Discussion Topic
With the world population nearing 7 billion and given the rate of population growth, it may be that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the people who ever have lived on this earth are alive right now. What a HUGE time in the history of the world for Christian missions!!! The internet has the...
February 27, 2010 0 1 comments
Blog

Remember when websites used to have flash intros (frequently made in Adobe Flash)? Personally, I am glad when websites don't, and get straight to content. What about other websites that are purely flash like most restaurant or band websites? Flash enables a website to have rich dynamic content, however it also has several drawbacks.

February 23, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Were you recently appointed or volunteered to manage your church's website? Are you daunted by the idea and not know where to begin? Don’t worry; we will get through this together! While it’s not possible to include all the steps or to predict the problems you will encounter when developing your...

February 15, 2010 1 5 comments
Discussion Topic
I thought it would be cool to have a spot here where we share some great web site components and helpful resources.
February 10, 2010 0 3 comments
Q&A

There is a fair amount of material on the web for streaming a worship service. Besides doing a podcast for those who want to listen anytime, we have set a goal for ourselves to be able to audio stream, and possibly video stream the service. I would appreciate some suggestions, guidelines, and/or...

February 9, 2010 0 19 comments
Discussion Topic

Has you church recently launched a website? If so link to it in this discussion. Then if you need any help with it, one of the many experts that visit this site could provide feedback or help.

January 28, 2010 0 7 comments
Blog

I recently registered for my first sprint triathlon, the Hawk Island Triathalon. While visiting their site I was surprised to see how they displayed images.  It is a colorful, informative, and photo-filled site however I would like to point out one no-no.

January 26, 2010 0 7 comments
Resource, Article

“If it isn’t on Facebook, it hasn’t really happened,” a friend‘s daughter told me. Although it’s said jokingly, if something is that vital to people, doesn’t it make sense to look for ways that God can use it? Most of you probably have heard of Facebook, but a brief description may be helpful....

January 26, 2010 0 4 comments
Blog

Yesterday, Mozilla released an incremental upgrade to it's popular browser Firefox 3.6. Even though this is a small upgrade there are numerous changes, which they detail in their blog post.  First, it's over 20 percent faster than the previous upgrade. Second, it includes better support for plug ins with a plugin updater. Firefox 3.6 has...

January 23, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

More and more churches have realized the benefits of sharing their sermons online. In the past, churches would share recordings of services by making copies of tapes and distributing them or loaning them out. This worked great, but now sharing them online is easier, more efficient, and more cost...

January 21, 2010 0 8 comments
Discussion Topic

Help shape the Church and Web network by providing topics. What topics would you like to see an article or blog post on? More social media, design or ...? 

January 21, 2010 0 17 comments
Resource, Website

ChurchMag is a popular blog that will not only inform you, but it will make you laugh. It will inform you about using social media, design, SEO, and more.

January 20, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google that enables you to look in depth at all your site traffic. You can look at basic information like page views, traffic sources, which pages are most frequently visited.

January 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Each individual owns his or her likeness or other identifiable characteristic. If the church uses the videos or images to promote the church or makes them available on the web, then the courts will likely find that the church used the images in a commercial manner.

January 18, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application

On this page you can sign-up and learn more about Google Apps for Non-Profits. Google Apps includes Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more. Read the article on Google Apps on this Network for more information about how to set it up for your church.

January 18, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

This last week Jimmy Wales spoke at Calvin College’s January series. Even though I was not able to make it the campus to see him speak, I did watch it live from the Ladies Literary Club in downtown Grand Rapids. Wales is the founder Wikipedia and...

January 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

What is Google Apps and why would my church want to use it?

According to Google, Google Apps is a group of applications "that offers communication, collaboration and publishing tools, including email accounts on your organization's domain." The two biggest reasons your church would want...

January 14, 2010 0 13 comments
Resource, Website

You'll find help in "Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design" through this blog. Visit here to find tips and hints on how to ratchet your website to the next level.

January 13, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

While most information online becomes out-of-date quickly (especially information about technology and websites), this article from The Banner provides timeless tips to keep in mind while designing your website.

January 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Simplicity is complex. Designing and maintaining a website takes focus and a clear purpose. When designing a website it is easy for it to become complex and cluttered. While a website generally does not start this way, adding features without taking the time to consider the full design will...

January 7, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Church Juice's in-depth description and ideas for using Twitter in your church is a must-read if you are considering using Twitter in your church.

January 4, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

by Janet Laballiere

I Corinthians 12:13: For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Surprisingly, one thing most of us have in common is the internet. We may vary in age, race, or interests, but...

December 31, 2009 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

As you can tell from the name of the site, Church Marketing Sucks is straightforward, and focused. They aren't just critical of the stagnant status of church websites, but offer incredible advice to transform your church website.

December 30, 2009 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Use this site to check if your website is standards compliant. The site is described as checking "the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc.

December 28, 2009 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Church Communications Pro is a great blog to help you better market, and design your church website. It also has a lot of timely information about the latest trends and ideas for websites.

December 23, 2009 0 0 comments

Pages

RSS

Be sure to check into Ustream.tv (or Watershed, their ad-free paid version) or LiveStream. The latter is what we've used for the Synod webcast the past couple of years.

Both are easy to use and have free versions. So you can just sign up and test it out with your camera. If you have a USB-enabled camera that will stream (my 6-year old Sony camcorder does it, so I imagine many do), you can try it out at home before trying to figure out how to patch in the church audio, etc.

Both allow for recording content and downloading it after it's been recorded. If you decide to use a paid service and the archive hosting fees are too expensive, consider downloading and re-uploading to a different service (we use Blip.tv for the Synod archives for that reason).

Ustream even allows you to webcast from your iPhone. My dad did this for a funeral so that overseas family could 'attend'. Sounds crazy, I know, but to those people it meant the world.

Any other churches using Ustream for their services?

I had started looking into this a few years ago, but dropped it when other items came up. I had written a note to a neighboring church who does a healthy amount of media work and asked him about how they have their media streaming service set up. He sent me an e-mail which I have pulled pieces from and list below.

The basics seem to be if you want to host this yourself, or use a service. You will need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to make you basic connection, and the ISP may be able to do the hosting of the web site, or help set up the streaming. Any way, here is a part of my neighbors response:

Live streaming is really not all that difficult. Here are the basics:

·You must have a source. Audio is easy since most churches have some sort of PA system already. Just tap an output from it and plug it into your computer. If you want to do video as well, that requires at least one video camera that can connect to the computer. Most modern digital video cameras have a usb connection that will send the live picture to the computer.
·You will need a computer capable of audio (and video if you do video) input(s) and a high speed connection to the internet. For audio, the computer need not be especially fast. For video, the faster the better.
·You need software to receive the inputs and compress them and send them streaming. Here are two choices, RealNetworks program called RealProducer or the Windows counterpart. More information on this can be found at RealNetworks program at www.realnetworks.com .
·Finally, you need to contract with a service that will receive your compressed upload and rebroadcast it to your subscribers. There are a bunch of folks offering this service, for example, www.streamguys.com.

The alternative to using a contracted service is to load the Helix broadcast server software on your server. Helix is another RealNetworks product.

As far as archiving, the RealProducer software can be configured to not only broadcast, but to also save a file to the hard drive, at the same time. This file can then be used on your website for streaming recordings. The easiest way is to just provide the file as a link and it will download and play on your user’s computers.

Now, if you do not have your very own server with administrative rights for the website, but are contracting with an ISP or something, you may not have the option of loading Helix on the server. In this case, I think you can contract with the ISP or your streaming service to stream your files for you. Having your own server is cheaper and better and just a matter of setting up a computer with Apache and Helix and maybe a mail server like Mercury and your all set.

I am checking with both the web hosting company and my ISP to see what services they can provide or recommend. I'll post what I find!

We used it in church to communicate with missionaries a few times. It was great when one of them asked "Is my grandma in church today?" and the in-sanctuary camera swung around so grandma could blow her a kiss.

It has been very well received and a great communication tool.

Hi Duane,

Our church too is starting the research for the tools, software, and methods to stream live audio and video on the web. We are also reworking our website (not evident on line as yet) so that it is more of a a portal to our community of faith and would like to include podcasts and RSS feeds.

Our technology budget is not large and so we are trying to get the most for the least.

If you don't mind, could we share our research so that each of us doesn't have to spend inordinate amounts of time on this phase?

Thanks,

Greg B
Third CRC Administrator
www.third-church.org

When using skype it helps to have a hi speed connection on both sides. If you have a projector for power point, an internet connection, I use wireless, and a way to hook into your sound system, you can make this work for you.
The next conference I want to do is with a Missionary in West Africa. When I get done I will leave feed back on how it went.

Mike

Hey Dave......

I'm sensing that we need some real "lightening rod" topics to keep people's interest in this here "Network", so I have a suggestion for you.

What if you hosted a first-annual CRC web design Awards? Any church or official CRC office could be entered. If you didn't want to page through the hundreds of them, you could simply ask for nominees. Then, maybe allow people to vote, if the Network is capable of polls?

You could also do something like this for church-produced media projects, like short films or advertising schemes that are virtual in nature. Something like an online film festival?

Just a thought.......sounds like it could be some good iron-sharpens-iron stuff.

It seems like I've been seeing "via Skype" more and more on the major broadcast networks. Especially in crisis situations (e.g. Haiti) but even for regular interviews. We're thinking of using it to enhance some of our CRC news stories as well.

For real-time video conferencing, I like a combo of video chat for the visual and a plain-old-telephone for audio. At least that's what we use with my kids and their grandma and grandpa :-) Audio blips/delays/echoes are terribly irritating. But if you've got good audio, the video is a sweet bonus.

I've been thinking about something like this for our church too. It would come in handy sometimes especially with our missionaries in Zambia and Nigeria and elsewhere.
What type of webcam is best? Or should I ask, if even the cheap $20 webcams work well?

While I haven't seen it used in a service, I have seen it widely used. I've used it personally in my small group to include a member in our meetings who was in China for several months. I seen / heard about churches doing this, but it was either recorded or they used satellites (that was at Willow Creek)

Also, TWiT is a popular tech podcast network that conferences their hosts in via skype.

It's crazy how you used to need a satellite uplink or other means at huge costs now I can use Skype for free!

When we decided to re-do our website we looked for this type of solution, one that was all on the web and did not involve any installation of software. We also wanted this setup so that a member who is more technical and knows web design could login to do more advanced things, while I, knowing less about web design, could do the bulk of the work.

We narrowed it down to either Squarespace (http://www.squarespace.com/) or Gutensite (http://www.gutensite.com/), both of which we'd seen used by other churches whose websites we liked. We ended up going with Squarespace because it seemed to offer a little more flexibility. It's worked really well for us.

Mavis Moon
San Jose Christian Reformed Church

A little shameless self promotion here: There are several hosting/content management systems available as well. They combine the software, the hosting, and all of the ad-ins you mention above (plus support), but in a neat package for a monthly fee.

Faithwebsites is one such package that you can read about on my website www.ministry-tech.net

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

I've used Qik from my iPhone before. It allows you to stream to the web, but also keeps the video available afterwards. The quality isn't the best, but it gets the point across.

Dave, may I suggest we host a discussion on the impact of ICT on society and our personhood? I've read 'The Church of Facebook', Jesse Rice, who's positive on this stuff. Now there's Jaron Lanier's very recent 'Manifesto': 'You Are Not a Gadget'. Whoa! Very sobering for me, an ICT enthusiast like most on this blog!

PS can the web people automatically collapse these text boxes to fit the size of the reply? There's a lot of emptiness to scroll through! Just a suggestion, thanks.

I'm almost embarrassed to give you the URL of our church web site (www.covenantcrc.ca ) but it works- sort of!
It's become the 'go-to' source for our church members.
Using Dreamweaver (a.k.a 'dreamwrecker'!) two of us faithfully upload the bulletin and other stuff and have done so for the past three years.
But it's time to move on and get something dynamic and this is under way.

Also, our Council has adopted the use of Google Docs, and that's working extremely well. Gone/going are the thick binders that would get passed (often not!) from retiring to incoming Council members.

Slowly, we are 'ascending on the clouds'!

Yes, used the http://www.ustream.tv/ in Dec 2009 from my laptop to stream a local church funeral to relatives in Europe. It worked well and the overseas family was delighted to be able to share in real time.

I could have used my iPhone (that works well too) but was concerned about the quality of sound/video etc.
The only problem with http://www.ustream.tv/: it does not permit uploading a video afterwards.
Any suggestions about uploading video?

I agree with all of this, but I think the financial factor is possibly the biggest one.

When I worked as a contractor, I saw too many occasions where an organization didn't have the internal resources to maintain its Flash content. Flash development is a very specialized skill. Having Flash on your site means that you will most likely need a Flash developer eventually for maintenance, and they can be expensive and hard to find.

When you consider that most of what Flash is used for can be achieved with what's already possible with HTML/CSS/JavaScript, I think it makes much more sense to go with what will be the easiest and cheapest to maintain.

Our church web site has been up for a few years, and gone through a few changes. Most of the site was written and still maintained with a text editor (Notetab Light.) There are not too many folks within the congregation that have done much web work which means to pass along the upkeep means we need to do some training or consider outsourcing.
It has only been in the past year or two that guests have mentioned that that they found the church and decided to visit because they had found us on the web. Our idea is to provide information to the congregation about what is going on through postings of the bulletin and calendar, and information for the visitor such as our history, activities, and Mission and Vision.
One suggestion for anyone who wants to post calendar events is that you may want to consider Google calendars. We're able to create and post information fairly quickly, and integrate it into the web site easily.
http://www.sussexcrc.org/

A web site can be compared to a church building. Most of the suggestions and advice show how to build a simple cathedral with fancy doors to attract non believers. How about a web site like a house church with limited funds?

Consider: http://fellowshipcrc.awardspace.com/
Cost: $0.00
Accessibility: From any type of computer linked to the internet including slow dial up.
Update process:
-- Any html editor such as Microsoft Word
-- Edit files on own computer
-- upload files by browsing and clicking

"dull"? yes, if you consider text dull.

We use google sites to generate a secure site for members to house directory , e-mail information etc.

New members? well, not likely via the web site but hopefully via invitation by members and signage.

Yeah, ours needs some help. http://zioncrc.ca It's too static, it's too hard for our fairly luddite-ish staff to update, too boring, too ugly... you name it, it needs help.

Your suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Dan.

Our IT director alerted me a Google tool that will evaluate a web page and let you know what is likely to be seen, or not seen, by users.

Here's the main page:
http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/

Click on the blue text "About Browser Size" at the top of the page for more info.

posted in: Handy Web Resources

We're still in progress, but it's slowly coming together. we use slightly larger type because we have a number of active seniors on the web who don't necessarily know how to enlarge the font or web page in their browser.
Thoughts and ideas are always helpful.

we are using the CMS Joomla and will be switching all to K2 component style. right now it is laid out between standard Joomla and enhanced K2

www.alamosacrc.com

As I remember, the Rochester NY site posts the order of worship publicly but the full bulletin only in the members area. That strikes a good balance,

WordPress and other blog/CMS tools also have podcast plugins. I was just looking into that for a friend's podcast, but haven't implemented.

On a related note...I've wondered whether we try to encourage all the CRC pastors/churches to post to a central repository like SermonCentral, SermonCloud, etc Not only does that provide a nice feature set, I think our pastors have something good to offer people who cruise those sites. I haven't researched them enough to be able to promote one vs. another. Has anyone done some head-to-head comparisons?

I've fallen in love with Posterous.com for easy posting; they say you can podcast with it; I haven't tried it but it sounds worth a try for churches: http://posterous.com/faq

Just got this hooked up into our site,
Logos refTag -- shows bible references in a little popup window when you do a mouse over. Great in your blog and anywhere else on your site where you reference scripture. http://www.logos.com/reftagger

Also YouVersion.com has some great badges to put on your site to connect people to the Bible online. You can also connect to it via smart phone as well. It has many different Bible versions to choose from.

posted in: Handy Web Resources

Very good advice. With free image editing software such as PhotoScape, you can resize multiple images very efficiently.

We are working on putting our bulletin on our website, but it will only be visible to registered members as well as anything else "in house" only. We also respect people's wishes to keep their names out of the bulletin or online.

I'd like to know the laws regarding all this stuff. I've heard so many conflicting things I just don't know what is kosher anymore.

It surprises me how often webpage designers/programmers do this. With super-fast internet connections and/or ridiculously high bandwidth, maybe they don't even notice. ...Though it comes in handy if you'd like a copy of the little picture and then discover after saving it that it's at a high quality resolution!

we simply put a note in our bulletin asking those who objected to having their names in the bulletin to let us know, those names are removed. we also tried to bury the pdf file for the bulletin and only keep it up for a couple of weeks. names still come up on searches, but since it only stays on for a couple weeks, the chances of a hit are pretty slim.

it is a difficult subject to discuss, and requests for privacy need to be honoured. different laws between Canada and the US also make it difficult. Canada actually has really strict laws about what information websites can post about people.

not perfect, but we found that very few people actually objected to having their names on the bulletin online, especially for a short period of time.

Interesting topic and a great one for an article.

Privacy / security is a complex problem especially when you consider all the generations in a church.

Thanks for the feedback!

Great suggestion. I added it to my roster of items to post.

There is a lot of wisdom in the article that is worth passing along!

Thanks for highlighting the importance of keeping the website up-to-date. My husband and I enjoy visiting a different church every time we drive out East to spend time with relatives. Last time we found that the summer worship schedule wasn't the one listed on the website for the church we hoped to attend. We arrived just in time for the benediction! Not a big deal for someone passing through, but it would be disheartening for a guest who was looking for a church home.

Dave, nice work so far.

Here's a suggestion: address privacy concerns. I'm thinking specifically of posting bulletins and announcements online. At one church I attended, they used to hide people's full names when items were posted online to protect privacy. We recently had a discussion about privacy at our church, and eventually concluded that since the bulletin is offered publicly in worship, it shouldn't be a problem to post it publicly online.

However, people are likely to disagree about this (especially people from different generations). Some won't care if announcement mentioning them makes its way into Google search results. Others might be angry that their privacy has been violated. Could advice for navigating these concerns be addressed in an article?

Dave, am wondering if you think this article has value, as found in the Alban Institute newsletter this morning: "Faithful finanaces: when to adapt new technology." Found at http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?id=8901,

Pages