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Churches have a wealth of great content. It’s true. Yet so many churches struggle when it comes to finding the right things to post on social media, websites or other communications avenues.

June 16, 2015 0 0 comments
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If podcasts can help reach a bigger audience with the love of Jesus then let’s do it! Right?

May 18, 2015 0 5 comments
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Is your church website going to be ready for Easter? Here’s why it matters...

February 18, 2015 0 0 comments
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Building and maintaining a good website is a struggle for many churches. Here are some of the most common roadblocks you can remove to give your website a better chance.

January 9, 2015 2 0 comments
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We have created a short tutorial that explains the simple process of subscribing to a topic, author, or specific post on The Network.

January 5, 2015 0 0 comments
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In this guide you’ll find an introduction to the basics, guidance for setting up your account (with examples from other churches), posting strategies and a look at Twitter ads.

October 17, 2014 0 0 comments
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I would like to be able to give people the opportunity to watch the sermon on Sunday even though they are not able to attend in person. I'm asking for help to find out what kind of technology do we need...

September 19, 2014 0 2 comments
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My Charity Connects, a special initiative of CanadaHelps, assists charities in learning about social media and online technology.

August 14, 2014 0 0 comments
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While some churches are rocking Twitter, others aren’t giving the best impression of who they are. If you’re committed to being on the blue bird network, here are some areas for you to consider.

July 28, 2014 0 0 comments
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What guidance do children and youth need from parents and the church in navigating the internet?

July 23, 2014 0 1 comments
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There are so many choices out there. I was wondering if anyone had either used, or could recommend a good Admin software?

July 14, 2014 0 0 comments
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The technological side of designing and building a website can be intimidating. But choosing to ignore the web isn’t a smart option. Here are a few reasons why.

July 9, 2014 1 0 comments
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Because we know it can be intimidating to try new things (even more so if the results will be published on the Internet) we created two short tutorials that demonstrate the simple steps of starting a new post.

June 17, 2014 0 0 comments
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In this webinar, we discuss a multi-media approach to communicating with members and your surrounding community. We look at websites, social media, email, in service announcements and more.

May 21, 2014 0 1 comments
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Are you thinking about creating a new church website with WordPress? This video has 6 things you should look for in a theme.

May 20, 2014 0 0 comments
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So many different church website options can sometimes seem overwhelming. These three questions are foundationational for figuring out which option is best for you and your church.

May 14, 2014 1 0 comments
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Having a hard time keeping up with all the changing layouts of social media sites? Not to worry.

May 12, 2014 0 0 comments
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If the change of seasons motivates you to do something new, here are five tips for sprucing up your church website.

April 16, 2014 0 0 comments
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How to make the most of Twitter's new design.

April 9, 2014 0 0 comments
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I just finished reading Justin Wise’s The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication. It was a great book that actually achieved its subtitle’s goal. It created a pretty comprehensive case (practically and biblically) why churches should engage in social media. This has got me thinking about how my church uses social media and in particular Facebook...

February 11, 2014 0 4 comments
Blog

They (whoever “they” are) have been saying for a while now, “The world’s going mobile,” and it sure seems they are right, doesn’t it? Wherever you look, people are peering, or talking, or singing along, or listening as they walk, ride, fly -- whatever. What about you and your church? Are you going mobile?

January 25, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Looking back on technology in 2013, tablets were a pretty important item. The first Apple iPad was released in 2010, so the tablets have been around a while now, but it seems to me that they were still quite newsworthy throughout 2013. If not newsworthy, they were at least penetrating more and more into our lives, including our work lives. Have you found this to be true? Are you or those you know using tablets at work? At home? How about at church?

January 14, 2014 0 14 comments
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A new year is a great motivator to do something better. For many of you, church communications is on that list. Looking ahead, here are five areas where you might want to focus your attention in 2014.

January 6, 2014 0 0 comments
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As the new year starts, it is also the start (well, restart) of my stint as a guide for the Church & Web Network. What would you like to talk about? I don’t have nearly all the answers, but I can definitely pose questions, find some information or sources of information, and solicit discussion. See the list of topics in the blog - pick from there or come up with your own! Let's talk.

January 2, 2014 0 0 comments

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Mavis, I just started to looking at Salesforce in our church and appreciate your posts.  I did not install the NonProfit Package when I first signed up.  I don't know what version of the NonProfit you were talking about in this blog post, but Salesforce has come out with Version 3.  After looking at the it's household model, (your SPAM filters didn't let me put in a link)  I felt like it was the best option for us.   I tried to install the extra pack afterwards and ran into some big access issues.  I wasn't too far along in our process, so we just started over with fresh install of Salesfoce NonProfit Pack (one of the first options when you sign up).  I would really suggest that people do their homework on accounts before they sign up.  They can spare themselves some problems.  As you said, the non profit may not work best for everyone.  If you think it is best, it is smart to start with it rather than trying to convert to it later.

I think that podcasts can be a helpful supplement to our church attendance but should not replace it. There is something about a sermon when it is delivered live that cannot be reproduced on a recording. However, I listen to several of them and produce my own at https://www.themcintyres.org/verse-by-verse-preaching-podcast/

I listen to podcasts from West end CRC and the PKN church in Amersfoort Holland. I am bi-lingual so get first hand information from two countries. These are supplemented by attendance at out local church. I usually listen to them if the second service has a topic that I am less interested in. My preference is  to listen only to the sermon as the music is often hard to hear and singing is not always clear. West end only has the sermon on the podcast while PKN does the whole service.

The whole issue of using todays media to listen to ideas buy things is being highly under rated by leaders in churches and industry.

A recent article by Gayla Postma in the Banner mentions the recommendation to amalgamate  Home Missions and World Missions but there was no mention of the BTGMI ministry which is on the forefront of media like podcasts and internet. The article mentions changes in the world necessitate this amalgamation  I think the leadership of the church (in this case Synod) had better have a very sober look at what is being suggested here by insiders of the organization. I would like some delay in this major change as the pain to get it done will be much worse than the benefits. Other than do I we say there were no tangible benefits listed. To have quadruple bosses (2 in USA and 2 in Canada running this amalgamated ministry looks like an impossible situation to me.

Home Missions and BTGMI should get together and make sure all of our churches are set up professionally with podcasts that meet their market needs. That would be a great support to congregations rather than have Burlington and GR spend 2-5 years getting the huge ministry up and running.

 

 

I find podcasts wonderful to hear a variety of speakers and talks. I often load them on my ipod and listen to them while on vacation. Podcasts should however, not replace your regular church attendance where you are part of a community and have a pastor that knows and speaks into that community.

 

As a pastor I love listening to sermons. First of all, it is good to hear others preach. Second, I listen when I am jogging or have a long drive instead of listening to secular music. Finally, I get exposed to a wide range of preachers and ideas and scriptural insights. What a great blessing it is to supplement my own devotional reading in this way. Shalom

 

I think podcasts are a great tool for both the regular attendee and someone just exploring Christianity for the first time. I've personally used podcasts to keep in touch with my church while I was overseas, and have downloaded them if I had to miss a Sunday during a sermon series. For a newly interested person it can be an option to hear a sermon, even if they are intimidated by the idea of going to the physical building. Podcasts have so many advantages in so many different situations! 

Christopher,

I work for a streaming technology provider and would be happy to answer any questions and give you some direction.  The most cost effective technology we have found to do what you are talking about is NewTek TriCaster.  This device would take a feed from up to 4 live cameras simultaneously and would also take an audio feed from your existing house audio system.  You would only need one operator if you use fixed shots or if you use robotic cameras.  Streaming capability is built in, and all you would need is an account with a Content Delivery Network to replicate your stream to viewers all over the world plus an internet connection with at least 2 megabit outgoing bandwidth for medium quality or 10 megabit outgoing bandwidth for high definition. The numbers I am quoting are based on doing a multi-bitrate feed that will work for all viewers no matter how fast or slow their broadband connection speed is.  Slower connections are fed a lower quality feed, and faster connections get high quality automatically.  This does not require any management or understanding of the process on your end as the Content Delivery Network or CDN takes care of this.

A really good CDN to use is Livestream since they have direct integration with the TriCaster system as the encoder and they provide a simple and robust interface to set up your broadcast events.  They also have flat rate pricing, meaning that you don't have to guess at how much bandwidth you might use or pay for additional viewers.  Livestream has a free plan that let's you get started on a trial basis, and you can move up to one of three different paid plans as you decide what features you need.  Paid yearly plans start at $499, which works out to about $50/month, and they offer unlimited duration (24/7 if needed), unlimited viewers, unlimited archive storage for video on demand, and unlimited bandwidth.  You can find more information about Livestream yearly plans here.

There are other ways to do this that might cost less, but you lose critical features that are really important for the final product.  For example, if you start with a device that only provides a single bitrate then you have to choose a target bitrate that works across the board for all of the people watching.  Since you might have some people watching with slow connections, you would have to settle on a streaming quality that is very low, and even people with faster connections would be stuck watching at that low quality.  The alternative is to turn the quality and the bitrate up to a point where the quality looks acceptable, but then some viewers will not be able to watch the stream at all, or they will experience frequent dropouts or buffering.  This is a low quality viewer experience, and I would not recommend a single bitrate solution to anyone.

Another factor is that you could start with a single camera and no video switcher.  This makes operation of the system simpler, but it also provides a lower quality viewer experience since you have to set the camera to a wide viewing angle where you can see the whole stage, but you lose the ability to make out faces and expressions.  You could have a camera operator attempt to follow the action and still provide close-ups, but this can be distracting if you have a very animated pastor that walks around a lot, plus you cannot get reactions and crowd shots at the same time.  Using a device such as TriCaster allows you to take multiple camera angles at the same time and mix the output into a produced feed that looks as smooth and as slick as anything you see on television.  You can have titles and graphics, you can integrate an existing feed from presentation software that may be currently driving your projector, and you can get close-ups, reaction shots and wide angle views to mix into the live stream at will.  You could start with a basic TriCaster 40 in the $5,000 price range, but the TriCaster 460 system I linked above is a much more robust solution that will have the longevity to serve your congregation into the future.

Hi Christopher. A key decision will be whether you want to make the webcast public or private. If public, then you'll need a webcasting license for all your music, and you'll need to ensure you are legally allowed to broadcast video of the people/leaders in your congregation (I think this can be sometimes done with a blanket-notification (e.g. in the bulletin) but privacy laws vary and so you'll need to confirm the laws in your region - I'm not a lawyer). Google it and you'll find some other good articles like this.

Password-protecting the webcast so it's only available to members (who can't physically attend the service) would, I assume, change some of the above and make it much simpler. But that would need to be confirmed.

If so, then you could look at doing it as a Google Hangout (can have up to 10 people) or Skype or similar services. But instead of using the built-in laptop webcam, of course you'd need to use a good quality external camera/mic that can zoom all the way to the front podium. I've used $100 external USB cameras that might do the trick, but it depends on how far away the camera would be. Do some online shopping for USB cameras/webcams and I'm sure you can find something with a good optical zoom.

Hope this helps, at least somewhat. I've used these technologies, but not in a church context so maybe some others can chime in who have experience with it in a church service context.

prayer

 

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life,

until the shadows lengthen,

and the evening comes,

and the busy world is hushed,

and the fever of life is over

and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in thy mercy,

grant us a safe lodging,

a holy rest,

and peace at last,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

                                          == Cardinal Newman

 

posted in: Internet Culture

This is a fantastic presentation. I sat in on a similar presentation by Jerod a couple of years ago, and I'm a big fan of Church Juice and the work that they do.

In my experience, though, most CRC churches do not have staff or even volunteers with the necessary skill set to carry out the kind of strategic planning work, let alone the implementation of the ideas outlined here. I believe CRC churches need to raise the priority of this kind of work from both a staffing and budgeting perspective if they truly want to reach more people more effectively for Christ.

And full disclosure: I am a self-employed communications consultant specializing in planning and implementing communications strategies for small businesses, non-profits and churches.

James Bosma - Lift Communications

We have a fairly active Facebook page, and can be found at; https://www.facebook.com/SussexChristianReformedChurch

Thanks, Brad! Your response reminded me to pass this info about Onsong on to my praise team. I meant to do it when Allen mentioned it but had forgotten. It's great to learn about different apps and technologies that are helping us lead worship or do other "churchly" activities.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

I agree with Allen Onsong is a great app.  I preach from my Ipad too and encourage my folks to read their Bible from it.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

A little shamelss self promotion as well, I have created a new set of guides to help congregations figure out which many church websites option are the best for them.  You can find it here. New Church Website Guide

Today, I had two of my pastor friends who aren't currently involved in social media tell me that they watched this Justin Wise interview. One bought the book. Both felt convicted to start and empowered to take next steps! LOVE IT! It has some great take aways for you and your church. http://www.churchwp.net/social-media-and-the-church-interview-with-justin-wise/

I agree with Wendy.  I think you should create a FB page that is view as another online connection point for your church and the outside world.  We have a closed prayer group that is closed/ private to accomplish for private inhouse matters.  Links and those kinds of things would be great for potential visitors to see. 

Janet, I would consider adding a facebook page in addition to the group that you have set up. The page is for public updates and is where people would look if they were looking for churches to visit/attend or if they want to quickly find event dates (if you are using that feature . . . which I recommend because that's how a lot of people keep their calendars these days).

The group could be clearly labeled as only for church members. You might also consider changing the settings to closed so that it doesn't show up in searches. That way you are not being elitist - if they are not a member, they don't get in.

Our church has a fb page but so far it has been a "closed group". We use it to update members on events, sickness, prayer requests, deaths and such information. Privacy for our congregation is the big reason for being a closed group. It also helps to build a community within our regular attenders. I will also attach links if they pertain to the current sermon series or current events.  We have a separate church website which is open for all. What is your thoughts on keeping the entire FB page a closed group? I sometimes feel guilty in ignoring "friend requests" from strangers who have no affiliation  to  our church. Usually these requests come from places like Nigeria, Rwanda or other far off places. Are we being elistist? Should this be an open group?

Are there any guidelines or policy regarding privacy  regarding live stream, video or photo on church website

Great infomation.

8 years! Let's hope it doesn't take that long! Maybe your husband should consider being the driving force - he could go for it and show everyone what it does and why it's a good thing, nothing to frown about. And if the technology helps him because of his visual impairment, all the better it seems to me.

I hadn't thought of using it for children's messages, but that is a really good idea. 

Thanks for sharing, Jane.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

I used the tablet a few times for the children's message because pictures can be accessed and shown for the message.  They connect to technology and pay attention to it.  My husband is visually impared and if he were not so conscious about it, he would use the pad to read the Bible passage.  Too many people frown on it yet so we must get them educated on these points. Another 8 years ought to do it!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

Nice, Richard! You'll have to share if/when you start using Logos for the parishioners. I know -- hard to keep up with all the good things out there!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

Google's terms of service for non-profits may present interesting problems for Christian services not in thrall to the Zeitgeist:

- My organization does not discriminate on any unlawful basis in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services.- My organization does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring/employment practices.  In Google's terms of service, the latter requirement was once part of the former. No longer. Google not only doesn't allow organizations to "unlawfully" discriminate based on sexuality (the former requirement), but now can't discriminate in any way whatsoever regarding specifically one's sexuality. It's interesting that this is the sole area where Google is asserting requirements beyond the law.  Technically, this certainly seems to allow for hiring homosexuals who are celibate. Indeed, it would require that no policy of preference for heterosexuals is in play. Personally, I suspect that Google would frown on any "celibacy" clause, however.  Churches already using Google Apps aggressively might want to consider the implications if Google rescinded licensing for Apps based on any finding they might assert. The worst case scenario would be for churches with liberal account policies, because reverting to a business use of Apps would become prohibitively expensive where there are high user counts.   In short, the more dependent a church becomes on this asset, the more catastrophic the consequences if Google phones this in. There's a certain sense of "rope-a-dope" to this. If a denomination maintains that homosexuality is disordered, I have little doubt that activists will one day raise public red flags, such that the Googles of the world will feel pressure to act. And it won't much matter whether they call in their non-profit grants of use, or merely change the terms so that churches exercising integrity will be forced to revert to business use.   Personally, I don't think this is a matter of if, but of when. 

Hi John, that's cool you guys are already doing it. How nice the technician can enjoy being with the congregation. Thanks for the comment!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

We use a tablet to control our soundboard.  For simpler services (like our evening service) this allows the sound technician to sit with the congregation.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

I use ShowDirector to change PowerPoint slides during the sermon. I have the entire service uploaded via Box.com as a PDF to my Android tablet. No more printing everything out on paper. It reduces the amount of stuff I have in a filing cabinet... but you really have to be diligent in maintaining one central place for all your electronic files and keep them up to date.

I'm considering how to use Logos software with parishioners for not only Bible study, but for sermon preparation. I won't tackle that one for awhile. Too many other good things to juggle at this time.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

Great information.

We had a guest praise band last week that had all their music and songs on tablets, too. Seems like a great way to go. I love the story of the sound controller being accused of gaming in church. I can totally see how that could happen!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

Hi Smitty! Sounds like you get really good use from your Kindle. I still prefer the iPad for some of the other apps it's got that the Kindle doesn't, plus I can still use the Kindle app on it. But the Kindle is a better price and it's adding features all the time. 

I love using Kindle for highlighting, as you mentioned. When I read a book for a book club, it's so nice to be able to quickly find my highlighted areas for discussion.

I also love books, though, and even converted a bedroom in my house to a library. I love the feel of books, the smell of books, the look of them, the whole deal. So I feel too guilty to do all my reading on my device. As a compromise, right now I typically read non-fiction in Kindle, and fiction in "real books." It salves my conscience anyway! :)

posted in: Tablets in Church?

I'll have to check out the gadgets and apps, Allen. They sound cool! My pastor would like your comment about Apple making "life even better." He's a true Apple guy. :) Thanks for the input!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

My wife Ellen and I play weekly in our "Grace Gospel Band". We play in a different Senior facility each week combining worship, instrumentals and group singing. I have all our music scores and lyrics on my tablet and placing it on a music stand, I can swipe to the next song easily. Since  these facilities are kept quite warm there are fans blowing. Having our music on a tablet avoids paper sheet music from blowing away.

You raised the possibility of controling sound and lighting from a tablet. That is already being done from anywhere in church. I heard of one sound person controling the sound from a seat well forward in the sanctuary. After the  service as he was walking down the isle to exit with the rest of the visitors, an elderly lady chastised him loudly for playing games on his game pad during a church worship service. His explanation did not "fly" with her!

posted in: Tablets in Church?

I use my Kindle during Workship for notes and Hi-liting the scripture...Also use it to compare versions, and to use comentaries ....epecially when using the Bible Gateway ( www.bibllegateway.com . )  More than 90% of my personal reading is done on my Kindle, including news, seminary classes, and e-mail..

posted in: Tablets in Church?

There are a lot of great apps to use in worship as well.  I recently bought an iPad 2 for just a few simple but important uses.  One is to preach from.  I tried my Kindle Fire but the screen is just a bit too small.  Great for reading but that's about it. A second app I use regularly is OnSong which lets me keep all my sheet music on and display set lists when I lead worship (I plan on doing a review of this software for the Worship page on the Network).  I'm also in another band and keep all our songs on there.  I have an iPad holder that mounts to my mic stand so no more music stand in the way.  It's sooo versatile.  I'm an Apple guy now so all my devices sync which makes life even better.

posted in: Tablets in Church?

Thanks for sharing. This is awesome info. Im a new, upcoming salesforce admin and I am trying to learn all I can. I want to build a "practice app" for a "pretend" church. I typed in "salesforce church" on Google and this page came up. Very good information. Thanks!!

Yes,  CVLI for most - you will have to double check to make sure that they are covered under that particular licence.  Since your church has the most popular blanket licences, you should be able to cover most of the songs.  

As a church music director, I would hesitate to use a YouTube video to introduce songs.  Having the praise team or choir learn the song is much more realistic.  Because you will never sound like the youtube video, unless you have the exact same people playing using the exact same instruments.

 

Parallax scrolling. Now I finally know what that's called! Thanks.
S.

I used it successfully to manage expenses, sunday service attendance, expenses and a few other items I wanted to track.  I also used it for email marketing via Vertical Responses' 10000 free emails / month.  Post if you'd like more info.  We are no longer running the church (we closed the church plant I was leading), but I am still passionate to see how Salesforce can help nonprofits reach their mission. jb

Understanding who your intended audience is to be will help determine what your web site should contain.  Our focus has been to provide information to both the congregation and community.  Based on our visitation statistics, and comments from members and visitors, our most frequently viewed pages besides the home page has been the weekly bulletin page, followed by "who to contact," then our church activites page.  These pages give visitors some idea of what the church is doing, and what is important to the congregation.

Our site is in the midst of a recontruction itself, so we will be making adjustments to content as well.  A web page does need to be dynamic, so you should be able to review site activies and be able to make adjustments to better serve you congregation and community.

posted in: New Church Website?

Thanks for the info. I just started the 30 day trial period. BTW: though I am well versed with SW usage, I have no background in database, CRM or accounting SW . From what I have seen so far I see we could use it for membership tracking and tithes and offerings. I was wondering if there is a way to use it for tracking expenses and reconcile the books.

Blessings

Matt

Those look good. Perfect timing, as my church is looking at making a change. Thanks for the blog post, and for this particular lead.

I love studiopress, it is SO flexible. I use it on several of my blogs and websites.

Great walk-through!

If starting from scratch still seems a little overwhelming, we would love to help.

Bridge Element helps churches and ministries share the love of Christ through awesome websites that are affordable and easy to edit. 

Check out our designs - http://bridgeelement.com/church-websites

 

Let us know if there is anyway that we can help. 

@Mark, You're right context is make a huge difference. We mainly work with younger churches and churchplants and for them, their website is everything.

We recently did a report on the web activity that we see across all our sites (millions of pages views) Check it out for a little more info. <a href="/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://bridgeelement.com/blog/3-things-visitors-love-to-see-in-church-websites.php" rel="nofollow">http://bridgeelement.com/blog/3-things-visitors-love-to-see-in-church-websites.php"> Church Website Usage Report </a>

One of the most suprising things that we found was that there was a 30% increase in traffic on Sunday mornings and over half of those visitors were on the website for the first time!

It just goes to underscore what Justin said "if [your] church can’t be Googled, it doesn’t exist."

 

 

Thanks Jerod keep these info bits coming.

Quite useful to note and apply

 

Hi Jerod,

Thank you for passing on these tips for more effective use of social media.  I especially appreciate your advice to keep tweets shorter, for easier reading and more interaction. 

Thank you!

--Leon

We are migrating over to Faith Websites which has a feature like this. I wonder if people have advice on how to use it well.

For web hosting check http://www.bigrock.com/. They are providing the most streamlined and cost-effective online solutions. They are an ICANN-accredited domain registrar with successful enabling of over 6 million websites to come live.

For anyone who wants to learn more about how to use Twitter, I would suggest reading Claire Diaz-Ortiz's book, Twitter for Good. It is especially helpful for organizations who want to tweet, but also helpful for individuals.  I will likely refer back to it occassionally as a reference tool as I seek to #twitter4good. 

--Leon H. Johnston

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