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Applying Tomorrow’s Technology to Today’s Ministry Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

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The Truth about Social Media and Ministry

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By Steve Hewitt

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Why Twitter Doesn’t Work As Many Suggest!

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How to Use Social Media to Really Increase Your Ministry By: Steve Hewitt

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Christian Leadership Must Trust Their Congregations to Take the Gospel to Their Communities! By: Steve Hewitt

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editorial

How DO You Communicate With Your Congregation Today? Steve Hewitt - steve@CDPublishers.com

Communication is very important for any church. Members need to know what is going on at their church. We want them to see important announcements, remind them of upcoming events, and ask them to pray for specific needs. Most churches have moved from letters to email, but these days email seems to drop the ball. Many are saying the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) is the way to get your message out. However, as you read the articles in this special issue, you will see that social media simply doesn’t work. Here are my TOP five ways to communicate your message to your members. And my first selection is 10 times more important that all of the other four! The best way to communicate to your congregation today is through a broadcast text message! It is fast (seconds for most). It has the highest delivery percentage of ANY other means of communicating out there, a higher than 97% chance that your message will be seen within 30 minutes. And it is read and has a greater impact than almost any other method of communication outside of a personal phone call. Why? Because text messages that pop up on our phone are considered very personal. Even if the person knows the same message has been sent to 1,000 other people, it will Christian Computing® Magazine

be perceived and valued as a personal communication method because of the nature of it coming to them as a text on their cell or smart phone. Don’t confuse sending out a broadcast text with a group text. Group texts can be sent from your cell or smart phone by selecting people in your contact list and forming a “group”, and then send your text to this group. The problem with this kind of texting is that everyone in the group can then respond, sending their text to everyone else in the group. This can get old very fast, and turn people off from receiving group texts. A broadcast text is sent using your ChMS to a specific group. Some ChMS have broadcast texting built into their service (Donarius, Elexio, and Church Community Builder are three examples). Or, if your ChMS works with One Call Now (and they work with almost all ChMS products!) you can send out broadcast texts as well. Simply select the group, write your text, and send! With broadcast texts, you can include links to anything! Simply post your church newsletter, youth permission form, etc., and include the URL in the text. People will quickly see your text and have access to the announcement, prayer request or info you have included. Special Issue - April 2014

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Why don’t more churches take advantage of broadcast texting? I don’t have a clue! I remember when we started encouraging churches to use email almost 20 years ago. Most churches simply responded that their members didn’t have computers or an email address. Some held out so long that by the time they finally got on board, email was already on the way out! Churches now believe their members don’t use text. Some might not, but that isn’t important to this discussion. If they don’t text, that

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doesn’t change things concerning sending them texts! Five years ago, my wife and I served our church by having a Friday night book study at our church for single adults in their 50’s and 60’s. We met at 7 pm, and my wife would make something for dinner for everyone. For our first year we saw around 13 to 15 attend. After that first year, we set up a method to accomplish broadcast texts. We asked our group to allow us to set up their phones to receive our text messages. Back then a few still had to pay per text, but everyone still agreed. We collected the information we needed to text them, and we set up a table in the church’s lobby for several weeks signing up any single seniors that were interested. In just four months, we saw our attendance go from 15 to 35! The reason was obvious! Every Friday night around 5 pm, we would send out a simple text that would remind them of our meeting at 7 pm, tell them what chapter we were studying and inform them of what my wife had made for dinner. We heard many testimonies from this group how the texts helped remind them and enabled them to attend! Here is our problem. While some believe church people are conservative and behind the curve when it comes to technology, church leaders are even worse! Believe me, your church, regardless of the age of your congregation, will benefit from broadcast texting. You can’t time an email to arrive and be read two hours before an event. But with text messages, you can time your announcement for maximum effect! If you don’t know how to get texting set up for your church, contact the folks at Special Issue - April 2014

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One Call Now. They will set you up and enable you to send out broadcast texts as well as help you deliver voice messages. So if texting is number one, what are the other four top communication methods I recommend? Before I provide them, remember, I value broadcast texting ten times greater than even number two, or the rest of the list! My second choice for getting your message out to your congregation would be to use a voice message delivery system. One Call Now is again a great service to help you accomplish this. Number three? Send personally addressed (including the return address) stamped (not from a postage meter system) letters. I know you can save money by using your non-profit postage permit and meter, but you are not really saving any money. In fact, I would suspect you are wasting money, because mail that arrives with a label or type addressed address with a meter mark for a stamp, hardly ever gets opened or read. It isn’t seen as personal, and “personal” is the key to getting your message out today.

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Number four is a combination of public access sites were people searching for information about your church can find it! You should have a website, a Facebook site, and a video on YouTube with information about your church! And, finally, number five. Email! It does still work. In fact it still has a higher read rate than metered mail. It has a much higher read rate than your posts on Facebook and Twitter combined. Some might not thing it is cool, but is now more secure and has about a 20% open rate. Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt steve@cdpublihsers.com

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cover story

The Truth about Social Media and Ministry By Steve Hewitt

I

t seems that everyone is producing articles, books, blogs and ebooks about the role and importance of using social media in today’s church. Most of this content is screaming to the church to get with it when it comes to Social Media. They shout that this is THE way, and maybe the only way, to reach today’s audience. There are a multitude of articles, books, etc., telling you how to get “likes” and increase the “reach” numbers you will see when you come back to check on how your posts were received. There are even a few companies that are marketing their services, stating that if you hire them they will create your Facebook page, get lots of people to “like” it and even provide content. You don’t have to do anything! Fantastic, right? Facebook is a social media service designed to help people in relationships (friends and families). Leave it up to the church to hire someone to create a fake site with fake content to create fake relationships. But wait, it doesn’t stop there! There are almost as many articles peddling Twitter. It is easy to find articles that warn church leaders that if they aren’t using Twitter, they are failing in ministry. With Twitter the goal is to get as many people as possible to follow you, and then send out “tweets” every hour linking to blogs and content using short URL’s. Of course you need to learn how to add hashtags so people can find your content. There are great services marketing to churches stating that they can get thousands of people to follow you on Twitter. What exactly does that do for you? Not much. Check out the article in this issue titled, “Why Twitter Doesn’t Work”. Christian Computing® Magazine

Most of those frantically seeking to push the church into social media imply that this is THE way to reach people and get your message and your “branding” out there (wherever “there” is). The fact is, they are wrong! Simple and straight, social media is social. It is NOT mass media. And it isn’t designed to be a good base for marketing anything. Again, social media is about relationships. No one can keep decent relationships with 5,000 people. What church leaders NEED to know is WHY social media is such a success. If you understand why it is a success, you can then incorporate those reasons into your ministry. Check out the article, “How to Use Social Special Issue - April 2014

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Christian Computing速 Magazine

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Media to Really Increase Your Ministry” in this issue. But, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter as if it is mass media is a great mistake and a major waste of time and money. I have seen some articles pushing for churches to add a “social media” minister to their staff. I like the title of communications minister, because Christians and churches have a lot to communicate, but to center our communication and message on the platform of social media is a big mistake. Others are bragging that if you hire them or attend their seminars or read their books, you will learn how to greatly increase your social media contacts and presence. The problem is that the more contacts you add to your social media accounts, the greater the failure rate of anything being communicated. When you raise the number of friends or likes you have on Facebook, or the number of people following you on Twitter, you haven’t created mass media, you have created what I call false media. If you have 10,000 people following you on Twitter, the number of people actually getting your Tweets could be as low as ten! And, if you have 5,000 people who “like” your site on Facebook and you think you are reaching them with your latest post, you are very, very wrong. Check out the article “Why Facebook Doesn’t Work” for more information. Christian Computing® Magazine

There should be a place for social media in your ministry plan. And, fortunately, the smaller your church, the better chance it will help you stay connected with your membership, but social media is social. When I first started Facebook, I set up my page and for almost a year I accepted anyone that sent a “friend” request. After about a year, I had around 900 friends. Now, of course, I really didn’t know most of these people. They were simply people that decided to “friend” me because I am the Editor of Christian Computing Magazine. Because there were so many strangers, I never used it to share personal information such as pictures of my grandkids, dogs, location, or anything that I might have wanted to share with my real friends and family. I mistakenly thought there was value in having so many people “friend” me even though I hardly ever used the site. Whenever I went to check my Facebook page, there were miles and miles of status posts from people I didn’t know! Only rarely did I actually stumble across some post from a real friend or family member. Finally last year I removed over 800 people from my personal Facebook page, keeping about 75 friends and family. Facebook became FUN for me as I could log in several times a day and see the posts from people I really knew and cared about. I realize that some would suggest that I did this the wrong way. I should have had my own personal Facebook page, and then set one up for Christian Computing Magazine. However, I didn’t see the value, and still don’t, for trying to build up the number of people that “like” our magazine site. Again, if you read the article on “Why Facebook Doesn’t Work” you will better understand my position. There are many opinions about the future of Facebook and social media. I believe the more intrusive businesses (including churches) to use Facebook, Twitter and other social medial sources, the more likely it will die a sad death. In conclusion, check out this study by Princeton University that states Facebook and other social media sites will decline greatly in just a few years. I hope churches do not spend too much time and money misusing social media and can actually understand WHY social media is so popular. When they discover this, they should spend their time and money finding ways to incorporate the personal communication age into their worship and meeting times! Facebook and Twitter to lose 80% of its users by 2017. http://www.ibtimes.com/facebook-dying-cureddisease-princeton-study-says-social-network-will-lose80-percent-users-2017

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facebook

Why Facebook Doesn’t Work By Steve Hewitt

I

like Facebook. Once I dumped all of the people who I didn’t really know that had asked for a friend request (over 800) and I really began to share my opinions, status, entertaining videos (never a cat video so far), and I could keep up with my kids, grandkids, family and old friends, I really began to like Facebook. This is why Facebook was designed, to allow a small group of people to connect and communicate with each other. Facebook is about relationships!

However, some people think Facebook is about marketing. They think it is how to get your message out to other people, people you really don’t even know. They think Facebook gives you a great opportunity to increase your “branding”. I know because I have read countless blogs distributed through the Christian/church community about how social media is vital to the church’s future. I believe those that promote this agenda really do not understand how Facebook works. First, do you realize that Facebook is not a true message delivery service? When you send out an email, it goes to a person and is unread until it is either read, or deleted by the person you sent it to. It is distribution of your message or content to a contact. Facebook never makes such a claim. Your post, Christian Computing® Magazine

your status will go from your page to “some” of your friends Facebook pages. This, however, doesn’t mean that it will be seen or read by them. Studies now show that if your friend doesn’t log onto Facebook within 2.5 hours of your post, they will never see it. In fact, the more “friends” a person has, or the more sites they have “liked” the less likely it is that they will ever see your post. It will simply move down the page as new content becomes posted to the site and will soon be lost. The person will never actually even know you cared to contact them. So, the more active a Facebook user is in adding friends and liking pages, the less likely they will ever see anything you post! The more you connect with others on Facebook, the greater the failure rate that you will see important information from them. Special Issue - April 2014

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doesn’t mean that after your first post or two they didn’t decide to hide your content because they didn’t really “like” it. You see, Facebook allows for people to unfriend and unlike something without the person knowing who abandoned them. But Facebook also allows you to hide such content so that they don’t diminish the number of friends or likes a page has. After all, we have started to place such importance on the thouSecond, if you have a church page and work hard to get people to come and “like” it, understand sands of “friends” we have on Facebook, or the large number of “likes” we have on our church site, that messages you post to your site do not go out that some people simply want to slip out the back to everyone that has “liked” your page. In fact, recent studies show that at best it might only go out door without being noticed. If you have 5,000 likes because you have been promoting to your memberto about 15% of those that have “liked” your page, ship that they should come and “like” your site, some report that number could be as low as just you have no idea how many have hidden this for 6%. This means that out of the 5,000 “likes” only 300-750 will have it pushed to their Facebook page. the future. Some who have church Facebook sites might And, remember, if those people don’t see it within disagree because they have the ability to log in and the first 2.5 hours after you post it, it will never be see how many people their post “reached”. Realize seen by them. The reason for the small percent is Facebook is only telling you the number of people because Facebook uses something called EdgeRank. Facebook either doesn’t appreciate companies they sent your post to, not how many actually saw or churches marketing to people on their service, or it. For your most active Facebook fans, it will scroll off the page before they ever see it, and for oththey are using EdgeRank to encourage you to PAY ers, Facebook will register that you have “reached” them money to have your message distributed to people who actually “hid” your content because everyone that has “liked” your page. But, remember, Facebook is about personal relationships… it is they no longer want to see your posts. Facebook’s reporting on how many people you have “reached” “social media” for friends and families to connect. is false media. Facebook has always had one problem in selling Read the article titled, “Stop helping the spamplacement ads, that being they have an incredibly low click rate. People on Facebook are not reading mers, the scammers and the crooks on Facebook” in this issue to understand some of the many games a magazine, they are not on Facebook to find links people play to increase the number of “likes” on to blogs, or because they like marketing. Third, just because someone “liked” your site, it their page, and you will also understand why. Facebook doesn’t work as a way to promote, market, or grow your message. There are some great ways to use Facebook and other social media services that you will find in “How to Use Social Media to Really Increase Your Ministry” in this special issue!

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Special Issue - April 2014

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twitter

Why Twitter Doesn’t Work As Many Suggest!

By Steve Hewitt

I

have to be honest I have never been a fan of Twitter. However, I understand how it was intended to be used as a social media source. You set up an account and your friends and family would follow you and when you wanted to share something cool, you would tweet it and it would appear in your friends and families Twitter account, or for best practice, it would appear as a text on your cell phone. And then came along Ashton Kutcher in 2009 and his drive to have 1 million people follow him on Twitter. How did he do it? He used traditional mass media such as TV, radio, YouTube, etc. He was in a race with CNN to see who could be the first to get 1 million followers. After this publicity stunt, people began to put emphasis on how many people were following you on Twitter, and people began to see Twitter as a way to “mass communicate” information to people, even millions! In some way, it was supposed to represent success (sort of like how many “friends” you have on Facebook, even if you never met them). I recently heard a FOX report on how many people were following Hillary Clinton compared with Harry Reid, as if the person who had more followers (Harry Reid) was somehow a better person or a greater success. The facts are simple, the more people that you follow on Twitter and the more people that follow you, only represents one thing, the ineptness of your Twitter account! If someone is following you and they are also following 50, 100, 500 or 1,000 other people, the chance of them ever seeing your Tweet is very rare. (I had someone follow my Twitter account Christian Computing® Magazine

last week that was followed by well over 12,000 and was also following over 12,000. That person will NEVER see one of my tweets.) Without actually pushing people to follow me on Twitter, at the first of this year I had around 770 followers. So, does this mean that when I tweet out a cool link to a blog, 770 are seeing the information? No. Once again, this is what I call false media. Just because you have 770 followers, only a small fraction would actually happen to see your Tweet, unless you were the most favorite person and they were actually pushing your Tweets directly to their cell phone and your tweets show up as a text message. I decided I wanted to know how effective my Twitter account really was. About a month ago, I decided to do a test to see how many people actually read and follow the links in my tweets. So, we created a special Website that had a simple form on it asking those that came to it for their name, Twitter address, and email. The top of the page stated that by filling out this form you could win a $100 gift card from Christian Digital Publishers. After the site was up and running, I sent out a Tweet to my followers that simply said, “You Special Issue - April 2014

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could win a $100 gift card from Christian Digital Publishers. Click here for your chance to win” and we put the URL to the special page we created. We sent it out in the early afternoon and then waited. Within a few hours we had TWO people that had responded. That was it! No one else responded later that evening, the next day, etc. We sent both of them a check from Christian Digital Publishers for $100. However I did ask them a follow up question. I asked them how it was that they saw my Tweet and were able to respond. Did they push my Tweets to their phone? Did they use a special program that allowed Tweets from those they followed to pop up on their desktop or tablet? Their answer was, “No”. In both cases they were typical Twitter users. Whenever they had some down time with nothing else to do, they would click on Twitter and see what was happening. It was, as both of them stated, just “dumb luck” that they happened to see my post. I am sure more of the 770 people that are following me on Twitter checked for posts that day, but most likely, with all of the followers and Tweets they receive, my post had moved far enough down the list that it was lost. NOT a very effective way to distribute information. People that WANT the information (and I am sure most of my followers would have wanted to know about the chance to win the gift card) simply can’t access it because of the structure of Twitter and the fact that most have all followed too many people! There are ways to use Twitter, and you will hear about news breaking on Twitter all of the time. This is because anyone can find anything that anyone is talking about on Twitter by searching for specific words, or by using hashtags. This shows one of the powers of twitter, Christian Computing® Magazine

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as a reporting or polling tool. If you see something happening and want to tell the world, you would do so through the major news agencies. So, write out your tweet about the tornado you just saw and then include #Tornado. People, including the professional news, will search Twitter for anyone posting about a tornado. Most corporations have someone on staff to watch Twitter for them. You don’t want your company to be the last one to find out that someone is sending out Tweets about your company’s poor service. Southwest had an incident a few years ago when they refused to provide a second seat for a very large person. That person was famous and began to send out Tweets about his anger at the way Southwest was treating him. It grew into a story and made the national news before Southwest knew there was a problem. Believe me, they now have someone on staff checking Tweets on anything related to their company or flying. Jimmy Fallon is doing a great job in using Twitter. He has created a segment on his show each week called LateNight Hashtags. Every Wednesday he sends out a Twitter with a subject and encourages people to tweet back using a specific hashtag so Jimmy Fallon (and anyone for that matter) can find and read them. For example, he asked people to tell them about an injury they received as a result of doing something dumb. So, you could Tweet something using the hashtag @MyDumbInjury and Jimmy Fallon shared some of his favorites on his show. Twitter can work if you are creative enough and understand how it works. However, for most Christian ministries, what I see is someone sending out a constant flow of Tweets with links to blogs. One pastor of one of our largest churches in America is loved by many of us. However, I finally had to stop following him when I counted several days in which he sent out over 24 Tweets in one day. It took more time to follow this pastor on Twitter than it took to follow Jesus! Another writer that I really like has a blog site. But, for some reason, he thinks there is value in sending out eight to ten tweets a day, each linking to a blog on church growth. Does he really think that pastors have nothing to do but to sit by their Twitter devices and wait to read this many blogs each and every day? There would be little room for any other ministry! The saddest thing about Twitter is that some people believe a large following means something. If you have thousands of people following you Christian Computing® Magazine

on Twitter and you are sending multiple Tweets throughout the day, you might feel you are reaching a large audience, when in fact, it is false media. There are many companies popping up everywhere to help churches use Social Media to change their church. I have checked out many of them. However, if you look at what they accomplish in this area, and then look at the results they are seeing in their pews, the two are not connecting. One site bragged that they helped a church that ran 100 people on an average Sunday. They had 200 social media contacts. When they finished helping the church, the church had 20,000 social media contacts. However, the church still ran 100 on an average Sunday. The problem is, there are many tricks and tools to get people to follow you on Twitter, or to “Like” you on Facebook, but it is false media. The number of “social media” contacts you have does not translate to increased communication or ministry. There are some cool ways that churches CAN use Twitter in their ministry. Check the article in this issue titled “How to Use Social Media to Really Increase your Ministry”.

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facebook spammers and scammers

Stop helping the Spammers, the Scammers and the Crooks on Facebook By Steve Hewitt

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f you look hard enough, you will find people who can promise you thousands of people who will “like” your Facebook page. How can they do it? Well, you have probably helped them more than once. Have you ever wondered where all of those cute, funny, or emotional pictures or posts that go out over Facebook come from? You know what I am talking about. You receive a post with a picture of a US soldier that is missing a limb and you are encouraged to share or “like” if you support our troops. Notice the number of comments or “likes”? Some have over a million “likes”. Who creates the funny little videos that go viral and we are then encouraged to share it or “like” it? There are a variety of answers, but in most every case it involves someone trying to scam, spam or do something else either illegal or immoral. What’s sad is some have figured out how to play the “Christian” card to get to us. It’s hard not to “Like” a picture about Jesus, and it is also hard not to “share” it with others, but those that started the post know their goal. In January CNN reported on this problem related to Facebook. One example they used was a heart breaking photo of a young girl wearing a cheerleader uniform. She has cancer (no hair) but has a brave smile on her face. You are encouraged Christian Computing® Magazine

to “Like” to show support for her recovery and to share it with friends to spread the encouragement. The problem is the photo was taken in 2007, and the family had no idea that the photo was being used in this manner on Facebook. Why would someone do such a thing? What is the benefit? What they are doing is called “like farming”, with the goal of getting millions to like the photo, which is then transferred to the original Facebook page that started distributing the photo. To what end? First of all, once you like such a picture, the “like” is transferred to the business site that started the distribution. That site can then sell the Facebook page, with all of the “likes”, to some other company. That company can then post marketing info which will show up on your Facebook page. Ever wonder how you started receiving ads directly on your page as if it came from a friend? They can start by sending out a post to guilt people into “liking” something, and then next thing you know you are seeing posts to your Facebook site from someone selling shoes! Special Issue - April 2014

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It can get worse. If a page owner has access to Facebook’s developer tools, they can collect data on the people who “like” a page. Personal information such as gender, where you live and how old you are can be used to target specific ads to your page. So, while you expect a post from a Christian music site you “liked” letting you know about a new song, you might wonder why you are receiving a post about products from companies you never liked. There are two more dangers that can come from “liking” such posts. First, the owner can use this as an opportunity to push posts with links that can install malware on your computer. Most malware these days stay silent without doing any danger to your computer. But, they work in the background to steal your ID, tracking your keystrokes whenever you log into a bank account, or try to steal your passwords and account information. Another reason for “like farming” is due to efforts to do spam marketing. For example, you can access the “Facebook” email addresses of those that “like” your page. Facebook made the decision awhile back that IF you emailed something to a person’s “Facebook” email address (one that was assigned to you when you signed up for Facebook), Facebook will also forward that email to the email you registered with when you signed up for Facebook. One of those moving pictures of a returning US soldier that I saw was sent from a political site. If they had the Facebook developer’s kit, they could then send emails out to 1.2 million people, using their Facebook email addresses, assigned by Facebook BUT Facebook would then convert these and send them to your registered email addresses. I know the price of email blasts, Christian Computing® Magazine

and can tell you that from that one picture and the number of “likes” they had received, that had a value of $35,000 for just ONE spam email that they can send out to that list. Some of these promotional posts might seem cool, and the originating site might seem harmless, but let’s be clear, these cute pics have a purpose, to make money for someone else. Tonight as I wrote this article, someone sent a picture with a pencil with the name Jesus on it, erasing the word sin. The message, “Can I get an AMEN!” Of course, if you “like” it, your information goes to a site that claims

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to be faith based. They have a LOT of marketing materials on their site (which is a Facebook page). It was hard to get to the bottom and click on the terms of use, but I finally made it. In their terms of use they state the following. Ownership of Rights of Your Content. You hereby grant Operator and its designees a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicenseable license (the “License”) to sell, license, rent, modify, distribute, copy, reproduce, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, publish, adapt, edit and prepare derivative works of Your Content

in connection with the Site or the conduct of Operator’s business in any formats and through any media channels. Operator may monitor Your Content as it appears on the Site and may edit or delete Your Content at any time and for any or no reason without your permission. I believe this is on their site in reference to those that might leave a “comment” about Christian pictures like the one mentioned above. Few want to promote that by doing this they also obtain a lot of personal information about you and have the ability to now spam your real email address. This disclaimer seems to cover comments, and also gives them complete license to sell your email address to others wanting to market to you?! get your free demo So, when you “like” their www.servantpc.com/ccmag little picture of the pencil named Jesus erasing the word sin, just 800-773-7570 remember they know your gender, your name, your address, your Facebook email address Manage your ministry with (which translates as your main email address) and by combining your “like” with a little data mining which other companies Track donations, Email Statements, can provide (some based upon Manage: Small Groups, Classes, Attendance, your Facebook activity) they can Visitor follow-up, Outreach and MORE! create a pretty accurate portfolio on what you like, what you don’t like, and what you will tolerate. In other words, when someone sends out such a cute, funny or Keep children safe with emotional post, realize by being manipulated into “liking” it, you are making them a lot of money! Easy check-in, secure check-out, Conclusion – Facebook is Syncs with Servant Keeper, a dangerous place. Don’t get Name badges w/ allergies, notes, alerts, class info. caught up in liking “little” picClaim tickets for parents/guardians, run background checks tures, videos, quotes or other content that didn’t come as original material from a friend or family member. Remember, Facebook is a marketing dark alley. Plan worship effortlessly with Be careful and stop helping the spammers, scammers and crooks!

SOFTWARE FOR MINISTRY : u o y e Ar

Tracking Members/Donors?

Servant Keeper®!

ou: y e r A Caring for Children?

SK Check-In®!

you: AreLeading Worship?

Worship Keeper®!

Keeps your song library at your fingertips, Quickly plan and schedule services and teams Easily track song usage and do reports Christian Computing® Magazine

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social media in ministry

How to Use Social Media to Really Increase Your Ministry

By Steve Hewitt

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here are several wonderful ways to use social media to help enhance and enlarge your ministry and evangelism efforts. As well, simply understanding WHY social media works will be a great benefit as you learn how to use these reasons to adapt the way we worship.

First, it seems that most of those pushing social media upon the church seem to do it with the goal of marketing or branding your church. I know that some marketing is important for churches. However, I know that real growth, growth through conversions, doesn’t happen as a result of marketing. Marketing is basically a great tool if you are growing a larger or mega church and you want to attract other Christians who are looking for a new church home. By far, this accounts for most of the “church growth” in America, which is not really growth, but Christian Computing® Magazine

Christians moving from one church home to another. In a recent blog and Podcast Thom Rainer states that only 1 in 20 churches in America are actually growing as a result of conversions.1 Each year, the actual percent of people attending a church in America drops by 2 percent and up to 80% of our churches are either plateaued or are in decline. Marketing by the other 20%, trying to pull Christians to the exciting, well financed fast growing church is good business, but it isn’t how we are told to grow. Nor will it Special Issue - April 2014

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reach our nation with the message of Christ. The fact is, we are to equip the saints (Eph 4:11-12) to do the work of sharing the message of Christ. We know from multiple statistics that the number one reason a nonbeliever comes to church is because they have been invited by a friend. (Marketing your church isn’t drawing non-believers through your doors.) And, the best use of social media such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc., is for friends and family to connect. Therefore, the BEST use of social

media by the church is for the church to encourage and equip their members to use their own personal social media sources to reach their friends and family with information about God, the church and what their faith means to them! How? There are many, many ways. I know of one church that taught (equipped) their members in special classes on how to share their testimony about finding and accepting Christ in a couple of minutes. After the class was over, those attending were given the opportunity to have a staff person video tape their testimony so they could put it up on YouTube. Of course, once it is up on YouTube, they could send it out via Twitter, post it to … reach out their Facebook or Google+ account, etc. … minister to people Even if you want to … create fellowship “market” a new ministry opportunity that your church is … contribute to launching, encouraging your your community members to share it on their social media source will be PowerChurch Plus was a much smarter marketing created for just that! plan that getting people to “like” the church page (see my article on “Why Facebook Doesn’t Work” in this Membership We provide you with the tools to issue. You just need to proincrease administrative efficiency vide the information with a and streamline accounting tasks, Accounting link (create a video on Youfreeing you up to perform the work Tube, post a blog, add a page to your Website, etc.) and that matters. Contributions then send the link (via email, in your church bulletin, etc.) Install on your PC or network, or access online. and ask your members to Events Choose which fits your needs. use one of the many social Calendar media sources. This is much better than having the church Check In staff try to use social media to promote a specific ministry. First, people are much Completely more apt to pay attention to We provide software tools, Integrated something if it comes from a freeing you up to fulfill your mission. friend than if it comes from a church. Second, there are www.PowerChurch.com • 800.486.1800 a growing number of social

You want the freedom to

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media sources. It is almost impossible for Social media is a success because it is a church to maintain a great Website, Facebuilt on the premise that people don’t want book site, Google+ site, Twitter postings, just content from sources of authority. They Pinterest, etc. By creating the source of the actually value information from people, information and pushing it to your congrega- friends and family, because there is the astion in media methods that work better than sumption that it is free of spin (marketing, or social media, you depend on them to push it using socialization tools to manipulate you out to their friends and family in the social to think or act a specific way without actumedia methods that they are using! ally telling you to do so). So, they like the This doesn’t mean that you can’t use man in the street interviews on news sources Facebook, Twitter and other social media as much, or in some cases more, than they sources. I believe every church should have do from newscasters. Especially if they think a Facebook account. People are searching the news source is considered to be bias in Facebook for information as much as they some way. are searching for Websites. So, in addition People want to be included in the comto your church having a website, they should munication. They want the opportunity to have a site on Facebook for those seeking ask questions, make a comment, even disinformation about the church, times of your agree if they wish. This is why blogs, Youservices, directions, what to expect as a first Tube, Facebook, Google+, etc., etc., allow time visitor, etc. people to leave comments, ask questions And, while trying to get thousands of and voice a disagreement after the content people to follow you on Twitter, posting is presented. People WANT to be a part of content and assuming they will see it (bethe conversation, not just the recipient. So, cause only a small fraction really will), you by using Twitter, this church in Florida is can use Twitter sort of like you used to use providing a sort of social media, by allowing email, only for many, Twitter is cooler. Because of hashtags (#), you can ask people to Make the move… tweet using a hashtag, and it from Church Management Software… is easy to quickly find their tweet, or all of the tweets, that to Church Ministry Software used that hashtag. How can you take advantage of this? Built by the Church, for the Church Recently while doing a live radio show on Moody (the ▪ Open Source (the code is free) Chris Fabry show), a caller ▪ Web-based reported that his church, First ▪ Church Sponsored “BTW, each day I am more Baptist of Orlando, encourthankful that we are using ▪ Ministry Focused ages those attending worship BVCMS. The rate you are to use Twitter to send tweets adding features and improving to their pastor with questions the database blows my mind and (normally about that mornI really appreciate all you do.” ing’s sermon). The pastor then - Jared Coe takes about 10-15 minutes at the end of the service to read some of the questions and answer them. This is important because it not only uses social World Class Hosting and Support ▪ 220+ Churches ▪ Active Development media (Twitter), but it builds upon the very reason social www.bvcms.com for more information and pricing media is so successful. Christian Computing® Magazine

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people to ask questions during the worship service. Other churches that I know are bravely posting videos or podcasts of their Sunday sermons almost immediately after the worship service is over. This allows their members to go home or use their mobile devices to go to the church’s Facebook page and leave a comment or ask a question. The sooner a church allows this after the worship service the better. And, as a side benefit, IF the member is really touched by the service, they have the ability to “share” and their friends or family members can listen or watch the service. This is SO much better than the church pushing out a video or podcast to a small percent of those that “liked” their page. If it comes from a friend who shared it, people will be much more likely to listen or watch. Understand WHY social media works, and use your imagination. Remember, people want the perception that they can be involved in the conversation. And, remember, content that comes from a friend is much more likely to be read or viewed than content that is pushed out as marketing by a church. Footnotes http://thomrainer. 1.) com/2014/03/28/becomingevangelistic-churches-rainerleadership-048/

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Leadership

Christian Leadership Must Trust Their Congregations to Take the Gospel to Their Communities! Steve Hewitt - steve@CDPublishers.com

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e have passed the Information Age, and are now in a time that history will record as a myriad of different ages. One of those, in my opinion, is the Personal Communication Age. We no longer want to sit and be spoken to as a group, but we demand to be included in the conversation. This is why comments are so important after a blog, a video on YouTube, a posting on Facebook, etc. However, now that the very fabric of communication has changed, how can we keep up?

In January of 1989 I started Christian Computing Magazine. At that time computers were devices to store and retrieve information, but they were not communication devices. Much has changed since 1989. Back then the graphic below will show the choices we had in distributing or obtaining information, or communicating an idea. Christian Computing速 Magazine

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As you will see, most of these methods of communication were “mass” and the few personal communication opportunities were one-to-one, such as a phone call or writing a letter. However, now, in 2014, the ways of connecting and communicating with others is enormous! And, because there is no real standard, the opportunity for individuals or organizations to communicate through a spe-

cific method or channel is guaranteed to miss many people who are using other sources for connection and communication. The graphic depicting communication tools and information sources available in 2014 are far from complete. There are hundreds of different sites and services similar to Facebook. Most of those listed on the chart are personal communication sources, allowing individuals to talk to a list, a circle, a group of other individuals but most are NOT mass communication. They are designed to allow you to communicate with a small group or to specific individuals because that is the way people wish to communicate today. So what does this say to today’s church? Christian Computing® Magazine

It says that the way we have done things in the past might not work today. In the past we created educated leaders who are experts in theology and the Bible and we elevated them in a room with all of the chairs facing forward. Our leader then spoke words of wisdom to those that had gathered to listen. We didn’t provide an opportunity to comment, question or disagree. When we finished with our lectures, we asked people to stand quietly and leave. This is NOT how people wish to communicate or receive information today. This is why most of our churches are empty, and many of those that are full have filled their pews with members who have come from other dying churches. We are failing in our efforts to reach our communities and our nation with the Gospel. Social media is indeed a great way to expand our ministry and message, but it must be done by our body of believers, and not our educated leaders, because social media doesn’t work that way. We need to equip our membership to share their faith in any or all of the personal communication tools we have today. We need to open up our communication and message through our congregations not just “at” our congregations. Be innovative. Concentrate on what social media has taught us about how communication works today. Don’t just think outside the box, GET outside the box and trust our brothers and sisters to take the message to our communities and our nation. Teach them to disciple others, not just follow the leadership of a few.

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Christian Computing Magazine - Special Issue April 2014