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Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - Managing Editor Kevin Cross -

Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 25

April 2013

No. 4

3  cover story

Digging into Church360° Unite

Enhance Your Church’s Online “Curb Appeal” By Steve Hewitt

Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Michael L White Copy Editors Gina Hewitt Magen Cross

Corporate Home Office


Church Windows: Handling In-kind Gifts


from Church Windows Software

Engaging Your Parishioners Online

The Rise of Mobile


© Copyright 2013 by Christian Computing®, Inc.

from Liturgical Publications


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26  Ministry Communication


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Using Google+ in Ministry

Apologetic Evangelism

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Common Sense and Routine Updates are Keys to Online Safety


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How to use Mother’s day to grow your church Yvon Prehn -

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How to Get the Most Out of Your ChMS

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April 2013


cover story

Digging into Church360° Unite

Enhance Your Church’s Online “Curb Appeal” By Steve Hewitt


ast November, our cover story about Church360° from Concordia Technology Solutions. Church360° is a software suite, offering a variety of solutions for today’s church. Back in November, they told me they were far from finished, and that we would be seeing some exciting new additions coming down the road. And, this month, we are delighted to share with you their newest addition, Church360° Unite! The following is an interview with Bob Lail, lead developer for the new Church360°® software suite. What is Church360° Unite? Church360° Unite is easy Web site builder software that gives you the tools you need and the flexibility you want to build the Web site you’ve always envisioned—no matter what your experience level is. Church360° Unite is the second release of a three-component suite of products called Church360°, the first of which (Church360° Members) launched last fall. Refresh our memories. . . . what is Church360°? Church360° is a new software suite from Concordia Technology Solutions to help pastors, church staff, and volunteers anticipate and manage their congregational needs. The Church360° suite includes Church360° Members, Church360° Unite, Christian Computing® Magazine

and Church360° Ledger—three products that can be purchased independently or together. So, will churches need to find a web developer before they start using Church360° Unite? Absolutely not. Church360° Unite is very user-friendly. Our goal is that within in a relatively short amount of time and with very little guidance, any member of the church could use Church360° Unite to get a really nice website up and running. Essentially the program helps churches build a website right, but not by burdening them with all the details. And they can take it as far as they want to—it can serve as an easy-to-use template (kind of like Wordpress) or they can dig into the code and change anything and everything. April 2013


So, why does a church need to have a nice website anyway? In today’s technologically super-charged society, the internet is more than just a place for information—it’s a virtual conduit for engagement, scheduling, and decision making. No matter what you’re looking for, it can be found online. It is now common practice for people to check out a destination online before deciding to visit it in person. This proves true for today’s churches just as much as any other entity. Think of your church’s Web site as its “online curb appeal.” In today’s competitive environment, churches should be prepared for their first impression to be made online.

also church members (or guests). That’s why we built Church360° Unite in a way that makes it easy to connect it to a church management system (like Church360° Members or Shepherd’s Staff) so that contact information is shared and kept up-to-date for both products. We also made it so that Church360° Unite users do more than post comments; they can also join real, physical social groups in their churches, start groups online, meet people, and connect, plan and RSVP to events. I think churches will be looking to have more of those kinds of interactions

What sets Church360° Unite above the rest of the Web site builders out there? I think a lot of web building sites are concerned primarily with content and branding. They’re about controlling look-and-feel and about creating, disseminating, and (to a lesser extent) interacting with content. Church360° Unite innovates in that area— giving advanced users a lot of control over the site’s look-and-feel and providing even the average user with a lot of options! Church360° Unite then takes it to the next step by allowing church members to sign in and view pages that are not meant for the public eye. They can interact in groups, view the member directory, update their contact information, and more. How is it suited specifically for churches? We know that Church360° Unite users are Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


on their church website (or they’d like to have them now, but don’t know how or where to start). Church360° Unite lays a great foundation for all of that, and we’ve opened the door to literally a million possibilities. Does Church360° Unite sync well with outside outlets like Google and Facebook? Yes, but very minimally for now. If we think that church members will have to participate in some kind of activity on their church website, they’ll have to log in. They’ll have to have a “persona” on their church’s website. Well, rather than keeping your name, e-mail address, password, and thumbnail up-todate on yet another site, Church360° Unite lets you log in with your Facebook or Google accounts. That’s pretty cool. At present, that’s all Church360° Unite does with those accounts, but the convenience is a pretty big deal. What if something goes wrong? Does your team really support every Web site? Yep! Church360° Unite is a hosted website solution. So rather than downloading our software and figuring out how to get it up and running on your server, we host your site. Your site is running on our servers; that means that if something goes wrong, we’re here to support it. Can you explain how Church360° Unite syncs with the other portions of the Church360° suite? To be clear, you can buy Church360° Unite without buying the other portions of the suite; however, all portions of the suite work seamlessly together by “talking” to each other. For example, Church360° Unite “talks to” Church360° Members to get certain pieces of information, like a member’s name or your calendar. It then keeps local copies of bits of Church360° Members data and refreshes them periodically. That means that whenever you change any information in Church360° Unite, it’s updated immediately in Church360° Members. The short answer is that, if you had Church360° Members first, a bunch of information will be in Church360° Unite as soon as you Christian Computing® Magazine

get started. If you buy Church360° Members later, everything you did in Church360° Unite that’s applicable to Church360° Members will be there immediately when you get started. What are some of the cool functions of Church360° Unite? Two of my favorites are Inline Editing and the E-mail Relay. With Inline Editing, you can change how a page looks by flipping a switch labeled “Edit Mode.” This makes it so that you don’t have to go back and forth between an Admin section and the real site to see your changes. They’re visible immediately—like editing a Word document. The E-mail Relay lets you select a group of users, compose an e-mail to them using Outlook or Gmail or whatever client you use for e-mail, and then Church360° Unite will send your e-mail one-off to each of the users you selected. Will you explain what the ‘groups’ function is? Groups are social groups. Any member of a church can create a group (e.g. “Ladies’ Aid”) and then other members of the church can join— it’s actually pretty straightforward. Groups can be public or private and they can each have their own events and discussion wall. That is a great way for group leaders to make announcements, members to make prayer requests, or simply to hold general discussions. Is Church360° Unite secure? Yes! “Secure” is a loaded word because it means all kinds of things; but Church360° Unite is all kinds of secure. We use state-of-the-art encryption for passwords. That’s one kind of secure. We do nightly backups and have redunApril 2013


dant databases. That’s another kind. We also have processes for keeping our dependencies up-to-date and applying security patches right way. Finally, we have a tool that regularly vets Church360° Unite for security vulnerabilities. What purpose do ”feeds” serve on a church’s Web site? “Feeds” are a way to share content. Sermons, blogs, and newsletters can all be uploaded onto the Web site in a feed that allows members to easily find and read content in one place. What else do I need to know about Church360° Unite to get started? During the setup process, Church360° Unite will automatically generate a lot of content for you. This is to show you how a site could look and be laid out. It’s all placeholder content—so don’t feel bad about deleting it, or confused as to where it came from—we just didn’t want to give you a blank slate. When you pick a theme, don’t forget to poke around in its “Customize” options. You can change colors, fonts, and all kinds of other things for most of the themes. Oh, and if you want to do something totally different, or your church wants a custom-designed site built by a professional designer, you should definitely still look at Church360° Unite. A designer will enjoy working with Church360° Unite because you can abandon the built-in themes and make your own. Your designer will get to work with the tools he or she is already familiar with, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to create whatever you can imagine for a church Web site. Meanwhile, you’ll get the benefit of Church360° Unite as a CMS, its ability to integrate with Church360° Members and Google Calendar, and all of its other benefits. Sounds great! Where can people go to learn more about Church360° Unite? You can visit our brand-new website or call our customer service team at 1-800-325-2399. We have a free, 30-day trial available so you can get started and see how you like it. Check it out!

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Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


church windows Software


Church Windows: Handling In-kind Gifts


t is important for churches to encourage and provide donors with proper documentation for special giving situations to encourage continued giving. While the responsibility of complying with record keeping requirements for tax deductibility of in-kind gifts ultimately rests with the donor, tax treatment is determined by the facts and circumstances of the situation. While a tax advisor can always best determine specific circumstances, the following are some general guidelines: General information needed for tax deduction of non-cash items includes: 1. Name of the recipient organization. 2. Date and location of contribution. 3. Reasonably detailed description of the donated property. 4. The fair market value of the property at the time of donation and the method used for determining the fair market value. 5. Cost of the property donated.

Donors are not required to obtain a receipt for in-kind gifts with a tax deduction value of less than $250 when it is impractical to get one (e.g. drop boxes). However, the recipient should provide the donor with written documen-

Christian Computing® Magazine

tation of items 1 – 3 above whenever possible. If the value of the in-kind gift is between $250 and $500, written documentation of items 1 – 3 are required to claim a tax deduction. Additionally, the documentation must state whether any goods or services were provided to the donor in return and, if so, the fair market value of those goods or services. If the value of the in-kind gift is between $501 and $5000, the same information is required as for gifts between $250 and $500 plus the donor must be able to show how the property was acquired, the date acquired, and the adjusted basis of the property. If the value of the in-kind gift is more than $5000, all the above requirements must be met; in addition these gifts generally require a written appraisal. REMEMBER: It is the contributor’s responsibility to prove the worth of the items to the IRS, not the church’s responsibility. April 2013


Donations of Stock It can be advantageous for a donor to make a contribution of stock, provided the value of the stock has increased since it was acquired. If the donor has held the stock for more than one year, the donor may deduct the value of the stock at the date of gift but is not required to include the gain in income. Publicly traded stocks do not require written appraisals, regardless of the value. If the stock has been held for one year or less than the tax deduction is limited to the lower of the basis (cost) or the fair market value at the date of gift. Contributions When Donor Receives Goods Or Services In numerous fundraising activities a donor will receive goods or services provided by the organization (e.g. car wash, bake sales). If the payment made is partly a contribution and partly for goods or services, a portion of the payment is deductible if the amount of the payment exceeds the value of goods or services received, and if the donor intends to make a payment in excess of the fair market value of the goods or services. If the contribution is $75 or more, the recipient must provide a statement informing the donor the amount of the contribution allowed. The recipient must make a good-faith estimate of the fair market value of the goods or services provided to the contributor.


“This solution helped us meet our employee eligibility tracking and compliance initiative, with a one-year return on investment. I highly recommend it!” Joe Braddock CFO - Diocese of Jefferson City, MO

Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


engaging your parishioners online


The Rise of Mobile

from Liturgical Publications


hat smartphone do you use? Are you a Samsung Galaxy user or an iPhone user? Chances are in this day and age you’re either one or the other. There’s also a very good chance you find yourself less and less using your phone to actually make a phone call. Phone calls don’t typically make it to the top three things many of us use our phones for anymore. With your phone, you may text, check your email, surf the web, navigate with its GPS, play your favorite games or use your favorite apps, and oh, yes, you may occasionally make a phone call! Mobile computing has now become commonplace. There are now more mobile devices surfing the Internet than there were PCs and Macs just two years ago, and by 2014, a study by Microsoft predicts there will be more smartphones surfing the web than all the PCs, Macs and laptops combined. That same study said that the average American spends 2.7 hours per day socializing on Christian Computing® Magazine

their mobile device. At first, I thought that was ridiculous, but walk into an elevator or look around a Starbucks these days. What are people doing? They’re staring at their phone! For the average church this means that we now need to focus on ensuring our website works on mobile phones. The smartphones today will serve up most websites. In fact, probably all websites will run on a smartphone unless they’re rely heavily on Adobe’s Flash product. The iPhones won’t support Flash and the Android phones will be dropping support for it in the future as well. However, April 2013


core functional requirements that every church website needs to have: • The content on the website must be simple to maintain. You shouldn’t need a masters degree in Computer Science to update your church’s home page; you should only need to reasonably comfortable using Microsoft Word. • Your website should be useable on any Internet Device. PCs or Macs, iPads, IPhones, or Androids. It shouldn’t matter. We may be passionate about our faith, but in terms of technology, we need to be agnostic.

even if your website doesn’t use Flash just running your website on a Smartphone isn’t enough. Is your website actually useable on a smartphone? Do a simple test. Try accessing your church’s website on your smartphone. Can you read the text or is it too small? Now, try and do the three most common things people go to your website for: find your mass times, contact phone numbers and email addresses, and find directions to your church. If you can’t do these simple functions on your church’s website, you’ll be literally missing almost one-third of your website’s potential users next year. All church websites need to support mobile. You don’t necessarily need an App, in fact, I would advise against it, but you do need a website that’s mobile aware and adjusts to whatever device your parishioners and visitors are using to find you. Unfortunately, very few church website products currently do this. At Liturgical Publications, last year we updated our church website builder, WeConnect, to be fully mobile aware. The website adjusts dynamically to the size of the browser window and the device you’re using. We believe there’s really only two Christian Computing® Magazine

Taking a look at the Google Analytics report of our WeConnect product across the few hundred church websites that we maintain, we can see now that 31% of all our website traffic is from either smartphones or iPads. This percentage has risen by almost 10% in less than one year! We just broke 20% mobile usage in early 2012. Google Analytics can further breakdown what devices are hitting our websites and the graph below summarizes this.

As you can see, Apple’s iPhones, iPads, iPods still have a dominating percentage across all the mobile devices, but Samsung’s Android products are definitely starting to grow. If you’re website doesn’t work on smartphone effectively, I would encourage you to talk to your April 2013


website vendor. If you’re looking for a new website, please check out our product at www. For more on the impact of Mobile Technology and the Church, please check out our presentation on Slideshare.Net. Joe Luedtke is the President of the E-giving Division for Liturgical Publications Inc (LPi),, an organization that provides print publications, communication solutions, and online donation services to Catholic parishes. At LPi, Joe serves as the organization’s technology evangelist responsible for the organization’s digital strategy and its Internet products and services. Joe and his wife along with their two children live in Wisconsin. Joe can be found online on his blog and can be reached at

Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013



Common Sense and Routine Updates are Keys to Online Safety By: Steven Sundermeier


verywhere in my child’s school are signs and cartoons to “Cover your Cough” and “Wash your Hands”, and as adults we know these general rules are good for our health, and we follow accordingly. We all know germs are there, but we can’t necessarily see them. I believe it’s time people began to heed the truth that computer viruses and malware are just as inconspicuous, and can be much more dangerous and costly than the flu. Cybercriminals are fueled by the fact that user negligence is the main reason infections spread. Most of the time people are in a hurry and simply don’t pay attention while they’re online. The results are serious, and a user’s lack of attention/awareness enables malware authors to break through security holes. Users are human, which means we are largely focused on our own priorities while online, our timeframe for doing so, and on all of this happening as quickly as possible. And so while users are only human, they are also ultimately the weakest link in the overall security of a system or network. On a grand scale, the general public should not get caught in the trap of thinking that today’s malware/threats are no longer geared towards them but rather against celebrities or nations (via “cyberweapons”), etc. Users must remain diliChristian Computing® Magazine

gent! In terms of staying virus-free and uninfected, the internet is not an area where trust is encouraged. The following points will result in increased security to end-users, and include commonly overlooked security practices and tangible ways to live proactively in defense of malware and infections. [1] Change passwords frequently Regularly changing a password is one of the easiest things a user can do, but unfortunately it is also viewed as one of the most inconvenient. Take the time to change your passwords at least twice a year, and be assured that it does make a difference. [2] Only open email attachments coming from a trusted source Resist the temptation to click on any (and every!) April 2013


email that floats into your inbox. These are crafted to appeal to you in some sense (financial matter, newsworthy, health, etc), but they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you do not know the sender: DO NOT OPEN IT! Even if you do recognize the senders name, if it looks/seems fishy, DO NOT OPEN IT. Err on the side of caution, and contact the sender if you have concerns about the attachment, or go with our more blunt recommendation: just delete it! [3] Don’t follow links without knowing what they link to The dangers of social networking sites are many, and one popular trend is shortening website links for placement on social networking feeds. Don’t follow shortened links unless you are sure where they are directing you. Before clicking on a link within an email, always roll over the link first to see where you’ll be directed. Otherwise you may fall victim to a phishing scam, and cybercriminals are waiting for you. They know we are a hurried, careless, and easily-allured culture, and they are becoming increasingly savvy in their attempts to trap us.

remains up-to-date and scanned at regular intervals “Free” antivirus options do exist, but they won’t cut it against Vobfus and other similar threats, and like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Excellent protection does not have to be expensive, but an investment in quality antivirus security will pay you back in time-saved from infections, and peace of mind. Keep your antivirus protection current and run scans at regularly scheduled times. These practices will ensure a thick wall of protection around your daily online-activity. Simple precautions, like changing your passwords often, staying current with updates, and only opening mail from trusted sources are easy ways to maintain a secure network in an increasingly unsecure online world. Education is our best offensive in combating cybercrime and caging Vobfus and other similar malware. Thirtyseven4 partners with users daily to protect and support against the latest threats. For more information, or to request free educational, security awareness posters about avoiding scams and hacking, please visit us at

[4] Apply the latest security updates whenever required /prompted by your installed applications - such as Windows and MAC OS updates, Java, Adobe updates, etc. This is a simple thing that can make every difference in your personal safety online. The ridiculous reality is that the average user simply doesn’t take the time or is too inconvenienced to apply the patches. Security updates are viewed as an annoying mosquito that keeps reappearing, instead of the protective screen that keeps real threats at bay. [5] Limit access to removable drives and shared drives Many of the prolific worms of today utilize removable drives to aggressively spread from system to system or throughout a network. Take Worm Vobfus, an infamous worm that has been running wild since 2009. Exploiting the autorun feature within Windows, our [Thirtyseven4] reports have shown that more than 200,000 Vobfus infections have been blocked and/or repaired in the last 3 months. This worm is running rampant, and removable and shared drives are the path of choice for its ongoing propagation. [6] Install strong antivirus software, making sure it Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


higher power with kevin

Using Google+ in Ministry

Kevin A. Purcell -


oogle+ offers the best set of tools for a quality church social network with communities, YouTube videos, Picasa web photo albums and great video chat features. Why don’t more churches use it for social interaction? The answer comes in two words - Facebook and Twitter. This month, I’ll step out of my normal sphere - Bible Study software and apps - to talk about why I think more churches should go with Google+. Why Not Facebook and Twitter? Facebook dominates the social media landscape? with Twitter closing the gap, if it hasn’t already overtaken the big blue behemoth. In the early days Twitter flourished for tech mavins while Facebook appealed to students. Both began to hit mainstream and also started to tarnish. Facebook cluttered their service with games, a busy interface and complicated policies that seem to change every minute. The look of the service seems to change with little added function frustrating users. Yet we put up with it because that’s where our friends and family hang out for lack of a better alternative. Meanwhile Twitter went mainstream by partnering with old mainline entertainment and news media outlets. Who can watch a TV show without seeing a Twitter hashtag (those keywords that begin with Christian Computing® Magazine

#)? What sporting event happens without a flood of Twitter comments? Take the blackout during the Super Bowl earlier this year as an example. Instantly people and even corporations took to Twitter to comment or take advantage of the situation. Oreo Cookies created an instant ad campaign. My church uses a Facebook closed community to gather. Only a quarter of regular attendees use the service because we’re a traditional Baptist church meaning a good percentage of our people are over 50 and don’t own computers. Yet, it can still effectively communicate with people. My church uses a Twitter account and posts regularly, but few follow it. Besides email, Facebook fits the bill for simple communication. Yet, everyone one of my members bemoans the “necessity” of Facebook. More and more younger people like April 2013


teens and twenty-something people moved over to other social networks, we fear to escape the influx of parents. Facebook reigns supreme, but few in our church even like the service. That’s why I wish we could get more people to switch over to Google+. Facebook and Twitter fall miserably short compared to Google+. What Google+ Offers Churches. Like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ lets users post their thoughts online. Users can cram more information into a post on Google+ than they can with Twitter. It offers links and image/video handling like Facebook. However, I prefer YouTube to Facebook videos. There’s a lot more people using YouTube to watch video, so go where the masses gather to get noticed. Facebook integrates with YouTube, but not as effectively as Google+ since Google owns both YouTube and G+. To get started using Google+ for a church, set up a Google+ Page. At the bottom of the list of links along the left the user will see all the areas of Google+. The last thing will let the user set up a page. This is like setting up a brand new account Christian Computing® Magazine

controlled by the user. This essentially creates a new Google+ account under the same email address the user used to set up his or her main G+ account. Do this first before setting up any of the other things below. In setting up the page, G+ will ask to upload photos and start a new community. It will let the user add some events and more. Read below to learn more about these. Facebook offers limited image editing, but Google+ incorporates Picasa, a powerful image editing tool that organizes images well too. Once a user starts placing pictures in their albums, they can share them with groups or use them to customize their page’s look. A church can post images, create albums for groups, and share those pictures with all their members. The same is true of videos. They also serve as attention getting media for the church’s ministries. A group can also set up a special section of G+ called a Google+ Community. The church can create a private community or a public one. I like the idea of a public community where people can discover the church and a private one for members of the April 2013


church or for staff or both. Smaller churches might just use two communities, a public community for discovery and one private group for all to post thoughts about the sermon, prayer needs, discussions about ways to reach out or just a discussion about current events. Larger churches might create a private group for more than one subgroup like staff, parents, youth, singles, couples, Sunday school classes or small groups, choir, etc. A community can host its own discussion forums with theme, topic or group subjects. For example, I set up a Christian Computing Magazine community ( ccmag-gplus) and created sub discussion forums for each of our three sister publications, Christian Computing Magazine, Christian Video Magazine and The American Church Magazine. There’s also a general discussion area, a suggestions area where readers can suggest ideas for articles and finally a water cooler for off-topic talk. The Google Hangout feature lets users create an online video chat session for members. I can imagine groups using this for Sunday School when there’s inclement weather. Also a pastor could set up a Bible study for students away at college or shut-ins who have a computer. Some churches might want to use a Google+ Hangout for streaming their worship services or Bible studies to the group. I’d like to start using Hangouts for Bible software training or discussion times. Since the feature includes desktop sharing, I can image an expert in a program sharing tips for better use to a group of learners. The Hangout will also let the group save it to YouTube for later use. This might work for archiving past worship services on YouTube. The Google+ Events section Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


lets the group setup of calendar of events. Members can inform organizers whether they will attend the group or not and the event will become part of the user’s personal Google Calendar, if they use that. During an event, the church could turn on Party Mode (http://bit. ly/googlepartymode) which lets users with smart phones post pictures of the event. They will show up in the event album. The Google+ Android app asks if a user wants to post a photo taken with the app to the party, if the photo was taken during the event’s time frame. To help get the word out about a church or ministry, the Google+ page organizers should make sure to include their group in Google Local. Ask members to go to their Local section and search for the church and rate it, to help others see how good the church is. Should Churches Use Google+? Fellow writer and colleague Nick Nicholaou asked this same question about what Google service calls Google Apps - Gmail, Google Drive and now Google+. I agree that it might not serve the church well to use the whole Google Apps for a domain since it can get expensive. However, a member can set up a useful Google+ Page that offers all the above features for free. People feel passionate about Facebook. I wouldn’t shut down my Facebook presence just yet. Try using a service like If This Then That (www. to cross post things from Facebook to Twitter and G+. But strongly consider adding Google+ to your church’s online social networking strategy. I believe it will only grow more ubiquitous in the future and you’ll start seeing more and more people getting on board.

Christian Computing® Magazine

April 2013


digital evangelism

Apologetic Evangelism

Michael L White -


ur contemporary understanding and usage of the word apology seems to have veered away from its original intent. For at least the past 185 years (dating back to Noah Webster’s 1828 edition of the English dictionary) we’ve defined an apology as offering an excuse or a peace offering in words, saying “I’m sorry” to someone for an offense we’ve committed or something we’ve done less than acceptably. While we can make the case that this meets the classical definition of the word apology (i.e., “to give a defense”), it is not an entirely accurate mindset for defining the term apologetic evangelism, because, although we are indeed offering a defense of our Christian beliefs in apologetic evangelism, we are not offering an excuse or a peace offering in words, such as saying “I’m sorry” for what we believe. We get our English word apology from the Greek word apologia (ἀπολογία; Strong’s G627), which means “a plea; an answer; a defense.” Interestingly, the Apostle Peter uses a variant of this word, apologeomai (ἀπολογέομαι; Strong’s G626), when he admonishes us as believers to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV). In other words, we are supposed to know enough about what we believe and why we believe it that whenever someone asks or challenges Christian Computing® Magazine

us to explain our position of faith we can do so with confidence and accuracy and, as Peter says, “with meekness and fear” (i.e., gentleness, humility, and reverence for God and His Word). In these waning days of The Church Age, it seems that fewer and fewer Christians are sharing their personal witness of what Christ has done for them, and for those few who are willing to testify, less and less of them can give a biblically sound explanation of what they believe and why they believe it. Based on a study conducted by LifeWay Research, Jon D. Wilke wrote in an article for LifeWay (dated August 13, 2012) that “80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months” ( research-survey-sharing-christ-2012). Whether this is caused by timidity or ignorance of the Gospel or both, April 2013


the result is the same – the work of Biblically faithful however, it is therefore not so certain. The fact is that evangelism remains largely undone. there are two competing statements for everything Throughout the intervening years since Jesus’ we know and believe. There is what God has said is ascension into Heaven, there have been a great numthe truth (John 17:17), and then there is what God’s ber of powerful Christian apologists for the Word of archenemy, Satan, says is the truth. Furthermore, Jesus God, the Gospel of Christ, and the salvation He offers. has said that Satan “…does not stand in the truth, bePerhaps the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th cause there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he century was C. S. Lewis, but overlapping both the 20th speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the and 21st centuries is one I consider to be a true confather of it” (John 8:44 NKJV). The overarching questender for the title of greatest Christian apologist of our tion then is this: whose word are we going to believe time, Dr. Ravi Zacharias. His international ministry – God’s Word or Satan’s word? defines its mission in part as “to reach and challenge This process of comparing competing statements is those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … [and] to touch both the heart and the intellect of the thinkers and influencers of society” (http:// get your free demo Every time I listen to him speak I am ply enthralled by the sheer logic in 800-773-7570 the truth he expresses about God and God’s created order. Only a defiant and willful idiot will deny the obvious, logical truth as Dr. Zacharias so Manage your ministry with clearly and plainly presents it. If only I could be as eloquent as he is! Apologetic evangelism, when Track donations, Email Statements, done effectively, may well be the Manage: Small Groups, Classes, Attendance, most successful method of sharing Visitor follow-up, Outreach and MORE! the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have available to us. At the very least, even the most resistant listener will find himself at a loss for words to carry on the verbal assault against the truth of Keep children safe with God (Luke 21:15). Such a one will either have to admit the truth or walk away in humiliated exasperation. Easy check-in, secure check-out, While the preponderance of Syncs with Servant Keeper, evidence not only for God’s existence Name badges w/ allergies, notes, alerts, class info. but for His stated manner for the Claim tickets for parents/guardians, run background checks origin of our universe seems overwhelming and irrefutable to us true believers, we must come to grips with the reality that God has deliberately left the acceptance of these facts as Plan worship effortlessly with a matter of faith. In other words, the evidence of God’s existence and the veracity of His Word are overwhelmKeeps your song library at your fingertips, ing and irrefutable for us primarily Quickly plan and schedule services and teams because we choose to take His Word Easily track song usage and do reports it. For those who choose to reject it,


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nothing new to the world, of course, since God permitted Satan to pose his contradictory words to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden shortly after the completion of the divinely created order, most likely within the first few days or weeks after God finished His creation. In fact, I believe this was the very reason God created human beings with the power of choice, so that they could choose for themselves whether to accept and believe God’s Word as the ultimate, absolute, and only truth. God continues to allow people to choose between His Word and Satan’s contradictory word even now.

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Do we accept and believe that we and the world we live in came into being exactly as God said, or do we exchange God’s Word of truth for Satan’s contradiction that everything came into being in a different manner? Just as errantly, do we compromise our belief in God’s Word by posing a blend of God’s truth with Satan’s lie by trying to curry favor with our unbelieving friends and relatives who have rejected God’s truth? In other words, have we accepted the concocted stories that combine God’s account in the Bible with so-called scientists’ account, which they have based on numerous faulty assumptions, resulting in faulty conclusions, just so we can appear as intelligent and scientifically astute as they are? We really can’t have it both ways, you know. Either God is true and every man who rejects God’s Word is a liar (Romans 3:3-4) or truth really is relative to everyone with no way of ever understanding why or how two contradictory statements can both be true! In my humble opinion, “relative truth” is the single-most illogical and idiotic concept ever proposed by supposed-intelligent human beings! As true believers and apologists for the truth of God’s Word, we must first have a sound understanding of what is actual truth before we attempt to share it with others or else we will be no different from the scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus denounced during His time on earth (Matthew 23:15). So, what is truth? Pilate rhetorically asked Jesus that question during Jesus’ trial (John 18:37-38). However, Jesus had already answered that question the night before in His latenight prayer to God the Father after the Passover meal with His disciples. He prayed, “Sanctify them [those who believe] by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17 NKJV; emphasis added). If only Pilate had realized before he walked away without waiting for Jesus to respond to his question that The Absolute Incarnate Truth was standing right in front of him (John 1:1-3, 14 & 17)! April 2013


Perhaps the Apostle John meant for this to illustrate the kingdom. “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revsheer irony of the situation. elation 22:20 NKJV). Until we accept the Holy Bible as God’s PersonMichael L. White is the founder and Managing ally-inspired Holy Word (2 Timothy 3:16 & 2 Peter Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Chris1:21) and stake our full faith and confidence in and tian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His book on its absolute truth, we will be at risk of being blown Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! (Parson about by “every wind of doctrine” that comes along Place Press, April 2011) is available wherever books (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV), like a downy feather in are sold. For a list of his other books and articles, visit a springtime breeze, including being led astray by his Web site at supposed “enlightening clarifications” as contained in some scientific journals which, though espoused by presumed Christians, contradict the clear Word of God. The same John who wrote the Gospel of John also wrote in one of his letters to the Church, “… he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10 … reach out NKJV). If this is true regarding our acceptance of Jesus as Who the … minister to people Bible says He is (the Son of God, … create fellowship Savior of the world, and Everlasting God and King), it is true regard… contribute to ing accepting everything else the your community Bible says, including such fundamental teachings as the creation PowerChurch Plus was story and such miraculous events created for just that! as the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah in the great fish, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:17), not to mention Membership We provide you with the tools to the foundation of objective moral increase administrative efficiency standards for righteous living, such and streamline accounting tasks, as sexual self-control before and Accounting freeing you up to perform the work within marriage, the holy covenantal arrangement of marriage bethat matters. Contributions tween one man and one woman, the stern rejection of homosexuality, Install on your PC or network, or access online. and much, much more. It truly is a Events clear choice: believe God’s Word or Choose which fits your needs. Calendar believe whatever contradicts God’s Word. There is no third option! Check In As we continue to celebrate the season of Jesus’ resurrection and the season of spring, let us now Completely spring into action using the power We provide software tools, Integrated of apologetic evangelism to share freeing you up to fulfill your mission. the absolute truth of God’s Word about Jesus Christ, objective moral • 800.486.1800 living, and His coming eternal

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April 2013

the power and the danger

BlackBerry 10

By Russ McGuire -


n January 30 of this year, the company formerly known as Research in Motion introduced the first BlackBerry 10 (BB10) devices. The BlackBerry Z10 is the first to market, a completely touchscreen smartphone rivaling iPhone and Android devices. Reviewers have generally been impressed with the product, but is it the right choice for those of us in ministry? What is BlackBerry 10? The BlackBerry was the first smartphone with a rabidly loyal fanbase. Until the iPhone came along, having a Blackberry hanging from your belt was the coolest you could be with a phone. For most of its life, the Blackberry was clearly targeted at business users, with executives and financial professionals being particularly drawn to the devices. In 2009, the company decided to chase the consumer smartphone market that Apple had wakened. Those efforts were largely fruitless (sorry, bad pun). Christian Computing® Magazine

RIM first got into mobile device business in the late 1990s with the RIM Inter@ctive pagers. These were pagers with a keyboard so that the user could respond to a page. In 1999, the company introduced the BlackBerry e-mail service, and before long, the devices were being called BlackBerries. I remember being at an industry event in Canada in 2001 where RIM’s CEO tried to demonstrate a voice call using a prototype BlackBerry “phone.” It actually was one of RIM’s two-way pagers retrofitted with a headset. That demonstration didn’t go well, but April 2013


by early 2002, they had worked out the kinks and introduced the first BlackBerry “phone.” Although, the devices could now make telephone calls, the BlackBerry has always been a messaging device at heart. I carried a BlackBerry for about a year, and since I love e-mail, it was a solid phone for me. It was interesting to me that e-mails, text messages, voice mails, even missed phone calls all showed up in the inbox. RIM has done a great job of making the BlackBerry attractive to enterprise customers. A key to this has been a product RIM calls the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but everyone simply calls it BES (pronounced “bez”). For corporate users, BES is what allows them to access their corporate e-mail, calendars, and address books on the BlackBerry. BES integrates with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, etc. But what enterprise CIOs love about BES are the security features. BES supports IT policies, encrypts data across the network, and can remotely wipe business information from a lost or stolen BlackBerry. These features have helped RIM hold on to business customers who otherwise would’ve immediately bolted for the iPhone or Android. However, over time many of these features have become available for competing devices. The BlackBerry platform had always attracted developers of business applications, but the platform couldn’t compete with the iPhone App Store in attracting developers of entertainment and consumer apps. It also failed to excite most consumers. RIM tried to introduce touchscreen-only smartphones in 2008, but the BlackBerry operating system was still messaging-centric and struggled to compete with iOS and Android. Realizing that a serious overhaul was necessary if BlackBerry was going to be relevant in the smartphone market, RIM acquired operating system company QNX in 2010, establishing the Christian Computing® Magazine

foundation for what would become BlackBerry 10. Unfortunately, it took RIM three years to bring any BlackBerry 10 devices to market. BlackBerry 10 is the name of the operating system used by the latest generation of BlackBerry devices. It is a gesture-driven, multitasking system. BlackBerry has retained its messaging-centricity, with the BlackBerry Hub application being the central collection point for e-mails, text messages, voicemails, missed calls, system updates, Twitter messages, Facebook updates, and LinkedIn messages all being integrated into a single message flow. Why is BlackBerry 10 attractive to us? For those of us that live and die by e-mail, RIM has always made a great product. BB10 marries that best-in-the-world messaging experience with an exciting, modern mobile operating system capable of running fun and exciting applications. As a modern smartphone, the Z10 has a big crisp screen, a powerful processor, a great camera, and good network connectivity. The new operating system matches up well with iOS April 2013


and Android. It is true multitasking and makes good use of the touchscreen.

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What should we be concerned about? The biggest danger in adopting BB10 is the risk that the company may not survive. RIM’s situation is very similar to where Palm was a couple of years ago. Like RIM, Palm was an early smartphone success story. Palm was originally in the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) business, but after 3Com acquired the company, the founders left and started Handspring. Handspring licensed the PalmOS software and in 2002 introduced the Treo line of smartphones. The Treo 300 became one of the first broadly successful smartphones in the US market. Handspring later merged back into Palm. According to ChangeWave Research, as late as 2006, Palm was the smartphone marketshare leader with 36% share. However, Palm lacked the corporate stickiness that BES provided for RIM. With the launch of the iPhone, followed by Android devices, Palm customers quickly made the switch. By 2009, Palm’s share had dropped to 7%. In contrast, BlackBerry continued to gain share, reaching 43% in 2008, before Apple and Google’s wooing of the corporate market began to erode RIM’s position. In early 2009, Palm introduced an exciting new touchscreen operating system, webOS. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. The company struggled to raise enough funding to stay in business and was acquired by HP in July 2010. April 2013


Just over a year later, HP announced that it would discontinue production of all webOS devices. Thanks to its strength with corporate buyers, RIM hasn’t yet met the same fate. However, according to Gartner, BlackBerry only had 2% market share in 2012. BB10 was delayed several times in reaching market. The company has struggled and had to lay off thousands of employees, and the Co-CEOs of the company were replaced last year. The general sense is that, although the Z10 is a good device, it’s probably not a great enough device to attract swarms of consumers and app developers. Bottom line, the device may appeal to long-time BlackBerry loyalists who have waited patiently for the company to bring a modern smartphone to market, but I doubt the device will attract many new fans. Early sales reports are disappointing and the company’s stock is down since the launch. If you’re willing to live with a device that may have limited applications available, and whose maker runs the risk of going out of business, and if you love BlackBerry’s messaging-centric approach, BB10 may be a great solution for you and could make you more effective in your ministry. 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 Java, the printing press, radio, television, personal computers, the Internet, the Cloud, smartphones, or augmented reality, new technologies continue to advance our ability to know God and to serve Him, wherever we go.

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Russ McGuire is an executive for a Fortune 100 company and the founder/co-founder of three technology start-ups. His latest entrepreneurial venture is (http://, a social network for Christian families (especially homeschoolers) which is being built and run by seven young men under Russ’ direction.

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April 2013


ministry communication

How to use Mother’s day to grow your church Yvon Prehn -


ost church leaders don’t think of Mother’s Day as a time for potentially great church growth—but you should. This is because Mother’s Day Sunday is the third highest day for attendance(because of added unchurched people) in North America, running slightly behind Christmas and Easter. Though most churches know this and work hard to make it a special Sunday, many miss significant church growth opportunities for that day— because of the day’s exclusive focus on mothers. Following are some ideas on how to change that in positive ways. Don’t ignore Mothers, but expand your vision Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying churches shouldn’t honor mothers on Mother’s Day. They should; it is an important time to praise mothers and to thank God for them. What I’m recommending is that churches not make mothers their exclusive focus, but that they take advantage of the additional church growth opportunities made possible that day because of mothers. The growth opportunities come from the visitors. It is easy to forget who these visitors are and why they are Christian Computing® Magazine

there. The reason that churches are so full on Mother’s Day is not because it is the only time of year mothers come to church. Most of the mothers at the church are regular attendees. The reason so many people come to church on Mother’s Day is the unchurched people in the lives of many mothers (spouses and children) rarely, if ever, come to church, but they will come on this day to make mom happy. This is a great evangelism and church growth opportunity for your church! April 2013


Following are some ideas on how to make the most of it: • Assemble a prayer team to pray, or add to your prayer list, requests specifically for the unsaved, unchurched, and straying family members who will come to church with mom on this Sunday. Pray for sensitivity to their needs. Create attractive invitations for your members to give family members. • On Mother’s Day as a church leader or pastor, acknowledge the visitors who come on Mother’s Day to please an earthly parent and affirm it was a commendable thing to do. Follow that commendation with a lesson/sermon about how they have a heavenly parent who is longing for them come home in faith even more than their mom wanted them to come to church. • In your sermon, say for the mother what she would want to say to her child. Be honest that an eternity without Jesus means eternal separation from those we love. Acknowledge this is not easy to say and it is not at all comfortable to talk about on this happy day, but to not say things that can make an eternal difference is not expressing love. Love is honest about the consequences of a life lived apart from God. Do more than preach—additional actions and events can provide great impact and encourage visitors to return • Be sure to use connection cards so that you have follow-up information to invite visiting family members back to church next week. At the end of this article are links to some cards that can help you, plus bulletin inserts with the theme of “Want to make Mom really happy? Come back to church next Sunday!” • Schedule a very upbeat, outreach-oriented Ministry Fair for that day so visitors can experience and explore what your church does on a regular basis. For example, many single adults (the unchurched adult children who come to church only on Mother’s Day) often don’t have any idea that many churches have fantastic single adult ministry programs. A table with literature, food, and fun people might be just the thing to get them to attend on a regular basis. • For the unchurched husbands to see the men of Christian Computing® Magazine



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your church around a literature table that talks about upcoming construction projects, work days, golf outings or sports events and that is staffed by men who reach out, welcoming and engaging visiting spouses in conversation is an incredible gift to give to the mom who comes every Sunday on her own. • Challenge visiting adult children and spouses to make this Mother’s Day the most memorable one ever for their mom by giving her the gift of faith in Jesus—the one Mother’s Day gift that will give her joy forever. In addition, in your bulletin have a link to information on your website for those who would like to explore the Christian faith in more detail and have the contact name, number and email of people for unchurched and children of people they can contact confidentially if they have questions or would like to discuss your church, the Christian faith, or what a relationship with Jesus is all about.

pray for and actively pursue the Mother’s family members who don’t know Jesus and to invite them back to church and the Christian faith is far more meaningful. Many of the unchurched family members will come back if you plan, pray for, inform them intelligently and gracefully about the faith, and connect with them for invitations to come back. Doing those things is much more work than handing out roses, but instead of flowers that fade, you’ll grow your church. For links to a short video that discusses the outreach opportunities around Mother’s Day, a FREE ebook about this and additional links to connection cards, bulletin inserts, recipe cards, invitations and other publications related to Mother’s Day, click on this link: http://www.effectivechurchcom. com/2012/04/mothers-day-resource-list/ If you have any questions about this, please email:

So much better than a rose It may be nice to give the Mother’s in your church a rose or other toke gift of appreciation, but for you to

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April 2013


nick at church

How to Get the Most Out of Your ChMS Nick Nicholaou -


any churches and ministries call me because they’re unhappy with their church or donor management database software (known as ChMS). There’s probably not a ChMS provider whose customers I haven’t heard from. Does that mean none are good? I don’t think so. But there are patterns of what causes the dissatisfaction, and knowing those patterns can help you know how to get the most out of your ChMS.

Does the ‘Perfect Fit’ Exist? The quick answer is, “No.” Some churches and ministries, sensing that, have embarked on the mammoth project of creating their own ChMS. Of the thousands of times that has probably been done, I would venture a guess that only a few dozen have stood the test of time. That means more than 99% of those projects fail for one reason or another, and all of them are expensive failures. If there is no ‘perfect fit’, what should your expectations be? If you were to catalog all of the ChMS desires and needs of your team, and then were to compare that to the solutions available, probably the closest you can get is an 80-85% fit. (Some ChMS providers may think their percentage is higher; 8085% is a guestimate to show that some expectation of unmet needs must be considered.) When changing ChMS’s, understand that it is a big undertaking. If, as I said, no matter what ChMS Christian Computing® Magazine

you change to there will be at least a 15-20% misfit, consider that changing ChMS solutions may simply be a trading of one set of unmet expectations for another set of unmet expectations. Is Complexity a Problem? One of the common complaints I hear is that the staff feel the ChMS currently in use is too complex. Though it’d be good for ChMS providers to continue to look for ways to improve that perception, the complexity itself is not usually the problem. The perception of complexity is really an acknowledgement that the solution is full featured. Let me explain… Most churches and ministries do a lot of the same operational tasks, and many do them in similar ways. But there are many who do those operational tasks differently. Because ChMS providers want to serve as many organizations as possible, they have had to create multiple paths that lead towards the same end to April 2013


accommodate the different processes churches use. That is why ChMS training is so important. I used to do training for one of the ChMS systems. As a ChMS trainer, one of my tasks was to learn the processes and styles of ministry at each customer and then help them maximize the software they purchased for use in their setting. That included setting up the system to match their needs as closely as possible as well as helping those who would be using the system to know how to use it. It also meant showing them which features they could ignore because they didn’t match their way of doing ministry. Training is key, and ongoing training is important. Staff and ministry needs change over time. When an organization decides not to budget for ongoing training, the result is a feeling among staff that the system is too complex and that a new system should be sought. Here’s a Real World Example As a ChMS authority (due to my writing and consulting in this area), I get calls throughout the year from churches and ministries that are thinking of changing their ChMS. One of the common reasons they call is that no one on staff knows how to use their system. I often ask them how long it’s been

since they’ve had any training on their ChMS, and the response is usually that it’s been a very long time— maybe even before any of the current staff were on the team! In those situations I suggest to them that training would be much less expensive and much less disruptive to their ministry than changing their ChMS would be, and I encourage them to get some training first. Then they will be better able to evaluate whether the really need a new system. Doing so costs so little and yields such a great return on investment! By the way, most who have taken my suggestion to heart found that their ChMS was a good one that could help them, saving them money and the lost productivity they would have experienced while converting to and learning a new system. What Can You Do? If your team is considering changing ChMS, considering these two suggestions may help you to objectively identify whether it is based on need or on incorrect expectations and/ or training. If it’s based on need, there are many good solutions worth considering. If it’s not based on need, training may help you more.

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