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6 Why Jesus May Not Care About Your Standards For Perfection In Church Communications
Credo Courses This month we introduce Michael Patton, a pastor turned entrepreneur.
The Soft Underbelly of the Church 2
Founder & Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt firstname.lastname@example.org
Joey Tindell email@example.com
Contributing Editors Yvon Prehn Nick Nicholaou Russ McGuire Jonathan Smith Steven Sundermeier Kevin Purcell
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Does Passing The Offering Plate Still Make Sense?
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 2016 Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved
A year ago I sold Christian Computing Magazine to Outreach. I had confidence that they would take the magazine and make it greater than I ever could, and they have met that challenge. With a new name, new design and new webpage, they have added thousands of new readers this last year. When I entered into the arrangement with Outreach, we agreed that I would stay with the magazine and serve for one year. It is now time to say goodbye.
It’s time to say goodbye.
I really don’t know what I can say that will express my gratitude to God for allowing me the privilege of serving as Founder and Editor-in-Chief for 27 years! There are just too many to thank! There were many, many people that played a key part in the success of the magazine, both employees over the years, associations that helped us along the way (Gospelcom and Moody Radio come to mind), and too many great companies that produced great products, software and services that supported this ministry. Some of those that were responsible are already gone. Either they have passed on to their reward (such as Guy Bolen, my late Fatherin-Law and business advisor) or they have already retired and slipped from the public eye. I do want to thank my many readers over the years. Some can still show me the first issue of CCMag, published in January 1989. Readers have always supported me, uplifted me in prayer when it was needed, and provided vital feedback on the direction they wanted to see me take the magazine. I thank you all. I also thank our wonderful writers that provided such great content, reviews, and advice. Few knew that they wrote for free, out of their own calling to ministry. Thank you all. I actually don’t know what the future holds for me. I know I have a few more years of service to provide, but I am just not sure where that will be at this point. However, my prayer has always been for God to use me, and I am sure He will find a new place for me to serve. If you would like to connect, I suggest you make note of my new email. I am not sure if the email address that I have held since 1995 will be any good much longer. You can still connect with me however at firstname.lastname@example.org. For 27 years, I have closed each editorial with the same line “Together we serve Him”. It has been a blessing beyond my imagination to serve him with this magazine, and all of the opportunities that came with it (speaking at conferences, radio, TV, a book, and multiple publication opportunities). May God bless all of those that made this magazine a success! And remember…
Together We Serve Him,
helping churches better communicate with their congregations. more effective evangelism. helping churches have more money for ministry. strengthening church communications. pouring into the Kingdom.
It is no small feat to successfully do anything for 27 years, let alone lead a successful publication. But, that is exactly what Steve Hewitt has done with Christian Computing Magazine and MinistryTech. Steve, your leadership will be missed. And, itâ€™s our hope and goal to continue the legacy of helping local churches leverage technology to fulfill the mission of the Church for many, many years to come. Thank you for your faithfulness and Godâ€™s best to you in the years to come. The MinistryTech team
CREDO COURSES In this article series, we’ve 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, business, or family, but my main intent is to encourage and inspire you to be entrepreneurial in your ministry and career. This month I’d like to introduce you to Michael Patton, a pastor turned entrepreneur. God has used Michael to introduce a number of innovative new ventures including The Theology Program, Reclaiming the Mind Ministry, and Credo House, but today I’m going to focus on Credo Courses, a business whose mission is to “make accessible the top scholars in the world, teaching on the greatest subjects in the world.” Called to the Ministry In the mid-1990s, God called Michael to ministry. He finished a BA in Biblical Studies then earned a ThM in New Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary. While finishing his doctorate he began serving as a singles Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church in the Dallas area. He enjoyed the opportunity to engage in the lives of young church members and to help them connect theology with their everyday lives. About a year into his ministry at Stonebriar, like any good entrepreneur, Michael
identified a need. There was a real hunger for the kind of deep theology that is taught at seminary, but most people in the church weren’t in a position to pursue a seminary degree. Michael started teaching what would become The Theology Program - a set of 60 lessons across seven courses on theology and apologetics, rich in Biblical truth, but designed for lay people. The content resonated with the members of Stonebriar and over the next several years hundreds went through the course. Originally taught live, Michael saw the opportunity to leverage modern technology to expand the impact of the content, first recording the courses on VHS, then moving to DVD, and finally, in partnership with Bible. org, taking it online. “Our vision is to make theology accessible not just to today’s audience, but for 50 years from now and beyond. Those that came before us used the technology of their day, which largely was in the form of printed books that we still enjoy today.” By making The Theology Program available online, Michael began a new form of ministry that has since touched tens of millions around the world.
Russ McGuire is a trusted advisor with proven strategic insights. He has been blessed by God in many ways including serving as a corporate executive, co-founding technology startups, and writing a technology/business book. More importantly, he's a husband and father who cares about people, and he's a committed Christian who seeks to honor God in all that he does. His newest venture is as Entrepreneur in Residence at Oklahoma Christian University.
Michael Patton, Father of four, husband of one, developer of Theology Program, writer, theology teacher, U2 lover, working at the Credo House of Theology.
Called to His Hometown His time in Dallas was rich with blessings, but starting in 2004, a series of medical issues in his family led to the clear realization that Michael had to return to his hometown of Oklahoma City. During this time, Michael continued to be tuned into the needs of his â€œmarketâ€? and graduates from The Theology Program were hungry for more. Michael envisioned building a dream team of the best teachers from seminaries across the country all teaching on their strongest topic. With the blessing of the Stonebriar leadership and congregation, Michael began laying the foundation for this vision. He created Reclaiming the Mind Ministries as a non-profit platform for distributing The Theology Program, moved back to Oklahoma, and began a blog (Parchment & Pen) and podcast (Theology Unplugged). While Michael considered pursuing a pastor role in a local church and continuing the work within a specific church body, he had already seen the impact that could be had by being evangelically neutral and serving all evangelical churches without any preconceptions that would come from affiliation with a specific church or denomination. Over the years, more than
2,000 churches have used The Theology Program in some form. Within a few years, the ministry had leased some space for filming and recording new content. They wanted to have live audiences, so they became a coffee house to attract alert minds passionate for theology. They began hosting “Coffee and Theology” each Tuesday evening at 6:30pm and brought in guest speakers for “Coffee with Scholars” special events. As part of Reclaiming the Mind, Credo House operated as a non-profit with a mix of coffee sales, memberships, and donations funding operations. Michael says “I love this place. I love teaching theology and apologetics. It’s energizing when people see the impact of theology on their lives. And, when we bring in great theologians from different seminaries, I soak up their teaching and see the impact on my life.” Called to Business While the warm and cozy environment of
learning from God’s Word together over a steaming mug of coffee is a rich opportunity, it has limited reach. In 2012, Michael started bringing his original vision to reality. He created Credo Courses as a for-profit business and began working with leading Biblical scholars to create new content for streaming over the Internet. In 2014, Michael hired Ted Paul as executive director and the pace of new content creation picked up. To date, eight courses have been filmed with three of them currently in post-production. With the global reach of the Internet, hundreds of students from around the world are connecting to Credo Courses and some churches are pursuing licensing the entire catalog for all of their members to use. In our interview, Michael and Ted laughed about how quickly video technology has progressed and how it shows from the original The Theology Program content from 15 years ago. Ted shares “technology has come so far that, these days, it’s relatively easy to capture video really well. You have to
create a high quality product or you’ll just get lost in the noise.” I asked Michael and Ted about what is different in being a Christian entrepreneur. Ted emphasized that we can’t be fooled into complacency. “We still need to build a solid business. God won’t automatically bless your business just because you slap a fish symbol on it.” Michael talked more about the challenges of fitting into the business world without tarnishing your impact for the Gospel. “To be successful in financing the business or closing sales, you often have to promote yourself, drop names of the people you’re working with, and even show some level of favoritism towards those that can help you the most. Keeping James 1 and 2 in mind can help keep us grounded in these times.” At the end of the day, Michael emphasizes that the difference between a Christian entrepreneur and a non-Christian is what drives and motivates them. “It’s not about me and my agenda, it’s about the glory of God.” Amen.
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About Your Standards For Perfection In Church Communications Sometimes people don't think they are doing all they can for the Lord in their communications ministry unless what they produce is professionally perfect and produced with the latest technology. Of course, after rounds of editing and committee approval no mistakes theologically or grammatically are allowed.
Yvonn Prenn Ministry Communication
Only a select person or two
could be summed up as "tell
acted towards his audience
to demonstrate his might; he
in the church is good enou-
people about me and help
and how this might apply to
could have healed a city with
gh to produce the quality
them grow in the faith." For
one booming command. But
needed, or an outside firm is
hired to do the work. Though
the goals might be commen-
dable, is this really what Jes-
After all, if we are his disci-
amount of wi-
ples, shouldn’t our standards
ggle room that
he didn't do any
It wasn't that Jesus didn't care about excellence, but he obviously had a different standard of perfection.
of those things to show his perfect godhood. He showed us what God was like by meeting
would allow wildly diver-
how He might prioritize per-
gent attempts to apply it.
fection in church communi-
It wasn't that Jesus didn't
needs of people in His com-
groom who ran out of wine at
cations, let’s look at his life:
care about excellence, but
munication, not on how
his wedding feast; He made li-
he obviously had a diffe-
great He was.
ttle kids comfortable; He hea-
life, what sort of standards of
rent standard of perfec-
He could have created a li-
led a woman humiliated by a
perfection did he have?
tion than what we might
ttle world in the palm of his
Let's look first at who He cho-
consider perfection today.
hand as a demonstration
Commentary and application:
Following are some obser-
of his power; he could have
vations about how Jesus
had stars fall from the sky
tions doesn't come from
of perfection be His? To see
If we honestly look at Jesus'
se as his disciples, the ones who would be trusted to carry
needs of his creation. He
bailed out an embarrassed
out his message. They were a
showing people what a big-
pretty scruffy group to start
deal, perfect church you are
and they didn't get much be-
or how you can create com-
tter in three years of time. Not
munications that are more
one of them was a professio-
expensive and fancier than
nal religious person.
the church down the street.
Second, his meetings we-
Jesus’ idea of a perfect publi-
ren't very organized affairs:
cation, if we follow His plan,
little kids running around,
would be one that made sure
not enough food, and cons-
it addressed the needs of peo-
tant interruptions by sick
ple. One that told them why
people. Not what anyone
the event would help them,
would consider a professio-
how it would serve them, and
nally managed event.
how their lives would be bet-
Third, when he left his remai-
ter because of it. It would give
ning disciples with the task
them all the details necessary
of evangelizing the world, he
to attend without having to
didn't leave them with a plan
take an extra step of calling
that was even vaguely perfec-
someone or looking it up on
ted. The Great Commission
the web or jumping from link
to link if it was an email. Those details, including the time, location, name of person in charge, directions, child care provisions, and cost would all be there and easily accessible. One area where I see this "perfection" lacking so often today is in church websites. I've recently observed a number of websites that were created using professional groups that supplied a fancy, flash-enabled, website with lots of photos of smiling people, great colors, and buttons that you can push to hear sermons. However, when you try to find the details of what small groups are meeting, or what time to get your kids to a youth group meeting and where it is being held, or what the church really believes about anything, it can be an impossible task. People do not go to church websites to be wowed by flashing graphics and bright colors, they go to have needs met. If they can't get those needs met quickly and easily, your website is far from perfect. Observation #2: Jesus focused on potential perfection. When Jesus called Peter, he was not anything like the Rock he would become. He was more of an irritating pebble in Jesus'
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journeys. But every time Jesus called him, "Peter", Simon had a vision of what he would become. Eventually, he became the leader and pastor, the Rock that Jesus knew he would be. Commentary and application Your volunteers and staff members creating ministry publications seldom come into that job with any training at all. They are far from per-
You want the freedom to
fect in communication knowledge about design ideas or execution. Focus on encouraging, equipping, and providing opportunities. Love
… reach out
them lots. Give them time to try
… minister to people
things and to grow up in their skills. Provide training and tools and they
… create fellowship
will amaze you.
… contribute to your community
Regarding training, I was recently communicating with a woman
PowerChurch Plus was created for just that!
whose church had spent several thousand dollars (a typical amount) to have their website professionally designed. They were having all sorts of problems getting their church content to fit into the design and the costs kept mounting.
Knowing there were other options for getting this done, I asked her,
"How do you think you would have done if the money spent on this company had been used to train
We provide you with the tools to increase administrative efficiency and streamline accounting tasks, freeing you up to perform the work that matters.
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you and if you had been given time to implement what you learned?"
She just sighed. This situation could be repeated far too often and it shouldn't be. Your
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people have tremendous potential
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and with time, money and training they will not only accomplish great things for the church, but you will have participated in growing them in skills and service. To invest money and time in your people instead of a quick, "professional" solution may take more time, but the results will be much more lasting. Don’t expect perfection from the start, help your people grow into it. Observation #3: Jesus trusted his followers to tell his story When Jesus sent out the 70 he told them what to take, but he
communicator who asked me to critique the
didn’t give them an exact script to follow. He did a similar thing
communications from her church and when I
as mentioned earlier with the Great Commission.
asked her the goal of her church communications
Commentary and application
program, her answer was, “Never send out
Though this many be very hard for some people to hear, you
anything with a typo.”
can have too much control over perceived requirements for perfection in your church communications. I’ll never forget the
I’ll never forget the response of one church
response of one church communicator who asked me to critique the communications from her church and when I asked her the goal of her church communications program, her answer was, “Never send out anything with a typo.” Her communications were “perfect” and no typos to be found in print or online, but they had no life, no passion, and no power. Highly edited social media is not compelling. Her church was not growing. How you break loose from the grip of unnecessary perfection will be different for every church, but if your communications aren’t bringing people into your church and helping them find Jesus, take some time to consider if your standards of perfection hinder your church communications rather than enabling them to reach your world.
For more ideas on how to create effective church communications that bring people into your church and help them grow as Jesus’s disciples, go to: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com.
BibleNote for Microsoft OneNote BibleNote for OneNote gives me something Iâ€™ve been looking for in Bible software ever since I bought my first tablet PC about 8 years ago... With it, I can put handwritten notes in the margin of a digital Bible. In addition, I can highlight with a pen and draw on the page using my Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pen. See http://www.biblenote.pro to download the program and add-on modules for free.
ARTICLE BY KEVIN PURCELL
The BibleNote User Interface
• Supplemental Bible notebook – an op-
OneNote users understand the value of ta-
tional notebook where BibleNote stores
king handwritten digital notes. Grab the pen
an extra Bible text.
Handwritten digital notes
and start writing just like one does with a paper Bible. The OneNote user interface
See handwritten digital notes (above)
works like a three-ring binder with a bunch of notebooks in it. On the left hand side of
Open the Notebook in OneNote and click on
• Write a comment – add a comment or
the screen we see different notebooks. Bi-
the Bible notebook along the left (or in the
note to the current passage (links will
bleNote adds at least three and as many as
dropdown box in the upper left corner on the
get added at the end of that verse’s line)
five different OneNote notebooks.
notebook toolbar). You will see a row of tabs
• Notes analysis – scans the notes and
• Bible notebook – your preferred Bible translation goes here.
across the top of the screen just below the OneNote ribbon. One shows suggested me-
• Bible Study notebook – a second note-
thods of marking the Bible text plus the Old
book where you can add Bible studies or
Testament and New Testament tabs. Click
one to open the testament and you’ll see
adds hyperlinks to Bible passages • Quick page analysis – scans the current page for passages to hyperlink • Search in dictionaries – searches in the dictionary
• Comments to the Bible notebook – the
the books of the Bible. Click or tap the book
• Unlock current book – unlocks the cu-
place BibleNote stores your comments
tab to open it and you’ll see a list of chapters
rrent book so you can add new pages
or notes that you add to a Bible trans-
along the right. Open it to see it.
(New Page button on the right hand side above the list of chapters)
lation in either the Bible notebook or Su-
In addition, the program adds a new rib-
pplemental Bible notebook.
bon to the OneNote ribbon bar called Bi-
• Unlock all Bible – same as previous bu-
bleNote. The ribbon holds buttons for the
tton, but does it for all installed Bibles
• Dictionaries notebook – an optional notebook where you can add Strong’s or
• Look up a verse – navigate to a verse
• Parameters – like a settings page to change how BibleNote works and to add
the real reason I’ve downloaded/installed it
and he created this as a labor of love. It’s free
• Manual – learn how to use the program
is to use my Surface and Surface Pen to wri-
to download. I hope they can add other mo-
• About Module – gives publisher details
te in the margins and highlight the text. Plus,
dules and continue to develop the program.
you can add space between the verses if you
I’d love to see the ability to use multiple Bi-
unlock the Bible. This allows you add larger
ble translations, a parallel mode to see at
amounts of text.
least two texts on page at once, and a quick
I know of no other digital Bible that lets you
way to enlarge the text and put more space
If you click on the Parameters button
literally draw or write with your own hand-
between verses with a single click or a Pa-
you can add a “supplemental Bible”. This
writing on a tablet. All of them allow the user
rameters setting that affects the entire Bi-
will put the other notebook in OneNo-
to type notes or even use the built-in hand-
ble. The text is a bit small and there’s not
te. I have the ESV as my primary Bible
writing recognition of windows to add text,
enough space between lines for writing
and the NKJV as my supplemental Bible.
but you can’t just write.
notes between the verses. You can add it,
To do that, open your Bible text and then tap
but I’d love to have the entire bible double
or click on the Draw tab. OneNote will let you
or triple spaced.
use different pen styles and highlighters.
I also wish I could buy other modern tools,
Drawing in the Margins with BibleNote
Customize the width of the pen or the color.
like my favorite translations, dictionaries and
The thing I love most about BibleNote, and
You can even add shapes, like arrows in order
maybe even commentaries. I don’t want Bi-
to connect two words to show correlations
bleNote to become a replacement for Bible
between thoughts. Use the text cursor to
software, but it would be a great tool for de-
type into the text.
votions if it had a Study Bible option attached
a supplemental Bible
about the current book • About Program – gives details about BibleNote itself
SEE BIBLENOTE RIBBON BAR (BELOW)
to the text. Imagine having the ESV Study Bi-
BibleNote Ribbon Bar
Thoughts and Hopes
ble or HCSB Study Bible inside while reading
I reached out to the developer of BibleNote
the Bible for your devotions. I don’t need a
full program like BibleWorks, Accordance or
little unnerving when you learn that some of
can’t get. I have one expensive com-
WORDsearch just to do devotions. Howe-
the biggest Bible software makers are laying
mentary set in one program but don’t
ver, I’d like a little more than just the text of
off employees. No one knows for sure if their
want to pay hundreds of dollars to add
the Bible so I can quickly look up a word in a
favorite program will be here in a year or two.
it to the other programs. This way I
dictionary or read some background about a
It’s often impossible to get your personal
can open one Bible program, write my
passage in a good quality study Bible.
notes out of the program. Use a third-party
notes in OneNote and then open the
BibleNote offers a nice solution. I’ve just
solution like OneNote so you can store your
other program and still access my no-
started using it for about a week, so apolo-
notes in something that’s not tied to one
tes without having two Bible programs
gies if I’ve accidently left out important fea-
specific Bible program. I use at least three
running. It’s not the perfect solution,
tures or gotten some details wrong. Down-
on a regular basis because I have books and
but it’s better than investing all your
load it yourself, if you’re a OneNote user you
commentaries in them that I want to use, but
time in one program.
have to at least try it out. People with a touchscreen Windows machine that has stylus support will want to start taking margin notes in the program. Why would anyone want to use OneNote instead of built-in notes in their favorite Bible study software? Just ask people who invest
Kevin Purcell Higher Power
years with one program and then get frustrated with the direction of the developers of that program or learn that the company is pulling back development of offline software to focus on their web-based Bible. It’s also a
䌀唀匀吀伀䴀䤀娀䔀 䄀 䈀䄀一一䔀刀 伀一䰀䤀一䔀
The Soft Underbelly of the Church ARTICLE BY JONATHAN SMITH
If I was to someday turn to the dark side, and for the sake of argument let’s say I haven’t yet, I’m convinced that I could retire hacking churches. Churches are treasure troves of data that has a relatively high black market resale value.
Churches also aren’t as obsessed with security as the corporate world is. Of course, if you are a hacker, my intent here is not to encourage you to go after churches but rather to encourage churches to be vigilant when it comes to their cyber security. Everyone is getting hacked.
It doesn’t take
much to see that your data isn’t really safe anywhere. But that doesn’t mean we go hide under a rock. It seems that hacking is in the news daily. Remember Target, The Home Depot, and a small outfit you may have heard of called the United States government? When a corporation is hacked their profits and shareholders may suffer, but what happens when a church is hacked?
Our message is
much more important than selling goods and our reputations and balance sheets often aren’t strong enough to weather a hacking storm. While cyber-attacks are a threat we have to manage, it is no different than the threat of someone slipping on the ice in your parking lot and suing you. At some point if you are doing ministry effectively you will be sued. You will be hacked. Churches are sitting ducks.
So then, why
aren’t churches targeted more?
cause the hackers don’t think we are big enough to warrant any attention. I think that
is their mistake. Mega churches are plenty
big and contain just as much key black market data as the big box stores. Hackers are after demographic info like name, address, and phone number because they can sell those records to bad actors conducting phishing schemes and other online criminals. The value of that information goes up tenfold if you have a social security number tied to that record and even more if you can connect a credit card to it. The bad guys donâ€™t realize how churches work and that we are sitting on tons of that very information. Nor do they realize that we donâ€™t protect it very well. Their ignorance may be our bliss for now, but at some point they are going to figure it out or someone from inside church ministry is going to go rogue and open their eyes. Churches are sitting ducks by the very nature of our business. Our business is to be open and welcoming. We donâ€™t want to shut anyone out and we preach a message of salvation and forgiveness. Our goal is to draw people in, not push them away. Our business is based on people voluntarily giving us their money. What is the great commission? That makes us a target, or at least it should.
We also lack the deep pockets of corpo-
people are our biggest asset, and also our
rate America. How much did the Target
hack cost them? They have deep poc-
We also use volunteers. Go into your local
kets so a $160+ million hit due to hac-
bank, set up an account to become a mem-
kers can be weathered. They also have
ber, and then volunteer to help them and
the additional millions to pour into fixing
see if they give you access to their databa-
the problem, hiring security specialists,
se. Churches do this all the time â€“ and we
etc. We donâ€™t.
should as our survival depends on it.
Churches are sitting ducks by the very
In my opinion our data is pure gold. As I
nature of our people. We have all levels
mentioned, I think we are getting by for
of economic status in our churches and
now because the hackers donâ€™t know
we strive to reach out to those who have
much about what we store.
nothing. We teach our people to be kind
Churches are sitting ducks by the very
and loving and forgiving and to be trus-
nature of our beliefs. What does Jesus
ting. We teach them to evangelize and in-
teach? Lock it all down and throw away
fluence others with our message and not
to let pride or shyness get in the way. Our
While we are taught to love people and
minister to them we are also taught about stewardship. Stewardship is what really kicks in here in terms of data management and security. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30? Think of the talents as our data. We need to provide access to the data so we can accomplish our mission but we also have to be good stewards of the data so it isn’t stolen. We tend to do the former
Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN You can reach Jonathan at email@example.com and
and not the latter as it is difficult for church
also follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith
leaders to take a step back and evaluate data access policies.
“WHAT DOES JESUS TEACH? LOCK IT ALL DOWN AND THROW AWAY THE KEY?” Stewardship is difficult – which is why we struggle with it. Pastors aren’t taught about cyber security in seminary. They want to use technology to connect with people and they don’t want to hear about any security hurdles. How did the malware get into Target’s system? Through an unpatched server. Pastors and church administrators don’t like to hear technology and data management requires an investment in security, but if you believe in accountability before the Creator then you may want to think twice about that. I admit this is a difficult balance to strike but we have to do better, because we are sitting ducks. Next month’s article, entitled Protecting the Soft Underbelly of the Church will address ways in which we can help protect our data while still maintaining maximum efficiency and Kingdom impact.
Xtra-PC makes an old computer new! Now you can donate computers safely!
It has been a bit since I have been excited about anything new Written by Steve Hewitt
that has come along in technology, specifically a product that can really benefit the church and those that want to minister to others. But that changed recently!
I am thrilled to tell you about Xtra-PC because it is ALL about ministry and providing new technology tools to those in need! If you are a ministry or a mission organization, pay special attention to this announcement, because Xtra-PC can really open important doors for you as you look for ways to help others! There are millions of old computers that are no longer of service. In the past, many people have wanted to donate computers that still work but have been replaced by newer technology to churches and ministries so that their ministries could provide those in need with computers. However, I have always warned against doing this â€“ since no matter how well you think you might have wiped your hard drive, someone could potentially get your old data off of that hard drive including your personal ID and information. It is for this reason that I have always warned that donating a
Sius, quis nonsume in pertem et ca porit, quo essendum mo etimmovit que dummei u description hereLat.
computer was a security risk! But NOT ANY MORE! Xtra-PC has developed a way for people to restore old computers to run like new even if there is NO hard drive. This makes it possible to donate old computers and know that their data
Xtra-PC is built upon the proven OS, Linux,
is secure. If you have an old computer
bypassing your old, slow, bloated Windows
that has become painfully slow, the OS
OS to restore your computer's speed
is out of date and you are pretty sure
it is sick with a variety of viruses and malware, use Xtra-PC to bypass all of the problems and make your computer useful again. OR, if you wish to dona-
without the need for a hard drive!
comes with many programs and utilities
te an old computer you can simply pull
Xtra-PC is built upon the proven OS,
that enable you to do most of the same
your hard drive(s) out of your computer
Linux, bypassing your old, slow, bloated
things you did on your older Windows
before you donate them, since Xtra-PC
Windows OS to restore your computerâ€™s
enables an inexpensive USB device to
speed and performance! It has the look
Here is how it works.
provide a new OS to run the computer
and feel of your former Windows PC, and
Purchase the Xtra-PC, starting price for
around $25. Take any old computer, lap-
ter now. Facebook, Kindle, Pandora, etc.
monitors. Xtra-PC does not turn your
top, desktop or netbook, with or without
You now have a clean computer that is
computer into a webbook. It comes with
a hard drive, and make sure the compu-
free of viruses and malware!
a lot of great programs you can run right
ter is off. Your computer DOES need a
So, what can you do with your com-
from the USB stick.
USB port, but most computers built by
puter running under the Xtra-PC OS?
What else can you do? Anything you pro-
2004 will have this. Insert your Xtra-PC
About anything you would want to do!
bably did before. Surf the web, play ga-
USB stick into the USB port. Turn on your
Windows specific programs wonâ€™t work,
mes, watch videos, shop, post to social
computer. When the startup screen, the
but there are alternate programs to do
media, etc., etc. What about storage? If
first screen, appears, you simply hit the
about anything and everything that Win-
you have removed your hard drives, how
boot menu key. For most computers,
dows has to offer. For example, instead
much storage does Xtra-PC have? The
this will be F12. F11, F10, F9, F1 or ESC.
of Microsoft Office you can use Open
Turbo model comes with 16GB of extra
Then simply select to boot in the USB.
Office, or if you wish to connect to the
storage for an additional $10, and the
Each time you restart the computer, you
Internet, you can use Google Docs. You
Xtra-PC Pro comes with 64 GB of data
will need to hit this boot key.
can run your wireless keyboard and/or
for a price of just $49.99!
You will notice that Xtra-PC boots quic-
mouse and you can install Skype. If this
Want to watch a DVD? Most new com-
kly, and the screen and operation will be
is your old computer and you have kept
puters donâ€™t come with a DVD player, but
easy to use! You can install many of the
the hard drive in, you can access your
almost all of those old computers had
same programs, with the same icons
music and pictures on your hard drive.
one. With Xtra-PC, you can now watch
you are used to seeing on your compu-
It supports your webcam, and multiple
movies on your computer again. Not a
movie buff? No problem, you can load the Kindle viewer and read your favorite book. Skeptical? No problem. Xtra-PC comes with a 30-day risk free money back guarantee. Additional advantages. Imagine if you personalized the set up in Xtra-PC, and stored your own files, games, pictures, music, etc., on the Turbo version. Simply pull the USB and drop it in a pocket. Where ever you go, most likely a computer is available with a USB port. Simply put your USB stick in, boot the computer, and select the computer to boot to your USB stick. Imagine! Your favorite bookmarks are already set in your browser, or your favorite music is just a click away, EVEN though you might be across the nation or world using
ted and turned on in your community.
nated computers, Xtra-PC will provide
someone else’s computer!
If you travel overseas, there are many
you with a customized opening screen.
Imagine the missional and missionary
old, outdated and slow computers
Imagine flooding your community, or
opportunities! Your church could encou-
stored on shelves. The Windows OS
mission field with free computers that
rage the donation of old computers and
has become corrupted or outdated.
greet them with an opening screen with
make them useful again for just $25.
Now, within your pocket you can carry
your branding and message! That alone
If your church is in a low income area,
dozens, hundreds or even thousands of
would be worth the cost of the product!
you could offer free computers to many,
Xtra-PC USB sticks to bring new life to
Want more information? Visit www.xtra-
many people, and have the browser set
these old computers!
pc.com for information about ordering
to open to your church’s home page,
your own Xtra-PC. Be sure to check out the
or provide other important information
I really like something else Xtra-PC has
videos that demo the product, as well as
about Christ, your church, or ministry
done! If you are an organization and are
read the “About Us” section to learn more
opportunities on every computer dona-
going to begin helping others with do-
about this start-up family business!
STRANGER DANGER—The Google Play Store and Safety Town Spring has sprung! With a milder Winter now behind us (I hope… but’s let’s face it, I am from Cleveland—Winter here is almost never truly “over”) we can now look forward to moving family activities outdoors and planning an eventful Summer.
Protected with Purpose Steven Sodermeyer
As the father of a Pre-Kindergartener, I know that one certain
plicated as we further explain the differences between “bad”
scheduled program we’ll be registering for is our community’s
strangers and “safe” strangers (ie. firefighters, police officers,
“safety town” educational course. Safety town is typically a
etc.). To complicate things a little more, we have to explain
one (possibly two) week program offered in the summer co-
that to be classified as a “bad” stranger doesn’t mean they
vering safety instruction for children entering Kindergarten in
have to be scary-looking like Ursula from the Little Mermaid
the upcoming Fall school year. The programming ¬¬usually
or have a deep sinister voice like Darth Vader, because “nice”
covers important topics such as fire safety, bicycle and bus sa-
or “pretty” strangers are just as dangerous. Perhaps the most
fety, water safety, poison education and identifying strangers.
important thing we can do as parents to protect our little loved
As I was preparing this article, I tried strolling down memory
ones is to educate them about recognizing and handling po-
lane and recalling my own personal experience with safety
tentially dangerous situations.
town both as a student (many, many years ago!) and also as a
When considering the safety (or lack thereof) of the Inter-
dad (our 2 older children have already passed through the pro-
net, the phrase “stranger danger “can mean a lot of diffe-
gram). And while all the covered safety topics are very critical
rent things. For many, when you hear the term stranger
for learning and child safety development, I kept coming back
danger in this cyber context you may immediately think of
to the topic of identifying a stranger, or as some course curri-
online predators—adult individuals deceivingly communica-
culums call it, “stranger danger”. I suppose the main life lesson
ting with children over the Internet via chat rooms, instant
of this topic really comes back to one question or point, who is a stranger? To many adults the answer is easy. A stranger (in simple terms) is anyone that you or your family doesn’t know. However, to a small, naïve child the answer is a bit more com-
messaging, Internet forums, social networking sites, etc. VERY SCARY AND REAL STUFF! Others may be reminded of many risks associated with receiving unsolicited emails (malicious attachments, phishing links and scams), texts or even phone calls from unknown (stranger) sources. Even today, the highly prolific and
IN MY OPINION, THE DECEITFUL APPS ARE OFTEN TIMES MALICIOUS, ALMOST ALL THE TIME A NUISANCE TO THE USER AND CAN BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE PURITY AND INNOCENCE OF YOUR CHILD.
publicized ransomware infections originate as a result of a user opening an attachment that masqueraded as something of the user’s interest. Again, this is all very scary and real stuff that requires serious attention. For the purpose of this article,
I’m going to take a different twist on the stranger danger idea and discuss how to identify fake apps in the Google Play Store. In my opinion, the deceitful apps are often times malicious, almost all the time a nuisance to the user and can be detrimental to the purity and innocence of your child. I consider and treat these fake apps like the described “nice” or “pretty” strangers (they don’t look bad but their intentions are anything but good), and feel it is important to teach our children (and ourselves!) the importance of awareness when downloading and installing all apps and also how to recognize the fake ones.
Research the developer of the app that you are about to install or allow your child to install.
Check the required permissions before installing.
view can’t be taken seriously. For example, someone who had a
missions. If, during the download
bad day or had a personal bad ex-
process, many more permissions
perience (even of their own doing)
are demanded chances are good
may post a negative review. Or,
this app may be fake. Also, use
a clearly anonymous reviewer
Play Store that aren’t what they
might post either a glorious re-
appear to be. If the publisher’s
through the permission listing. If
view (likely from someone inside
name (typically placed below
you or your child are attempting
the company) or a slanderous or
the available app) is not familiar,
to download a math app to su-
damning review (posted by so-
research it online. Take a minute
pplement schooling and the app
meone from a competing com-
to Google the name of the develo-
you are about to install is seeking
pany). However, reading through
acceptance for tracking call logs,
the reviews is generally a great
text messages and requires your
idea. If a published app is fake wi-
GPS location, you may want to
thin the Google Play Store, you’ll
think twice! The required app per-
likely see many reviewers post of
typically loaded with unwanted
missions should directly correla-
their displeasure and alert others
ads in an attempt to scam you
te to the functionality of the app.
not to fall victim like they did.
into clicking on them.
or a fake Angry Bird download, there are numerous examples (and growing exponentially daily) of apps available in the Google
per, as a legitimate developer will likely have their own website and other credible information online. There is also a high probability that if the publisher is bogus that this will also be exposed during a quick online search.
Read the reviews of the app.
I fully understand that every reOne quick way to identify a fake app is to read through all the per-
Whether it be a fake Netflix app
Be mindful of apps that are simply mobile websites. Mobile website apps are a dime a dozen. They’re easy to create and merely point back to a mobile version of the site, and are
The bottom line is that even though there are millions of amazing and legitimate apps available through the Google Play Store, the belief that their store can be fully trusted and that every available app is properly screened and harmless is simply not true. The Google Play Store is an open source store and that makes it easy for a cybercriminal to add or remove their apps at their leisure. For their part, Google does conduct security checks by their team to certify apps, and while there are an increasing number of bad/fake apps that are making it through their service, Google Play is much more secure than unofficial and/or third party online app stores. You need to be super cautious when downloading apps from a location other than the Google Play Store. Even if you live in what most would consider a “safe” community, you probably still exercise caution when letting your kids play outside or be out after dark. The same goes when playing in the Google Play Store. My suggestion would be that if your child (or you) hears of a popular “must have” gaming app from a friend at school or in their neighborhood, don’t let them download apps unless supervised. We should make it a rule to have our kids seek permission or check with us before downloading apps because more and more of them are being found to be fake or malicious. And more than that, when we are the ones authorizing the approval, we need to review the steps listed above so that we too can recognize a phony app.
It’s been decades since most of us learned the basics of being safe on a bike or bus, but the fundamentals stick with you (wear a helmet…don’t distract the driver). And online safety within the Google Play Store (or anywhere) requires basic safety rules too. We want to protect our children’s eyes and mind (and ours too) from negative and detrimental content. When accessing an app, do not become distracted and click “yes” to every demand they list, just to move through the process quickly. You may be saying yes to a cybercriminal accessing your banking information or complete address book. Following the outlined safety steps will minimize your “stranger danger”, and that is a good thing at any age.
Does Passing The Offering Plate Still Make Sense? Written by Ministry Tech Partner
We need to have an important discussion about the method we use to gather funds. While it’s important to teach people to be generous (their maturity depends on it), we need to do it in a way that makes sense.
And it’s time to ask if passing the offering plate still makes sense. At eChurch, we’re helping churches transition to mobile giving. Churches are already discovering how mobile can revitalize their giving and prepare them for what appears to be an inevitable change in how people care for their finances. Here are ten reasons it’s time to dump the offering plate: 1. It reinforces negative perceptions about the church One of the most common criticisms of the church is that “it’s only after your money.” While this opinion is bolstered by lots of stories of misused and abused finances in the church, it’s not helped by taking offering. Church offering, is a ten-minute window in every single church service focused on people putting money and checks into plates, baskets, and bags passed around the sanctuary. It’s a strange tradition that people outside of the church don’t really understand, and only feeds their suspicion that religion is a scam intended to separate people from their cash. How mobile giving solves this: When you train people to give through mobile devices, online, or through giving kiosks, you’re remo-
ving a cultural element that people associate with hucksterism
awkward, too. I give regularly once a month, and every time the
and profiteering (and it enables you to keep the focus on Jesus
plate passes in front of me, I’m self conscious that the usher
where it belongs).
and people around me think that I never give.
2. It makes visitors feel awkward
And what about the people who haven’t made a commitment
Maybe you have a visitor that doesn’t really associate church
to become givers yet? Sometimes it’s like the offering is desig-
offerings with anything negative. We’re so used to the process,
ned to make non-givers feel guilty about convictions they don’t
we don’t really think about how weird that is.
feel yet. Whether we’re willing to admit or not, passing the plate
If you’re visiting a church for the first time, it’s hard not to feel
seems to operate as a form of compulsion to give—the kind
like every eye’s on you. You start panicking and thinking “Do I
Paul warns us about (1 Cor. 9:7).
have any cash on me!? I know that I don’t have any checks on
How mobile giving solves this: There’s no reason that regular
me. Oh no, here he comes, WHAT DO I DO!?”
givers should have to feel unpleasant with the public method
How mobile giving solves this: Having people give privately
the church uses to collect funds, and we don’t want to motiva-
through their mobile device doesn’t put the visitor through the
te others with guilt. Mobile giving eliminates both issues.
hassle of wondering if they’re expected to pay to listen to this
4. It’s not a secure way to handle cash
sermon or not.
There are always security issues with handling cash and chec-
3. It makes members feel awkward, too
ks. There’s a handful of people who have to count it together,
Let’s be honest. Passing the plate makes regular attenders feel
and then it’s put in the safe. Then the treasurer has to come
and re-handle it, and then deposit it.
7. It’s a poor use of volunteers
How mobile giving solves this: Any method that automates the
People want to get involved and do something meaningful and power-
transfer of funds from one account to another is going to solve
ful. We shouldn’t just put them into positions that don’t provide oppor-
this problem. That includes direct deposits, text-to-give, kios-
tunities for growth. Some people have been responsible for taking the
ks, and mobile giving. The nice thing is about these methods
offering for years, and anyone can do it. Let’s help get those volunteers
is that anyone can contest them with their bank if they feel
into areas where they can grow and mature in Christ.
there’s a discrepancy. That’s not the case with cash.
How mobile giving solves this: When people are responsible for their
5. It’s not a biblical practice We’re in danger of assuming that passing the plate is biblically prescribed . . . and it’s not. I guess if we really want to follow a scriptural practice,
BY CONSTANTLY PROMPTING PEOPLE TO GIVE, WE'RE NOT REALLY TRAINING THEM TO BE GIVERS.
everyone can take their cash and checks and bring them to the podium and lay them at the pastor’s feet (Acts 4:35). No one wants to do that.
own giving, there is no need to create middle-man positions that require
When Paul’s reminding the Corinthians that he’s sending
volunteer time—ensuring that we can use them for important ministry!
some workers to pick up the money they’ve promised to be-
8. It enables spiritual immaturity
lievers in Macedonia, he instructs them about their practice
The important element in Christian generosity is in making a decision
of giving. For Paul, it’s as simple as giving what they have
to be generous, deciding how much you intend to give, setting that
decided in their heart to give (2 Cor. 9). The onus is on the
amount aside, and then giving it. Discipling them to do this and not be
believer to decide what they’re willing to give, to set it aside,
tight-fisted when comes to dealing with the Lord and his people is hard
and to make sure it makes its way into the right hands.
work. Passing the plate every week is much easier.
The method of collection isn’t a sanctified element, the decision to give is. 6. It’s lost time in your service Think about all the time an offering takes from your service. Sure, there are times when taking an offering is a meaningful, and even beautiful, event. But it can be a pro forma activity that kills the momentum from one element to another. Think of all the other ways that time in the service could be better used. How mobile giving solves this: Obviously if everyone uses mobile giving, that time is redeemed—and you can still take
By constantly prompting people to give, we’re not really training them to be givers. And when I talk to other pastors about why we hold on to this practice, their answer is almost always that people won’t give otherwise. The fact that we think that we have to pass the plate every week or else people won’t be generous is proof that the way we’re doing things is enabling people to stay at their current level of maturity when it comes to giving. How mobile giving solves this: Collecting offerings using sources like mobile giving puts the responsibility on the Christian to be responsible for their resources—and on leadership to train them to be givers. And we can wean people off of a stimulus/response model
a minute to remind everyone of your mobile app and giving
of Christian generosity.
options in your services without everything coming to a
9. It doesn’t encourage sacrificial giving
In a 2014 survey by Bankrate, it was discovered that fewer than two out
of five customers carry less than $20 in their wallet at any given time, and more than twothirds carry less than $50 in their wallets. USA Today said in a 2014 piece that between 2003 and 2012, the number of checks written fell by 18.3 billion—a little less than half. If people are carrying less cash and checks but we’re counting on offering to be the way that people give money to the church, we’re just encouraging people to give what they have on them. This isn’t training them to give sacrificially; it’s training people to give as an afterthought from their excess. If you have a special speaker or mission Sunday and have to take two offerings, you’re dipping back into the pockets of people who don’t have too much to give, and already have given what they felt they could spare. How mobile giving solves this: When people learn to give using mobile, they have to make decisions about how much they’ll give and are likely to give more. 10. It is a doomed model If you’re holding onto passing the plate as the best possible model for you church, you’re counting on baby-boomers who are more likely to use checks and cash. Millennials have embraced mobile banking. An eMarketer post from August, 2015 said, “59% of 18-to34-year-old mobile phone users in the country will access their bank, credit union, credit card or brokerage account via mobile browser, app or SMS on their phones at least monthly this year.” Even 28% of baby boomers are using their mobile devices for banking. The future requires the church to start training millennials to be generous givers and considering how to implement the technology they’ve grown accustomed to.