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Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 26
Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire Michael L White
4 cover story CCMag’s 2014 Church Management Software (ChMS) Overview
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By Steve Hewitt
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Next Month - Support Products and Services Overview!
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Support Products and Services Overview! I always look forward to our ChMS Overview, which is the cover story this month. However, I like what we did last year in providing an overview of all of our other sponsors in the November issue. So, we are going to provide our Second Annual Support Products and Services Overview next month! This means we will be asking companies what’s new with their services, what makes them unique, and we will be asking them for a peek into what they have coming down the line! So, if you want to know what OneCallNow, Aware3, eGiving, Solomon and others are doing, be sure to check out next month’s issue. In addition, we want to encourage ALL of our readers to offer up some new articles on “Why I Love ___” for everyone to benefit! Do you love your ChMS, or the program you are using for Online Giving? Or have you discovered some other computer product, program or service that you simple wouldn’t want to be without. Why not write up a story (at least 1,000 words) that we can print in CCMag so that all of our readers can benefit from your experience! Christian Computing® Magazine
Drop me an email if you’re interested. Don’t worry about not being a perfect writer, because it never stopped me. We have great proof readers here at CCMag, and if your content is from the heart, and your message will help others, we will help fix it up so it will be something you will be proud to share. I hope to hear from some of you soon. I think hearing from real pastors in the field, sharing what works for them, will make for some exciting articles. I hope some of you will help us out! Together We Serve Him,
Steve Hewitt firstname.lastname@example.org
CCMag’s 2014 Church Management Software (ChMS) Overview
By Steve Hewitt
very wonder what’s happening with ChMS? Well our annual ChMS overview is THE best place anywhere to find out. This year many of the companies not only share what they have added to their software and services this last year, but give you a peek at what is coming down the road! I specifically asked each company to avoid listing features, since you can find that in our online ChMS feature chart at http://www.ccmag.com/cms/index.php?chartid=1. If you know of someone that is interested in a new ChMS, refer them to this issue, as I think each company did a fantastic job in sharing this year! Enjoy. ASC Technologies
Jesus gave us a mission: “Go and make disciples.” But in a changing, fast-paced, always-on world, how does the church fulfill this unchanging call to action? Traditionally, church management software (ChMS) helped staff manage the “going” of the church. But traditional ChMS is dying. Today’s church understands that we don’t just go to church, we must also go and be the church, doing ministry all day, every day, and everywhere. Like the mission Jesus gave us, church is no longer Christian Computing® Magazine
restricted to Sundays…it’s a 24/7 calling. Here at ACS Technologies, we know that this requires new and better tools to help you “go.” Imagine a tool set that equips your whole church to go and love God and others in real time, all the time. Where people don’t just attend church but are the church every day of the week. A vibrant community where everyone is connected throughout the week. Where vital information about finances, members, groups, and ministries can be accessed on any device, and available at a moment’s notice – always accurate, always updated, and always in real time. Does this sound like your church? It can be. We’re building seamless, shared data to make a October 2014
complete management and engagement tool set that will empower your whole church for ministry. These tools, working together, will mobilize your people with the power of a unified, smart ministry management solution that both connects and informs your whole church. And we’re here for you every step of the way as your partner in ministry. We know that software alone can’t take your ministry to the next level. That’s why we’re committed to building a long term relationship with you, growing with you, and providing you with industry-leading service and support. For over 35 years, ACS Technologies has led the way in ministry management solutions, backed by superior service and support. With over 50,000 clients, we understand that each church is in a different stage. Whatever that stage is, we have a tool set that can help you. ACS: Trusted by thousands of churches nationwide, ACS is the #1 church management software solution in the US helping you keep all your church’s details organized. With ACS OnDemand, you get cloud benefits and you can use your Mac or PC. On the go? With the ACS Church Life mobile app, you can view important people data, manage events, map visits, and allow your members to give from their mobile phones. Online Giving: Encourage your church members to be good stewards of their resources with ACS online giving and contributions. PDS: PDS (Parish Data System) is the top software choice for Catholic parishes, dioceses, and schools. With PDS OnDemand, you can use PDS software anytime, anywhere with an internet connection. Christian Computing® Magazine
HeadMaster: Specifically designed for private schools, daycares, and childcare facilities, HeadMaster software manages all of your administrative details and communication needs in one integrated database. The City: The City is our ministry management tool to help churches connect members and visitors in today’s world. It’s a group oriented, secure social network that allows everyone in your church to stay engaged in daily life and to build deeper community. And with The City mobile app, you can stay connected on the go by interacting with your groups, viewing your newsfeed, posting and responding to others’ posts, and more. Realm: Realm is our next generation whole church ministry management solution that informs and connects the church in today’s world, built on the belief that everyone on your staff and in your congregation should be empowered, any time, all the time, and anywhere with the most up-to-date information. This uniquely powerful combination gives you complete management and complete engagement for the whole church in one web-based, totally mobile cloud solution. While different churches are in different stages, everyone has the same goal in mind: to go and make disciples. You’re called to go. We’re here to help. Learn how you can mobilize your ministry today: Visit our website and watch the brief Mobilize Your Ministry video. Then find out how mobilized your ministry is by taking our 3-minute self-assessment.
Breeze “It feels like a just few people in a Boeing 737”. This was the sentiment of one church towards their church management software. Massive programs with hefty price tags have their place, but often small and mid-sized churches are looking for something more affordable, lighter weight, and most of all... simpler. At Breeze, we exist to serve small and mid-sized churches by providing unprecedented simplicity merged with excessively excellent customer service. Intuitive layouts and well-displayed information mean that you can more quickly do what you need Christian Computing® Magazine
to do. And when you do need a hand, we’re only a phone call or email away. Our simplicity extends to our price. At $50 a month regardless of church size, number of users, or what features you’re using, we strive to serve the budgets of most small and mid-sized churches. And there’s no set up fees or contracts; we want to be serving you because we’re truly helping you, not because you’re locked in. Come join us in defying complexity, eluding high prices, and laughing in the face of the conventional. Breeze is web-based and easily accessible from Macs, PCs, tablets, and smartphones. A full list of features can be found on our website as well as an instant demo of Breeze. Price: $50/month Phone: 616.414.1010 Web: breezechms.com
BVCMS People Focused. Ministry Maximized. These four words best describe the goals of BVCMS. We are focused on people in the church as well as those outside the church. Our goal is to give churches the tools they need to find the church members and people in their community that they desire to minister to. We put these tools in the hands of the layleaders, deacons, elders, and small group leaders so that they can do ministry both inside and outside the church alongside the church staff. BVCMS strives to help churches maximize their ministry by providing efficient tools for them to focus on the right people for the ministry they are providing. We work to make the tools effective and efficient in order to maximize their time and efforts. October 2014
It has been an exciting year for BVCMS. We hired a CEO, Bryan Lyle, to provide organization and direction in our business and growth plans. He has years of experience in software support and services in the manufacturing and medical industries. As a lay-leader in his church using BVCMS, he understands the needs of the user trying to be effective in ministry. Recently, we have also hired Andrew Triplett and Will Whitworth to our support and training team as well as Brian Lankford and David Mohundro to our development team. All four of these men bring extensive experience in church software support and development from the largest church software development companies. We continue to work with sponsoring churches to actively develop our open source software with such projects as mission trip fund-raising management, additional online registration capabilities and transaction fees management. We have maintained our reputation for quick response to support requests and are working to improve every aspect of our customer’s experience with BVCMS. In the coming months, we will be rolling out a new website as we work on a rebranding initiative. We will have some exciting announcements in the next few
months about our company and our new mobile app functionality. Stay tuned! BVCMS is a full-featured, enterprise-scale software program. We are proud to have customers of all sizes from start-ups to mega churches. With no separate modules or software licenses to purchase, our fees are for hosting and support and are scaled according to the size of the church’s ministry so that even the smallest church can afford our service. See www.bvcms.com for more information.
By the Book
By the Book has been developing church management software since 1992. Our premier product Roll Call allows the church to manage all their information in one central database. Roll Call can run on Windows or Macs or on a network with both platforms. We can also host your data for you if you need remote access to the system. Roll Call allows you to easily manage membership, contributions, pledges, attendance and groups. It even includes child check-in functionality. Our add-on product Mobile Check-In allows you to use iPad’s or other mobile devices to perform church check in. We recently released Roll Make the move… Call Connect add-on which is a from Church Management Software… web portal for your congregation and staff to access some Roll Call to Church Ministry Software information from a browser. It’s great for small group leaders to be Built by the Church, for the Church able to log on and record group attendance or for pastors to log ▪ Open Source (the code is free) on and look up contact informa▪ Web-based tion and enter visitation notes. ▪ Church Sponsored “BTW, each day I am more You could even have your memthankful that we are using ▪ Ministry Focused bers log on and update their own BVCMS. The rate you are contact information and print off adding features and improving giving statements. the database blows my mind and By the Book will be releasing I really appreciate all you do.” Roll Call version 13 November - Jared Coe 2014. We are so excited about this version. It is packed with new features to make your check in process even faster and more secure. We’ve even added the World Class Hosting and Support ▪ 220+ Churches ▪ Active Development ability to text the parents right from the check in screens. Verwww.bvcms.com for more information and pricing sion 13 also includes new data
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ing. Although the current trend is a shift in computing hardware from the desktop to the hand, the demanding needs of the church cannot be limited to just one or the other. CDM+ is driven by a robust database engine and a userfriendly interface to its proven core of information in order to meet the demands of a growing church office. Its suite of programs include membership and attendance tracking, contributions and stewardship entry screens to speed up the process for entering families and entering contributions in a spreadsheet analysis, fund accounting and easy to read financial statements, payroll designed for the church, event format. registration, calendaring for events and personnel, For more information, visit www.bythebook. check-in/check-out for children, youth and adult com ministries, and emailing capabilities with full word processing/layout functions. CDM+ uses all of the CDM+ power and functionality of your computer without CDM+ is a completely integrated solution for to- the limitations of web interfaces. Our Web Ministry Tools (WMT) web applicaday’s technology and information flow. Our unique tion, available since 2008, provides points of contact approach provides churches with the best solution from CDM+ to your website. It can gather informafor office needs, web access and mobile comput-
YOUR INFORMATION SOLUTION
A powerful information system that is completely configurable to your situation.
Available programs include:
• Membership & Attendance (including visitors) • Contributions • Fund Accounting with Payroll • Roommate Calendar/Facilities Manager • Event Registration • Check In/Check Out
Our flexible pricing allows for an integrated software solution that’s custom designed to meet the needs and budget of your church or organization.
www.cdmplus.com • 877-891-4236
POWERFUL Christian Computing® Magazine
CDM+ offers integration both in devices and design. Whether you access CDM+ from your Mac or PC, the Web or your iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch® or Android device, you’re using a powerful solution with optimized performance—so you can use your computer, tablet or smart phone just as it was designed to be used.
INTEGR ATED October 2014
tion from a webpage and place it directly in CDM+. Our WMT technology gives churches of all sizes the ability to take online donations, accept online registrations for events, publish directories that are constantly updated from CDM+, view real-time calendars for different ministries and much more. Our unique online giving solution not only tracks donations but also reconciles all electronic transactions to your financial reports. CDM+ Mobile connects directly to your CDM+ information database and gives you real-time access to membership records, contact records, attendance, giving, check-in and check-out functions. The native app for both iOS and Android is fast and secure. It will allow you to use tablet computing to take attendance in classes and worship services. A new self attendance interface was showcased this year at our annual user’s conference. With CDM+’s integrated word processing capability, you can design attractive and personalized communications. With easy data merge capabilities in its enhanced notice reports it is very easy to have personalized email and letter campaigns across all areas of CDM+. New to CDM+ in 2014 is the addition of supporting all Federal and State payroll tax forms. We have partnered with Aatrix, a tax form specialist, to insure that our clients have access to all of the latest payroll tax forms. CDM+ payroll is designed to handle the special taxing that clergy require and we have added seamless automatic tax table updates. For churches with tight budgets and exacting needs CDM+ has the right solution for you. Our new SAAS (Software As A Service) model was released in January of 2014. For a low monthly fee clients can enjoy all the services of the desktop, web and mobile that include unlimited support. CDM+ was the first church management software to run on both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. As technology continues to change, CDM+ remains committed to bringing the best-integrated information solution to the church. Whatever tomorrow brings, we have the foundation to Christian Computing® Magazine
meet the changing opportunities ahead. For more information visit our website: www. cdmplus.com
Church Community Builder At Church Community Builder, our inspiration is “the pastors and teachers [whose] responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11b–12). Our software and services are designed to encourage leadership-driven processes and systems, equipping both church leaders and congregants for ministry. Over the last year, we’ve made a number of improvements to our software to help facilitate just that. Last November, we completely overhauled our Forms feature, making it more powerful and intuitive than ever so you can conduct event registrations and surveys and more with ease. Next we tackled Check-In, introducing saved setups, unlimited service times, improved Check-Out, and more, to make sure your kids and your volunteers are always safe and well cared for. Events and Rooms & Resources received a makeover too, making event and resource management and approvals easier than ever while improving visibility with room us-
age displays and Kiosk View. And just this NovemYes, dedication and commitment to our mantra ber, we’ve rolled out our most exciting change yet of “ever-increasing features, incredible value, and — Church Community Builder 4.0, a beautiful and outstanding support” is truly something that we live intuitive new look to our entire software, designed by. And the longevity and commitment of Computer to make everyone who logs in to your software feel Helper associates is a prime example of commitment at home. to our customers. We’ve been working to improve more than just Over this past year, Church Windows has come our software, too. In addition to the implementaforward with many exciting changes. The release of tion coaching service we’ve provided for years, Version 17 has brought great progress in program we have launched role-specific coaching, complete appearance, features, and function. From a techniwith assessments, designed to help church leaders cal perspective, the underlying “code engine” of the improve their processes and be the best they can be in their specific ministry role. We have also launched Tribes, where a group of peers serving in similar ministry capacities at similar-sized churches meet together, build relationships, and teach and learn and journey together. Technology evolves, and ministry tools with it. We’re always learning, always innovating, and always looking for new ways to empower the local church. To learn more about how Effective for ALL Church Congregation Sizes Church Community Builder can help you enhance your ministry, Whether yours is visit churchcommunitybuilder. a new church, com.
Church Windows Church Windows Software: Ever-Progressing, Ever-Advancing Though Computer Helper Publishing has a history of more than 25 years with a sole dedication to providing outstanding software to churches, 12 seems to be an equally important number. Church Windows users who have remained on the Support & Updates program have used Church Windows for an average of 12 years! And when calling for Support, you will speak with Reception personnel or Support Technicians who average 12 years experience with Church Windows! Christian Computing® Magazine
a growing church, or a large church, Church Windows Software is trusted by churches as reliable and effective management software. Church Windows is the proven choice for easy-to-use, full-featured software.
Membership Scheduler Donations Accounting Payroll
www.churchwindows.com rchwindows com /churchwindows 800.533.5227 Computer Helper Publishing • PO Box 30191 • Columbus OH 43230-0191
program has been upgraded to be fully compatible with Windows 8.1 and with Server 2012. The new entry screen allows multiple modules to be accessed simultaneously while there is improved login security to ensure data confidentiality. Church Windows consists of a number of modules which integrate for time and data efficiency. With Membership, Scheduler, Donations, Accounting, and Payroll, the full spectrum of church office business functions are definitely covered. Contained within the Accounting module is a full Accounts Receivable section that has been a great blessing to many churches that operate day care centers or church schools. Invoice billing and payment receipt tasks go very quickly while being highly customizable with Accounts Receivable. The Membership Module has advanced the most over the past year. Church Windows Version 17 boasts a Membership Reports section with all-new, simplified procedures for selecting, saving, and sorting reports. The revamped Lists and Labels section has provided almost limitless criteria-selection. The ability to email members, groups, or individuals directly from Church Windows is another greatlyanticipated feature. The overhauled Donations module is gaining traction as the older Contributions module is retired. The new, simplified handling of Giver Numbers (which are optional to use) has answered the requests of many long-time Church Windows users. The direct import of data files from Egiving companies now includes more companies than before in addition to the generic tab or comma-delimited file import. Most churches now take advantage of the opportunity to email giving statements to their members who prefer electronic media. The Accounting and Payroll modules continue to provide the features demanded by churches and their fund accounting needs. Monies donated to the church must be segregated and used for the purpose intended. Pastors appreciate the accurate handling of housing and other allowances plus unique deductions that they experience. So with the great, long history that Church Windows Software has, thereâ€™s no reason to stop now. More and more churches are joining our family of over 12,000 churches to enjoy accomplishing tasks more efficiently with either Church Windows Desktop or Church Windows Web. For more information, visit www.churchwindows.com/learnmore Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
Churchteams The small group movement brought new challenges that Churchteams began addressing in the early 2000s as a fully cloud-based software. We pioneered the idea of push-out data collection from volunteer leaders and learned that it doesnâ€™t matter what software can do, it matters what people will do. The rise of social media and then mobile devices added fuel to our core conviction that the work of ministry should be in the hands of volunteers on the front lines. For them, church management software had to be intuitive and require no training. Only then would staff have the information necessary to adequately shepherd and communicate with their church body. In early 2013 we changed to a responsivedesign platform for the entire application. Rather than building an app (a separate product), we chose to adapt the software platform itself to respond to the device someone is using. This means the software recognizes whether you are on a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop and adjusts the screen to fit your device. This gives you the full power of your entire ChMS on any
device, including all reports and the ability to mass communicate through text or email. In the past year, we’ve added tablet-driven check-in to our children’s check-in system which already included the ability to use barcode scanners to identify a family and using texting to replace pagers and the distraction of a number on a screen to notify parents. Online giving automatically posts to a person’s giving record and integrates with our newly upgraded, state of the art, event registration tool. It has to be easy, so we allow people to sign up for anything without having to create an account or login. It’s as simple as a Wufoo or Google form but fully integrated into the database. The software does the hard work of validation. In his insightful CCMag article, “The Next Revolution”, Russ McGuire projects that from Social/Mobile the next technology revolution will be towards intelligence. We first discovered this in 2008 when we began pushing out a monthly group health report to pastors. The idea is that rather than staff having to run reports, the system will allow you to schedule them for automatic delivery. We have a few other exciting things in the mix for the next couple of years, but look for us and others to allow you to schedule reports to show up in your inbox when you need them. This will create an almost mystical sense of an “intelligent” church management software. For more information, visit www.churchteams. com
Diakonia (Faithful Steward) Affordable and Complete Why settle for church management that costs more than you can afford and doesn’t manage all your records? Faithful Steward Web starts at only $20 a month for Membership and Donations. An optional $20 monthly Fund Accounting add-on makes handling church finances very easy. There’s no more need for an accounting link as we provide a built-in complete solution handling all of the essential records most churches need to manage. Faithful Steward now includes: membership, Christian Computing® Magazine
individual and family photos, directories, groups, attendance, donations, donor statements, pledges, budgeting, banking, double-entry general ledger, audit trail, fund accounting, financial statements, reports, resilient real time automatic backup, online help, and more! Easy to Use for Web or Desktop It’s easy for staff to learn and use. Users love it! Helpful support is included in the affordable price of our software. Our browser-based version is securely accessible from PC, Mac, and mobile devices anytime anywhere. We also have PC and Mac Desktop versions that have a built-in tool to migrate to the web if needed. Quotes from our users “I’m finding that I like the web version a lot!” “I like the ease of getting things in!” “We really appreciate you taking care of us!” “You have been so helpful for so many years that I wanted to call back to say ‘thank you’!” Try out our free demos and join the churches worldwide that over the past 20 years have chosen Faithful Steward for their desktop or web church management needs.
Donarius Church management software is a tool that should make your life easier, helping you get tasks done faster. Since you are reading this, you are probably considering a new product that will do more for your church. You also want a company that will be there to help you. And, of course, you want this at a reasonable cost. Donarius has all these elements: functionality, support and pricing. Donarius has the functionality best suited to a small or medium sized church. It keeps track of October 2014
your members, contributions and pledges. Donarius now has individual and family pictures of each member and prints a photo directory. It will interface with a check scanner to speed up data entry. Donarius can help develop connections between members by sending personalized emails and text messages, which usually leads to church growth. You can even access your data from different locations using a service such as Dropbox. When it comes to support, you are covered for one year. Importing data from your existing software is included at no extra cost. We will even modify the software for you, if necessary. Finally, Donarius is priced so you pay only for the features you need. There is a base version for member/contribution tracking and reporting. Optional modules are available for additional tasks, such as tracking pledges, automatically entering ACH transactions or for sending personalized emails and text messages. We are working on Mac, iPad and Android versions for 2015. Find out more at www.donarius.com or call 1-888-479-4636.
Elexio Elexio provides the only church software that fully integrates church management, website CMS, check-in, giving, and a mobile app into one system. Elexio expanded the giving options available to churches with the launch of the Self Service Kiosk earlier this year. The portable touchscreen technology engages church attendees through a variety of functions including fund-specific contributions with a debit or credit card. They can also connect with a small group, find a service Christian Computing® Magazine
opportunity, share a prayer request, or update their personal information from the kiosk. Also available as a standalone option, the self-service kiosk can integrate with the ChMS database to streamline contribution management. Another major change in 2014 was an upgrade to the Elexio Mobile App. Members can register and pay for events, find resources in the integrated Media Center, make contributions, or access the church directory from their smartphones. Staff can also take notes and leave follow-ups for administrators. Free with the ChMS database, the mobile app is available on iPhone and Android and can be custom-branded for a one-time fee. Just released on October 7, mobile check-in is the latest update to the Elexio suite. Integrating the ChMS database, mobile app, and check-in software, the new system can operate in either attendee or administrative mode. Families can begin the check-in process within the mobile app then scan the confirmation code at an available kiosk to print nametags for the kids. Churches can also station volunteers at entrances to take attendance on a tablet as people walk through the door. Unlike most systems, Elexio’s check-in can work locally without internet access, and mobile check-in will work even if the kiosks are running offline. Mobile check-in comes free with the ChMS database and check-in software. An overhaul of the communication screen within the ChMS is scheduled for release by November, including templates for HTML email communications, and small group management enhancements are just around the corner. Elexio also continues to add new responsive design options to the CMS which offers unlimited storage and pages for church websites. Churches can integrate their websites with the ChMS database to simplify event management, giving, and connection opportunities. Elexio will be hosting its inaugural user’s conference, ELEXICON 15, in Orlando March 4-5, 2015. The event offers a variety of tracks for every Elexio user from beginner to IT expert and will feature sessions lead by Elexio staff, client October 2014
Check-in just went mobile!
ELEXIO.COM | @ELEXIOBUZZ | 888-997-9947
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churches, and guest speakers. Learn how to CONNECT with your community, ENGAGE them in discipleship, and GROW deeper and wider at www.elexio.com.
Excellerate For over 15 years, Excellerate Church Software has been helping thousands of churches of all sizes get completely organized so they can operate more effectively. This long history of working closely with all kinds of churches has given us a unique depth of experience to know what churches need to help them succeed. One of the most important things we’ve learned from this experience is that every church is different, with unique callings and ministries which change as they grow. This means that it’s critical for churches to have a software solution that is customizable to meet these different and changing needs. That’s why Excellerate was designed from the beginning to be extremely customizable, so that it can support the uniqueness of each church as well as change and adapt with the growth of the church. It’s like having software custom developed specifically for your church! Churches rely heavily on their church management software, so when they need help, they don’t want to just be a “customer number” when they talk to customer support. That’s why we provide one-on-one personal support with people that get to know all about your church. You are never just a “customer number.” This year we announced Excellerate Cloud and have been amazed at the response. Customers have told us how much they love Excellerate, but many of them needed the ability to access it from Macs, iPads, and from home. Now you can! Excellerate Cloud gives you the full Excellerate experience in the cloud. It’s better October 2014
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than web-based because you get the speed and customizability of an installed program plus the availability and accessibility of the web. Our tools for helping churches include â€“ our Church Management System, Child Check-in for child safety, and ServePoint for volunteer scheduling. We are constantly working on new tools, such as a free event timer/clock to help churches manage the flow of their services. Itâ€™s in beta now, but you can find it at www.eventtimer.net To find out more about Excellerate, visit us online at www.excellerate.com or 888-371-6878
Icon Systems The Icon Systems product family successfully manages thousands of churches. IconCMO, our Cloudbased flagship product, has over 24,000 users in over 16 countries with thousands logging in daily. Icon Systems would like to thank all our customers for giving us an opportunity to serve! Why do clients choose IconCMO for their church management software? Our clients have come to expect high quality products with superior levels of service, and Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
IconCMO delivers. IconCMO has an uptime of 99.998% since 2008, and we give our clients unparalleled system performance and software features. We also provide training and customer support for free. We recently surveyed our clients. Their response? An overwhelming 96.4% were extremely satisfied. A Peek Into the Future: Icon Systems is continuing our tradition of customer service and product development as we ramp up to release the new Icon Check-In module. With this release, Icon Systems is applying the latest technologies to create groundbreaking checkin features. Some may ask, â€˜Why do you push the envelope for church technology?â€™ Simple. We like to serve our clients with the best available software at an affordable price. Our ever expanding features allow us to serve the increasing needs of churches. We couldnâ€™t be happier and more excited to take on these new challenges as we look to the future and lead the church technology industry. Weâ€™ve Been Busy: Icon Systems continually strives to improve our products with additional features and new technologies. This past year was no exception. We revised the parishionerâ€™s module to make it more user friendly on mobile devices. Also, while maintaining FASB accounting standards, weâ€™ve expanded the payroll package to include automatic tax calculations and direct deposit. Our Heritage: Icon Systems is both excited about our future and proud of our heritage. As innovators of church software, weâ€™ve continually been one of the first to bring new technologies to churches. Released in 1992, Icon Systemsâ€™ Revelations church management software was one of the first Windows and Mac church management systems on the market. Icon Systems started developing IconCMO in 1999, well before the software industry was focusing on cloud-based applications. IconCMO was one of the first webbased products to enter the marketplace in 2003. In 2005, we released the first web-based fund accounting module for IconCMO. Since 2010, we have partnered with 11 other companies who provide top-shelf niche services to our customers. In 2011, we were the first to bring our entire system into the mobilefriendly environment as seen in the CCMag cover story. Icon Systems has been at every technological turn for the past 20+ years. Visit us online Sign up for a free trial or give us a call at 1-800-596-4266! Facebook, Twitter, G+ October 2014
PowerChurch Software Since 1984, PowerChurch Software has been serving churches and nonprofit organizations by providing affordable and easy to use software that allows you to streamline your day-to-day tasks as a busy church administrator. With over 36,000 churches and nonprofit organizations using the software across the US and Canada, we understand the importance of providing our users the tools necessary to be as productive and organized as possible. Christian Computing速 Magazine
PowerChurch Plus is an all-in-one software solution that contains Membership, Contributions, Accounting, Event Scheduling and much more for one low price. The software is fully networkable at no additional cost. For those that need access from any location, PowerChurch Online is a remote installation of PowerChurch Plus that gives users of Windows, Mac, and Linux computers secure access from virtually any computer with broadband internet access. Mobile users can also access from native Android and iOS apps, as well as a browser-based web app. To track the dropping off and picking up of children in your care, the PowerChurch Check In System integrates with your PowerChurch Plus or PowerChurch Online data. It supports Dymo label printers, bar code scanners, and web cams for capturing pictures of those new to your membership. We have continually developed our software products over the years, changing with the times, adding features that our existing and prospective users have requested. User suggestions are the biggest source of new features developed in PowerChurch Plus. PowerChurch Online users recently benefited from a complete redesign and expansion of the mobile web app, which provides browser-based access to their membership database. The responsive web design works equally well on desktops, tablets, and phones, giving users of all devices access from anywhere. It has never been easier to keep in touch with your congregation! The newly redesigned automated messaging utility allows you to interact with third party services like Phonetree and One Call Now. Contact preferences of voice call, text October 2014
message, and e-mail can be set on each person in your membership, to ensure that your messages are received in a timely manner. Our products integrate with many other third party products and services, such as online giving and direct deposit from Vanco Services, Google Calendar sync, background checks for volunteers and staff from Protect My Ministry, bulk e-mail via Constant Contact, electronic filing of W2, 941, and 1099-MISC forms and much more! Our web site at www.powerchurch.com contains many training and support resources. There are over sixteen hours of training videos as well as many free how-to videos, newsletters, and articles in the searchable Knowledge Base. A user support forum is available to ask questions, answer questions, or search through the archives of thousands of previous posts. For more information and free demos of PowerChurch Plus and PowerChurch Online, visit www.powerchurch.com or give us a call at (800) 486-1800.
You want the freedom to … reach out … minister to people … create fellowship … contribute to your community PowerChurch Plus was created for just that!
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New Version and New Features! www.PowerChurch.com • 800.486.1800 The ServantPC Cloud is here! 3&6&KXUFK([HFXWLYHB[LQGG $0 The biggest change for Servant tory that looks great on any size screen or device. Keeper in 2014 has been the addition of cloud This is a great tool that will benefit the church services. The ServantPC Cloud enables more membership. The Mobile Ministry App is perfect volunteers and staff to do ministry in the field and for those doing pastoral care, counseling, visitaaccess their data from remote laptops, tablets, and tion, or any type of “field work”. This app gives smartphones. Starting at just $10/month means them the ability to see any important notes, dates, the price is right too! or appointments, as well as pull up individual Along with cloud services Servant PC has and family records and access contact informaintroduced the FREE online church directory, tion. The Greet and Attend App was specifically the FREE Mobile Ministry App, and the FREE designed for greeters and teachers to quickly add Greet and Attend App. The online directory is a visitors to the database as well as take attendance searchable, secure and customizable online direc- for any class or activity. Christian Computing® Magazine
Remember, Servant Keeper users have the choice to maintain a local database or take advantage of ServantPC Cloud services. This way churches can decide what will best match their needs and budget. Ministry staff will find that with the release of this new version Servant Keeper remains one of the most powerful and user friendly church software programs that any church can afford. Find out more about the new version of Servant Keeper by visiting www.servantpc.com/upgrade
Seraphim 8 Reasons to Switch to Seraphim Church Management Software Seraphim is the industry’s best database for ease of entry, demographic-defining options, involvement tracking, discipleship management, and more. Our technology’s world-class yet easyto-use features help the church be more effective, nimble and potent in its mission by letting you see what’s really going on with the congregation, ministries, events and, most importantly, people.
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1. See the Insights Other Systems Ignore. How many visitors are coming, where do they come from, how did they hear about you? Do these visitors return — and how many don’t return? When visitors do return, how many become regular attenders and, eventually, members? How are your people connecting? What are the retention rates of visitors and regular attenders? Seraphim doesn’t leave these important questions up for grabs. It shows you what’s happening, the way no other system can. 2. It’s Not 1995 Anymore! Seraphim’s design comes from what the world of computing looks like now, not 20 years ago. Icons don’t just look good, they’re user-intuitive and functional. Instead of following generic templates, Seraphim is focused on delivering information for the specific needs of modern ministry. We know it’s not enough to look good: each piece has to work together to deliver a seamless total experience. 3. Safe Check-In is Not About Stickers. The safety of each child in about more than just a friendly face, a completed form and a nametag. It’s about creating peace of mind about security October 2014
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in your members, regular attenders and visitors. It’s about making children feel like they’re a part of the group. It’s about parents having the confidence their children are protected and respected. Seraphim Safe Check-In delivers on all these points and more. • Photos for parents and children to aid visual match ups • Ability for a family to approve grandparents, guardians and even close friends to drop off and pick up their children • Alerts about allergy and medical information • Support for items brought for infants, e.g. bottles, blankets, bags, binkies and toys. • We support staffed and self Safe CheckIn kiosks • Easy to use and easy to register new people during check-in 4. Donor & Giving Management. Giving and donation are strong signals of the health of your church. Seraphim provides powerful tools for managing and visualizing what is happening from a donor perspective. It’s your data. Export to QuickBooks, Peachtree, Excel or anything else that helps you manage your data. Your congregation can give traditionally or use online giving to worship. Seraphim provides easy-to-use tools for your congregation to securely generate tax statements and view their giving records. Event payment is integrated into the event management system. 5. Event Management & Ministry Scheduling. Event management can be an endless parade of clipboards and sign-up sheets — asking for the same information again and again. We break this cycle. Seraphim’s event-management system lets you book rooms, resources and classes, and even connect ministries’ resources to events. Use our event-payment tool to help the congregation easily pay for events after registration. Ministry planning is integrated deeply with the reporting engine, so you Christian Computing® Magazine
can quickly create the lists you want. Set up unlimited ministries with unlimited roles, and engage, qualify and schedule your volunteers. You set the schedule, Seraphim sends the reminders. 6. Reporting and Analytics. Wouldn’t it be nice if more than one person on the planet could do your reports? Powerful or Easy? This seems to be the quandary when dealing with reports. What about both? Seraphim provides a powerful and flexible way to select your data and then present it as lists, directories, industry standard labels and even name tags and pictorial directories. And you don’t need a Ph.D. or a call to a support line to generate it! Seraphim generates mailing labels and distribution lists for email, email services like Constant Contact and can send SMS Text messages. Seraphim will even read your messages to the elderly over the phone. Mapping is built in. See where your members are in relation to visitors. Who the closest small group is and how to get to a member’s home to take them a meal to show you care. Don’t fight with data and applications. Solve the problem with Seraphim. 7. Unlimited Online Communities. Seraphim supports small groups and affinity groups like no other program in the market. We give you the tools you need to communicate, share and care with one another. Prayer Lists, Care Centers, Online Directories and Discussion Areas let you meet the needs of your members, regular attenders and visitors on the fly. Organize and leverage your resources and deliver them to your congregants when they need them. 8. Seraphim Care. Not software as a service – software with fanatical service For more information, visit http://seraphimsoftware.com/
Shelby Systems There has been quite a lot going on here at Shelby Systems since we spoke with CCMag last year. We recently released our cloud-based membership software Arena Standard Online with the aim of helping churches of all sizes manage the membership aspect of their ministries. Our Shelby October 2014
Systems’ new Community website recently went live and has been updated and is full of a variety of self-help and networking resources available to all of our customers. And last but not least, we are excited to update everyone on our cloud-based financial product, Shelby Financials. Shelby Systems’ Arena Standard Online was released this year as the newest package in our Arena product line. Arena Standard Online includes the core pieces of our Arena application in a subscription package that comes in an affordable subscription for small churches and organizations. Arena Standard is hosted in the cloud, just think of the flexibility this grants your staff! They can work at the church office or at a coffee shop while meeting one on one with a church member. This product can be used from virtually anywhere, on any device, with an internet connection. Arena Standard Online includes Membership, Contributions, Online Giving, Groups and Communications such as email and SMS text messaging. Mold this product to fit your needs and know that it will grow with you. Take a look at Shelby’s free online demo videos of Arena at shelbysystems. com/arena. Shelby Systems’ new Community site is up and running. This is a consolidated networking and self-help tool open to all Shelby customers. Resources are plentiful in the Community as well as updates and announcements. You can find answers to your questions using the Knowledge Base and Product Forums. Communicate and network with fellow users, post questions, get answers, and share ideas. Helpful tips and tricks can be found along with documentation, video pages, downloads and Christian Computing® Magazine
more! You can visit the new Community 24 hours a day, seven days a week at community.shelbysystems.com. Shelby Financials Online is our cloud-based financial software composed of the fiscal tools your ministry needs to complete their job and steward your finances. Here are a few attributes SFO has to offer: • General Ledger allows you to drill down directly from the inquiry screen. • Accounts Payable prints checks on demand, reprints vouchers from inquiry and has tight integration with General Ledger. • Bank Account Management sports a full check register and allows for common CSV/Excel imports from your bank. It also features complete reconciliation with General Ledger and creates one consolidated reconciliation report. • Payroll keeps a complete history of compensation and deductions and allows the user to schedule future changes in compensation and/or deductions. • Fixed Assets is also available with SFO. Keep track of all your ministry’s physical assets as well as calculate and post depreciation. • Accounts Receivable allows pre-paid and unapplied cash visible at payment processing screen. • Purchasing Management has multiple approval levels as well as online and mobile approval functionality. • The Shelby Financials Portal is an online tool that allows your users to view and pay their AR invoices, view Payroll earnings, request time off, and request a purchase
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order from Purchase Management. If you want to see these features more in depth, check out the free video demos or request a personalized demo at shelbysystems.com/financialsonline or call us with questions at (800) 877-0222.
Software for Ministry Our design philosophy has steadily evolved over 30 years of producing church membership software. Recent enhancements in our software enable optional secure remote access of your data off-site from the church office at a very low cost. Thus a pastor, staff member, or lay leader can run our software on their home laptop or desktop computer and work with live data on the church office computer. This software technology also enables two browser-based smart-phone apps that come standard with our basic software package – one designed for staff and one for general member use. The staff phone app allows you to work with basic contact information, including the ability to update the information while you are out and about. The member phone app is designed to be a phonebased church directory that members can use to look up other members’ names, phones, addresses, and pictures. The phone apps are fully password protected, and the member phone app respects all the privacy settings that would honored when our software outputs a printed church directory. Any family’s address or phone can be marked as confidential, as can any person’s e-mail and cell phone numbers. The member phone app will respect these settings and will not display any of these fields that are marked as confidential. An optional tablet app for staff use displays the complete suite of member data, allows full updating, including for visitation information. Enhanced functionality in the tablet app for marking attendance in real time will be released November 1. For more information, visit www.softwareforministry.com
White Mountain Software White Mountain Software has been in the Church Management business since 1999. Our flagship product, “ChurchWatch” is an exciting and innovative software program designed exclusively for Microsoft Windows ® Operating Systems. The most striking feature of the program is its straight-forward, common-sense design. Literally anyone can learn the basics of this software in just a few minutes without the use of the manual. In addition the software is highly flexible to meet the specific needs of your church. ChurchWatch will help your church office keep track of membership, attendance, contributions and pledges, calendars, event and facility management and much more. You can easily print text or photo church directories. Printing USA or Canadian tax receipts and IRS reports is a snap and will save your financial staff or volunteers hours of work each year. This feature alone covers the cost of the software in terms of time saved! Over 600 reports are included and ALL are user-modifiable if changes are required
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to meet your specific needs and tastes. ChurchWatch comes in three (3) versions: Full Version/Server, “Light” (250 families maximum) and Network Workstation. We also produce a series of training videos to help your staff get up and running quickly. We are pleased to announce that we have just released Version 6 of ChurchWatch this fall and it is packed with great new features requested by church customers. For more information, a free demo and a tour, please visit our website at www.churchwatch.com or call us directly at 1-877-955-3657.
Are your volunteers disciples or disposable? By Steve Caton
hink of a Sunday morning service where you see the pastor get up on the stage and ask for children’s ministry volunteers. (Isn’t it always children’s ministry!) There is a twinge of hesitation in his voice. (He’s thinking… “are we really doing this AGAIN?”) But, they need volunteers for children’s ministry. It’s getting to be a war zone back there with just Rhonda and Debbie. Someone — anyone — please volunteer.
How compelled would you feel to oblige? How compelled do you think the person sitting next to you feels — he’s awkward with children! There’s this approach that many of us take, consciously or not, toward ministry in our churches: we have X slots to fill, so let’s get people into them. It’s robotic, it’s impersonal, and it doesn’t work very well. Only the truly committed person volunteers when they’re given a general call to serve from the pulpit like that — and many of those people still burn out quickly. Yet this is the reality in so many churches. Why? It’s all because we’re looking at volunteer minChristian Computing® Magazine
istry the wrong way. We see it as a way to get work done rather than a way to help people become more like Christ. If we shift our thinking, God can shift our results. He doesn’t need to work through us; He chose to work through us because it helps us grow. God’s not shoehorning random people into a calling because He needs to fill a quota, so why should we? If we want to transform our volunteer ministries, we have to move towards inviting people based on where they will be fulfilled, rather than just where we need bodies. We have to develop the mindset that we are growing more than a volunteer army — we’re growing disciples. October 2014
Move from filling slots to growing disciples. 1. Know them before asking them. Frequently, the only information we go out of our way to collect about the people in our church is their contact information. We might also keep track of who’s in their family and which of their kids has a debilitating peanut allergy. But very rarely do we proactively go out and collect information that will tell us who they are, what they’re passionate about, or where they have skills they could use in ministry. The first step to knowing is figuring out what you need to know. What ministry opportunities are people most passionate about? Where have they served before? What job skills do they have that could be applied to something unique, like a ministry performing free oil changes for single moms? 2. Make what you learn usable. Now that you have a framework of the types of information you want, the next step is obviously filling in those blanks with real information about people — but it’s important to keep it where it’s accessible. If Mike is getting to know David and Joe really well, but keeping all that information in his own head, what happens if there’s a ministry opportunity that would be perfect for David but Mike hasn’t heard about it? Or what if Mike moves away? It may feel impersonal to write down what you know about people in a centralized database — like it’s just reducing them to data points — but it’s actually the opposite. This is actually the key to connecting with them in a very personal way. 3. Extend a personalized invitation. It’s easy to find a ministry opportunity that will suit someone when you know what their passions, skills, and gifts are. Extend a personal invitation for them to serve somewhere you believe those passions and gifts will be used. People are much more likely to get involved and stay involved when they know you cared enough about them to extend that personal invitation to an opportunity that fits them well, rather than just announcing a need for volunteers from the pulpit. It’s true that you won’t always land on the perfect opportunity right away, and sometimes your invitation will be declined. That’s actually a good thing — lisChristian Computing® Magazine
ten to what they’re saying! This is a chance for you to learn more about them as a person and find a place where they will really be happy to serve. It’s always more important to find someone the right fit than just a fit. 4. Stay connected. Getting someone to say ‘yes’ to volunteering is not the end goal. It’s the beginning of a new process. It’s just as important to know how people are doing spiritually and in their new role as it was to learn about them beforehand. If someone is getting burnt out or feeling like a poor fit where they are, you want to know before things get worse! Continuing to pour into your volunteers is important for both the spiritual health of the people in your ministry and the health of your ministry as a whole. It lets people know you really do care about them, not just what they can do for you. It tells them you’re invested in their discipleship. 5. Avoid silos. Those last four points are all about good process, and it is important to keep that consistent across every ministry in your church that develops and leverages volunteers. Don’t implement these ideas in your children’s ministry but not in other areas. Make these principles consistent across the whole church so people have a great experience regardless of where they serve. Finally, try your best to support the process with your church management system. Using a different tool to support such a vital part of your ministry will lead to disconnected data and confusion about where to find the most accurate information about your volunteers. That’s how you lose track of people or, worse yet, miss out on discipleship opportunities. There are so many people in your church just waiting for the right opportunity to make a difference in ministry, if you just take the time to make it personal. It’s time to stop inadvertently treating volunteers as disposable and start pouring into them as disciples. Invest the time and energy into the lives of the people in your church, looking for a place where each one of them individually can thrive and grow, and your whole church will grow with them.
The Power of Online Giving By: Michael L. Jordan
ithing, contributions, giving. Freely donating to the church is vital to the ministry and growth of churches. It’s so important that Jesus stated we should be happy to give our share. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. However, it today’s fast-paced, hectic world, tithing can sometimes not be as simple as it once was. Making it easier for congregants is vital in the 21st century to ensure you’re making budget and, in turn, expanding your scope of your ministry. And, according to the authors of “Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving,” it can be done. “A lot of churches have some form of online giving software already. So, the point isn’t just about using online giving. But rather maximizing all the benefits online giving can provide. HowevChristian Computing® Magazine
er, what if there were systems that could be controlled as a database and allow users to seamlessly give online as well?,” said the authors. “Churches and organizations miss huge opportunities when they manage two, three or even four or more different sets of data. Keeping online giving records and interaction data separate from your chosen church management software database, or ChMS, creates a missed opportunity and unnecessary work for your staff. Online giving and ChMS need to interact and integrate so you can more effectively manage your data.” October 2014
In reality, there are problems when online giving and ChMS do not interact and properly sync. Problems from not syncing include: double entry; missing information; duplicate information; human error; and wasted time from manual entry. Conversely, the benefits of syncing are many. They include: easier reconciling; saved time; automated reporting; and improved record accuracy. These things are imperative when choosing an online ChMS right for your congregation and it’s important to evaluate the options out there for your church. “(There are) four steps that will help you maximize your use of online giving. Keep in mind that the timing for the launch of online giving is a key element of maximizing your system. Since the majority of churches experience a summer slump in giving and attendance, have the system in place and in use before the summer season starts. Likewise, since most donors tend to contribute more at year-end, you might want to consider launching in the fall so that the users are comfortable with the system by the time the holiday season rolls around,” said the authors of “Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving.” These four steps include: 1. Sign Up For a Merchant Account: the first step to getting started to using the online giving solution within a ChMS is to sign up for a merchant account. 2. Choose the Right Settings for the Congregation: Once the merchant account has been created and approved, the next step is choosing the online giving settings that best benefit your ministry. The following options will be available when setting up online giving: • The ability for members to use debit cards, credit cards or ACH (bank accounts) as their source of online giving • Allow comments on donations • Specific limits for one-time donations • The best time to activate online giving for the congregants 3. Market Online Giving to your Congregation: Once the administrative aspects of online giving have been established, the next step is to show people that it is both easy to use and a completely secure connection. Christian Computing® Magazine
4. Be Proactive and Be Prepared: When implementing any new online giving solution, it is understandable for members to have some additional questions. Combat those inquiries by preparing an online FAQ. This can easily be posted within your ChMS. “Using online giving within your congregation is easier than you think, especially with a solid launch plan,” said the authors of “Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving.” “It’s imperative to have a timeline which includes planning backward from six months prior to launch. Also, it is very important to have follow-up in the days, weeks and months after launch to ensure congregants are utilizing the tools available to them.” Online Giving, In Reality The Bible Chapel in McMurray, Pennsylvania utilize ACS Technologies products and have an integrated online giving module in place. “We have had online giving implemented for several years at The Bible Chapel. I was an early adopter of using it and I love it. I use it to give weekly through scheduled giving. This removes the hassle of remembering the checkbook and writing a check,” said Cory Rush, congregational database administrator for The Bible Chapel. “Also, I like that I can easily indicate different funds where I would like the contribution allocated. With online giving, we never miss a week even if we are not there. On the occasion when I want to know where we stand on giving for the year, I can easily see all of giving (offline and online) without having to contact the finance folks.” Let Us Help You Better Communicate ACS Technologies can help you better streamline your opportunities with online giving. Whether you’ve already implemented a ChMS and need an online module, or are just getting started, we can help. To learn more about online giving opportunities, including stories of how other churches have succeeded, download “Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving” today. You can also learn more by visiting http://bit. ly/1DtzCBq.
protected with purpose
Properly Taking Out The Trash
By: Steven Sundermeier
arlier this month, I was summoned to San Francisco for business meetings. Wanting to share the experience of California with my family, we all flew out to California together for a few days. In keeping with a tradition that my mom still follows and has passed on to my wife and me, the preparations for any trip include a thorough cleaning of our entire home. We vacuum, dust, change sheets, wash and put-away laundry, etc., so that everything is clean upon arrival back home. (Try this—it’s awesome to walk in to a house that is impeccable after being away!) Are we alone in this practice? (Just checking!) Anyhow, no one enjoys coming home to a clean house more than my wife, and you can just see the joy on her face when everything is cleaned and put away, including the trip laundry. While I admit that I, too, enjoy a clean house, my joy level in this particular area is not the same as hers. However, I do find that same happy place after all my emails are completed and my inbox is cleaned up after some time away from the office. Anyone with me on this (the sweet feeling of a cleaned up inbox)? Christian Computing® Magazine
A clean inbox is easier said than done. Have you ever worked relentlessly through all your emails only to hit Send/Receive and get another one hundred emails, most of which are unsolicited spam emails? If you are like me you get tired of the junk advertisement email. You delete a handful and it seems like you’re dealt another round, many times from similar sources or forged addresses. The natural tendency eventually is to finally take the time to click through the email, locate the Unsubscribe button and get your October 2014
email address removed. And while this seems like a good course of action, I am including some reasons why I highly recommended NOT going the Unsubscribe route. Here’s why… 1. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button confirms to the sender that your email address is valid. Spammers, cybercriminals and other groups who desire to exploit your email addresses usually collect or purchase this information by the hundreds of thousands not knowing which addresses are in use. They even go as far as create programs that randomly generate (best guess) email addresses hoping to get lucky on a few. When you click on an Unsubscribe option, you all but confirm that your email address is valid and that you activity monitor it. You also let them know that you were intrigued enough to click on the email in the first place. You can then expect a heavy dosage of more targeted spam advertisements. 2. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button can relay critical information about your Email Security (or lack thereof). Many Unsubscribe options request that you reply back to the sender or a particular email address with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line. By following through with this request, you can be inadvertently supplying a spammer with additional information about what email software you use, if your emails are being tagged as actively filtered by an antivirus security solution, etc., and these details give them a better understanding on what in their malicious arsenal may be best effective against you. There are even cases where clicking on the Unsubscribe link will open a new web browser, where from this new browser a hacker may be able to retrieve your IP address and geographical location. 3. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button may result in malware getting downloaded to your system. Think about it. Spoofed links and images are part of the definition of phishing schemes. Socially engineered email attachments are still a top method for getting users to download and install malware (ie. CryptoLocker). Attackers are routinely using the Unsubscribe option to trick users into clicking it. Just like I’ve suggested in the past about not blindly clicking on embedded links within the body of an email, I say againdon’t blindly click on the Unsubscribe options. Christian Computing® Magazine
Many times you can rollover the link or button and see they redirect to some rogue website. Given all the above, what should you do when you receive these types of email? 1. Use common sense. If you recently signed up for an email newsletter from your local pizza shop to take advantage of a free large pizza for joining and then get inundated with emails from them in the days following, it is likely safe to Unsubscribe from their listing. I am consistently amazed at the ability of our Nation’s big-box retailers to flood our Inboxes. 2. Mark the email message as Spam or Junk. Many of the leading free and web-based email providers like (Hotmail, Google, etc.) allow you to report the spam that made it through their initial filters. By marking these messages as spam, you increase the likelihood that similar messages will be caught and removed automatically. 3. Choose to Delete the email. Simple enough. Don’t open it. Don’t view it. Report it as Spam and then simply delete it without even viewOctober 2014
ing the message. Again, most email providers will provide you a checkbox option in front of the message in the Inbox.
back from my wife when I have “cleaned up” a room/ counter/area by simply scooping up the mess and placing it in a pile somewhere else. The kitchen may look “good”, but the dining room table is a mess. 4. Install Security Software. If you are using a These days, clicking “unsubscribe” can often lead client-based email software such as Microsoft Outyou into a bigger hassle than a full Inbox. I recomlook or similar, consider installing security software. mend taking a moment to do the job correctly the first Thirtyseven4 Endpoint Security comes equipped with time and 1) Think! (Use common sense), 2.) Mark a cutting edge Email Security module that not only the email message as spam or junk, which identifilters emails for viruses, worms and malware but ac- fies it to your email provider as such, 3.) Delete the tively blocks emails that contain known email-based email, and 4.) Install aggressive security protection. vulnerabilities and incorporates a Cloud-based, pow- It’s worth our time and effort to be savvy, because the erful AntiSpam engine to deal with all your unwanted cybercriminals are spending a great deal of both time spam issues. And for those readers managing the IT and effort to compromise our security and informainfrastructure in network environments, Thirtyseven4 tion. There are solid products available to maintain also offers an industry leading Thirtyseven4 for MS your security and peace of mind--I of course recomExchange Solution as well. mend Thirtyseven4! Whether it is a clean house or a clean email InWill we ever truly win the battle against spam? I box, it’s a great feeling to have things in order and in am not sure it’s possible, but we can certainly make order by having done things the correct way. some offensive plays. Junk emails are a nuisance to And how was San Francisco? If you have been all of us, and we can do a number of things to affect there you know. I agree with Rev. Billy Graham: the volume of them that fill our inboxes daily. “The Bay Area is so beautiful; I hesitate to preach But we also have options about how we complete about heaven while I’m here. “. any task. I have received less-than-favorable feedWITH A MAJORITY OF ALL SPENDING HAPPENING ELECTRONICALLY WHY RISK MISSING OUT ON ENCOURAGING A LARGE PORTION OF YOUR CONGREGATION TO GIVE? MEMBERS ARE MOST LIKELY TO TITHE WHEN THEY CAN DO SO CONVENIENTLY.
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church windows software
Checking the W-2s Now Will Prevent Headaches at the End of the Year
By Craig Chadwell
or churches who do payroll manually or who use payroll software, now is a great time to look ahead to avoid potential headaches (and embarrassing situations) when it comes time to present final payroll tax documents to church employees. At Computer Helper Publishing, we suggest that after running the final payroll of October (but BEFORE running any payrolls in November), that you manually calculate or, preferably, print informational copies of W-2s for all employees. It’s also a great idea to check numbers as they would appear on the Form W-3. If your software is still displaying the previous year in the heading, that’s OK. You are looking at this for information only, and it will be from the current year. Software companies typically update to the 2014 forms in a late-year release. When looking at the W-2s: • Does each W-2 contain the social security number and address for the employee? • Look at the amount in box 1: is this approximately 10/12 (0.833) of the annual amount budgeted for the employee? Christian Computing® Magazine
• If the criteria for Federal and State wages are the same, does the amount in box 1 agree with the amount in box 16? If the criteria are different, are the amounts different? • If you have employees who participate in a dependent care program, is there an amount in box 10? • Do amounts that are required to be stated separately show up in box 12 with the appropriate code? • Is box 13 marked for those employees participating in a retirement plan? • If box 14 is used, does it provide the information expected? Make a list of any items that need to be investigated or corrected. October 2014
Gather the 941s for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters Add together the amount on line 2 for each of the three quarters plus an additional 1/3 to compensate for October, and then do the same for lines 3, 5a, 5c, and 9. (If any amended 941’s (Form 941x) have been filed then substitute the corrected numbers when totaling the 941s.) Compare these totals with the W-3. Here is what should match: Total of the 3 quarters of form 941 plus 1/3, line
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The wages from box 3 of the W-2 multiplied by 6.2% should be within a dollar of the amount in box 4 of the W-2. If any employee’s box 5 wages are in excess of $200,000 there is a two-step process for the next calculation. If no one has wages in excess of $200,000, then the wages of box 5 of the W-2 multiplied by 1.45% should be within a dollar of the amount in box 6 of the W-2. If employees have wages in excess of $200,000, make the previous calculation, determine the amount of wages in excess of $200,000 and multiply that by .9% and add it to the previous calculation. Compare this total with the amount in box 6, it should be within $1. There should only be wages on line 5d of the 941 if an employee is subject to Additional Medicare Tax (wages over $200,000). If the employee is a minister, then boxes 3, 4, 5, and 6 should be blank. Gather your state and/or local returns for the first three quarters and compare these with boxes 17 and/or 19 on your W-3. If there are discrepancies, work to resolve those before December payrolls. A little extra effort and preparation now can certainly save time, embarrassment, and headaches later.
CALL FOR A FREE DEMO: 800-446-3035 Ext. 6880 Christian Computing® Magazine
higher power with kevin
Accordance 11 Collections Are Here New Version Coming
Kevin A. Purcell - email@example.com
n a bit of a strange move, Accordance Bible Software signaled the upcoming release of Accordance 11, the company’s powerful Bible study software. They released what they call Accordance 11 Collections, but not the 11th version of Accordance Bible Software. It’s likely this was done to take advantage of Pastor Appreciation Month, which comes in October of each year. Head on over the Accordance blog to learn more about the collections and watch a video from the company’s designated online training guru, Dr. J. (http://www.accordancebible.com/ Blog) to see them. Here’s the news release that explains the move by Accordance to release the collections ahead of the actual Accordance 11 update. Christian Computing® Magazine
Today we are very pleased to announce Accordance 11 Collections. As many Accordance users know, Collections are the best way to build one’s Accordance Library. If you are new to Accordance, you will want to select the Collection that is best suited to your work. If you are a longtime Accordance user, consider upgrading to the next Collection level using Accordance’s new Custom Upgrades. All of our Collections have been updated. While all the Collections will have titles we have carried in the past, there are also new additions that we will highlight below. Click on the Buy Now button with each Collection to see a complete listing of all titles provided with a particular Collection. Go to the Collections Comparison Chart (http://www.accordancebible. com/Collections-Comparison) to see the Accordance 11 Collections compared side by side. Note: Accordance 11 has not yet been released but it IS included in these new Collections. It will be available to you immediately upon its release if you buy a Collection now. If you own Accordance 9 or 10 your Upgrade Calculator in Easy Install/Check for Updates will
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list the modules you would add with the different updates. Notice the bold print. Accordance 11 is, so far, MIA. As we already pointed out, this month is Pastor Appreciation Month, so we’re betting they wanted to get in on that marketing opportunity. Buying a collection will also include the updated version, once it’s finally ready. Accordance didn’t offer a timetable for when the new version will ship. We’re betting it’s sooner rather than later, due to this move to offer these collections. Expect Accordance 11 itself soon, but we can’t give a date. By the time you read this, the update may already show up at the company’s website (http://www.accordancebible.com). Accordance 11 Collection Prices Here’s a list of the collections and their prices for first-time buyers. Remember that people who already own an Accordance Bible Software library, can get a discounted price so they don’t need to pay for the same books twice. • Starter Collection – a good way to get introduced to Accordance with basics like the tagged
ESV Bible and IVP New Testament Commentary, Dr. J’s Bible Study Methods, an enhanced version of Treasure of Scripture Knowledge and more ($59.90 - http://www.accordancebible.com/store/details/?pid=Collection11Starter) Bible Study Collection – 2-dozen Bible translations and a “strong collection of commentaries” plus NASB study tools, and some devotionals ($199 - http://www.accordancebible.com/store/details/?pid=Collection11Bible+Study) Original Language Collection – a great tool for Greek and Hebrew students with plenty of language study tools ($299 http://www.accordancebible.com/store/ details/?pid=Collection11-OrigLang) Essential Collection – the Bible Study Collection and the Original Language Collection in one ($499 - http://www.accordancebible.com/ store/details/?pid=Collection11-Essential) Advanced Collection – the scholars library with tools like serious Bible study tools and language study tools ($999 http://www.accordancebible.com/store/ details/?pid=Collection11-Advanced) Ultimate Collection – the kitchen sink collection with a massive library of tools ($1999 - http://www.accordancebible.com/store/ details/?pid=Collection11-Ultimate)
almost $370 off the $1999 price. Also, Accordance offers monthly payment plans. For example, I can buy the Essential Collection for about $90 for 6 months. Is Accordance a Good Buy? If you already own an advanced Bible Study tool that you love, it doesn’t make sense to buy Accordance, which comes with a steep learning curve to get the most out of the power included. One exception would be someone who owns a Windows-only product but plans to switch to a Mac soon. Accordance runs great on a Mac and even includes a Windows version. Crossplatform users can install and run it on a Mac and on a PC at their office. An iPad version lets users access all of their library tools. They don’t offer an Android version. Accordance includes extremely powerful features with customization options. People who don’t already own an advanced tool should seriously take a look at Accordance. Grab the trial version (http://www.accordancebible.com/Free-Trial-Demo/) and test it out first, then invest in the Starter Collection, if you like what you see in the trial. If you find that it doesn’t fit your style of Bible study or sermon prep, you’re not out too much money.
Accordance offers a comparison chart to show the difference between each collection (http://www.accordancebible.com/Collections-Comparison). To see what your custom upgrade price will be do the following: 1. Click the previous link. 2. Sign into your account from the My Account button in the upper right corner. 3. Choose the collection you’d like, and place your mouse over the collection image to show the popup link. 4. Click the See Product Page button and a new window will open up in your browser. 5. Click on Custom Upgrade to find your special price. I tested this out using the Essential Collection as my chosen upgrade. Remember that it costs $499 if you don’t own an Accordance library. My upgrade price, taking into account all the books I already own, was $350.13. If I picked the Ultimate Collection, I’d save Christian Computing® Magazine
The Next Revolution
The Power of the Intelligence Revolution By Russ McGuire - firstname.lastname@example.org
ver the past couple of months I’ve introduced the Intelligence Revolution and put it in the context of the broader Information Age. Last month I provided this working definition: The Intelligence Revolution will help us better understand the world around us; will improve our decision making to enhance our health, safety, and peace of mind; and will enable companies to better serve us based on the correlation and analysis of data from the interrelation of people, things, and content.
Every new technology introduces new capabilities that enable us to do things that previously weren’t possible or practical. As technologists, our job is to capture this new power for our organization. But every new technology also creates new potentials that represent risk to ourselves, our families, and the organizations that we serve. As technologists, we are also called on to manage this danger. This month I’d like to explore the power that is available from this Christian Computing® Magazine
Intelligence Revolution, and next month I’ll address the danger. Setting the Context When I think, write, or speak about the major technology revolutions, I usually say things like “this revolutionized how we, as individuals, interact with the world around us, and fundamentally transformed how organizations/businesses operate.” October 2014
In hindsight, it is easy to look back and see how the introduction of the personal computer transformed how churches and ministries operate. It is similarly easy to see how the Internet has transformed how churches and ministries operate. When we look at the Mobility Revolution, it is easy to see how mobility has revolutionized how we, and those we serve, interact with the world, but the examples of how mobility has transformed how churches and ministries operate are harder to find. I don’t believe that is because the Mobility Revolution is less transformative for Christian organizations than it is for the business community. Rather, I think it’s a reflection of the limited resources that those of us in ministry are working with, and the greater challenge we have in making investments in new technologies compared to businesses who can easily calculate the ROI (return on investment). As the technology becomes more ubiquitous, and the cost of implementing it comes down, and the expectations of those we serve that we are leveraging the technology increase, in time I believe that mobility will be as transformative for our churches and ministries as it has been for most businesses and industries. In the same way, and perhaps even more so, I believe that it will be many years before the Intelligence Revolution has a transformative impact on how our churches and ministries operate. However, the impact on ourselves, our families, and those we serve will be much more immediate and, in fact, is happening today. With that as context, this article will deal more with how the power of the Intelligence Revolution plays out in the relationships between businesses and us as individuals. I believe that, in time, these same relational impacts will play out between our ministries and those we serve, so perhaps this article can plant a future vision for how your ministry can capture the power. What Power Does the Intelligence Revolution Unleash? At its core, the Intelligence Revolution is about having more information and being able to do more with it. Data scientists probe, manipulate, correlate, and analyze vast amounts of information from a variety of sources to extract “actionable insights.” What do I mean by “actionable insights?” I mean new understandings of reality (insights) that can lead to decisions to take action in order to accomplish our objectives. Each business exists to provide a product or Christian Computing® Magazine
service that people want or need. While the most measurable objectives for a business are financial (e.g. revenues and profits), these objectives are only sustainably met when the business is doing a great job of meeting its customers’ needs and desires. Therefore, the real power of the Intelligence Revolution is achieved when a business analyzes data to gain new understandings of reality in order to better serve their customers. When that happens, it’s a win for the business and a win for us, their customer. As a very simple example (with a lot of complexity behind it), when I turn on my television, I have hundreds of channels and thousands of shows (over the next 24 hours) to choose from. It is overwhelming to me to find something I want to watch. As a result, I only turn on the television when I know there’s something on that I want to watch (in my case, that’s usually a sporting event). Even then, it is a struggle to browse through all those channels looking for my show. However, data exists that could dramatically improve this product for me. Out of the hundreds of available channels, there are probably fewer than a dozen that I have watched in the past year. Of the thousands of shows, those that I have watched have a very limited set of characteristics (maybe 60% sports, 30% news, and 10% movies or other entertainment), and the specifics within each of those fields could be narrowly defined (favorite sports, leagues, teams) simply by observing my behaviors. Similarly, data exists that indicates with whom I associate (Facebook friends; e-mail, text, and telephone conversations; organizational associations, etc.). And the data exists to indicate what these people generally watch and what they are watching right now. Also similarly, it is relatively simple to identify other people who like to watch the same things I do, and to identify what other things these people watch and what they are watching right now. This isn’t much of a stretch from what many companies do today. Amazon recommends products to me based on what others that have similar tastes as mine have bought and recommended. LinkedIn recommends contacts to me based on common associations. TripAdvisor recommends hotels to me based on what my Facebook friends enjoyed. Theoretically, when I turn on the television, the Intelligence Revolution should allow my cable company to present to me the very small number of shows that I might actually want to watch, rather than forcing me to wade through a sea of unpalatable October 2014
choices in hopes of finding a hidden gem. Although the above example appeals to me as a consumer, it is important to point out that the Intelligence Revolution is most clearly playing out today in industries where the consumer is not the paying customer, but rather is the product. Security expert Bruce Schneier may have been the first to make the point that - if you aren’t paying for a product/service, then you aren’t the customer, you are the product. Google and Facebook are examples of companies that do a great job of making billions of dollars in profits by translating the information they have about their users (us) to provide a more valuable service (often targeted advertising) to their paying customers. To be fair to these companies, they actually have what is called a “two sided business model.” Although we are the product, it is critical that they keep us happy so that we keep coming back in order to sell our “eyeballs” to their advertisers. Both these companies do a great job of using “actionable insights” to improve the quality of their service to us, their end users. Google’s search algorithms are a great example of how the Intelligence Revolution has already transformed the way that we, as individuals, interact with the world around us.
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In time, it is my hope that Christian churches and ministries will find ethical and God-honoring ways to leverage “big data” to better serve those around us and to advance God’s kingdom here on earth. It is my hope and prayer that these articles will encourage you in your daily walk with Christ. As 1 Peter 4:10 teaches us “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Russ McGuire is a trusted advisor with proven strategic insights. He has been blessed to serve as an executive in Fortune 500 companies, found technology startups, be awarded technology patents, author a book and contribute to others, write dozens of articles for various publications, and speak at many conferences. More importantly, he’s a husband and father who cares about people, and he’s a committed Christian who operates with integrity and believes in doing what is right. Learn more at http://sdgstrategy. com
Free Image and Media Resources for Church Communicators Yvon Prehn - email@example.com
n the coming months you’ll be creating lots of communications for ministry and outreach over the holidays. As you do this, the following list of resources will help you with new images, photos, and an incredible way to create videos. All of the resources below have free sections, however, be careful because many of them also offer images for sale to finance their sites. I didn’t include standard, Christian sites because most of you already know about these and many of the images we use today are not your standard oldfashioned clipart images, but thematic photos. I did include some basic clipart resources, but also a number of very contemporary photo sites. I also included some smaller, new sites. If you like the material on these, be sure to download it ASAP because some of these sites don’t last long, but have great images available while they do. Also, as I’ve tracked some of these sites, I have leaned to download the images before the site owners realize how much Christian Computing® Magazine
work it is to keep up the site and start charging for it. I’ve seen this happen on some sites. TIPS on image collecting and organizing images and media • It’s never too early to start collecting and organizing images for the upcoming holidays (and after Christmas it seems like Easter comes quite quickly). Here are a few tips to help you keep from getting overwhelmed. • Create folders on your computer for the different holidays and the images you’ll save October 2014
• After some initial searching, decide on a theme, a look, perhaps even a color scheme for your upcoming holiday. • Use down-time to look for images ahead of time so you’ll have them when you get ready to put your communication projects together. Doing this ahead of time makes actual production go much more smoothly. • If you have a laptop at home (this is what I do), browse through these resources while watching TV. There are thousands of images available today and it can take many hours to go through them to find just the right ones at the right price (free) for ministry projects. When I do this, I don’t feel so guilty for watching TV. CLIPART and image Resources http://www.clker.com/ simple clipart images for the holidays, with an emphasis on very simple images, but often that is exactly what you need. You have to scroll past some ads, but thousands of images here. One other useful feature is when you click on an image, they include a number of similar ones, e.g. search for “Santa” and on the download page are dozens of additional Santa images in many different styles. The program also has a built-in simple editing program, SVGEdit. For example, if you download a line drawing of Santa, you can open up the program and with one click change the color of the image to a red, instead of black line drawing. http://thepatternlibrary.com/ Fascinating collection of patterns—not a lot of them, but definitely worth looking at and downloading—you can do so much with them later. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=images&ex=1 Still one of the BEST resources for both clipart and images is the Microsoft site—though they have a tendency to move it and change it. Some nice new images for Christmas are now on the site. One of my favorite features is when you click on an image, the next screen has a box that says “Similar images, explore now” which brings up many similar images both in style and subject matter. It’s a great way to find a collection of images for a ministry program. Photos & other media http://pixabay.com/ This site has an incredible collection of high quality photos that are all free to use under Creative Commons license. This site also inChristian Computing® Magazine
cludes simple vector graphics and illustrations. It has a useful search box that you can also sort your searches for photos, vector, or illustrations only. http://www.imcreator.com/free/ Fairly new site, contemporary, high quality images. Many require attribution, but are free. Also has icons, website templates. http://picjumbo.com/ very nice, contemporary photos, many of them free. Has a good listing of categories for searching. Not a huge site, but useful for up-to-date subject matter. http://publicdomainarchive.com/ Interesting collection of images—some taken by the site owners others from public domain resources. Some are free, some for a membership fee. Worth checking back frequently as they post new images each week. They don’t have a good search function. http://nos.twnsnd.co/ New Old Stock—advertises itself as lots of uploaded old images or images in the public domain. Made me feel really old to see the space and astronaut images included. No search function; and not particularly holiday related, but some great images and fun to scroll through. http://magdeleine.co/browse/ “Handpicked, free photos for your inspiration” Very nice, contempo-
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rary photos, free to use attribution required. One nice feature they have is a search tool that you can search based on colors. Videos www.animoto.com I LOVE this program! It allows you to create incredible videos (think alternative announcements, etc.) by simply adding images and captions, hitting a button, and then the program turns them into great videos with amazing graphics and transitions. When you first look at the program you may wonder why it is listed as “free” but scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a section for “nonprofits” where you church can get a free membership. I know there are many other sites, PLEASE send me the ones you like and I’ll do another collection of them, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on using images and how to modify them, go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com
nick at church
Video Calls – Will the Technology Survive?
Nick Nicholaou - email@example.com
hen people first get the technology to make video calls, they get excited! But interest in this terrific concept always wanes. What will it take for the technology to survive and, more importantly: thrive? Why Do People Always Get Excited About It? I see it over and over again: people get excited about being able to make video calls! Whether it’s friends calling friends, lovers calling lovers, or grandparents calling grandchildren, this is a technology that holds a lot of promise! The tools are plentiful: Cisco, Skype, Lync, Facetime, Tango, GoToMeeting, and a zillion others! Even many VoIP phone systems can accommodate video calls now! With the technology so prevalent and, truly, at most of our fingertips, why doesn’t it take off? Why don’t we see (pun intended) more people making video calls? Why Do They Lose Interest In It? There are a few reasons I’ve seen develop into patterns: 1. We often lose interest in the ‘new thing’ after awhile, and video calling falls prey to this tendency like anything else does. 2. Some people don’t like how they look in video calls! I’ve seen entire organizations decide to Christian Computing® Magazine
prefer video calls over audio-only calls, only to have that decision reversed a couple of months later. Let’s face it: we get self-conscious! Plus, we lose the ability to do other things while in a conversation— multitasking feels rude in a video call! 3. Video calling systems are limited; most only let you connect with someone using the same software or platform. Thus there is often no way to video call someone not using the same system. The first two reasons can be overcome if the prevalence of video calling could push us to a greater comfort level. But the third will forever keep the technology from becoming widely adopted. What if I don’t like Skype’s user agreement that lets them use my computer to route other people’s calls and consume my bandwidth? What if I don’t have an Apple device and thus cannot use Facetime? What if I don’t want to install yet another video call app on my system because someone wants to connect with me who doesn’t have any of the many video call apps I’ve already installed? October 2014
Applying Tomorrow's Technology to Today's Ministry