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Last week, Facebook gave a preview of its new search feature that looks for answers by exploring your Facebook experience as well as what your friends have shared. While Google searches the entire web, Facebook Graph Search gives you results based solely on your Facebook social life. It’s personalizing search.

January 22, 2013 0 1 comments
Q&A

Our church has recently begun using online sign ups via email for various needs. www.signupgenius.com   We have had great success with this.  We are realizing that people are willing to commit to things when then have a calendar in front of them at home.  

We are in the process of gathing...

January 8, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

We do not have a church web site and we need help to get a church web site started for Community CRC.  We do have an account and name with a host/server for our new wweb site. If anyone is able to volunteer and help us develop a web site for our church-please contact Pastor jim at fwcrc@hotmail....

January 8, 2013 0 1 comments
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We may be doing everything right in terms of good communication, great Sunday worship and connecting people with the community, yet personal preference may keep someone from making a first (or return) visit to your church. It’s the classic relationship line, “It’s not you, it’s me.” So if we know that people’s preferences play a role in determining where they go to church, there are a few things I think we should always keep in mind ...

December 26, 2012 0 0 comments
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Building and maintaining good, useable websites are a struggle for churches of all sizes. Large and small alike have websites that don’t accurately represent who they are and don’t help people better connect with their church. There are many reasons why websites don’t reach their potential, but here are three things I think churches commonly underestimate about the web.

December 13, 2012 0 0 comments
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Managing a Facebook page has become a frustratingly depressing task for many. But like many things we do, managing a Facebook page isn’t easy.  You have to look at how all the features of Facebook work together and also understand the realities of how Facebook fits into your overall communication strategy. 

December 6, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

Are you familiar with the concept of responsive web design? If not, then it may be time to learn a little bit about it. Responsive web design is a new way of building websites that eliminates the need to think about a separate mobile version of your website for each of a variety of platforms.  Instead, you spend time designing one site that works on any platform: desktops, tablets or smartphones.

November 14, 2012 0 1 comments
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There's a great PBS short video that explored the art of web design.  It’s not only a brief look at the history of where the web’s been, but also a guide to what’s happening now.  As I watched, nine greats points emerged that I think are useful for both web design veterans and newbies.

October 23, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

We often talk about the importance of a website acting as your church’s front door.  It’s a way to make a good first impression about who you are and what you believe.  Yet often times our websites are full of barriers that keep people from fully being a part of our congregations.

September 26, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

Don't rely on your websites to protect your information – that's your responsibility. Your accounts are all linked because they belong to you and use your personal information, and that can make you vulnerable to a chain reaction. But never fear: there are some little things you can do to make a big difference in your security.

September 17, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

It’s tempting to link all of your social media accounts together. If you post something to Facebook, it’s simple to have it automatically feed to Twitter.  While linking accounts may feel like a way to simplify your work flow, I would argue it’s weakening the community and impact of your social media accounts.

August 23, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

One of the biggest changes Facebook has made in recent memory is the switch to Timeline.  With that came the ability to upload a cover photo that displays across the top of your Facebook Page.  This large, central picture is sure to make a strong first impression to your Facebook friends.  Yet, some churches aren’t utilizing that space the best they can.

August 9, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

Hopefully we realize church websites have a growing role in leading visitors to our church while also helping our congregations better connect with their church community.  Some new statistics on church websites show how people are using them and what they expect to find.

August 1, 2012 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

There must be a simple answer, but I would like to know the ins and outs of using pictures of people on our church's web site. Do people give implicit permission by attending church events? Clearly we can ask permission from a few where individuals are highlighted, but what about group shots...

July 26, 2012 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

I'm a CRC planter in Manhattan, NY.

I just wanted to pass along a recommendation for a website that we've found very useful here in NYC that is now going national.  

Its called Faith Street (faithstreet.com).  I'd encourage you to explore the site and see if it might work well for...

July 11, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

Church Juice, a project of Back to God Ministries, is giving away two $2,000 grants to churches that have great vision for effectively using communications tools to reach their congregations and surrounding communities. We know communications can be the thankless job in a church.  So we want to stand up and say “You’re doing an awesome job! Now, here’s some cash for your next great idea.” 

July 11, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

Pictures tell stories in a way words alone cannot. Pictures on websites are important and I think they’ll become even more predominant in the future. As I paged through websites, there were a few things I noticed about the images churches decide to use. And there are a few common themes...

June 20, 2012 0 2 comments
Q&A

We would like to schedule visits to coincide with a widow's or widower's wedding anniversary or anniversary of the date of their spouse's death. We would like to enter the data into a calendar once and then have the calendar update itself every year. Further, we would like to have the ability to...

June 19, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

Internet hackers are finding church websites to be easy targets for installing viruses and malware.  In fact, church websites have unseated pornographic sites as one of the riskiest places for the safety of your computer. Web users are three times more likely to encounter malware on a church website than an adult site.

June 11, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

Creating website wireframes is the step we skip far too often when designing a new website. It’s easy to get excited about picking colors, style and a fancy new look, but it can be hard to get passionate about a bunch of empty black and white boxes on a sheet of paper. But wireframing may be the most important step ...

May 30, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

Churches are increasingly investing more time into social media.  It can be a great way to connect with members, regular attenders and new folks in a place where people are already hanging out.  Whether you’re just getting started in social media or have been at it for awhile, here are three tips for avoiding a few common mistakes.

May 7, 2012 0 6 comments
Blog

For many, spring is a time of motivation.  The changing of the seasons get people excited to do new things or clean up old stuff.  So why not give a little seasonal makeover to your church’s website?  Here are three things you could do to spruce up your website to make it more effective.

April 24, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

For those of us involved in working on web stuff for our churches, I think we often times forget about the importance of good writing.  Yet without solid writing, lots of the other work you do becomes less effective.

April 12, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

In the church world, there are lots of things we do for the sake of communicating with first-time visitors.  We add snazzy “I’m New Here” buttons to our website.  We create slick brochures as part of a welcome packet.  Now there’s one more thing to add to the list: Facebook Timeline.

April 5, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

As Easter is quickly approaching, it’s time to make sure you’re equipping your members with ways to share your church.

March 21, 2012 0 1 comments

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Thanks for the help Jerod! pvk

That IS great news! Warm & fuzzy feelings for Google again. :)

Great news, folks. Google has changed their eligibility guidelines and churches may again apply for the non-profit version of Google Apps!

Some links:

Enjoy, and spread the word!

Unfortunately, Canadian nonprofits still can't apply for this. Hope they change that soon! But in the meantime, you can still get started with their regular free version or their $60/user/year paid version.

Welcome, Jerod. Looking forward to hearing more from you. I'm working on boosting our church website, and have enjoyed following the Church Juice blog and the other resources there.

Thanks, Jerod! Great start. Looking forward to following this network with you at the helm.

Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier on this; missed it somehow. If you go to my profile, you'll see a "Contact" tab and you can email me from there.

-- Mavis

Hi Annika,

When I started Salesforce I did lots of training with the videos in their Help & Training site, the Learning Center. The ones under Setup and some under Reports and Dashboards gave me the basics  i needed to get things set up. Their help documentation is very thorough. I also used the little "Help on this page" links a lot as I was working inside the program. 

I also used the Answers section to post questions to the community. It's great the way people are willing to help you out. If I really got stuck, I would open a case. You don't get an immediate answer, but they do respond and work with you.

It sounds like you've got a good start already. Hope things go well.

Thanks for the article!

We just signed up for the free trial with Salesforce and I am learning how to customize the software to make it work for us. The first thing I came across is the need for funds, like you mentioned in your post. 

Do you have any recommendations for training sites? I was able to create an object "funds" and I linked it to "Donations" but this is my first time doing anything like this and I am very unsure if I did it right and if the data will be usable in reports and searchable, etc. 

Any links to more information on how to customize and use Salesforce for churches would be awesome!

Annika

Mavis,

Thanks for all your helpful insights and serving your fellow church members.

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

Thanks, Tim & Greg. It's great to hear that the blog has brought you some practical applications, and furthered the kingdom. Couldn't wish for more.

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

Thanks for all your work on this site.  Our communtiy of faith took away many nuggets that are now being implemented within our technologies.  You have furthered the kingdom! 

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

Thank you, Mavis. Not only for your work as guide during the past year, but for your early and continued enthusiasm for The Network overall. I look forward to your continued participation!

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

Thank you, Jan.

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

What a great job you've done with this blog, Mavis! And I'm not just saying that because you're my sister. Thanks for your work in this forum.

posted in: 'Til We Meet Again

Full circle: coming back to a thread I started to offer tips. :)

I did start a church facebook page for us at https://www.facebook.com/CrossroadsCRC

Also, for Josh's question about interaction, that IS tricky. Facebook has these algorithms so that pages for organizations/businesses don't always appear in everyone's feed. These pages behave differently from our friends in feeds. Facebook may omit a business or organization feed if you haven't shown interest (like, comment, share) in the posts in the past. All that to say, you have to try and post compelling information that will engage people and encourage them to interact by liking, commenting and sharing.

Our page is small with just a few likes, so it doesn't see much traffic, but we are a small church. I also heard somewhere* that if you have page likes = 10% of your "customer base" that's a pretty good target. I'm well over that for our page, as our official membership number is around 160 and our average weekly attendance is something like 200-225.

*Somewhere = Facebook Marketing Solutions https://www.facebook.com/marketing There are a LOT of case studies, articles, archived webinars, etc. at that page that might be helpful for understanding how to engage your audience. They will try to pitch you on advertising, but I just ignore that.

One thing I did when I learned this was send  private Facebook message to a handful of friends at church who I know are active Facebook users and specifically ask them to go out of their way to like, comment or share because that helps with our page visibility.

Hope that helps!

Rebecca

Mavis, Thanks!  These are some great ideas--both for personal worship and for building community by seeing and hearing other worshipers from other parts of the world. 

In our congregation I see people starting to use their Ipads for taking notes on the sermon. A while ago, someone ahead of me was googling pictures or articles related to the sermon topic.   Not sure how I feel about that . . . nice to have access to so much information, but Google isn't connecting God's word to their lives. 

Like so much else in this world--technology is a great gift, but we can choose to use it for good or bad purposes.   I'd love to hear how others are using technology in helpful ways in worship.

I blof for CHrist/God continuously...and have attracted some 230,000 spiritual seekers in the last few months, not nec. Christian but non-the-less seeking a spiritual awakening

Here is a link to the early Christian mystics known as the desert fathers spiritual principles that of all people, a hreat spiritual Jewish fellow made for us! This video is most impressive.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHcOPrRUYuk

Our website www.the-twelve-steps.com has these principles for all people of all faiths.

I might be Christian, with Pentacostal and Assemblies of God and Catholic roots, but I and our team are trying to save lives of drunks and addicts by making the spiritaul side of recovery  FUN!

So, our webpages bounce ecclecly from PRAYERS to Spiritual Tattoos! I know, that sounds funny, but people are flodding in!

God Bless, Bill Booth, author and project manager.

Here are some of our 12 Step MEDITATION videos too! Anf they are totall pro, and inspirational, geel free to use and re-post them at will.

1) From the edge of the universe (SIN) back to earth, form the Hubble http://youtu.be/tMKekFUcoiA

2) Meditation on the path to spiritual awakening, per the12 steps, set in Yosimite Valley and Big Sur

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4Crf1fcR2w

all from http://www.the-twelve-steps.com

posted in: Blogging for God?

That sounds like an interesting problem. Maybe a simple solution would be to to have a batch script to move the files on startup? I am curiuos what OS and capture card you are using? Currently I am using Ubuntu with ffmpeg which is an opensource program. There is a windows version as well http://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/.

Andrew

posted in: Video Record 101

Andrew, thanks for the post.  The church that I work as campus ministry director at just recently did a remodel and added video recording capabilities.  We are still working through some of the bugs and figuring out the best way to get things done.  Since we don't really have a programmer, I think some of  your ideas, which sound awesome are probably beyond us.  Anyways, that's not what my comment is about.  Like you, we also  use a Hauppauge card to record, although it is different from yours.  What I am wondering is what software you are using to do the actual recording.  Right now we are using the softward that came with the Hauppauge card.  However, the issue we have been having is that after we record three or four services it seems to "max out" or something and when we are done recording a service there is only like 4 seconds that get saved.  But if we move the recordings out of the default folder so that it is empty again, then the problem is solved.  I haven't had a chance to investigate this well, but I would be interested in knowing of a better piece of software out there that we could use.  Preferably open-source.  Thanks for your help!

 

Justin

posted in: Video Record 101

Thanks for your comment, Keith. You make a good point that we in the church can benefit by stepping back -- "unplugging" -- and thinking about where, when and why we will or will not use technology.

Thank you, Allen and Martin, for your comments. It's great to hear actual experiences from those of you active in Twitter. What a powerful story, Martin, of your use of prayer during the manhunt in your community. Isn't it amazing God can be present in the virtual world, too?

posted in: Why Give a Tweet?

Thanks for all the input, everyone, and keep it coming! There's also some information and links to resources in the Church & Web blog, "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered By Backups."

Andrew, thank you so much for sharing such detailed information. This will be very helpful for others as they research and begin video recording at their church. I have referenced your entry in my blog, "What Do You Know About Video?" in the Church & Web section of The Network.

posted in: Video Record 101

Thanks for this excellent resource. One of the better things I've read recently about the value of Twitter in ministry comes from Pastor Keith Anderson, Praying the Manhunt on Twitter. Far from simply a tool for pushing out information or recruiting members, Anderson uses the incident of a manhunt in his community to explain how he was able to practice the craft of ministry during a highly stressful time for all using Twitter.

Martin Davis

posted in: Why Give a Tweet?

As a network Admin, the more you backup the better. Windows 7 has a great backup solution built in. I would suggest purchasing a 2 bay NAS (Network Attached Storage) which supports hot swap mirroring. Then I would use 3 hard drives, leave one drive in the system and swap the second and third disk weekly taking it off site. When it comes to recovery, (and it will) the restore will be fast. Other than that I use google docs as another form of backup and moving files around.

I believe bulletins should be password protected, we post out bulletin on a password protected page. The username and password are posted in the bulletin for members. The main issue I see is not some stranger reading the bulletin but web crawlers (ie google) archiving sensitive information about people. It is interesting googling peoples names and finding out they are on coffee for church.

I like it Mavis.  I've been a social media geek for some time now and have not only deepend my relationships with some of my parishioners -- especially the youth, but we've connected into our community with our church Facebook page.  There aren't many on Twitter here where I live, but I follow many of the movers and shakers in the area of small groups and ministry.  I've taken the time to repost them on Facebook for others to see.  It is a very valuable tool for connecting people too.

posted in: Why Give a Tweet?

Is there anything about today's technology that is NOT helpful .. for the church or the body of Christ or our faith formation?

I led a seminar about a decade ago for Christiann communicators, called Technology Unplugged, which allowed communication types to step back from the latest technology and to critically analyse their impact upon our lives. The Church rarely does that. In fact, the Church has historically embraced technology, though pointing out now and then that there are television programs and internet websites that are not conducive to Christian living.

I wrote a decade ago about the Virtual Church, wondering out loud if, "where two or three are gathered online", that can be called a church. Is it the 'body of Christ' when three 'minds' come together for a theological discussion in a chat room or, for that matter, in the CRC Network?

Is an email or text message a suitable substitute for a pastoral visit? I know of churches that actually consider 'an email connection' as a pastoral visit.

The Church, and more specifically the CRC, has not yet developed a theology of technology. I know of at least one church council that has developed its own set of guidelines about when emails may or may not be used when discussing church business. This came about after a lot of misinterpretation of email messages. The church is a relational body and there are times when technology is best left turned off so that individuals can meet face to face.

Conversely, solar-powered radios with prepackaged gospel messages are being dropped by the thousands into remote areas across South America and Africa ... so there are profoundly efficient ways to spread the gospel.

It is, however, high time that North America's Christian community became unplugged long enough to determine just what is helpful and what is hurtful, technologically-speaking, in order to live the Christian life.

Thanks, John and Mark. Good thoughts. And Mark, thanks for the link to the guidelines for accesiblility. Good reminder.

Whether or not people can read the slides also contributes to, or detracts from, effectiveness. Obviously, if slides are projected when the congregation is invited to stand, then a printed alternative needs to be provided for people who cannot stand. Also, text on the slide needs to be accessible for people with visual impairments. Dr. John Frank wrote some excellent guidelines for using technology in an accessible way.

At a recent meeting, not church related, I witnessed the interesting non-use of technology (powerpoint) by two speakers, who although they had a prepared presentation, decided not to use it, and simply spoke from some notes instead, and left off the projector and slides.  I believe they felt the engagement of the audience increased, and that the audience could live in the moment, in the sponteneity.   So I agree, that thought should be given to this, and that sometimes simply changing the pace is one of the most effective methods of relating the message.

On a side note, not technology related, but somewhat similar, is the use of "liturgy".  I am beginning to find distasteful the common practice of "readings" done by everyone in unison.   To me, it is like bad singing and bad music.   While good readings, ocassionally done, and done for effect, may be uplifting, their common overuse leads to a kind of disharmonious drone that hides rather than helps the message.   Often they are too long, and lack the sponteneity and heart-felt familiarity and sense of renewal that a unison reading should contain.   How often will congregants remember these readings or even be affected by them? 

Rather than so many of these unison readings, perhaps heartfelt "Amen!" s   or repetition of key phrases would be more useful. 

Lets also think to the future, in our area the youth are already migrating to smart phone social networks. To many apps to mention but it adds new realm of possiblities. It much more real time which is the direction these networks are heading.

Hmm, I might just have to use that Teamviewer info for a blog and resource. Thanks, Sherick! I didn't know it was free for non-profits.

Routers are not very expensive.  So you can have 2 set up, one not publicly broadcasting with security for office network and the other open.  Each should have different IP range for added seperation.

 Slightly off topic, I have found Teamviewer to be very useful around the Church as it is free for non-profits.  Handy for those volunteers who want to help but can't always make it to the office during the week.

Thanks, Kyle. Good points and excellent information! (And I love the word "shennanigans". :) )

I have mixed feelings about wifi security. Up until about a year ago, my personal wifi was open and I was in good company: security expert Bruce Schneier wrote a short piece on why he also kept his wifi open.

The good news since then is that consumer router technology has progressed to the point where it's possible to run both open and secured networks from the same router. This option, frequently called a "guest" network or a VLAN, lets visitors to your church (e.g., a guest band) hop on easily without having to track down and share passwords. At the same time, the church's computers can remain on the secured, encrypted network, safe from any shennanigans on the public network.

Some consumer routers (e.g, Netgear's excellent WNR3500L) support guest networks out of the box. On others you can install the open source DD-WRT firmware to add guest network capability (though networking expertise is recommended). DD-WRT also has the option of requiring visitors to agree to terms of service before getting online, similar to how many public wifi spots currnently work.

Security and accessibility are frequently at odds, so give some consideration to how you want your wireless network to be used before securing it.

Sometimes when I need a little break at work and other times at home I visit Sacred Space, a website run by the Jesuits of Ireland, which walks you through a brief devotion and provides internal links to help stimulate your thougts.

When you search, you will want to keep the words together. Youversion will get you there.

The NIV is free on YouVersion, as long as you are connected to the internet. You can only view it online. There are some translations you can download and use offline, but NIV is only available online.

Great, I just found it!

It's a bit hard to find a search for "You Version" doesn't work.  If you just search for Bible and then look for the one that says LifeChurch.tv by it you found it.  The NIV was free when I got it but I don't know if it was a limited time offer...

That's helpful, Kris, thanks. I hadn't been able to find an app that includes the NIV--I'll check it out.

I just started using the YouVersion Bible App for my daily Bible Reading on my IPod.  I'm doing a Chronological read through the Bible.  I can set it up to send me e-mail reminders and encouragement but I haven't used that feature.  The app and the NIV, NLT Message were all free.  I really like the way it keeps track of my progress and keeps me faithful.

This is great, love the ways technology is being used for spiritual growth!

I'll second that!

I get the Today devotional in my inbox every day. It has absolutely made a difference in the consistency of my daily devotions. A book can be neglected on a busy morning, but with that quick devotional and a link to the bible passage right there on my i-phone, I actually do it every day!

It might not be the same for others who don't check their email every day (several times a day) but it certainly works for me.

Our church, Ivanrest CRC in Grandville, MI, did a "Wise Up" series on Proverbs in January.  Pastor Tony Meyer sent out a daily devotional each day via e-mail to those who signed up.  We were challenged as a church to read through Proverbs together and our weekly messages were based on a section of Proverbs.  Our family looked forward to the daily messages and used them for our dinner-time each day.  I also subscribe to The Today via e-mail and pass my Blackberry around to whichever family member volunteers to read devotions at dinner-time.

I didn't know there was an app for the "Today" devotional. ("Today" is a daily devotional published by ReFrame, previously The Back to God Hour. Check out their home page for links to the app - and more information.) How cool is that?! There truly is an app for everything.

Good idea on linking to the Bible Gateway site. I use that site all the time. I'll try to remember to post again and let you know how things go with our Bible study groupo.

Thanks for sharing, Jolanda!

My husband's Iphone is really handy for morning devotions. We use the Today App, which also includes a link to the Bible, so we're never hunting for the little book or the Bible--it's all right there on the phone! 

If you do start sending out emails, you can easily look up the Bible passage in biblegateway.com and then send the link to your group. I hope you'll post again to let us know how it works.

I run two personal websites, both on WordPress, and I LOVE the functionality it provides without too much techie knowledge required. Especially with a premiuim theme (I'm partial to StudioPress).

I like the idea of Google Apps, especially because you can put together a pretty decent site FOR FREE on Google Sites. You're a bit limited on what you can do, but not too terribly much. And you get to integrate easily with so many cool Google goodies.

We currently use WordPress hosted on eleventwo.com. Comparable in price to justhost.com. But it does require a bit more tech knowledge than Google sites.

We purchased our domain through GoDaddy, a choice I regret now that I see their commercials.

In god we trust. AMIN!

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