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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
BVCMS M R M aking
Copy Editors Gina Hewitt Magen Cross
By Pastor Kevin Parker
Corporate Home Office
Thanksgiving! CCMag Readers Passing it On!
By Steve Hewitt
Hitting the Mark - Tracking Ministry Success
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By Steve Caton
Organized and Effective Outreach
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Giving Thanks for … Technology! Wait, What? Technology?
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CCMag Readers Passing it On! This month’s cover story is written by a pastor who is using a product that he loves! I found out about Kevin Parker from another person. They testified to me that Pastor Kevin LOVED BVCMS. I contacted him and asked if he would share his passion for the product with our readers. I knew that our readership would benefit from a reader-to-reader testimony about a product. Last month I asked you “Why I love…?” and encouraged you to drop me an email about a tech program or service that is a benefit to your ministry. Next month we will be publishing an article from Pastor Gerald Rogers who loves a program called Clickbook. He has been using the program at his church in Northern Ireland for a long time. I hope we can all profit from his experience and his article! I had certainly hoped to hear from more of our readers, and hopefully gain more testimonies from those that are sponsors. I know it is easy to find fault with almost any program or service, since nothing is perfect, but if you’re using it and it is helping your ministry, it would be a great help if you would take the time to drop us 1,000 words and explain why! Christian Computing® Magazine
Tell us what you love about your ChMS. What technology services are you using to connect or communicate with your congregation? We won’t offer you any money, but by sharing, you will be passing on your experience and helping to minister to other CCMag readers! I hope to hear from more of you soon, telling us why you use the software and services you use!
Together We Serve Him,
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Making Records Matter By Pastor Kevin Parker
inda received a simple email invitation to Sunday evening discipleship classes. Later, she reopened it, read the class descriptions, and scanned the enrollment links. She clicked the link that most interested her. Her internet browser automatically launched and navigated to a dialogue which identified her and enrolled her in the class. It took four minutes, simple, quick, convenient. She went on with her day. Weeks later, at the first class session, she was expected, resources were ready, and prepared nametags awaited each arrival.
Months earlier, church staff had searched member records in BVCMS, identifying likely attendees. They collaborated using shared, temporary “tag” lists to develop the final list. Next, they created discipleship organizations in the system configured for online registration. That done, staff created and sent out an automated, personalized email to the list and waited. That’s when Linda received her message. One system handled the entire process, BVCMS. Ministry staff moved on to other activities while technology promoted classes and enrolled growing disciples. The church staff reviewed the registrations as they arrived in their email inboxes and ordered and prepared materials. On launch day, cloud technology ensured everything worked perfectly. This wasn’t a megachurch. It was our church. Our attendance varies from 150 to 170. Our staff is small, Christian Computing® Magazine
with no IT budget and no IT staff. Two Pastors and two secretaries guide and assist our membership. And, we have BVCMS. Our members attend, give, make contacts, and grow. Behind the scenes, advanced cloud-based software keeps track of it all. It’s a system that links people together seamlessly and fosters ministry collaboration. I pastor, teach, counsel, plan, and cast vision. I function with less effort and less complication because of a powerful, friendly, easy-to-use technology. BVCMS tracks an extraordinary amount of information and helps me, our staff, and our members care for people and build disciples. I cut my teeth on church management software as an Associate Pastor. I understand its value. I’ve also shuffled paper, spreadsheets, and file cabinets. I know the drill. When I needed something useful for today’s November 2014
ministry culture, a technological cloud-connected contact records in BVCMS about our previous talks. culture, I discovered BVCMS. They contained critical information and observations BVCMS is an open source project of Bellevue about Jason’s spiritual development. The membership Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Their church documents area of the system contained two previneeded software that met their needs. Off-the-shelf ous baptism readiness forms. I downloaded them for products fell short, so they began writing code. Over review. time, their code became the Bellevue Church ManageWhen Jason and his mom arrived, I was ready. ment System (BVCMS). Eventually, the church spun Mom was impressed as we spoke about previous off the development of the software, now cloud-based, visits. Jason appeared ready for baptism. I showed his and offered it to others. mother, on a new baptism readiness form, how Jason Sometimes, keeping track of people paralyzes or, had progressed from the previous ones. Seeing the at least, complicates loving and reaching people. Other records gave her confidence in the process. Behind the church tasks also include tracking people: giving, scenes, BVCMS technology had enabled me and othattendance, enrollments, service. Linking all of those ers to access and use information that formed multiple records to the same personal contact data is invalupastoral contacts, spread over time, into a successful able. If the same system could also communicate with and meaningful journey. BVCMS remembers. people, handle class and camp registrations, automate Another story: Rachel and her family attended rotating volunteer schedules, and handle the recordchurch one Wednesday night after a friend’s invitation. keeping of camp deposits and payments at a reasonAn attentive children’s worker captured information able cost, I’m all in. about Rachel and her family when her parents dropped Here’s an example. Judy loved our church family. her off at G-Force. Her parents attended an adult Bible Our Deacons loved her. At her funeral, a deacon deliv- study group, where the adult teacher was only able to ered part of her eulogy. Why was he asked? I reviewed collect first names. The next day, our staff entered all her contact records in BVCMS. They revealed Dean of the information and linked up the parents’ names had visited her often. Dean’s brief visit summaries in with Rachel as they entered guests into BVCMS. BVCMS provided invaluable information that helped minister to the family, plan the services, and personMake the move… alize the care of everyone involved. from Church Management Software… Dean had attended a Deacon training on entering pastoral ministry visits to Church Ministry Software in BVCMS so that others could see his contacts and coordinate care. His Built by the Church, for the Church entries mattered before and after Judy entered heaven. Technology helped ▪ Open Source (the code is free) me and pastoral caregivers orches▪ Web-based trate our ministry quickly, efficiently, ▪ Church Sponsored “BTW, each day I am more and with greater meaning. Records thankful that we are using ▪ Ministry Focused mattered. BVCMS. The rate you are Change gears. Jason was ten. adding features and improving He asked about being baptized for the database blows my mind and the sixth or seventh time. His mom I really appreciate all you do.” sought an appointment with a minis- Jared Coe ter, feeling he might be ready. When his mother called, our staff easily checked Jason’s contact record and noticed I had already talked to Jason twice. The secretary arranged another World Class Hosting and Support ▪ 220+ Churches ▪ Active Development visit. On the day of Jason’s visit, prior www.bvcms.com for more information and pricing to the appointment, I reviewed the Christian Computing® Magazine
Before Sunday, an adult visit team was assigned to visit Rachel’s family. They received a family information summary from the BVCMS system. Workers had marked the family in BVCMS as assigned to the team. Sunday afternoon, a children’s visit team trolling for visits remembered Rachel. They opened her record on BVCMS and checked her visit fields. Records showed the family’s assignment. Though fields had been marked through the adult records, they showed up on the record of each family member, including Rachel. So, they selected a different home and headed out. BVCMS easily averted double-visiting a home and awkward and disappointing experience for the teams. Tracking matters. Having had years of experience with Shelby Systems, ACS Technologies, and other church management software, I led our staff through a transition to the BVCMS platform. Trials with test data assured us that the system was, indeed, created by a church for churches. Its design and operation made sense. The functions and the cost attracted us. For low hosting fees, BVCMS immediately offers a set of functions other providers offer as modules with separate costs: mass emails (with tracking) to groups or search results, customizable online registration,
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integrated payment management for fee collection and online giving, attendance tracking and reporting, contact management and task assignment features, automated volunteer worker rotation management, contribution records, membership document server, shared scratch lists, saved and shared searches, customizable reporting, simple user management, “anywhere” cloud access, online membership directory functions, basic membership management features, and the best customer service we have ever experienced from any vendor (friendly, responsive, U.S. based, quick, knowledgeable, etc.). BVCMS offered these functions right out-of -the-box. For the first time in many years of software use, I heard our staff say the words “I love” about software without any prompting. Our experience has been stellar. We’re devotees. BVCMS facilitates our ministry to people and improves our results. We call it ministry management software, rather than church management software. Why? It’s all about people. It works. It makes a difference. That’s why we love BVCMS.
Hitting the Mark
Tracking Ministry Success
By Steve Caton
ometimes I miss school. Not the learning — learning never stops. I mean the grades. Before you start thinking I’ve lost it, think about your children’s report cards or your own experiences in education. Most of the time, the teachers make it clear what students are being graded on. Attendance and participation. Completing tests with correct answers. Grammatically correct and well-structured papers. In some classes at least, grading is the closest thing to an objective measure of success that most of us ever see, and that stops after your last graduation.
But I’ve found that if you look for it, there are metrics and measurements of success in many places, though they’re often not as clear as the grading rubrics our teachers used. If you want a measure of how well you’re managing your finances, you could check your credit score. If you want a measure of your performance at work, your boss could probably provide some metrics you’re being scored on. What about your church’s ministry? How can you tell how healthy your ministries and your members are? A lot of people rely solely on intuition to measure the health of their churches, and while intuition is valuable, it’s still subjective — and it can miss a lot. The behavior of the people in your church is indicative of what they believe, what they value, and how valued and connected they feel they are. And Christian Computing® Magazine
behavior is measurable. Would you feel a greater need to check in on Mr. and Mrs. Johnson because you feel like you’ve not seen them as much lately, or because they used to attend their Small Group every Thursday night without fail, and now have missed four out of the last six gatherings? If you’re not capturing and monitoring facts, you run the risk of letting people quietly slip out the back door. 3 trackable metrics for measuring ministry health Attendance. Keeping track of someone’s attendance at worship services, small groups, and other events over time can give you a picture of what their ‘normal’ is —and if that’s changing. Taken for everyone attending a certain kind of event, it can show you how well November 2014
your programs and events are reaching people. If you’re pouring extra resources into your kids’ summer events, trying to get more kids in the neighborhood involved, but your attendance numbers aren’t growing, that’s a sign that you need to try something different. On the flip side, if David has begun attending more regularly and started going to a small group, it’s a sign that he’s gaining a sense of belonging in your community and plugging in somewhere that will help him grow in his faith. These are important things to know! Giving. Oftentimes churches will track giving because the IRS requires it, but not leverage the stra-
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tegic value of the information. Tracking the giving patterns of individuals is a powerful indicator of engagement and discipleship but it is rarely viewed that way. Individual giving metrics can tell you a lot about someone’s spiritual walk and personal needs. When someone gives for the first time or starts giving more regularly, it’s a sign of increased commitment — to your church, or even to God. If, on the other hand, someone’s giving suddenly stops or drops dramatically, it could be a sign that they’re feeling disconnected, or that they’re experiencing financial hardship. In either case, knowing the change in their giving patterns gives you the chance to reach out to them. Serving. The Bible calls pastors and teachers to equip people for works of service, and the people of God to serve the body. How many people in your congregation are getting involved in your service opportunities? Are you finding opportunities that suit them and inviting them to those, or are you putting out blanket pulpit calls for nursery workers? How
well people respond — or don’t — to your serving opportunities will tell you how well your invitations are working. And when someone takes the plunge and begins to serve for the first time, you know they’ve taken a big step in their spiritual walk. This helps you stay connected to individual people’s lives as well as the bigger picture of your ministry. Three obstacles to success I rarely get pushback on the value of tracking these metrics. What I do hear is a lot of justification for why it’s too hard to do. Unfortunately, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. The ability to push through any obstacle comes from two things: awareness of what the obstacles are, and a vision of why overcoming them matters. I can help with the first issue by sharing the most common obstacles I’ve observed. Too much freedom: Good leaders don’t micromanage. They cast vision, define ‘riverbanks’, and then give people the freedom to figure out the best way to execute. The problem is that many leaders forget that defining the riverbanks isn’t just about policies and procedures. It’s about defining culture and processes, as well as how you expect people to operate within them. You can’t just let every leader do things the way they want and expect to gain a consistent and meaningful view of what’s happening across your entire church. Low expectations: Because we fear we won’t be able to attract and retain good leaders, we often set the bar of our expectations very low. In doing that, we fail to recognize that truly effective leaders thrive on expectations. It’s how they know they are being successful. If you tell your a small group leader that part of caring for people and leading them into a deeper relationship with Christ means taking attendance for their gatherings each week, and they refuse to do it, they shouldn’t be leading a small group! Disconnected systems: Processes and expectations must be supported by robust, holistic systems. Using different systems and tools within every ministry team leads to massive gaps that make tracking metrics nearly impossible. Whether it is your church manageChristian Computing® Magazine
ment system or Excel spreadsheets, make sure every team is operating within the same system and set of tools as much as possible. Not everything in life is perfectly measurable, but where we can measure, we stand a better chance of being effective and successful. Your church ministry is no different. Tracking metrics can help your ministry reach the community at large and the individuals in your care — and make for a healthy church. Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and others. He also cowrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!
Organized and Effective Outreach By: Michael L. Jordan
ommunity outreach is a key component of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Churches which reach out to where they work and live effectively grow in size and scope of influence. This in turn helps with what all Christians are called to do: the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). But too often churches make the misstep of not reaching out in an effective way to the people they’re trying to impact. Whether it be finding it difficult to connect with new people or problems staying connected with them, it can be tough and disheartening. 97% of all churches do specific outreach… but are they reaching out effectively?” – Ellison Research According to the authors of the ministry guide “Organized and Effective Outreach,” it is something which is attainable. “In (our) guide, we introduce numerous practical ways to overcome the difficulties associated with outreach,” said the authors of Organized and Effective Outreach. “There are many useful strategies and tools available to help (churches) move forward with outreach and begin to see the positive results (they) desire.” Christian Computing® Magazine
There are several practical suggestions in the Organized and Effective Outreach to help both the novice church and those who may need a little tweaking in their current outreach program. They include: 1. Researching your target audience 2. Finding ways to drive people to visit your church 3. Making people feel welcome 4. Reaching people through events 5. Mobilizing and equipping members to invite people 6. Tracking attendance 7. Publicizing your ministry and events to the community through various communications outlets 8. Getting involved in what is already going on in and around your community 9. Using the right tools 10. Committing to a good follow-up plan November 2014
“Outreach begins when you start taking steps to make it happen. With a strategic approach and the proper tools, your church can move forward with outreach right away,” said the authors of the “Organized and Effective Outreach” ministry guide. To break it down even further, there’s several subsections of the ways listed above to provide effective outreach, including: Research your target audience • Pay attention to community demographics. • Take note of the demographics within your organization. Empower your members to reach out to the community • Prepare them with teaching. • Give them necessary tools. Set up and create events, services, and activities • Create a task team to decide on the outreach events and activities. • Find people to serve at these events and keep track of these volunteers. • Use the right tools for tracking your outreach events and the people in them. WITH 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.
“There are a number of things your church can do specifically to spread the word. Many churches have had success with handing out literature such as tracts or magazines, mailing invitations or postcards to non-members in neighborhoods, organizing small groups that meet throughout the community, targeting sections of the church website specifically for outreach, creating email invitation templates that can be used by your members for outreach and setting up booths at community events, school registrations and other functions,” said the authors of Organized and Effective Outreach. Use the outreach ideas we’ve provided - like utilizing your church website, social media, and
PEOPLE IN THE
Connect and commit after the outreach • Follow up with guests who attended the events and services. • Get these people involved.
Will They Use Technology to
AS THEIR PRIMARY
Get people to your outreach events • Advertise and market the events. • Find people through community efforts and outside activities. • Invite these people.
IN ONLINE GIVING TO FAITH BASED
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even event publicity – to keep people committed to your church and achieve true ministry impact in the community and beyond. These solutions can help you rise above the challenges faced when trying to establish a successful outreach ministry. By applying them, your church will be primed for growth and impact in your community. Not only will you be able to make your outreach ministry effective and organized, but you’ll also be able to turn your members into inviters and plan ahead for even tighter attendance tracking and volunteering. Ease The Burdens Of Your Church Staff As your outreach ministry grows, the amount of work your staff takes care of also multiplies. To help simplify your processes, you need a flexible and secure hosted solution that can be used anywhere. Whether your staff work from home or from the road, it’s imperative to have a solution that can successfully help you manage your outreach ministry. Let Us Help You Better Communicate ACS Technologies can help you better streamline your opportunities with proper outreach. Whether you’ve already implemented an outreach strategy or need help getting your efforts up and running, we can help. To learn more about outreach opportunities, including stories of how other churches have succeeded, download “Organized and Effective Outreach” today. You can also learn more by visiting www.acstechnologies.com.
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protected with purpose
A is for Awareness and U is for Understanding
By: Steven Sundermeier
s a father of three children, I have been quick to discover that bed times can be both very rewarding and also very challenging at times. My wife and I do our best to keep the kid’s bed time routines consistent: brushing teeth, memorize Bible verses, read a story, kisses goodnight, etc. My daughter (the youngest), still really enjoys when I draw letters and numbers on her back to guess before she calls it a night. She is now to the point (even though she is only 4 years old) where she likes for me to draw words for her to guess. Keeping things simple and only introducing new words once and while, usually by the time I draw the first letter she has guessed it. For example, if I draw a “D” she very proudly answers “Daddy”. I imagine that if I would play a similar game with you, also on a basic level, (with the exception of physically drawing on your back) and gave you the first letter of a Computer Security-themed word to guess, you may fair equally well. For example, if I gave you the letter “V”, I bet a majority of you would reply back to me with the word “Virus”. Likewise, if I asked you to supply me with a word that began with “S”, we might agree that the words “Spam” or “Spyware” may result in the top responses. While it is great to have such terms in your vocabulary, the problem with these commonly used computer security terms is that many times they are used incorrectly, interchangeably or in Christian Computing® Magazine
the wrong context. In order to properly arm yourself and combat cybercriminals, it is essential to be familiar with these common terms, but also to fully understand their definition and to stay current with many of the new terminologies being used today. Below is a list of some commonly used computer security words and their definitions. Adware: This term is short for Advertisement Software. If you’ve ever experienced those annoying and many times problematic unwanted advertisements on your machine, you have likely been a victim of adware. November 2014
gram created to discreetly steal confidential information. Many times the stolen information is relayed to a 3rd party (spammers, hackers). Trojan Horse: This term describes a program that has been developed to appear safe and harmless, however is malicious. Virus: This term describes a program that can replicate on its own and does so by attaching itself to another (usually) non-malicious program. When the program is executed, the coded virus routine is carried out. Worm: This term also describes a program that can replicate on its own; however, instead of attaching itself to a host like a virus, it spreads by using other means of replication, such as attaching itself to an email, using open network shares, copying itself to available external drives and devices, etc.
Backdoor: This term is used to describe a program created to obtain unauthorized access to your system. Keylogger: This term describes the process of recording the key strokes entered on a keyboard by the user. In most cases, these key strokes are recorded without the users consent in an attempt to retrieve confidential information. There are both hardware and software-based keyloggers. Phishing: This term describes the technique used by cybercriminals to acquire personal information (usernames, passwords, banking information, etc.) from users by masquerading as a legitimate business entity in an email or other form of electronic communication. Many times attackers will spam spoofed emails appearing as a banking institute or Paypal. Rootkit: This term describes programs that are created to conceal specified processes or other programs (usually malicious) to evade the detection of antivirus software. Spyware: This term describes a malicious proChristian Computing® Magazine
Congratulations if you scored highly and knew most of those definitions! These terms cover the basics. Now let’s step it up a notch and explore some newer terms that are lesser known but equally important to understand. Clickjacking: This term describes the technique of tricking an online user into clicking on something different than what the user perceives. The cybercriminal accomplishes this by inserting malicious code into the clickable content within websites. A very similar term is Likejacking. In this case, an attacker posts “must read” or “must see” style posts in Facebook with the intent to trick users into liking and sharing the post further spreading the scam. Form Grabber: This term describes a malicious program that has been created to steal the web form information of a user before it is submitted online over a (hopefully) secure connection. Twishing: This term describes a Phishing scam (see above) perpetrated over Twitter. Vishing: Again, this is a term used to describe a Phishing-like scam. Under this term, the scam is conducted by an attacker using the telephone. Have you ever received one of those calls from “Roger” calling on behalf of Microsoft needing to log in November 2014
remotely to your computer because they were notified that you had Spyware? Wabbit (aka: fork bomb): This term is used to describe a denial-of-service (DoS) attack that keeps on replicating itself on an infected machine in order to drain the systems available system resources, etc. I strongly believe that being educated and aware of these terms and their processes aids in prevention of being burned by them. I wish I could say that cybercriminals are lazy and lack creativity, but they are indeed the opposite. Always thinking of new ways to manipulate our information, our machines, us. If today’s article has whet your whistle for security terms and happenings, check out our webpage or Facebook for the latest virus threats Security Tools. And remember to like Thirtyseven4 on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Thirtyseven4) to get all the latest security news and announcements. I plan to post an update to this article with a complete security term listing on our Facebook page in the near future. And let’s not forget one final letter and word-clue. “T” refers to Thirtyseven4, a leading provider of Windows, Mac and Android antivirus and security solutions protecting schools, businesses, governmental agencies and home users across the country. Thirtyseven4 is an American company built on honesty, trust and value for the customer. If you have us running on your machine/network, you have peace of mind and a little blue “T” in your tray icons. We’ve got your back. Christian Computing® Magazine
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Giving Thanks for … Technology! Wait, What? Technology?
By Craig Chadwell
es! Let’s face it, we all love to loathe technology. It could be the confounding Smartphone. Or maybe it’s the new car with so many gizmos and gadgets that it is amazing anyone can keep their eyes on the road. Advancements in technology are amazing and positive, but they sure can be dizzying. At this time of the year when we traditionally give thanks for family, faith, and friends, let’s take a jovial look at technology for which we should be grateful. The Gummy Eraser and Dixon Ticonderoga® The Delete key: It’s such a clean, neat way to make mistakes go away. If only it were applicable in everyday life. Press it and, presto, mistakes are gone. If you recall the days of the gummy eraser or the never-enough eraser at the end of the wooden pencil, you can appreciate the Delete key. You might recall erasing with a not-so clean eraser only to have the pencil lead smear and leave streaked remnants not unlike the classic artwork piece “The Scream” by Edvard Munsch. The wooden pencil was unquestionably a great advancement over the quill and pen. But why was the eraser so small? And emptying that hand-crank sharpener? Messy! And the 10-cent portable plastic pencil sharpener? Still messy. There had to be a better way. Known as the “propelling pencil” in the UK, the mechanical pencil helped avoid the mess of Christian Computing® Magazine
pencil shavings, yet created a new set of issues. Due to space constraints, the already-too small pink pencil tip eraser became miniscule and basically unusable – about the size of a candy Tic Tac®. Who can erase more than a speck with THAT? Need to erase an entire sentence? Forget it. Then there was the issue of differing pencil lead sizes. “Whaddya mean you only carry 0.5mm leads? I need 0.7.” And when the lead broke from being pressed even the slightest bit too hard, a nice, pencil lead dotted-starburst was created on the paper. Once the end of one lead was reached, priming the pencil to get the next lead to load was more like a full thumb workout regimen. Just click and click and click and click until, like the venerated groundhog Punxsutawney Phil poking his head from his burrow in the Spring, the new lead appeared. November 2014
“That” Green Ledger Paper and Filing Cabinets The predecessor to the computer spreadsheet and the bane of many Accounting students of the past is green ledger paper. If you’ve ever had to make figure corrections in one of hundreds of -in modern day technology lingo – “two-by-two pixel” ledger paper boxes, you can appreciate not just the Delete key, but also the spreadsheet. Who can write in those tiny boxes? Hopefully, you’ve got the 0.5mm mechanical pencil and not the 0.7mm! And where would one find that spread-
sheet months later? Well, just head for the row (and possibly stack) of filing cabinets in hopes that you can pinpoint not just the correct cabinet, but the correct drawer, and the correct folder. Cheers to the organizational tools of files and folders of the personal computer and, especially, the Search function. Type a key word and, viola, there’s your file. (Well, hopefully, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Let’s face it, the technology in that black box parked on your desk still isn’t quite perfect.)
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The Typewriter, Liquid Paper®, and the Correcting Selectric® My kids are enamored by (and, I think, a little afraid of) the Royal-brand, heirloom typewriter that my mother used during college in the 1940s. They sort of poke at each letter key like it’s a green-brown, furry bug that they’re trying to shoo away -- just a quick jab and retreat. “What happens when you make a mistake?” one asked. The look of confounding horror to my response, “You start that page over” was a look of genuine disbelief. I could hear the wheels turning. “Start the entire page over for a one-letter ‘oops.’” Then, in increments, came technology. Whether WiteOut® or Liquid Paper®, these products were that late-night term paper writer’s knight in shining armor. It sounds like a Dr. Seuss character’s movements when describing how “they clumped and they blobbed, but they did their job.” But even correction fluid experienced technology as the correction pen and correction tape emerged. The manual typewriter gave way to the electric typewriter so our fingers didn’t have to work as hard. Then, a true marvel came to be: The Correcting Electric Selectric® November 2014
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Typewriter. Not only was the correction tape built into the writing apparatus, but it erased in the exact shape of the errant letter rather than in an indiscriminate globule. And to further antiquate the manual typewriter, the electric typewriter brought options for fonts, and pitches, and colors (oh my!) Give Thanks In the 21st-century “go-go-go, newer, faster, better” pace of living, it is difficult sometimes to block out the technological advances. There’s no doubt that computers and other modes of technology can be confusing, aggravating, and downright frustrating. But are they really any less frustrating than archaic technologies of the past? I think not. It just seems more likely that today’s technological frustrations are likely to evolve into newer, more advanced frustrations even more quickly. Happy Thanksgiving from your Friends at Church Windows Software. Give Thanks!
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higher power with kevin
Logos 6 Update Brings a Lot of Little Benefits
Kevin A. Purcell - firstname.lastname@example.org
t the end of October Logos Bible Software changed their name to Faithlife and then the company released Logos 6 with a collection of base packages ready to meet almost any serious Bible student’s needs. The update includes so many new features and tools, there’s no way a column like this can comprehensively cover it all. For that, head over to the Logos forums where there’s a post entitled “What’s New In Logos 6” that gives a nearly exhaustive list of features introduced in this version (https://community.logos.com/ forums/t/92701.aspx). For my purpose, I will share my top reasons to upgrade to Logos 6 highlighting my favorite new or updated features. Faithlife makes one of the top Bible study software programs available for serious Bible students and lay students alike. I’d put it on the list with the likes of WORDearch, Bibleworks, Accordance and PC Study Bible to name a few. There’s a lot of programs for the average Bible student, but these programs give serious students the tools to scholarly research and intensive languages study. Logos 6 plays in the major leagues of Bible study and the intramural league. In other words, a Ph.D. student can do scholarly research while a Sunday School teacher can prepare for her next Christian Computing® Magazine
lesson. The best new features give something to each group of users and those in between. Also, it lets the beginner grow into the advanced user. Logos is, as one reviewer called it, the Batmobile of Bible Software” (http://overviewbible.com/ batmobile-bible-study-logos-bible-software-6/) because it’s expensive, complex but incredibly powerful with more ways to get at the Bible’s core meaning than most of the programs available. In addition, Faithlife publishes more digital Bible study and general Christian books than just about another other. November 2014
Owners Should Upgrade While Others Should Think Twice With the above accolades in mind, there’s nothing new in Logos 6 that will entice users to switch from one of the above mentioned programs. However, all Logos owners should upgrade and anyone owning a simpler program incapable of serious scholarship will want to give Logos 6 a serious look. Faithlife offers a number of “base packages” (https://www.logos.com/basepackages) that help users not only grab the new features in Logos 6, but also expand their libraries by adding new books. However, upgrading through these base packages can get confusing.
Head on over to https://www.logos.com/ basepackages and take a look, but I think that Logos 5 users have to upgrade by getting the same named base package they already own. You don’t have to upgrade to the base package of the same name in Logos 6. For example Logos 5 Gold owners can get Logos 6 Starter and vice versa. The user keeps their Gold resources and only adds the new books and features included in the Logos 6 Starter package. Logos uses something called dynamic pricing to give users a discount. An owner of Logos 5 or earlier should log into their account before shopping for a base package. Find one that gives you some enticing new books and check the price. The company discounts the base package price based on what books you already own. That means that even though Logos 6 Starter costs nearly $300 for new users, upgraders can get it for less. For example, I own a large library with the Platinum package in Christian Computing® Magazine
Logos 5. My upgrade price is only $56. Click on the base package title and see what new resources this purchase will add to your library. Crossgrades For users who don’t want any new books, Faithlife offers two options. Get a “Crossgrade” to Logos 6. It only includes the basic Logos 6 software and all the things necessary to take advantage of the new tools built into the program. More on those later. Patient upgraders can wait till sometime in 2015 to download the Logos 6 basic engine without any of the new data sets that make the upgrade really different. You’ll get the latest code which alone should offer some advantages over version 5, since it runs on 64-bit operating systems. Again, more on that later. I chose the Extended Crossgrade, which regularly costs $679.95. With dynamic pricing it only cost me a little over $200. It netted me the following new features: • There’s a collection of new multimedia resources for visually understanding the text. • Ancient Literature dataset in the Passage Guide which connects the text to what is said in ancient literature about that passage. • Cultural Concepts lets users see how certain cultural elements affects the text which gives the users an idea of the backgrounds of the text in its culture for better understanding of how the original readers would understand the author’s meaning. • Bible Book Guides in the new Factbook feature that gives users a quick look at the key ideas that help them interpret a given book of the Bible. • Multiple new Visual Tools like reading the Bible text in its original format or seeing a timeline of a passage and how it fits into history. Visual Copy Tool The Visual Copy Tool takes a selected Bible verse or quotation and gives it a visual look for sharing with an audience in a presentation or for posting to social media. Users could also create an attractive poster of an inspirational quote. Here’s an example of the results of a Visual Copy of John 3:16. November 2014
Logos 6 takes the more popular verses from the Bible and presents them like this, however, most look more generic. This makes the text of a sermon come alive for those who use worship presentation software or PowerPoint while they preach or teach. Inline Search Search for a word or phrase in a single book more quickly using Inline Search. Highlight the word in the text you’re reading. For example, to see how many time the word “perish” shows up in the Bible, highlight it in John 3:16 and then right-click. Select the word from the right column in the popup menu. Then select This resource (inline) from the left column. The window will only show the verses with that word in them in the open book. To see the results in context use the drop down arrow in the upper right. The default says verse. Click the down arrow and choose pericope or, if the book has it, choose paragraph. For English Bibles with words tagged with Strong’s Numbers, the user can also search the underlying Greek or Hebrew word behind the English translation. When the word is selected, right-click and choose the Greek or Hebrew word, lemma or root word. Inline Search lets users search the Bible or book without ever leaving it, unlike previous versions of Logos, which required the user to open a new search window.
the book. It’s a study Bible book introduction on steroids. If I’m going to preach through Romans, I can find things in media resources, commentary introductions, Bible dictionaries, book overviews, outlines and more. Inexplicably, the creators of Logos 6 didn’t put this “guide” under the Guides menu, but under the Tools menu. Select Tools and Factbook. The Logos 6 Factbook gives users tons of information about various things. This makes for great, in-depth, personal study of the book. I can also copy the contents found and paste it to a Word document to make a nice introduction for my students at church or school. 64-bit Compatible Logos 6 now takes advantage of 64-bit architecture, which means the program will use all of the computer’s memory. Some users will be surprised that older versions didn’t. Because it was a 32-bit program, it could only access 3GB of memory. We don’t have to time to explain why. Suffice it to say, this will result in a performance increase for both Mac and Windows users.
Bible Book Guides Logos 6 includes something called Bible Book Guides. People who use a study Bible will get the idea quickly. Most study Bibles include an introduction ranging in length from a few paragraphs to a few pages that talk about the key information related to that book. The Bible Book Guides will search the user’s library for titles with content about Christian Computing® Magazine
Logos 6 System Requirements Logos 6 requires some slightly more powerful computer specifications than older versions of Logos. Here’s the list of minimum system requirements for Logos 6 starting with Windows.
Mac users will automatically get the 64-bit version since there isn’t a 32-bit version of OS X that run Logos and uses only 32-bit. But Wait, There’s More! Other awesome new features that deserve a mention, include the following: • Send to Kindle – link your library to you Kindle account and send books to the Kindle for reading • Factbook – already mentioned above in the Bible Book Guides discussion; a collection of special information about biblical information like people, places, events, etc. • Large collection of new resources in the base packages (see more at https://community. logos.com/forums/t/92701.aspx) • New media resources for a visual look biblical content For more information on the new features in Logos 6 along with screenshots and video overviews, go to https://www.logos.com/features and look at all the new stuff.
• • • •
Windows 7 SP1 2GB RAM 1024x768 Display 30GB Free Space - Internal HDD/SSD Only (may require additional space depending on your library) • Internet connection (for activation, updates, and some features) Here’s what Mac users will need to run Logos 6. • OS X “Mavericks” 10.9 • 2GB RAM • 30GB Free Space - Internal HDD/SSD Only (may require additional space depending on your library) • Internet connection (for activation, updates, and some features)
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INTEGR ATED November 2014
Interview with Paul Weisberg of White Mountain Software By Steve Hewitt
here are many ChMS companies and products that I have recently connected with, especially as we sought to do our ChMS Overview last month. One of those companies was White Mountain Software and their ChMS ChurchWatch. I have known Paul Weisberg for many years and I enjoyed catching up with him in preparation for the ChMS Overview. I thought our readers would like to know a bit more as well, so I have interviewed him for this month’s Special Feature!
Tell us a bit about White Mountain Software. Sure. White Mountain Software was officially founded in 1999 when our current flagship product, ChurchWatch, was ready for the market. Prior to that time, we had been involved in Church Management Software starting in 1991. We have a mission and a sincere passion to use our skills to provide top-notch software tools to churches around the world. Christian Computing® Magazine
Over the years our business has grown steadily. In fact, since 2001 we have bought out the businesses of perSEY, Parish Solutions and most recently Clavis CAS. It is a business strategy that may be unique to White Mountain Software, I don’t know, but it is a practice we have followed for a number of years. This has broadened our market share significantly in a short time frame. November 2014
produce multiple copies of accurate tax receipts, even including digitally signed receipts so that there is no need to sign each receipt. The time savings are phenomenal and the reduction in mistakes should also be considered. Beyond donations, every church has to at least deal with mailings, contact information, facility management and church directories. A software based CMS approach makes this so much easier.
Today, our software is sold to at least 30 different Christian denominations in 17 countries, but primarily in the USA and Canada. What is your mission statement? We like to tell our church customers that “our mission is whatever your mission is”. But primarily we seek to provide Christian churches with high quality software tools to help churches achieve their highest goals for the kingdom. We take great joy in helping organize churches. Why should churches consider Church Management Software? We believe very strongly that all churches, regardless of size should have some form of Church Management Software. If we ignore all the other features a CMS can provide, the donation and tax receipt management features alone are indispensable. Even in a small church the number of donations over a 12 month period can really add up. Tracking these donations by hand and calculator can add up to a lot of work. And come tax time, the creation of tax receipts can take considerable time and involve human errors. A CMS can quickly and easily Christian Computing® Magazine
OK, tell us a bit about your software product called ChurchWatch. ChurchWatch has been on the market for about 15 years now. It is a comprehensive, powerful, yet easy to use Church Management System (CMS) suitable for use by any denomination and by churches of any size. It is designed for Microsoft Windows but can work just fine on a Macintosh equipped with Parallels ™ or similar software. We’ve designed it to be as flexible as possible so that users can “bend it” to suit the specific needs of their church and/or denomination. We have all the usual components that one would expect in any comprehensive CMS, including membership management, donation and giving management, tax receipting, pledge management and tracking, facility/ resource/scheduling management via a graphical calendar, visitor management, library management, ‘register’ management (baptisms, deaths, marriage etc), sermon management, mail/communications management, bulk email and a lot more. We also include over 700 reports for getting data out of the databases and all of these reports are user-modifiable and users can even create their own new reports. We tried to make the software as easy and as fun to use as we could. The software is configurable to suit the needs of any church. ChurchWatch also integrates with other products like PhoneTree™, QuickBooks™, Simply Accounting™, Microsoft Word™, OpenOffice™, and Corel WordPerfect™ to name a few. How do you deal with different sized churches? Most churches of significant size choose our flagship product either in a stand-alone or network version. But we recognize that funds can be scarce in small churches and that good stewardship of those funds is of high importance. So an expensive solution is out of the question for many. But we believe that our software is such an important time saver that we want all churches to have access to it. November 2014
To this end we have also created a “light” version of our product that helps small churches get started at a very low cost. The “light” version includes everything the full version does, minus the Schedule Manager and it limits usage to 250 families (with any number of people). Other than these two limitations, it’s exactly the same software as the full version. What separates ChurchWatch from other CMS systems? In addition to the standard features everyone would expect in a CMS we have so many great features in our software and we are constantly adding new ones. First of all the software can handle an unlimited number of databases. Folks that manage more than one church will love this feature. For example a user can create completely separate databases for more than one church, or perhaps for a Vacation Bible School to keep data separate. Then without leaving the software, a user can instantly switch context to work in another database. It’s really powerful. The same context switch idea can be applied to past giving years. Without leaving the software, a user can instantly switch context from the current giving year to a past, archived giving year and can even make edits in the past years data, create or reprint tax receipts etc. ChurchWatch has a very cool graphical calendar-based scheduling system that is integrated directly with the membership database so that staff, events, classes and visits can be easily and quickly scheduled. Users can also assign rooms and resources to these events and will be warned instantly if a scheduling conflict is created. The Schedule Manager also supports attendance tracking, both summary and detailed. The Membership Manager supports map views, using several possible sources. It’s possible to see the current family’s address on a graphical map. This feature has been there for a while and I think ChurchWatch may have been one of the first CMS systems to introduce this. Our next version has some even cooler new features. For example, it’s possible to export the entire membership database, or a portion of it, to Christian Computing® Magazine
Google Earth ™ so that you can see your church demographics on a map. Customers can see where their attendance physically comes from. Now its easy to answer questions like “Who lives near…” Creating tax receipts is typically done very few times, perhaps once, during the year and it’s hard to remember all the steps. We’ve created a brand new Tax Receipt Manager that walks the user easily through the process, giving helpful hints every step of the way. Our new version also has TeamViewer™ integration so that we can serve our customers better with easy remote access features activated by the customer when needed. It allows us to view and control the church computer (with permission) so that problems can be quickly solved. We even have an online news panel built into the software so that we can keep our customers informed of patches, interesting information, news and upcoming events. What’s on the horizon for ChurchWatch? This fall we will be releasing Version 6 of ChurchWatch packed with more new features, some of which were already mentioned. We’re really excited about this new version. It’s been in the works for a while now and we can’t wait to get it into customer’s hands. Great stuff! Where can we learn more? We have a great website at www.churchwatch. com where folks can download a free demo or take an online tour. There is a lot of other great information there too. Or call us directly at 1-877955-3657 toll free or email us at sales@churchwatch. com.
Telling the True Story of Thanksgiving Michael L White - email@example.com
n the fourth Thursday of this month citizens of the United States will celebrate the much-beloved holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to be an occasion for grateful reflection upon how blessed we are as a people, but how many American Christians, let alone Americans in general, understand the true origin and meaning of this annual day on the calendar, and how do we as Christian digital evangelists address this issue? That’s what I want to consider in this month’s article. I suspect that the majority of Americans, which likely includes a large number of Christians as well, think the origin of the celebration of Thanksgiving is all about the first pilgrims to the New World (later to be named America) celebrating that they had arrived safely here. While that may be a worthy reason, it’s not the real the story. Had it not been for the grace of Christian Computing® Magazine
God providing help for them through the gracious contributions of the indigenous people living around them they all might have died. As it was, a sizable number of their small community had died from illness anyway during that difficult first winter. Therefore, after harvesting a bountiful crop of various produce and getting better established in their new homeland during the November 2014
next year, the pilgrims felt especially grateful to God for their survival. Because they were all very devout Christians, setting aside a feast day to thank God for His goodness was a natural expression of their gratitude. However, it would be 168 years later on November 26, 1789, before George Washington proclaimed it as a national day of observance for the new nation. President Lincoln made it an annual observance beginning on the last Thursday of November in 1863, but to support retailers by extending the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, President Franklin Roosevelt changed the annual date to the fourth Thursday in November in 1939, and it has remained unchanged from that date since then. Admittedly, I knew some of these details, but I was a bit fuzzy on the others. The site which further enlightened me is found at Answers in Genesis. I invite you to review it at your leisure. In America’s politically correct educational environment today where anything even hinting at Christian influence in America’s past or present is eschewed by the anti-Christian establishment, precious few people (including Christians) have even the slightest idea of America’s Christian heritage. That’s where we Christian digital evangelists can help fill in the gaps. We can use the variety of social media, blogs, and Web sites available to us (to include e-magazines like CCMAG) to tell the true stories of America’s Christian history and influence. The day may come in the not-too-distant future when writing or hosting these facts may be forbidden and even dangerous. So-called “hate speech” laws have already been enacted around the world in parts of Europe, Canada and even America prohibiting critical speech against certain groups such as homosexuals and Muslims which may be labeled as hate speech. Unfortunately, the definition of “hate” by these laws is so ambiguous that anything negative may be identified as hateful, thus putting Bible-believing Christians, in particular, in a very precarious position. Simply quoting the Bible’s statements against homosexuality or pointing out the moral and theological inconsistencies of Islam with Biblical Christianity (such as loving your enemies and rejecting both murder and vengeance) can bring on the wrath of either of these constituencies or their various sympathizers. It appears to me that it’s socially sanctioned for Christian Computing® Magazine
anyone in either of these groups to blaspheme God or Jesus’ saving work or to spew hatefilled epithets at Bible-believing Christians, but it’s not allowed for Christians to espouse their strong beliefs in the Bible as God’s final Word on anything. Maybe we American Christians had better be especially thankful to God for our dearly-held freedoms of speech and religion as we observe this year’s Thanksgiving Day, since we have no real assurance that we will still have these same freedoms in the future. Of course, I’m thankful to God for more than just these two personal freedoms guaranteed (for the time being, at least) by the U. S. Constitution. I’m also very thankful to God for my personal prosperity, which includes my health and well-being, my comfortable living (despite taking a drastic cut in financial income over the past few years), my wonderful family, my opportunities to express my faith in Christ and influence others with it through both oral and written communications, and a host of other things too numerous to list in this limited time and space. What about you? What do you have to be thankful for, and have you taken the opportunity to thank God both in prayer and in an open pronouncement to others for His goodness to you? Let me challenge you to make these two personal statements now. Expressing gratitude is very important to God, as we can learn from a careful reading of His holy Word. I can think of no better example than the story of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers which prompted the thankful response from the apparently lone Samaritan in the group (see Luke 17:11-19). To quote another of Jesus’ statements – admittedly out of context – “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37 NKJV). Happy Thanksgiving! Michael L. White is the founder and Managing Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Christian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! is available wherever books are sold. For a list of his other books and articles, visit his Website at http://books.parsonplace.com.
The Next Revolution
The Danger of the Intelligence Revolution By Russ McGuire - firstname.lastname@example.org
ver the past few months I’ve introduced the Intelligence Revolution and put it in the context of the broader Information Age. Two months ago 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. Last month I identified the “power” of the Intelligence Revolution - ways in which having more information enables better decisions and creates value for the customer being served. 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 discuss the dangers introduced by the Intelligence Revolution. Grey Areas A friend of mine recently asked for my advice. He is pursuing a new career path and faced Christian Computing® Magazine
a decision. Taking one path would position him for systems development opportunities. The other path would position him for big data analytics opportunities. Because I believe that the Intelligence Revolution is happening, and I anticipate that there will continue to be a shortage of data scientists who can work with big data, and because his personal background and strengths are well aligned with data analysis, I told him that the big data analytics path would be one that could create tremendous value for him personally. But I warned him that pursuing that path may be a challenge for him as a Christian. I believe that it is a path that will pass through many “grey areas” November 2014
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log onto my Amazon account, I’m presented with recommendations based on what I’ve bought in the past, and even based on items I’ve simply browsed in the past. Sometimes it feels creepy, but most of the time I’m thankful for the recommendations and it helps me to find products that will meet my unique needs. Other companies have been strongly criticized and their customer loyalty has suffered because of their use of similar customer usage information that they were using to improve the customer experience. For example, in 2011, the mobile phone industry suffered a serious black eye when someone discovered that virtually all smartphones had software that collected information about usage and reported it back to the mobile operators. The operators wanted this information because it provided precise location information and information about how well their network worked in each location. That told the operators where their customers went (and where they needed a network) and how well the network actually worked in those places. This enabled better investment decisions so that the operators could provide a better experience for their customers. Unfortunately, the software company (Carrier IQ) that the operators used was collecting information that didn’t seem necessary for the stated goal, and customers weren’t informed about the information being collected and how it was being used. Carrier IQ also didn’t respond well to the situation, all of which forced the mobile operators to remove the software from all their customers’ phones and made it much harder for the operators to provide a good network experience. What Does That Mean for Us? Hopefully those examples spell out the danger for us, both as consumers, and as technologists that are tasked with helping our organizations to leverNovember 2014
age technology to best serve our constituents. As consumers, we have to realize that businesses (and governments and others) have more and more information about us - not just what we do online, but in every transaction that we perform with anyone. How that information will be used will not be limited to the ways that we’ve explicitly requested and not even to the ways that companies have told us they would use the information. In a way, I guess, that may serve as encouragement to be “above reproach” in everything we do and perhaps may be a help in restraining sin. We know that God sees everything we do and even knows our heart, which should be motivation enough, but perhaps knowing that companies and men see our actions as well may cause some to act in a more Godly and honorable way. But it’s also rather scary, knowing that, unlike God, men are sinful and companies don’t always act in our best interests. As technologists, we must view ourselves as wise stewards of the information that we have. Either explicitly or implicitly, those we serve have entrusted us with it and we must protect it and deal with it in an honorable manner, with right motives and a servant’s heart. But, just as Christ explained in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), we shouldn’t just bury this treasure, we must maximize the value of it for the benefit of those that have entrusted us with it. We must capture the power of information to the good of those we serve and to the glory of God. Key to this will be right motives, transparency, security, and trust. 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
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Want to Attract Young Families to Your Church? These Communication Tips May Help Yvon Prehn - email@example.com
any churches in America have aging congregations and a constant prayer in all of them is that they attract young families to the church. A primary response to this need is for churches to upgrade their children’s programs and make certain their nurseries are spotless, attractive, and well-staffed. Though facilities responses are essential, communication responses are also important if your church wants to have a family come back more than once.
You’ve got to speak the same language as younger people Imagine if you were invited to a party by a close friend. The friend tells you that the people are great and you’ll have a fantastic time. You approach the party with excitement—but when you open the door, you discover that the party guests are all speaking the language of their native country and English isn’t allowed. They are all English speakers, but they prefer to not speak it at their parties. They smile and are very nice. They offer you food; they have a game room for your kids; but when you try to talk to them, they shake their head and say your language isn’t allowed. You will probably leave as quickly as you can and decide you never want to associate with that group again. The language of many young people today is technology and if you don’t speak that language, they will feel about as welcome as the guest in the story above. Technology communication tips Attitude is one of the most important things in learning Christian Computing® Magazine
to speak the language of technology. You may not know how to do the things that are suggested below, but admitting that your church is working on these areas and perhaps even asking for help to implement them, will go a long way to making technology speakers feel at home. None of the comments that follow should be taken as a recommendation that you do away with any of your current means of church communications. You still need printed Bibles, email, phone calls, postcards, and whatever else the people in your church use for communications. The challenge today is that we can’t do away with past means of communication, but we continuously need to add new ones and here are some to consider: Allow the use of cell phones and tablets in church and adult education classes This seems so basic, but I still see church bulletins that tell people not to use their phone even to read their Bibles in church. One church went so far as to give a mini-lecture in print on how irreverent it was to read the Bible on your November 2014
phone and how distracting it was to those around you. I don’t imagine many who were used to reading the Bible on their phones came back a second time to that church. In contrast, at another church when it’s time to read the Scripture for the morning, the Pastor invites people to follow along, “either on the screen in front, your printed Bible, or whatever electronic device you enjoy using.” It isn’t surprising that this church, with a large aging congregation, has recently been running announcements in the bulletin asking for volunteers in the ever-growing children’s programs. Be sure your website is responsive and constantly updated A responsive website is one that can be easily accessed on a smart phone. A responsive website resizes so that text can easily be read on the smaller screen. A website that isn’t responsive can be accessed with a smart phone, but it’s hard to read and extremely difficult to find anything on it. For people who use their smart phones to look up every part of their lives, if your church makes that impossible, they won’t bother to go to a desktop computer or call the church office. Making a church website responsive can be as simple as changing the underlying template for the site, if your site is built using WordPress. For a more complete explanation of what responsive sites look like and how they work, CLICK HERE http://www.effectivechurchcom. com/2012/09/a-primer-on-responsive-websites-what-they-are-andwhy-they-are-important/—this article is a couple of years old, but is a good illustration of them.
creating email newsletters that many people won’t look at them. Texting is the next challenge to learn if you want to communicate with the people who don’t access email. Here is an article that tells you how to send group texts on your smart phone: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/ mobile-phone/3472964/how-send-group-texts-fromandroid-iphone/ Have the option to give electronically Many people pay all their bills electronically today and some have few or no paper checks. If you want them to
Text important messages Email is no longer the latest and most efficient way to contact people. Many people today don’t ever look at a desktop computer unless their job requires them to. They access all the media and information they need through their smart phone and seldom look at email. It can be depressing to realize after all the work you do on Christian Computing® Magazine
give to your church, you need a system where they can do this. Not only will this make it easier for people who prefer to pay this way, but many churches have discovered that electronic giving makes contributions much more consistent. Have your pastor’s sermons and those of other teachers available online, preferably on iTunes Sunday is no longer a sacred day and many people have changing work schedules. Because of that, they may not be able to attend church regularly. If people miss, they may want to hear the sermon and if the only way you have them available, if you do, is on CD or tapes, many younger people simply won’t bother. Many of the church website templates have automatic ways to put audio files on your site. Getting your material on iTunes is more complex (I still haven’t done it, hope to do an article about it soon), but important to do it if you want to make your message available.
with technology make all the issues above important to me. I was motivated to write it after viewing one too many church bulletins and church websites that didn’t have these things and personally being bothered by them. The point here is not about my cranky preferences—it is about being all things to all people that we might win some, no matter what technology they use or what age they are. For more advice and resources on church communications, please go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com
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Make social media more than a logo on your bulletin or a link on your website If you or someone on staff isn’t regularly interacting with your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ accounts, don’t just put these on your bulletin or as a link on your website because that’s the “in” thing to do. These tools are called “social media” for a reason. If you aren’t involved with them, don’t bother. Better though is to get a volunteer who loves interacting on these sites and will do it for the church. A final note—the technology advice above is for more than younger families Confession time here—though I do think everything I said above applies to attracting young families to your church, the article above could also have been labeled, “Some tech communication lapses in churches today that really bug Yvon.” I am far from being described as a member of the young family target audience, but my love of and involvement Christian Computing® Magazine
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The Community of Church IT People Nick Nicholaou - firstname.lastname@example.org
ost people who work at churches and ministries are in behindthe-scenes positions. There is a group of these modern day heroes of the faith who focus on IT that began gathering as peers in 2006 to and encourage each other. They have formed the Church IT Network, and their impact is huge! Who Is The Church IT Network? Jason Powell, IT Director at Granger Community Church in South Bend, IN was blogging about church IT needs nearly a decade ago when he offered to host a meet-up of church IT people for a roundtable gathering— a gathering of peers helping and encouraging peers. That first meeting was in September 2006. Since then there have been eleven additional national gatherings, and each time the group grows. Those attending CITRT (Church IT Roundtable) events include IT engineers, net admins, help desk people, and web development people. A few supporting vendors also attend. What Do They Do At CITRT Events? The events usually start with worship and a devotional message that speaks directly to the needs of IT people. That is followed by a schedule of roundtable discussions that focus on general issues, IT Director issues, spiritual challenges of serving where you worChristian Computing® Magazine
ship, and various skillsets and solutions and concepts. And, of course, there is awesome geek humor and eating! (I heard one person explain the geek humor this way: “There’s lots of geek humor, and you never have to explain it!”) Why Do We Need Another Conference? At this year’s national CITRT I especially enjoyed the vulnerable sharing at one of the spiritual roundtables. I had been asked to lead the session, and we shared amongst each other how challenging it is to do what we do where we worship, and that we believe we’re called to serve in this way. Then I asked if anyone in the room was at the end of their rope— at the point of discouragement where this was their last hope for the encouragement they needed to continue on. One said he was, and a couple of others were close. It was a privilege to serve, encourage, and pray for them. Another terrific aspect of the CITRT is the free November 2014
resourcing we do for each other. Everyone there is a peer, sharing challenges and solutions and victories, and asking how others have solved challenges and gained victory. We all want to serve well, and at CITRT we help each other to do exactly that. When Do They Meet? And What’s The Cost? There are usually two CITRT events scheduled each year: simultaneous regional events in the Spring and a national event in the Fall. The amazing thing is how inexpensive the events are! The national event is usually just $75— and that’s for three days of conference with meals included! And we eat very well. The regionals are even more affordable. How do they do that? The events are usually hosted at churches, and the attending vendors pay fees that steeply underwrite the cost. As such, the vendors are called partners rather than vendors or even sponsors. What’s The Next Step? Do you know someone who works at a Christian church or ministry in the field of IT? Or in a related field, like web development? I strongly recommend you encourage them to get involved in the CITRT community. They can do so a few ways:
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• Add a Twitter search for the hashtag #citrt. Many in the CITRT community tweet with that hashtag. • Login to the website, which you can get to via www.citrt.org. There you’ll see communication threads and a schedule of events, including monthly live podcasts and the various scheduled roundtable meetings. • Plan now to attend a Spring regional CITRT event. The cost will be minimal, and there will be many of them (the goal is to have them within a four hour drive of almost everyone). • Plan now to attend the next national CITRT. It will be in the Fall of 2015, and will be hosted by Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA (this year’s was in October at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, IL; they bounce around the country). I hope you act on my recommendations! Whether the person doing so is you or someone you know, it’s more than worth the time and cost. The benefits will be huge for the attender and their church or ministry. I hope to see you there!