Page 1


Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com Online Community Manager Kevin Cross - kevin@ccmag.com

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

December 2011

No. 12

4  cover story

By The Book Helps Churches by Serving From the Heart

Contributing Editors Lauren Hunter Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Bradley Miller Michael L White

By Lauren Hunter

7  special feature

Copy Editor Gina Hewitt

An Interview with SiteOrganic

Corporate Home Office

By Steve Hewitt

Mailing address: PO Box 319 Belton MO 64012 Delivery address: 306 Eagle Glen Ct Raymore MO 64083 Phone: (816) 331-5252 FAX: 800-456-1868

10  special feature RDS offers free use of RDS for one year By Steve Hewitt

© Copyright 2011 by Christian Computing®, Inc.

All Rights Reserved

3  Editorial

CCMag’s Online Community is THE place for content!

Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

11  Minstry Leadership

Turn Christmas Visitors Into Engaged Members

13  Parishsoft’s Catholic Connection

submitted to Christian Computing® Magazine

from ACS Technologies from ParishSOFT

16  Logos CMS

Tony Ferraro

19  Higher Power With Kevin

Bible Reader for Mac and Soon Windows

24  Digital Evangelism

Inc. upon receipt and may not necessarily be rethe right to make any changes to materials sub-

Kevin A. Purcell - kevin@kevinpurcell.org

31 Nick at Church Keyboard Shortcuts

33  Ministry Communication

Computing®, Inc. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily of Christian Computing® Magazine, or Christian Computing, Inc.

By Russ McGuire - russ.mcguire@gmail.com Nick Nicholaou - nick@mbsinc.com

Why clear communication is essential for Christmas and how technology gives you the tools to do it

36 Big Ministry - Small Resources

cation may not be copied in any way, shape or

the views of the editor, publisher, or employees

Michael L White - mlwhite@parsonplacepress.com

Streaming Video Services

for editorial purposes. The content of this publiform without the express permission of Christian

Christmas Evangelism: The Star of Bethlehem

Christian Computing® Magazine

become the property of Christian Computing®,

mitted for publication that are deemed necessary

Working Out the Workflow Kinks

Tending the Flocks

of Christian Computing, Inc. Written materials

turned. Christian Computing® Magazine reserves

5 Ways to Prepare Our Hearts to Serve

27  The Power And The Danger

Christian Computing® is a registered trademark

Yvon Prehn - yvon@effectivechurchcom.com

Articles that are highlighed are provided by our partners www.ccmag.com/2007_03/2007_03editorial.pdf

Bradley Miller - bradley.w.miller@gmail.com

December 2011

2


editorial CCMag’s Online Community is THE place for content! Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

Most of this year, we’ve spent time getting our new Online Community up and running. I announced it too early (according to my staff) in January. We started beta testing in March. We opened the doors for readers to join in June. And we have had a couple of exciting drawings for those that have joined (around 4,000 so far) including giving away an iPad2 last month! But we are just getting started. 2012 is going to rock! Kevin Cross is back with us at CCMag and is serving as our new Online Community Manager. He is working closely with many of our sponsors, helping to manage content on our site. If you haven’t been to our site recently, you should check it out! Maggie Canady with Shelby Systems recently posted a cool blog about North Point church impacting their community. Curtis Simmons with Fellowship One posted a great blog about what NOT to give your pastor for Christmas, and Steve Caton with Church Community Builder posted an interesting blog on 7 ways effective assimilation will impact your church. Paul Fidalgo, one of our readers asked for help on obtaining a wireless device that would allow him to send his PowerPoint to a projector. A couple of our readers immediately provided some solutions. Have a technology question for your ministry? Simply go to our Community Help Desk community and ask away. I am sure you will receive a variety of helpful answers from our other readers. Christian Computing® Magazine

We have also noticed that some are starting to use our community calendar to post information about user group meetings, conferences, etc. If you know of a technology related event, feel free to post it so others can learn about it and see if it fits into their calendar to attend. There is much more content that I am not going to go into here in my editorial, but next year, when a cool blog, video, webinar, is posted on our site, I will send out a tweet (follow me on twitter @stevehewitt). And, finally, we plan to give away some more great tablets next year, starting with one that will be awarded to a random name picked from those that have registered as a user at our Online Community. Visit www.ccmag.com and register today if you haven’t already. We plan to give away a second tablet in January, but I will wait until January to announce how you might be eligible to win. I will tell you it will relate to twitter (hint, hint). Watch for a broadcast email from me after the first of the year with more information. Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt Editor-in-Chief steve@ccmag.com

December 2011

3


cover story

By The Book Helps Churches by Serving From the Heart

T

By Lauren Hunter

his month, CCMag caught up with industry veterans, Kim and Dave Conley, owners of By The Book church management software. With more than fifty combined years in software and database development, the Conley’s have worked hard over the past eight years to enhance their software solution, Roll Call, in order to meet the needs of churches of all shapes and size.

Q - For readers who haven’t heard of By the Book, could you share with us a little bit of background about how and when the company was founded? By The Book was founded in 1991 with a robust history in the church technology market—one of the longest lived in the church management software industry. Then in 2004, the original owner and developer of By the Book, who had initially written the program for his church in his retirement, was getting to the point where running the company was too much during his retirement. At the same point, God had begun casting a vision within us to use our skills in the ministry market. We went to a nonprofit industry tradeshow where we were introduced to the original owners and the process of changing hands began. Q - What type of churches does By The Book serve?

We help every type of church from the church plant

Christian Computing® Magazine

that hasn’t yet held its first service to mega multisite churches. Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, Texas and Grace Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma are examples of two large churches who benefit from using our software. We license our software based on how many concurrent users will be accessing Roll Call as well as how many people the church is keeping track of so that smaller churches have access to the same functionality that larger churches use. Q - By the Book is a desktop (or software-based) church management system that resides on a church’s internal system. What are some of the advantages that you’ve seen because your system works on both Macs and PCs, and even over networks that run both operating systems? The biggest advantage of our software residing on the church’s system is that church data is on-site and December 2011

4


our software doesn’t have the monthly fees associated with web-based, or Cloud software. Another great advantage is that with Roll Call, churches can continue using whatever computer they want to whether Mac or PC or both—something many other ChMS software solutions aren’t capable of. Roll Call can be run on a single computer at a church or can be networked together in a client/server configuration. Additionally, we have a lot of churches that are completely mobile—meeting at a school or theater— who don’t have access to wireless internet. It is easy to set up a little network at these facilities and it makes child check-in a no-brainer. Q - What is your philosophy for serving churches with your church technology? Serving churches with quality software is our ministry—that’s how we approach it every day at work. We want to help churches with the tools that help them minister to their congregation with technology. It’s fun every day we come in to work—we get to help the church and that’s awesome. That’s what we’re all about. Moreover, it’s not just our ministry, it’s our passion. We’re super-charged because we know we’re doing what God made us to do. When we start thinking about how we can take technology to turn it and use it within the church, it kicks us into gear. It’s rewarding when people on the other line “get” what our software can do. Q - By the Book has just released Roll Call version 11. What has changed with this version and why did the program undergo such dramatic enhancements? We completely changed and updated Roll Call (http://bythebook.com/roll-call-v11) for a number of reasons. Besides adding many requested features to the program, we wanted to address the user interface which frankly, had begun to look dated. We saw how the program could be streamlined and simplified to make it even easier for our customers to use. As a result we have released Roll Call v11 which brings all of these things together in a new and more powerful way. In addition to making it easier to navigate around Roll Call, we also wanted to make sure the look and feel in the software program wouldn’t be dramatically different for users when we roll out a web component to Roll Call in the future. Q - What new products and features are you working on for 2012? Christian Computing® Magazine

During 2011, we’ve been working on Cloud technology to further expand our software to users who would like access to Roll Call v11 through the internet. Current users can access their data remotely through a virtual private network (VPN). This month, we will be announcing a hosted Roll Call solution. This is a great option for churches that don’t want to purchase servers or do not have IT staff, or may not have an office or staff. Later in 2012, we’re looking at developing a mobile phone and tablet app for child check-in and a fully web-based version of Roll Call which will offer church December 2011

5


members the ability to login to update their profiles and view contributions. Additionally, we’re going to be offering a new solution in 2012 called, Roll Call Lite, which will be a scaled down version of Roll Call for a fixed price of $399 (unlike Roll Call that has tiered-based pricing). Roll Call Lite will include less functionality than the original version, but will let customers enter as many people in the software as they want. This product offering is for churches that want to use the program to track contributions and basic membership information and don’t need the full functionality of Roll Call. Q - What aspects of By the Book are most vital to churches? First off, most churches don’t have IT staff, so maintenance is of concern. Roll Call runs on the 4D database, which beautifully supports both MAC and PC. Our database is an easily maintainable platform for us and even people with no computer background can keep it running. It’s a robust database that can support millions of records. Our software just runs. It’s a huge benefit to churches. Secondly, By The Book offers a 30-day free trial

Christian Computing® Magazine

of Roll Call to new customers to let churches take our software for a test drive to make sure it works for them. After they purchase our software, they receive 90 days free of tech support. We offer on-site as well as online training options. Our church customers value our support above everything. We offer an annual tech support plan that provides free phone support and version upgrades. Day after day, we hear from churches who are able to minister better to their church members and communities because of the software we’ve built. It gives us a sense of joy about coming to work each day and inspires us to serve from the heart. -Answers as told to Lauren Hunter by Dave and Kim Conley, By The Book Lauren Hunter is a frequent CCMag contributor, church technology PR consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.

December 2011

6


special feature An Interview With

By Steve Hewitt

W

hile they have been around for over a decade, I do not believe we have ever featured SiteOrganic in our magazine. I recently contacted Brad Hill, President of Edge Media in order to learn more about SiteOrganic and all that they offer. Enjoy the interview!

Q - It is great to see SiteOrganic finishing its 10th year in business. What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the past decade? When we started in 2001, very few churches had much of a web presence. We invested a ton of time, energy and money in those early days, just to convince pastors they needed a Website! Those few church Website companies that were around back then really worked hard to “create the category.” Ten years later, churches have really caught up. Sure there are still plenty of churches who need a better site, but I’m excited that many more congregations are now thinking about how to use the Web strategically. Got a Website? Check. Now the discussion is more about how to really use the site for ministry.

a different way. We think that a Website is the foundation on which you build everything else in your online ministry stable. It starts with a vision, the tools and process to achieve that vision, and finally the ability to measure success. There are too many churches who have a basic Website (or maybe even a cool-looking one) but don’t really take the time to fit that Website into an overall strategy. It can’t just be about the Web anymore. You have to consider social networking, mobile devices, church database integration, donor services, media sharing, etc. With our rich experience in all of these areas, we think that SiteOrganic is positioned to really help a church catapult their online ministry efforts to a new level. But the church has to want to set this vision, and do the hard work to get there.

Q - How does SiteOrganic help churches with online ministry strategy?

Q - What’s the top challenge facing churches for 2012 when it comes to online tools and services?

You’ll hear us talk a lot about “producing fruit.” The language is obviously taken from the parable of the soils in Luke 8, although we’ve applied it in

In many ways technology has helped us become more efficient... connecting with people on Facebook, for example. Or integrating our church data-

Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

7


bases with the Website. These are examples where technology makes life (and ministry) easier. At the same time, we have an confusing explosion of multiple mobile platforms, and seemingly a new “hot” tool every few months. If a church isn’t careful, they can easily get sucked into the technology du jour. The successful churches are the ones who say “no” to a bunch of stuff so that they can focus on the things that really matter in their context. One example is the decision on whether a church should build its own mobile app. This makes a lot of sense in some cases, but on which platform? It used to be only iPhone, but now we have Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, and of course phone/tablet variants of most of these too. The fragmentation of mobile platforms reminds me of the “bad old days” when we dealt with tons of disparate browser versions on the desktop. You might literally have to maintain 3 to 5 versions of your app just to make sure it runs everywhere. Another example: should we pursue Google+, while also using Facebook and Twitter? We think all of the choices, the noise, and the fragmentation in the online landscape present a great challenge for all organizations. Including churches. We still believe in the power of the Website to act as the hub for all of these tools and technologies. Our job is to help our churches integrate and leverage the right tools when and where they want. Q - Are there any big changes happening at SiteOrganic that churches might want to know? How much time do you have? Probably our biggest current news Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

8


is the upcoming launch of an entirely new skinning engine. This is a core tool that allows a church not only to change colors and themes, but also to set up different skins within various ministry departments or sections. We’ve had this technology for a few years, but now we are working on extending it so that a church will be able to create, save, and even share a skin. We’re looking forward to seeing the power of the SiteOrganic community create some really beautiful stuff. We also just finished a major overhaul of our calendaring system, the most sophisticated we’ve seen. We now offer a more streamlined event management experience, Facebook integration, and full HTML5 compatibility for mobile viewers. It’s available on all of our new sites, built in. Also, we have some amazing stuff in the works that is going to provide executive-level measurement tools, to reveal the true metrics about your ministry. We want to go beyond hits and unique visitors, to show a pastor where his online ministry efforts are really having an impact. I can’t talk much more about this now, but it will be a huge new feature update available to clients in 2012. Meanwhile, we’re always adding new features and improvements--normally about once per month. God has given us an amazing team, and an incredible family of clients! Christian Computing® Magazine

Q - Is there anything you can offer to our readers? Two things. We recently launched a great series of webinars, designed for ANYONE in online ministry (not just our clients). The response has been huge and we have been adding many more sessions to accommodate folks. You can check out the topics and dates, and register online, at www.siteorganic.com/events. We’d also love to offer all of the CC Mag readers a 30-day free trial of SiteOrganic. You can try our tools and service, risk free. Just send us your info at www. siteorganic.com/landing/ccmag.asp and make sure to mention that you read this article!

December 2011

9


special feature

RDS offers free use of RDS Advantage for one year!

T

By Steve Hewitt

he other day, my friend Dick Webber with RDS Advantage called. Dick always has a heart to help churches, either related or unrelated to their ChMS product. We talked about the pain many churches are feeling during this recession, and Dick shared with me his plan to offer to help churches that feel they can’t afford a ChMS product at this time. I asked him a few questions about his desire. If you’re interested, give him a call at 800-337-6328 Question: Why are you offering to give free use of RDS Advantage for a year? Answer: It is discouraging to read that church participation in the U.S. is shrinking, and that churches are experiencing revenue shortfalls. For example, a recent survey shows that 62% of the churches in the southwest have more expenses than income, and in some regions, such as California, 78% of churches experience budget shortfalls. We believe there are ways to respond to this through positive programs. Question: How are churches responding to these problems? Answer: Many churches are reacting by cutting staff and program. This can be self-defeating by limiting the ministries churches should be offering. Question: What should churches be doing? Answer” There are Biblical core ministries that are the heart of our Christian faith. Some of these are Christian Computing® Magazine

illustrated in the following scriptures: Mathhew 28:19-20, the Great Commission. James 1:27 Acts 6:2-4 Luke 19:10 Mark 16:15 Acts 10:48 I Corinthians 12:13 Question: How will your offer to provide free service for a year have any impact? Answer: Over the years we have developed specific programs in RDS Advantage to help churches be more effective in serving their congregations and in outreach. Our goal is that by monitoring the results of churches that put outreach programs into effect, the benefit can be shown to other churches. We believe there are positive alternatives to reduce staff and ministries that better follow our Biblical imperatives. We are ourselves committed to the Great Commission and see this as a way to help and encourage churches. December 2011

10


Ministry Leadership

Turn Christmas Visitors Into Engaged Members

I

from ACS Technologies

f your church hopes to grow – in attendees, in ministry, and in impact – outreach can be your most powerful tool. But many churches are failing when it comes to outreach. According to the ministry guide Organized and Effective Outreach, 97 percent of all churches do specific outreach, but few are reaching out effectively. Christmastime is an especially important time to think about outreach, and consider whether you’re doing all you can to really connect with the people who interact with your church over the holidays, as more people come to church on Christmas and Easter than at any typical Sunday during the year.

“The first step in any effective outreach effort is to do your homework,” the ministry guide states. “It is important to know who it is you’re reaching out to … and a good place to start is by looking at your current attendees.”The questions to ask when assessing the people who currently attend your church included: • Who is currently attending? • What characteristics do they share? • What appeals to them to make them keep coming back? • If some aren’t coming back, what needs aren’t being met? The next important outreach step is motivating your members to invite others to your church. Some studies have shown that as many as 75 percent of new attendees in a church began attending after they had been invited by a friend. “Motivating and equipping your members to invite people to your church is probably the most effective way to reach out and brig in new people,” say the authors of Organized and Effective Outreach. “Within every sphere of influence, you can almost guarantee Christian Computing® Magazine

that one or more people would attend church or an outreach event if they were invited. Because of this, you should make every effort to motivate and equip your members to invite people they know.” Here’s a list of ideas for great outreach events: • Teaching. Sermons and Bible studies on outreach are great ways to begin to move the hearts of your members toward reaching out. • Tools. Give people tools to use when inviting people to your church and activities. You can create email templates for your members to use to follow up with people they’ve spoken to about attending • Additional locations. According to Organized and Effective Outreach by ACS Technologies, “It’s a statistical fact that if your church is more than 30 minutes away from a member, that member will not invite friends and neighbors … To curb this problem, consider having more worship locations or becoming a multi-site church if you think you have the resources.” • Events. Events are great way to encourage your members to become inviters. Some events to consider: grief support groups, mother’s morning out, teen December 2011

11


nights, etc. Don’t forget the details. The key to making a lasting connection with the people who participate in your outreach events is organization. You’ll need to plan ahead to track attendance and follow up contact, and to do that, you’ll need a solid contact management system. You’ll want to be able to tell which of your team members/ are assigned to reach out to whom, and to pull reports based on the type of contact, the date range, or even the contact status of an individual. Other tools that can assist your outreach plans: • Web site. People are used to getting information online – so make sure your web site is up-to-date and informative. • Social media. Facebook, Twitter, and even a church-specific social media tool can be great ways to have a conversation with your congregants and to allow them to converse with each other. In this article, we’ve only scratched the surface of developing an effective outreach program for your church. As your church interacts with so many people through the Christmas season, think about what you can do better this year and next year to really capture those new people – turning Christmas visitors into engaged members. We’ve covered how, after doing your homework and knowing who is attending your church, you should motivate your members to reach out and invite others. Are you offering the right invitation tools, learning opportunities, convenient locations, and a variety of events? And be sure to supplement all of these activities with an effective contact management system, as well as an active, up-to-date web site and social media presence. For more information on outreach, including information on keeping people committed to your church, as well a case study looking at the outreach program at one of Outreach Magazine’s list of the Fastest Growing U.S. Churches, download the free ministry guide Organized and Effective Outreach. Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

12


ParishSOFT

ParishSOFT’s Catholic Connection

5 Ways to Prepare Our Hearts to Serve from ParishSOFT

I

nspiration for this month’s column came from a wondrous collision of happenings in my life—events that aligned so perfectly, it was surely part of the Lord’s plan to save me. At ParishSOFT, here we are, rolling with momentum from last month’s users’ conference with so much to share. Advent has just begun. God has blanketed Southeast Michigan with our first notable snow of the season. It’s also my son’s 12th birthday.

Grating against all this goodness is the media and secular world, which has been forcing Christmas advertising on us since before Halloween. The shopping frenzy is creeping into my world in a most irritating fashion. And if I hear Christmas referred to as “the holidays” one more time, it’s quite possible a wise judge may require I attend anger management classes. This wasn’t where my heart should be during Advent. I knew something had to give. So this morning, instead of doing my usual crazy-person routine to get everyone ready for school and work, I took the time to thank God for the beauty of the snow and the gift of my son. Calm settled in my heart. I slipped on my boots and Walter-Matthau-in-Grumpy-Old-Men hat and shoveled a path for the dog, whose short legs make crossing the deck in four inches of snow an expedition of Edmund Hillary proportions. I lit a candle Christian Computing® Magazine

in my birthday boy’s breakfast, got him to school on time, and was at my desk ready to take on the day by 8:30 A.M. Did I forget something? Only my morning nagging, which usually goes, “No, son, you can’t wear shorts to school in 23 degree weather. Have you never seen Survivorman? You could die out there!” In Whoville, they say her small heart grew three sizes that day It seems God was just waiting for me to turn it all over to him. One little prayer changed the course of my day. Stress over my task list was gone. My pre-teen dressed in long pants and cheerfully put on the winter coat he’s called “dorky.” Peace continued through my workday, as I shifted from deep-thought tasks to phone calls and back again without being the Grinch Who Stole Christmas to one single person. December 2011

13


This got me thinking: What if you and I could meet every day with calm hearts, ready to serve in kind ways? Imagine how that would pay forward through our interactions with families, coworkers and fellow Christians. This holy season of preparing for the birth of our savior is the perfect opportunity to reflect on how we’re answering God’s call to stewardship in all the places in which we live, work, and play. And it just might be a lot easier than you think. 1. Recognize your impact In his keynote at the ParishSOFT Conference earlier this November, Fr. Daniel Mahan, executive director of the O’Meara Ferguson Center for Catholic Stewardship at Indiana’s Marian University said, “God gives us each a role to play that cannot possibly be played by someone else. It is in these roles that you are called to live out your faith and proclaim the Good News.” His words struck a powerful chord with the 200 parish and diocesan staff in the audience. Many remarked that in their busy workplaces, it’s easy to lose sight of how their day-to-day work answers their personal call to stewardship and evangelization. We need to recognize the unique role that God has given us, as well as how the work we do is part of the greater mission. This awareness lends perspective and affirmation and, especially for church staff, it reminds us why we came to work for the church in the first place.

 Census

 Sacraments  Offertory

 Online Giving

 Religious Education  Ministry Scheduling  Church Accounting  Email Newsletters  24/7 Web Access

2. Find peace Wherever you work, finding peace should be at the top of your task list each day. Because, let’s face it, we cannot be Jesus to others if we’re running around in a panic or acting like a crankypants. Here’s the secret: remember that God is God, and you are not. When we place our trust in God, he will always find a way to keep us tuned in to what’s really important and what we can control. When we keep God first in our lives, our families and careers— everything else—falls into place. The inner peace that God wants to give you can be found everywhere, not just in this season of Advent, but all year long. Close your eyes (unless you’re driving!) and breathe deeply. Say a prayer. Step outside for two minutes and clear your head. Brew a cup of coffee or tea. Let the calm settle in your heart. Then get your positive, new attitude back to doing the Lord’s work.

Great! Now I can get on with ministry.

3. Learn new things Think you’re too busy to interrupt your to-do list for a webinar? Training class? Retreat? Conference? We’ve got breaking news: the world will find a way to survive your short absence. And the busier you are, the more you need to invest in learning. Nurturing your God-given talents is like tending a beautiful garden of fruits and vegetables. We cannot toss seeds onto rocky ground, stand still, and expect to harvest a bounty. Learning preChristian Computing® Magazine

www.ParishSOFT.com December 2011

14


pares and enriches the soil. It renews the spirit. It helps you identify which areas need pruning, weeding, or a bit of extra TLC for a nourishing yield. The annual ParishSOFT Conference brings hundreds of staff and volunteers who use our technology together for three days of learning and spirituality. Year after year, our attendees tell us they arrive expecting to learn about the software but experience something that feels much more like a spiritual retreat (read what they had to say on www.conference.parishsoft.com/news). Morning Masses, inspiring keynotes, and workshops take learning beyond the nuts and bolts of software functionality to give staff fresh perspective and a greater understanding of how their data, tools, and day-to-day work in the church office connect with the stewardship of their parishes and dioceses. An experience like this, shared with other people who walk in your very shoes each day at the office, is mighty powerful. Learning together gives us affirmation, new knowledge, and the realization that we’re a part of something much greater. Now, in your state of calm (see item #1), resolve to incorporate regular learning experiences into your work life. Choose a conference or two to attend with other staff from your church—plan for them in your budget, and take your pastor with you! Take advantage of the training classes and webinars your software vendor offers (some are even free). If your parent organization offers users’ group training, participate! If not, ask your leaders to coordinate learning opportunities, and suggest some topics for your first session.

MD, told her workshop attendees at the ParishSOFT Conference, “One of the greatest benefits of working for the Church is that unlike the secular business world, our knowledge is not proprietary but meant to be shared. It’s a blessing to work with people who are so willing and able to help each other.” In fact, if we’re serious about stewardship, sharing what we’ve learned with others—not just in our own offices, but with churches across town and across the country—is a practical step toward returning our abundant harvest to God. Sharing is a learning opportunity in itself, one that creates a sustainable, renewable energy that fuels your stewardship and never depletes.

4. Share with others

Until next year It’s been our pleasure getting to know you through CCMag over the past year. On behalf of the ParishSOFT staff, I wish you all a beautiful, peaceful Advent and a blessed Christmas.

Interacting with people who also work for the church opens doors to the exchange of many ideas and best practices. And often, the best learning happens in this setting. Think of what you can accomplish when you get two or three people working together. Get 200 mission-minded people in the same space to learn, pray, and laugh together, like we do at our conference, and you get an experience that Msgr. Bill Hanson, keynote speaker and pastor of St. Gerard Majella Parish on Long Island calls, “Mindblowing.” Collectively, we awaken to new possibilities and all the things that are working really well in other churches. Lisa Sliker, who serves as business manager at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ellicott City, Christian Computing® Magazine

5. Be grateful When was the last time you said to a coworker or volunteer, “Thank you for sharing your talents with our church. You did a wonderful job of [handling that difficult phone call, putting together the parish newsletter, organizing the craft show, etc.]!” Has your pastor ever heard, “Thank you for dedicating your life to God and leading our church”? Gratitude, expressed sincerely and with grace, recognizes the God-given talents in others as well as their gifts of time and treasure. And your thanks serves as positive reinforcement that encourages people to give again. It also keeps us humble. Acknowledging the contributions of others means, “I do not do it all in my church. I rely on the talents of many others to do God’s work.”

Stacey Anttila ParishSOFT

December 2011

15


LOGOS LOGOS CMS

Working Out the Workflow Kinks

W

by Tony Ferraro

hen I was a kid, I remember this cartoon featuring two cars racing down a speedway. One car was revved up and “supercharged” while the other was quite “average.” Once the race started, the first car sped around the track and began to lap the second car. After doing that several times, the faster car decided to take a break and “smoke a cigarette.” Naturally, it began lacking the energy it once had; but, it remained several laps ahead of the “average” car; so, it took another break. Getting out of the pit, it started to huff and puff, repeating this cycle, after suffering from clogged “injection fueling” and a damaged filter, it eventually lost the race.

While the cartoon had the intention of teaching children the physical harms of smoking, i.e. hardened arteries and damaged lungs, I think the same can teach us a lot about how our organization operates. Our churches started out with so much energy, cooperation and enthusiasm only to be bogged down with the normal workings of business. Paper, communication, and business flows frequently get clogged with procrastination, a lack of planning, and absenteeism. As people responsible for the technical side of the church, we think of automating business practices using workflow technology; but, we get trapped in the cost and fear of a lack of user adoption; so, it goes nowhere. While technology is the right answer, it only solves part of the problem. The key to a successful business process improvement effort is found in leadership’s commitment to solving the problems, regardless of the solution. Without leadership buy-in, planning will be insufficient, budget will not be available and users will not support it. This is true regardless of the cost. Christian Computing® Magazine

The key steps to a successful business process improvement initiative are: • Identify the Problems • Identify the Lost Costs • Document a Better Process • Win over the Organization • Indentify a Technology Solution • Create a Winning Implementation Plan • Assess and Refine Identify the Problems This part takes real work. But, doing this step correctly will have the greatest impact on saving money and user adoption. It will impact user adoption because this is the stage where people get to feel like a contributor and feel they are heard. It will impact the cost because if this is done correctly, you will be saving money in implementation fees. The better direction you can provide a consultant, the less it will cost December 2011

16


you to have them figure it out. There are at least three given ways things are done for every process, 1) the way they are supposed to be, 2) the way everyone thinks they are getting done and 3) they way they are actually getting done. For solid business practice improvement, it is important that all three are found and defined for a couple of reasons. First, they way they are getting done is not working; but, it will help you understand the shortcuts people have put in place to improve the system that was there. It will also help you understand which shortcut should be avoided. Additionally, identifying how everyone thinks the process is being accomplished helps to determine what actual technology pieces can be put in place to help them do their job more efficiently. Finally, whatever was originally documented is a good place to start to identify what went wrong. Identifying the problem will involve interviewing team members at every level of the organization that are affected by the process. The interviews should be done one on one and the nature of them should be characterized to have the staff member “contributing” to creating a better solution. This is your first and best opportunity to effecting user adoption. If staff feels they have adequately contributed to the solution, it gives them ownership and creates a general excitement about what is coming. This is particularly true of staff members that do not usually have input in organizational decision-making. Coincidentally, they are the same people that will be working most closely with the day to day solution as part of the job; so, winning them over is the hinge pin to success. Identifying the Lost Costs Impacting the budget will win over leadership faster than any other element of the plan. As such, it will be the key to opening up the budget door for the project. Lost costs can be identified several ways in a church: • Identifying projects that were started but not completed because they ran out of time. This is most often found in either service initiatives or media projects. Typically these are the “great” ideas that everyone supported but Christian Computing® Magazine

never quite made it because sometime after they were started the “drop-dead” date came and went without completion. • “File and Finding” paper in the organization can cost hundreds of dollars. Standing behind an accounts payable clerk with a stop watch sheds light on one of the biggest drains. How long does it take to find the invoice, the purchase request, and the check to verify we’ve paid it? Every minute spent equates to dollars per hour that can be defined into a rational cost scenario. It takes three minutes to find a folder, according to national averages, and up to seven to replace it. Some of you are thinking “Seven minutes?! No way.” But, the study looks at the average time someone walks back and forth to the cabinet and includes how many December 2011

17


times they get distracted by office conversation along the way. That all adds up. • Lost documents and other paperwork can cost hundreds of dollars. Industry studies have estimated the average lost document costs an organization $150.00 between the lost time searching for it and the cost of recreating it and finally putting it where it belongs. Documenting a New Process People want to see, feel, and touch something they are going to spend money on. Stakeholders want to know they have been efficiently understood and budget owners want to know there is a plan in place. Once you have adequately identified the processes that are in place and along with them their efficiency gaps, it is important to document a new workflow that encompasses a “cradle to grave” process. It should include every “touch” within the process, whether it is a physical touch or a digital one. It should cover how processes get initiated, who is responsible along the way, what the oversight is, and what happens to exceptions. The presentation of the new process should be an iterative process including multiple presentations to the key stakeholders and include some of the lower level contributors. This will go a long way toward building into user adoption and creating your process champions. Win over the Organization If you have done the above steps correctly, this is already done. The key to winning over the organization is to appeal to leadership by establishing key metrics that will be improved and appeal to the workforce by soliciting their contribution to solving the problem. People that are listened to always feel that they are part of something bigger and that their job matters. Identify a Technology Solution There are a number of workflow solutions available in the marketplace, some touting to be “free”, i.e. Microsoft SharePoint, and some that have implementations that run into the millions, i.e. Oracle, and others all along the way. To immediately dispel misunderstanding, none of them are “free”. While the SharePoint software is included in your Windows offering, it costs many thousands of dollars to properly implement and maintain. In fact, when the total cost of ownership of SharePoint is compared to other solutions, it averages out with the rest. The bottom line is software is not expensive, even the software owned and used by Fortune 500 companies is not expensive, the cost is in the consulting hours required to implement and operate the solution. Therefore, the best way to identify the right solution for your environment is to make sure it: • has the features and functions your organization will Christian Computing® Magazine

need, i.e. electronic form submission, a digital document storage and retrieval solution, and automated workflow with timers and notifications; and, • is fully self-manageable; in other words, someone on your staff should be able to create, manage, edit, and monitor the “ad hoc” workflows. The Implementation Plan There are several components to a solid implementation plan: • Training, training, and training: Pay for training. It will pay off. Send someone from your organization to the software company to get trained. But, it should be a “train the trainer” program. In other words, the materials and learning process should not only be geared toward learning the product but should be set up so that the newly trained trainer can come back to the organization and put together a training process for staff. • Location Specific Collateral: Develop location specific material that shows how to use the solution in your process. In other words, all of the examples, screenshots, tutorials, etc., should all show your actual implementation and screenshots, i.e. not the generic ones that come from the software company. • Planning & Demonstration: Develop a rollout strategy that starts with the key stakeholders. Show them the product after it has been configured to meet their solution. The software should be agile enough to allow for iterative changes that come up after the fact. Showing the stakeholders first, inviting them into the rollout strategy, respects their role in the organization and develops them as champions to their departments. They will be more apt to enforce a process they believe in and helped construct and roll out. Assessment This is the step that is often forgotten; but, it is so important. The assessment step insures that the solution does what you had hoped for, i.e. “Does it solve the problem?” Informing stakeholders on the front end that there will be an assessment period will help you two ways. First, it lets them know that they can make changes if it is not working. This will help them support the system through the bumps in the road that come up immediately following the implementation. Secondly, it lets them know you are expecting them to use it and will be checking in on them to ensure they do. The key to opening up the blocked paper, communication, and business flows within your organization is to implement a solid solution that does not continue to add to the problem, or worse. Operational efficiency will guarantee that you execute your vision for the entire race God has intended for you to run.

December 2011

18


higher power with kevin

Bible Reader for Mac and Soon Windows

O

Kevin A. Purcell - kevin@kevinpurcell.org

live Tree’s Bible Reader app has been available on various mobile devices for a long time, but today it has graduated to the computer with a new Bible Reader for Mac and soon a version running on Windows. The interface will be very comfortable to those who have been using it on an iPhone, Android Phone, Windows Mobile or a tablet. It has become one of my favorite computer apps for doing a quick look up or search because of its simplicity and speed. Remember that Bible Reader for Mac (available for free in the Mac App Store - http://bit.ly/saJKwz) is just a 1.0 product. It’s a bit rough around the edges and missing a few features you’d normally expect in a Bible Study application. That said, it’s very stable and I’ve only experienced a few problems, which the developers are already addressing.

on the More button to show all of your Bibles if you have more than five. You can also add some books to a section called Favorites. More on that later… The Bibles are listed in alphabetical order, some-

The Sidebar When you open Bible Reader you notice an interface that immediately looks familiar, even if you have never used the program on other platforms. Many Bible software programs use the style similar to a file browser with the left hand column containing your Bibles and the Olive Tree Store links. You will have to click Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

19


thing I hope will change. I’d like to have my most often used Bibles at the top of this list rather than the one translation I seldom ever open – the American Standard Version (ASV). I think this will show up soon. The Favorites list, which you can create, shows up below the Bibles list, something else I’d like to see changed. Below the Bible you find links to the Book Store, Free Books, your Purchased Books and a Downloads page, which will show any books you may be downloading. If you’ve been an Olive Tree customer before, then click on the Purchased Books tab and choose to Download All of your books. You have to sign in and then it will download all of your purchased books to your computer. Bible Window The main windowpane shows you the current Bible. A drop down menu at the top offers some options for handling the book or your library. Here’s where you might bump into one of the glitches. I had a problem with adding books to the Favorites menu, but Olive Tree tells me that this is not a known problem and they couldn’t reproduce it, so you may not have the problem. Here’s the problem I saw. As I mentioned above, you can add books to a Favorites menu that will show up below the Bible’s list. I hope they will put the Favorites first in the Sidebar, but the bigger problem happens when you try to add more than one book. To add a second book to the list, I had to restart Bible Reader. It seemed to get confused and think that no matter what Bible I opened, it was the first book I added. For example, I added my favorite translations, the HCSB, to the list. Then I opened the ESV and tried to click the dropdown menu to add that book, too. Instead of showing the option to add the book it only asks if I want to remove it. If I restart the program I can then add a second book but not a third. Notice in the screenshot below I have the ESV open (first arrow) and it is not listed in the Favorites (see red box) but the drop down menu doesn’t Christian Computing® Magazine

allow me to add it (second arrow). You can add books to the Favorites list by opening the Library from the toolbar (see description below) and click on the stars next to each book. The dropdown menu does more than add/remove books from Favorites. As you can see in the shot above, you can open other books in your library or navigate to other spots in the Book. Other options include the browsing history (back/forward) as well as changing the look of the current Bible. Finally, you have the option to Open the Book in a new floating window. The book pane has a Font options button in the upper right corner along with a book ribbon button, which lets you quickly place a digital ribbon on the topmost verse in the window. These differ slightly from bookmarks, which you add by right clicking the verse number. Other things you can do by right clicking on the verse number include adding a highlight or a verse note, which can all be backed up and synced. I wish all of Olive Tree’s apps did automatic backup and sync of content each time you opened and closed them. I’ve been told that they may add that in a future release. Until then you must manually sync your user created content. The real power of Bible Reader comes in manipulating the text. You can click on words or right click on them and BR will do useful things. For example, click on a translation footnote and it will display the footnote. Right click a word and you get a popup menu with a bunch of great tools to help you study, search, change settings and more. Some translations have special links on each word. Any Strong’s marked Bible will show you the Strong’s entry for that word when you click on it (see below – notice that the box has an arrow pointing the word it’s related to). From that popup window you can do a search for the Strong’s numbered word or look it up in a lexicon (notice the two buttons in the red box). Despite how simple the BR interface looks, December 2011

20


with five tabs, which do the following: • Resource Guide – like a digital study Bible, see more below • Notes – where you read your old notes and can add new ones • My Stuff – all your personal markups show up here including notes, bookmarks, highlights, book ribbons, and tags • Search Results – when you enter a search query the results show up here • Library – another place to manage your library of books

it does have some advanced language study capabilities hidden beneath the surface.

Tools & Notes Next to the main windowpane is another pane

You can quickly float the contents of this window by clicking on the small box with an arrow point up and to the right. This is handy for when you are studying a passage and have the Resource Guide open and want to add some verse notes. Click My Stuff and then float the window so you can now have three windowpanes open. You can float more than just one window, so you are only limited by space on your computer screen. Also at the bottom of each window you’ll find other helpful links. The notes tab has a button for backup and sync, for example. The Resource Guide offers you a customized

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

www.cdmplus.coms 877-891-4236

Christian Computing® Magazine

Powerful Desktop & Laptop Computing

Dynamic Web Integration

TOTAL INTEGRATION

CDM+ Mobile Access

December 2011

21


study Bible on any verse in the Bible. Open your passage and then click on the Resource Guide and you instantly have everything in your library related to that passage at your fingertips. BR organizes it into a list of available resources as follows: • Related Verses – from translation notes or the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; it’s like having all the cross references from every translation you own in one place • Commentaries – display the entry for that verse • Bibles – you get a quick parallel Bible with every translation you own • People, Places and Topics – find out about any of the people mentioned, the places referenced or topics related to your passage • Maps and Charts – any of your maps or atlases or other books with these kinds of resources are here • Outlines and Introduction – Mostly from study bibles you get book outlines and book introductions • My Notes – any notes you might have added to the verses in the passage While not as powerful as something like the Passage, Topical or Exegetical Guide of Logos, this tool alone makes Bible Reader a valuable resource. It will only be as strong as your library, however. If yours is limited then your Resource Guide will be limited. Toolbar The BR Toolbar is pretty simple. From left to right you have the following tools: • Library – with a drop down list of all books with Favorites at the top, Recently opened second, and fly out folders of categorized books like Bible, Commentaries, etc. • Go To – navigation within a book so you can quickly jump to another book of the Bible • Forward/Back Arrows – moves forward and backward in your browsing history • Search Box – enter search words or phrases or enter a bible verse to jump to it; handles most Boolean search functions with results displayed in the Search Results tab of the Tools & Notes Pane • Tools & Notes Windows Toggle – opens or closes the Tools & Notes window pane You can learn more about Olive Tree’s Bible Reader for Mac on their help website (http://bit.ly/u5UzEV). It’s a bit Spartan right now, but you should see more help added in the future Christian Computing® Magazine

as they get things finished. To see a helpful tutorial video about the new app, visit my blog at http://kp.ly/archives/1467. Strengths Bible Reader for Mac is a simple tool that has some power. It has an elegant look to the interface. The design is well thought out and I really like the power of the Resource Guide. Being able to backup and sync my notes, highlights and bookmarks between my computer and my mobile device or phone is a big plus. As far as I know only a couple of other programs let you do this, but none as well as Olive Tree. Best of all Bible Reader is fast! I can open it and get to a passage and look up some words in the lexicon before one of my more powerful tools has even finished loading. You may want a jackhammer to move concrete, but a quick little shovel can dig a hole much faster in the dirt. Bible Reader is the shovel that over time has the potential to become a small jackhammer. Room for Improvement As I said it feels a bit like a beta and a 1.0 beta at that. While simplicity is a strength, it can also be a weakness since there are more powerful tools available. For Mac Bible Study I’d put it third in usefulness and power behind Logos and Accordance. Assuming it behaves much the same way on Windows, it will be a valuable tool but a little bit further down the list competing more with the likes of e-Sword, QuickVerse and PC Study Bible than the more powerful programs like Logos, WORDsearch and BibleWorks. There are just too many first-class Windows Bible apps out there. Despite that, for a 1.0 release Olive Tree has a great start and deserves a spot on your hard drive if for no other reason than they are one of the two or three most imaginative Bible software companies out there today. What I’d like to see is more manipulation of your library and customization of the look and behavior of the sidebar. For example, I’d like to have my favorites at the top of the Sidebar and the ability to launch books from the large opens space on the toolbar if I put a book’s icon there. Also, some of the minor glitches need to be fixed. Recommendation Despite its weaknesses, there is no good reason not to get Bible Reader. The program is free and December 2011

22


comes with a few free resources. You can add more free books by downloading them. Premium books cost what you’d expect to pay for Bible study resources. I think you will find that the more you use Bible Reader, the more you will like the speed and simplicity for the quick tasks, even if you own one of the more powerful and advanced Bible software tools for Mac or Windows. As I said at the start, Bible Reader is the first program I open if I just want to do a quick look up or search. If I had a larger library I might do most of my Bible study inside the program. That leads to the biggest hurdle for users who are not already Olive Tree customers. Until some smart person finds a way to get the book publishers and the software vendors to all work together (so we don’t have to keep paying for the same books over and over again) Bible students are less likely to give a new program like Bible Reader a chance. I’ve been a long time Bible Reader user on iPhone, iPad and Android. However, someone who doesn’t have a large library already, but uses a program that’s not as good, will likely stick to their inferior product because of the library. A discount offered for books you own in other programs, like Accordance offers, would be a big help. But we really need a new STEP for the modern age. STEP was the digital book publishing format used in the 90s by many software companies that is now defunct due to being based on outdated technology.

Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

23


digital evangelism

Christmas Evangelism: The Star of Bethlehem

Michael L White - mlwhite@parsonplacepress.com

A

long with Easter and Thanksgiving Day, Christmastime is perhaps one of the best opportunities of the entire calendar year to evangelize people with the Truth and Hope of Jesus Christ. While we should certainly be practicing evangelism all throughout the year, we really need to take every advantage we can to boost the presentation of the Gospel to those around us, such as on important holy days as Christmas. Besides using the means of Christmas cheer, charitable hearts, and gift-giving to grab people’s attention with our message of the true “reason for the season,” we can also challenge folks with the actual events in the Christmas Story. Perhaps one of the most debated events regarding Jesus’ birth is the Star of Bethlehem that appeared when the wise men came inquiring about Him, though they most likely did not arrive on the same night He was born, as is most often portrayed in our Christmas pageants. Based upon the fact that Herod ordered all the male children two years and under to be killed (Matthew 2:16), Jesus was most likely approaching two years of age when the wise men came seeking Him. Christian Computing® Magazine

Because of the seemingly unusual way the star appeared and behaved, many doubters have dismissed it as an impossible occurrence, but once you have some scientific proof to back up the Bible’s description, it all makes perfect sense (as though God would include anything other than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in His Holy Word; read Hebrews 6:18 and Romans 3:4). About now, you may be asking “What scientific proof?” Okay, I’ll tell you. December 2011

24


In late 2010, I learned of a DVD production by Frederick A. Larson which explains with scientific proof the Star of Bethlehem event which occurred at Jesus’ birth (read the full story in Matthew 2:1-18). This production is exceptionally well-done and comes highly recommended by a large number of scientists and other academics. You can browse the official site at www. bethlehemstar.net and the Credits page on that site to get more details and even to order the video. To help you make up your mind whether to purchase the video for yourself, you can also watch a two minute promo at www.bethlehemstar.net/ resources.htm, or you can watch the same promo on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKf_ Z5w5O6E, or just search on “Star of Bethlehem promo by Rick Larson” from the YouTube.com site. I was so impressed with the effectiveness of this DVD that I ordered a half dozen and gave them out as Christmas presents last year. Of course, I made certain I kept one for myself, too. You may choose to do the same after you’ve viewed it. Talk about doing effective Christmas evangelism, this DVD or one of the many live presentations by the researcher and producer of this work, Rick Larson, will go a long way in demolishing the walls of doubt in the minds of unbelievers and curious believers alike. Something else to consider, though I haven’t actually tried it myself as yet, is the software Rick Larson recommends in the video for tracking stars yourself. Using this software, Rick not only gives a more likely date of Jesus’ birth, but he also provides the date of Jesus’ cruChristian Computing® Magazine

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

Call 877.703.2484 and Press 2 to Receive Free eBook on Connecting Visitors and Members

December 2011

25


cifixion. Depending on your interest and computer skills, star-tracking may or may not be something you wish to pursue. I’ll leave that up to you. While we all have lots of activities going on at this time of year with parties to attend, gifts to purchase and give out, goodies to bake and eat, doorto-door caroling, worship opportunities to attend, and so on, let’s not overlook any opportunity to present the Gospel of Jesus’ birth, atoning sacrifice, resurrection, and promised return to rule over us forever. After all, that’s what “Joy to the World� really means. Merry Christmas! Michael L. White is a full-time pastor, part-time military chaplain, and part-time independent Christian publisher and author living in Mobile, Alabama. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! (Parson Place Press, April 2011) has been revised and expanded for a second edition.

"OOPVODJOH $)63$)8*/%0848&# 6TF$IVSDI8JOEPXT i*O5IF$MPVEw 0O5IF(P "OZXIFSF"OZUJNF

$IVSDI8JOEPXT8FCPòFST tTFDVSFE PòTJUFBDDFTT tTBNFTPGUXBSFVTFEEBJMZCZNPSFUIBO DIVSDIFT tDPOUJOVPVTEBUBCBDLVQT tEBUBTUPSFEJOXPSMEDMBTTEBUBDFOUFST tBVUPNBUJD FòPSUMFTTVQEBUJOH

1PXFSGVMBOE$PNQMFUFMZ*OUFHSBUFE.FNCFSTIJQ 4DIFEVMFS %POBUJPOT "DDPVOUJOH 1BZSPMM $)63$)8*/%0848&#XPSLTPO 8JOEPXT1$Tt.BDTt8JOEPXT-BQUPQTt8JOEPXT/FUCPPLT .BD#PPLTtJ1BETt"OESPJE5BCMFUTtJ1IPOFTt"OESPJE4NBSUQIPOFT

4UBSUUIFKPVSOFZ OPXBU XXXDIVSDIXJOEPXTDPN $IVSDI8JOEPXT%FTLUPQ $IVSDI8JOEPXT8FC $IVSDI.BOBHFNFOU4PGUXBSF 

Websites For Ministry Made Easy

A powerful suite of web tools for you to manage your website, email accounts, enewsletters, multimedia, calendars and much more. Yet, it’s so easy, anyone can work with the content of Radius Web Tools.

• Easy to Use • Wide Choice of Designs • Fast and Friendly Help • Search Engine Optimization Just $50/Month

(Set up fee required)

Take a look around Radius Web Tools and try it out. It’s that easy!

Call for a free demo. 1-800-446-3035

Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine

December 2011

26


the power and the danger

Streaming Video Services

By Russ McGuire - russ.mcguire@gmail.com

A

s Christmas approaches, my mind naturally turns to cool gadgets. One technology that has invaded our home is streaming video. We now have four types of consumer electronics devices in our home that can receive video streams from services like Netflix and Hulu (a Roku player, our Wii gaming console, a connected BluRay player, and a “smart” TV). Does this create opportunity for churches and other ministries? What are the dangers? What are Streaming Video Services? There doesn’t seem to be a standard term to describe the class of video service providers that include Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and uStream. These companies stream video content over the Internet, often as part of a subscription business model. The subscriber can choose to watch something and immediately can access that content wherever they are. Streaming video services can typically be watched on computers, mobile devices, and a growing array of consumer electronics devices as I described in my introductory paragraph. Technically, services such as YouTube, Facebook, GodTube, Sermonindex, and SermonAudio could also be considered streaming video services Christian Computing® Magazine

since they too stream video over the Internet. For purposes of my discussion here, I would exclude services like YouTube, Facebook, and God Tube because they are dominated by amateur uploads of video content rather than professionally produced content from authoritative sources. How can Christian Ministries Benefit from Streaming Video Services? Obviously, many churches and ministries are already using services such as Sermonindex and SermonAudio to the glory of God. Much of the content at these sites is audio, but an increasing number of churches have advanced to video. These services provide a convenient way for church members to December 2011

27


hear sermons they missed due to travel or infirmity. They also enable Christians to find good teaching from around the world on topics they are exploring, or to follow a favorite pastor from afar. Brothers and sisters seeking a new church home can also get a good feel for different churches much more efficiently by listening to their sermons during the week and narrowing down the list of candidates to visit on Sundays. Because of these uses, churches find great value in these services that enable them to cost effectively broaden the impact of their ministry for the glory of God. However, services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and uStream have a couple of characteristics that Sermonindex and SermonAudio generally lack. First, these secular services appeal to a broad cross-section of the global population – not just Christians. Second, they have focused on integrating their content into consumer electronics products, making it easier for families to watch video content in the more natural family room setting, gathered around the television. On the first point, if we can find a way to meet nonbelievers where they are, our chances for evangelism increase significantly. Unfortunately, it’s hard for Christian ministries to break into the content portfolio at Netflix and Hulu. uStream lets just about anyone create a live stream of their event. As I write this on a Saturday morning, searching for “sermon” at uStream brings up three live streams Christian Computing® Magazine

and over 11,000 recorded streams. This is amidst a potpourri of non-Christian video sources. The uStream home page features a variety of popular streamers including Lebron James, MTV, PBS, and NASA. By participating in uStream, churches and ministries have the opportunity to encounter the lost where they are and reach them with the gospel. uStream has also worked hard to integrate into December 2011

28


the consumer electronics world. uStream is integrated into Google TV, Boxee, and Panasonic smart TVs. Consumers with these types of devices can access uStream content on their television. Roku is a bit different from the other video streaming services. Roku is primarily a consumer electronics company. They make a small box that connects to your TV and plays streaming content over the Internet. Like cable, you subscribe to different channels (many of which are free), and then those channels are available via a remote control as you watch TV. These channels include Netflix and Hulu, but anyone can create their own channel as well. This requires programming and the ability to host the streamed content, so it’s not as easy as uploading a video to YouTube or audio to SermonAudio. Today, there are a couple of dozen channels listed in Roku’s “Spiritual” category, including 9 individual churches. One of the channels on the Roku is SermonAudio, so this traditionally web-based streaming service is also moving into the consumer electronics world. By moving into the family room and onto the Christian Computing® Magazine

big screen TV, these streaming services can become more of a family event and can better engage the entire person with rich media. What are the Dangers of Streaming Video Services? So, are there dangers for ministries using streaming services? Of course, as with any technology, there are many dangers of which we must be aware and from which we must pray for God to deliver us. One of the biggest issues with using services like uStream and the Roku is whether, by using them, you may be leading those that you serve into temptation. The first time I pulled up uStream in preparing this article, I was greeted by an attractive young lady in a thin blouse. I quickly clicked through to the “Spirituality” category, so I don’t know exactly what that was about. But, even then, the Spirituality category features “How to Connect Telepathically with Animals”, “Qigong Healing Learn to Heal Yourself”, and “How to Master the Mystic Power of Tarot.” It wasn’t until I searched on “Christianity” that I started finding content that December 2011

29


was at all edifying. Since the Roku has fewer available channels, there’s less objectionable content (spiritually, there are Muslim and Hindu channels, but no psychics). Netflix, Hulu, and other mainstream Roku channels have just as much objectionable content as you’ll find in your cable listings and neighborhood video store, so it’s important for you to balance the opportunity to reach the lost with where you may be taking your own congregation. I believe it’s also worth thinking about whether your ministry is best served through the Internet with a “lean forward” technology that is computer-based, or a “lean back” technology that is TV-based. Undoubtedly, there’s room for both as we seek to serve our Lord, but we should make sure we are appropriately applying God’s gifts in the right ways for each. 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, social networks, smartphones, or streaming video services, 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. Christian Computing® Magazine

shelby Church Software

“I use Shelby to assign & manage workflows to different church staff members.”

Scan or click to see our

Webinar Schedule

Š

800 - 877- 0222

December 2011

30


nick at church

Keyboard Shortcuts

Nick Nicholaou - nick@mbsinc.com

T

he Windows and Mac OSX operating systems each have built-in shortcut keystrokes that can be great time-savers. While this has always been true, I find that most computer users today have either forgotten many of them, or have never even known about them! Something surprising is that they are very similar in both operating systems! Knowing their similarities can ease switching from one to the other. Let’s look at some shortcuts that are very helpful tools that improve efficiency. First, the Keyboards Both operating systems use very similar keyboards—in fact, they are almost identical. But the differences can be frustrating when switching from one platform to the other. Mac Keyboard

Windows Keyboard Christian Computing® Magazine

The Windows operating system uses the Ctrl, Windows, and Alt keys (just to either side of the space bar; the Mac operating system uses the Fn, Control, December 2011

31


Alt/Option, and Command keys. “How to have more time for ministry!” Some Mac keyboards don’t have Do you want to save time, get more done and the Fn key. Though they seem have fewer headaches? Then Donarius Church Management Software will make it easy for you similar, it’s helpful to know that the to track your members, contributions, pledges Starting at $63.97 and more. Imagine what you can do with the Mac’s Command key is equivalent for the base version with 25% off for small churches extra time! Donarius will also: to the Windows Ctrl key for most Download a free demo at: • Print your tax receipts shortcuts; it’s not equivalent to the www.donarius.com • Show the giving pattern of your members • Print your church directories Windows key. 1-888-479-4636 • Send personalized letters, emails and text Nuverb Systems Inc. messages to keep your members informed Used in combination with other “Software tailored for you” keys, the Windows Ctrl key and the I shared with him years ago that is so helpful. When Mac Command key form the majority of keyboard entering a website URL, instead of typing in http:// shortcuts. I find it helpful when doing certain tasks www.mbsinc.com, try this: like printing, copying, pasting, undoing, etc to use • In a Windows browser, type mbsinc followed by keystroke shortcuts because it is usually faster. Ctrl + Enter. It’s also helpful to understand that the Mac’s • In a Mac browser, type mbsinc followed by ⌘ + Delete key to the right of the near-top row of numbers Enter. acts more like a Backspace key than a Delete key. To use it as a Delete key, press Shift + Delete. This only works for .com websites, but can save a Common Task Shortcuts Here’s a quick reference table of common shortcuts worth noting.

Browser Shortcut A colleague recently emailed me about a shortcut Christian Computing® Magazine

lot of time! Those who work a lot in either of these operating systems will tell you there are more ways than those I’ve listed to accomplish the tasks in this chart. They’re correct! There are typically at least three ways to do almost every task! These are the keystrokes I use the most, and the similarity in how they work in both operating systems is helpful when switching between Windows and Mac computers. Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, a consulting firm specializing in church and ministry IT and CPA services. You can reach Nick via email (nick@mbsinc.com) and may want to check out his firm’s website (www.mbsinc.com) and his blog at http:// ministry-it.blogspot.com. December 2011

32


ministry communication Why clear communication is essential for Christmas and how technology gives you the tools to do it

Yvon Prehn - yvon@effectivechurchcom.com

M

any people, who don’t regularly attend church, will visit your church during the Christmas season. This is a wonderful opportunity to explain to them what the Christian faith is all about and why Jesus really is a reason to rejoice this season. At the same time, you can’t take people’s understanding for granted and you need to use strategic communications and all the tools of technology so people don’t leave your church, feeling good, but perhaps confused about the Christian faith. How to be sure your church isn’t confusing the Christmas message How can the church confuse the Christmas message? Isn’t it the secular world with its emphasis on spending and consumption, on parties and secular images, the one confusing the Christmas message? In some ways the secular world no longer confuses the true meaning of Christmas. In the past it seemed that there was a sometimes uncomfortable mixture between the birth of Jesus and Santa, but currently almost every trace of Jesus has been erased in secular presentations of Christmas. In the various programs on TV, it seems like the overarching themes as we approach the holidays are all about “family” (commendChristian Computing® Magazine

able, but important all year) and something frequently referred to as “christmas magic.” The secular world is quite clear that it wants nothing to do with Jesus at Christmas. Sadly, confusion about Jesus is often found in the church. A primary area church communicators need to consider to make sure we aren’t confusing the Christmas message is an area we are often very proud of—our Christmas images. We may have labored long over creating an image or spent hours searching the web and are thrilled about the results, but consider. . . . Our use of Christmas images often doesn’t communicate what we think it communicates. December 2011

33


What could be confusing with Christian images? Santa might be a problem, but what about: • The manger scene in front of the church or inside? • Angels on the bulletins or banners? • Familiar and favorite images of shepherds and stars? Please consider carefully that it is not the use of images that can cause confusion, but images without words that explain their meaning is what can be confusing. It is extraordinarily difficult for those of us who grew up in the church to imagine how someone who grew up completely without Christian teaching views the holidays. But if we all bring years of history, personal context and memories to every image we see. Many of us grew up hearing Christmas stories from the Bible and we have specific memories related to them. If however, you did not grow up with a Bible background, here are some possible associations people might have images precious to those in the church: A star? A star is the logo for Macy’s for many people and is a reminder of “christmas magic.” The manger scene? Maybe something about a myth or some religious history if they know the story at all, but why the birth of Jesus matters at all is most certainly not something most secular people are aware of. For others it is a negative sign of religious intolerance, lack of proper separation of church and state and the subject of lawsuits. Angels? Well, most everybody believes in angels today, so why were they anything special at Christmas? Besides many people think everybody has a guardian angel so why was Jesus special for having one? Our challenge is to use words to EXPLAIN what we mean by our images. If we don’t use words to do that, our images alone can either have a meaning we do not intend or they will not be effective in communicating the message we want to share. Christian Computing® Magazine

Technology strategy to explain Christmas Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins, to fulfill the centuries of God’s promises, to give us a life of meaning and purpose now and eternal joy—it is a message too wonderful to be contained in human images or words—but we should do the best we can. The best strategy is to have a layered approach of technology using every imaginable tool because you don’t know the preferred method of communication consumption for every visitor. Some suggestions: December 2011

34


Website as anchor: on your website be sure you have a clear link on your home page to articles about why Christians celebrate Christmas, what it means, why it’s important. Have a Q & A section of short videos with your pastor and/or … reach out other leaders answering questions people might have about Christmas. Do fun … minister to people ones; do serious ones, but take the time to … create fellowship carefully explain what it means that God became flesh, not simply to show us a … contribute to good example, but to die for us. your community In addition to the materials created by your church, link to other websites PowerChurch Plus was that have clear explanations of the Chriscreated for just that! tian faith. Here is one list of resources: http://www.effectivechurchcom. com/2009/12/faith-resources/ I have Membership We provide you with the tools to another one on the communication piece increase administrative efficiency shared below. People research on the web whatever is interesting to them today and streamline accounting tasks, Accounting whether it is what kind of car to buy or freeing you up to perform the work which diet works best. Do the best you that matters. Contributions can to provide in-depth resources on your website for seekers. Install on your PC or network, or access online. Social media: specifically suggest to Events Choose which fits your needs. your church members content for FaceCalendar book, Twitter and links to longer blogs and web resources. Make certain the people in Check In your congregation are able to explain their faith and share it. If not—do some training before the holidays on how to share your Completely faith with friends and family. We provide software tools, Integrated freeing you up to fulfill your mission. Print: paper is still one of the most frequently accessed and widespread of www.PowerChurch.com • 800.486.1800 communication tools. Be sure when people come to your church events (ALL ing this are incredibly creative—put your creativity to work 3&6&KXUFK([HFXWLYHB[LQGG $0 of them) that they go home with a printed and do all you can so that people who come to your church explanation of what it means to become a Christian. Effective intending to only make the family happy for Christmas, will Church Communications has a handout that is available in stay and come to know forever Jesus, the reason for real celtext, one-page, and brochure format entitled “Hark the Herald ebration at Christmas and forever. Angels Sing, but why?” that is an upbeat, but challenging pre_____________________________ sentation of the Christian faith. The new brochure design for Yvon Prehn is the founder and director of Effective Church this year also has a back panel of links and encouragements to Communications, a ministry and website, http://www. explore the faith in more detail. Here is the link to it: http:// effectivechurchcom.com that provides simple, practical www.effectivechurchcom.com/2011/12/a-christmastraining in print production and website creation to help your brochure-that-explains-the-gospel-hark-the-heraldchurch fully fulfill the Great Commission. angels-sing-but-why/ Whatever you can imagine: I know many of you read-

You want the freedom to

Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

35


big ministry - small resources

Tending the Flocks

W

Bradley Miller - bradley.w.miller@gmail.com

e are coming up to a new year, and with that we have all the “shoulda…woulda…coulda” statements that comprise most New Year Resolutions. If revamping your church web site is on that resolution for the year, are you thinking about how to migrate users from your old site structure to a new system? Are you monitoring your site logs to see what is working on your site and what isn’t? Hang on tight as we delve into a few quick topics to consider as 2012 rolls in. How much traffic does this generate? A few cobwebs are probably on your current web site. If you look at your web site’s statistics logs you can probably spot them fairly quickly. Before ruthlessly hitting the delete button and running amok, be sure to check if the content is relevant and if perhaps, it just needs to be better organized. How many paths into the content are there? Are people searching to find it, or is it easily accessible? There are probably some parts of your site that will ebb and flow during differChristian Computing® Magazine

ent times or the year, or even depending on your church growth. If your church has been around for a long time and has an established population, the “what to expect” and “what we believe” pages might not be as popular as they once were when things were just starting out. That doesn’t mean they still aren’t relevant, so keep that in mind when pruning your site tree. Missing In Action What happens when what was there is now December 2011

36


here and what was here is now gone? If you are revamping a site (or you just finished with some If not, install the RDS Advantage church management system judicious site pruning) then FREE for one year, including its Church Growth applications. you might want to keep an Many churches are struggling with diminished revenue and eye on those error logs for attendance. You can either: the site as well. When you A - Cut overhead and staff, or move a page or revamp an B - Implement programs to promote membership entire site, the underlying growth and participation. page structures can cause If you like option B, install RDS Advantage at no a lot of 404 errors (HTML cost for one year. Training, data conversion, and - page not found) to start licensing are included. At the end of the year you can continue your use of this powerful church system. popping up on your web (Offer limited to the first fifty churches that apply!) site. If you are moving Click on www.rdsadvantage.com/offer to see a site from a static layout more details and apply. (IE: pages built “off-line” with an HTML editor) to a YOUR RDS ADVANTAGE TEAM dynamic site (IE: a content rds@rdsadvantage.com • www.rdsadvantage.com • 800.337.6328 • 405.840.5177 management system with pages built from a database) then you will probably see a lot of issues pop up. If Aunt Gertrude had the “choir_members.html” page bookmarked so she could keep track of people, when the page disappears because it’s now “index.php?page=choir_members”...she is going to be rather befuddled. If you are savvy, you can write some “server site redirects” so that if anyone is accessing your site with .html based site urls they will get forwarded to a new search page, or perhaps a site map for the new site. Many web site managers and content editors will allow you to customize your 404 error pages. One thing we are trying on our site is a link to report site errors so people can provide instant feedback on what is not working with our web site via a trouble ticket system. Keeping track of the changes in your web site and what is working and not working can be a daunting task, but it’s very important to work through the site and fix problems before they turn people away. Many people now visit churches virtually on the web before they ever step foot into your building or worship area. If your web site is broken and filled with problems, they are going to deduce a lot from that experience. Thankfully, God is working in people as well and drawing them to build his Church as well; maybe that new face in the doorway might just the person to fix your current web site’s problems.

Is Your Church Growing?

Christian Computing® Magazine

December 2011

37


CCMag Dec 2011  

Christian Computing Magazine December 2011 Issue

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you