Page 1 | December 2015




Steve Hewitt






Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Kevin A. Purcell Russ McGuire

A Comprehensive New Churchgoer Survey


By Steve Hewitt


Rachael Mitchell

5550 Tech Center Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80919 Phone: (800)-991-6011







Do young people understand how the Internet works?

Technology, Christmas gifts, and keeping kids safe

Best tablet and smartphone for Bible study


6 Communication strategies for Christmas

Serpents & doves



How do you know you are really making disciples that last?


The difference between an opinion and knowledge

10 PROTECTED WITH PURPOSE Keeping your battery charged

Ministry Tech® is a registered trademark of Outreach, Inc. Written materials submitted to Ministry Tech® Magazine become the property of Outreach, Inc. upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. Ministry Tech® Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of Outreach, Inc. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Ministry Tech® Magazine, or Outreach, Inc. © Copyright 2015 Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved | December 2015


EDITOR Do young people really understand how the Internet works? Financial Times released a study that revealed that young people may know less than we think about how the Internet works. Granted, the Internet was created as a way of accessing information. However, things have changed, and it seems that most information posted online is designed to generate revenue. This revenue is not even about selling a product for a price, but in many cases it is about gathering any information about you that can be obtained, and then selling this to someone to help them to market even more things. They no longer want to know your name and address, but rather where you go every day, what you look at, what you eat, what you think, etc. Most young people today don’t realize the deceptive nature of things on the Internet. The study released shows that only 1/3 of those between the ages of 12-25 could show you which of the results from a Google search were adverts and not really legitimate results of their search. One in five stated that all information returned by search engines must be true. You would think that this should be true, but, again, the Internet is no longer about providing, retrieving and finding information, it is about money, sales, spying and marketing. Almost half of young people surveyed in the study did not know that YouTube was now advertisement based, yet most young people said that YouTube is their number one source for information. Overall, young people between the ages of 12-15 now spend almost 3 hours a day online, which is more time than they spend watching TV. There is a lot of government oversight to patrol how television is allowed to market to our young people, but laws and regulations are very behind when it comes to the Internet. And, of course, most young people are not aware of how recurring billing works. To read the article on Financial Times, I had to pay $1, plus I had to give out a lot of personal information as well as a credit card. The fine print states that if I don’t log back in after I finish writing this editorial, after three days Financial Times will charge my account for a full subscription. Few things are sold on the Internet without a lot of fine print. I hope our young people figure all of this out soon! Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt


4 | December 2015

THE e-GIVING GAP A Comprehensive New Churchgoer Sur vey



By Steve Hewitt

ecember is the most giving time of the year for churches, so we were interested in learning about comprehensive new churchgoer research conducted by Vanco Payment Solutions — a leader in the electronic giving market since 1998. The research shows a significant giving gap between churches and their members who would prefer to support the church through online, smartphone and other electronic payment options. We sat down with CEO Kevin Lee to discuss the early findings and key takeaways of the survey.

How and when was this survey conducted? We surveyed 1,002 U.S. Christian churchgoers online over two weeks in August, focusing on their attitudes, preferences and behaviors toward giving. Participants were picked from a national panel of adults over 18 years old. To make the pool representative of the overall U.S. population, it was controlled for age, gender, household income and religious denomination. Qualifying participants said they had attended church at least once, and had contributed money to their church at least once, in the past 12 months. Why undertake a survey this large? We saw a need for authoritative and comprehensive research on how churchgoers view electronic giving methods. We could see in our own data, as well as data from our partners, that e-Giving was growing, but we wanted to understand the drivers behind that growth. Churches need to know how their members feel about giving so they can offer the methods that will best support their mission. We’re always working to provide churches with the most updated strategies, tools and data so they can make informed decisions about their stewardship. | December 2015

We released an Early Findings Report to the marketplace in early November. We wanted to let churches know in time for their biggest giving season that they could better connect with members by providing them the giving methods they want. What was your key takeaway? Many churches are not keeping up with how their members want to fulfill pledges or make payments for other activities, events and school tuition. The survey revealed a significant giving gap between how members want to give and the methods their churches offer. Overall, two to four times as many churchgoers would give electronically if they could. Only 25 percent of churchgoers in the survey reported that their churches offered electronic giving options, but 60 percent either are using e-Giving now or would use it if it were offered. The rest preferred traditional giving methods, which include giving in person by cash or check, or mailing in a check to their church. And while some church members may always want to give through traditional means, more and more churchgoers no longer carry cash or checkbooks and are asking for other avenues to give. Churches have been passing the plate during services since the 1800s, but the plate or basket is becoming a symbol of giving instead of the way members prefer to give. Our research indicates that many churchgoers are eagerly waiting for their churches to catch up technologically and add more electronic options so they can donate to their

churches the same way they pay for bills and services or donate to other organizations. What does the survey say about specific giving methods? The churchgoers surveyed were asked to rank the top three ways they would most like to give, regardless of the options their church offers today. They were also asked, “What options does your church have for you to make monetary contributions?” The survey responses are from churchgoers, not churches, so these findings represent the percentage of churchgoers who say their church provides each option. Seventeen percent of churchgoers said they have the option to make a recurring donation through a credit card, but twice as many (34 percent) said they would give with a credit card if they could. While only 7 percent listed text giving as an option provided by their church, 29 percent listed it as a preferred giving method, so demand is high. Churchgoers listed kiosk giving as the option least offered by their churches (6 percent), but 22 percent in the survey listed it as a preferred option. Almost twice as many (or 22 percent) would prefer to give by smartphone — by text, mobile app or mobile web browser — but only 12 percent say they have the option.


“Overall, two to four times as many churchgoers would give electronically if they could.”

This counters the perception many churches have that e-Giving is not important to core members, but a tool to help occasional or absent members give more conveniently. Active members who attend two or more activities per week, including church services, prefer e-Giving the most. The survey found that overall 60 percent of respondents give electronically, or would if they had the option, but that percentage is higher for members who participate in leadership or committee roles (70 percent), or have children involved in activities like Sunday school (67 percent), after-school activities (76 percent) and in youth sports (80 percent). Helping inactive members keep What would churches find most up with their pledges is a valusurprising in the survey results? able benefit of electronic giving for The highest demand for e-Giv- churches and their members, but ing options comes from people the survey shows it may not be the who participate in at least two or most important reason. Churches more church groups or activities. can also connect with their most

6 | December 2015

engaged members through faster, additional insights about church- time for Christmas giving. Acmore convenient ways to give. goers’ preferences, attitudes and tive members, whether they’re in perceptions about church giving. attendance or away for the holiWhat does the survey say about Findings will include the most days, can fulfill their year-end seniors and electronic giving? prevalent motivations for church giving plans simply and securely Millennials and younger mem- giving, current attitudes toward through e-Giving. And, occasionbers are leading the way, but they’re e-Giving, as well as communica- al members or holiday visitors can not the only ones driving demand. tion and technology preferences. have a convenient way to express The survey results show a clear We’ll share meaningful correla- their generosity through elecpreference for e-Giving options tions between age, church en- tronic options. We make getting among regular churchgoers of all gagement, income levels, giving started with e-Giving easy for ages. Younger churchgoers who preferences and behaviors. churches, and provide coaching have grown up with the Internet as and success strategies. Churches a normal part of their lives are more What’s the advantage of start- who move now to solve the giving likely to want to give electronically, ing an e-Giving program now? gap can help regular members but the difference between that age This is the most important and holiday churchgoers fulfill group and others isn’t as large as giving season for churches. There their intentions to give. you might think. is still time to get in alignment Preference for e-Giving was with member preferences in highest for the youngest respondents with only a 4 percent difference between the 24-34 (79 percent) and 35-44 (75 percent) age groups. But those aren’t the only ages to significantly favor e-Giving — 50 percent of churchgoers aged 45-54 and 55-65 expressed a preference for e-Giving, and almost 40 percent of seniors aged 66-72 said This is the most important giving season, they would prefer to give electronand there’s still time for churches to offer ically. members the electronic options they We’ve seen anecdotal evidence prefer for Christmas giving. that seniors will embrace e-Giving when given the opportunity, and that they’re more tech-savvy than they’re often given credit for, but these results put to rest misconceptions that seniors as a group are too conservative or traditional to give electronically.

Get started with e-Giving

for Christmas

What information will be added to the full report and when will it be available? We intend to release the full report in January 2016. It will have

Contact our experienced team to learn more | 800-675-7430 | December 2015



How do you know you are really making disciples that last?


eal discipleship is hard. You need every idea, tool and all the help you can get. You need a really practical strategy that gives next steps, fills the gaps people normally fall through, a solid teaching process and measurable accountability.

What can really help is a single platform tool for your whole church to use. A tool both your staff and congregation will want to use because it is easy, intuitive and totally mobile. It must be a tool that can inform, connect and even multiply your ministry in ways that save you time without becomeing burdensome to an already overworked church staff. You need a real ministry helper. You need Realm Pathways. Pathways is a compelling, leading-edge feature of Realm from ACS Technologies. Realm Pathways provides the framework that moves people through the processes that make both them and your church stronger. Pathways are customizable and provide the communication platform that churches need to help people fit into the organization. Making disciples is what it’s all about. And Realm’s Pathways help people close the gaps between what they’ve planned to happen and what actually happens in their journey of giving, volunteering and growing.

In fact, they are so useful, we’ve identified five particular ways that Realm Pathways can help your ministry. 1. Strategy. Creating a Pathway forces churches to think strategically and put their plans on paper. Scripture says that without a vision people perish. Pathways holds the answers you’ve found from the problems your church faces. How do people become members? How do they get involved in small groups? What happens with visitors? How can people start serving in the youth ministry? How does someone come to lead a small group? 2. Providing Direction. Realm provides leaders with reminders and updates every time they log in. It’s like a living to-do list of kingdom ministry. They can see who people are and where they are in the organization. They see where they are in the Pathways and what steps they, as leaders, need to take to help others move along. 3. Filling the Gaps. Pathways set up in Realm help

8 | December 2015

MINISTRY leadership find and fill the gaps people fall through. If people continually get caught in one place of your process, you can fix this area or review the whole process. Maybe people are bottlenecking in the “training” step of your pathway. This may result from a failure of the leader providing the training, the time the training is offered or the communication of the training. 4. Teaching Processes. You will hire new staff members and appoint new leaders. They will need to be trained to do ministry the way you do. The Pathways you’ve set up in Realm are easy to communicate and easy to understand. Leaders will know the ways things get done because they are in Realm for them to see. New leaders will implement things faster and ministry will be more stable because your pathways communicate your processes. 5. Accountability. Pathways hold people accountable for completing a process and they hold staff and leadership accountable for walking people through the process. Realm allows churches to assign each part of the process to a specific leader. For instance, a potential children’s worker may need to walk through the following pathway. Application—>Interview—> Background Check—> Background Check Review—> Assistantship—> Training—> Teacher—> Coordinator. | December 2015

MINISTRY At every step of the way, Realm is there for you with guidance through Pathways. It’s powerful, informative, easy to use and comfortably helpful. There is so much to making disciples that last. Pathways is one way to help you just a little more in doing it right. Realm’s benefits go way beyond pathways. Realm is a true whole-church solution that is optimized for the convenience of all users, both staff and congregation. For giving, groups, contributions, dashboard reports, engagement, and much more, it gives you secure access to your data, is easy to use, and makes your info usable from any device. This includes Macs, PCs, mobile phones, or tablets. Totally cloud. Totally secure. Totally there for you 24/7. Learn more about how Realm can help you do real ministry in new and meaningful ways by requesting a personal demo at


10 | December 2015

Protected With


By Steven Sundermeier

Keeping Your Battery Charged


think we all get to the point, at times, where daily life can feel a bit repetitive as we go about our normal routines. Given that (and the fact that we experienced our first snow during last weekend’s soccer games), when an opportunity arose for Thirtyseven4 to sponsor a major church/technology event in Southern California, I immediately saw the personal…eerrr professional benefits! I knew it was a fit for our business, and my soul needed a little Cali sunshine. I was all in. I’ve taken numerous business trips to the San Francisco area over the years; however, this would be our first business travel to the Los Angeles region. And because this was new territory and a family friendly conference, we made the decision to travel together as a family. I will say that the conference provided me (and my family) an opportunity to temporarily get away from the norm, and it re-energized my passion and appreciation for my job and the talents God has given me to share with the world. Now, that being said, the re-charging of the soul was slightly delayed. I am a person who likes direct flights, but sometimes given the Departing and Arriving airports, it simply isn’t possible. This was one such case…we had a connection in Denver with a small layover. Our flight took off on time (5:00 AM EST), however, when our plane was 70 miles out from reaching our Denver destination, the flight attendant alerted us to the fact that there was dense fog at the Denver airport and that our plane would be doing

“donuts” in the sky until the fog lifted. Two hours later (Yes, two hours later!), the flight attendant made a new announcement that our plane only had about 20 more minutes of fuel (Yikes!), so the fog either need to lift within the next five minutes or we were going to be re-directed to the Colorado Springs airport to re-fuel. (Is anyone else hyper-ventilating?) Praise the Lord we eventually landed in Denver. Every passenger’s connections on the entire plane had been missed, and we were told that the quickest route to Orange County was for our family of five to board a new plane (headed to San Jose: Northern California), hangout for a 3 hour layover and then hop on an express jet to head to our final destination. To say it was a long day of travel is an understatement (arrived after 7PM PST), but the important thing is that we got there safe. As I mentioned, my wife and three children (age 8 and under) accompanied me on this trip. My wife is amazing at preparing “things to do” to keep the kids busy and happy on flights (i.e. School work, travel | December 2015 Protected With


surprises—have you seen those “blink watches”?, tiny crafts and of course markers and crayons.) And though we try our best to keep it at minimum, plane activities for the kids (especially in desperate situations) can include mobile devices, and as you know it may seem impossible at times to keep those gadgets juiced. With minutes turning into hours, and hours morphing into many more hours, planned activities dry up, and school work is finished. My article this month will focus on getting the most out of your smartphone battery in case a situation like our west-bound flight happens to you. As much as we all hate to admit it, sometimes these devices come into handy. Before we begin, I think it is important to differentiate between two common terms regarding smartphone batteries: Battery Life and Battery Lifespan. Battery Life can be thought of as how long a device can work on a single charge before needing recharged. Battery Lifespan is how long your device battery lasts until it dies or needs to be replaced. Let’s start with some obvious performance suggestions to maximize your devices Battery Life1. Turn down the Brightness of your screen. The brighter the screen, the more drain on your battery. 2. Utilize a Wi-Fi connection rather than your device carrier’s data plan when possible, as accessing data over your cellular network increases the strain on a battery opposed to a Wi-Fi connection. However, please note past articles, where we outlined security risks of keeping

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12 | December 2015 Protected With


a Wi-Fi connection available on public locations. 3. Make sure that high-usage, power draining apps that utilize GPS, etc. are turned off when not in use. There have been times when I use an app like Maps for navigation, arrive at my target designation and forget to turn the app off. 4. Avoid using or storing your device in extreme temperatures. Research has shown that mobile devices work best and at peak performance at temperatures ranging from 32 F to 95 F. I understand that sometimes, especially during harsh Ohio winters or even an October weekend in Orange County (can you believe temperatures topped 104 degrees for two days of our visit to Cali!), that isn’t always possible. But when applicable, having your device in a safe temperature zone will certainly help preserve your battery. 5. Lastly, while it may seem like a hassle and ‘one more thing to do’, installing manufacturer suggested upgrades can help as well, as the upgrade may include energy saving / performance updates integrated within the upgrade. Btw- Many of the manufacturers of mobile devices now

incorporate a ‘Low Power Mode’ or similar feature. This type of feature will automatically do many of the things (i.e. brightness, turning off some app functionality, etc.) listed above for the user to conserve battery life. With the general performance tips covered, let’s move on to maybe some not so obvious methods for maximizing both Battery Life and Battery Lifespan. Let’s first start with the idea of “convenience” over “long term health”. Let me explain what I mean by this regarding our mobile device battery…how many of us after a long hard day (and I am totally guilty of this one!) plug in our phones right before we call it a night so that by the next morning the phone is fully charged and ready to go? Did you know that leaving a mobile device continually plugged in after it has reached a full charge can (and often times will) shorten the overall Battery Lifespan? The complication here is that when the battery reaches a full charge it continually receives small dose electric charges keeping it at 100%. These tiny charges place excess and unnecessary stress on the battery of the device. My son found this out the hard way as it occurred not with a smartphone but with his Wii U GamePad. Excessive charging damages batteries. Keeping with the idea of “convenience” over “long term health”, another sure way to limit your Battery Lifespan goes hand in hand with the plugging in your battery at night- that is- waiting until the end of the day to first begin your battery charging process when the battery charge has dipped below 10%. While it may be inconvenient to continually plug in your phone at short intervals through the day, it will save life on your battery. Many times we wait until the charge has dropped below the 10% mark or even more detrimental the 5% mark. Charging a battery from these extremely low levels up to 100% is very harmful to the battery. Instead don’t wait until the battery is about dead before charging. Charge the battery at intervals throughout the day and disconnect the charge before it hits the 100% fully charged mark. And finally, in addition to everything else mentioned, you could also invest in a couple power banks to have on-hand to keep your devices charged. But in the end, it is also one more thing to remember, to plug-in (…and un-plug!), and to carry about with you. | December 2015 Protected With


In summary, it’s possible that some of our basic tips may be fresh to you (dimming screens, utilizing a local Wi-Fi (responsibly!) instead of connecting to your carriers, and turning off unnecessary apps. And I hope the tip about not overcharging can shed some light (or longer-lasting light!) if you have questions about why you lose a charge so quickly. Phones have become such an essential and personalized accessory that we all have a vested interest in keeping them powered up and useful for as long as possible. I learned many things through our California trip, and it’s uncanny how many parallels I began to make concerning me and cell phone batteries as I made the comparison: • Don’t wait until your battery is almost totally drained to recharge! • When you are fully charged— get back out into the world and do your job. Don’t just keep sucking energy. • Embrace technology. Get the “latest updates” on the world and for your device. It will make you a more informed person and positive changes are always being made. And my last tip: Take direct flights. Okay, so this isn’t a direct correlation, but this one relates to mobile devices because if you are delayed (our trip out to California lasted 17 hours of travel), your battery will die, your kids will cry, your wife will sigh.


14 | December 2015

Deeper Impact By Steve Caton



all is one of my favorite times of the year. In Colorado the air is crisp, perfect for mountain hikes, the aspens are ablaze, and I can again watch my beloved Georgia Bulldogs play football. While I am enjoying the turning of the season, this fall has been tough for the Bulldogs. That isn’t my opinion; it is a measurable fact. After taking a public beating by Alabama, we lost to unranked Tennessee and to top it off, Chubb, our star running back, blew out his knee and is done for the year. They can still turn the season around, but there is no question that this is not a good start. For better or worse, sports is full of data. The data speaks for itself. Tackles for a loss, average yards per play, turnover ratio, your number of wins. These are facts that are not contested, and if someone asks you how your team is doing, you have access to the knowledge to answer definitively. Not all areas of our lives benefit from these objective and measurable metrics. Lacking that information doesn’t stop us from using our opinions as facts though. Here’s an observation I’ve made watching hundreds of churches over the years: Usually when you ask a church leader how their ministry is going, you get opinion, but that may not be based in knowledge. Few churches effectively measure and monitor their church’s performance. But as the old adage says, knowledge is power, and in ministry, that’s the power to grow in influence and change lives.

question ‘how’s the church doing’. As a leader, you need to develop a data-friendly culture that measures output as well as impact and then uses that data to refine ministry areas, increasing your effectiveness. 1. Define your goals and metrics. The work we do in ministry has eternal significance — it deserves the best we can bring. The problem is that our best can be hard to quantify. The only way to clear up the murkiness in our answers to how our ministries are going is by defining clear objectives and ways to measure our progress toward them. Define the ‘wins’ you’re looking for in your ministry, and track the metrics that can tell you if you’re getting them. You may not pick the right metrics the first time, but refine them as you go. Take advantage of technology like your church management software to manage the important data all in one place.

How do you know where you are and where 2. Set clear expectations. Wherever you want you’re going? your ministry to go, you can’t get it there alone. There are a few things that you have to do as a Your staff and volunteer leaders have their church leader if you want to objectively answer the | December 2015


Deeper Impact own areas of responsibility, and they need to be on the same page. Set expectations for performance, both on the individual level through job descriptions and on the ministry team level through your mission statement and business plan. Make sure all documentation is clear and success is measurable. People do their best work when they know what is expected of them and know how to gauge their progress! 3. Keep seeking improvement. Now that everyone has clear goals, it’s time to monitor how well you’re reaching

them. It’s not wrong to listen to your intuition, but it needs to be balanced with hard numbers too. When you have data, you can dig into it to figure out what it’s telling you about the current state of your ministry and the trajectory you’re on. Be ready to change strategies and try new things when the metrics tell you the old ways aren’t working as well as you want. Remember, neither your existing processes nor the data points you collect are sacred — if a process isn’t working, or data isn’t telling you anything useful, change it up and try again!

By implementing these three steps, you can begin to clear up the murkiness around what a ‘win’ is to you and how you’re going to get to them. The work you do matters. All the effort you put in to change, measure, and improve processes is aimed at making a more lasting and farreaching kingdom impact. I think that is why college football is played on Saturdays. After a loss to the Vols, I have a day to rage and mourn and then the next morning, sitting in church, I get my priorities adjusted back to what is really important. I just still don’t want to talk about the ‘Bama game.

16 | December 2015


By Jonathan Smith


Technology, Christmas Gifts, and Keeping Kids Safe

hristmas is a great time of year for ministries as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It can also be a challenging time for parents as kids’ Christmas lists are full of the latest high tech gadgets and whatchamacallits so they can visit websites you’ve never heard of. Here are some tips for parents to help keep children safe on Christmas Day and every day.

I am very pro technology, but like most things in life you have to earn the privilege to use it and then continue to use it responsibly. For example, when you learn to drive you don’t get behind the wheel of a race car at Indianapolis right away. That isn’t saying that race cars in Indy are bad, but that you have to earn it and work hard to use it properly. In the real world we have curfews, so why not in the virtual world? Parents should set boundaries on their kids use of technology and devices. I don’t agree with the notion that as parents we should let our kids fail first and then pick them up and help them along and allow them to continue making bad decisions so that they can “learn”. That is how many kids end up viewing porn or participating in online activities that are not appropriate – oftentimes long before

mom and dad are aware. And by the time mom and dad become aware it is too late. (Prov. 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4) It is also important to encourage Godly relationships. Positive peer influence is critical as over 80% of kids ages 7-10 years old view pornography online at the encouragement of a friend. Do your kid’s friends model a Godly example and help them live a life that strives to become more like Christ? Those peer influences in the physical world also impact actions in the virtual world. Proverbs has a few things to say about this. Proverbs 27:17 talks about iron sharpening iron. Remember that this iron sharpening can happen virtually as well. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” What | December 2015


FEATURED did it say? Too many friends can be a bad thing? That seems to fly in the face of the goal of having as many online friends and connections as possible. As a parent I expect obedience. The Bible is pretty clear about the whole children obeying your parents thing (Eph. 6:1), but often the rules seem looser when it comes to online obedience or obeying mom and dad when they don’t understand the technology. Internet use, cell phone use, tablet use, video console use, etc. is not a right, it’s a privilege that is earned through responsibility. It is not an inalienable right. After all, who is paying for it? Removing the technology should always be an option that is on the table when it comes to expecting obedience. Granted, some technology is required for school, but there must still be a way for young people to accomplish their education and then not use their devices for anything else. If there is a sin issue in their life as a result of the technology then it must be removed, whether that sin is something obvious like pornography or something less obvious like gossip. The story is told of a traveling salesman back in the good old days before the internet and cell phones who struggled with pornography on hotel room TVs. Recognizing this challenge in his life he decided that he would not stay at hotels unless they would physically remove the TV from his room, and if the hotel would not remove the TV from his room then he would stay at a different

hotel. What lengths are you willing to go to in order to help your kids stay pure? It might not be easy but I believe that if we are going to stand before God and give an account for how we raise

our children then how easy or convenient it is shouldn’t matter. (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:23-24) Finally, we should provide accountability and set a good example. How are mom and dad using the latest technology and

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FEATURED gadgets? Who helps hold mom and dad accountable? What’s better, for mom and dad to learn about the latest technology, gadgets, and social media and teach their children, or for the kids to learn about it from someone else?

A recent study of 13 year olds by CNN found that parental involvement and accountability “effectively erased the negative effects” of their kid’s online interactions, whether through social media, games, chats, etc. When a secular study says that, it

seems like we as Christian parents should take notice and provide accountability. Here are some accountability suggestions: 1. Spend time with your children online and learn from them. Ask them to show you what they like to do online and their favorite sites. Ask them to teach you how to use the latest gadgets. 2. Check up on their logs and history, across all devices. 3. Use other software for filtering and internet tracking. The goal is not to remove independence but provide accountability to help the children grow and mature spiritually. 4. Find out about other points of access. Where else can your kids get online and use other devices? School? A friend’s house? I believe we are all accountable for our actions. I think we tend to forget what “ALL” means and who it applies to. We are accountable for our actions both in the real world and in the online world. We are accountable for our children, and our kids are accountable for themselves before God. God is still God, even in the virtual world filled with high tech gadgets and toys. If you’d like to learn more about keeping kids safe and technology, visit parenttech. | December 2015

Higher Power With Kevin

Best Tablet and Smartphone for Bible Study By Kevin Purcell


he majority of Digital Bible Study happens on a computer, but increasingly users want to study their Bibles on the go with a smartphone or tablet. The desktop or laptop still offers the best indepth Bible study experience. Be sure to go back to our October 2015 (http:// issue to read my recommendations for the best computer for Bible study. Today I’d update that to include the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book ( iOS or Android for Bible Study Let’s start our discussion by thinking about which mobile operating system users should choose. Don’t bother with Windows phones or low-end Windows tablets. There’s only one decent Windows Store Bible app, from Laridian ( The platform’s terrible for Bible study. Pick from either Android or iOS.

For a few years iOS Bible apps were far ahead of Android. The best Bible study apps worked great on iOS but their Android versions had some of the best features missing. For the most part, that’s not the case any longer. Let’s look at the major Bible study software companies and see what they offer. We’re not talking about simple Bible reader apps, like the YouVersion Bible app ( Those apps work great for reading the Bible, even searching the Bible and keeping up with a devotional reading calendar, but they don’t offer enough tools to help students understand the text in a deeper way. To pick a good mobile Bible study app, first look at the app from the company that makes your desktop Bible study program. If you’re a Logos user, then you want to install the Logos app. If you’re a WORDsearch user, then you’ll want their mobile app.


20 | December 2015

Higher Power • Olive Tree – iOS and Android apps with great features on both and a recently updated set of apps. Olive Tree is a mobile first platform that also does versions for Windows and Mac. • Bibleworks – no mobile apps. • Accordance – only an iOS app that’s mostly a book reader, but now offers some advanced study features and getting better all the time. • PC Study Bible – no mobile apps. • Laridian – decent apps for both iOS and Android and the only good Windows mobile app for Bible study. They are also a mobile first company, that offers programs for Mac and Windows. Here’s list of the major programs and what they • eSword – a simple iOS app, one for iPhone and anoffer in the mobile sphere: other for iPad. • Logos – iOS and Android with powerful features. Based on the list above, iOS offers slightly more • WORDsearch – iOS and Android apps, but they’re little more than reader apps with few advanced than Android. That doesn’t matter if your desktop features. See their Android app in a YouTube demo: software company offers both. Still, if you want more options in the future, then go with an iPhone and/

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Higher Power or iPad for the best Bible Study experience. However, if you’re one of those people who avoids Apple products, then Android works great for users of Logos, Olive Tree and Laridian. If you don’t use one of those, then consider Mantis Bible for Android or iOS (

Apple just released the new iPad Pro. The Theotek Podcast spend most of the hour disussing how good it works for study, teaching and preaching on episode 46, recorded November 13, 2015. Watch or listen to it here: You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel at or the audio Podcast at Take a look at the Accordance Bible app for iPad alongside Word Mobile. That’s Rick Mansfield’s iPad Pro. He’s a co-host on the Theotek Podcast mentioned above. He’s with Accordance Bible Software ( and you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter. com/thislamp.

What’s the Best iPhone and iPad for Bible Study? On the iOS side, this is easy. You can choose between and iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus. One’s a 4.7inch screen and the other sports a 5.5-inch screen. If you don’t mind the larger body of the iPhone 6s Plus, go with that. It’s got more screen real estate to use for reading and studying the Bible. You’ll want a Bible pane and a commentary pane open at the same time. That’s harder on a smaller screen. To save money you can find older versions still on sale. Avoid the iPhone 5s or older since they’re so small it’s hard to do much serious Bible study. Get as much space as you can afford. Apple sells the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. Don’t get the 16GB version as it’s not enough space to hold your apps, pictures, and Bibles and books. Whiles 64GB is probably enough, if you can afford it, go with 128. You’ll never need more space than that. All of these phones and tablets include beautifully crisp screens that show text and images really well. The decision gets harder with an iPad. Apple offers three sizes ( The iPad mini 4 offers a 7.9-inch screen that’s great for reading. You can comfortably view two panes at once. Jump up to the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. Few apps If you can afford about $1,000 the iPad Pro will allow for more than 2 panes, but the Laridian Pock- do the best job. That’s a lot of money, so many will etBible app does. It works great with 4 panes. want to get the iPad Air 2 instead which starts at $500, but most will want to spend $600 to get the one with 64GB of storage. Android Phones Instead of asking which phone works best for Bible study, you should ask which phone works best for you. All of them will handle Bible study about the same. My colleague Cory Gunther at posted a list of the best Android smartphones for 2015 at http://gottabemobile. com/2015/11/12/best-android-phones-of-2015/.

22 | December 2015

Higher Power Android Tablets The only decent Android tablet that I’d buy is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, which comes in either an 8-inch model or a 9.7-inch model (http:// The larger screen will let you do more, but it’s not as mobile. The screens are incredible. You get bright rich colors and amazing crisp text. The tablets run fast! Microsoft Surface I included the Surface in the best computers for Bible study, but it’s also a tablet so it has to be listed here too. If you want to run full Bible study software, then this is the best option. They cost anywhere from $500 for the Microsoft Surface 3 Cory’s list includes: • Google Nexus 6P – a great 6-inch phone run- or up to a few thousand for the most powerful Mining the latest version of Android called crosoft Surface Pro 4. Get the one with the most Marshmallow. It’s one of the only large screen storage you can afford. The Surface 3 has a 10inch screen and is lighter, making it more portaphones with Marshmallow available. • Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – an awesome phone with a great stylus that you can use to take handwritten notes. I own one and use it often to take notes. I use the button on the lower left Easy for your members to contribute to your church. that switches between apps. It also lets you Use gifts by text and all contributions received are put two apps on screen at once. Put a Bible integrated with your RDS accounting system. app on top and the S Note app on bottom. Electronic payment solutions is the economical and • Moto X Pure Edition – often a favorite of peoeasy way to linkGive contributors andthe yourconvenience RDS accounting. members of ple who want a pure Android experience with• Credit and/or Debit card contributions Internet contributions, tithes and pledges. • ACH (Automatic Clearing House) recurring gifts out a lot of extra junk like what we get from Secure, ease of use, customizable. • Text message gifts manufacturers like Samsung, HTC or others. • Send text messages to on-line contributors • Samsung Galaxy S6 & Galaxy S6 Edge – of • Use QR (Quick Response Code) codes on these two, don’t bother with the Edge version. your website and literature It’s a gimmick not worth the extra money. The • One electronic account can have records S6 is a great phone with a slightly smaller 5.1downloaded for many different bank accounts. inch screen and still does split screen. • LG V10 – the latest from LG and one of the newest phones available with Android. It also runs Marshmallow, the only one besides the Nexus 6P above. It’s got an awesome camera. My son owns the LG G4, the previous generation, and he really likes his. Any of the above phones will work well. I RDS ADVANTAGE chose the Note 5, but my second choice would be Church Software For Today and Tomorrow the Nexus 6P since it will always get the latest • 800.337.6328 sions of Android first.

Contributions by Text | December 2015


Higher Power ble. It still runs full Windows software. The Surface Pro 4 is a larger screen at 12.3-inches. It starts at $900 with 128GB of storage and 4GB of memory on an Intel Core m3 processor. The m3 processor isn’t as powerful as the iX processors. For an Intel Core i5 add $100. You can spend as much as $2,699 for an Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of flash storage. That’s way more computer than most Bible students need. I’d recommend getting at least 512GB if you can or 256 if you can’t afford the extra $400 for the 512. A Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 512 SSD costs $1,699. Add the Type Cover for $130.

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24 | December 2015


I STARTUP By Russ McGuire

n this article series, we’ve defined a startup this way: a new venture working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed. We’ve also defined a Christian entrepreneur as: a person, driven to glorify God in all he does, and ruled by the Word of God, who starts a new venture and is willing to risk a loss in order to achieve the success of the venture. Each month I’ve been introducing you to specific Christian startups and entrepreneurs, some of which may be helpful to your church, ministry, or business, but my main intent is to encourage, inspire, and educate you.

So far, all of the startups I’ve featured have been businesses, but startups can be new ministries as well. This month, I’d like to feature a new technology-enabled startup within an existing, traditional Christian organization. Daily Chapel is Good Founded in 1950, Oklahoma Christian University (OC) has just over 2,500 students. According to their website, “Oklahoma Christian University is a higher learning community that transforms lives for Christian faith, scholarship, and service.” This fall I arrived on campus as the new Entrepreneur in Residence and I was excited to hear a story that combines my passions for entrepreneurship, Christian faith, and mobile technology. Daily Chapel has been a valued tradition at OC since the school’s formation. Most students attend “Big Chapel” but other options include Missions Chapel, Seekers Chapel, Women’s Chapel, Great Songs Chapel, and weekly chapels for each academic college or department. Historically, students have been required to attend chapel each day, with a set number of absences allowed. Spiritual Development is Better Summer Lashley, an OC alumnus, had spent a couple of years early in her career at a web startup company. That entrepreneurial spirit must have been apparent because, after she returned to campus as part of

the student life team, she was asked to move into the spiritual life office and figure out how to “reboot” the university’s approach to spiritual development. Chapel has always been good, but she realized that it may not meet every student where they are in their spiritual growth. Summer observed that “Today’s students are raised with more choices and are more empowered to control their own life. This new generation was asking for more than just chapel.” In true Lean startup mode, Summer started doing Customer Development. She would pull students out of chapel, both those up front and fully engaged and those in the back corner with ear buds in and hoodie pulled over. What did they like and what didn’t they like? What was missing? What was their real need? She started creating alternatives, forming small groups, and working with YouVersion to launch an OC reading plan within the popular Bible app. She gave a small group of trusted students the freedom to pursue their own spiritual development plan and to journal what they did and how it impacted them. As Summer and the campus minister read their own reading plan and considered what they were learning from the students, the Holy Spirit seemed to focus them on the two great commandments that Jesus clearly outlined in Mark 12:30-31 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” and “ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” What if OC could model | December 2015


STARTUP spiritual development off of these great commandments? Summer began planning a new program for spiritual development, named Ethos, where students would be encouraged to practice spiritual disciplines in five dimensions: Community, Discipleship, Discovery, Servanthood, and Worship. But how could the university pull off such a radical redefinition of its spiritual life and how could students be encouraged to adopt the new model? One day, Summer realized that she was increasingly using her iPhone to discover and to track important things in her life. In addition to YouVersion, she was daily using RunKeeper and the Starbucks

app to track her progress towards important goals. She realized that, for today’s student, their phone is like the remote control for their life. There’s an app for everything, so why not an app for spiritual development at OC? Summer engaged with the OC marketing team and used an online tool to mock up a beautiful Ethos mobile app for creating, discovering, and tracking spiritual development activities. She showed it to the university leadership team who loved it and brought the IT team onboard as excited partners. Next she took it to the university’s board who was cautiously supportive, concerned about the school’s traditions. With the help of a champion

on the board, in time, this group also became strong supporters. A university donor stepped forward to provide funding for the development and launch. Spiritual Transformation is the Real Goal The IT team built the Ethos front-end using the Ionic framework to simplify launch on both iOS and Android smartphones. The mobile and web clients interfaced with the API core backend, with databases for students, check-ins, etc. it also interfaces to the university’s student information and event systems and to AD for identifying and authenticating users. IT also gave Summer a tool for

26 | December 2015

STARTUP generating reports. Who is attending which events? What are the patterns by college, by class, by service club, etc. This may not qualify as “big data” but it certainly started to provide insights that the spiritual life office could use to fine tune how to enable spiritual development for students. But, Summer is quick to point out that students are already doing that fine-tuning themselves. In the first year of operation, students attended over 4,000 distinct events, 1,700 of which were spontaneously created by students (and approved by the spiritual life office). “For Christian universities, a graduate who can tell the story of how her campus experience transformed her life demonstrates

the distinctive value of the Christian university,” Summer explains. “Ethos is not only enabling that transformation, but the software is helping capture that story for the student - recording the spiritual events and enabling the student to capture her comments on how it impacted her.” Ethos is one of many examples of how God can use technology to change people’s lives, but it is also an example of how God can use an entrepreneurial leader to start a new ministry that can help “reboot” the spiritual heart of an established institution with a rich Christian heritage. Summer is quick to thank God for blessing Ethos and enabling it to be a blessing to many.

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



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I N T E G R AT E D | December 2015


Communication Strategies for Christmas


Ministry Communication By Yvon Prehn


hristmas outreach is not only a time for you to bring in new people to your church, but it can also be a time to remind your congregation about the importance of sharing their faith and an opportunity to give them the tools to do it. Technology provides us with resources unimaginable in the past, but we need strategies to use them effectively. Following are six communication strategies that will help: 1. Spend time in prayer asking God to impress on your heart the seriousness and the privilege of your communication opportunities at Christmas. People who don’t come to church any other time of the year will come to Christmas events to be with family. This might be your one opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with them. Far beyond giving people a pleasant Christmas experience in music, drama, traditional services, or watching the cute things children do, their eternal destiny can be altered. In addition to your personal convictions, pray for fire in your soul as you motivate your people to be part of your churches Christmas communication outreach. Remind them that Jesus is the reason for the season, not because we needed a reason to buy stuff, but because we needed salvation from our sins. What prophets and people anticipated for millennia as they looked forward to the Messiah, we must be careful not to trivialize. 2. Based on your time with the Lord, as a ministry team, decide what you want your Christmas communication message to be. Come up with one overall theme and a slogan that summarizes it. This is key because you want all of your

advertising, digital and print publications, and preaching to reflect that one theme. You will change the medium that you use, but your core message must stay the same for maximum retention and response. Where to get a theme? One of the best places for inspiration is from the lyrics of Christmas Carols. Here is an article that lists the carols in the Public Domain along with some ideas on how to use them: http://www. 3. Select graphics, colors, and images to portray yourtheme and use them consistently throughout all your advertisements. Along with the theme, select a primary graphic image and colors that you will use in all your holiday outreach. I emphasize the word “all” because churches often want to change colors or images they use to promote the same event. They do this because a common misconception is: “If I keep saying things the same way, my audience will get bored.” Wrong. Audiences don’t get bored, audiences get confused. The most successful companies in the world have an

28 | December 2015

Ministry Communication image that never changes--think Target or Apple--you immediately know what their logo looks like. On a smaller scale, if you continuously change the image that goes with your Christmas theme, people will see the image first and assume it’s for a different event. You may get bored using the same image again and again, but it’s better that you get bored than your audience becomes confused.

5. Once you have the overall approach and the communication pieces, equip your congregation For any church holiday outreach to be successful, every person in the congregation has to be convinced that THEY need to be the ones inviting their friends, praying for them, and working hard to get them to Christmas events at church. Remember the primary responsibility of church leaders and communication creators is not to bring in new people to the church; your job is to equip the saints so they can do the work of the ministry. You decide the theme; you create the communications; then you equip your congregation to do the inviting. Not only is this the best way to get a large group of people to your events, but even more important, your people will grow in their outreach skills if they take part in it.

4. Decide on a variety of ways to communicate your message; use and repeat as many as you can. We live in a time of multi-channel communication where we need to use different communication channels to reach different ages and interest groups. Communicate your message through postcards, bulletin announcements and inserts, invitations, web page entries, email blasts, verbal reminders, phone calls, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever you can, as 6. Share your personal convictions and outreach plans. many times as you can. Share from the pulpit, blogs, Facebook and tweets, messages like this: • “As I look ahead to Christmas, I remember what it was like before I knew the Lord— my brother’s invitation for me to come on Christmas Eve changed my life.” • “I’m praying for Peter, the barista at my local Starbucks and an opportunity to invite him to church.” • “My kids are sharing invitations to our Christmas Eve service to their friends along with cookies they made.” • “My relatives back home don’t know Jesus—so I’m sending some links to our blogs about why Jesus really is the reason for the season.” Share with your congregation who you are praying for, how you give out or send out invitations, and how you follow-up to be sure people attend. Never, ever expect your congregation to do more than what you are doing. There will always be more you can do, but if you try these six strategies, you’ll be sure to increase the committed , involved members in your congregation who will not only bring friends to your Christmas outreach events, but who will learn how to do personal evangelism in the process. ___________________________ For many more ideas on how to effectively communicate at Christmas, for ready-to-print templates, and PDFs, of Christmas outreach materials, go to: | December 2015


Serpents & Doves By Nick Nicholaou



esus made an interesting statement in Matthew 10:16b, “ as shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves” (NASB). I believe these words of His are good guidelines for Christians to apply in every aspect of doing business. We are to be shrewd, yet innocent. The word translated as shrewd sometimes means being prudent, sensible, and practically wise. Jesus gave this counsel to his disciples, and it may also have had the sense of acting with prudence regarding to their own safety. Being innocent, on the other hand, means to be pure. In other words, negotiate wisely; but always honor the Lord by loving those with whom you negotiate. Be willing to ask, and to do so in such a way as to bring the other person closer to Jesus— or at least in a way that doesn’t drive the other person further from Jesus. What does all of this have to do with computers? Let’s take a look.

• If you’re actually buying software in a store, don’t be afraid to make a “counter-offer”— a price lower than that posted on the package. If the salesperson won’t reduce the price, ask that another program or some supplies be added at no extra charge. While you may hear, “No” fairly often, you’ll be surprised at how often you hear, “Yes”! • If available, always ask for charity pricing! Many software providers offer SKUs that steeply discount their solutions for charities.

Vertical Market Software Software that isn’t normally sold over the counter by a local retailer Off-The-Shelf Software is often called vertical market Some software, such as off- software. Vertical market software the-shelf productivity suites, offer usually has a narrow market niche, very little over which to negotiate thus its name. Church, school, an improved position. Open for and donor management software discussion, however, are: are examples of vertical market

software. When buying any of these, open for discussion are: • Ask for a full-system demonstration. Automated online demos don’t always tell the true story. If there isn’t a representative in your area, maybe they can do one live over the Internet via WebEx or some similar system. Perhaps this could also be accomplished by asking for an extended trial period to help you determine whether the system will meet your needs. Most will be willing to give you at least a thirty day, no questions asked, window within which to return the software if you’re not satisfied. • One of the greatest causes of church, school, or donor management software dissatisfaction is due to poor implementation and a lack of understanding how to use the program. Require the seller to include implementation guidance and training in your package. You may be required to do it over the Internet, but try to get someone onsite if possible (that’s always the most effective way). This is a major investment for your ministry, so even though it may have a cost attached, it’ll be worth it. • Insist on getting documentation that details the formats and/ or tables of the software’s data.

30 | December 2015

NICK AT CHURCH Requiring this as a provision of your license agreement up front may save you a lot of grief and frustration if you decide to change systems a few years down the road. If a publisher is unwilling to grant this request, they may not be one with

whom you want to do business. Remember, it’s your data.

computer, consider asking for the following: • Suggest a lower price for the Hardware system, maybe 5% - 10% lower. Most Though hardware profit hardware, if it can be purchased, margins are fairly thin, computer is at least a little outdated prices are almost always open (manufacturers are always working for negotiation. When buying a one or two generations beyond what is currently available), so asking for discounts is often something they’ll agree to. • Always ask to upgrade the memory (RAM) beyond that offered in base models. You’ll never be sorry with more memory. And if the price is fixed, maybe this is an area for negotiating a compromise. • Ask for a large capacity USB flash drive to be included with the system. If one already comes with it, ask that a full-featured software package be thrown in rather than the “software-lite” packages usually included. • The system should come with an operating system and will probably have some software “bundled” with it. Look over the software, and ask to exchange any of the pieces if you prefer different products. For instance, if the system comes with Norton Anti-Virus software, but you prefer Sophos, ask that the two be Research more than 150,000 sermons on the largest and most popular preaching prep website exchanged. The retailer will often in the world, and access our huge selection of mini-movies, PowerPoint backgrounds, accommodate such a request. images and worship videos to transform your sermons from ordinary to inspirational.

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The Greatest of These Is Love Remember when negotiating to love your neighbor. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and asking for it. And certainly there is nothing wrong with challenging the profit margin of the seller by asking for more than is normally offered for | December 2015

NICK AT CHURCH the same price. But there is everything wrong with negotiating in a demeaning manner. Remember to love and respect those with whom you are negotiating. Jesus died for them. Be wise, yet innocent. Vine, W.E., Page 222, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, page 222. 2 Vincent, M.R., Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume I. McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Company. page 40. 1

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, and may want to check out his firm’s website ( and his blog at

For the scholar, the seeker, the servant. OC is home. ·

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More than 60 areas of study. More than 30 current National Merit Finalists. Named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.


Ministry Tech Magazine - December 2015  

Keeping you up to date on what the best, and latest tech options are for the church.

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