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Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 27
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Are you really ready for 2015? You should be!
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“What’s Hot” is Back! When I used to do the Prime Time America show (Moody Broadcasting) I was on every week for about 15 minutes, normally on Wednesdays. I would present items concerning technology that were in the news. Of course there are dozens of announcements concerning technology every day, but I would pick out the ones that I felt would impact all of us down the road. And, I would normally pick an item that I found entertaining! I was on Prime Time America for 15 years, until Moody decided to retire the program. Over those years, listeners would ask me to send them an email with the subjects I had talked about, and we developed a special mailing once a month that shared my “What’s Hot” items in email form. However, when the radio show ended, we stopped providing the email shortly afterward. We have decided to bring it back! Readers still ask about it, and, whenever I am asked to speak at a conference or convention, I am always requested to do a session on “What’s Hot”. You may have noticed a special email from us earlier this month with our first edition of Christian Computing® Magazine
“What’s Hot” in 2015. Watch for a new post, one each month, as I seek to keep us with all of the technology news and pick out the key stories I think you will like to hear about!
Some years technology news is slow, but so far, 2015 looks to be an exciting year as new products, services and technology advances impact our lives! Hope you enjoy the new emails! Together We Serve Him,
Steve Hewitt firstname.lastname@example.org January 2015
Are you really ready for 2015?
You should be! “It is not a matter of IF someone will cyber-attack the U.S., but when!”
By Steve Hewitt
ver the years, I haven’t made too much of a fuss about security. When the Internet became a part of everyday life and Church Management Software companies entered the cloud, I thought it was a good move. I still do. But many were concerned (by many I mean my good friend Nick Nicholaou) that the Internet was not secure enough, and parts of the Internet could go down, keeping a church from their data. I am still not overly concerned about this either. But, I am gravely concerned that our dependence on technology in 2015 may cause us harm… in a big way. For over 26 years I have published Christian Computing Magazine and have been a big techno evangelist…even when many Christian evangelists and authors were preaching that the Y2K bug (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) was going to knock us back into the Stone Age. Some called it the “apocalypse,” while others speculated the damage would be so great that it could be the beginning of the tribulation. If you read CCMag back in those days, you will know that I didn’t think there would Christian Computing® Magazine
be any major problems. I stated that, at most, it would be a small bump in the road, and local problems would be fixed quickly. 1998 and 1999 were difficult years for us at CCMag, since our stand was different from most of the major televangelists and national Christian radio hosts. However, I have simply always believed that technology concerns have always been exaggerated and that technology could, for the most part, take care of itself. While I am not seeking to cause a panic, or raise January 2015
unwarranted concerns, I believe 2014 has taught us that we need to be a bit concerned, and maybe even prepared, for some technology problems in 2015. Let me explain. In 2014, several malware attacks, some deemed catastrophic, were released on web servers and traffic, such as Heartbleed and Shellshock. These attacks allowed attackers to access the data from millions of computers and snatch sensitive data from servers that appear to be secure, without leaving a trace. No one knows the full extent of the damage, or how we will pay for this breach of security. JP Morgan Chase was hacked in August of 2014, with over 83 million homes and businesses being affected. This was about 65% of all households. That was followed by a similar breach in Sept of 2014, when Home Depot was hacked resulting in 56 million credit cards and debit cards compromised JP Morgan Chase in August of 2014, with over 83 million homes and businesses being affected. This was about 65% of all households. Starbucks, P.F. Chang, Domino’s Pizza, E-bay, Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, UPS, Dairy Queen, and many others added to the growing problem. 41% of Americans had to get new debit or credit cards. The cost to individuals equaled $3.4 billion, and the cost to retailers was $1.9 billion. (CNN Money Reports) In November of 2014, Sony was attacked via cyber terrorism. Emails were stolen and revealed to the public, as well as movies and other company information. Apple’s cloud took a hit when hundreds of images meant to be private, were stolen and tweeted. This wasn’t a security problem for Apple, but rather an example of how criminals can hack into your info services if you have sloppy passwords. USIS, which conducts background checks for the U.S. Homeland Security, hacked. And, in fact, many government Christian Computing® Magazine
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agencies have suffered some level of hacking and breach of data security, including: • • • • • • • •
Office of the Texas, Attorney General California Department of Child Support Services Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Virginia Department of Health U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs U.S. Department of Defense U.S. National Guard
The point I am trying to make is that 2014 was a very busy year for hackers! I am sure most can think of something missing from this list. Frankly it is almost impossible, and potentially very boring, to comprise of list of everything and everyone that got hit last year. However, while all of this is costly, it is maybe, just maybe, the tip of the iceberg! I believe we don’t have a clue at all of the cyber hacking and the data wars that are going on between our government and others. And, things are just getting started. Did you hear the reports that North Korea has been preparing for over a dozen years for cyber war? In 2009, we established a Cyber Command, with the stated objectives being the “defense of specified Department of Defense information networks”. This was established because the US was already receiving a host of cyber-attacks on our nation, mostly rumored to be coming from China. Due to the information leaked by U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, we now know that the United States has been an active player in cyber war, using some of the technology firms right here in America (many without their knowledge) to help spread security holes allowing for cyber spying and gathering of information. Did you know that after the Snowden leaks, China banned the use of Windows 8 and Office 365 from all government computers, due to their concerns over security? (Tech Times, July 2, 2014) Did you know we established October 2014 as “National Cyber Security Awareness Month”? In October of 2014, Pew Research selected 1,642 experts and Internet builders and canvassed them with this question, “By 2025, will a major cyberattack have caused widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people? (By “widespread harm,” we mean significant loss of life or property losses/damage/theft at the levels of Christian Computing® Magazine
tens of billions of dollars.)” 61% said yes, that a major attack will occur. According to an article written by Joel Brenner, a former senior counsel of the National Security Agency (Oct 24, 2014), “Chinese penetrations of networks at the U.S. military’s Transportation Command have been widely reported, for example, and every expert I know believes our electricity grid has been penetrated by Russia and China. Our military correctly assumes these penetrations would enable future attacks and disruptions. This is why the Pentagon announced this week that it’s pushing the construction of its own power grids at bases around the country. It knows that in times of conflict and stress, faith in the grid would be misplaced. “ I could go on and on, sharing articles and quotes from experts, all saying that there is a new threat to our country, to our cities, other than hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes. A cyber-attack, even if not national, could threaten to do a lot of damage to any of our major cities. Imagine, if you will, what your city would be like if the Internet was down for just three days? The electricity would be gone, ATM’s and banks would have to close. Grocery stores would soon run out of food EVEN if only providing food for those that could pay in cash. You couldn’t purchase anything with a credit or debit card, and soon gas pumps would go dry, and most communications and transportation would come to a stop. We have become VERY dependent on the Internet. Many experts in technology and/or national security state that cyber-war is here to stay, and it is not a matter of if, but when, we will suffer a serious attack here in the USA. In light of the activity we have seen in 2014, it is clear that we as a nation are not very secure, either in the private or government areas. I am assuming that most individuals have some sort of disaster preparation set up for emergencies. I think we need to educate people to not only have drinking water and a good flashlight in case of a storm, but back up cash and a plan if the Internet were to go down. Or even if something less catastrophic Christian Computing® Magazine
happens, such as a cyber-attack on our banks, putting them out of action for a few days, people need to have a plan. Does your church have a plan to communicate a message to your congregation if normal communications go down? More and more of our congregations are moving to VOIP and cell phones, both much more vulnerable to attack than our old land line phone systems. Do you have a disaster plan for cyber-attacks in your community, town or city? I think 2015 might be the year to add this to your agenda. I recently was talking to a person that I consider an expert in the area of Church Management Software (ChMS) and he shared that 25% of ALL of America has their personal data held in a ChMS database. Now that we have retained financial information concerning our membership, we need to be prepared to upgrade our security. Luckily, our data is scattered, held by as many as 300,000 different congregations, thereby very difficult to target as a group. However, as cyber security moves down the chain, smaller targets will be hit, and churches need to be prepared. Are you ready for 2015? I know we are making some changes in our household this year. I hope you do as well.
Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk? By: Michael Jordan
afety. This is one word that is paramount to everyone. Safety at home, safety at school, safety on the road. However, how often do you think about safety while at church? If you don’t, you should. Today, we hear news reports of missing children, public shootings, fires claiming the lives of families or severe weather damaging an entire town. We make the necessary preparation to protect our homes, we go to meetings to ensure our schools have safety programs in place, but do we invest the time to make sure our churches are safe and secure, especially when it comes to our children? Churches are subject to these occurrences just like any other place. Church leaders and members should ask this question: Is our church at risk and do we have the procedures in place to handle an incident if it occurs? According to the authors of the ministry guide “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?,” the church is meant to be a place of love and security - a place of safety in the time of need. Many of unfortunate incidents could have been prevented. Christian Computing® Magazine
“We can say that we’re adults and we can handle a situation when it presents itself, but what about the children who we care for? With a few precautions, changes in operations and training of staff and volunteers, most incidents can be averted. It’s time for the church to perform a risk assessment and put in place policies that will create a safe haven for worship and ministry,” said the authors of “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?”. A recent Barna Group study1 of pastors highlighted some areas of concern, outlined in this excerpt of its report: “The study shows that many churches struggle with screening children and youth workers, partly because they do not have the appropriate practices January 2015
and procedures in place to anticipate and deal with diverse types of risk. For instance, one-third of pastors said their church has no formal risk management process in place, and just 38 percent of all churches gave their organization high marks on this factor. About three out of 10 pastors indicated their church has a risk management process in place, but the pastor is less than fully satisfied with that process. Fewer than half of pastors said their church ‘specifically and regularly evaluates safety and security issues affecting the church’ (39 percent) and only one-quarter said their church ‘thoroughly communicates with attendees about safety and security issues’ (28 percent).” “The Barna Group study also outlines some troubling gaps in the area of fire preparedness. Their study found only two percent of Protestant churches having conducted a fire drill in the last month. That number would never be accepted in schools, and most schools don’t use fire in their day-to-day activities. But, nearly 25 percent of churches use some form of fire, most often candles, in services every month, with nearly 75 percent using open flames every year,” said the authors of “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?”. “And the risk from fire is real; in the last several years, hundreds of churches have been damaged by fires, whether they were caused by neglect or set deliberately. Your church should be prepared.” Facts You Need to Know: • According to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), more than 350,000 family abductions occur in the U.S. each year. This amounts to approximately 1,000 family abductions per day. • According to The Christian Post, there were at least 1,237 crimes committed against Christian churches and ministries in the U.S. in 2009 (most recent data). These incidents ranged in severity from vandalism to violent crimes. • According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments attend more than 1.3 million fires each year. Of these, thousands occur at worship centers, causing millions of dollars in damage. Know Your Risk Level “As families enter your ministry, they expect Christian Computing® Magazine
to find a sanctuary that provides a haven of protection, both spiritually and physically, from the rest of the world. All week they hear about terrorism, natural disasters, fires and crime. They don’t need to come to church worrying over their safety while attending services,” said the authors of “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?”. “Moms and Dads should not have to worry about whether their child is safe and secure while they’re trying to worship. The more you can assure families that your church is a safe place, the better off each of your ministry areas, from children’s programs to adult classes, will be.” It is recommended by security experts that you perform a risk assessment of your church facility first, then assess your ministry areas, starting with your children. “Children are a heritage from the Lord,” (Psalm 127:3) and we should ensure they have the safest environment your church can provide. Once you have a policy in place for children’s safety and security, you can adapt the policies to other ministries of your church. To get started with this process, there are four key areas you should review for your church. They include: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Emergency evacuation Shelter in place or Church lockdown Medical emergencies Lost/Missing children
You can’t afford to leave any doubt in parents’ minds when it comes to the safety of their children in the event of an emergency. Make sure all workers are aware of their responsibilities so they can spring into action if the need arises. Remember, information is power. Know how to get your hands on that vital information and distribute it to the right people in a timely manner. Technology Can Help You Succeed Using relatively inexpensive technology, churches have the opportunity to provide an added degree of security and safety to their ministries. These ministries can benefit from replacing old, paper-based processes vulnerable to human error with electronic solutions that can drastically minimize judgment calls. “Imagine being able to generate actual attendance rosters for each class meeting during a January 2015
service – and imagine the comfort of knowing you can use these same rosters for emergency lists if an evacuation is needed. What if you knew you had a quick look-up feature for finding the location of a child or parent in case an incident occurs?,” said the authors of “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?”. “These are just a couple of the benefits that a software security check-in system can provide for your staff and volunteers.” Be Prepared Everyone knows we live in a dangerous world. But, the church of all places, should be a sanctuary from the day-to-day worries we find ourselves thinking about very often. That’s why it’s so essential to protect the entire church, but especially, the children’s ministry, from danger. That’s why you need to download “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?” today to learn more about how to keep your children, and entire congregation, safe. Let Us Help Your Congregation Stay Safe ACS Technologies can help you assess issues and better safeguard your ministry. Whether you’ve already implemented a safety strategy or need help getting your efforts up and running, we can help. To learn more about ministry safety, download “Is Your Children’s Ministry at Risk?” today. You can also learn more by visiting www.acstechnologies.com. 1 Many Churches Neglect to Screen Those Working with Children and Youth: The Barna Group, www.barna.org.
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Harvesting Stone Crabs and Email Addresses Ingenious vs. Infiltration
By: Steven Sundermeier
hen you live in a cold-winter state like Ohio, there is nothing better than having relatives (parents, siblings, etc) in a warmer climate. And for my wife and kids and I, it’s an awesome winter change-up to spend part of Christmas break in Florida with family. While the options for Florida activities fluctuate each year with the ages and interest of our kids, one thing (at least for me!) remains constant: saltwater fishing.
While in Florida last month, I was blessed by my father-in-law who treated me to a guided fishing trip in the back bays of the Southwest Gulf Coast. As we boarded our fishing guide’s beautiful Bay Craft flats boat, we noticed an unusual looking boat arriving to the docks that we were departing from. When we inquired about the vessel, we found out that it was a commercial crabbing boat, used specifically for harvesting stone crab. (Their claws are filled with an absolute mouthwatering meat: a sweet delicacy of SW Florida, and at $39.95 a pound they are crustacean gold.) Continuing our shouts in conversation from one boat to the other, what I learned about the harvesting of these crabs really astounded me. During a 7 month season, crabbing specialists are Christian Computing® Magazine
continually baiting traps, retrieving them and hoping for prized stone crabs. Crabs that are harvested have to meet a few requirements: the claws must be at least 2.75 inches and the captured crab can’t be a pregnant female. If a crab meets these requirements, the crabber will snap one of the claws off while leaving the other intact. The crab is then thrown back to re-grow the lost claw (a process called molting). And while it is currently lawful to harvest both of a stone crab’s claws, crabbers will usually only take one claw ensuring a plentiful harvest the next season. The molting process requires a large amount of energy in the form of food so leaving one claw intact gives the crab the ability to obtain necessary food and defend itself. Fascinating, huh? January 2015
Why I tell this story: As I have written in past columns (human shielding techniques, etc.), church IT director’s should already be on alert that their networks are becoming high profile targets. Toward the end of the 3rd quarter of 2014, we (Thirtyseven4 labs) began to see a significant increase in cybercriminal data harvesting. Like the crabbers in Florida, the data harvesting, (in the form of email gathering) our Thirtyseven4 Labs observed was very specialized and the attacks were directed at administrative staffs of medium to large size churches. And like the Florida crabbers “crustacean gold” value of the claw-meat, the cybercriminals desired “catch” (thousands of email addresses) is also priceless, because they are using that data to get at staff payroll information and other personal data. (I wish this was a fish-tale, but it’s not.) Cybercriminal harvesting emails addresses is on the rise and is scary stuff! This style of attack works in the following way: The cybercriminal harvests the email addresses listed on church websites. As the stone crabs have “requirements” to be met in order for a crabber to keep a claw, today’s cybercriminals have their own “requirements” as well—requirements that will best financially benefit them. If the harvested emails appear to be from a smaller church or look to be from volunteer workers (people likely not to be associated with payroll) they are disregarded for this style of campaign. These email addresses aren’t likely tossed back but instead kept to be sold to spammers or other criminal gangs. If the harvest email addresses appear to meet their specific requirements, we have observed that these users are then targeted with a phishing email. The phishing email will appear legitimate and originating from the church. Here’s an example: Subject: Confirm Your Salary Body: “Kindly verify the ATTACHED documents. Your email log in would be required to view for approval. Thanks, [the website’s Business Manager Name]. In this case, the “ATTACHED” wording is a hyperlink. A user tricked into clicking this link will then get directed to a spoofed webpage. This spoofed webpage has been maliciously crafted to look like the organizations login screen where a user would enter their login credentials and this Christian Computing® Magazine
information would be relayed to the attacker. Once the attacker has the login credentials, they can then perform untold amounts and variations of malicious activities including re-routing direct deposit information. The above is just one example, and the subject line is routinely changed. Other observed subject lines include “Salary Review Documentation” and “2015 Salary Adjustments”. Using an alternate technique, we’re also seeing similar emails circulating but instead of embedded hyperlinks they contain malicious attachments. In our samples, the attachment name altered from “Payment Slip.zip” to “Pay Slip.zip”. Downloading and running the file within the compressed ZIP folder results in installing a ZBot Trojan. This Trojan’s main function is to steal information. In this particular case any time a banking website is opened, the Trojan intercepts the data and uploads it to an attacker-controlled server. If this alerts you, it should. Our labs are seeing it, and this article is to warn and inform so that we can be better prepared as churches and business people.
Christian Computing® Magazine
In conclusion, I offer a couple things: 1. Communicate with your staff about these phishing emails and their topics/general gist. Make sure they are on their guard about clicking any hyperlinks and being very reluctant to share any personal information without first confirming it or looking into it with someone on staff that may have knowledge of the request. 2. Avoid the madness by unplugging yourself and whetting a line in Florida instead of working yourself to the bone in Ohio (or wherever you are today). (Trust me, it is therapeutic and restorative!) Search for your own elusive Ladyfish, Red, or Jack as you bob in the ebb and flow of the tide and are warmed by the southern sun. Life is too short, and God did tell us to rest once in a while. And if you get a chance to check out the molting process of a stone crab, praise our Creator for his supreme ingenuity and if you can afford to, treat yourself to a supper you won’t forget.
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CHURCH WINDOWS SOFTWARE
Time to make the IRS happy Employee & Health Insurance Taxes
By Craig Chadwell
o it’s not a task that anyone would put on their list of “fun things” or “enjoyable hobbies”, rather more likely on the list of “Ugh, do I have to?” items, but the time is here: It’s time for employee and government wage reporting. Whether your church uses Church Windows Software or another package, W-2s may be often be printed directly out of your software in black and white on a standard laser printer (not ink jet). Appropriate forms can be obtained at your local office supply stores or through Dynamic Systems (800-782-2946 or www.dswebtoprint.com). Either one is a fine option. We have found that Dynamic Systems will send out smaller quantities than the packets typically available at office supply stores. Christian Computing® Magazine
Paper copy W-2s can be submitted directly to the Social Security Administration via US Mail. If you prefer Electronic Filing, churches with 50 or fewer W-2s to file can use the Social Security’s online system (provided that you have registered online.) If your software includes it, the Nelco Wage Filer can submit W-2 forms electronically through the software. The IRS will accept black and white W-2s on paper so any typical Payroll program will January 2015
print them for you and not require you to purchase forms. But, IRS does still require 1099’s and 1096’s on their forms. So those forms need to be purchased for your software to print. Electronic Filing can be done through Nelco Wage Filer within most Payroll programs. A number of states require filing W-2s and 1099s at the same time if there is any withholding from 1099 contractors. Learn more about Nelco at www.nelcosolutions. com. Paper 1099 forms can be printed from most good Payroll or Accounting software programs. But please note that the “red ink” forms are required for submittal to the IRS. The best bet on acquiring these forms is through Dynamic Systems or an office supply store. Libraries and post offices also have the forms, but the paper used for the recipients’ copy has been known to jam printers. Health insurance premium reimbursements are now taxable if the employee does not participate in the company’s group health plan. A customer question recently came in about health insurance for employees. This question encompassed two totally different situations. 1. If an employer gives an employee cash to purchase health insurance, or they pay a health insurance premium that is not a group policy, it is fully TAXABLE. The church, in reporting, can either increase regular wages or set up a fully taxable allowance. It does not need to be separately stated in Box 12 of the W-2. 2. In Payroll programs, there is often a special function for the non-taxable employer paid portion of GROUP health insurance. This function is present in Church Windows Payroll. Only employers submitting 250 or more W-2s in the prior year are required to provide this information but a number of our customers want to include Christian Computing® Magazine
this information on the W-2. This does not increase taxable wages and it is shown in box 12 of the W-2 with a code of DD. While the employee wage and tax reporting tasks are neither fun nor simple, a calm approach, some reading preparedness, and maybe a warm cup of decaf coffee can definitely help your path through the tasks. Happy filing!
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Would You Subscribe to Bible Software or Church Software? Kevin A. Purcell - email@example.com
ate in November Bob Pritchett, the CEO and founder of Logos Bible Software, now called Faithlife, asked a question in the company’s online forum. Read it here: http://bit.ly/1Bkz8Pk. He wrote a long post about the idea of subscribing to Logos and wrote, “I’d love to get your input on what types of subscriptions Logos could/should offer.” He reassured customers that Faithlife won’t end the current model where customers own their software and resources.
Would you subscribe to Bible software, or other church software like membership management or worship presentation programs? Many already do that with online management systems and Faithlife offers Proclaim, a subscriptionbased church presentation tool. I know of no one that sells subscriptions to Used by permission from Barta IV via Flickr Bible software. Christian Computing® Magazine
Online Only or Online Plus Offline Logos already offers a simplistic version of their software in an online form at Biblica.com. Pritchett asked if they should offer an online only subscription service with “lots more functionality from the desktop version” or if they should offer the online site in addition to offline software that a user installs on their computer. Many people own Chromebooks that can’t install Logos. The new breed of Windows computers like the HP Stream 11 and 13 laptops that only cost $200+ with only 32GB of storage or Windows tablets with 16 or 32GB of storage January 2015
would be impractical for owners of large Logos libraries. Add the small number of Linux computers, which can’t install Logos. A cloud version of Logos with most or many of the features of the installed version of Logos makes sense at the right price. What if Olive Tree, Biblesoft (makers of PC Study bible) Lifeway’s WORDsearch, or e-Sword started to offer an online version for a fee? Would you “rent” your Bible software online or even in an offline version? What Books Should They Offer People may not know that Faithlife already offers a limited number of books for rent (see which ones here: http://bit. ly/1vnmN4T). Get some highend titles for as little as $1.19/ month on up to $49.95. What if every title available were available via an all-you-can-eat model? At the right price, I’d love that. Some suggested in the Logos forum discussion that the company should offer a rent-toown model, but that’s what they already offer with their payment system. Buyers can get Logos books for a one-time price or pay a monthly fee plus a $5/month processing fee. After a few months to two years, they own the books outright. Instead, it makes more sense to offer everything they sell for a large fee for those with plenty of money to burn. Then offer tiered models based on how people use Logos. Give people a Christian Library focused on lay people that includes some Bibles, a few study tools that don’t require any language skills, and access to some books that appeal to lay people from their Vyrso library. Other subscription levels that Bible software companies might offer would include those Christian Computing® Magazine
for scholars, pastors, libraries focused on specific denominations, youth workers, music ministers, missionaries, translators, and more. Finally, I’d hope that a subscription model could offer an a la carte model. Let me pick the books I want and charge based on the number and kind of books I select. Not all books make sense as rentals. I don’t want to rent my favorite Bible translations, but I might want to rent a collection of commentaries on the book of Romans while I’m preaching through that book for a year. I want to own my favorite
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X ENGAGE current members X EDUCATE everyone about the faith X ATTRACT visitors to your church X WELCOME newcomers and returning members
CALL FOR A FREE DEMO: 800-446-3035 Ext. 6880 Bible dictionary, but I’d rent a book on preaching while I’m reading it. I won’t read it again after I’m done, so why not rent it for a month? What’s the Right Price? What’s the right price to charge? An all-youcan-eat model would have to be expensive for Logos to make money, but many of us don’t need all the works they offer. I’m not going to read 19th century fiction love stories but others won’t want leadership books or language study tools. Logos already offers base collections starting at $250 or $25.89/month for 12 months. Their largest library costs nearly $10,000 or almost $400/month for 24 months. After one or two years, the person who buys via a payment plan owns the books and pays nothing more. So how much would the company have to lower the monthly fee to make a subscription model work? Logos already offers the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series for $500 or $46.66/ month for 12 months. They’ll rent the commentary series for $22.95/month. That’s about half the price of the monthly payment. Christian Computing® Magazine
Going by that model, the Collector’s Edition mentioned previously might go for $200/month as a rental. That seems like a bargain, but realize that after four years, the subscriber will pay more than they would if they bought it and paid the $387/ month for the 24 month payment plan. I think the price would need to be much lower to make it worthwhile. $100/month for a huge collection would make it more appealing. Much more, and I don’t think many would pay. Who Can Use the Library? The last question is who can use the library. Currently, Logos lets me use my library on as many devices as I own and doesn’t police this. Families can use the library as long as they’re not using it at the same time. However, Bob Pritchett also asked whether it might make sense to offer a subscription for groups. He wrote: Would a subscription be more valuable if it could be shared? What if a pastor bought a large subscription, but as a side effect everyone in that church (or on that church’s staff?) got access to a portion of it, too? (Pastor gets Collector’s Edition for online/offline use, whole church gets Starter equivalent for online and mobile use?) Would this make it more attractive to subscribe? That would make the subscription model interesting. Here’s what I’d like to see. Maybe a pastor owns a library and reads a book that he thinks the church should study. The Bible software company could offer a simple subscription to the pastor to let everyone in his church, small group, or on his staff read that books plus a few additional titles. For example, what if my church wanted to do a study of John Piper’s book Finally Alive. The book costs $13.95 from the Faithlife. If a small group of 20 people wanted to do the study, we’d have to pay $ 279 so each person could access the book via Logos. The study might take three months. What if Logos or another Bible software company offered a group subscription model? The 20 people could all install a computer or mobile app and read the book. How much would make it worthwhile for the small group but still cost effective for the Bible software company? Using January 2015
the Logos model of half their annual payment eat with a feature-rich online version for less price, the following makes sense. $279 divided than $200/month. Add a model where I can mix by 12 months plus $5/month for the processing and match the books I want for a graduated cost, fee makes the monthly payment $28.25. Since and I’m very likely going to subscribe if offered. Logos rents books for half that fee, the rental for Finally, target users based on their usage and the small group would cost about $15/month. interests. Make it available as an installed version Logos needs to realize that some of the 20 small for computers and a mobile app for phones and group members might get used to using Logos tablets. Also make it available as a feature-rich on their iPad or Galaxy phone and want to keep cloud-based program for Chromebook, budget using it as their Bible. They might want to do Windows-PCs and Linux users. their Sunday school lesson study on it. One of them might be a seminary student studying for the ministry. How much money might the company make on future sales or subscriptions? It’s possible that the Bible software company would see get your free demo this as a lost leader that would www.servantpc.com/ccmag attract further business. Instead of charging $15/month to the 800-773-7570 church, they might charge $4.99/month knowing they will easily make up the other $10 in Manage your ministry with future sales and subscriptions. They might even give one book per month for a group study to current subscribers at Track donations, Email Statements, a certain level. If I subscribe Manage: Small Groups, Classes, Attendance, to the Pastor’s library for Visitor follow-up, Outreach and MORE! $79.99/month, maybe that would give me access to one book each month for up to 25 people for free. This would create some good will and Keep children safe with future business from among the small group members. The small group members could Easy check-in, secure check-out, use the app on their phone and Syncs with Servant Keeper, on the computer version along Name badges w/ allergies, notes, alerts, class info. with the other books Logos Claim tickets for parents/guardians, run background checks already gives away for free when someone registers for an account.
SOFTWARE FOR MINISTRY ou: y e r A
ou: y e r A Caring for Children?
Conclusion I’d like to see Faithlife begin offering subscriptions, especially the group subscription model for a single book for churches. I’d also like to see the all-you-canChristian Computing® Magazine
you: AreLeading Worship?
Plan worship effortlessly with
Keeps your song library at your fingertips, Quickly plan and schedule services and teams Easily track song usage and do reports January 2015
A New Resolve
Michael L White - firstname.lastname@example.org
t the beginning of every New Year the primary focus seems to be upon making a New Year’s resolution. Most folks resolve to spend less, save more, lose weight, work out in the gym, or some other worthwhile endeavor, but what should Christians resolve to do? That’s what I want to address in this month’s digital evangelism article. What do you suppose is the most important goal for Christians on God’s list of priorities? Would it be feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending the sick, visiting the imprisoned, sheltering the homeless? I think most Christians would expect any of these tasks to be number one, and perhaps they do make it to the top ten, but what do you think God would put in first place? I suggest that evangelism is the number one priority for God. Why? I believe it is because these other tasks are basically futile if the recipient is not a citizen of the Kingdom of God. After all, what lasting good does feeding, clothing, tending, visiting, and sheltering do for a person if his/her soul is destined for eternity in Hell? They would simply enter Hell with full bellies, clothed and healthy bodies, and somewhat comforted minds. What a tragedy! Christian Computing® Magazine
So, what can we do about that? Well, perhaps the most important act we can do is offer the Plan of Salvation to them as it is laid out in the Bible. However, the decision of whether to accept that offer is entirely up to each individual person. It’s a little like the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Of course, there is one secret you can use to get a horse to drink every time without forcing or even urging. All you have to do is take the horse by the salt block on the way to the watering trough. A few minutes of licking on that salt block would compel the horse to actually run towards the water and drink deeply without hesitation. How does that translate into Christian evangelism? Well, if we who call ourselves Christians would behave as the salt that Jesus commanded us to be (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50; January 2015
and Luke 14:34), then we would succeed in transforming disinterested people into souls thirsting for the true water of God. (John 4:13-14 and John 7:37-39) So, just how do we become like that salt, anyway? Ah, there lies the problem! It seems that very few Christians even know what it means be salt in the world, let alone how to be salt. I am open to correction, but as I understand it, to be salt in the world means to do what salt does. Salt has at least three very important qualities for us to consider. First, and perhaps most obviously, salt seasons our food. Have you ever tried eating freshly cooked vegetables or meat without any salt on them? It is quite unpalatable! We Christians can act like salt by seasoning the relationships and conversations we are involved in (whether online or offline) with the principles of God’s Word and the goodness of God’s Spirit. Second, and probably much lesser known nowadays, salt is a preservative. Prior to refrigeration, people used layers of salt to preserve their meats from the bacteria, maggots, and other factors which cause decomposition and disease. Christians can act like salt in this way by preserving the practice of the principles of God’s Word, which will prevent the decomposition of our society. Third, and likely just as unknown as the second fact mentioned above, salt is a purifier. This is partly where we get the statement, “It’s like pouring salt into an open wound.” Aside from the severe stinging sensation for which this statement was composed, salt kills the bacteria that cause infection and disease. This is closely connected with the preservation aspect listed above, but it differs insofar as one quality prevents decomposition while the other prevents the spread of infection and disease. Christians can act like salt by purifying whatever threatens the existence of good in this world, i.e., fighting against ideas or practices which oppose God’s principles for living as outlined in the Bible. When Christians sit quietly by while opposing ideas or practices replace God’s principles or when Christians actively participate in overturning God’s principles, they have become like salt that has lost it saltiness. According to Jesus, when salt has lost its Christian Computing® Magazine
saltiness, it is good for nothing but throwing out into the street to be trampled underfoot. So, being salt in the world means sharing the truth of God’s Word, but it also means living out the principles of God’s Word to the best of our ability. Therefore, being effective Christian evangelists means not only offering God’s Plan of Salvation as depicted in the Bible but demonstrating how living by the principles of God’s Word is so much better than living any other way. For a detailed explanation of God’s Plan of Salvation as found in the Bible, I recommend my latest book, The Salvation of the LORD, available in print and eBook formats wherever books are sold. In it I go to great lengths to expound on the character of God, the problem of original sin, how to live with our sin nature after accepting Christ as our Savior, and how to know we’re saved for eternity with Him, among other points. During this New Year in 2015, let’s resolve to offer not only the Hope of Christ regarding the salvation of one’s soul, but let’s also resolve to support and promote the principles for living according to God’s Word as prescribed in the Bible. Let’s be salty Christian evangelists in both digital venues and elsewhere. Happy New Year! 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 Intelligence Revolution for Churches (Part 2) By Russ McGuire - email@example.com
ver the past few months I’ve introduced the Intelligence Revolution and put it in the context of the broader Information Age. I’ve provided a 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), I’ve identified the “power” and the “danger” of the Intelligence Revolution, and last month I started to answer the question of what the Intelligence Revolution will mean for each of our churches. However, last month’s column used a specific example to demonstrate the risks we face if we are too aggressive in collecting and correlating data about our congregants. What are the more positive ways that large churches can consider using big data? Revisiting the Danger Last month I started by making the point that most churches are too small to ever have the data or the capabilities to fully participate in the Intelligence Revolution. But to consider how large churches could potentially leverage big data, I referenced an article by Michael D. Gutzler in the Spring 2014 issue of Dialog: A Journal of Theology. In the article, Christian Computing® Magazine
titled “Big Data and the 21st Century Church,” the Lutheran pastor made the claim that “data collection and analysis could be the key to providing a deeper faith life to the people of our congregational communities.” As I introduced the approach that Pastor Gutzler advocates, I’m guessing that many of you became increasingly uncomfortable. His approach would correlate personal information (inJanuary 2015
cluding derived assumptions about personal income) with giving, attendance, and commitment to spiritual growth, amongst other data points. His goal was to identify the actions that the church could successfully take for specific families to draw them more deeply into the church. A few weeks ago, I discussed the article with a Christian friend who has been the data scientist for a major retailer, the chief data scientist for a big data consultancy, and is currently the manager of data analysis for a major web-based service. The approach Pastor Gutzler outlined concerned her, I think in large part because of its reliance on personally identifiable information (PII). Increasingly, regulations are being crafted and enacted to protect PII, especially in light of the growing threat of fraud and identity theft. The high profile cases of credit card data theft from retailers, e-mail and password theft from online sites, and the very broad theft of information from Sony should make it clear to all of us that we risk the reputation of our churches (and by extension, Christ Himself) the more that we collect, store, and correlate information about people that can be personally linked back to them and potentially used to their detriment. But I think she was, as many of us were, also concerned by the types of information being collected and the inferences being made from it. Would we be embarrassed if our constituents found out about the information weâ€™re collecting and how we are using it? If so, then our actions likely arenâ€™t bringing glory to God. Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
Searching for the Power Then is there anything good that the Intelligence Revolution can do for large churches? The answer will depend on the church, but I think there’s some potential. Whenever I talk to businesses about the Intelligence Revolution, I emphasize that they start first with the mission of their business. Is there any data that, if available, could help them to better serve their customers in accomplishing their mission? Likewise, each of us should start with the mission of your church. I know there are different views on the mission of the church, so I won’t try to lay out a comprehensive definition that all readers can agree to, but I’m guessing we all can agree that the Great Commission is at least an important part of the church’s mission. In their book What is the Mission of the Church?, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert summarized it down simply to this: “the mission of the church - as seen in the Great Commissions, the early church in Acts, and the life of the apostle Paul - is to win people to Christ and build them up in Christ.” This follows directly from Christ’s own words in Matthew 28:18-20
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” If we just start with this as at least part of the mission of the church, what data could help us in our Gospel outreach efforts, and what data would help us to build our people up in Christ? Many churches reflect these two dimensions of their mission as the outward facing and the inward facing aspects of their mission, and I’m guessing that the data that we could use will correspondingly come from outward and inward sources. For decades, churches have used external sources of data to learn more about their city and how they can best reach the unchurched and the lost. The Intelligence Revolution is rapidly increasing the sources of data that are available. Demographics, crime data, addresses of certain types of businesses and facilities, all of these sources of data are becoming increasingly available and searchable. George Barna, who has long been a source for the church of information on national and global trends, has even introMake the move… duced customized reports on 96 from Church Management Software… cities and 48 states. However, to help our conto Church Ministry Software gregants grow in their knowledge of God and their ability to obBuilt by the Church, for the Church serve all that Christ commanded, we likely need to look inside ▪ Open Source (the code is free) - at the data that we have about ▪ Web-based our own people. What are their ▪ Church Sponsored “BTW, each day I am more abilities? What are their desires? thankful that we are using ▪ Ministry Focused Where do they live and work? In BVCMS. The rate you are what ways and in what settings adding features and improving do we touch them today? How the database blows my mind and do we leverage these opportuniI really appreciate all you do.” ties and create additional ones to - Jared Coe build them up in Christ? If we have a large enough population, we should be able to anonymize the data for our analysis and decision making. On an aggregate World Class Hosting and Support ▪ 220+ Churches ▪ Active Development basis, what do we know about the people who attend the early worwww.bvcms.com for more information and pricing ship service and how should that
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affect our interactions with them there? What do we know about those in our singles ministry and what opportunities can we create for that group to help them mature and grow? Obviously, this isn’t fundamentally different from how we make decisions today, but the potential promised by the Intelligence Revolution is that we will have more data and greater ability to work with it, so that we can be more precise and make decisions with greater confidence, helping our churches be more successful in achieving our mission, all to the glory of God. 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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Four necessary things to do with your website to make it ministry effective Yvon Prehn - firstname.lastname@example.org
bviously, today almost every church has a website, but sadly many church websites are little more than a newspaper or yellow pages ad for the church (something that has the basic facts and little else) posted online. This is not a factor of graphics or design, but of organization and content. Below are four suggestions to take your site beyond being an ad only to become an effective ministry tool in the coming year. 1—Don’t rely on your home page Many churches put a great deal of time and emphasis on their home page and this has increased over the last few years with the advent of sliding header images, the “flat design” movement, and the redesign of many church home pages to look like the landing pages of secular companies. There is nothing wrong with any of these design trends and many church sites, because of the templates used to create them are very attractive. However, for your church site to be ministry effective it needs to be more than a home page for two key reasons. One: each category or ministry on your home page needs to be explained in more detail if you want it to actually involve people, particularly those outside the church. Be sure your home page is the foundation and links to explanations. The cute graphics of programs that don’t make sense to anyone but insiders don’t appeal to visitors Christian Computing® Magazine
unfamiliar with your programs. Two: Not everyone comes into your church website and sees the home page first. More and more visits to church sites come through search engine links of topics searched for. BE SURE all your pages have clear menus, in the headers or sidebars that let people know what else is on the site and how to get to it. 2—Add depth to the site Following from the point above, though your home page will become less important as you add content to your site, work hard to add content to your site so it becomes more than an extended newspaper ad online. Added content will make your site more of a resource and evangelism tool for people looking to find out more about the Christian faith. Articles, links, videos and other materials that explain January 2015
and defends the Christian faith can either be created by your staff and members or you can summarize, comment on, and link to material on other Christian sites. Consider adding a team of reporters or writers for your website. Assign an editor and give them guidelines in tone and length. Don’t add this content creation expectation on current staff. Your Sunday School teachers, lay Bible teachers, retired pastors or staff who have the time and desire to write and research can make a great content team. This not only will help add depth to your church site, but you may give people in your church who have the gift and desire to do Christian writing a chance to practice their gift. 3—Don’t forget the basics Having just encouraged you to add depth to your site with please don’t forget the basics. People often come to your site looking for basic information and then they will look at other material if it is interesting to them. But if your site doesn’t have the basics they are looking for, it destroys the credibility of your site overall. Double check to make certain that you have: • Updated times and locations for events—don’t just pass over this quickly—really check to make sure this is accurate. • Up-to-date calendar and service times—if you change the times for special days or events, be sure you put this on your website. • Clear labels or removal of events that have already happened—nothing is worse than last month’s special event still in a primary place on a website. • Links to featured items—today many church websites feature header sliders with key events featured. Be sure these have links to all the information needed to explain the event: if there is a cost, times, dates, etc., and a contact person for more information.
becoming a pattern for many churches--you really need an image for the project you are working on. You don’t have money to buy one. You go to Google or Bing, do an image search and grab the first image that looks good. And then later you feel guilty because you feel you may have stolen an image that wasn’t legally right for you to use. Feeling bad isn’t the only issue here. Churches and other organizations can be subject to substantial fines if they use images that they aren’t legally entitled to use. Also, it’s unrealistic to expect the Lord to bless our work if we use stolen material to promote our ministries. What to do? Check out the short video here for super quick and easy ways to make sure you only snag legal images: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2015/01/ how-to-legally-download-images-from-google-andPeriodically, informally have someone from outside bing the church look at your site (sit them down and watch Websites are a never-ending church communication them, pay money for their time) and ask them to find where classes are, when and where basic services are, what challenge, but their ability to reach our communities for Jesus will increase if you follow the four suggestions is going on for kids, what the church cares about. If they stumble and can’t find things, you know you need work on above. For more advice, samples, templates and more on basics. effective church communications, go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com. 4—Get legal with your use of images Text content isn’t the only area that you need to be concerned about—images are another. Here is what is Christian Computing® Magazine
nick at church
All Data is Vulnerable
Nick Nicholaou - email@example.com
ony. The US government. The news is often filled with ‘the latest’ cyberattack. It seems like all of our data is vulnerable. What should we do about it? What can we do about it?
Can We Truly Secure Our Data? I think the best answer is maybe, but always keep in mind that if someone who is talented and focused really wants to get to your data, they probably can. It might take them a little time, but no data today is completely secure. Whether it’s someone we know who wants to hurt us (the hardest danger to protect against), a vendor who is careless or not doing their due diligence to protect the data they have, an email or website link we clicked on that gives someone access to our data, or some malicious person sitting on the same public WiFi network we’re using to do some quick shopping, our personal and corporate data is more accessible than we’d like to believe. And if our position in life is such that we become a ‘public’ target, we increase our vulnerability many times over. Christian Computing® Magazine
Are Some Computers & Devices More Secure? The quick answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean we’d be willing to focus our lives on the ‘more secure’ systems. Remember that even the US government gets hacked, and we’d like to believe it is doing all that can be done to protect data we have entrusted to it (though we give it some data because if we didn’t— like when we send in our tax returns, we’d be breaking the law). There are conferences around the world for ‘security’ people that attract a lot of hackers too. The conferences often set up computers for attendees to try to hack, and there are usually rewards given to those who are the first to hack them. Typically, they set up three current computers with current configurations: a Mac OS system, a Windows system, and a Linux system. The Mac OS system is usually the first to fall January 2015
(often in less than five minutes), followed by the Windows system (usually within an hour), and the Linux system is often the one nobody can hack. But most of us don’t want to work on computers that run Linux; we prefer our Mac OS and Windows systems. Regarding iOS and Android devices, there are a small number of exploitations for them, but the data they carry is usually much less than computers carry and the risk is, thus, fairly small. Of the two, iOS devices seem to be more secure, perhaps because their filing system is not typically available to users. What Should We Do? Be careful! But keep in mind that even if you are careful, your data could still get hacked. Here are some things I recommend: • Keep your computers and other devices up to date regarding the patches provided by their operating system and application manufacturers. Many patches close up vulnerabilities that have begun to be exploited. • Run anti-malware on your computers, and make certain your email is scanned to prevent most of the SPAM that is sent to try to take advantage of you.
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• Reconsider whether you can really trust public WiFi. I rarely use it— never on my computer, and only sometimes on my iOS devices. If I need my computer to connect to the Internet while away, I use my smartphone’s hotspot feature so that my connection is more secure. Public WiFi is an easy way for malicious people to gain access to your systems and data. • Reconsider which websites and public cloud solutions you can really trust with your sensitive data. Some very popular public cloud solutions have track records of poor security. • Use good passwords that are more difficult to hack. I recommend passwords with a minimum of seven characters that are a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and common punctuation. • If you use a digital wallet, don’t let it sync your identity and security-related data to a public cloud server. Even though that public cloud vendor may do a good job on their security, they are a target in the hacker community. You personally may not be a hacker target, and so having that kind of data only on your local devices (encrypted, of course), your security may be elevated by your obscurity.
• Some data is more prone to problems than others. Carefully read each email, tweet, post, and text message you write before pressing ‘Send’ to make certain nothing you send can be misinterpreted or used to hurt you or someone else. The best strategy is to assume each of those communications over any system could show up on the news and be read by everyone you know. Does It Really Matter? I was consulting with a church recently when one of the younger pastors said he thought ‘data security’ was a “generational thing”. Unfortunately, he is correct! Many who are younger think the entire data security topic is overplayed. But those of us who are a little older know people whose lives have been significantly damaged because of data theft, identity theft, and other data security breaches. Recovering from some of those data security breaches takes a very long time, and some people never recover from them! Yes, data security matters. And if there are simple things you can do to improve your data security, even though doing them won’t guarantee your data will be secure, it makes sense to do them. Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, an IT consulting firm specializing in church and ministry computer networks, VoIP, and private cloud hosted services. You can reach Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org and may want to check out his firm’s website (www. mbsinc.com) and his blog at http:// ministry-it.blogspot.com.
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