Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - email@example.com Managing Editor Kevin Cross - firstname.lastname@example.org
Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Volume 27
Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire
4 cover story
How Technology Made Me a Better Christian
Copy Editors Gina Hewitt Magen Cross
By Dr. David Murray
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Outreach, Inc. Acquires Christian Computing Magazine!
By Steve Hewitt
Volunteering for the 21st Century
By Michael Jordan
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The Case of Lenovo Superfish
By Steven Sundermeier
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How to be Lean
26 Nick At Church
Google Glass, Apple Watch - Where Is This Going?
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Outreach, Inc. Acquires Christian Computing Magazine! This is probably the most exciting announcement I have ever made in the 28 years since I have been publishing Christian Computing Magazine! I have been in talks with Outreach, Inc. for over eight months, but we have finally ironed out the deal! Let me explain why I sold the magazine to Outreach, and what it means for our future. I believe I have taken Christian Computing Magazine as far as I can by myself. There many areas that can be improved upon. For example we have not been able to make connections with you through social media like we should, and we have been limited in our ability to provide more useful tools too help you make the best decisions for your ministry. Now we will be able improve our ChMS online feature chart, with a goal to expand it to other products/services such as Online Giving, Bible Study Software, etc. In addition, I want a way to reach out to more Christian/church leaders with our magazine each month. Outreach has the ability to provide us the staff, support and services to surpass in all of the areas where I believe we have been unable to grow! What does it mean for the future of CCMag? First of all, Kevin Cross will continue to be the Managing Editor, and I will still be here as Editorin-Chief! Outreach didn’t want to “take over” CCMag, but rather purchase us in order to provide us with the tools we need to make the magazine even better! Christian Computing® Magazine
So, Kevin and I are still at the helm. We will still be doing our ChMS Overview in October, and we have a special issue in the works that you will hear about soon. There are a lot of great things on the table being developed, all of which will mean that CCMag will be able to grow in our desire to provide our needed ministry of applying technology to today’s ministry. New columns are in the works, a new design is being developed and much, much more! If you are a reader of The American Church Magazine, Outreach, Inc. is the new publisher of that magazine as well, but again, Kevin and I will still be heading up the magazine as it also increases in readership and content! If you can’t tell yet, I am very excited about working with Outreach to make both of these magazines increase in the scope of their ministries. Great days are in store for both publications! Together We Serve Him,
Steve Hewitt email@example.com May 2015
How Technology Made Me a Better Christian By Dr. David Murray
here’s way too much Christian negativity surrounding technology. All we seem to think and read about are the dangers and difficulties of the digital revolution. But how about some balance? How about recognizing and appreciating the amazing technological gifts that God has blessed our generation with?
In one of my blog posts I linked to How Technology Made me a Better Mom, and I thought, “Why don’t Christians write pieces like this?” Then, “Why don’t I write a piece like this?” So here goes with “How technology made me a better Christian.”
all the blogs, websites, online sermons and videos, podcasts, and it’s almost too much of a good thing. Where do you start? Enter reliable online curators like Tim Challies and Justin Taylor to help us find the best treasure.
Affordable resources I would not have half the books I have without the advent of Logos, Ages Software, eBooks, Kindle Daily Deals, etc. How impoverished my life and ministry would be without these resources! Then add
Searchable books When I began my ministry in the mid-nineties, I started an elaborate and time-intensive index card reference system for everything I read in books, magazines, journals, etc. Yet even that often failed me
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as I stood in front of my tiny library and wondered, “Where did I read that quote? Which book deals with this verse or doctrine?” Now I can search Logos, my Kindle, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. and find them with a few clicks. This has not only saved me oodles of time, but has enriched my life and ministry immeasurably.
all digital. Most of my online friendships have developed into face-to-face friendships. Christians find it easier to open up and share in their local churches too because they’ve been “practicing” online.
“Yes, I believe Christian fellowship has increased rather than decreased with the advent of the Internet.”
Economy and clarity of words I got through Glasgow University and my first year of Seminary without a computer. I wasn’t a Luddite. It’s just that personal computers were still quite rare (and expensive). My first computer was a Packard Bell and it had a 200mb hard-drive! Yet even that made a huge different to the sermons I was beginning to preach. I still have the ten or so handwritten sermon notes of my first efforts. I remember there were times when I wanted to cut, edit, or re-arrange a section and yet just didn’t have the time to write everything else out again. My PC’s cut-and-paste made me a better preacher by helping me compress, clarify, and simplify my language. I so much wish John Owen had lived in our day.
Christian diversity One of the richest aspects of online life is learning about other Christians from other backgrounds and cultures. Pre-Internet I might have seen them from a distance, and judged adversely on the basis of outward appearance. But as I read their blogs, listen to their sermons, and interact with them on Twitter and Facebook, etc., I hear and see their hearts for Christ and I’m better able to see past outward differences, love them, and be immeasurably enriched by them and their witness. Outreach and Mission It’s incredible how easy and inexpensive it now is to produce ministry resources and send them around the world at the click of a mouse. Churches and semi-
Current comment Until the advent of the Internet, if there was some moral crisis or worrying spiritual development in the church or nation, it would take a month or two for Christian periodicals to cover it and publish on it with comment and guidance. By then, the issue was often long gone and the debate had passed. Now we have the best minds and writers in Christendom able to comment and guide us through extremely treacherous moral and spiritual times and trends, and to do so virtually in real time! Christian fellowship Yes, I believe Christian fellowship has increased rather than decreased with the advent of the Internet. Through blogs and websites, “ordinary” Christians are sharing their faith and their spiritual experiences in ways that bless and encourage hundreds and sometimes thousands of other Christians – and nonChristians too. So much that would have been kept private and untold is now public and shared. Isolated Christians, Christian seniors, Christians with special needs, Christian homemakers, etc., have access to other Christians in unprecedented ways. And it’s not Christian Computing® Magazine
naries in third world countries are better equipped and educated than they’ve ever been. Classes and lectures are beamed into deserts, slums, and jungles. Missionaries connect with their families and churches at home via Skype. The Christian message is reaching countries and places no Christian can. Usability of biblical languages Logos, Bibleworks, NET Bible, etc., have helped me to continue, maintain, and improve my biblical languages. Like most pastors, when I came out of Seminary, my Greek and Hebrew began to slip and
fade. However, when I discovered Logos in the late nineties, with easy-to-use parsing guides, word study tools, lexicons, etc., my biblical languages began to resume an important place in my sermon preparation. Without the time-saving digital tools, I know I wouldn’t have had the time to incorporate them into my weekly study. Digital sanctification This list is getting way too long already, and it could go on even longer, but let me wrap up by emphasizing that all these things and many more have made you and me better Christians. The digital revolution has increased our theological knowledge, our cultural engagement, our ministry reach and effectiveness, our evangelism and apologetics, our love for one another, and our holiness. And who cannot worship God more when they sit down every day with an Apple!
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In what ways has technology made you a better Christian? Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. He is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, Jesus on Every Page, and most recently, The Happy Christian. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 2 to 19 years old. They love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.
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Volunteering for the 21st Century
By Michael Jordan
s life becomes more demanding, the ability to recruit and retain church volunteers is becoming more difficult for ministry staff. Between hectic schedules and both spouses working full-time jobs, it can be hard for your members to commit to anything else. This can leave ministry leaders feeling unsuccessful and defeated in their volunteer groups. It is no mystery that it can be increasingly hard to recruit and keep valuable volunteers. “This guide will introduce you to numerous ways of breathing life into your volunteer team,” said the authors of the ministry guide, Volunteering for the 21st Century. “Moreover, you will be exposed to several techniques to not only find more volunteers, but keep them connected to opportunities that fit their interests and abilities.” Getting Your Members Connected It’s no surprise to anyone in ministry that gathering volunteers can be a very difficult task. But, have you ever thought about how the members of your church possess a vast variety of knowledge and skills which can be used for volunteering? “The first step when finding potential new volunteers is to gather information about them. There are many great ways to do this, such as hosting a leadership class for members where their talents can be assessed,” continued the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century. “However, the easiest and fastest way to do this is social networking sites like Facebook.” Christian Computing® Magazine
This rings true due to the fact that approximately 75 percent of Americans use Facebook, which in turn translates into the vast majority of your church members (especially younger congregants) being connected. To get started, you will need to create a Facebook page for your church and invite everyone to “like” your ministry. Once created, you can utilize the page to survey those who “like” you and get the ball rolling on properly fitting everyone for volunteering. “(It’s also)…imperative to enter the information into a database so it can be used for future use,” continued the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century. “There are web-based church management software solutions which allow you to add these users (and their skills) into a database, but also to give the ability to pull specific reports on this information.” Reports and Who Can Serve Where Gathering data and information is usually the hardest part. Once it’s been added to the database, May 2015
divvying of tasks and assigments becomes much easier. “This helps when you are deciding who can serve and where. Many church members have been surprised to find that they have talents and experiences that can meet immediate needs in their church, even preventing the church from outsourcing projects and responsibilities,” said the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century. Understanding Your Volunteers Before going headlong into a new situation, one should always taking the proper precautions. This absolutely includes the screening and qualification process of new volunteers. “If the proper precautions are not taken, the results could range from frustrating to disastrous. When placing members in positions, churches must do all they can to ensure the environment will be safe and the people involved are qualified to serve. Therefore, it is very important to screen them, ensure they have the proper training and track the status of their qualifications,” said the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century.
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Training Is Power Getting volunteers is only half the battle. You have to make sure they’re properly trained for the task at and prepared for any situation (emergency or otherwise) which may occur. This can be training provided internally, think lighting/sound/working check-in kiosks. There can also be times when outside training is a must. Whichever the case, these volunteers can then be re-evaluated periodically to ensure they are continually competent to serve in their role. Strengthen Commitment Through Strong Relationships “Relationships are the lifeblood of a strong volunteer ministry. If friendships are built between leaders and volunteers and volunteers feel encouraged by leaders, your ministry will prosper. On the other hand, if volunteers feel disconnected or unappreciated by leaders, your ministry will suffer,” said the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century. Because of this, you have to find ways to help ministry leaders stay relationally connected to
your volunteers throughout the week. However, staying in touch with your volunteers on a regular basis can be one of the greatest challenges for your ministry. Everyone has busy lives and it can be increasingly difficult to find available time to communicate with volunteers. Without a doubt though, volunteers will be more committed when they feel valued and appreciated. Developing the Ownership Mentatlity The ownership mentality is a way of thinking in which the volunteers value ministry on a very personal level. When this happens, they’re more apt to give that extra effort for success. “This mentality establishes when your volunteers feel like they are not only contributing, but are able to lead your church in a positive direction. In a sense, they have left their mark on your ministry,” said the authors of Volunteering for the 21st Century. When you use the proper tools, your church can greatly increase volunteer numbers. Let Us Help You Better Communicate ACS Technologies can help you turn members into thriving volutneers for your ministry. If you’re having issues with recruiting or retaining volunteers, you can learn more on how to do volunteering better by downloading Volunteering for the 21st Century today. You can also learn more by visiting here.
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Volunteering for the 21st Century Find out how your church can better develop and sustain a church volunteer program.
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The Case of Lenovo Superfish
By Steven Sundermeier
’m Steven Sundermeier, Internet Security Expert, Virus Researcher and Business Entrepreneur. I’ve spent the last sixteen years traveling across the country uncovering, analyzing and speaking on many of the top online security issues of the last decade. Last quarter, I’d heard stories of a critical vulnerability pre-installed on Lenovo laptops shipped between September 2014 and February 2015. My investigation will take me deep into the heart of the cyber world, as I try to unravel the mystery behind this potentially serious security bulletin. I am calling this case, “The Lenovo Superfish”. Queue the ominous scream! If the beginning paragraph sounded familiar to you, you are not mistaken. While the grueling demands of owning and operating a business (And enjoying a family of five!) doesn’t always allow for it, I do enjoy watching TV when I have the chance. And one of my favorite shows to watch is the Animal Planet series River Monsters. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, it follows extreme freshwater angler Jeremy Wade across the World in search of today’s modern day deadly freshwater monsters (i.e. Goliath Tiger Fish, Wels Catfish, ArapaChristian Computing® Magazine
ima, etc.). The best part of enjoying River Monsters (given my hefty workload) is that I only need to tune in for the first 5 minutes to get a general understanding of the shows direction for the week and the last 5 minutes of the show to catch all the fishing action, and see the “River Monster” getting caught. With that now being said, re-read the first paragraph and see if the opening lines make more sense. Please note: to get into full River Monsters mode you’ll have to hear yourself reading the first paragraph in a British accent. May 2015
The Lenovo Superfish Lenovo, the multinational computer technology company that develops personal computers, tablets, laptops and much more, dominated news headlines with negative press earlier this year as a result of software known as “Superfish Visual Discovery” that came pre-installed on Lenovo laptops that were shipped out between September 2014 and February 2015. The concept behind the Superfish software is to enhance image search accuracy, helping computer users locate similar products visually. However, it was later found that the software included a proxy, a component that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. The presence of this proxy presented a security risk for those who had the Superfish Visual Discovery software installed. How Superfish Visual Discovery works In order to increase the significance of the image searches of a user, the Superfish software intercepted thought-to-be secure “HTTPS” traffic so that it could obtain an insider advantage. Superfish accomplished the task of intercepting the HTTPS communications via a “man-in-the middle” attack. A man-in-the
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middle attack is a form of eavesdropping where communication between two parties is monitored and modified by an unauthorized user. In the process, the two original parties appear to communicate normally. That is, the message sender doesn’t recognize that the receiver is an unknown party/attacker trying to access or modify the message before retransmitting to the receiver. Thus, the unknown party controls the entire communication. In our case, if a user with Visual Discovery software installed /visited any secure website, let’s use as an example https://secure_page.com. The connection is directed to the Superfish filter (instead of directly to the targeted webpage). The average user is unaware that this process is occurring. Superfish was created in this fashion to intercept user’s web traffic with the sole purpose to serve up targeted advertisements. In other words, the developers of Superfish have an opportunity to bank lots of money by putting relevant information at your virtual doorstep, so to speak. The interception of the encrypted HTTPS communication used here works by Superfish vouching for itself to Windows and installing a trusted Certificate Authority certificate. Trusted certificates are typically used to ensure secure connections to a server over the Internet, as they tell your computer what websites and software publishers are to be trusted. You may have noticed that some websites display a padlock in the browser address bar especially when online shopping; the padlock signifies a trusted website. (Look for these!) Using the above technique, without getting into too much technical detail, Superfish can now forcefully sign any publisher’s certificate to make them May 2015
trusted. The end result is that all your traffic will now flow dangerously free through the Superfish manin-the middle filter and the communications will be intercepted, decrypted and re-encrypted by it. Here’s the problem… the Private Key used for re-encrypting the communication is locally stored and can be easily recovered within the Superfish software. This means that any attacker aware of vulnerability could generate a fake certificate for any website that will be trusted by a system with Superfish installed on it. Therefore, even secure websites such as banking websites, secure online shopping transactions, personal email websites can be spoofed and all your login credentials and confidential information stolen without any user warning. A cybercriminal could also exploit the bungled cryptography to trick you into trusting malicious downloads. If the above process isn’t 100% clear, think of it like this…what if you recently purchased a house in a new housing development. Once your house was complete, the home builder provided you with the keys to your new home. Every time you left your home you felt your house and the belongings in it were safe, as you always locked the door behind you with the keys that the builder gave you. Over time, the new community grew and there were now over a hundred new homes and new families in your development community. As you met neighbors and made friends, you soon privately realized that the home builder used the same locks and the same key for all the houses in the neighborhood meaning your key also unlocked the doors of the other one hundred homes. Would your perception of security change? Now, let’s say that this knowledge soon leaked publically, how would this change your security level? Would you feel safe leaving your wallet, purse, passports, etc. on the kitchen table when you left home? And finally, and like the Superfish vulnerability, what if you knew the criminals in the area were now aware of the situation and were duplicating the master builder key. Hopefully, this analogy will give you a glimpse of the severity of the Superfish vulnerability. As in each weekly episode of Christian Computing® Magazine
River Monsters, the case usually wraps up successfully at the conclusion of the show and the same goes here. The good news is that Lenovo quickly realized the severity of their mistake and has discontinued the practice of pre-installing the Superfish Visual Discovery software. They have also published a list of affected Lenovo laptop models so that the software can be uninstalled immediately (http://support.lenovo. com/us/en/product_security/superfish). And per their webpage, Lenovo has also contacted SuperFish to “disable all server activity associated with their product.” If you own a Lenovo laptop, I encourage you to look into the possibility of being affected by all this. Awareness breeds action, and if you have this vulnerability, you’ll want to address it sooner than later. Please tune in next week for the case, “Lenovo System Update”, as Lenovo again lands in the hot seat with another security issue, this time with its own System Update software. Oh, the joys of a good series—they keep us coming back week after week— and I hope you’ll join me again for our next CCMag installment as well. In the meantime, if you have any fish stories of your own, share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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CHURCH WINDOWS SOFTWARE
DON’T PUT IT OFF!
GET ORGANIZED WHILE OFFICE TIMES ARE SLOW By Craig Chadwell
ummer is nearly here. Most church administrators are not quite as busy as at other times of the year, so it’s the perfect time to take care of tasks that have been put off. An important one is the cleanup of files and data. Computer Operating System Hopefully, your church computers are no longer running on an XP Operating System or Server 2003. If they are, it’s time for an upgrade. Since 2013, Microsoft has no longer supported these operating systems. This means that software developers may not be able to help, if there are operating system-related software issues. In fact, many software packages will already no longer run on XP. And because these operating systems have not had security updates issued for some time now, they are vulnerable to attacks and breaches. Christian Computing® Magazine
Given hardware upgrade costs versus the decreasing prices of newer computers, most churches will choose to buy new or newer computers. December and January would be the worst times to be swapping out old for new computers, so we suggest taking action now. Talk to your IT person and/or your church governing body about the necessity of getting this done. Donation Data Cleanup and Suggestions If your church uses envelope numbers, you may want to take this time to clean up the numbers and delete those that are no longer used. May 2015
You could also reassign numbers in alpha order, if you prefer. Idle giving accounts could also likely be removed. Summer is a good time to pare down this list. Although not a “cleanup” task, you might want to send out mid-year giving statements. If you are a pledging church, you can indicate how each person or family stands according to their pledge. To save postage costs, most good software packages will let you email statements to those who prefer the electronic version and then print paper copies for the rest.
This would be an excellent time to provide your pastoral staff and committee chairs with reports that could assist them in the ministry of the church. Ask them if there’s anything you can provide now while times are slower rather than being asked later during the flurry of year-end.
Accounting Cleanup Get ahead of the game and spend some time reorganizing your chart of accounts. Get ready for 2016 (Hey, it’s never too soon.) with a streamlined chart and, in the process, be ready to enter next year’s budget. Membership Cleanup Now is the time to advance the school grade field for children in your church. Usually, that is just a few mouse clicks. Most software programs will indicate when and by whom this was last done, so school grade advancement is not done twice. Along the same lines, you can advance your children in their Sunday School classes. This is also a good time to do some general cleanup of your member files. A few items for thought and action: • Clean up unused fields • Delete unused field options • Add new fields that might be helpful • Reassign your deacon groups • Delete or terminate visitors who are no longer attending • Reorganize committee and attendance records
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higher power with kevin
BibleWorks 10 What’s New?
By Kevin A. Purcell
ibleWorks just released BibleWorks 10, a somewhat minor upgrade over version 9, but with some interesting new features. I’ve been playing with it for about a month and wanted to share some of the new features with you. I do a weekly podcast called Theotek Podcast using Google Hangouts. Follow me on Google+ to find out when new episodes will go live on Friday mornings at 9:00 a.m.. I share that because our May 15, 2015 episode included a demonstration from Rev. Dan Philips from the Pyromaniacs Blog (http:// teampyro.blogspot.com). If you’re not familiar with BibleWorks, it’s a text focused and powerful Bible study tool. They don’t clutter up the program with a lot of modern commentaries or other non-Biblically focused books. Instead, buyers just get great and powerful Bible Christian Computing® Magazine
study tools. It’s the best option for hardcore scholars of the Bible who don’t want to spend thousands on a digital library of books. ePub Reader The company did make a concession to users who want more than what BibleWorks traditionally publishes for inclusion in their software. They’re never going to add books like Ed Stetzer’s church growth titles. Now, if a user buys and ePub version of these kinds of books, they can read them using the new ePub Reader. May 2015
account: https://twitter. com/bibchr). https:// www.youtube.com/ watch?v=WuxJNEh-HZA Danker’s Lexicon Danker’s Lexicon is a new Lexicon in BibleWorks 10. Find it in the Resources tab of the Analysis window. The currently loaded verse will show up with all the entries from the lexicon will show up in the list. Scroll down to find it. Buy Christian ePub books at places like CDB or ChristianBook.com. I went ahead and bought one and loaded it in BibleWorks 10 to test out the feature. It works great. To load an ePub, click on the ePub tab in one of the analysis windows on the right. Then click on the Open/Import button on the toolbar. This shows a list of all ePub books in the BibleWorks 10 library. The list is empty until you first import a book. Click on the Import button and find the book on your hard drive. This puts the book in your library, but doesn’t yet open it. Before you open it, make sure you add it to a category. There’s a button with three dots. Click it and a drop down list shows the Assign category to selected books flyout menu item. Now add the book to one of the BibleWorks categories. The category shows up in the Category column of the ePub library list. Now click on the title of the book and the Load button. The library window lets users sort their books by Title, Author and Category. Click on the heading of the column to do that. Users can also show only books in a certain category making it easier to find books if the user has a large ePub library. Click on the Show only: drop down box. Official BibleWorks 10 Videos Watch the official BibleWorks intro videos of all the new features in BibleWorks 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL61U76 Lv9XBEzIvXvv5rbdYw7HHyHZaUU&v=XaOVJU g1qqQ Here’s the Theotek Podcast with a demo from Dan Phillips mentioned above. (Dan’s Twitter Christian Computing® Magazine
BibleViews BibleViews shows ancient culture in a visual way. Open it from the Resources menu. Click on Pictures and then BibleViews. It looks like a Windows help file. There’s a tablet of contents listing all the topics in the BibleViews Picture Library. Users can also search it from the Search tab in the column on the left.
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Some items just show a picture while others give a some text explaining it. If there’s a Bible verse in the description it’s a hyperlink that the user can open by clicking or hovering over it. New User Lexicon Feature Now in BibleWorks 10 users can create their own lexicon. This means I can grab content from various tools and collect them in one place. The my lexical entry for that word will then show up any time I find that word in another place. This makes it possible for translators to work once and reuse their translation elsewhere. Audio of Greek and Hebrew Bibles Two new sets of audio files reads the NA27 in verse-by-verse recordings and the Byzantine Text in chapter-by-chapter recordings. Open these from those books when they’re showing in the Browse window. Right click a verse and choose one or the other from the pop up menu. Other New Features
Notice the Bible verse references in the image of the manuscript on the right. The BibleWorks Manuscript Project added some new manuscripts to the tool. This gives scholars a look at the ancient manuscripts without going to them around the world. One of the cool new features is the tagging. Each manuscript gets tagged with the verse it’s showing. Open a Bible and the open manuscript will scroll along with the text of the Bible. People who teach or preach showing the BibleWorks interface will love the screen scaling feature. It zooms the text and buttons so they can be seen on a projector from the back of the room. The new user-interface color options show up in two places. The window colors and highlighting of text and parts of speech to make it easy to see the grammar of the text visually. For example, certain morphology tags get one color while others get another. There are a number of new resources including... • New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) • Samaritan Pentateuch (SMP) • NA28 • Friberg Analytical Greek New Testament (AGNT) • ESV Concise Bible Atlas from 2010 and 2012 • More languages like Vietnamese, Norwegian, Modern Hebrew etc. We’ve only covered some of the biggest new features. To learn about every new feature, see the BibleWorks website at http://bibleworks.com/content/new. html which gives the complete list of new features added or updated in BibleWorks 10.
Christian Computing® Magazine
How to be Lean
By Russ McGuire
ver the past couple of months, I’ve introduced the concept of a “startup” and we’ve discussed why the church should really care about startups. As you’ll recall, we’ve developed this definition for our discussion: A startup is a new venture working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed. Last month we learned that the Lean Startup methodology introduces the scientific method into the new venture process, with multiple hypothesistest-observe-refine iterations. But how can we implement this in our ministries (and our businesses)? What does it look like in practice? The Business Model Canvas For startup businesses, the Business Model Canvas has become the foundational tool for building a lean startup. Strategyzer.com developed The Canvas and makes it freely available for anyone’s use. The Canvas replaces the traditional 100 page business plan with a one page summary of how the business will work. In the center of the canvas is the Value Proposition. The right half of the Canvas is about the target markets, channels to reach those markets, relationships to deliver the value proposition to customers, and the resulting revenue. The left half of the Canvas is about the key partnerships, resources, Christian Computing® Magazine
activities and resulting costs of running the business. In each of these nine boxes, you would spell out your hypotheses. What do you think the value proposition is? Who do you think the target market is? What do you think are the key resources? Who do you think will be key partners? In the Lean methodology, the key then becomes testing all of those hypotheses, continuing to refine the business model until you have something that will really work - delivering real value to specific target customers in a way that is financially sustainable. Steve Blank is one of the best teachers on the Lean Startup methodology. He has created a series May 2015
of videos for the Kauffman Foundation that provide an excellent introduction, explaining these different components of the business model and how to test hypotheses. The videos can be found online at http://www.entrepreneurship. org/Founders-School/Startups. aspx. One of Steveâ€™s students at the University of California at Berkeley, Eric Reis, has written an introductory book on the topic, simply titled The Lean Startup. If you like having a book to guide you through the process and as an ongoing reference, I highly recommend this volume. The LEAN Startup Machine Validation Board While the Business Model Canvas is a great tool for startup businesses, it likely is a poor fit for startup churches, ministries, and programs. We care about loving and serving others to the glory of God rather than being focused on revenue and profits. A much more streamlined tool has been developed by LEAN Startup Machine, an organization that holds 3 day workshops around the world to help entrepreneurs quickly launch new startups. The initial version of their tool was called the Validation Board and it can be found at https://www. leanstartupmachine.com/validationboard/. The company has developed a new version called the Experiment Board, but for our purposes I prefer the simplicity of the Validation Board. The Validation Board is designed around three key elements: the customer, the problem, and the solution. You start with hypotheses around the customer and their problem. Who needs to be served and what is their problem that you can address? The Christian ComputingÂŽ Magazine
problem needs to be stated in the terms they would use, not the terms that you would use looking at their situation from the outside. For example, you might identify male college students as the people who need to be served, and from your perspective, the problem is that they aren’t coming to church. But from their perspective, the problem might be that they have no transportation to get to church. The problem you need to capture is the one from their perspective. The very first thing you need to do is to recognize that you have made a number of assumptions to reach the conclusion that this group of people has this particular problem. For example, assumptions could include that college men want to go to church, that they aren’t currently going to church, and that they don’t have their own transportation. Once you have a good list of assumptions, you need to decide which is the riskiest assumption. Which one, has a decent chance of being wrong, and if it’s wrong then your whole opportunity will be redefined? For example, from the above list, I might identify the assumption that college men want to go to church is the most risky assumption. Before you even start to consider solutions to the problem, you need to validate your highest risk assumption. You need to develop a test and determine what criteria you will set for whether your test validates the assumption or invalidates it. For example, you might decide that you’re going to go on campus and talk to 50 young men to see if they want to go to church and if even 5 of them do, you might determine that your assumption is valid. (While Christian Computing® Magazine
you’re talking to them, you might as well go ahead and ask any that do want to go to church whether they are regularly attending a church service and if not, why not. This could save you some time and trouble later.) You may find that you were exactly right, but more likely you’ll learn that you need to redefine the definition of the “customer” (maybe it’s college-aged Christians) or that you need to redefine the problem statement (maybe campus commitments conflict with church service times). With this new hypothesis, it’s time to test again, observe again, and continue to refine until you understand the problem well.
Once you understand the problem, you can start to consider potential solutions. Of course, throughout this entire process, the most important test is alignment with God’s revealed will. Prayer and time in the Word are integral to all decision making. As Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Will solving the problem that you’ve identified honor God? Is the solution that you’ve envisioned one that would be pleasing to Him? Testing potential solutions in Lean fashion will involve multiple iterations with increasing levels of confirmation. People may say that the solution will meet their needs, but are they willing to sign up (e.g. give you their e-mail address or phone number to be notified when you implement)? Do they really show up when you try a small scale version of the solution? A video … reach out at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=HhoducyStMw explains … minister to people the complete process. … create fellowship Titus 3:14 tells us “And let our people also learn to main… contribute to tain good works, to meet urgent your community needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” It is my hope and PowerChurch Plus was prayer that these articles will help created for just that! you be fruitful to the glory of God.
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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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Christian Computing® Magazine
Google is Changing How it Presents Search Results What Your Church Needs to Know
By Yvon Prehn
oogle is once again changing how it presents search results. It sounds scary and has been termed “mobilegeddon” by some because of the potentially drastic changes it will have on search results on mobile devices. Should your church be worried and if so what should you do about it? You have so many things to do as church communicators, should you bother? Following I’ll explain more what it means and give you some practical suggestions on what you can do. What it really means Google is constantly changing the algorithms for how results are shown when you put in a search term. One of the primary reasons they do this is that there are always people who try to game the system and manipulate sites so their sites show up high in search results even if they don’t have the content to justify it. Though this isn’t an article on search engine optimization, Google and all other search engines have always said, and continue to affirm, that the primary reason sites Christian Computing® Magazine
show up on the first page or two of results are because of the quality of their content, not just because of artificial search engine optimization (SEO). There is legitimate, intrinsic SEO, that systems such as WordPress make easy and search engines benefit from that. Artificial SEO, which consists of key-word loading and other false and always new ways people try to beat the system without the legitimate work of creating valuable content, is what they are fighting against. Sites with a depth of good content will always be May 2015
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found when people search for the topics they are about. Though this is a purely personal and anecdotal comment, I have always found that to be true. Ever since the earliest days of the Effective Church Communications ministry, I’ve always been too busy to concentrate on any Search Engine Optimization strategy. I’ve simply tried to create as much useful material for church communicators as possible and because of that, the Effective Church Communications website comes up early in many results related to church communications. Though a depth of good content is still important, this algorithm change with Google is different because with the current changes Google is penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly and this specifically relates to when a search is done on a mobile device. This change doesn’t care about the content of your site--what matters is how people view your site when they do a search on a mobile device for it. The changes do not affect desktop searches. Many of the articles written about the changes don’t make that distinction clear (here is one that does: http://www.npr.org/sections/ alltechconsidered/2015/04/21/4 01269739/googles-new-searchalgorithm-stokes-fears-of-mobilegeddon ). One conclusion some churches might draw from properly understanding that this big change only affects searches made on mobile phones is that it really doesn’t matter to them because they might assume that few people look up their church website on a mobile phone. Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect. Why this is important In the NPR article cited above it says that 48% of search traffic now comes from mobile devices. May 2015
If we truly want to be all things to all people that we might win some, we definitely need to make sure our websites are easily accessible to the people who want to use them, no matter what device they use. In many ways this action by Google is a great wake-up call for all churches. We may not personally do searches on our phones (or even have a smart phone that allows us to do searches), but more and more people have them and constantly use them to look up everything. Many churches lament that they don’t have young families coming to their church, but if you truly want young people to come, you have to communicate in the way they communicate. That means everything you want to tell them HAS to be accessible on their phones. In many ways Google is simply encouraging us do what we need to do to share Jesus with our world. What you should do at your church First of all, check to see if you have a problem. The link below takes you to a very quick and easy test to see if your website is mobile-friendly. Just enter in your URL and in a couple of minutes you will get a quick evaluation of if your site is mobile friendly or not. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ mobile-friendly/?utm_source=wmc-blog&utm_ medium=referral&utm_campaign=mobile-friendly Second, be sure you understand this issue. To do that, this article will be helpful: A primer on responsive websites, what they are and why they are important http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2012/09/ aprimer-on-responsive-websites-what-they-are-andwhy-they-are-important I wrote this article and did a short 4-minute video to explain what it means to make your site mobile- device friendly. “Responsive” was the term used in initially. It means the same as device or mobile-friendly today. Practical suggestions on what to do This is my personal recommendation, but I feel that the most important thing you can do both now and longterm to deal with this situation with Google is to learn WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org or http://wordpress.com check to see which one is best for you) and use a responsive template. Yes, there are many other great systems and companies that help churches create website, but I think WordPress is the best way to build a website, for many, many reasons, too lengthy to detail here. Also I think that learning how to use WordPress is a skill every church communicator (and most staff members and pastors) should have. Even if you decide not to use it on a continuing basis, Christian Computing® Magazine
learning how to create and modify a WordPress website will help you understand and make more informed decisions related to your website ministry. I have built many sites with it over the years and I continuously am amazed at all it does and what features are added to it. It is also free. You have to pay for hosting, but that can be minimal and instead of being locked into a proprietary system and cost, once you learn (and it is easy to learn) WordPress, it is one of the most costeffective way for a church to have a complete and flexible site. If something else is working for you—great, but if you are checking out systems for websites, make WordPress on the top of your list. This is an encouragement because now might be a time to take a deep breath, learn WordPress, and finally take charge of the website at your church. Next month, I’ll give you some advice on how to create WordPress websites and a list of resources to help. For more information on how to create communications that will help your church fully fulfill the Great Commission, go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com
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Google Glass, Apple Watch Where Is This Going?
By Nick Nicholaou
n 2011 we learned Google was developing something akin to glasses that had a head-up display. Called Google Glass, it captivated the imagination of many! This year Apple released the Apple Watch, and the techie community’s attention has again been captivated! What do these technologies accomplish for us? And where does it appear to be going?
Apple Watch Many of my friends have ordered this device and can’t wait for theirs to ship! I went with one to their Apple Store appointment to check out the options, and almost got caught up in how cool it was! But then I remembered that I haven’t worn a watch for decades, and I really don’t want to begin wearing one now. That helped me look at the device a little more objectively. The Watch is heavily dependent on having an iPhone close by. It has to be within thirty feet of the iPhone because without it about all it can do is health monitoring, Apple Pay, and tell time. So it is probably best seen as an iPhone accessory, and its battery life is less than a day. Where is All This Going? In 2009 we were introduced to a wearable “gestural” interface named SixthSense. The idea was that Christian Computing® Magazine
we could have a convergence of our real world with our digital world. It was fascinating to see a wearable combination of technology (camera, projector, and smartphone) that could see our physical world, interpret it, and project helpful information in real time. The goal of this tool was to seamlessly merge our real world with our digital world. Here’s a link to an awesome Ted Talk if you have a few minutes to check it out: www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en// id/685. Nick Predicts Okay, I’m going to put on my Nick Predicts hat. These are my best guesses based on what I see developing in technology. And they just might be accurate! I think we’re going to see a convergence of technologies that will deliver the ultimate wearable technology solution, eliminating the need to sit in front of a computer or tablet. May 2015
• In 2006, University of Arizona scientists developed eyeglass lenses that can adaptively change their focusing power. The lenses allow their optical prescription to be programmed, rather than cut or ground into the lens. The lenses focus electroactively. Keep in mind that was nearly ten years ago; about two years before the first iPhone was released. • In 2002, Brown University lab monkeys were moving mouse cursors by playing ‘mental pinball’. Referred to as an experiment with brain-machine interfaces, this technology demonstrated the ability to read brain waves and tell computers to do things. That was more than thirteen years ago. • In the early 1990s, Steve Hewitt, CCMag Editor in Chief, said he thought we would soon be able to power electrical devices by pulling electricity out of the radio waves in our atmosphere. Admittedly, I scoffed. But he was following the thinking of some pretty smart guys, like Nikola Tesla. And now there are technologies being developed that do exactly that! Some are already available in the marketplace!
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• We already saw that Google is continuing to develop Glass, and that some of it’s recent patents are showing devices that track eye movement. So, here’s my prediction. I believe within a decade we’ll have the ability to wear glasses whose prescription changes based on the need of our eyes and where they are focusing. Those glasses will extend their battery charges by pulling electricity from the radio waves in our atmosphere, and will themselves be computers we can control with our thoughts; picked up by the temples (the side overthe-ear piece), that can project head-up display images. Okay, there! I said it! And if I’m right, it’ll be very cool! 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 email@example.com, and may want to check out his firm’s website (www.mbsinc. com) and his blog at http://ministry-it.blogspot.com.