Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - firstname.lastname@example.org
Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 23
3 cover story
Our Annual Church Management Software (ChMS) Overview Issue
Copy Editor Gina Hewitt Corporate Home Office
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By Steve Hewitt
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© Copyright 2011 by Christian Computing®, Inc.
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23 ACS ideas to impact
Anytime, Anywhere Ministry Q&A: Freedom from servers, updates, and more
22 Parishsoft’s Catholic Connection
from ACS Technologies
Connecting the Dots Between Data and Stewardship
28 Nick At Church
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Can ‘The Cloud’ Simplify IT?
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30 Higher Power With Kevin
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BibleWorks 9 a Worthy Upgrade
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33 Digital Evangelism
Evading the Social Media Thought Police
35 The Power And The Danger
Contributing Editors Lauren Hunter Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Bradley Miller Michael L White
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38 Ministry Communication
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For Seasonal Event Success—It Takes the Whole Church to Grow the Church
41 Big Ministry - Small Resources Tending the Flocks
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editorial CCMag Is Giving Away a Tablet Computer on Nov 15! Steve Hewitt - firstname.lastname@example.org
It is time again for another give away for fit into your status bar in Facebook, etc. those who have registered at our online communi- I have decided to let the winner decide which ty. We are excited to see that around 3,000 people tablet they would like to win. I love my Toshiba have joined the site so far. Because we want to Thrive and am convinced it is the way many continue to encourage people to register at our tablets in the future will be going (full USB and site, we are going to continue to have some fanHTML ports, sim card, etc.) I can quickly and tastic drawing for some great prizes. On Nov 15, easily add a full keyboard, monitor and mouse, there will only be one winner, but we will give that allowing me to use this tablet for even lengthy person that opportunity to pick between an iPad data entry. However, there are still more apps (es2 or the Toshiba Thrive pecially the fun ones, (both with 32 gig memory, Win a free tablet (iPad2 or Android) games, cool utilities, and both the same price.) etc.) for the iPad 2. So, on Nov 15 from Christian Computing If you have already we will let the winner and Christian Video Magazine. Info at decide what they want, registered for our new online community, you and after contacting http://www.ccmag.com/contest do NOT have to register them, we will purchase again to be included in and ship the one they our drawing. BUT we would like your help! For desire. some time I have been sharing with churches that So, please help us out. If you post our anthe most powerful way to use social networking is nouncement on your social networking services, to provide the info you wish to promote TO your we believe we will be able to find many more members and allow them to post it on Facebook, people just like our readers who will enjoy our Google+, Twitter, etc., so you can reach THEIR magazines, our online community AND will apfriends with your announcement. We would like preciate a chance to win a free tablet. As soon as for you to help us promote this special drawour drawing is over on Nov 15th, we will aning. Please post the following on your Facebook, nounce our next drawing for more cool gifts for Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social netthose that are registered members of our online working service that you use and help us spread community! the news about this contest. We only have a few weeks for people to register, so please do this soon. Together We Serve Him, Here is what we would like for you to post Win a free tablet (iPad2 or Android) on Nov 15 from Christian Computing and Christian Video Magazine. Info at http://www.ccmag.com/contest Twitter will make a mini version of the URL, and the entire sentence should be small enough to Steve Hewitt email@example.com Christian Computing速 Magazine
Our Annual Church Management Software (ChMS) Overview Issue! By Steve Hewitt
t is time again for our annual ChMS (Church Management Software) issue! Remember, anytime between now and next October, when your church is looking for a ChMS service, make sure to come back and check out this issue. And, of course, be sure to visit our Online ChMS Feature Chart (http://www.ccmag.com/cms/index.php?chartid=1).
Every year after we publish our ChMS issue, I receive emails from readers who ask me, “Please, just tell me which ChMS is the best?” The truth of the matter – there IS no one ChMS that is the best for everyone. Some ChMS’s excel in accounting, others in communication and helping members connect, while others are masters at helping to facilitate check-in. Some ChMS’s are in the cloud, others are now providing tablet apps, while others are helping your members connect via social networking. What I love about what we do each year with our ChMS special issue is in the pages to follow. We have asked each of the companies that sponsor with us to provide information of their choosing about what they are doing. We asked them to share what they feel might make them unique, or what they accomplished this last year. We also invited them to share what they have in the works for this next year. We have given them the opportunity to “sell themselves”, to step up to the microphone and stand in the spotlight. Christian Computing® Magazine
It is our hope and prayer that this annual ChMS cover story will help many find the right ChMS for their needs, within their price range, and perfect for their church! So, enjoy, and be sure to file this away for future use throughout the year for either your church, or to provide some important information for another church that might turn to you for help in finding the right ChMS for their use!
ACSTechnologies Like the ministries we serve, ACS Technologies is passionate about vision. Your vision is to grow the Kingdom of God by serving your communities. Our vision is to serve you with the best technology solutions and services to help you achieve your goals. It’s that simple – and that big. As our vision tracks with church ministry vision there are three things at the top of our long list going October 2011
into 2012: Community, partnerships, and mobility. Community: We all know ministry just isn’t within the church walls—ministry tools are increasingly used outside church walls. Facebook’s 800 million users are evidence that people (and people in the church) have gone social online in a big way. There are many implications for the church – the most obvious being more opportunity for stronger community and deeper, real-time communication. Perhaps the most exiting headline in the church software scene this year came when we acquired Seattlebased The City. As many readers of Christian Computing Magazine know, The City is the most widelyused online community built specifically for the church. We can’t wait to share the ways we’re integrating ACS Technologies solutions with The City. The result will be seamless data sync in key areas. Look for a big announcement at the 2012 Ideas to Impact Conference. Partnerships: The City was a major partnership in 2011. Also this year we acquired Information Delivery Systems LLC, which helps software vendors take their applications to the Web. We’re happy to extend some of the OnDemand capabilities we’ve grown to love to other software companies that serve the church market. We’ve continued to grow with key partners, including Monvee, the spiritual growth tool that can be connected to ACS software using a custom API – and we’ve had great feedback from clients on how it’s helping them. To serve more churches, we also stepped up to support 1,200 NSpire Total Church management software clients in a new partnership with Mad Gravity. Mobility: Everything is going mobile. In fact, almost everything alChristian Computing® Magazine
ready is mobile. That certainly includes mobile phones but, mobile is also using the internet wherever/whenever. Mobile is accessibility. Applications like our Church Life App are just one example of our focus in this area. A few months back, we launched a new version of Church Life and made it available on new devices, including the iPhone, iPad and Android, so more staff and members can access essential people and facility information on-the-go. Rest assured, ACS Technologies will continue to develop new and useful mobile tools for ministry. We’ve continued to grow our number one solution used via the Internet, OnDemand , a service that provides anytime, anywhere use of our robust, most trusted software tools, including ACS People, ACS Checkpoint, many of our PDS products, HeadMaster for schools, and more. At the 2012 Ideas to Impact conference, you’ll see the unveiling of our next-generation product – and this one will be a total game-changer, combining the best of what we have learned in over 33 years of serving churches. It is going to be the example of true community, partnership and mobility rolled into one. Our ministry vision applies to everything we do, whether we’re embracing emerging mobile and online solutions or developing next-generation community tools. And thanks to that vision, our growth is remarkable! 50,000 clients and growing, over 325 employees, and more than 50 different key products and services. These blessings motivate us to remain thankful and diligent to those we serve, keeping our eye on the goal of growing the Kingdom by walking alongside churches and meeting their needs. It’s a job we don’t take lightly.
By The Book By the Book, has recently released Roll Call v11 that offers an improved user interface that helps churches accomplish their church management needs with ease. Roll Call is one of the few church software programs that operates on either PCs or Macs, or on a network running both. Roll Call includes easier navigation in order to find what churches are looking for along with added search, HTML email, and mobile texting capabilities. Roll Call includes an integrated word processor, email editor, and mailing label program within the software. It also helps churches track attendance for both groups and worship services through customizable reports. Roll Call was one of the first software companies to offer child check-in, launched in 2005. Roll Call’s pricing is capacity based, so smaller churches pay a smaller amount. Roll Call gives the user the ability to track membership information, record attendance for groups and worship services, print directories, send plain text and html emails, create mail merge letters, and produce mailing labels. It is also helpful in following up with members to reach out to visitors and volunteers. Quickly record contributions and pledges to any fund that you have defined making it simple to print contribution statements required by the IRS at the end of each year. By the Book will launch its fund accounting software program in 2012, so churches can manage fund accounting and all financial aspects of their churches in one integrated program. Roll Call Lite, a scaled down and less expensive version, will be available in 2012.
CCIS Church Management Software has been providing quality management tools to churches since 1981.
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Our software suite includes everything the church administrator needs to manage the business of the church. Accounting is a substantial part of this job. It’s easy to responsibly manage your church’s finances with CCIS AccountAbility™ – a true fund accounting program designed for churches. When your church receives contributions, they are often given for a specific purpose, which means the money will be spent to support a particular program or ministry. The practice of “Fund Accounting” helps you control these restricted funds without opening multiple checking accounts. CCIS AccountAbility™ maintains individual ledgers and balances for each fund and also manages the general fund for operating expenses. Make deposits and write checks from your regular checking account, and let CCIS AccountAbility™ do the accounting for you. Popular commercial accounting programs, even those promoted as solutions for non-profits, are not designed for the unique requirements of churches. An accounting system ideal for your church should provide a separate statement of revenue and expense, a statement of activities, and must have a separate year end closing entry for each fund; commercial for-profit accounting programs don’t provide these features. This places an unnecessary burden on the program administrator to export the information and create reports in spreadsheet programs. Accounting can seem like an overwhelming or complicated task, but the CCIS Customer Support Team will help you every step of the way! The CCIS church management software suite is a complete church administrator’s tool: Membership, Contributions, Activities, Attendance, Accounting and Payroll, all from a company that has been helping churches for almost 30 years.
Looking for a
TOTAL integrated solution?
In today’s rapidly-changing computing environment, a church needs a tightly integrated system to handle the flow of information that keeps its ministry healthy and connects it with its people. CDM+ offers TOTAL integration both in devices and design. Whether you access CDM+ from your desktop, the web or your iPad, you’re using a powerful solution that’s complete in itself—no need to import or export data between programs.
CDM+ CHURCH MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
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Powerful Desktop & Laptop Computing
Dynamic Web Integration
CDM+ CDM+ is a completely integrated solution for today’s technology and information flow. Our unique approach provides churches with the best solution for office needs, web access and mobile computing. Although the current trend is a shift in computing hardware from the desktop to the hand, the demanding needs of the church cannot be limited to just one or the other. CDM+ is driven by a robust database engine and a user-friendly interface to its proven core of information in order to meet the demands of a growing church office. Its suite of programs include membership and attendance tracking, contributions and stewardship analysis, fund accounting and easy to read financial statements, payroll designed for the church, event registration, calendaring for events and personnel, checkin/check-out for children, youth and adult ministries, and emailing capabilities with full word processing/ layout functions. CDM+ uses all of the power and functionality of your computer without the limitations of web interfaces. Our Web Ministry Tools (WMT) web application, available since 2008, provides points of contact from CDM+ to your website. It can gather information from a webpage and place it directly in CDM+. Our WMT technology gives churches of all sizes the ability to take online donations, accept online registrations for events, publish directories that are constantly updated from CDM+, and much more. Our unique online giving solution not only tracks donations but also reconciles all electronic transactions to your financial reports. New for Fall 2011 is CDM+ Mobile. Our initial app is for the iPad only but we’ll add apps for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android OS devices in 2012. CDM+ Mobile connects directly to your CDM+ information database and gives you real-time access to membership records, contact records and attendance. The native app will allow you to use tablet computing to take attendance in classes and worship services. A mobile check-in interface will be available in Spring 2012. We showcased CDM+ 9.1 at our Annual User’s conference prior to its release in October. With CDM+’s integrated word processing capability, you can design attractive and personalized communications. This latest upgrade adds a feature to organize those email, letter and card notices and easily share them with others in the church office. Another key feature in version 9.1 is a saved reports sets function Christian Computing® Magazine
to save specific report options so your regularly produced reports can be quickly and easily accessed with the latest up-to-date information and a standardized format. In addition to CDM+ Mobile, our 2011 Users Conference attendees got a first look at the new Web Ministry Tools Giving Portal. The Giving Portal Tool allows any member of the church to securely view his or her giving history and to set up recurring gifts on your church website. CDM+ was the first church management software to run on both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. As technology continues to change, CDM+ remains committed to bringing the best-integrated information solution to the church. Whatever tomorrow brings, we have the foundation to meet the changing opportunities ahead.
Church Community Builder Church Community Builder (www.churchcommunitybuilder.com), the original web-based church management software (ChMS), began their journey in 1999 by developing tools to help a church invite people to serve in ways which aligned with their unique gifts and passions. After many years of refinements, enhancements and new features, CCB brings their Volunteer Management benefits full-circle by adding the ability to schedule volunteers for weekly church services. “Volunteers are the muscle of any charitable organization, especially churches,” states Steve Caton, VP of Sales and Marketing. “They are the people who execute the ideas, plans and strategies intended to bring to life the collective vision shared by a community’s leadership.” However, Caton points out, “The challenge with volunteers is that you aren’t paying them. So it’s impossible to force them to do anything they don’t want to do. We can spend hours building relationships, helping others discover their strengths, passions and interests, only to watch them disappear when a call is made for volunteers.” CCB believes volunteers are absolutely necessary in fulfilling the mission of the local church. Here are just a few ways CCB supports a volunteer-driven church: • Weekend services have an organized and defined schedule. • Volunteers set their own availability using a master schedule. • Volunteers indicate when they will be unavailOctober 2011
able to serve. • Serving confirmations are displayed on a master schedule.. • Volunteers feel a greater sense of community as they serve. “As we serve over 1,700 churches in 15 different countries, we see consistent patterns which lead to success in mobilizing volunteers,” says Caton. “When you can make it easier for your volunteers to serve on their terms, you will actually discover more people are interested in volunteering. And, when we have more people willing to serve in our ministries, it ultimately helps the church make a greater impact.” For detailed information, visit CCB’s website at www.churchcommunitybuilder.com/scheduling, follow them on Twitter and become their fan on Facebook.
ChurchHelper TABS Online Since 1985, ChurchHelper has been serving hundreds of churches, districts, and corporate offices with innovative database management solutions. In 2000, we launched our TABS* (*The Active Branch Solutions) Online web-based solutions powered by ChurchHelper for helping groups further enhance and maintain their administrative tasks. All our TABS module-based solutions are directly integrated, with a wide assortment of individual modules from which to choose: •Contacts •Visitors (Response Cards) •Online Response Cards •Groups •Donations Christian Computing® Magazine
•Organizations •Monthly Reports •Discipleship •Dashboard •Leads •Counseling •Check-In •Calendar •Event Registrations •Online Registrations •Online Donations •Kiosks Interface ChurchHelper TABS modules can be purchased by individual modules or as a packaged bundle and expanded as your ministry grows. TABS modules all include customizable, personalized emails and text messages, along with printing of letters, labels, envelopes, and reports for household or family members – for easy communication with visitors, members, October 2011
regular attendees, or groups, etc. The TABS Online web-based system is powerful in simple ways so pastors, administrators, staff members, or volunteers can quickly access our user friendly solutions and advance the relationship and caring aspects of their ministry, while saving time and money. All our TABS solutions can be utilized from computers with access to the Internet. There is no hardware or software to install, no upgrade costs, no support fees, no online training fees, no service contracts, and no hidden costs! We provide unlimited access and support – our support department is flexible and available to serve you at your convenience! We at ChurchHelper understand that a balanced relationship between ministry and administration is key – that balance is what encourages healthy growth in ministry. Effective ministry requires efficient administration and agile tools to further the vision. Most commonly, software comes “as is” with limited options, and users find themselves changing the way they manage their ministries. Some may continue to use the software reluctantly, or altogether discontinue using it. Not so, with ChurchHelper’s TABS Online! TABS Online is a flexible environment with quickly customizable modules that will grow with your ministry. Much of the time we can provide these custom Christian Computing® Magazine
services for FREE. In these trying economic times, we are empathetic with the financial challenges facing churches today. We have the RIGHT PRODUCT, at the RIGHT PRICE, for you RIGHT NOW! We guarantee increased efficiency/productivity, with fair pricing that’s easy on your bottom line. Efficient and effective use of technology in ministry has been the focus and heart of ChurchHelper for over 25 years. It is our passion and calling to partner with ministries, and we encourage you to view us as an extension of your team. Partners can count on us to help them be efficient in doing the administrative tasks related to growing a ministry. We can build and customize solutions for your ministry – to learn more about ChurchHelper and how you can receive a guided tour or start a free 30-day test drive, email info@ churchhelper.com or visit us at www. ChurchHelper.com.
Church Windows These are exciting times for Church Windows! So many of our over 11,500 current users have thanked us for offering so many 21st century experiences with their program. We have new products, new versions, and new methods of getting training. Our first big news is that Church Windows is now available in the cloud, and the best part is that it’s the same powerful, mature program our users already know and love. The transition to Church Windows Web has been seamless: the same power and flexibility, with the convenience of accessing it from anywhere. Church Windows Web is available from any Windows or Mac computer with a high-speed internet connection, and even from most mobile devices – any time – day or night! Our second big news for 2011 is the addition of our new Donations module. We have always had a module to help track the giving and donations to the church but now it’s even easier and more powerful. Both the novice user and the experienced church professional love the features that make their jobs a joy. Among the highlights are completely customizOctober 2011
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a society that is moving away from paper and Church Windows provides the tools. For more information, visit www.churchwindows.com.
Donarius Donarius is the easy way to track your members, contributions, and pledges. It prints your tax receipts, quarterly statements, bank deposits and church directories. Donarius tracks relationships such as: husband/ wife, children, and small groups. You can import data from your current software so you donâ€™t have to reenter it. Best of all, you get excellent service. Imagine youâ€™re using Donarius and youâ€™re not sure how to do something - the answer is just a call away. Then after using Donarius for a few weeks you might prefer to have it work slightly differently. Can anything be done? Yes - we will change the software to suit your needs. Gary from Conway, PA summarized it like this: â€œDonarius is a simple to use, well-thought-out and masterfully designed piece of software. Everyone in our organization loves it because it could be customized to fit our exact needs. . . . Every issue is addressed and every question gets answered until you, the customer, are satisfied.â€? The base version of Donarius has member/contribution tracking and reporting for $63.97. Optional modules are $16.50 each, to track pledges, â€œgifts in kindâ€?, EFT donations and family relationships. Other modules customize your tax receipts and send personalized letters, emails and text messages. Small churches of 100 regular donors or less get 25% off. A future version will run on Macs under OS X. Go to www.donarius.com and see a short video tour of Donarius or call 1-888-479-4636.
able reporting â€“ choose the information, the design, and order. Automatic importing of donations is a real time-saver. So many people are now sending their donations to the church electronically â€“ just as they pay their bills electronically. Also, you can export any donation information with a click in almost any format. The security of the program is very sophisticated. Know who made an entry and when and who did any alteration or correction to the entries as well. Protect your church from possible fraud! Design how you want your memberâ€™s giving statements to look including watermarks and letterhead. Plus â€“ email statements to your members who prefer electronic reports. These features have already been available in the Accounting â€œHow to have more time for ministry!â€? module as well along with a cusDo you want to save time, get more done and tomizable check designer. The Payhave fewer headaches? Then Donarius Church roll module provides for the unique Management Software will make it easy for you to track your members, contributions, pledges tax situations for ministers and well Starting at $63.97 and more. Imagine what you can do with the for the base version with and lay employees and independent 25% off for small churches extra time! Donarius will also: contractors. No need to buy W2s Download a free demo at: â€˘ Print your tax receipts and other tax forms â€“ print them www.donarius.com â€˘ Show the giving pattern of your members directly from the program. You â€˘ Print your church directories 1-888-479-4636 may also use Church Windows to â€˘ Send personalized letters, emails and text Nuverb Systems Inc. messages to keep your members informed do your automatic filings. We are â€œSoftware tailored for youâ€? Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
Elexio At Elexio, we hear comments every week like “When we implemented your online giving it was smooth. We added 60 new givers and increased giving by $5,000 a week!” and “I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate Elexio supporting the Android community. This mobile app will undoubtedly be an enormously helpful tool.” and “Your software has liberated our ministry.” and “We did a complete capital campaign online and saved a lot of money and used good content and video to connect with people.” and “Thanks for busting it at your job [because it] allows me to do mine so much better.” Wow. Praise God! The local church is the vehicle that God chose to reach the world with the Gospel and is it exciting to engage with churches in this effort. We are passionate to help churches be successful. That’s why our tools have specific parts that focus on discipleship, outreach, evangelism and building relationships. We continually meet with church leaders around the country to listen to them about what is going on in their churches and how we can help. This is very valuable as we leverage technology to support their efforts. For example, we understand that church leaders like to drink coffee so now our software monitors the staff’s caffeine level and automatically brews coffee at the appropriate rate. Ok, so that’s a stretch but wait till you hear what happened earlier this year. Our launch of an integrated church software suite called Amp in April continues to resonate really well with churches. Churches want simplicity, integration, sharing one database, having one login, and getting cohesive support for the software tools they use. That’s why Christian Computing® Magazine
we built our new Amp suite to provide the integration churches need. Amp provides a platform of innovation for years to come. Amp married the back end with the front end. Management with the web and media. Amp is the only church software that provides you with a complete website solution and a complete church management solution – integrated. Amp integrates your database, website, mobile app, and check-in. You can start with part of the suite or you can get the whole enchilada and enjoy integration goodness. Also, the suite is webbased and leverages the internet while also providing unique offline access to your tools and info so you are not affected when internet access goes down or is not available. Churches can be creative and meet in unique locations. Have you noticed that people like using beautiful software that feels good? Our creative design team has been having so much fun designing each part of our Amp software suite so that you enjoy the feel and know how to accomplish what you want. Well, we’ve only just begun. With Elexio your future is bright. Churches are getting started with Amp at a steadily increasing rate and we are adding staff accordingly to take good care of you. We are working on an update for our website solution that will enhance the user experience greatly. Our software developers are hovering over our mobile app and adding event registration, online giving, and more. We are developing a new technology to control the software with your thoughts. Oops, that was not supposed to slip out. No seriously, there are significant enhancements coming to calendaring, event registration, facility management, and more integration. Our team can’t wait for you to use them to grow your ministry. If you like integration, style, and innovation, then make sure you experience Amp for yourself. Check it out at www.elexio.com. We are eager to give you personal attention so please call us at 888-997-9947.
Faithful Steward Faithful Steward Wed For a limited time you can manage up to 1000 active members for only $15 a month. This includes ability to run the program from an unlimited number of computers PLUS technical support. Unlike some other products, which only offer remote-control of desktop software running at the vendor’s location, our web product is truly web-based, allowing access Christian Computing® Magazine
from browsers of smartphones and tablets. Your data is protected with proven SSL technology used by banks, and automatically backed up. Faithful Steward Desktop Starting at just $199 for any number of active members, we have a proven and affordable solution for any sized church. You can start off with our Desktop software and decide later to move to our Web product and all of your data will come with you. Faithful Steward manages your membership data, including families and individuals with their small groups, gifts and talents, phone numbers, emails and addresses including various reports such as a pictorial church directory. It’s easy to follow-up on members using our attendance tracking. The program also manages your donations with pledge tracking, preparing your deposit slips, and end of year statements. FREE DEMOS To make sure you have the best fit for your church, we offer free demos of both our desktop and web products on our website at http://www.churchsoftware.com/fs/church-management-software-ccm. aspx or contact us at 314-256-9073. Diakonia has been serving churches with affordable solutions for over 17 years.
Fellowship One What an exciting year it has been so far! There as been an unprecedented amount of consolidation in the October 2011
church software market. At the center of this activity is Active Network (NYSE: ACTV), the leading provider of organization-based cloud computing applications. Active Network’s technology platform, ActiveWorks®, transforms the way organizations manage their activities and events by automating online registrations and streamlining other critical management functions, while also driving participation to the events. Their flagship media property, Active.com®, is the leading online community for people who want to discover, participate in, and share activities about which they are passionate. In February 2011, Active Network acquired Fellowship Technologies, the company behind Fellowship One church management software. Active Network’s mission to “connect people with the activities they love, want and need to do” aligned perfectly with Fellowship Technologies’ mission of helping churches to reach new people, manage their operations and build strong relationships. Through this acquisition, Fellowship One is able to vastly improve the scale and quality of the solutions it provides to churches around the globe. In addition, churches can leverage a wide array of products and Christian Computing® Magazine
services provided by Active Network. In July 2011, Active Network acquired ConnectionPower. com, a provider of web-based church management solutions and the creators of the award-winning product, PowerVisitor. Along with the earlier acquisition of Fellowship One, this reinforces Active Network’s industry position as the largest provider of cloud-based solutions for the Faith market. Active Network plans to integrate ConnectionPower with its existing Fellowship One product, and anticipates launching a singularly branded church management product suite from the Active Network ǀ Faith division in early 2012. In October 2011, Active Network continued its expansion into the Faith market with the acquisition of ServiceU, a software provider that helps churches, schools, and nonprofits simplify and automate administrative processes through online transaction services. ServiceU offers web-based services in the areas of online giving, payment processing, calendaring, resource management and ticketing. Active Network plans to continue selling ServiceU products as stand-alone offerings and will also integrate its core functionality with Fellowship One. The powerful new combination of Fellowship One, ConnectionPower and ServiceU, coupled with the strength of Active Network’s technology platform, will bring the most advanced and comprehensive set of solutions to the faith market. This is truly an exhilarating time as the Church will finally be on the leading edge of technology to advance its mission to reach the world.
faithHighway Research shows that 84% of church members engaged in a small group/class stay at the church for at least five years . In fact, the #1 reason the formerly un-churched stay active in the church is based on ministry involvement . The question is how to get someone from Point A (attending) to Point B (participating). October 2011
Retain visitors and increase member involvement with an Inreach Site powered by IgniteCRM, a web-based Church Relationship Management suite that allows you to: • Connect People with Interactive Member Dashboard • Empower Members to Give Online & Your Staff to Track through Integrated System • Increase your Reach & Member Participation with Social Media Integration • Track Contributions, Attendance & Member Engagement
• Member Profile – Makes it easy for members to edit personal information which is tied into online church records. • Make Contribution – Empowers members to make secure contributions to the ministry from their dashboard. • Integrated with Social Media – Members may share/invite their contacts via Facebook/Twitter to view media, attend an event, volunteer and more.
Upgrades to Church Leadership Access – for church staff: Call 877.703.2484 • New and Improved Dashand Press 2 to board Receive Free eBook o Ministry Overview - offers detailed on Connecting Visitors and Members look at various reports and stats. o Ministry Metrics - gives church leadership a brief overview of the most important numbers, such as: attendance, visitors, and giving. o Trend Graphs - show financial and attendance trends over the past 90 faithHighway announces the release of the newdays for quick visual reference. est version of IgniteCRM Church Edition, filled with • Increased Information Input Options – now features to engage visitors and members. with more options than ever before regarding contact Designed to equip churches with all the tools and info, allergies and more. resources to track and manage people connections, or- • Simplified and Streamlined Search and Reganize events, facilitate groups and volunteers, moniport Functionality – faithHighway developed a comtor church health and contributions, and integrate each prehensive set of reports covering attendance, giving, area of ministry into one system, Ignite CRM Church visitors, and more. Edition is accessible anywhere with Internet connec The improved IgniteCRM Church Edition system tion. offers a complete member connection and information The newest version of IgniteCRM Church Edition management system for churches. faithHighway now includes: also offers Saturday support hours to help churches Brand-new Member Dashboard – for church make the most of the new system. members: • Free Data Migration – Setting up a new account with IgniteCRM Church Edition is quick and easy with a team of experts on your side. • Volunteer Sign Up – Allow members to view current and upcoming volunteer opportunities and register online. • News Feed – Direct news straight to members feed that will automatically show up on their dashboard. • Group Events & Information – Shows member’s groups, leaders, volunteer opportunities, and events. Christian Computing® Magazine
About faithHighway As the nation’s leader in church solutions, faithHighway has served 14,000+ ministries, from church plants to large congregations, by providing: • Cutting-edge custom websites • Award-winning media centers • Powerful outreach TV commercials • Professional, innovative logo design • Full media placement services, including TV, radio, billboards, online advertising, and other marketing mediums. October 2011
To take advantage of a Free Consultation and a FREE Data Migration, call 877.703.2484 and press 2 or visit us online http://ignitecrm.com/thisisjim. Let’s talk!
Icon Rather than convincing you IconCMO’s ease-of-use, pricing, support, and feature set is second to none, we decided to let our clients explain why so many churches love IconCMO. Janice from Mill Woods United Church likes “The ease of use and the fact everything I need is all together in one place (e.g. membership, contribution and finance)”. David from Presbyterian Church of Dover describes IconCMO as: “An easy to use program, even though I don’t have an accounting background.” Cloud technology means you can use mobile devices to work anywhere, any time. Pastor Terry from First United Methodist Church says, “We can work in various locations at any time we like, even at home. This has allowed more people to be involved.” Pastor Paul from Immanuel Lutheran notes, “I absolutely love that our CMS is in the cloud.” John from Journey Church writes, “I really like the ‘cloud’ aspect of the program, but just as (or more) important, the support is outstanding.” We pride ourselves on the top-notch technical support and training included with every subscription. Reverend Jay, a Church Planter from Grace Episcopal Church, thinks, “The service is absolutely amazingly incredible!” Chandra from St. Andrew Lutheran Church is partial to, “The great phone support by your staff. Also, I think the webinars are very good.” Others find our reasonable pricing and rigorous financial standards are the most important aspects. After searching six months for software, Reverend Kahala from Destiny Worship Center Christian Church concludes: “I found Icon Systems to have the best pricing. It is web-based, easy to use, and it includes everything a conChristian Computing® Magazine
gregation needs to stay compliant with government guidelines.” Chris, Executive Pastor at Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, explains why he has been a client for over five years: “The programmers are always seeking ways to make the application more efficient, capable, and relevant to the ever-changing needs of churches.” We asked one of our strategic partners to share his experience: Icon Systems is a foreword thinking company with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Their commitment to open standards for exchanging data with other third party products is surpassed only by their willingness to work with those vendors, ensuring that customers get the best services possible. My company, Italic Software, Inc. has worked closely with Icon Systems since the release of the IconCMO API Developer Center. Looking back at the experience of bringing IconCMO Lite to market, I am left with an admiration of their software, and a deep appreciation for the caliber and professionalism of everyone at Icon Systems. If I were a church looking for a ChMS, I would look no further. - Rolf Hunt, CEO A minister’s passion is to minister to people, so let us handle the technology - our passion. Chris from Suber Road Baptist Church summarizes IconCMO: “Solid system, well integrated, excellent customer support/service, programmers that listen to customer suggestions. What’s not to like?” We invite you to register for a free trial at www. iconcmo.com.
Religious Education Ministry Scheduling Church Accounting Email Newsletters 24/7 Web Access
ParishSOFT and LOGOS To say that 2011 has been an exciting year for us would be like saying Secretariat could run a tad fast. With the biggest news being the partnership between LOGOS and ParishSOFT in September 2011, let’s quickly recap our product and customer news and take a look at what our customers can look forward to in the coming year. ParishSOFT Product and Customer News Churches continue to embrace our growing suite of fully browserbased products built on the ConnectNow platform. Staff like being able to access their parish applications securely from anywhere they have Internet service. Automatic backups and updates mean vital records are always protected, and staff always have the latest version at their fingertips, without ever having to install an update. More importantly, ConnectNow marks a shift in how we think about church data management. Products like My Own Church, Online Giving, and Ministry Scheduler (launched in 2011) let parishioners manage their own giving and volunteer experiences, register online, and notify the church of updates to their family information. Tools designed to make administrative work easier have opened a whole new way to engage people in parish life and keep them connected with the Church from anywhere. And with MOC Mobile, pastors can use their parish data to reach people wherever they are. Today, data lives and serves ministries, not from paper records or a specific computer, but from them Web. The popularity of our Online Giving and ConnectNow Church Christian Computing® Magazine
Great! Now I can get on with ministry.
www.ParishSOFT.com October 2011
Accounting products are a clear indicator that parishes are increasingly looking to stabilize—even increase—giving and safeguard the resources entrusted to them. As of September 2011, 43,782 families in 676 churches are now using ParishSOFT’s Online Giving system to contribute $44.4 million in annualized giving. This represents a 226% increase over the $13.6 million in annualized giving from just one year ago. Fourteen (14) Catholic arch/dioceses have standardized their parishes and schools on our ConnectNow Church Accounting products to facilitate reporting, training, support, and implementation of standard procedures across all organizations. They and hundreds of individual churches in other dioceses have selected ConnectNow because it offers a true fund accounting system with all the features that make it perfect for nonprofits, like project tracking, flexible reporting, and closed periods. LOGOS Product and Customer News LOGOS users have embraced the increased usability delivered in the version 9 upgrade to the LOGOS II, LOGOS Fund Accounting, Sacramental Register, Facility Scheduler and Ministry Scheduler products. Version 9 represents a major overhaul to the look and feel of our products, giving church staff the same powerful data and tools they love in an interface that is more aesthetically pleasing and provides for more efficient data entry and access. Christian Computing® Magazine
We also released PeopleFlow, our complete system for managing employee screening, human resources compliance, equipment allocation—everything you need for pre-hire and post-hire needs for all your locations. To date, 932 users from 49 churches and 3 arch/dioceses have signed on to PeopleFlow and VPIN Safe Environment programs to streamline onboarding and help protect people. An upgrade to LOGOS Ministry Connect, due for release in the coming weeks, offers a completely reOctober 2011
conceptualized and redeveloped online giving solution to create a more intuitive, user-friendly experience for church staff. With more than half of all donations being made electronically, this update comes at a time when online giving has become a necessity that offers churches proven benefits for stewardship.
You want the freedom to … reach out … minister to people … create fellowship
The Year Ahead … contribute to Churches using LOGOS and your community ParishSOFT products can expect to see our product suites moving PowerChurch Plus was rapidly into the fully browser-based created for just that! ConnectNow platform in the coming year. Look for our true Web versions of LOGOS II church management solutions for Protestant churches Membership We provide you with the tools to and a complete suite of ConnectNow increase administrative efficiency family suite of products for Catholic parishes, with ConnectNow Family and streamline accounting tasks, Accounting Directory releasing before the end of freeing you up to perform the work 2011 and Offering, Communications, that matters. Contributions and Religious Education programs to follow in 2012. ConnectNow Accounts ReInstall on your PC or network, or access online. Events ceivable (parish billing), Diocesan Choose which fits your needs. Calendar Billing, Report Writer, and Online Banking modules will round out our ParishSOFT Church Accounting Check In suite. Our development team will also build a ConnectNow Fixed Asset Completely module, capitalizing on the funcWe provide software tools, Integrated tionality already developed for the freeing you up to fulfill your mission. LOGOS Asset Manager program. Catholic dioceses can look www.PowerChurch.com • 800.486.1800 forward to ConnectNow versions of our Diocesan Development Manager 3&6&KXUFK([HFXWLYHB[LQGG $0 PowerChurch (DDM), Contact Manager, Diocesan Directory, and Safe Environment programs. Since 1984, PowerChurch Software has been serv Today, the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox ing churches and nonprofit organizations by providing churches using LOGOS and ParishSOFT products number more than 10,000. Together we serve 70 arch/ affordable and easy to use software that allows you to streamline your day-to-day tasks as a busy church dioceses in the United States and Canada. As we supadministrator. port our customers and develop new technologies as Church offices have changed immensely over the one company, unified in strength and mission, we can years. It used to be that people simply needed a place say with confidence that our commitment to provide to record all their members’ contact information and the best software and services to churches is stronger print mailing labels. Today’s modern church office than ever. is a beehive of activity on most days and specialized Christian Computing® Magazine
tools are needed to keep up with it all. Gone are the days when a few Excel spreadsheets could keep it all organized! We have continually developed our software products over the years, changing with the times, adding features that our users and new prospects have requested. A few years ago we launched PowerChurch Online, which removes the program and data files from your local computer and hosts them on our remote server. It has been a huge success, allowing volunteers and church staff to work from any computer with broadband internet access: at home, at the office, or on the road. With a user base of over 33,000 churches and nonprofit organizations, we understand the importance of providing your office the tools necessary to stay as productive as possible with the resources that you have. Our products are easily affordable and an excellent value for the amount of features that they offer. Not only that, but you will find straightforward pricing and no high-pressure sales tactics. Our friendly and knowledgeable technical support staff are available by phone or e-mail to help with any setup or operational questions you might have. In addition, our website features many articles and videos, as well as a support forum, which is an active online community of our users. There you can browse through thousands of questions and answers, or post your own. Word-of-mouth recommendations are extremely important to us. PowerChurch Software users were recently given the opportunity to take part in an independent survey of church management solutions, from the Campbell Rinker research firm. As a result of this survey, PowerChurch Plus received the highly regarded, 2011 Campbell Award for User Satisfaction. This was the second Campbell Award in a row for PowerChurch Plus! PowerChurch Plus Version 11.5 is the latest release of the program. We’ve added new features to make it easier to find the information you are looking for and to get your work done in fewer steps. We’ve Christian Computing® Magazine
also improved existing features based on suggestions from our users. Here are a few of the exciting new features in Version 11.5: • Automated Backups to protect your data • Improved Budget Entry screen in Accounting • Save and load HTML E-mail Templates for bulk mailings • Import photos from Olan Mills and LifeTouch Church Directories We are certain that you will love our products and services. For more detailed information about PowerChurch Software products, visit www.powerchurch. com or give us a call at (800) 486-1800.
Announcing Remote Check Deposit in the Cloud RDS is the only church management system that provides the ability to enter contribution and receivable checks into accounting and send the deposit to the bank, all in one step. This feature is included in both RDS Advantage
for on-site servers, and for RDS Connect Cloud-hosted systems. Now this capability has been extended to function ‘in the Cloud.’ Cloud computing is the technology of the future that RDS makes possible for churches today. October 2011
When entering check receipts through a check-imager, the system identifies the contributor, automatically prints the deposit endorsement on the back of the check, and stores an image of the front and back of each check on your computer. When entries are complete you can send the check deposit to your bank electronically. Stored check images are encrypted for security. The system creates the banking industry standard file for ‘Remote Deposit Capture’ (RDC) deposits. For information about Cloud computing, and Remote Deposit Capture, contact your RDS Team. RDS Advantage and RDS Connect 800.337.6328 firstname.lastname@example.org www.rdsadvantage.com www.rdsconnect.net
shelby Church Software
“I use Shelby to assign & manage workflows to different church staff members.”
Shelby Shelby Systems from 2010 to 2012 If you are in the market for great church management software, it is important to research a potential software company, what products they offer, and their vision for the future. Shelby Systems would like to provide your ministries with information to help determine which ChMS (Church Management Software) is right for your church or nonprofit organization. Over the past year, Shelby Systems has experienced new and exciting changes. We launched a new website in June 2011, focusing on both current and prospective customers. Because of the depth of Shelby’s product offering, we have made it easier to find the information you need to make an informed decision. Our partnership with M2SYS, which provides our customers with biometric fingerprint scanning capabilities, has been upgraded to also offer finger vein scanning. This new Christian Computing® Magazine
Scan or click to see our
800 - 877- 0222
integration provides even greater security and time-saving options. This technology is perfect for check-in and automatic tracking of attendance numbers. We have also increased the number of regional demonstrations this year and have traveled to numerous areas of the country to visit with our customers and answer their questions. The demos highlight our browser-based, people management product, Shelby Arena, as well as our financial software which has been the industry standard church accounting software for over 35 years. The long-time, subscription-based newsletter, SSTips, which packs how-to tutorials and answers user-submitted questions, became free to all Shelby customers in early 2011 through the Shelby CommuA powerful suite of web tools for you to manage your website, email nity. Our online training, known as Shelby accounts, enewsletters, multimedia, calendars and much more. Yet, Professor, allows the user to learn at their it’s so easy, anyone can work with the content of Radius Web Tools. own pace and is available cost-free for the • Easy to Use • Wide Choice of Designs Shelby Community. • Fast and Friendly Help Aside from the changes that have taken place in 2010 and 2011, Shelby is also • Search Engine Optimization working on new enhancements for 2011 Just $50/Month (Set up fee required) and 2012. One example is Shelby’s integration with Cool Solutions, which offers Take a look around Radius Web Tools and try it out. It’s that easy! inexpensive, web-based, ministry schedulCall for a free demo. 1-800-446-3035 ing software. Shelby’s partnership with Cool Solutions provides a full-featured solution to event and facility management. A new ground-breaking Arena feature solution and with the continuous advancements in included, in Shelby’s October 2011 release, cloud computing, Shelby has recognized the need for is the ability to help measure the overall health of a this technology. We are excited about moving forward church, which is especially beneficial for headquarter to offer this solution to the ministries we serve and offices and their ministries. Two additional features support.” that will be part of October’s release are multi-cam The internet is one of the most valued tools of pus, for churches that need to share information and the past, present, and future and will only continue to management with other locations, and multi-tenant, for those who wish to provide software to their report- grow. Shelby sees the importance of constantly utilizing the latest technology as a powerful tool for your ing churches and plants. church in bringing people closer to Christ. As always, The multi-tenant feature also ushers in the capaShelby Systems strives each day to improve quality bility of a SaaS offering and is a key foundation for and add more value to our products. Shelby’s entry into cloud services. We are currently implementing check-in systems that will run over an internet connection, as well as leveraging Arena on secure browsers and mobile pages. When asked about the importance of churches taking the leap into hosted solutions, Shelby’s Director of Business Development, Mark White, said, “Our clients have asked for a hosted
Websites For Ministry Made Easy
Christian Computing® Magazine
ACS ideas to impact
Anytime, Anywhere Ministry Q&A: Freedom from servers, updates, and more
from ACS Technologies
n July of 2007, Trinity United Church of Christ, which operates a ministry that includes 8 properties in two different states, had a big network crash – everything was down for days. That event is the stuff nightmares are made of. The experience made Trinity United administration realize how vulnerable they truly were and they vowed to never let it happen again.
“It pointed out to us that we needed to move away from having things on our own network and server,” said Wilfred Bentley, the business manager at the church. At that point, they began a search for the best safety measures to avoid the inevitable next crash and sleepless nights wondering when it was going to happen. The crash was a big motivator to the church in deciding to look into a hosted software solution, rather than a desktop option, but the move was also a way to make sure they could do their ministry more effectively. “We utilize on demand tools as we try to use all tools: to support those that are doing ministry,” Bentley said. “Those who are doing ministry need to be able to access information someplace other than our particular network. So if they are out of town, at the hospital, or someplace else, the ministers need to be able to get the information.” This Q&A article is based on the ministry guide Your Ministry on Demand, which explains in detail how anytime, anywhere access to key church management software can help your church and staff, and offers specific, actionable advice. Christian Computing® Magazine
Q: What would anytime, anywhere access to your key church management data mean to your church and staff? A: It would certainly increase the amount of work that could be accomplished by expanding where the work can be done. With the right software solution, you can work anywhere at anytime with all the ACS desktop tools you use in your office. Plus, you could have upgrades handled for you, automatic backups, and built-in maintenance of numerous IT-related issues. For a lot of churches, an on demand software service is not new. They know all about why it can be so beneficial. For some though, it’s a new idea. That is why we’ve put together this overview so you can learn more about this exciting way of doing church business better. Q: How can hosted software affect the work of our staff and trusted volunteers? A: With on-demand, Internet-based access to software, your staff and volunteers can work from home, while traveling, or anywhere they have an Internet connection. This is vital because we all know about October 2011
the demands and deadlines placed on church staffs. It can provide another powerful way to ease workloads and give your staff and volunteers more options and flexibility in when and where they work, which results in more productive employees. The ministry guide Your Ministry On Demand gives more tips on how to ease workloads for your staff and volunteers. Q: We want to focus on ministry, not technology. How does software as a service help with that goal? A: If you are like most churches, you want to devote as much time, effort, and resources as needed to nurture and grow your ministry. With the right solution, you can stop worrying about many software upgrades and updates, data backups, and even server issues. With more time on your hands, you can focus on your ministry. Q: Who benefits from using software remotely? A: In all honesty, there will be few people in your organization who wouldn’t benefit from accessing your key church management software remotely. Business administrators often find budgeting and approval processes are easier for low monthly fees than the large, one-time payments required to purchase desktop software. Whether your staff members are full-time, part-time, or volunteers, they want and need the flexibility of anytime, anywhere access to their work data. Part-time IT directors who may also serve functions like being a par-time Youth Minister also benefit when the IT needs of the church are reduced. Strong ministries are always looking for the best way to get all of the work of ministry done. We hope this Q&A has been helpful, but if you’d like more detailed information, download the free ministry guide Your Ministry On Demand today. Christian Computing® Magazine
ParishSOFT’s Catholic Connection
Connecting the Dots Between Data and Stewardship
nter the doors of any church for a weekend service and instantly, you’ll feel the “vibe” of that church’s culture. From your very first impression, you can typically make some predictions about the health of their stewardship program—how engaged their members are.
• Did someone greet you with a smile? • Do people look happy to be there? • Can you sense the Holy Spirit? If the answers are ‘yes,’ you’ve entered a community of great stewardship . . . or incredible potential. Churches with great stewardship programs have an energy you can feel, like a pulse. Their ministries are vibrant. Events are well attended. Members have a ‘can do, will do’ attitude that creates a culture of giving and service. People raise their hands rather than sit on them because they understand that their stewardship commitment is their living answer to God’s call to serve. Church isn’t just something they do, it’s something they are. A compelling vision shifts the focus to mission One of the more dreary statistics we hear is that 20% of Catholic parishioners do 80% of the work, and only about 34% make regular offertory contributions. What are the rest doing? Why do they believe it’s okay to sit idle? Churches must take an honest look at participation statistics and culture and begin the visioning process with a clear understanding of where Christian Computing® Magazine
they stand today and where they want to be in the future. Needs, priorities, and goals take shape and provide the springboard for the first step in your stewardship plan: mission. In From Maintenance to Mission: Evangelization and the Revitalization of the Parish, Robert S. Rivers tells us, “…healthy organizations are the ones that have a clear sense of mission. Low morale often results from the aimless and malaise that comes from the lack of mission.” But shift our focus outward to a clear mission, Rivers adds, and while we’re working in a tangible way to ease suffering in the world, our own internal problems suddenly gain perspective. In other words, reaching outward to do the work of Christ makes us feel good—we stop focusing inward on our personal issues and find healing through mission. Talent assessments help people find the right ministries Once you’ve established your mission, just sharing the vision may be enough to get people excited about stepping up their participation in ministries. But to make a lasting impact, you need to go beyond getting “signups” to building engagement. October 2011
If you take the time to help people determine what their natural strengths are, it becomes much easier to match them to ministries that they’re going to find fulfilling for the long term. And the process of discovering one’s God-given talents is in itself an experience that can build a lasting bond among individual members and the church. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder and congregational engagement research tools have helped St. Gerard Majella Parish in Port Jefferson Station, New York, transform its Catholic parish from blasé to a community that has quadrupled its parishioner engagement. Today, the parish is a place where staff and parishioners know their top strengths—like “Empathy” and “Achiever” —and they serve the church in ministry work for which they’re naturally suited. If you’re attending the ParishSOFT Conference, Nov. 7-9 in Anaheim, be sure to catch the keynote and workshop presented by Msgr. Bill Hanson, who led St. Gerard Majella to its transformation to the vibrant parish it is today. Share your data, goals, successes With a clear understanding of your mission and strengths, you can now help members understand what your participation numbers mean. It’s okay to lay the statistics on the table, “Only 34% of you give financially. Only 15% of you volunteer. We can do so much better!” Set a goal and talk about what your ministries have accomplished with existing participation levels. Your church’s success stories help to build the vision of what can be done and whom you can help with more hands. Stewardship is a way of life, not $$$ In his book More than Silver or Gold: Homilies of a Stewardship Priest, Fr. Daniel Mahan (keynote and workshop presenter at the 2011 ParishSOFT Conference) sets the record straight for Christians who think $ when they hear the word stewardship. “Stewardship is a way of life that is deeply rooted in the person of Jesus Christ, who came to teach us how to live,” writes Fr. Mahan. “Stewardship is not confined to the portion of a person’s time or income that is given back to the parish….the true aim of stewardship is toward a more vibrant witness ‘out in the world’.” Still, it is important to set expectations so members understand that the time, talent and treasure components of stewardship are all essential to fulfilling your mission. If they’re giving financial support and nothing else, they’re giving God only a portion of what He’s asked of us. And, let’s be frank, their hearts are holding back from saying “Yes, my Lord” and meaning it. There is simply no way to feed the hungry with just a warehouse of food. But put a distribution plan together and bring in some volunteers, and that food becomes nourishment in the belly of someone in need. Ask each parishioner to commit time, talent and treasure as Christian Computing® Magazine
Religious Education Ministry Scheduling Church Accounting Email Newsletters 24/7 Web Access
Great! Now I can get on with ministry.
www.ParishSOFT.com October 2011
a means of thanksgiving to God. Ask them to be grateful for the gifts they have to give and to give those gifts with love and compassion. Every member who says ‘yes’ takes a step toward making stewardship a way of life—being a living witness to God’s love in the world. Good data gives demographic insight Good records and tools can open new doors to engaging parishioners into a deeper relationship with God and being a healthy stewardship church. Church management systems, like ParishSOFT, give you a central place to keep accurate information on people, ministries, and finances and then analyze that data in meaningful and revealing ways. For example, when your database can tell you who contributes sporadically, who doesn’t volunteer at all, and which children were baptized but have not been confirmed, you can then reach out to those members in ways that touch their hearts and compel them to act. And when it’s time to follow up with non-responders or schedule training for new volunteers, it’s easy to determine exactly who they are. Connect effectively, make responding easy Churches that get members engaged and committed think outside the box when it comes to how they communicate and interact with people. Email and letters with stewardship response forms are great for some families, but others may prefer phone calls, text messages, or online options. If your church offers members access to online giving, registration, or ministry scheduling, you’ll make it easy for them to say yes to opportunities to volunteer, contribute, or participate in events. In today’s culture of 24x7 Web connectivity, don’t make “stop by the church Christian Computing® Magazine
office and fill out a paper registration form” the only way for people to join in. Keep Christ at the heart of it all with good communication Good communication—think of it as public relations—can help you keep the momentum going. Share stories of what your ministries have accomplished. Say ‘thank you.’ Tie it all back to your mission. Acknowledge the incredible spiritual growth that comes from service to God and invite people to participate. Communication keeps people engaged in joyful participation and nourishes the culture of service, giving, and stewardship. Their energy is contagious and makes the presence of the Holy Spirit obvious in all they do. Engagement and stewardship are contagious. In the midst of such a culture, where people look you in the eye, with a smile on their faces and Christ in their hearts, it gets to be very hard to avoid eye contact and blow past the ministry signups on your way out of church. Those who remain focused on their inner struggles rather than mission may not raise their hands today, but with all those engaged members and good tools at your disposal, you’ll have dozens of ways to extend a hand to them.
nick at church
Can ‘The Cloud’ Simplify IT? Nick Nicholaou - email@example.com Reprinted from NACBA Ledger
ew phrases have caught the imagination of computer users and IT managers as has “The Cloud.” It will impact the way your ministry uses computers and, approached strategically, it can save your ministry money while also simplifying your IT operations. The Cloud—What Is It? The Cloud means different things to different people. Some say it’s about saving energy, others say it’s about outsourcing IT services, and others say it’s about moving everything to off-site datacenters. While all of those— and many more— are true, there are two things everyone agrees on: 1. The Cloud is about where data and applications reside. In The Cloud, data and applications are stored on and accessed from servers. Technically, those servers can be in a datacenter, or they can be in your server room. 2. The Cloud is about how data and applications are accessed. Computers access servers via TCP/IP over a cabled or WiFi connection; that’s also how they do so over the Internet. And, ideally, Cloud data and applications are platform and operating system agnostic, which means they can be accessed by: Christian Computing® Magazine
• Windows, Mac, & Linux computers, • Tablets, like the iPad, and • Smartphones, like the iPhone and Android.
The Cloud, by its very nature, facilitates mobile computing. Most organizations’ networks satisfy these aspects of cloud computing— if they focus their data and applications on servers, and if those are available via the Internet. Is Corporate America in ‘The Cloud’? Mostly, not – but that’s changing, and we’ll look at how and why in a moment. There are three dominating reasons why corporate America is mostly not in The Cloud: 1. Security & Trust. Corporate officers understand their fiduciary responsibility to make decisions that October 2011
interested in those services. Some examples are Google Apps, Yahoo, Facebook, etc. In contrast, Pros Con Private Cloud services run on servers that are gen• No (or nearly no) IT staff • Not in your control erally not available to the public. In other words, • IT is outsourced • Vendor may not have mission loyalty only those who are pre-authorized can access those • Saves salaries & capital • Might not save money servers. Private Cloud servers are secured similarexpenditure planning overall ly to the way you might secure the servers in your • You’re no longer respon- • Your data is somewhere server room. sible for disaster recovery else… can feel like a vul Some popular Cloud services include communi& business continuity nerability cation services (email, instant messaging and chat, • No connection, no ac• Accessible from anysocial networking), websites, databases, and data where on any ‘connected’ cess— period storage (like for photos, documents, etc). Of those, device some (email, instant messaging and chat, databases, and document storage) should always and only protect the corporation from liability and from loss of be done in the Private Cloud. That is a primary key to assets. They know they must protect proprietary inhaving a good corporate Cloud strategy. formation (databases, documents, product designs, etc)
Cloud Pros & Cons
that helps them fulfill their mission successfully. Many understand that putting their data in The Cloud is risky. 2. Internet Reliability. Those who work in IT see Internet outages often. Most are short, but some are longer in duration— hours or days. Corporate officers understand that if they were Cloud-based and a longer outage occurred, the personnel costs could be staggering. In these days of slim profit margins the risk of an Internet outage could mean the difference between profitability and bankruptcy. Fortunately, these two reasons are fairly easily overcome… more on that shortly. 3. IT Directors Protecting Their Turf. Most IT Directors know that outsourcing to The Cloud could significantly reduce the number of personnel in their department. Many fan the flames of reasons 1 and 2 to protect their turf. In The Church, this is usually not an issue. Protecting Data in The Cloud One way to understand good Cloud strategy is to focus on the two ‘halves’ of The Cloud: Public Cloud and Private Cloud. The Public Cloud refers to services running on servers that are generally available to anyone
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One Additional Caution Recent events suggest it is wise to make certain your datacenter is located in the same country as your ministry. If your datacenter were in another country, and that country’s government decided to sever its Internet connection with the world, you wouldn’t be able to get to your data until that situation changed. So, if you are a church or ministry in the U.S.A., for example, make certain you choose a datacenter in the U.S.A. if you decide to outsource your servers. The Cloud does have the potential of moving your ministry forward while saving personnel costs and capital expenditures. Done wisely, The Cloud is a terrific option. Remember: make certain it is Private Cloud and located in your country. Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, a consulting firm specializing in church and ministry IT and CPA services. ou can reach Nick via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and may want to check out his firm’s website (www.mbsinc. com) and his blog at http://ministry-it.blgspot.com.
higher power with kevin
BibleWorks 9 a Worthy Upgrade
Kevin A. Purcell - email@example.com
or advanced Digital Bible students, BibleWorks 9 maintains the tradition of powerful original language study along with some of the best search features in the market for Windows users. Version 9 adds a number of new tools that will make you want to upgrade, especially if you use a previous version. For those who don’t have a powerful language study tool, BibleWorks ranks as one of the best making it worth the $359 price tag ($159 for upgraders). I won’t rehash the basic BibleWorks interface. Version 9 looks a lot like the previous versions you’ve become used to using. You won’t have to learn a whole new interface with 9, but they have made some subtle tweaks to modernize the interface. If you would like more information about what you get in BibleWorks please see my February 2009 article about version 8 (http://bit.ly/rbTxXu). What’s New BibleWorks added a fourth window pane in version 9 by splitting the Analysis window so you now have two of them. A red arrow either hides or reveals this fourth window. When open, the tabs allow the following: • Words – shows word counts of words in active translation of the browse window (your Bible window in the first window pane) • Context – shows word counts of words in the Christian Computing® Magazine
context in three sections for the pericope, chapter and book content related to the passage in the main Browse window • Version – shows the information about the translation shown in the Browse Window; if multiple translations are shown it changes based on what translation your hover over with your mouse • Browse – opens a second Browse window so you can have a second Bible passage open or have the context of the verse shown in the main Browse window • Verse – shows the verse content of one of four resources (Tischendorf Apparatus, Textual Commentary, NET Bible with Notes, CNTTS Apparatus); I suspect this list grows if you add other books to your library and maybe BibleWorks will become more like main stream apps that have large commentary and resources libraries using this feature; already they have the ESV Study Bible Notes as a $20 add-on that October 2011
shows up here • Mss – Manuscripts tab and shows Greek NT transcriptions and images as part of their new BibleWorks Manuscripts Project (see more below) • Use – this tab show the use of the word that you hover over with your mouse and instantly displays lists of that word’s use in the book with options for what can be displayed configurable through the Options drop down Other tabs that show up in the old Analysis window but not in the new fourth window include the User notes editor, the document editor, the Analysis tab that shows book notes and other information based on where your mouse hovers, and resources, cross references and stats tabs. These are not new. The fourth window alone makes BibleWorks 9 worth the upgrade price. I love having a second Browse window available as well as the other tools. More on the new Verse tab available in the new split Analysis window. The new tab will dynamically change based on what verse you hover over with your mouse. The window shows off your relevant resources. Listed above are the four in my version. You can also add the ESV Study Bible notes, a great resource and worth the $20 cost for the un-lock of this resource. It adds a mini-commentary to BibleWorks and for some users this may be all they need for many verses. I would love to see BibleWorks add the WORDsearch tools they are adding via Help files here instead of in the Help files. The BibleWorks Manuscript Project offers access to the original manuscripts available making them searchable and useable within BibleWorks. This new added feature under the Mss tab listed above brings good textual critical analysis and lets you see the original manuscripts within the program – a great feature for those studying them. The first button of the main Browse window shows a dropdown list that lets you change various options for that Browse window. The button is called the Options button and you will find a new entry – Toggle Different Highlighting. When activated, the differences between various translations shown in your Browse window will be highlighted. This way you can see how the various translations handle the words instantly. A verse with a lot of highlighting visually shows you that you have a verse with some possible translation problems and you will need to pay attention to that. If fewer words are highlighted, then the various translations agree more about the Christian Computing® Magazine
proper way to translate a verse. BibleWorks’ new Use Tab instantly finds the word you hover over in the Browse window showing pertinent details about it. You can’t get this information faster in any other program. The Options drop down in the Use tab lets you change the way it works. This tab makes finding your word in various passages for cross-referencing instant. I was amazed at how fast it worked. It would be nice to be able to add a feature that let you find the verse in other contexts like the OT, NT or others, but right now it is limited to just that book. Along with a long list of great new resources now added to the base package, there are a number of other new add-on modules you can purchase. But the best new content available is the six hours of new How To videos you can find in the help feature or at the BibleWorks website (http://www.bibleworks.com/content/videos/). Let me mention one more new feature – the toolbar icons. They look more modern and attractive. The entire interface looks much the same, but the toolbar icons add a slick feel to a program that previously looked a bit old-fashioned. You can still customize it by selecting the Button Bar Setup button, the second button on the default toolbar. BibleWorks’ Strengths The biggest strength of BibleWorks has to be the powerful language study tools. When people who use Windows ask me what is the best language study tool available, I always recommend BibleWorks. It falls short on things like commentaries and other library add-ons. They addressed this with their partnership with WORDsearch, which now gives them access to some of the WORDsearch library of books in BibleWorks as Help files. Other software does a good job of language study and some do a great job, but none of them do what BibleWorks can. Second, no other application can compare to the quality of the BibleWorks’ notes editor. It is fast and easy to use. It has the perfect mixture of simplicity and features. The notes are stored rich text files so you can access them and edit them without even opening BibleWorks. If for some reason the company should go under and you could no longer use or access the application, you could just go into the notes directory on your computer and open them up in any modern word processor and a few antiquated ones as well. Finally, the user help available from within the October 2011
program far exceeds all others. The first version of BibleWorks that I used came with a great user manual. They don’t do that anymore, but that’s okay because the same quality comes in the user Help files built into the program. BibleWorks updates them, something you can’t do with a written manual. Plus the tutorial videos show you how to use the program and version 9 added six more hours of help videos to this collection. Room for Improvement While I am bullish on BibleWorks on the Windows platform, I would like to suggest some room for improvement. First, why on earth do I have to type a period before every word search? I understand that they want operators to help you do different kinds of searches. But in this modern day I should be able to do natural language search in every Bible study program. Searching for the word “grace” shouldn’t require a period before it. The programs could do this, but they just haven’t coded it to work. Second, a phrase search should be automatic if I type a phrase. If you want to search for multiple words that are not phrases, then add the words AND or OR in caps to change the search. Needing things like periods and other indicator characters for simple searches is outmoded. I also understand their laser focus on language and textual study. I also appreciate the way they are partnering with WORDsearch to add some content to the library. I just wish they would offer a more integrated approach. The new Verse Tab shows that they can do it. Why not have a Commentary tab too, with the same kinds of content? Recommendation If you are a BibleWorks user upgrade as soon as you can scrape the $159 together. Version 9 offers the perfect blend of new features and content without changing what works just for the sake of change to drive people to upgrade. I think this approach is the best way to make a program like BibleWorks better. For those who have been missing powerful language study tools on the Windows platform, BibleChristian Computing® Magazine
Works is a worthy tool. The only reason I would not recommend it is if you think you will only want to use one Bible study program and require a large library of commentaries and other resources. The WORDsearch partnership is good, but not enough to offer the really great tools you can get from other programs. If you already have a great software application that offers advanced language study tools and powerful search functionality, then BibleWorks doesn’t offer enough to switch in its new version, unless you are a serous student of Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic you may want to add to what you have with BibleWorks. If you also plan to do serous textual critical studies the new BibleWorks Manuscripts Project might make it worth adding BibleWorks to your Digital Bible study arsenal. Finally, if you are a Mac person, you are out of luck. The best alternatives are Accordance and Logos. BibleWorks just doesn’t work well under virtualization, unless you use something like Parallels or Boot Camp which run a full version of Windows on top of Mac OS X.
Evading the Social Media Thought Police Michael L White - firstname.lastname@example.org
ith so much enthusiasm for using social media today, especially for Christian evangelists who desire to share the joy of being in relationship with and serving Jesus, should we be concerned about losing this platform for sharing the Gospel? No? Well, a recent study conducted by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) indicates that there is cause for concern. According to a story by Paul Strand, Senior Washington Correspondent for Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) News (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/ us/2011/ September/NRB-Study-Social-Sites-CensoringChristians-/ ), many of the largest social media plat-
forms are caving to pressure from minority opinions who claim they are offended by Christian views, particularly social and moral views based on biblical teaching. The only social media platform to receive an A++ rating from the NRB was Twitter, who (at the time of their study) has yet to censor any Christian viewpoints. So, what should we digital evangelists do about this? Should we scale back on our presentation of the Gospel under threat of being silenced? Shouldn’t we, in fact, wait to be silenced, rather than silencing ourselves? I, for one, will continue doing what I’ve always done. I will continue to share Christ with whoever will listen as directly, but gently, as I can. I don’t intend to shrink back from telling the truth of God’s Word merely because someone might or actually does threaten me for telling it. I believe we must be true to Christ and his Word and trust God to take care of those Christian Computing® Magazine
matters which are beyond our control, namely, dealing with the thought police. Having therefore established the imperative to persist in sharing the Gospel, even in the face of threats (compare Acts 5:29), let us continue using whatever digital media available to us, including social media. Another platform for digital evangelism which could arguably be called social media is a discussion forum. In my book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! I cover this and a good number of other topics related to the subject and practice of digital evangelism. It is available in most of the major online bookstores, or you can purchase it from the publisher’s online bookstore at www.parsonplacepress.com/store . There are a couple of ways to use a discussion forum. First, you can contribute to already established forums that promote the discussion of general religious and spiritual topics or even specifically Christian topics. These are excellent places to evangelize, as a good many seekers read these discussions and post their questions there. This is the perfect opportunity to offer the biblically true and living Christ to whoever is interested. You could also encourage your non-Christian October 2011
friends and relatives to subscribe to Christian Computing Magazine, www.ccmag.com whereby they could also participate in the new online community Steve Hewitt has created for us there. The Bible Study and General Interest discussions are particularly apropos to this endeavor. Second, you can create your own discussion forum with more specific topics of discussion using one of many free software tools for this purpose. This way, you could further insulate yourself from the threat of the thought police, since you could monitor the forum yourself, although it is a bit of a challenge to get the discussion going initially. One Web site which lists a large number of discussion forum software is Forum Matrix (www.forummatrix.org). You can find all sorts of forum software to compare there. One of the most popular among discussion software (and presently my personal favorite) is the open source phpBB (preprocessed hypertext bulletin board, found at www.phpbb.com). I used one of their earlier versions some years ago, but I had a difficult time attracting enough contributors to get it going, so I gave up. Since then, I have taken on so many other commitments that I simply can’t spare the time to manage such an undertaking now. However, I keep thinking
Christian Computing® Magazine
I’d like to give it another try, so I may take the plunge again in the near future. You’ll be among the first to know if I do. If you aren’t technically advanced enough to install the software yourself, you can ask a techie to do it for you, or you can pay to get one of the software’s developers to install and set it up for you. There is also the option of using one of the sponsor hosting services they recommend, such as BlueHost.com, if you need a hosting solution to go along with it. Of course, you’ll still need to learn how to manage the forum you choose to initiate once it’s up and running. It is a truly rewarding experience to help others find Christ. I highly recommend it! 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.
the power and the danger
By Russ McGuire - email@example.com
t goes without saying that online social networks represent a major force in technology, industry, and society. Undoubtedly, you’ve asked the question “What does this mean for my church?” I doubt there’s a single answer to that question, not only across different churches, but even within a single ministry.
What is an Online Social Network? Everyone knows Facebook. Some love it, some hate it, but everyone has at least some idea of what Facebook is all about. Facebook has become the “face” of online social networks, so let’s start by understanding Facebook. The company’s own profile says that Facebook is about “Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. ‘Like’ us to stay updated on new products, announcements and stories.” The profile also provides this company overview: “Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.” Millions is an understatement. According to the company, there are currently over 800 million active users, with more than half logging in on any given day. Among other things, Facebook gave new meaning to the terms “Like” and “Friend.” I once overheard a young man say with great sincerity and pride “I have over a hundred friends on Facebook, and I even know some of them.” So, Facebook can help people meet new people. Similarly, Facebook users can indicate they “Like” a picture, a link, a quote, a comment, or, more relevantly, a company or organization. By doing so, they are providing affirmation to others and recChristian Computing® Magazine
ommending that their friends check it out. This helps people discover new things and perhaps find a new favorite restaurant, store, or, yes, church. But Facebook isn’t the only social network. Others you’ve probably heard of include LinkedIn and MySpace. There are probably thousands of social networks that you haven’t heard of – either because they primarily operate in other geographies (e.g. renren in China – with over 30 million active users) or they focus on niches (e.g. epernicus for research scientists – with over 20,000 users). Wikipedia defines a social network as “an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging.” What are the Dangers of Social Networks? Normally, I address the “Power” side of the equation first, but I struggled with doing so without first addressing the dangers. Facebook is in the news this month for fairly October 2011
significant changes they are making to their service and especially the user interface. This isn’t an unusual situation. Facebook is an entrepreneurial company that moves with great agility, constantly seeking to improve the experience for users, the value they provide, and the profitability of their business. Given the number of users they have, every change they introduce results in a lot of people (even if it’s a tiny percentage of all of their users) that complain. However, few quit using the service. In general, as Christians, we shouldn’t be too worried about whether people like the way the homepage is laid out or how to navigate the site. There are some areas for concern though – notably around privacy and content. Some of the news this month is quite disturbing. Facebook wants to become integrated into how you live and then sharing your life with the world. Part of their major announcement last month was a collection of “Read. Watch. Listen.” apps. These apps automatically share with others (without asking you) what you’re reading, what you’re watching, and what you’re listening to. Although, currently, this is limited to what you do through Facebook apps, as “Like” widgets have proliferated throughout the web, Facebook has visibility to much of what you do even though you think you’re operating independently of Facebook. They could choose to start sharing every web page you visit, even with complete strangers who have subscribed to your feed. This is scary. Even worse is that you can’t opt out. Even logging out of Facebook doesn’t break their connection to you. This blog post provides lots of technical details, as well as making the point that, if you check Facebook on a public computer (e.g. at the library), the actions of the next person to use that computer will be associated with you. Yes, scary. As we operate in the “world” – we must recognize that secular social networks assume that we’re living in a post-privacy world. Last year, Helen A. S. Popkin wrote a good summary of the situation at msnbc.com. She included a couple of quotes to give a sense of this new world: • Sun CEO Scott McNealy from 1999: “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from 2010: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that’s evolved over time.” Christian Computing® Magazine
As I mentioned above, in addition to privacy, we must also consider the issue of content. I won’t belabor this point, but just recognize that most social networks are designed to expose you to things you otherwise wouldn’t expose yourself to. We often see content that is shared by friends of our friends, and I think many secular networks would like to help you “broaden your horizons” even further. Where is the Benefit of Social Networks for Christian ministries? That’s not to say social networks don’t provide benefits for churches and other Christian ministries. There are very real benefits to members in their ability to stay connected with each other throughout the week. Thanks to social networks, I’ve been able to pray for fellow church members as they face different challenges or pursue new opportunities. I’ve been more up-tospeed on what’s happening in their lives than I’d ever get from a 5 minute conversation after worship. There are also very practical potential benefits in communicating from the church to members – event invitations can be sent, accepted, and updated through social networks. Information about ministries can be disseminated. Photos from church events can be shared. However, in all of this, either individuals sharing with each other, or the church sharing with members, we must keep in mind that there is no privacy in the secular online world. Others will know about your events – when and where they are. Others will see your photos. Others will hear your prayer requests. Yes, most social networks allow you to define who these things can be shared with, but most secular networks are constantly changing the rules and processes for protecting this privacy, so you’re best off assuming that people will see your content that you didn’t intend as the audience. Social networks, especially the big ones, are also valuable places to advertise your ministry. Are there Christian alternatives? If secular social networks are so dangerous, has anyone created a Christian alternative that is safe? The answer, of course, is yes. In fact, there are many. Since, no matter how hard I try, I undoubtedly will leave out your favorite, I’m only going to discuss two. The first is a general model – private church social October 2011
networks enabled by ChMS providers such as FaithHighway (their 360Central solution) and Church Community Builder. These social networks provide all the privacy you want while still making it easy for members to stay connected with each other; for home fellowship groups, youth groups, and other ministries to share information; to schedule volunteers; and for the church to share general information with the congregation. The biggest challenge with these private networks is getting the members to engage. As you know, getting folks to come to a church website isn’t easy. Even with the increased relevance of these social network tools, there may not be enough of a draw for members to get in the habit of logging in every day. The second example is Hschooler.net. As I’ve described before, a few years ago I envisioned the opportunity to create an online social network for Christian families, especially those that homeschool. Over the past couple of years, a group of homeschooled teens have been building, operating, and growing the network. They’ve broadened the scope to be for all Christian families, and last month, we introduced the capability for Christian organizations to create a private social network within Hschooler.net. We believe this approach provides many of the benefits of a private church network while creating more of a draw by also enabling members to participate in the broader Christian social network. Since the issues with privacy and content are greatly reduced, we even welcome kids to participate (we give parents complete control over what their kids can do and with whom). Hschooler.net is nowhere near as large as Facebook, so the attraction to members is less. We also do not offer as much advertising (only a few text ads that are only visible to parents), so you likely will Christian Computing® Magazine
still want to maintain a presence on Facebook, but we believe that certain conversations should be within a private network – whether through your ChMS provider, or an option like Hschooler. 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, Wi-Fi, or social networks, 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.
ministry communication For Seasonal Event Success—It Takes the Whole Church to Grow the Church Yvon Prehn - firstname.lastname@example.org
very part of the church: leadership, communication team, congregation, needs to be involved for holiday outreach to be successful. Jesus did not give the Great Commission and then qualify it by saying: “The command to be my witness and to reach your world is only for paid pastors and for rich churches with huge PR budgets.” No—outreach is every believer’s task and seasonal celebrations are a great way to be reaching our world. This article will define each group’s tasks and then give you some Tech Application Tips for implementation. Though everyone should be involved, various parts of your church need to be involved in different ways, meaning in practical terms that the church leadership, communication team, and congregation each have different primary responsibilities. Following is a suggested breakdown of each group’s tasks: Church Leadership The church leadership decides which events will be celebrated and when. With the communication team, they determine an overall theme and activities not only for the event itself, but how they are going to involve the congregation, follow-up, and evaluate the results. Leadership needs to provide the spiritual guidance and prayer direction for the event. Leadership needs to continuously encourage, motivate, and thank those involved in the event. Leadership needs to decide on the goals for the event and assure accountability for measuring and evaluation to make each event and each year more effective than the last one. Technology Application Tips: Go online and search for holiday communication ideas. See what other churches are doing or have done. Email the church if you like something and ask Christian Computing® Magazine
for advice. Effective Church Communications has strategies that other church leaders have found useful at the first link below. The next two are overviews on what you need to do at your church to be prepared for seasonal ministry. http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/category/seasonal/an-overview-of-seasonal-communication-strategies/ http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/09/lookinward-before-you-reach-outward-make-sure-yourchurch-is-ready-for-holiday-and-special-event-outreach-guests/ http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/09/how-torevitalize-your-volunteers-before-seasonal-or-specialevent-outreach/ Communications Team Based on their guidance from the church leadership and their October 2011
knowledge of the community, the communications team creates print and digital communications for before, during, and after the event that both the church office and the congregation will use. Advertising, website support, PowerPoint, and every social media avenue should be used repeatedly to assure communication saturation. The communications team tracks materials created, sent, frequency, and response to the type and number of communications. During the process, the team continuously prays for wisdom and insight as they create communications for their congregation and for audience receptivity and positive response. Think of ways you can create materials that your congregation can use in their social media. Short videos to link to, images for Facebook, suggested Twitter links. Technology Application Tips: Start early to collect images that you can use for holiday themes. Some of the free images on the sites below are great for seasonal communications and are far more contemporarylooking than what’s available through some of the church clipart sites. Some searching and modification will provide customized themes for your church for no cost. Some of my favorites are: http://www.dreamstime.com http://www.rgbstock.com http://www.morguefile.com For some ideas how to modify these images and make them your own, check out: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/category/skills/ clipart-how-to/ This whole section has previews of the sites above, plus lots of tips. The two articles below show you how to modify the images: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/03/modifying-a-free-photo-with-snagit/ http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2010/08/webinarhow-to-modify-images/ Congregation The congregation should be involved in every step of the process: motivated by the leaders and equipped by the communication team to pray for the events, volunteer to make them hapChristian Computing® Magazine
pen, invite their unchurched friends, help evaluate and follow-up with visitors. The congregation has the primary responsibility for inviting and bringing unchurched friends to the event, interacting with them at the event, and following up with them afterwards. This process needs to be continuously taught and reinforced, until it becomes part of the DNA of the church. When the congregation looks at seasonal and special event celebrations with anticipation as opportunities to share the joy of the Christian faith with their unchurched friends, you will experience natural church growth in numbers and in your people in spiritual maturity. Technology Application Tips: Social media was made to invite people to church-sponsored seasonal events. Using images, tips, and content provided by the church or your own, create a social media campaign to bring your friends to church. Social media has been the driver of political revolutions around the world—pray that you can use it to change your community for Jesus. What this whole church approach avoids: In far too many churches, seasonal celebrations are events the church leadership puts on for the entertainment of the congregation. This then results in outreach being viewed a commodity purchased, not an ongoing ministry in the church, therefore if the church is not growing it is the pastor’s fault or the worship October 2011
leader’s because seasonal celebrations are seen as promotions put on by professionals—congregational involvement is primarily to provide money to make the production possible. These attitudes and actions are all unbiblical and ultimately unsuccessful if you want to grow your church and people. They are also deeply sad because the congregation does not experience the joy of sharing the gospel and their church and the community does not experience the joy of getting to know your church and Jesus. For the holidays and special events to be more than traditional church family celebrations, all the church needs to be involved in new and creative ways; we are all to be Jesus’ witnesses. The seasonal times of the year are a great way to reach out. We are all responsible if our church is growing or not, let’s Christian Computing® Magazine
get busy this holiday season doing just that. _____________________________________ For many more ideas and practical tips on how to use seasonal celebrations as times to reach your community with the gospel message, grow your church in numbers and your people in spiritual maturity go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/ category/seasonal/ Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church Communications as well as the author of numerous books on practical church communication strategy and creation for churches. Her books are available in print and Kindle format at: http:// www.amazon.com .
big ministry - small resources
Tending the Flocks
Bradley Miller - email@example.com
n our last episode we were looking into the virtues of Church Info (http://www.churchdb.org/) membership tracking software. Since the installation and usage of it for the past couple of months, I have discovered some big gaping holes that I’ll share candidly. This is not a knock on the volunteers who have put the software together - overall it’s very solid, but I’m a programmer and as a (new) pastor in a church plant I’m seeing how we can improve upon our
processes. So as I was digging into the code and installation I discovered a handy little nugget - a meeting room booking system (MRBS). As we don’t have a facility yet, I haven’t been able to completely wrap my mind around the implications of that yet. For a larger facility if you use some type of automated software for your HVAC systems or signage I don’t see any way to tie the two systems together. The underlying system for the MRBS is another open source software package called WebCal (http://www.k5n.us/webcalendar.php) which is a great calendar system - but it is not without it’s own quirks, which I’ll briefly touch on later. The life blood of our particular church plant is going to be our daily interactions and small group bonding. I was able to setup groups to make those associations but as I was doing that I began to wonder - well, how do you track attendance and then know how healthy a group is. Does one group meet weekly and have a high attendance rate? Is one getting into an irregular schedule with sporadic attendance? How long has a person been in that particular group? Some of these questions are really easy when you are starting Christian Computing® Magazine
out brand-new . . . everyone is starting off at the same place. I decided to use the event system inside of the program to build a group night and then attendance can be tracked via that page. It doesn’t give me a 30,000 foot view for the overall picture yet, but it at least is tracking the information, which is always a good start. Building on that same tracking theme, the Church Info system has a way to track volunteers. You can list out your needs in the system and then when you go into an individual you can associate that position to that person. I don’t believe there is any sort of tracking - so if you have a cleaning crew with 5 openings, it doesn’t keep track of how many people are already in that volunteer position. Likewise it doesn’t associate any date information as to when a person has started that position. It’s more like a flag than a useful field. It’s definitely more complicated than just tracking a group so I don’t know how to handle that without some serious code modifications. Of course all these things to be tracked are great, but if you have no way to report back on it then it’s of little use. The current reporting system is very limited October 2011
in what it offers and how it’s displayed. There isn’t a snapshot view to say “we had this many people, this many people accepted Christ, this much was donated” . . . etc. There are attendance reports but it offers very little other data. There are ways to write structured query language (SQL) statements and save them for future use which I imagine I’ll dive further into to make some of these reports. I envision having a dashboard view to get a picture of trends and make the incoming data more real. It’s one thing to see a number on a page, it’s another to see a series of numbers with a line indicating where the numbers are going. One thing we realized with our church plant was how many pictures and videos we were going to be using and how many times people might be popping up on the web or in advertising, so we needed to have a release document signed for each member. It occurred to us that it would be great if we could go semi-paperless and store that signed document as a portable document format (PDF) by person. That isn’t exactly an option of the system. We named each scanned in document by the person’s name and we are storing them via file transfer protocol (FTP) on the server and linking to them via a custom field in the database. That’s a good near-term solution, but it’s a very manual process. It would be great if you could associate multiple documents to a person or a family. In researching that whole PDF solution I also discovered another “feature” of the software in how it tracks the photos of people and families. Rather than storing the photo’s uniform resource locator (URL) in the database, the program simply checks a directory for a file name that is the same as that particular person’s ID. That works, but it limits you to only one picture, and it provides no way of knowing who has pictures or who doesn’t. It would be possible . . . you would just need to get all the files in the directory and then get all the valid id’s for active members and then compare the two . . . but that is quite a bit of input/output (IO) shuffling for something that could be as simple as saying “select id,picture from members where picture not null” - meaning the picture column in that table has an entry. The last part of the whole puzzle is the complete integration of not only this system for tracking people but also the other systems we are looking to use. I can assign a person a user name so they can go in and selfmanage their information or their family info. Unfortunately there are a lot of different software packages that we will be using, and that’s problematic if you need to remember the username/password for each one. Software package xyz might use your email address for a Christian Computing® Magazine
username/login prompt and another one may assign you by your last/first name. I don’t have a real good idea on how to make that all work. If Church Info would integrate with a Facebook login, or OpenID (http:// openid.net/) system it would be great . . . but that’s just one part of the entire equation. I’m not sure exactly how that will work yet either - at my 9-5 job we have a “portal” that has a password storage area that allows you to track your login credentials and “automagically” sign you into a web site via some nifty coding. I don’t know what that nifty coding exactly is, so I’ll have to think more on that. So there you have it - in one month a glorious review of some free software and in the next month a scathing diatribe on all it’s inadequacies. Sometimes I’m sure we would like the honesty of a review like that for software that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars more. No matter what method or software, we must remember that each and every single person is just as important to God. Jesus said that the shepherd left the flock of 99 for the one. In using technology we are freeing our pastors to get back to the focus of spreading the word of God. Acts 6:1-4 (NIV) 1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” About the author: Bradley Miller is the Connections Pastor at SoulSearch Church (http://thesoulsearchmovement.org) a new church plant in the Greater Kansas City Area from the Heartland Converge District of Converge Worldwide. He serves on the board of directors for Heart Converge. He is married to Peggy Miller and between them they have three children. They also run Heart For Marriage (http://www.heartformarriage.com) focusing on marriage and promoting Family Life’s Art of Marriage video series.