Resource, Article

More and more committees, businesses, and organizations are going paperless. This is great for many reasons such as: using less resources (paper, postage, and staff), great portability, and faster distribution. In fact Synod went paperless this year and my employer also distributed everything...

August 15, 2011 0 0 comments

How do you connect with church family members? With the missionaries you support? With other partners in faith? We have Skyped with our missionaries several times. They also blog so we can keep up with their doings. Many churches use Twitter, stream their services, post online videos, and more. It makes me wonder, what's next? 

August 8, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application

Livestream, formerly known as Mogulus, is a live streaming video platform that allows users to view and broadcast video content using a camera and a computer through the internet.

July 27, 2011 0 0 comments

As Reformed Christians we have a Reformed "world and life view."  We believe that God is sovereign over all the world and our whole life. It follows, then, that he is sovereign over technology, too. What does that mean in terms of how our churches use technology?

July 17, 2011 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

What the heck? Google now specifically denies churches (and synagogues, ministries, etc)  from getting the non-profit version of Google Apps?

Here's a forum post about it and here's the new guidlines. Does anyone know when this changed? I'm wondering what will happen to those of us whose...

July 14, 2011 0 10 comments
Resource, Article

How did you meet the friends that you talk to? Maybe you bumped into them in a school hallway,or struck up a conversation with them after church, or maybe you were introduced from a mutual friend. We meet people through conversation, we develop relationships with people through conversations, we...

July 12, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

Recently my place of employment started using YouTube for videos they were putting on our public website. I thought it might be useful to write a little about using YouTube at your church.

There are other sites for posting videos as well, but YouTube is very well-known and used by so many...

June 26, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

For a master's in communications I am pursuing here in Grand Rapids at Grand Valley State University, I am doing a study of my church's communications: Facebook, website, bulletin announcements, prayer chains, etc. I would like to do a survey of the church members, asking them about comm...

June 22, 2011 0 4 comments

What do the web, mopeds and justice have to do with each other? They’re all connected in a “Moped Justice Mission.” Jonathan and Brady are on a mission -- and they’re using the web to help spread their message.

June 20, 2011 0 0 comments

Have you ever seen (or maybe performed) “the sound guy neck crane”? You know...when the sound goes wacko in a church service and everyone starts turning around to look at the person running the sound? Poor guy. Working in technology can be a thankless job.

June 13, 2011 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

I first read about Creative Commons in an article in Reformed Worship called “Eight Projection Basics,” an excellent article for anyone who creates slides for your church. In the article, Mr. Heetderks writes that one way he finds images is using the advanced search in Flickr to include only...

June 6, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Backup! It’s so necessary, but figuring out the best method for set up and maintenance can be a real quandary. There are so many options. I’ll talk about some, but I’m sure I won’t cover everything. Please share recommendations and feedback from your experience.

Best Practices
If you...

May 31, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

Does your church website have a welcome video? I read this Church Juice blog entry and was intrigued by the idea. It seems that, if the video is well done, this could be a very effective tool for your church.

May 16, 2011 0 0 comments

That’s “word” with a small w, although it may also be “Word.” I’m talking about ways that the church shares their news -- especially events to which they are inviting their community. What technology, if any, works well for getting the word out?

May 9, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Do you remember phone trees? Our church used a phone tree method for our prayer chain for years. Each person on the tree was assigned to call several others, some of whom were assigned to pass on the prayer request to several others and the tree kept branching out like that. It worked...mostly...

May 2, 2011 0 2 comments

It is common now for churches to use technology to connect within their community -- using Skype to visit with missionaries, social networks to encourage each other, electronic prayer groups, and so on. How does, or can, the church go even further with technology, and use it to do more than connect with each other?

April 26, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

What would you save if your house was on fire? Many people answer, “My family photos.” Family photos are precious. Our church is a family, too, and it is good to figure out the best way to store our church family photos.

Photo Sharing Sites
In this age of digital photography, one of...

April 18, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Did you know that our denomination provides grants for smaller churches to use to purchase new technology?

The grants are provided by the Sustaining Congregational Excellence (SCE) program, which “is predominantly for smaller congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America...

April 12, 2011 0 1 comments

When Christ was on the earth, he met people where they were. Does meeting people where they are involve using social networking or other types of technology? Is this even the right way to construe Jesus’ actions on earth?

April 4, 2011 0 0 comments

I missed World Backup Day by a bit, but it's always a good day to talk about backups. I'm looking to setup backups for two very different churches: one is a traditional, small town church and the other is a very budget-conscience inner city church. Any backup solution needs to be drop-dead...

April 2, 2011 0 6 comments

Is your church’s use of media connecting you with others, or cutting them off? How can we best use media to encourage our relationships with each other and God, rather than isolating ourselves?

March 27, 2011 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Questions about how to record or stream worship services have come up several times in our Church and Web network. I thought it might be helpful if I brought information together in one place.

Audio Recording

Many churches make audio recordings of their services. Cassette tapes...

March 22, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Software or Application

Free software for working with sound recordings.

March 18, 2011 0 0 comments

Twitter has been discussed as a ministry tool, as a way to create buzz about upcoming events, send members encouraging words, meet potential new members, or even to discuss the worship service during the service itself. But what about Twitter as a way to develop empathy for others?

March 14, 2011 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Hello all, I've been starting up a new project called and it's basically a training course that teaches churches how to utilize social media websites like Facebook & Twitter as well as blogs and the church website, in the most effective manner. We've got a training class...

March 7, 2011 0 2 comments



Kyle, Are these server based systems?


We've just always posted our entire bulletin online. Never had any complaints or issues about privacy, maybe it's just a part of our culture, but I think if it isn't made a big deal of, it'll probably never come up.

posted in: Member Only Section

Wendy, we do post our entire bulletin on the website and have been doing that for several years. Before posting it, we delete all last names (replace with last initial) and all personal contact information except for official church contact info.

I have been creating the bulletin myself for the past year or so and have found it pretty easy to quickly do this "scrubbing" before saving it as a .pdf and posting it to the web. A couple regular items in the bulletin that include last names (such as a listing of our elder-deacon teams) I just copy and paste the scrubbed version in each time. As I create the bulletin, any time I'm putting in contact information, I try to put it at the end of the announcement so it's easy to find. 

It seems to work all right.

posted in: Member Only Section

We've kept part of our bulletin, namely the schedules and the prayer concerns, on the 'members only' section. However, many people forget their passwords or find this too cumbersome, yet I'm reluctant to put the entire bulletin on the public website. Does anyone else put their entire bulletin on the public site, and if so, have there been concerns about privacy, etc?

posted in: Member Only Section


Thank you for your comment. YouVersion looks like a very rich tool. I plan to explore it more fully. And, who offers YouVersion, is also an interesting site and concept. I'm going to check that out, too. At first glance I thought it was intriguiging that LifeChurch encourages attending church while at the same time making full use of social media.


i would love to see churches take advantage of social media. For example instead of using the provided Bibles I pull out my smartphone with YouVersion so I can read the Bible verse, take notes, or even Tweet or put on FaceBook verses or things that strike me about the sermon. It's a common practice at blogging or social media conferences that helps participants connect with others in the room and those who couldn't be there in person. I see that YouVersion offers a service like that. Not sure if any CRC churches are using it.

Thanks, David!

Great info. Here's another blog post on the topic.

Jason, I'm going to look you up for sure. Thank you for the practical advice. Very helpful.


Twitter is defintely something that the more that you put into it the more you get out of it.  I connect with people in the same way I connect in real life.  Someone says something that interests you and you respond to them.  Or, for example, you see someone went for an interview and you ask them the next day how it went.  Little things like that.  Really it works the same way  as beginning a relationship in real life.  When you first meet someone in real life, you greet them, and you start a conversation (a lot of times based on something they said), and the conversation grows from there and it starts a relationship!  

For my business I targeted specific people within the community that were influencers (had a lot of Klout and followers) and started following local Hastags ( to find out what was happening within the community that I could get involved with/meet people.  When someone tweeted something that was of interest to me then I would respond (the same way I would offline) and a conversation would begin.  

Hopefully this answers your question, if you have any more I would be happy to answer them!  Or you can also ask me on twitter (!/jasondyk) and we'll have a conversation :) 



Thanks, Jason. Great input, worth much more than just 2 cents! :)

When people say, as you did, that they've made connections and friendships through Twitter, I am curious as to exactly how that happens. I've used Twitter a bit but haven't made it a regular thing, at least not yet.

How exactly, on Twitter, do you connect with people you don't know and start getting to know them?

Hello Nick,

That's really great you are doing some training in April - I hope many people turn out for this valuable information.  I found your post after I recently added a post about doing some other tech training and Mavis mentioned she would like to see some Web/Social Media type training as well.  Here is a link to my post

So we are lookin at seeing how much interest there is in a gathering/training and if you are interested in getting involved with us - whether virtually or in person, let me know and I think it would be awesome to get as many people involved who have some great things to share.

Great question Mavis,

Let me start by saying that Twitter is a great tool to get to know people.  It gives you an opportunity to find out what's happening in their life, get to know their opinions, and get to know them as a person 140 characters at a time.  I fully think that Biz Stone is correct, we can be empathetic (and get to know people) over forums such as Twitter.  

Twitter is often used as a conversation between people, a place to build rapport, get to know each other, and share each other's information.  It can be used to connect people with services, connect people who are like one another, and to increase your knowledge in the interests you have.  

For example, I have a business that I have started recently and I am engaging with people online to grow that business and build my brand.  Through the use of Twitter I have made some incredible connections and friendships, and learned a lot about what is happening in my community.  Twitter has been a great conversation started for me to meet people and grow in my knowledge, interests, and expand my business.  

Twitter can be escpecially useful for getting to know someone online, and then strengthening that relationship by meeting up with each other offline (or at events).  When you first meet offline, you are already three steps ahead in strengthening that relationship and building a bond together.  I think the church could do amazing things by using social media (other sites as well as Twitter) because it would make them more aware of what was happening in the community they are in, and be able to engage with people to establish how the church could help them.  

But that's just my 2 cents :) 




There is some library software programs that you can hook up with your churches web site. The softeware I use is called resourcemate by jaywil software. We have not hooked up our data base with the web site because our churches website is not up and running as such to do this yet. It is a goal of mine to get us online. 

Dialogue from the library or such can be done via a blog as well. 

posted in: Library Ministry

Nick, thanks for sharing (haha - pun intended). Looks like you've got some good information and expertise. I've got your website bookmarked.

Ken, this is a good suggestion and I'll definitely see what I can come up with. I have a few ideas already, and some sources for more. Thanks!

Well Mavis, there is one thing that would help people like me. If you have time could you look into vitual worship where shut-in's could particapaite in corperate worship via web connections. That would be pretty cool. Don't waste your time on this if the tech is to cumbersome or expensive. Thanks Ken

Thanks! I'm excited to see what's in store!

Thanks, Ken. Let me know if there's a topic you're specifically interested in.

I look forward to spending time on this network. Our church is looking to update our website and I am sure this will be extremely helpful. Thanks!

Welcome Mavis, I look forward to getting to know you and read your posts.



Jo, this is a good question -- and a good idea. I have a Facebook friend (also my cousin) who has created a Facebook page for her church's library. (It's at: She posts information about new books that have come in and events such as a summer reading program with a prize. You could certainly link the library's Facebook page to your website.

When we redesigned our website a while ago, our pastor put together a section on books where he listed books he recommended for various categories such as Explore Christianity, Relationships, Grief and so on. In our case we connected it to links to Amazon for purchasing the book, but that kind of concept could work, too, for recommending books in the church library.

I've always thought an online book discussion would be fun but any time I've tried, it really hasn't made it. Not to say it can't be done but I haven't seen the magic formula for it yet. The Facebook page can be used for discussions of a sort, and there are other tools such as a Google group for group discussions.

I did a search of "library" on the network and I see you've posted your question in some other forums and have gotten some responses. Looks like you're doing a thorough job of looking for input and ideas. Please update us in the future on how your library ministry is doing.

posted in: Library Ministry

Thanks Ken and Tim. I appreciate it, and I'm excited to see things continue to develop on The Network!

Yes, thanks David! You've made a big contribution not only to The Network but to the use of technology for church ministry!

Thank you, and we look forward to your continued participation as part of the The Network community.

Thanks David for your service. I never personally talked to you but I hope God blesses your future in all aspects.



You're right, Picasa is a great program. I am thinking of doing an article on photo sharing and Picasa is right up there. I especially love the way it quickly and easily corrects red-eye. Thanks for bringing it up!

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!  I would love to have the CRC develope a site like the One Year Bible Journey. It would be awesome to think about reading the same thing as our fellow CRC brothers and sisters at the same time. Commentary  explaining the passage istorically and culturaly and advice for promoting actions in our life  would be a tremendous help. I would love to see ideas such as "this passage speaks about Social Justice or Stewardship" and give ideas about how to put this into practice in our daily life. Imagine if the whole CRC church were reading this at the same time!! Wow.

The Mission Support Committee (MSC) of Ridgewood CRC sends the monthly newsletters from supported missionaries and mission causes to the members of our congregation.  "Blind Carbon Copies" (bcc) are used for e-mail addresses so that they are not disclosed; and all letters are sent in "pdf" form with file sizes less than 1.5 Mb.  The letters are sent by a member of the MSC, with copies to the Pastoral and Office Staff so that "hard copies" can be made for distribution to members without e-mail.

Our current approach:

1. Encourage and ask all organizations and groups which tries to contact us via regular mail to do so only via e-mail and attachments.

2. Keep all incoming mail (except those that are very private), on our gmail account.

3. Allow all members and only members access to the gmail account where they can see all the mail we get.

4. Label all incoming mail appropriately (News, letters, events etc) and put a one liner in the bulletin (ie CRC (Haiti, Calvin College) for all the e-mails we get.

5. Remove all old and expired e-mails and allow one e-mail per organization. Max # e-mails kept are 100 (results to keep items for 6 weeks to 2.5 months)

6. Send e-mails to the congegation only if a member likes to provide some important information that can't wait until the next Sunday. (Error in the bulletin, Health information etc).  Happens about once every few weeks.

7. Keep an information table for items that are printed and sends it anyway rather than e-mail. Happens often if a member is an active member of an organization.

8. Forward e-mails we get to particular people if the e-mail has a very important item for them to actually do something.

Note: we rent our worship area, so we do not have room for mailboxes.

Great Advice!

I know on Facebook you can really drill down to who your ad get's displayed too. In addition to choosing users from your area, can you choose user's that Like your page or another page?


This really rocks.  While we do have a very good website, we've created a FB presence and want to use it more.  This will really help.  I've seen some pages like World Vision on FB and it is an excellent example of how you can design a very attractive FB page.

Just a note, I decided to try short spurt advertising on FB.  I created two ads and ran them for only two days each.  One was for our theology pub meeting  and the other for Sunday morning worship, especially because I was starting a new sermon series.  I targeted specifically for our area and "voila" we attracted new people from both our ads.  And the cost was very minimal -- about $8 each for the two days.

Allen - In addition to, check out (which is what we've used for the last couple of Synods). They recently launched the ability to integrate a live broadcast into your church's Facebook Page...something I'd like to try for this year's Synod. Tim


I've been thinking about something like this for awhile now and brainstorming all the possible ways to use it.  I just wasn't sure about what platform to use.  I checked out UStream and was pretty pumped at what I found. 

You got my brain going now.  I can see using this in the future at our church just to reach into our community and wherever else.

Thanks for the connection.

Thanks Robert, I do appreciate your openess.

Warning, I have a vested interest in this answer, but I'll offer it anyways. is a powerful and user-friendly CMS made specifically for churches, and modified slightly for Christian Schools. We have over 700 organizations using the system, and many CRC churches and Classes. Monthly hosting and support starts at $35/mo.

You can contact me for more information, or check out



Thanks Mavis and Nathan for the suggestions.  I just wanted to add that if anyone is thinking about using Google Apps for their church, Mavis wrote an article about How to Start Using Google Apps on the Chruch and Web Network. Check it out.

For hosting, I highly recommend , which is the cheapest I've found (yet reliable). I also often use , a completely free(!) host, for test sites I'm developing and for small sites for freelance clients. In my experience its uptime is not as good as it claims, but for small sites it's a good option--it's free up to 1.5GB of storage, which is plenty for the majority of church websites. This is the only free host I know of that does NOT place banner ads at the top of your page. (They try to sell you on switching to their paid hosting via, which is another fine option; no better or worse than justhost, bluehost, or godaddy.)

For a content management system, WordPress is the best, but for more basic, user-friendly options, see .

I'm working on a simple, basic, WordPress template for church sites that I'll offer via creative commons; contact me if you'd like to see what I have so far.

Google Apps is probably a good option for churches too.

Hi Marieke,

I used the regular (NOT the non-profit) package. I checked out the non-profit version but found it didn't work the way I wanted. If I remember right it kind of combined persons and households, and it seemed geared toward large non-profits who are tracking donations from companies and that kind of thing, rather than the way I am using it as an internal directory of our households and people and their offerings.


I just came across your articles and I am intrigued.  I was going to try the free trail but there are 2 option - one labelled the Non-profit starter package.

Which one did you start with to customize for your church?

Thanks, Marieke

Thanks for sharing. That's a great resource.

I like that you still make the full calendar and iCal feed available on the bottom. 

You're welcome, Ken. (Although Tim is the one that deserves the credit) It's always nice to get encouraging feedback.

As you know, the purpose of the captchas was to keep spammers out, but it was a pain for our real users and the spammers were getting through anyway. Now our system is a little bit smarter. :)

posted in: Thankyou

I always felt like a navel aviator with capcha. It was like after a mission or comment post I still had to land on the carrier(Get passed capcha) before the job wwas done(posted)

posted in: Thankyou

Karen, we use You design the whole thing online so you don't need software. It's got lots of templates you can choose from and change to look how you want. You can do most everything with "what you see is what you get" but you can also use raw HTML if you want. There are videos and excellent documentation, plus tech support via email that they usually answer within around 10 minutes. I think it's a great solution.

Our website is or if you go to squarespace's site you'll see samples. Email me if you'd like me to set up a web conference and I'll show you our site in detail.

We are trying to get our calendar up right now, and it's still a bit rough around the edges, but you can check it out here:

Crossroads CRC website -

One of our members implemented this at the Christian school in our area, so we were inspired to try it ourselves. Their calendar is here (and not so rough around the edges!):

We use Google Calendar for our church web site (, but when I looked at Google's options for embedding the calendar there was nothing that really integrated well with the site's minimalist approach. The HTML provided by Google wasn't very customizable, both in specifying what data to pull and how to show it, and it didn't support the hCalendar microformat. Supporting the microformat was important to me because it makes it easy for search engines to find and link to our events, making it more likely internet users would be able to find our information.

Consequently I wrote a Javascript library, UpcomingJS, that talks with Google Calendar to get the list of upcoming events but displays it on the web page in a very flexible format. The library is very easy to use, as most sites can get up and running in three steps. On the other hand, it is also customizable, making it very easy to integrate the generated list of events into your existing site.

You did not mention Picasa. I use this application a lot to post and share photos. You get 1 Gb of free storage, and you can buy more. You can download the Picasa program, and it rapidly organizes all the photos on your computer. You can share all or some with whoever you want, and these can be in high quality. It is better than Facebook in this regard.

Also, a comment about gmail. I use Yahoo mail, and have not changed to gmail because I don't want to change my address. But gmail has a lot less pop up advertising, and is cleaner.

Hi Thomas,

If I understand your question correctly, the answer is yes.

Do you mean that you'd like to host your church website with another provider and still use Google Apps and GMail? That actually is what we do. When people go to they see our public website. People wanting to log in to their Gmail or Google Apps go to a different address, or use the link I put on that public website.

For both things the domain name can be the same, so your Gmail addresses would have the same domain name as your church's website. When you set up Google Apps, if you already own a domain it will prompt you to do some steps that prove you own and have access to that domain, and then you can use that domain name for your Google Apps and Gmail.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the informative article. I have a follow up -

Can you have the website hosted with a different provider (considering Advanced Ministry CMS) and email with Google (through Apps for Non-profit)?

Thanks and appreciate your feedback.

God bless-Thomas

If your not streaming to the public and it is for educational pupose, it is ok. People also don't look good going after church;s with lawsuits. By the way has anybody questioned the need for copyrights for material that is supposedly designed to help people find Jesus? I'm sure glad God didn;t copyright the Bible.

I was\am not too familiar with "fair-use."  After reading through the Wikipedia article, I did a little additional searching.  There is an artcle on this up at the US Copywrite Office web site, as well as another helpful article at the Stanford University web site,  These make me lean more towards the idea that there may not be as much latitude on this.  The proof in such a case seems to reside with the defendent.  This means anyone who see's something of their work that was streamed without prior consent, could take you to court, even if they knew the case was "iffy." 

I think I'll need to do more research before we start streaming anything.