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

Looking to update your church's website in 2017? Here are some keys for modernizing your website as you think about what first impressions you want your church to make online.

December 27, 2016 1 0 comments

Our church may be looking to switch our web host in the near future (we currently use iPower). What do you all use for your church's web host?

November 16, 2016 1 3 comments

We are looking for a good computer program to access our membership records. Got any recommendations for something that's easy to use and makes it easy to access information? 

September 8, 2016 0 1 comments

This post isn’t about saying “yes” or “no” to using stock photography in general. Instead, we want to help you think strategically about stock images and when you should avoid them.

August 16, 2016 0 0 comments

I find there’s a major disconnect between churches wanting to improve their communication and actually doing it. The challenge is that these conversations require knowing the church's mission and vision.

July 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Church bulletins need images. Social media relies on pictures. All this means you need to understand basic graphic design. Our free ebook, Church Graphic Design 101, walks you through common design projects. 

June 2, 2016 0 0 comments

There’s something about the first warm day in Spring that gives us a rare enthusiasm to clean our homes and yards. As a church communicator, it’s also a great time to look over your website. 

May 19, 2016 0 0 comments

You’ve probably heard the news that the CRC is launching a Digital Library exclusively for CRC churches and members. You may wonder, “How will the Digital Library benefit me and my church?” or “Why a digital library?”

March 15, 2016 0 0 comments

Last week it was announced that the CRC will launch a free Digital Library in April along with a 20% discount for CRCs in June.

February 29, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Tutorial

In part 4 of this Church Data Storage tutorial series, we are going to look at reports. 

January 28, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Tutorial

In part 3 of this Church Data Storage tutorial series, we are going to look at workflows. 

January 25, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Content marketing is a perfect fit for churches. It’s true. It might sound like another generic business term to you, but it’s at the core of what you’re already doing.

January 20, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Tutorial

In part 2 of this Church Data Storage tutorial series (part I found here), we are going to create the lists that are useful in a CRC context.

January 18, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Tutorial

My church is in the process of redoing our member directory. It's a big job and this time we are putting everything into an online database (Planning Center). Here's a tutorial on getting started. 

January 14, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

A huge appeal of Instagram is that it is visual, allowing stories to be told in a way that simply could not be done by text alone. Is your church currently using, or considering using, Instagram?

December 1, 2015 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

I know the church directory is intended to be a resource for members to be able to contact each other. Yet I wonder, is it being used? 

November 16, 2015 2 15 comments

Churches generally desire (and intend) to use images, songs, and videos that are legal and free to use in worship or on websites. But where do we begin? Find some basic tips to get started!

October 29, 2015 2 4 comments
Resource, Software or Application

We recently learned Google Apps is free for churches in Canada. Great news, but what if you're not a Google person? Fear not, Microsoft offers the same feature set as Google Apps...and it's free, too! 

October 7, 2015 1 2 comments

Is it possible for Faith Alive to make ebook/kindle versions of previously published material? Good resources quickly go out of print and it seems a shame to not be able to access them in any way.

September 25, 2015 2 1 comments

Great news - Google for Non-Profits is now available in Canada!

September 24, 2015 1 0 comments

Right at this moment, four people are using the 'Church Finder' on And what churches are they looking for? Yours.

August 11, 2015 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

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
Discussion Topic

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
Resource, Article

Is your church website going to be ready for Easter? Here’s why it matters...

February 18, 2015 0 0 comments



Lots of information! Professional content writing is not everybody’s cup of coffee. I think people should understand this and try to hone their skills. They should also look forward to using new vocab and get an escape from clichéd marketing phrases. 

oops, meant to reply but added a new post. reply below.

We now use planning center people as our principle database and have built custom reports for household reports, printed directory, etc. The online directory is by a company called adjace that links to planning center people.

Integration is done with zapier. However, planning center has not built in webhooks yet so it's not quite perfect.

What database program are you using that links to your office 365??! That would be awesome! I currently have to update contact information in so many places!

I manage the website for my church ( which runs on Clover Sites, which is a website platform built for churches. It tends to run on the simple side (can't link to other web pages from built in tabs, etc) but has been great for our church. It is very easy to build and make changes to our website. Our domain registration is through GoDaddy. When it comes to switching hosts, make sure you read all the specifics that the new host is looking for (this generally requires making changes to our domain name registration DNS). Most web hosting companies have documents and step by step instructions for making these changes. For example, a Google search of "Clover Sites GoDaddy" returns this as one of the top options: I would say that is the biggest thing to consider - If you don't have our DNS settings correct with the new host, your website won't work!

James offers some great advice there. I agree that WordPress is the best choice for most churches, especially if they've got someone in the congregation that builds sites in Wordpress, or can hire someone to do so. Can't go wrong with Wordpress.

We use Drupal for most CRCNA ministry sites, but I wouldn't use it for my local church. It's very powerful, but overkill for a church website. And even though the CRCNA has pretty much standardized on Drupal, we still use Wordpress in some situations.

But actually lately we've spun up a couple of product sites using Weebly (similar to Wix and Squarespace). Examples:

Tools like that are incredibly easy (mostly drag and drop) with nice prebuilt templates. But you need to be content with their featureset because there's no ability to extend beyond it. So look at the list of features carefully, and especially compare that to some of the church-specific tools that James mentions. They all fall into the 'limited technical expertise required' category, it's just a question of what features you'd want/need. is probably between those two options. You get most of the functionality of Wordpress, but avoid some of the more technical aspects (and trade off some customizability).

Hi, Rachael.

There are several service providers that you typically need to manage and maintain a church website and it can get a bit confusing because some of them combine their services.

1. Registrar - This is the service with whom you register your domain (i.e., the address of your site). You pay a yearly fee (usually $10-$20 for this).

2. Hosting - There are different options for this. As someone who designs websites for a living, I strongly suggest you look for something called "managed hosting". Discount hosts are typically slow and have very poor service. Good, managed hosting usually costs between $15 and $30 per month.

3. Content Management System - Wix is actually a content management system that includes hosting. Squarespace is a similar option. As a website creator, I'm not a big fan of those tools for reasons I won't get into here. WordPress has become the world's most popular Content Management System, but it requires some expertise to use it well. Other choices you'll hear are Joomla and Drupal. And to confuse things even further, there are specialized content management systems designed for churches (like Ekklesia360 and Cloversites).  In the right hands, any of these solutions can be fine.

The bigger challenge

When it comes to websites, the challenge many churches face seems to be overall management of website projects, including strategy, content planning, execution and on-going maintenance. Another big challenge is budget. Many CRC churches invest a lot of ime and money on their ministries and on their physical buildings but they don't really invest in doing websites well.  And they often lack the the expertise within their staff/volunteer base to get projects like these done. 

When you have a minute, check out This is a ministry set up by BTGMI to help educate and inform churches about issues like yours.


James Bosma




Planning Center's "PEOPLE" online database is a fantastic way to keep track of all the pertinent information on your congregants.  From the very basic contact information, to marriage and baptism info... it's very customizable too to track things that might be unique to the CRC. Added bonus if you use any of their other programs - everything syncs beautifully!

Maintenance and regular checking would prevent some issues. You might find more info here:

Im using refurbished universal storage at the moment for backup purposes as well. Kinda late mdoel but works like a charm. I frequently migrate new files to my back up just to be safe.

Another option for church web hosting is OurChurch.Com. OCC's web hosting includes a church website builder, which installs, configures and manages WordPress, all the best church plugins and dozens of church-specific themes. Costs range from free to $25/mo.  

Disclaimer: I helped start OurChurch.Com almost 20 years ago and love helping churches live out their mission online.

I so agree, but also that the policy makes so very much sense. :-)

Thanks for sharing! It's very important to consider what makes sense and is most helpful in your particular context. It's a nice bonus that your half of classis also puts out a directory. 

We are blessed with different methods of connecting.  Within our our faith community directly there is a printed list of all members and adherents within their districts.  This list / booklet also includes ministry contact info etc. but does not have any advertising.

In addition the area churches in our half of Classis (approximately 15 groups including a non CRC but Reformed community and a Christian Retirement Home) also distributes the lists of members and adherents of those churches.  So we are connected to the churches around us as well.

In our particular context (large numbers of elderly in a semi-rural town) the online component is not yet a priority as many members do not have computer or internet connections that would warrant this level of connecting.

Sounds like some great ideas for other churches and a very sustainable directory! Thanks for sharing, Justin. 

We are in the process of redoing our directory after a multi-year hiatus. It was a big job getting everybody's information current again. This time around everything went into an online database. 

Now that it's there we can run a report that outputs the directory in the format for our print directory without all the work of updating a word document or whatever was used before. Plus we can quickly run reports on Profession of Faith aged, teens, singles, widows, etc. Even made these great family reports for house visits.

Also we have it linked to office365, mailchimp, etc. through the api so it's change once and update everywhere. So much better!

Also it's free, so dutch friendly :)


What a cool idea, Rod! It's really amazing to look back on a church year and just see a small glimpse of the many ways in which God has worked. Thanks for sharing!

We use it throughout the year to take candid shots of various events, worship services, and other activities and then compile them into a video that we show at our annual 'Belonging Service' where we celebrate our membership in the church. The video is always a highlight as we celebrate our lives together. Anyone can post pictures, but we do have to pull some down because we have folks whose identities ought not be shared publicly. 

Thanks for sharing, Angie! Sounds like your church is pretty active on Facebook. Also, you make a good point about the benefits of how Instagram displays pictures (clean and simple). 

My church doesn't use Instagram yet, but we do use Facebook quite a bit to share photos from worship, children's ministry, and other church events. I'd love if my church shared these photos through Instagram too! It's easy to scroll through an Instagram feed, and I find that photos don't get buried as easily as they do on Facebook. 

Eva - thanks for the timely and helpful comment. I'm finding via responses that these church directories are still an incredibly useful and valuable tool. I can see it being a bit of work to maintain both printed and online versions. Looking forward to hear the progression of how your church decides to best transition! 

Thanks, Bill! Agreed that it is very important to keep spam out of any sort of online directory. 

What timing to see this posted on The Network. We just finished updating our directory, and have it available to our members in both printed and online versions. We also have a picture directory online, but it needs serious updating. Our congregation is a good size, so they appreciate having a photo to help identify who is who, especially as the young couples marry and have their own children. But keeping track of two versions is a lot of work. I anticipate that within ten years time, we will only have the online version. 

But to see it obsolete? No. Now that phone books are no longer being produced, this is one of the main ways of keeping in touch with each other. People eagerly look forward to their updated copy each fall.

Unless a phone directory is restricted to members, they will be suckers for every sort of advertising and political campaign . . . every sort of nut.

Thanks, Bert! Glad to hear it is such a helpful resource. 

Thanks, Jim! Interesting that your church is using both - nice way to be inclusive. Do they plan to continue with both or only the Instant Church Directory?

My Church Membership in in the First Christian Reformed Church of Sarnia, Ontario. In our city, we have three congregations of our Denomination and every other year, we publish an updated Church Directory of the three congregations, with the new directory to be published in 2016. I'm a bit puzzled that there would be even a discussion about church directories, if it would be a thing of the past. Absolutely not!!

In our home, we use our church directory almost daily and when there are changes, we update our directory. As far as we are concerned, church directories is a very practical publication and very helpful for the majority of our church members.

We have a printed directory, but last year also starting using an online directory, Instant Church Directory.  It runs on smart phones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers.  Many find it very helpful to look up names and faces, make phone calls, or get directions to members houses.


Jim - Ann Arbor CRC

Thanks for providing an email for specific questions, Rachel! It's nice to have another resource for wading through these sometimes complicated questions! 

Thank you Diane and Staci for the helpful resources that you provided. Copyrights are very complicated and in general when in doubt, it is best to ask. Check out the resources offered in Staci's post or Diane's comments for a great starting place for helpful information and if you have questions please email us. We are here to help you navigate permissions and copyrights. Please feel free to email with your questions. 

Hi Diane, 

Thank you so much for sharing those additional resources! Very helpful. 



Thanks for being so concise and honest about this rather complicated subject, Staci. It's important but hard to really grasp all the implications sometimes for us in ministry. If people want more info related to worship and copyrights - especially music, projection, etc, here are a few more articles they can check out. 
Copyright Info-Clearing Up the Confusion (Maybe!)

Is Your Church Breaking Copyright Law?

How to Project and Reprint Legally


Great info, Al. I didn't realize Microsoft's solution had email accounts, etc. just like Google Apps. It's good to have options. Thanks for taking the time to write this up for everyone's benefit. I hope you keep posting!

@Randy - Google Docs is great...if you fully switch to it. You're absolutely right that if you try to keep a foot in both worlds, you'll have no end of hassle with messy conversions, etc. That where Microsoft's solution would be a way better fit.

Has anyone else used Microsoft's Office 365 in this way for a church or company? Cloud solutions like these just seem like such a great fit for churches since churches have way more offsite volunteers than onsite staff.

Thank you very much for this information! I have signed up and started the process for our congregation.

And Google docs are from the devil! :)

(At least when you try to use them with MS Word).

Good question, Jeff, and it's great to hear there's interest in some of the out-of-print products from Faith Alive. I'm involved with the ongoing printing and distribution of Faith Alive products, so I'll share some of the thinking we've had about this exact issue.

First, it's important to understand that getting those electronic files created does cost money. In some cases, quite a bit depending on how old it is, what format the electronic file is in, etc. In some cases it means pulling it off of old media or converting from an old file format. Even if it's in a modern format, proper ebook conversion (ePub) can be a couple of hundred dollars per title. Bottom need a lot of requests for a title to justify the staff time it takes to retrieve and convert it.

Having said that...we are working on a solution that will result in far fewer titles going out of print. It's called 'print-on-demand' and it enables us to keep titles in print even if the sales volume goes down to just a handful of copies a year. Once that is in place, we can not only keep more titles in print, but consider bringing back into print some older titles. We still have the costs mentioned above, but by 'restocking' it we make it available to more people and therefore the conversion costs can be recouped.

If there's a particular title you're interested in, please mention it when you call Faith Alive, or send a note to Our customer service reps are logging those requests, so we can track demand and make stewardly decisions about what titles to bring back.

Or we can start a list here, and open it up to other people reading this thread: What Faith Alive titles would you like to see back in stock?

Nice article, Tim. Cool that this page gets looked at so often! Good job.

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

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! 


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.



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;

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



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