Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Kevin Cross - email@example.com
Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 25
4 cover story
What’s Happening at NCS
An interview with Doug Wright and Barry Moore from NCS Services.
Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Michael L White Copy Editors Gina Hewitt Magen Cross
By Steve Hewitt
Corporate Home Office
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
Embracing Change Steve Hewitt - steve@CDPublishers.com
Church Windows Software
Cool Computer Tasks While The Heat Is On
Protected with Purpose
from Church Windows Software
One Call Now
from Mercer University
Higher Power With Kevin
from One Call Now
How to Get Good Deals on Books from Bible Software Makers Kevin A. Purcell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital evangelism with e-Sword (Part 1) Michael L White - email@example.com
Christian Computing® is a registered trademark of Christian Computing, Inc. Written materials become the property of Christian Computing®, Inc. upon receipt and may not necessarily be rethe right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of Christian Computing®, Inc. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Christian Computing® Magazine, or Christian Computing, Inc.
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Why Print Isn’t Dead and What it Means for Your Church Communications Yvon Prehn - firstname.lastname@example.org
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Want to Keep Families Engaged Over Summer Break? Communicate!
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Using Internet-Enabled TV’s as Bible Study Resources
A Parenting Guide for Getting Children Interestedin Cyber Security
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Embracing Change Steve Hewitt - steve@CDPublishers.com
Although I haven’t said much about it so far this year in the magazine, this is our 25th year to publish Christian Computing Magazine. Reaching 25 years tells me a couple of things. One, we have had the ability to endure through many changes in technology during the last 25 years, and two, I am really getting old (grin). The older I get, if I’m not careful, the more I find myself being resistant to change. Yet, in the business of technology, change is constant, and important. Recently, after six years, I fired AT&T U-Verse and switched our Internet, phones and television back to Comcast. I didn’t want to, but our equipment (controllers, boxes, etc.) with AT&T started to fail on a regular basis and AT&T tried to tell me I had to pay to replace equipment as it wore out (another rep with AT&T said this wasn’t true, but only after I cancelled my contract with them). Now, I have to learn how to use all new controllers, and features are different (some things I liked better with AT&T but some things I like better with Comcast.) However, the most frustrating part is learning where to find all of the channels with my favorite television shows! However, over all, as with most change, it is good. For example, I had a TV that I could never hear. I thought my hearing was going out (grin), as I normally watched that particular TV with the volume up as far as it would go. However, it was a cheap TV and I just accepted the fact that they didn’t put in a good amplifier. However, when we Christian Computing® Magazine
switched to Comcast, I discovered that the volume on this TV is more than adequate. It seems that the AT&T box I was using for that TV was limiting the volume in some way. Embracing change is a part of life, and especially a part of using technology. The way we communicate, how we communicate, even WHY we communicate, has changed as a result of technology. My father is now over 90. While he embraced E-mail and computers, he doesn’t seem willing or able to move into the mobile computing age, and Facebook is something he simply isn’t willing to use. As a result, he finds himself cut off from his grandkids and great grandkids. It is a lesson for me, as I watch his frustration. I MUST keep myself open to change, and I must be willing to adapt and accept new technologies, especially since they can impact the very basic levels of relationships and communications! Change is good, and more of it is on the way! Praise God. Together We Serve Him,
steve@CDPublishers.com Twitter @stevehewitt June 2013
What’s Happening at NCS An interview with Doug Wright and Barry Moore from NCS Services
By Steve Hewitt
n July of 2012 our cover story was about NCS E-Giving (http://www.ccmag. com/2012_07/ccmag2012_07.pdf), a fantastic online giving service that I loved using. They had many exciting features, and they have made many fantastic and new improvements since then with the introduction of ChurchConnect, which means it is time to take another look at what’s new. They have done their research on the value and importance of online giving. This interview is much more than just an overview of what they are offering now. It is a foundation for why your church needs an online giving solution, if it doesn’t have one already. Enjoy!
Latest on NCS One of the most notable changes at NCS services just occurred on March 1 of this year when we became a new company. This month we moved into our new corporate headquarter location in Pittsburgh, and doubled the number of employees over the last 12 months. In addition, we added new services, experienced strong growth by adding hundreds of new clients, and we’ve seen strong increases in revenues year-over-year. Can you share with us how NCS services came to be, and their connection to National Church Solutions? NCS (National Church Supply) was rebranded as National Church Solutions and has been producing products and services to tens thousands of churches since 1915. NCS Services conceptuChristian Computing® Magazine
ally began 5 years ago as part of the NCS organizational structure. The decision was made to redevelop the vision of our e-giving previously pioneered in the early 2000’s. NCS Services was officially incorporated this past October with the committed vision of providing integrated products and solutions for religious ministries and nonprofit organizations. The two organizations are now strategically partnered in providing services “bundled” with products to maximize stewardship excellence, enable member communications, and empower ministry growth. We are the only organization in the industry that offers the recognized benefits when a church provides both traditional giving methods, and technology based services such as E-Giving, Text, and Mobile solutions. When NCS services started with E-Giving as June 2013
an offering, I’m not sure we understood how this would impact both companies. What we learned was that, customers who offer both traditional envelopes and electronic giving see an increase in their reorder rates for envelopes. Also, when our customers “bundle” our envelope services with electronic services, they see an increase in donations in both areas. Our goal is to give them options, and this bundled service accomplishes that for us. There are few companies in our marketplace that offer choices as we can, and our customers like the flexibility.
What have you seen in the market place over the last few years? Recently we’ve started to see a major shift in non-profit markets. According to our own studies, and data from our partners, the adoption rate for online donations has been accelerating, and it started in 2011. Across all non-profit markets, including churches, one-time donations have increased over 20% from 2011 to 2012. Within the church market, we’ve seen the millennial generation, those under 40 have a significant impact on non-profit organizations and how they are willing to donate going forward. In addition, the Baby Boomers are going online in much larger numbers than ever before. Over the next three to five years, there will be enormous growth in online giving. With churches alone, there has been year-over-year growth of 35% for monthly donations. Within our customer base of thousands, we’ve helped generate significant growth in donations. Our goal is to help them achieve the equivalent of a 5th Sunday’s donation each month. Christian Computing® Magazine
I remember your E-giving service had no fees - not an annual, or set-up fee just the transaction fee. Has that changed? No, it has not changed. Not long ago we had meeting with a food bank and shared our model, she referred to our service as a “faith-based model”. Once we provide our service to a client, then the work begins. On behalf of that newly signed client, we begin to help them utilize our service. We help customize their online giving page (all hosted by NCS) adding pictures, logo, colors, etc. Recently, Giving Rocket did an extensive study that included over 1000 churches. The survey found that only 14% of churches met their budget. What were the 14% doing that the others were not became the substance for the survey. They evaluated twelve factors with each church, of the twelve there were five keys that the 14% had in common. Listed from fifth to first were quarterly communications with members, installing giving kiosks, offering personal financial ministers, offering online giving, and the number one reason was automatic recurring donations. The results of this survey validates what NCS Services has been building for some time now, a comprehensive portfolio of services that are well suited to address these and other important needs of the market today. E-Giving today includes features such as Pledge Drive Campaign, Virtual Contribution Management, and Event Registration. With features such as these our clients have the ability to easily create manageable campaigns, track contributions, register for events, and a host of key features available to every member. Can you give me some examples of how you work with churches once they become a customer? Our Customer Service Representatives provides promotional material, educational programs, implementation services and numerous NCS customized solutions for each church. All of these strategies are intended to help a church achieve maximum benefits quickly. We like to use the term “fully vested” when talking about the investment we make with our customer. It takes time, and money to help them ramp up. At NCS we know it’s the right thing to do for the non-profits we serve. As Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us June 2013
do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”. We see this as our way to fulfill that mission. I understand there are many new offerings since we talked last, can you share them with us? A few years ago we contracted with a marketing communications company to help us understand the needs of the non-profit today. We learned the market had three areas of concern. They wanted help with solutions that address time management limitations, improved communications to members, and increased donations. Looking at how to help address these areas of concern, we introduced ChurchConnect. ChurchConnect is a comprehensive portfolio of services and people dedicated to a lifetime of service for the greater good of the non-profit community. AT NCS, ChurchConnect is the maturing of our E-giving service, for us, it’s the next logical step. While E-giving is our flagship offering for ChurchConnect, it’s only one of many offerings that make up the ChurchConnect portfolio.
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For example, recently we introduced a family of kiosks. The most interesting in this family is a completely customizable kiosk with the option of a digital wrap allowing a customer to completely customize the look of the kiosk to match their brand. Our kiosks come in a variety of offerings from table top to wall mount to floor models. In addition to our purchase prices, we also offer lease programs, and support the units 24/7. With the recent introduction of our Text Giving offering, we continue to build out our services. Text giving provides a text blast feature. With text blast customer can send all
sorts of notifications to members. For example, you could notify families if an event is running later than expected, or for a service delay due to weather, schedule changes and so much more. Another recent introduction is our customizable mobile app. Working in conjunction with our partner ROAR, we are developing a robust mobile app that will allow customers to make donations. In addition, this app will include a host of social media capabilities so members can connect using audio and video podcasts, photographs from Flickr and Instagram, streaming of live events in video, and so much more. Members will be able to subscribe to mailing lists and receive timely information on a consistent basis. QR codes will allow members to easily obtain church information such as programs and events with a simple scan. Last but not least we recently introduced our API or Application Programming Interface. This feature will allow organizations to integrate our E-Giving into their environment. To support our ChurchConnect offering, and make the relationships with our customers easy to manage, we’ve been working for many months to earn our Level 1 PCI compliance. Just this month we obtained our Level 1 status. This offers great advantages for our customers. Sign up for example is a single page. NCS hosts and manages all the members’ information at our facility. We are completely responsible for the management of their financial information. ChurchConnect will continue to mature and evolve, just as EGiving has since our last article published in your magazine. We are listening to our customers, asking questions, and building services to meet their needs. Christian Computing® Magazine
If people would want more information, what should they do?” They can connect with us through our website at www.ncsservices.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org , or by phone at 855-8627827. We want to help you find the right solutions to increase donations, improve communications and time management.
church windows Software
CHURCH WINDOWS SOFTWARE
Cool Computer Tasks While The Heat Is On
ow that summer is here and church administrators are not QUITE as busy as at other times of the year, it’s a good time to do some cleanup of files and data.
Computer Operating System If your church has computers that are still running on an XP Operating System or Server 2003, it’s time to do something. After 2013, Microsoft will no longer support these operating systems. That also means that software developers may not be able to help if there are operating system-related software issues. In fact, many software packages will no longer run on XP. So now is a good time to either upgrade your operating systems or buy new computers. Given hardware upgrade costs versus the decreasing prices of newer computers, most churches will choose to buy new or newer computers. We all know that December and January would be the worst times to have computers, so we suggest taking action now. Talk to your IT person and/or your church governing body about the necessity of getting this done. Donation Data Cleanup and Suggestions If your church uses envelope numbers, you may want to take this time to clean up the numbers and delete those that are no longer used. You could also reassign numbers in alpha order, if you prefer. Idle Christian Computing® Magazine
giving accounts -- such as a tsunami giving account – could also likely be removed. Summer is a good time to pare down this list. Although not a “cleanup” task, you might want to send out mid-year giving statements. If you are a pledging church, you can indicate how each person or family stands according to their pledge. To save postage costs, most good software packages will let you email statements to those who prefer the electronic version and then print paper copies for the rest. Accounting Cleanup Get ahead of the game and spend some time reorganizing your chart of accounts. Get ready for 2014 with a streamlined chart and, in the process, be ready to enter next year’s budget. Membership Cleanup Now is the time to advance the school grade field for children in your church. Usually, that is just a few mouse clicks. Most software programs will indicate when and by whom this was last done, so school grade advancement is not done twice. June 2013
Along the same lines, you can advance your children in their Sunday School classes. This is also a good time to do some general cleanup of your member files. A few items for thought and action: • • • • •
Clean up unused fields Delete unused field options Add new fields that might be helpful Reassign your deacon groups Delete or terminate the files of visitors who are no longer attending • Reorganize committee and attendance records This would be an excellent time to provide your pastoral staff and committee chairs reports that could assist them in the ministry of the church. Most software companies provide excellent “how to” support for these kinds of tasks. Don’t hesitate to call them or check out their training opportunities.
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Protected with Purpose
A Parenting Guide for Getting Children Interested in Cyber Security By: Steven Sundermeier
any of todayâ€™s leading cyber attacks have no age limit, and most of us can agree that children and young adults are more vulnerable to security risks hosted on malicious websites as a result of Internet searches, Phishing websites and other attacks. Younger generations are also exposed to other social media risks and scams that use social engineering to victimize users by luring them to click on fake links or provide personal information. Some of the more personal attacks include cyberbullying and online predators.
The question then becomes, how can we (as parents, guardians, etc.) get are our naĂŻve, curious and possibly stubborn children and teenagers interested in computer security? We must take on the responsibility teaching them the consequences and severity these attacks can have on them (and the family) along with teaching them the importance of taking Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
preventive measures. Below are a few compiled suggestions for assisting in the process: Implement a degree of fun in the learning process This idea sounds simple but it can have a huge benefit. Children like to have fun, and June 2013
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various studies have found that when fun & laughter are appropriately mixed into the Cyber Security learning process, the response received is better and faster. There are some great websites to assist in this; a couple examples include netsmartz.org and nsteens.org. Directly communicate the security risks involved In all relationships proper communication is essential, and so it is with the relationship between children and their understanding of Cyber Security risks. It is very important to sit down with your children and/or teens and clearly explain the security risks of associated with their online habits. Children need to understand the how’s and why’s of the reality of online dangers (predators, identity theft, etc). We have found that incorporating real-world examples allows children to process concepts and grasp them more clearly. This will inevitably involve a time commitment on your end as you prepare for your conversation with your child. There are many resources available online through the National Cyber Security Alliance.
web-browsing history? (websites visited?) • Are your pre-set social media guidelines being followed? • Have a conversation about the permanence of texting/posting photos and personal information. • What are the rules for data content from smartphones? • Is there awareness about safety precautions for online financial transactions? • Is there awareness about pornographic and violent content? And are there consequences in place? These questions are designed to give you a starting place in communicating with your child/children about internet safety. There area very-real dangers that are often not taken seriously enough until a negative consequence results. Common sense and involvement/communication are strong ways to combat being taken advantage of. As with most things, preparation and education will pay off!
Maintain realistic expectations and refrain from imposing unreasonable rules As children grow so do their computer skills and curiosity, however, excessive rules and limitations can create an undesired effect. As the saying goes, we want what we can’t have, and if parent’s sets unrealistic computer usage/content rules without proper communication, children begin to hide their online activities or seek Internet usage elsewhere. Here are some more parent/children discussion questions regarding Cyber Security: • Where is the Internet primarily accessed from? (A central area within the home, or secluded?) • How much time is spent online by your children? • What is the web mainly used for? (Games? What content is included in them?) • Have you recently checked your child’s Christian Computing® Magazine
Using Internet Enabled TV’s as Bible Study Resources By: Susan Codone
n my house, our Internet-enabled television is a central resource for our family. My son uses it for gaming, while my daughters rely on it for Netflix and other television-on-demand services. I set it to play Internet radio while I’m working on projects. My husband catches up on television shows that we missed from a few years ago while our kids were watching the Disney channel. Although we have two other televisions in the house, the “Internet TV” is usually the only one ever turned on.
Recently, my church installed Internet-enabled televisions in all Bible study classrooms – a decision that brought me great delight. Now, each class and teacher, whether during the traditional Sunday School hour or at other meeting times, has access to a wide array of resources that will enliven teaching and motivate class members. In my class, I plan to use our television to play music videos as members arrive and catch up with each other during the informal pre-class time. During class, I will display slides, show websites, pictures, charts, play videos, Christian Computing® Magazine
and show virtually any resource that will enrich our study. Essentially, an Internet-enabled TV connects directly to the Web and displays a wide variety of content such as YouTube videos, streaming movies or television shows, and websites. Most come preinstalled with apps for YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and web browsers, though churches may or may not want to uninstall or disable certain apps that do not match their needs. These sets are not simply televisions doubling June 2013
as computer monitors – although the models my church installed can connect to my laptop quite easily. Most Internet-enabled televisions can stream material from YouTube and Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook, news sources, and even Google Maps and Google Earth – useful for showing images of areas mentioned in Bible study. Churches can set limits on what resources are available and bookmark sites and sources offering content relevant to their needs. Different manufacturers have different names for their Internet-enabled products and some are more useful than others. Because the offerings vary by manufacturer, I recommend that churches check online resources before making a purchase. Additionally, if the installation is outsourced, churches need to watch the installation carefully to make sure that permissions are set correctly from the beginning. In some instances, connecting the monitors to the Internet can be done wirelessly, but most televisions require a wired Ethernet connection. Here are typical dimensions and specifications for Internet-enabled televisions suitable for church use: TV Type Screen Size Vertical Resolution Screen refresh rate Typical Height of product Depth HDMI inputs USB port USB input Component video input Composite inputs Watts/channel Speaker output power PC input 3D-Ready Keyboard control Wireless mouse Remote Wall mount Christian Computing® Magazine
CHURCH WEBSITES FROM
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▶ Engage current members ▶ Educate everyone about the faith ▶ Attract visitors to your parish ▶ Welcome newcomers and returning members
Call for a free demo: 800-446-3035 LED Flat-Panel 60” (at least for optimum viewing in the classroom) 1080p 240Hz 35” 1 ¾” 4 At least 1 Yes 1 1 10 20w (additional speakers are helpful for elderly groups) 1 Yes Yes (as a mouse emulator) Better than the keyboard emulator to control pointer movement Yes Yes (best for fixed viewing) June 2013
After Installation - Training When teachers and members walk into the classroom and see the monitor for the first time, the reaction is usually pleasure, then some confusion at exactly how to use the device. For this reason, I recommend at least one training session for teachers to demonstrate use of the television, the browser capabilities, and any apps the church chooses to use. When I walked into the classroom and first saw our new set, I spent too many minutes trying to decipher the awkward keyboard mouse emulation. Training is a necessity to help teachers use this resource well. Recommendations for Use There are hundreds of ways Internet-enabled televisions can be used by churches, but probably the most important is to enhance Bible study. When teaching about Paul’s missionary journey, what better way to illustrate the material than to view the current locations on Google Earth? Or view a map from Wikipedia? And when class members are fully intrigued, showing a video can further elaborate on the topic and keep everyone engaged. Recently, when I taught a series on the book of Job, I found it helpful to show my class members a chart of the chronology of the books of the Old Testament. Visually, they were able to more quickly understand that Job lived before Moses, even though the book falls into Old Testament order just before Psalms. Teachers also can create a presentation, either in PowerPoint or Google docs or SlideShare, for viewing by the class. If the presentation is offline, teachers can save it in Dropbox and then retrieve it, or even email it to their personal account and retrieve through webmail. Be sure to remove or disable MIME protections for files, though, or teachers will be stymied by error messages. An Internet connection provides a broad spectrum of teaching possibilities. So much teaching material is now online and available. This Sunday, as part of a lesson on suffering, I’m showing my class a Vimeo video of a pastor speaking about his experiences with cancer, which will engage them much more than me simply standing before them describing the pastor’s experience. Has your church sent small groups on misChristian Computing® Magazine
sion trips? Show photos easily from Flickr, Picasa, Dropbox, or other resources. Using a published Bible study by someone like Beth Moore? Stream her videos or connect a DVD player to the television. Does your church post material on its website? Show it live to the class – better, teach them how to use the church website to obtain important information, and further elaborate by showing them other helpful websites and faith communities online. In this article, I’ve explained how to use Internet-enabled monitors for adult Bible study, but the possibilities for children and students ministries are also endless, as well as TV’s placed in lobbies or gathering areas that can provide event advertisements, announcements, and directional information. Many churches can probably not afford to place monitors in many classrooms, but even one Internet-enabled classroom can make a difference. A useful website to help your church make the best purchasing decision is http://internet-tvs-review. toptenreviews.com/. Here, the top ten Internetenabled televisions for 2013 are analyzed and reviewed. With prices ranging from $799 for the #1 recommended television to just over $450 for the 10th, churches have many good options. If you want to take Bible study at your church to the next level, consider installing an Internetenabled television. It’s a decision you won’t regret. “Susan is an associate professor at Mercer University. In Mercer’s Technical Communication undergraduate degree, students can specialize in Ministry Media & Technology. Contact Susan anytime for more information at codone_s@mercer. edu.” June 2013
one call now
ONE CALL NOW
Want to Keep Families Engaged Over Summer Break? Communicate! By: Phil Elmore
his time of year, there’s plenty of talk about how to keep kids engaged over the summer. And if your school’s families are like most, they’re scrambling to sign kids up for sports workshops, sleep-away camps, book clubs, and more. Retaining the knowledge students have worked for after a long school year should be a top priority for schools and parents. But shouldn’t we also be working to keep kids spiritually engaged? Regular communications from your school can help keep kids focused over summer break. Snail mail is unpredictable—summer travel schedules vary, so it’s hard to know who’s gotten your message. But now that more families (parents and children alike) are reachable by email, phone, and text message, it’s easier than ever to stay connected. Here are a few tips for communications that keep kids learning, engaged, and ready to transition back to school. Tailor communications by age and grade level Your messages won’t go far if they’re irrelevant or age-inappropriate—so consider creating separate contact lists for families of students in elementary, middle, and high school. Parents can share messages with younger students,
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while older students can be contacted directly by email or phone. The types of messages you send are up to you. You could text weekly Bible verses, writing prompts, reading lists, or discussion topics. You could subscribe to a Christian video series, and share a link to a new episode each week via email. With high school students, you can take this even further. Set up an intranet or wiki site (using a free service, like Moodle) where students can post responses to assigned readings and discussion questions. You can also share information about fun summer activities, like camps, speaking engagements, and volunteer opportunities. If your school doesn’t offer Vacation Bible School, send information on recommended programs nearby. June 2013
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Get families geared up for back to school Before you know it, it will be time for school to start again. Automated phone messages are a great way to remind parents about important deadlines, like registration dates, sports tryouts, and uniform ordering details. You can also send out need-to-know information like school supply lists and a school-year calendar, so parents don’t have to track down this information after the semester begins. At summer’s end, send a prerecorded message from your school’s principal or dean welcoming students back to school. Making sure families are informed before school even begins is a great way to ease anxiety, especially among new students.
versations. With regular, church-centered communications, you might just help make summer a little more meaningful. Phil Elmore is pastor of Fields of Grace Worship Center in Covington, Ohio. He writes and speaks about leadership, communications, stewardship and other topics.
SOFTWARE FOR MINISTRY
Respect families’ boundaries Despite your best efforts, some families may prefer summer break to be just that—a break. Make it easy for families to opt out of your school’s communications (besides the essential ones) if they’d rather not hear from you. Or hold a kickoff event at the end of the school year, announcing your summer communications plan and giving families the chance to opt in to the programs that interest them. Your messages should be fun and thought-provoking, not bothersome—be sure parents understand your school’s intention before bringing them on board. Start the conversation Summer is a great time for families to grow in faith. Often, a more flexible schedule means kids and parents have more free time together—creating perfect opportunities for children to ask questions, and for parents to share wisdom from their own journeys in the Spirit. Your school can help kick-start those essential conChristian Computing® Magazine
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higher power with kevin
How to Get Good Deals on Books from Bible Software Makers Kevin A. Purcell - email@example.com
ho doesn’t love a good bargain? That’s why people rummage through the junk others display on their lawns on spring Saturday mornings and why many stand in line starting on Thankgiving night before dreaded “Black Friday” sales. To get good deals on Bible software, most people can just take to the Internet. Here’s a few strategies for finding good deals on Bible software books.
Wait for an Update Many software companies will bundle a lot of content with software updates. When Logos pushed out version five of it’s powerful Logos Bible Software, they bundled it with content in different tiers at different price points. They confused customers, but when the dust settled, customers realized they were getting a lot of very inexpensive and useful content along with those bundles. We never know when a new release will hit, but consider looking hard at update bundles to get a good deal on a new commentary set or some extra Bible translations or references books. Christian Computing® Magazine
Follow on Social Networks Most of the big name Bible software companies announce deals on Twitter or Facebook. If you don’t use these services, it might be worth signing up just to get a free book. For example, Olive Tree and WORDsearch often announce a free or low cost book on Fridays. Go to Twitter or Facebook and search out your favorite Bible software company. Follow them and then wait for a Tweet or Post about a deal. RSS Feeds Google announced they’d no longer offer their June 2013
useful Google RSS Reader service. The term stands for Rich Site Summary or some say Really Simple Syndication. The “reader” will poll a website and if any new content got pushed out since the last time it polled the site, it will put it on the list. Users open their Reader and see a list of links often with full articles or at least snippets of the article to help readers decided if they want to click the link to read the full article. I use Feedly (http://www.feedly.com) ever since Google stopped offering the service. When a users finds a website that offers an RSS feed – that’s most sites these days, but especially blog sites – then they can add the feed to their reader. Most Bible software companies offer blogs that announce deals. For example, go over to http://globible.com/blog/ to learn about news from Glo. They offer a multimedia rich Bible package that works on most platforms available today and recently updated, making their app work with NKJV and other books. eBay and Craigslist for Used Bible Software Be careful here. Scammers can cheat naïve buyChristian Computing® Magazine
ers. However, some Bible software makers don’t mind if their users sell their books second hand. I know that Logos allows for this. Arrange to make a purchase and the seller can call Logos and arrange to hand over their license to the content for a small fee. Not all software makers will like this, so check before getting taken by a dishonest 21st century eBible salesman. Search on eBay and find some used books digital style. People buy these books and then never use them, so they want to get the value out of them. If anyone wants a copy of Word Biblical Commentary, New International Commentary on the OT and NT (AKA NICOT or NICNT) or the NIV Application Commentary, let me know. I’m selling them for about 80-90% of current value in Logos. Christian Book Stores My experience is that a local Christian bookstore is the worst place to buy Bible software. The reason? They often sell out of date versions for list price when newer versions are available for less. However, if you go and find a box with CDs, check prices online with a smart phone and get a deal if June 2013
they’re cheaper. I’ve purchased some books this way and acquired some good deals. Third Party Sellers I’ve recommended e-Sword as a great introductory tool for people who don’t have the money for more powerful programs. However, getting modern content for it isn’t as easy as it is for the more expensive solutions. That’s where a thirdparty company can help. Check out http://estudysource.com for deals on e-Sword books. They are trustworthy and sell great content for use in e-Sword. Phone Calls Find your software maker’s phone number and give them a call. Some companies authorize their phone sales people to make deals to customers. They’ve given me a few discounts over the years. Don’t Forget Amazon and Kindle Amazon offers some great deals on eBooks. They aren’t as convenient as reading resources in your Bible app or software. Searching them isn’t as convenient either. Still, I’ve got a number of nice commentaries and translations of the Bible that I downloaded onto my Kindle or my iPad’s Kindle app. I also own a number of good Christian Living titles that I got free, like Crazy Love by Francis Chan. If you know of others, let me know. I’ll post them via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kapurcell or on Google+ at http://gplus.to/kapurcell.
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Digital Evangelism with e-Sword (Part 1) Michael L White - firstname.lastname@example.org
ne of the most effective means of evangelism is, of course, pulpit preaching and classroom teaching for both Sunday School and Bible Study classes. With all the focus we put on reaching folks outside the local church, we sometimes forget that not everyone who attends worship and other activities with us each week is necessarily a committed believer already, even if they have attended church since birth.
Pastors preach every Sunday (at least) and oftentimes lead a mid-week Bible Study, while Sunday School teachers teach every week (usually) and itinerant evangelists preach and teach as often as they can wherever they can. One of the best tools for both sermon and lesson preparation is a handy software program called e-Sword by Rick Meyers (www.e-sword. net). For the next few issues of CCMAG, I’d like to write a series of articles highlighting the several different ways we can use e-Sword for digital evangelism, not only in the local church Christian Computing® Magazine
but also in the world at large. Perhaps the best part about obtaining and using e-Sword is that it’s FREE! In fact, Rick strictly forbids the selling or reselling of his software, though he does ask for donations to support the ongoing ministry of e-Sword (www.e-sword.net/support.html). In return, he will send you a CD with practically everything on it so you don’t have to spend a lot of time downloading it. I’ve been using e-Sword for so long now that I can’t even remember the first time I tried June 2013
it, but I believe it was due to an article I read in the early days of CCMAG that turned me on to it. For the first several years, though, I used it strictly for fast searching of Scripture passages (when I could remember a part of the text but not where it is found) and comparing the hyperlinked tool tips of the Greek and Hebrew words in Strong’s Concordance with the various English translations of the Bible. That truly has been a blessing to me! As I became more familiar with the various aspects of eSword’s capabilities, such as the Topic Notes editor in particular (though I don’t consider myself an expert at using the software, by any means), I longed to input all my collected sermon outlines into printable typeface format so my points would be clearer and easier to read during my preaching. By that time, however, I had so many handwritten sermon outlines in my files that it truly was a daunting task. It still is, in fact. Nevertheless, just two or three years ago I finally decided to begin typing my sermon outlines into separate e-Sword Topic Notes files as I “re-preached” them or as I prepared new ones, and I revised certain words and phrases in my outline points on the “old ones” as I went. Maybe other pastors don’t “re-preach” their past sermons as I do (insert tongue in cheek here), but since I like using the Revised Common Lectionary to follow the Christian calendar, it really makes sermon preparation and compilation a breeze! In years past when I would revise one of my handwritten sermon outlines, I would have Christian Computing® Magazine
to re-write the entire outline on a new sheet of paper, but since I began using e-Sword to type up my outlines, I can now simply edit the part I wish to change and then reprint the outline. It’s a real time-saver, and it looks so much neater, too! Another helpful aspect of using e-Sword’s Topic Notes editor is the ability to organize my sermon outlines by cycle and season, such as Year A – Advent/Christmastide; Year B – Eastertide; Year C – Pentecost; etc. This not only makes it easy for me to locate a sermon on a precise text for a particular occasion, but if a pastoral colleague asks if I have a sermon prepared on a particular text or topic, I can zero right in on it and either print it out or copy and paste the content into an email or a Word document, etc. Of course, if he or she uses e-Sword, it is also possible to share the Topic Notes file as an email attachment, though it does require a little computer know-how to do this. However, due to the way in which I’ve organized my outlines by cycle and season, the Topic Notes file will include every sermon I have for that particular cycle and season, which may be more than they want. For instance, if they desire only the sermon for the Fifth Sunday After Pentecost in Year C, they would get every sermon I’ve prepared for the entire Season of Pentecost in Year C. Although it might make sermon sharing easier to put each sermon in its own Topic Notes file, it makes it easier on me to organize them as I have by cycle and season all in one Topic Notes file for each season in each cycle. In the long run, it’s just easier for me to copy and paste the sermon outline into a Word document or directly into an email and send it to them that way. Not only can pastors use the Topic Notes editor for composing and storing sermon outlines (or manuscripts, as you prefer), but both pastors and Christian Education leaders alike can use Christian Computing® Magazine
it to compose and store lesson outlines for each class they teach on any subject, although I have to admit I haven’t begun doing this as yet. Over time, you can compile both sermons and lesson outlines into a thematic collection and publish them for others to benefit from. When I say “publish,” I mean that in a variety of ways, of course. Certainly, you can publish them in the most notable way by submitting them to a willing publisher (if you can find one), but there is any number of other ways to “self-publish” nowadays which savvy writers are increasingly taking advantage of. This is the digital age for publishing as much as it is for evangelism. As an independent Christian publisher, I have been using this digital method of publishing for several years now, not only for my own writing but for a handful of other Christian authors as well. In fact, I’ve written a short book about digital publishing entitled Publishing Panacea: Book Publishing in the Digital Age to help aspiring authors achieve their dream of being published on their terms. It’s due out soon in eBook format first, perhaps to be followed by a print edition later
(if there is a demand for it). You can learn more about its release at my Website listed at the end of this article. Besides print publication, however, there is also eBook and Web publishing. The easier of the two is Web publishing, where you can compose your content in a word processor of your choosing and, assuming it has builtin HTML conversion capability (as most do these days), just save your document file in the HTML (a.k.a. Web page) format, upload it to your Web host, and you’re in business! If you don’t already have your own Website and don’t really know how or where to begin, I cover this topic pretty well in the very first chapter of my book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! I’ve also made this chapter available as free sample content on the book’s Website at www. digitalevangelism.com/ – just click on “Sample Chapter” on the site menu to read it online or download it to your computer. If you’d like to try your hand at eBook preparation and distribution, I discuss this topic at length, too, in my new book Publishing Panacea. I’ve even developed a nifty little
computer applet to aid with generating a HTML file specifically designed for eBook conversion using the textual content you provide. Is this a great country or what? I’ve intended for several years now to publish some of my own sermon outlines on my personal Website, but I’ve just been so busy with other preoccupations that I haven’t made it a priority to do so. However, as part of my work on this article, I’ve finally made the time and posted the Topic Notes files for all of my lectionary-based sermon outlines for Year A and for Advent/Christmastide for Year B. I’ll have to get around to the rest of Years B and C later. Therefore, if you have the latest version of e-Sword installed on your computer, you can copy my Topic Notes files into your e-Sword content directory and then edit them to your own liking. I’ve included instructions for how to do this on my Website. Just click on the “My Sermons” link at www.parsonplace.com/parsnofc.html#sermons. The Topic Notes editor is only one aspect of e-Sword which is very useful for doing digital evangelism. Be sure to read next month’s issue when I’ll cover my experience with using the Graphics Viewer for studying Bible maps, world maps, and various charts for different lesson topics. It’s very helpful! Michael L. White is the founder and Managing Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Christian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! (Parson Place Press, 2011) is available wherever books are sold. Visit his Website at books.parsonplace. com for a list of his other books and articles.
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the power and the danger
By Russ McGuire - email@example.com
very year, technology geeks like me page through the annual Internet report from Mary Meeker. Previously a Wall Street analyst, Meeker now is a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Each year, the report includes a fascinating number of detailed stats and anecdotal stories that help us understand where our connected world is headed. This year’s report is no different. Among other storylines, the one of greatest interest to me is the growth of the mobile web. She points out that in 2009, according to StatCounter, 0.9% of web traffic was from mobile devices. Today it has grown to 15%. A few slides later, she points out that iPad adoption has been three times faster than the iPhone, and that tablet shipments surpassed desktop and laptop PCs less than 3 years after the creation of the category. With this in mind, all of us that maintain ministry websites had better be thinking about the experience for mobile visitors to our sites. Do they need to constantly scroll left and right to read our conChristian Computing® Magazine
tent? Are they overwhelmed by oversized graphics? Do pull-down menus even fit on the screen? The concept of Responsive Design has emerged to address these issues. What is Responsive Design? WhatIs.com defines Responsive Design this way: “Responsive design is an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts, flexible images and cascading style sheet media queries. The goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly.” June 2013
One important aspect of Responsive Design is that the goal is to effectively serve different device types with a single collection of web documents. Instead of redirecting users to different pages based on their device type, Responsive Design uses HTML5 and CSS to adjust how each page is presented to users on different devices. One reality that makes Responsive Design hard to define is that it’s not a single thing. It’s not a product from a vendor. It’s not a single tool or tag or rule. Instead, it’s a collection of techniques that, when combined, have the desired effect. The two most basic elements of responsive design are fluid grids and media queries. Most websites are built with a CSS grid – for example a twocolumn or three-column layout with a header and a footer. Many of us have built sites with fixedwidth columns and fixed-height headers and footers. That approach works well when we assume that anyone visiting our site has at least an 800x600 or 1024x768 screen. It doesn’t work so well on a much smaller mobile device. Fluid grid design uses percentages instead of pixels in CSS rules so that the page layout adapts to the viewport size. However, even a fluid grid approach will struggle with a threecolumn layout on a tiny screen. Thankfully, CSS3 supports media queries – conditional CSS definitions based on some aspect of the visitor’s browser environment. For example, you could replace a 20%/60%/20% three-column layout with a 30%/70% two-column layout (setting display to “none” for the third column content) if the viewport has a width less than 480 pixels. Christian Computing® Magazine
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What is powerful about Responsive Design? The two most common alternatives to Responsive Design are: do nothing or design a separate mobile site. Doing nothing really means not providing an optimal presentation for mobile visitors. That may mean your web design is so basic that it works just as well (or more likely, just as poorly) on a small screen as it does on a big screen. For most sites, doing nothing means that the site will look great on a laptop or desktop, but will be hard to use from a mobile device. This approach may be acceptable if you really don’t want anyone to access your site while they’re on-the-go. This points to the most important benefit of Responsive Design – it allows your ministry to serve people no matter where they are and no matter what device they are using to access your site. Creating a separate mobile site is another valid approach. For example, several years ago, I developed m.seek-first.com to make my www.seek-first.com site accessible to folks on mobile devices. That enabled me (and others) to, for example, read the Bible wherever I went using my mobile phone. Of course the benefit of Responsive Design compared to creating a separate mobile site is that you only need to develop and maintain a single site and a single collection of content, and yet you can still serve your target audience wherever they go using whatever device is convenient for them.
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What is dangerous about Responsive Design? Many folks have pointed to technical challenges with Responsive Design – it may slow down your site because it introduces June 2013
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additional queries; it may serve large image files (scaled down for presentation) over slow wireless links; it may not adapt well to different use cases in different contexts, etc. But the biggest issue may be the amount of work required to develop, test, and tweak a responsive design. Most ministries have extremely limited development resources. Getting a design that works right for every page and every content element on every device will require a lot of time investment. There may also be aspects of your site that really should be limited to “desktop” use only. Depending on your situation, I recommend carefully considering the merits of Responsive Design versus maintaining a separate mobile site. Whatever approach is appropriate, let us keep our sight set on the ultimate goal of serving others for the sake of the gospel of Christ: “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) 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 responsive web design, 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. 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 CXfriends (http://cxfriends.com), a social network for Christian families which is being built and run by four homeschooled students under Russ’ direction.
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Why Print Isn’t Dead and What it Means for Your Church Communications Yvon Prehn - firstname.lastname@example.org
he Apostle Paul encouraged us to be “all things to all people that we might win some” and in today’s world that means using every communication channel possible to reach people for Jesus. Recently however, I’ve read a number of articles that encourage communicators in how to combine print and digital channels for maximum communication effectiveness. Following are some quotes from them and then applications for churches. Use print and digital side by side “Maybe it really isn’t about print or digital first, but leading together, side by side. The mantra of the web has always been more powerful and successful when it is collaborate, not compete. Why compete with each other? Why should any product go first, when both can cross the finish line at the same time if they work together? The smart answer isn’t putting digital or print first, but to put design and usability first, using each product for what they do best and let them do it together.” From: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/10/ digital-first-print-first-both-should-worktogether291#sthash.vMK0cUur.dpuf Practical application One of the best ways print and digital can work together in the church is when your church bulletin mentions an activity or event for the print notice to link to the Christian Computing® Magazine
church web for background information and explanations. In addition, your social media can remind, link to the website material. Your print (business cards, bulletin, and postcards) would also have the URL for your website and links to your social media. This can work especially well for seasonal celebrations. For example, at Christmas your church will probably sponsor a variety of events. On your website you can have explanations of why Jesus really is the reason for the season, what Advent is all about, suggestions for how you can use the season to train children, a Q & A section for people unfamiliar with church. In addition you can use your social media to remind people of what is available in more depth and encourage them to invite their friends. Print and digital mix works best to market events “Not only does a mix of communication mediums enhance brands, they can effectively work together to create a marketing solution, which adds real value by engaging customers with measurable results. An June 2013
example of this is using variable data printed pieces that are specifically targeted and personalized to engage a customer, combined with digital solutions for example a corresponding personalized web page that enables further interaction. This kind of communication has proven results to increase response rates and improve customer retention giving a far better return on investment than static printed or passive digital communications alone.” From: David Allsopp, director, ASAP Digital: http:// www.thedrum.com/news/2012/07/24/paper-andprint-print-v-digital Practical application To use Christmas as an example again, create print material such as postcards and invitation cards, for your congregation to give out that once again link to expanded digital explanations. Even more effective, if you have the communication volunteers who are able to do this, would be to create blog or web sections for specific groups in your church, for example: “Parents ideas to teach kids at home about Jesus at Christmas” and hand out flyers in Children’s Sunday School classes and send out emails and social media to parents. Another idea would be a series of tweets going to teenagers directing them to a blog or Facebook entries about “How to invite your friends to church without being embarrassed about it.” Creative Print can make your church stand out (2 related quotes here) “According to marketing experts, there is a new resurgence of print marketing from forward-thinking business people who recognize the revenue potential of direct-mail ads and other print promotions. In a crowded online market in which users are bombarded with banner ads and display ads, people are becoming jaded by internet advertising. Print is becoming a legitimate alternative. It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate your business in a crowded online market. However, it’s not so difficult to make a difference with a posters, flyers, or other print promotions. A large proportion of companies have yet to take advantage of new digital technologies. By optimizing your print promotions, you can create print promotions that not only stand apart, but also do a great job of bringing customers from a print ad to your website or sales offer. Since working for print companies for the past 5 years, I can honestly say that print never went away for a lot of businesses. Especially small business and local chains that completely rely on direct mail ofChristian Computing® Magazine
fers and local print ads for their walk-in business. I also see larger businesses starting to return to print to take advantage of new technologies that make it possible for customers to interact with them via smart phones. Thanks to the gigantic leaps-forward in smart phone technology, we are now able to bring customers to smart phone optimized web pages, social media pages, landing pages, and even to our checkout pages – directly from a print ad. QR code technology is fast becoming an effective bridge between these two worlds.” http://www.lawtonprinting.com/blog/Integrating_Print_and_Digital,_Print_is_key_to_success_ in_a_digital_world/75 “Nowadays, printed materials such as books, brochures and magazines frequently direct readers to other digital media sources to supplement their experience with sound or moving image. A recent example of this in action is Jodi Picoult’s novel ‘Sing You Home’, in which readers can scan a QR code at the beginning of each chapter to hear a soundtrack intended to ‘bring the character of Zoe to life for the reader by giving her a real voice’. June 2013
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Finally Though we may often wish we didn’t have to create so many channels of communication, to reach our world today we need a mixture of print and digital to be “all things to all people that we might win some.”
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Practical application A key application here is how posters, flyers, and other print promotions can drive people to your expanded digital resources. No matter what any SEO “expert” tells you, you need more than the savvy use of keywords to get your church website found. One way to do it is in the same way that we check out the website from any company when we get an advertisement in the mail or Sunday paper that looks interesting, print in the form of postcards, mailers, invitation cards, or posters at the local coffee shop can drive people to your website. The creation of QR codes added to creative media has many exciting options for the church—imagine an outreach postcard or poster with a QR code taking you to a your praise band, podcast or video that was specifically designed for an unchurched audience.
For additional articles and training on Multi-channel communications, go to the section below on my website for church communicators: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/category/strategy/multichannel-communications/
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