergency occur, especially during a service, event or activity time. If such an event should happen, could you quickly identify and locate all the children in your care? The tools Software tools enable ministries to setup “information handlers” who are responsible for disseminating information in different areas of the church. Once the children’s ministry begins on a Sunday morning, reports of all children and class locations can be printed and given to these information handlers to disseminate. Playground and parking lot attendants can be given these reports as they secure the property in the event of an emergency. Once your children’s ministry security process is in place, don’t be afraid to let your congregation and your visitors know about it. Publish information on the process and insert it into the weekly newsletter or bulletin. Post it on your Web site. Announce it from the pulpit and encourage small group leaders to pass along the information about children’s security.Ask for advice. Also, share your process with your insurance company. Insurers are always interested in how their customers are reducing their risk through measures like these. It may even result in adiscounted premium. Christian Computing® Magazine
What will you do? Your ministry is entrusted with the most precious of cargo – the youngest members of your church family. Do you have a plan for what to do if a non-custodial parent tries to pick up a child from your care? What if you have a new volunteer working? What is your plan? To learn more and get started on your church’s plan for a safe and secure children’s ministry, download “How Secure is Your Children’s Ministry?” today.
ParishSOFT’s Catholic Connection
Why Every Church Needs Accounting Standards and a “Real” System
f you asked for a copy of your church’s balance sheet today, would you be more likely to get a response like “Sure…for what period?” or a blank (and perhaps cold) stare?
Churches large and small are tracking their financials on everything from church accounting software to index cards. And, typical of church staffing, those who handle the payables, receivables, and payroll, from CPAs to those with no formal accounting education, bring a broad spectrum of skill sets to the table. The good news is that with the right tools and standards in place, your church can maintain accurate, transparent financials and provide your finance council, pastor, diocese (or any group, really) exactly the reports they need for any period. And it’s okay if your current bookkeeper or business manager doesn’t have a degree in accounting.
What’s more, members need to be reassured that the church is being a good steward of the resources entrusted to them. And when they donate to a specific cause, like a scholarship fund, churches need to ensure and document that such gifts are being used for scholarships only . . . not the electric bill or the pastor’s car lease.
Real-world mistakes What’s at stake? Denise Han Trust. When you ask members for their time, son, who serves as accounting/parish review talent, and treasure to do God’s work, they place coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux their trust in your church by giving. SustainFalls (SD), has seen it all in her career working ing that trust is absolutely essential to keeping for banks, schools, and now the diocese, where people engaged and your ministries well funded. she audits and supports parishes. Over the past Christian Computing® Magazine
20 years, she’s discovered basic mathematical errors in manual payroll calculations, attempted hiding of parish income to keep next year’s annual appeal goal in check, and, in one public school district, bags containing thousands in school fundraiser cash dropped—and left—on an empty desk in her own office. Today Hanson is working to educate every parish in her diocese on the basics of proper fund accounting and cash handling procedures. And she still occasionally finds reluctant staff who say things like, “This is just a small church . . . what do we need an accounting system for? Or, “We don’t have a computer.” She tells them gently but firmly, “It needs to change. You need to come on to a computerized accounting system.” And she helps them do it. “Manual systems leave way too much room for error,” explains Hanson, “and they can’t give you a balance sheet. Priests and their finance councils need to have statements of financial position, activities, and dedicated accounts to get a true picture of where they stand.” Worst-case scenarios Without sound financial governance and accurate reporting, your church’s assets—and the trust of your members—could be at risk. The hard truth is that people have creative ways of making the church’s money disappear. Marquet International, Ltd.’s July 2011 study, Vanquishing the Scourge of Church Embezzlement reports that when it comes to embezzlement, religious organizations are the third most victimized industry sector. But we rank first in average overall duration, with most cases spanning about seven years. Seven years of undetected pilfering!
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✓ Online Giving
✓ Religious Education ✓ Ministry Scheduling ✓ Church Accounting ✓ Email Newsletters ✓ 24/7 Web Access
Great! Now I can get on with ministry.
No denomination is immune, as these recent cases show: Korean Central Presbyterian Church (Vienna, VA): Eun Tae Lee, 50, former CAO of the church-sponsored missionary group Seed International Inc., sentenced in June 2011 for stealing more than $700,000. St. Joseph Catholic Church (Garrett, IN): former bookkeeper Beth Ann Boger, 44, charged with embezzling more than $364,000 in May 2011. Seventh Day Adventist Church (Lawrence, MA): former treasurer Raiffeisen Regalado, 41, sought by police for stealing $106,570. Calvary Lutheran Church (Neillsville, WI): former treasurer and tax preparer John Roenz, 63, charged with stealing more than $100,000. Christian Computing® Magazine
www.ParishSOFT.com September 2011
Saint Peter’s United Church of Christ (St. Joseph, MI): former treasurer Jon Michael Ruppel, 46, stole about $262,000 over nine years. First Baptist Church (Southington, CT): former finance committee chair Alan Jonas, 63 and a CPA, charged in February 2011 for embezzling $396,288. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Tustin, CA): former bookkeeper Elyse Marie Kennedy, 37, was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing $129,000. St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church (Orange, CT): securities broker Gregory Loles, 51, pleaded guilty to defrauding members out of nearly $8 million and stealing $2.1 million in church funds. And the money? For St. Barbara, it’s all gone. Funds that were supposed to provide a new gym, scholarships, and community outreach instead went to Loles’ auto-racing business. In the rare cases when churches are able to recover stolen money, they typically get only a portion of it back. Marquet’s study of 21 cases showed that 20% of the time, the perpetrator had a prior criminal history—meaning a simple background screening would have brought issues to light prior to hiring. Litmus test: how good is your church accounting? If you cannot confidently say yes to all of the questions below, it may be time to give your church financials a serious look. Do your pastor and finance council review actual revenues and expenses compared with budget on a regular basis? Can you get reports you need, any time, for any period or audience? Are specially designated donations tracked using dedicated funds? Christian Computing® Magazine
Does your church use “closed periods”? Can numbers be changed in your system after financial reports are published and reviewed by your finance council? Are you prepared for an audit, either from your parent organization or an independent agent? Are financial duties divided to create transparency and provide a system of checks and balances? For example, are receivables and payables handled by one person and bank reconciliations by another? Marquet International, Ltd. offers a list of the most common types of embezzlement and best practices for mitigating your risk of embezzlement. Where to go for help If your church belongs to a parent organization, like a diocese or synod, this is a great starting point. Ask for help and discover what resources they have to offer. In the Catholic Church, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) accounting practices committee has made it clear that dioceses are to hold their parishes accountable for the way they do business. “The Church is committed to the highest standards of transparency,” said William Weldon, CFO of the Diocese of Charlotte (NC) and chair of the USCCB’s accounting practices committee. “It’s important so that we can provide assurance to our donors that resources are being used prudently, and as they are intended.” The USCCB guidelines and a genuine need for more unified systems and better data have prompted more than 15 Catholic dioceses to establish diocesan-wide financial standards. And, in a team effort with their parishes, which selected the software they liked best, they’re implementing ParishSOFT’s ConnectNow Church Accounting as the standard system for their parishes and schools. If your parent organization is looking for diSeptember 2011
rection, or if you’re going it alone, you’ll find help on many Catholic dioceses’ Web sites. The Diocese of Charlotte’s Financial Governance Standards and Financial Policy Manual are among the best we’ve seen. ParishSOFT’s free educational webinar Church Accounting Made Easy is another great resource. Why standardizing is the way to go The decision to standardize makes sense when you consider what it would be like to compile reliable financial data using 91 uniquely formatted annual reports from 91 different parishes and schools in the Diocese of Charlotte, or 150 different parishes in the Diocese of Sioux Falls. As these groups transition to a common system, parishes can get the training and support they want from their dioceses, their software provider, and each other. In Sioux Falls, Denise Hanson leads regular, well-attended training classes to teach pastors and staff the accounting basics they need to operate within the diocese’s financial guidelines as well as civil laws and get through calendar and fiscal year-end processing. Her Fund Accounting 101 class (featured at the 2011 ParishSOFT Conference) covers how double-sided accounting works, how it differs from a personal checkbook, and how debits and credits associate with particular funds. As parishes implement the ConnectNow Church Accounting system, staff spend a full day learning how to use the programs in a hands-on class using a special training database set up with the standard diocesan chart of accounts—and classes are open to staff who need a refresher or are new employees or volunteers.
form get the consolidated financials they need to support their parishes and plan for the future— and not just once a year, but any time they like. Parishes get clear direction, education and support, and the accurate financials they need to serve their missions. And finance councils and parishioners get greater transparency needed to keep church dollars from funding racecars or luxury vacations. “Having a standard system will be an advantage to all priests,” adds Hanson. “No matter where they go in our diocese, they’ll find common tools and reports they’ll be able to read and understand.” What’s more, a true, closedperiod accounting system protects churches from changes to prior periods, which nullify financial statements that have been reviewed and approved. For pastors, who bear the ultimate responsibility for their church finances, having the right tools and policies in place lets them provide oversight with confidence that both mission and the trust of members will be sustained today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Big benefits for parishes and dioceses Dioceses using a standard accounting platChristian Computing® Magazine
nick at church
Transitioning to VoIP – Our Experience Nick Nicholaou - email@example.com
e decided to transition our organization to a VoIP phone system a couple of years ago. We’re glad we did— doing so saved us a lot of money and improved our work processes. We learned some things along the way that were not readily apparent, though. They may help you whether you’ve already implemented VoIP or are just considering doing so. What is VoIP? VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems communicate via IP rather than over traditional phone lines (known as PSTN, an acronym for Public Switched Telephone Network). The size of the cable plug is the most obvious difference to most phone system users. Most people think of VoIP as how their phone connects to the world. While that can be true, it doesn’t have to be. There are generally four possibilities: 1. PSTN Inside & Out. A traditional phone system inside that connects beyond your building over traditional phone lines. 2. VoIP Inside & PSTN Out. A VoIP phone system inside that connects beyond your building over traditional phone lines. 3. VoIP Inside & Out. A VoIP phone system inside that connects beyond your building over the Internet. 4. PSTN Inside & VoIP Out. A traditional phone system inside that connects beyond your building over the Internet. Christian Computing® Magazine
We started out as PSTN inside and out, changed to VoIP inside and PSTN out, and finally landed on VoIP inside and out. The savings we experienced after our last change has been optimal, and the quality of service has been the same as we had with our original total PSTN system. What does a VoIP PBX cost? New phone systems typically cost in the tens of thousands. I was surprised when researching VoIP phone systems that they can either be in that same price range, or they can be free! Free to me is a caution sign… I know free systems are not usually worth as much as they cost. I was surprised and pleased to learn that free VoIP phone systems are different! VoIP phone systems have become so commonplace that they are now available in Open Source form. That’s why they can be free. My skeptical nature caused me to research this area, and I was surprised to learn that some of the free systems are as full-featured and reliable as those September 2011
that cost a lot of money. So, though I was still skeptical— but hopeful!— we decided to take the plunge. We decided on the Elastix system. It’s built on a very reliable technology platform (Asterisk by Digium), but has an easy-to-use interface. The cost: totally free! But we’re data pros; not phone pros, so we hired www.InnoCloud. com to configure it. We spent a little on them, but that was all! What about handsets? We had a bit of a problem to solve regarding handsets (the telephones that sit on your desk). VoIP natively runs over Ethernet cable, and we didn’t have extra cable runs to each of our desks to accommodate VoIP phones. I didn’t want to spend the money to run additional cable. Many make the mistake of connecting their computers (which want to communicate at 1000mbps, or gigabit) through their VoIP handsets, but most are unwilling to buy gigabit handsets. So they connect their computers through less expensive 100mbps or 10mbps VoIP phones. That slows down the computers to the speed of the phone. So we decided to do the opposite. We connected our phones through our computers! We bought Bria softphones—software that runs on our computers instead of having physical handsets. We use headsets— wired and wireless— instead of handsets. To be honest, I wasn’t sure all of our team members would like that change, but I was surprised! Those who I anticipated liking the headsets the least were those who ended up liking them the most! How does it save money? Beyond the potential savings of the phone system itself, it’s possible to save lots on your connection beyond your buildings too. Our final step was to convert from PSTN lines to SIP trunks. SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol connections are VoIP services offered by Internet telephony service providers that connect a com-
Christian Computing® Magazine
pany’s phone system to the PSTN via the Internet. Changing from PSTN to SIP trunks cut our monthly phone bill by about 60%. How does it compare? I’ve already mentioned how VoIP systems cost so much less to initiate and maintain, and that the quality of service is as good as what we experienced over traditional phone lines. It has all of the usual phone system options (voicemail, transfers, call groups, etc), but it has an additional option that we find indispensible. Many of our team work away from our office. In fact, our team of engineers are spread throughout the country! With our Elastix system over SIP and using Bria softphones, our team members can ‘log in’ to our phone system from anywhere and are then treated by the system as though they are just down the hall! Each has an extension and is able to work as though they were on-site rather than off-site. VoIP has come a long way since folks first started getting excited about it in the 1990s. It is stable, high quality, and cost effective. It is definitely good stewardship.
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://ministry-it. blogspot.com.
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higher power with kevin
Preaching and Digital Bible Study
Kevin A. Purcell - firstname.lastname@example.org
’m a preacher first and a writer second. When I open my Bible software, about 90% of the time, I intend to study to prep a sermon or Bible study for my church. Each message results from a process that I generally follow and Bible software takes center stage in all of the early rounds.
I strive to do Expository Preaching using an Inductive Bible Study approach that I learned from two mentors. The first: Dr. Wayne McDill, my preaching professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who wrote the great book The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching (http://amzn.to/nMXOmX). The second: Dr. Haddon Robinson, my preaching professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary who wrote the classic preaching text Biblical Preaching (http://amzn.to/pqZoK8). The two approaches are similar with Haddon’s book being more of a mainstream approach and Wayne’s book offers a right-brained approach with 12 skills that you do in a kind of ‘fill-in-the-blank’ approach. The results are excellent regardless of the system. I have merged them in my approach taking the strengths from each and putting together my own system. My approach focuses primarily on using English language tools, with language study tools supplementing in the research phase. The steps I take to prepare a message and the Digital Bible Study tools I use are as follows: 1. Text Selection: Search for a passage using the basic and topical search tools of a text, unless you Christian Computing® Magazine
already have a specific text in mind. I navigate to that chosen text whether I know it or find it via search. Then I delineate the text boundaries by simply reading the text in context but also using the various tools that Bible study software includes for comparing periscopes. For example, in Logos 4, go to Tools and Passage Analysis and then use the visual Compare Pericopes tool. The art of delineating the text comes from making decisions about what is the basic set of verses that need to be together to preach a single sermon. 2. Visual Diagram: This resembles what you did in high school English class with sentence diagramming. Many Bible study applications include great diagramming tools, including Logos, Bibleworks, Accordance and maybe others. If you don’t own one of those, just copy and paste your passage into a word processor document. You then diagram it showing the relationship of ideas to other ideas. Below is an example of one from Eph. 4:11 using the ESV because it is a more literal translation (other that work well are KJV, NKJV, NASB). [And] he gave the apostles the prophets September 2011
the evangelists the shepherds [and] Teachers Obviously this is a simple verse, but the above diagram shows the single idea in that verse that God gave something to the church. Then it lists the four or five (depending on your interpretation) equipping gifts. You instantly see this one idea and the four or five sub ideas in the verse. When you see a whole passage this way it can help you to see how the original author put the verse together. 3. Observations and Questions: Using the Notes tools in my favorite Bible application or using a Word document, make careful observations and ask interpretive questions about the text. For example, after doing the above diagramming exercise - you might say that there are five things God gave the church. You might observe that the gifts are not objects, but people. This shows that people are the tools of God to minister to the world. You already see how these observations help you begin to interpret the text. Also ask careful questions like this: Is “shepherds and teachers” a connected pair that makes up one gift or just the forth and fifth gift? Keep going till you cannot think of anything else to say or ask. Use the “who, what, where, when, why, how” questions and keep them in your notes tool. Some programs have very advanced notes editing tools attached to a single verse or to a chapter. Others are simpler. Some work great and others don’t work at all. I won’t go into which Bible study app has the best notes, but nearly all of them do. If not, just use your text editor or word processor and save them based on books of the Bible. I have a folder on my hard drive with the following structure: a. Old Testament (OT) i. Gen ii. Exo iii. Lev iv. Etc. b. New Testament (NT) i. Mat ii. Mar iii. Luk iv. Etc. 4. Research: Begin the process of finding the answers to your questions by consulting the reference tools in your Bible software. I go in the following order: Christian Computing® Magazine
a. Original language texts – Strong’s tools, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, etc. b. Bible dictionaries – learn meanings of words and this usually provides good cross references c. Cross references – search for places where this passages is quoted or for passages that are quoted here using cross references either in translation notes or using tools like Vine’s d. Commentaries – I then consult my favorite commentaries, mostly using commentaries that include one volume per book of the Bible. I almost never use a tool that is a single volume commentary on the whole Bible or OT/NT. 5. Textual & Sermon Idea: I now work on formulating what most preachers call the Textual Idea and the Sermon Idea. These are two statements. The first focuses on what the text said to the original audience. I want to first know what Paul was saying to the Ephesian church before I can figure out what God wants to say to my church. So I create this statement by saying this: If I were to describe this text in the form of a question someone might ask and this passage would be the answer, what would that question be? In the above it is easy to figure out. What kinds of gifted people did Paul say God gave to the church for their equipping for ministry? This has to be a question because the sermon then becomes the answer to that question. For this sermon we will have an interrogative/keyword structure where the sermon asks a question and the answer results in a list of things organized by a keyword. In this case the Textual Idea would be: There are 4 or 5 offices God gave the Ephesus Church. Then the Sermon Idea takes the Textual Idea and strips off the references to the Ephesus Church and contemporizes it. Here you can also be a little creative if you like or find that it is appropriate. You could simple say as a Sermon Idea: God gives his church 4/5 living gifts! Or you could go with a more simple statement like: God gives 4/5 gifts to the church to equip them. I like the first one because it creates a little mystery to entice listeners to want to know, what I mean by “living gifts” instead of just gifts or offices. 6. Create Sermon Outline: At this point I create an outline and usually just use Microsoft Word. However, many Bible software programs include document creation tools. You can now write your sermons in Bible software. Bibleworks, PC Study Bible, e-Sword, Logos, WORDsearch and many more have this built into the to program often with very powerful word processor functions like text and paragraph formatting and the ability to add popup verse hyperlinks. Just reSeptember 2011
member that no matter what tool you use, make a good outline using interesting statements that are balanced and show what you are saying. We don’t have time to get into writing good sermon outlines, but read one or both of the above referenced books for good tips. One tip I do like came from Rick Warren. He said to make sermon points application based. I like this and prefer it as much as possible, but it is not always appropriate. So, instead of a point saying, “God gave us pastors” you might write the point saying “Treat your pastor as a gift from God.” 7. Supporting Material: Supporting material does four things for each biblical statement you make … a. Explain – create understanding, “What does it mean?” using things like word studies b. Illustrate – create visualization in the mind, “What does it look like?” using stories, illustrations, videos, images, props c. Prove – create belief, “Is that true?” using arguments, cross references, etc. d. Apply – create action, “How do I do that?” using illustrations, stories, examples or anything else that show people how to do what they are asked to do by the text. YOU ARE NOT DONE PREACHING TILL YOU APPLY THE TEXT!! 8. Introduction and Conclusion: create a good introduction/conclusion a. Intro = orient people to what you plan to preach i. Grabs attention ii. Shows the need for that text – why are you preaching it and why should they listen iii. Transitions to the text and read the text iv. Transition to the body of the sermon b. Conclusion = wrapping it up by doing the following i. Review what you have said, not just by restatement but in an interesting way often with a good illustration or story showing how the main idea of the text applies ii. Action points – make sure they know what to do with the text and how to apply it right now iii. Appeal – how do they respond to God now 9. Test for Balance and Correctness: this is where you reread the message and edit and make sure that the points are balanced for content and time and that they are true and interesting – I do this by actually preaching through the text by myself. 10. Create Preaching Notes: This is controversial, since some preaching professors will say you should not use notes at all. I agree, but I’m a hypocrite. I always use brief notes. Preaching using Bible softChristian Computing® Magazine
ware here is possibly hard to do. Please don’t bring your laptop into the pulpit. It will distract people. But the tablet revolution helps here. I preach from my iPad, which is flat enough to not be a distraction. I save my notes in Word and open them on my iPad in Apple’s Pages app. Some churches have dual screens with one in the back for those on the platform, so using PowerPoint prompting you in the back while you show video or images and phrases (never long sentences or complete outlines) representing the main ideas on the screen behind you that the audience sees. 11. Practice: Using all of the technology you plan to use in the presentation of your message, practice preaching in the place you plan to preach, if possible. This one thing has helped my preaching more than anything I’ve done previously. 12. Preach: Now present the message. Sometimes I use Bible software in informal Bible study sessions. You can present showing things like pictures and geographical maps. A great tool for this kind of presentation is Bible Glo, which comes with rich media including video, pictures, timelines and more. I’m not the world’s greatest preacher. I do have a Doctor of Ministry in Expository Preaching and wrote my dissertation on using multimedia in preaching. However, what I do know is Bible study software and to not use this great tool to prepare your sermons or lessons is to forgo one of the greatest assets available today. One day I’ll write a book. For now, use these steps and the two books I referenced above to become a Digital Bible Study master. September 2011
Relationship Evangelism Revisited Michael L White - email@example.com
ing Solomon has said, “… Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8b NKJV). While I want to be careful not to be wise in my own eyes, I sincerely want to be wise according to God’s Word. (See Solomon’s and Paul’s warnings, respectively, against this in Proverbs 26:12 and Romans 12:16c). This means accepting correction when necessary. Thanks to one very insightful reader response to my August article, I need to clarify my position on relationship evangelism as an effective means of evangelism. In my August article, I made a strong statement about what I perceive to be the ineffective practice of relationship evangelism, and in the process, I overlooked the fact that not everyone who claims to practice this method of evangelism is using it as a way to avoid evangelizing while claiming to evangelize. To those who are actually sharing the Gospel via the means of ongoing relationship, please accept my heartfelt apology for lumping everyone, both true evangelists and pretenders, together into one all-inclusive group. My intent in criticizing the method of relationship evangelism was to call out those who use it as a means to hide from the work of personal evangelism by claiming to be building a relationship through which to share the Gospel someday. I say this because this method lends itself so easily to this abuse by those who are simply afraid to risk rejection for sharing their faith. There comes a time when we need to put our relationship on the line and challenge our friends to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It really is just that simple. There is a popular witticism that goes something like this: “Preach the Gospel wherever you go. If necessary, use words.” This has become the leading catch phrase for some who postpone sharing their faith with their friends. While this seems to make a valid point, my question is: If we don’t use words, how or when will we ever invite others to Christian Computing® Magazine
accept Christ? Are they going to take the initiative and ask us, “Something’s different about you. What’s your secret?” I doubt it, particularly because we’re not as different as we like to think! It was the Apostle Paul who wrote, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14 NKJV). In my zeal for challenging the abuse of relationship evangelism, I appeared to disclaim an otherwise effective means of evangelism for those who really do practice it correctly. For that, I am truly regretful. Therefore, having repented of my previously poorlyworded position, let me proceed now to say that when relationship evangelism is truly practiced, that is, when someone labors in a friendship or business relationship to share the hope of salvation through Christ Jesus while living out the genuinely Christian principles of faith before this person, relationship evangelism is most certainly an effective means of sharing the Gospel, though it usually takes a while longer than engaging someone who readily sees his/ her need for repentance from sin and acceptance of God’s offer of grace through Jesus Christ. Granted, there will be times when those with whom we have an ongoing relationship (such as our relatives or colleagues) are unwilling to September 2011
discuss their need for salvation with us, in which case, we will have little choice but to continue living out the Gospel before them and politely challenging them at various opportunities to reconsider their need for Christ. Indeed, in such cases, I believe that if we will truly exemplify the love of Jesus towards them, despite the fact that they have previously rejected our sharing of Christ with them, they may eventually be won for the Kingdom. Furthermore, I liken these instances to a stroll through a peach orchard at the beginning of harvest time. As you look over the trees for that fruit which is ripe enough to pick, you will find some still mostly green, some partly ripe, and some mostly ripe. If you grasp the mostly green fruit, you will need to tug a little harder to pull it free from its stem, while the mostly ripe fruit will practically fall into your hand when you touch it. The easier the fruit is to release from the stem, the riper it is and the readier it is for being picked and eaten. The same is true in a spiritual sense for those who are ready to accept the Gospel and those who are not. The easier it is for someone to accept the message of Christ’s offer of salvation, the “riper” they are for picking. This, of course, is something only God can control. As Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him …” (John 6:44 NKJV). There is a possibility then that we could conceivably spend a lifetime of relationship evangelism trying to win someone to Christ, only to lose him/her at the end because, though God drew him/ her unto Jesus, he/she resisted to the last. I also stand corrected on my hastily-stated premise that no examples of relationship evangelism are found in the Scriptures. While I haven’t been able to locate instances where either the concept or the practice is overtly stated in the Scriptures (which is probably why I missed it), it is implied in some places, such as with the case of Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Jesus by night. Although we don’t know how long he had been following and listening to Jesus by the time he approached Him in chapter three of John’s Gospel, it was possibly due to his ongoing disciple-oriented relationship with Jesus that he finally sought a deeper understanding of what it means to Christian Computing® Magazine
be a committed follower of Jesus. The Apostle Paul also spent years among the Gentiles of Asia Minor and Italy (in prison and out of prison) both sharing the Gospel and perhaps building relationships with many that eventually produced the fruit of additional converts. However, what I was attempting to point out was that the majority of Scriptural evangelism is focused on the immediate and intentional preaching of the Gospel to those who encountered the Apostles (including Paul) and other disciples whenever they first met. Therefore, relationship evangelism (defined as developing a long-term relationship with someone who is often skeptical of or otherwise resistant to the Gospel in order to win him/her) is not the primary model of evangelism for the Apostles. Most of them eventually fanned out from Jerusalem and preached to a new group of listeners every little while, which left little time for building long-term relationships with unbelievers in the hopes of eventually winning them for Christ. The listeners either accepted the Gospel on the spot or they rejected it, but there are few examples of the Apostles hanging around for extended periods trying to build relationships with those who rejected the Gospel in hopes of eventually winning them. In fact, in those cases where they
did linger, it was usually to instruct the new believers in the deeper points of the Christian faith. They appear to have left the task of longterm relationship evangelism for the converts they made on their initial pass through the territory. Therefore, it’s highly probable that those who did accept Christ immediately went on to share the Gospel over the ensuing months or years with those who initially rejected it, but the Scriptures seem to focus on those who went about from place to place preaching the Gospel to all who would listen as the primary method of evangelizing. Even on the occasion when Jesus first sent out His disciples to evangelize Judea, He instructed them that “whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14 NKJV). Did Jesus intend this only as a response to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6 NKJV), or to all we evangelize? Good question; and I’m not sure I have the right answer. Everywhere Jesus went, and later, everywhere His Apostles went about evangelizing, there was nearly always an implied sense of urgency and haste associated with the preaching of the Gospel. For instance, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17 NKJV). For something to be “at hand” means that it is within reach or near, implying a need to grasp it while it is within reach. There is urgency for one simple reason: we never know when our time on earth will be up (compare with John 7:6). Relationship evangelism is indeed an acceptable means of evangelism for those who are not ready to accept the Gospel at their first hearing. Whichever approach you choose, there is most definitely a time and a need for all methods of evangelism, especially as the time of Jesus’ Christian Computing® Magazine
return continues to draw nearer every day. If you choose the relationship evangelism approach, however, just be sure to actually share the Good News of God’s saving grace made available through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice! To do anything less is dangerously deceptive. 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. September 2011
the power and the danger
Industry Consolidation By Russ McGuire - firstname.lastname@example.org
his past month brought some major industry news. On August 15, Google announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility. The primary reason identified for the $12.5B purchase price is for Google to gain access to Motorola’s intellectual property rights for use in the patent wars that have been threatening the ongoing viability of the Android mobile operating system. On August 18, Hewlett Packard announced that it was shutting down development of the WebOS mobile operating system, and that it was seeking to sell its PC business. HP had gained WebOS when it acquired Palm in July 2010 for $1.2B. What’s going on here? Mobility is the growth engine for the computing industry (and other industries). Growth in mobility exploded with the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. At the end of 2007, Google, along with a large consortium of industry players (the Open Handset Alliance) introduced Android as an open source competitor to the iPhone. The first Android handset launched in October 2008. Palm introduced WebOS with the Pre handset in 2009. WebOS was widely hailed as a graceful (even beautiful) alternative to iOS (the iPhone operating system) and Android. Today, more than half of the mobile handsets sold in America are smartphones, with Android and iOS being the leading operating systems. Christian Computing® Magazine
The explosive mobile growth expanded even more with the launch of the iPad in April 2010. Android tablets were quickly launched to compete, and HP announced the acquisition of Palm, primarily to gain the WebOS operating system, with HP’s TouchPad tablet being a high priority target for WebOS. The success of tablets has put a noticeable dent in sales of netbook and notebook computers. Other competitors in the mobile space have struggled to retain relevance and have lost significant market share, including Nokia (formerly the global smartphone leader), Research in Motion (owner of the Blackberry brand), and Microsoft. In fact, Nokia has announced that it is shutting down development of its Symbian operating system, and instead will rely on Microsoft going forward. The fundamental issue is industry consolidation. Even in a high growth market, there’s not enough room for so many players. Since the launch of the iPhone, a key requirement for a mobile operating system is a large and vibrant developer ecosystem, with lots of mobile apps available for smartphone September 2011
and tablet users. Apple and Google have succeeded in establishing impressive developer programs. Because of their market share leadership and how easy they’ve made it to develop and market apps, programmers choose to invest their time developing for iOS and Android. All other mobile operating systems have suffered. And for HP, it finally was time to throw in the towel on WebOS. How does industry consolidation bring power to the kingdom? The good news about industry consolidation is that it brings clarity and focus to our technology work. We know that we no longer need to develop web content or mobile apps with WebOS users in mind. When shopping for new mobile devices, we have fewer choices, so our decisions are easier and can be quicker. In ministry, our resources are limited, so anytime we can focus and be more efficient, it is good. Our efforts make a greater impact for the kingdom. What are the dangers of industry consolidation? That’s not to say industry consolidation doesn’t cause its own problems. Sometimes, really good technologies are the victim of industry consolidation. WebOS was a great technology. When the Palm Pre came out, I carried it as my primary cell phone for a year. I loved that phone. The user interface was graceful. It was easy to learn and easy to use. WebOS introduced a capability Palm called Synergy. This feature seamlessly integrated data from different sources, so , for example, my phone contact list included all the contact details for a person from their Facebook profile (if we’re friends), their LinkedIn profile (if they are in my network), and my Microsoft Exchange contacts database. Others have begun to mimic the best features of WebOS, but a year into my “Android life,” I still miss many aspects of WebOS. An even more troubling aspect of industry consolidation is for those that have already invested in a technology that becomes the victim of consolidation. Those that spent up to $600 for a TouchPad earlier this year must be kicking themselves right now. Going forward, it is highly unlikely that many new apps will become available for WebOS. HP has promised Christian Computing® Magazine
to continue to support the platform, but getting that support likely will become a challenge. Purchasing accessories, or replacement parts (e.g. chargers, batteries) will also become much more of an issue. Finally, what about those that have poured their lives into a technology that has been consolidated out of existence? What if you’ve spent time and money becoming an expert in WebOS development, what does your future hold now? The good news is that demand for WebOS expertise won’t vanish overnight. In fact, HP drastically cut the price for the TouchPad following their announcement, bringing thousands of new tablet owners into the WebOS fold. These users will still be looking for new apps and for help with their shiny new devices. (But, it still would be wise to start brushing up your Android or iOS skills…) What comes next? Only the Lord knows what companies and technologies will be the next victims of industry consolidation, but I’m guessing the game is not over. Microsoft remains vulnerable in the mobile space. Today, the company is making more money from licensing intellectual property as part of Android than they are from selling Windows phones. Their new Windows Phone 7 platform is a strong step forward, but time will tell whether it can become a contender alongside iOS and Android. This uncertainty, along with a fear-driven belief that Microsoft needs to be like Apple and Google with an integrated operating system and phone manufacturing business, could cause Microsoft to consider acquiring Research in Motion or Nokia. Meanwhile, Google’s acquisition of Motorola appears to strengthen Android, but may in fact weaken the platform’s competitive position. Google claims that the deal positions Google to defend the phone makers (Samsung, LG, HTC, etc.) that are building Android devices from the patent wars that Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle have launched against Android phones and tablets. That should help reduce fears from these companies and end customers that Android could end up in legal limbo. However, these same phone makers may feel threatened by a combined Google and Motorola. That may drive them into the arms of Microsoft, switching from developing Android devices to instead developing Windows devices.
And what about RIM? The company has stumbled with its initial tablet launch and its Blackberries have been losing share in the smartphone market. Is its only hope to be acquired by Microsoft? The situation probably isn’t that dire yet, but RIM’s management and board undoubtedly are considering an uncertain future. What does this mean for all of us? Mostly, it should remind us that we can be certain of nothing but the love and sovereignty of God. We should seek the Lord in prayer, discerning His wisdom and His guidance, making the best decisions we can while trusting Him to provide. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) 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 Wi-Fi, 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 six homeschooled students under Russ’ direction.
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