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So, I'll tell you my story, then you tell me yours. This is the story of the trials, tribulations and travails we experienced at my church as we went through the process of upgrading our projection technology. After you read it, I would love to hear your story.  Have you gone through similar trials and travails as you move into new solutions and technologies?

December 9, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

This is Mavis Moon, signing in again as the guide for the Church & Web Network. Many thanks to Jerod Clark, who’s been the guide most recently. We won’t say good-bye to Jerod because we’ll be reading some of his work as part of the content for the Church & Web Network in the future.  I look forward to connecting with you on anything related to technology and your church. What questions do you have? What topics would you like us to discuss?

December 9, 2013 0 0 comments
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Botnets were created to hack into WordPress sites using brute force attacks. You would be shocked at how many attacks are taking place as you are reading this article. Their goal is to gain access to your site! Let’s make sure you are doing the simple things you can to protect your WordPress site. Here are five simple things you can do...

November 12, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

Hi

We are considering using (infrequently) some YouTube videos that have contempory songs put to lyrics...idea is to use them to help the congregation learn new songs with the words displayed on our video screen.

My questions are;

Are there any copyright/licensing...

October 26, 2013 0 1 comments
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Over the last few years, WordPress has become one of the top content management (web design) systems.  One out of four websites today is created using WordPress. Here are the top 6 reasons why WordPress is so popular and why you might want to consider switching to a WordPress platform for your church's website...

October 23, 2013 0 0 comments
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Web design is always evolving.  Aesthetics shift and new technology lets developers create websites that function in different and exciting ways.  If you’re involved in creating or maintaining your organization’s website, here are three design trends you should be familiar with.

September 23, 2013 0 2 comments
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The Juicys are rewarding churches who are doing great communications work.  See how you can apply to recieve a $2000 grant for your next communications project.  

September 18, 2013 0 0 comments
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Facebook announced a new photo-sharing feature that will help you be more collaborative.  Here are three thoughts on how to use this new feature well.

September 10, 2013 0 0 comments
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You’ll often hear people say custom designed websites will always be better for an organization than using a template. There’s an argument to be made for that, but often the reality in many churches is the lack of budget for something custom. A quality template based site can be an option, but it takes work to pick the right one.

August 14, 2013 0 2 comments
Q&A

Hi everyone,

    We had a website a while ago, but that has deceased at some point and now we're working with a local fellow in making a new church website.  We seem to have a decent handle on what we all want on there, but I was just curious about what have you heard people say was...

August 13, 2013 0 1 comments
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If you manage any sort of social media accounts for your church or organization, you’ve probably had that moment where you realized you sent a personal message through a corporate account.  Here are a few things to consider when trying to make things right.

July 22, 2013 0 0 comments
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Facebook is rolling out a redesigned Insights analytics for your church page. The first change you’ll notice right away is it’s visually different. Overall, you’ll also have access to more detailed information about your audience.  

July 9, 2013 0 1 comments
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Long-term website maintenance seems to be an issue for many churches. A lot of work and discussion go into the creation of a site; yet there’s not always a commitment to keep it up-to-date. When you aren’t thinking about the ongoing needs of you church website, there are plenty of opportunities that are missed.

June 6, 2013 0 0 comments
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Using social media well is more than setting up an account and pushing out information about yourself or organization.  By nature it’s relational.  Whether you’re new to social media, or someone who’s been doing it for years, here are five things to consider that could make your online relationships stronger.

May 20, 2013 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

I joined a church just after graduating from college a few years ago and suddenly started receiving emails from a number of people all at the same time. I wondered what was going on and then realized my email was published in the directory.Without giving consent I was immediately subscribed to the church “weekly update”, prayer chain, and social justice club list.

May 15, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

Churches have always had data.  In the 21st century there is more to it than just being able to put address labels on envelopes or send out yearend giving summaries.  Like it or not, churches need to be aware of cyber security issues. 

May 7, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Visiting your website should feel like stepping onto your church’s physical property. This is especially true when you’re thinking about catering to a first time visitor. 

April 15, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

In upcoming weeks, Facebook will roll out a redesigned, less cluttered News Feed to users, and there are some things your church needs to think about to be ready. While it’s hard to know exactly how the modifications will affect how you administer your Facebook page, here are a few things to consider.

March 25, 2013 0 1 comments
Q&A

Our church is beginning to use Facebook more regularly, and it is clear that pictures are what members of the congregation find to be of the most interest.  

It is apparent, though, that our church needs to adopt a policy regarding pictures.  So we are looking for more input - especially...

March 13, 2013 0 2 comments
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Twitter may not be the biggest social media platform, but it’s growing.  Its short-form, 140-character style of posting makes it a unique arena to quickly communicate with your followers.  If your church is thinking about tweeting, here are a few things to consider as you get started.

March 12, 2013 0 2 comments
Blog

There is an art to creating a social media page.  You have header images to make, background pictures to add and content to create before you can even start sharing.  Here's a free guide to help you figure out the sizing of all those different images so you can get the most out of your various social media sites.

February 28, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/27/2013 It's getting increasingly difficult to reach your fans if you're not in tune with how Facebook works. We'll take a look at recent changes and share some best practices for getting the most out of Facebook.

February 27, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Managing your church's Facebook page can be frustrating. Just when you think you have it figured out, something changes. It's getting increasingly difficult to reach your fans if you're not in tune with how Facebook works. This webinar will take a look at recent changes and share some best...

February 20, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Two weeks ago I was privileged to sit in on a consultation on preaching hosted by my colleagues. One theme we circled back to often had to with the use of social media in the preaching event. Many of us who were at the consultation had been pastors of congregations in the past and we admitted to each other that it's an odd thought to ponder someone in a pew Tweeting about a sermon even as we are delivering it...

February 13, 2013 0 4 comments
Blog

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

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Jerod,

I recently had Graph Search enabled for my Facebook account and I would have to agree about one of the issues of Graph Search is a concern about privacy.  

Based off a couple of searches I was able to do find people who liked a fan page that I also liked but I could also refine it down to people who I was not Facebook friends with.

Some of these people and I had mutual friends but for some we did not share any mutual friends  In essence they were complete strangers and the only connection we had is that we liked the same fan page on Facebook.  Previously I could go to a page I liked and only see the my friends who like the same page.  With Graph Search this ability seems to be expanded to everyone who likes a particular page.
 
Perhaps there was a way to find this info before but it does seem easier now with Graph Search. I'm not sure if this is a net positive or net negative thing. There is a greater "discovery" aspect to Facebook now with Graph Search. As you mentioned it all depends on your Facebook user settings, but I think this is opens up a new area privacy concerns that did not previously exist and the majority of people will not be aware of it..

I have just found www.wufoo.com  I think this might be our answer.  Easy to set up a form and the back office looks like it is exportable into Excel.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I've used a few different survey tools, and SurveyMonkey is a fine one. Not cheap, but also not terribly expensive if your church will use it a lot.

Another option is Google Forms. It's much more basic than something like SurveyMonkey, but it's also free. And their feature set is slowly improving. For example, they now have page routing based on response (i.e. if someone answers X, show them additional questions. If they answer Y, skip those additional questions). Check it out.

It all depends on your questionnaire and how complicated it is. If you're able to post a link to it, that'd be great to see what it looks like.

Anyone else with experience using SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or other similar tools?

Hi Jim!
You have a couple of options here. First of all, Back To God Ministries International have a program called Church Juice http://churchjuice.com/ who can provide you with a Consultant who will walk you through a process as well as provide some training. So check them out.
Secondly, we at ServiceLink www.crcna.org/servicelink can also work with you in recruiting a volunteer to do this work. We've had a few other such requests and are willing to post it for you. Just let us know.
Hope that helps!

andand  and
 andan  

It can be a great medium....but....

Many insurance companies are requesting that churches (who wish to have "Safe Church" coverage) create a protocol c/w guidelines for "Using Social Networking with Young People".  As "lifted" from a sample policy I've viewed...

"All social networking sites have the potential to allow leaders to communicate with young people on a one-to-one basis.  However, we would strongly advise that any one-to-one communication made via a social networking site is kept in the public eye so as to safeguard both young people and youth leaders. On Facebook, this communication can be  made using the “wall function” and it is recommended that this method is used for communicating with young people individually on Facebook and for replying to private messages which young people may have sent to youth leaders."

Later, the policy recommends:

"The use of instant chat on Facebook, Myspace and Bebo is to be avoided since such communication method provides no log of conversations and could potentially leave a worker open to unsubstantiated allegations."

Users of services such as Facebook should be made aware of how to avoid the thin ice BEFORE they're out walking on it.  I recommend that our CRCNA Safe Church ministry communicate sample guidelines...

By the development of mobile technology WiFi uses is increasing rapidly day by day. Therefore making secure of our personal or official WiFi source is becomes crucial. Thanks a lot for giving out helpful tips of securing WiFi network. I'll look forward to read more interesting and educative posts.

surveillance camera Miami

I would agree with what Justin said. You do have to do some customization since it's not made specifically for churches. I cover what customization I did in my two articles.

We use Salesforce's mass mailing capabilities pretty frequently and it works well. We have all our members in there and can easily select who we went to send mail to. I created a simple template with our church logo and we use that to write messages.

As far as what it can't do, it's not a solution like ChurchSocial or others that are far more extensive in what they include, and specifically created for churches.

Hope that helps!

I have not found a way for it to serve communion or set up our cafe on Sunday mornings.  Sorry, i couldn't resist.  
Core areas that I have wrestled with mostly deal with customization and the time / training / resources needed to customize it to my particular "way" of doing church and what we measure or use it for.

Email-wise -I have not found a connector that it uses well for email marketing and follow up, but as noted above, I have limited time to stretch out and approach it from other angles.

We will begin using it in the short term to manage our bookeepping at the church - I am not aware of all my needs for it, but am  going to try to apply it (in a limited sense) to a Quickbooks like application - Expenses and Donations.  

I'm happy to connect with you off-line about it, too - I have found it extremely helpful for myself as a way to measure and track the things most important to my leadership and way of doing church, mostly because I can customize it to focus on what is most important to me.

justin at wcvc.org

I am searching for a solution for our church (I've already posted elsewhere, and now revisiting this as an option.) 

Here's my question about SalesForce - the price is right, but what CAN'T this program do that churches might need it to do?

Anyone?

I, too, am trying to use Salesforce for our church - if you have any success or are still pursuing it, would you drop me a line?  I'd be interested in how people use it in different scenarios.  Thanks!

When creating and updating websites, good webmasters will work to remove barriers in design as well. Accessible web design is not that complicated, and sends a message to people with visual impairments, "You are welcome at our church."

Amen to that. Especially to your last point.

Facebook posts that include hashtags and tweets that are cut off mid-sentence are equivalent to spam. At best, it says "I have no idea what I'm doing." At worst, it says, "The audience here isn't worth the effort it takes to talk to them."

I'll play along. :) Admittedly, I have not been the best at actively posting to our page, but I did put up a new cover photo earlier this summer that I rather like. Feedback welcomed! https://www.facebook.com/CrossroadsCRC

Great suggestions and ideas. I rather like the cover photos that are a collage of images, a great way to show various facets of worship and church life.

Thanks for the many comments. We are now studying the photos we were thinking of using and identifying those whose faces show clearly, and will seek permission. I am not sure of local law on the use of photos, but I think we can take some reasonable precautions so that we will not mistreat any of our members or visitors.

Richard,

I don't have the answer to your question specifically.  We generally ask for permission for photos that highlight particular people unless the photos were submitted by family (We asked for photos of church life a while back).  We haven't gotten written permission but it might be great thing to do.

I have found some other sources to get good quality images for church websites and other publicity items that you can legally use.  I compiled a list in a blog post I wrote on a different site.  WIll just put a link to it rather listing them all again here.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Brad

Good point Mark.  It's always important to know your audience.

By the way, you're website looks good!  Nice work.

Good article. It provides a great reminder for churches to be excellent in how we present ourselves.

One caveat that is missing from the article is that context makes a huge difference for the importance of a church's website. I pastor a rural congregation where the vast majority (I would estimate 75%) of people don't use email or the internet in general. These aren't just older people who never wanted to learn about computers, these are people who work in fields, barns, warehouses and shops during the day and don't see a need for the internet. So, consequently, the website isn't that valuable to them.

This doesn't excuse churches like ours from having outdated websites, but it does mean that the amount of time I spend working on the website should be relatively small.

(If you'd like to check out our site it's http://sumascrc.com)

Kimberly provides a good link. Best to check with appropriate state or provincial legislation in the area of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. Signed consent forms by adults and guardians should be standard practice.

Great question Richard.  At my church whenever there was a planned time to have pictures taken; there was a general announcement made to let people know that there would be a photographer taking photos.  I hope others chime in with their experiences at their church.

Richard,

Check out this link: http://network.crcna.org/content/church-administration/photos-church.  I'm sure there's more info about church photos but this can help to get you started.

Sorry for the delay. Here is a link to my google doc 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1odHFUd2zMAMFtzyE3BbeasfHFBuxcKnxw4dk...

It has all my notes including scripts, when I get a chance I will update them to clarify all the steps needed to make a functional system.

Thanks Andrew

posted in: Video Record 101

Hey Pete.  I just talked with a guy from Faith Street today.  I'm really excited to hear what they're doing.  Seems like it's actually helping people connect with churches. 

Andrew, precious greetings. Could you please send me a copy of the script and a how to setup a web server?

Many thx for your labor of love.

Tony

posted in: Video Record 101

Question: Are there any 'template' vision, mission, policy, procedure, legality, guideline etc.  documents out there regarding the whole area of worship service audio-video recording and web streaming (did I miss anything!)?

We'd love to hear from you!!  

Ray

It is surprising, especially since it seems like every church would have at least one budding amateur photographer who would love to volunteer to take some more candid photos. It could even be a fun youth project - images of our church, or something.

Something I've noticed in similar website roving is that churches often use 'stock' pictures of people who look happy enough, but a) looked so professional that they likely were originally ad pictures or studio pictures and b) don't look anything like the people form the church represented.

Jerod, I thought of your article on wireframing when someone I was working with used the software program/app called balsamiq (like the vinegar but with a q instead of a c). If you or someone reading this does a lot of wireframing, this could be a very useful app. And for nerdy people it's very fun! Check it out! :)

Wireframing also keeps everyone on the same page - as they say, "A picture is worth 1,000 hours of meetings with your web developer."

I would definitely say posting through a 3rd party is better than not posting at all! 

Interesting - although, when one is managing multiple accounts, and time is  limited, is it better to be able to post through Hootsuite vs. not at all? I've not noticed that posting through Hootsuite produces less engagement, although I did notice that Networked Blogs was awful.

Wendy-while Hootsuite and other interfaces are great to monitoring all of your social media accounts, I recommend posting individually. While this maybe more time consuming, studies have shown significantly decreased interaction when posting from 3rd party interfaces like Hootsuite.

Just looking for some info online on what churches and individual Christians are doing with Facebook.  Wondering about using it to reach out to people in MANY countries all over the world.  Kind of like penpals in the past, but with a distinct spiritual purpose.

Yes, overkill is a concern.  That's why it's always inportant to look at your overall communications plan to see how things like your website, email and social media all work together.  Maybe you don't promote something on every outlet you have.

The multiple posting in one day really is more of a Twitter thing.  A single tweet can easily get lost.

You're right, the last thing you want to do is bombard people.  

Jerod,

 

To your point about posting the same information several times a day... is there concern with overkill especially if the tweet or fb post is more directed to church members (i.e church potluck this Sunday afternoon at 3).  If the church sent out an e-mail reminder about the same event I think doing that more than once would be too much.  Would the same advice apply to social media as it does to e-mail.

You might have covered this in a  previous post, but I've found Hootsuite to be a great tool for scheduling and keeping up with Facebook and Twitter. There are other social media dashboards that do similar things - sometimes it helps to have it all in one place.

These  are good ideas.  I think stories, pictures and navigation are some key elements. I would add to navigation that getting some statistics on how the site is used can help in navigation. Be sure to get direct links on the home page for the places people most want to see, or put them right out there (e.g. sermon links).

It is a puzzle what to put on the front page, because we want visitors to see what they need there, and to go deeper if they find an easy way to get where they want to go. Some home pages use a minimalist approach -- a welcome note, a friendly picture, and 5-6 choices for navigating to a more detailed page. Others treat the home page a short-hand site map. Get the five main areas out there in front of everyone, and give them some detail sub-links as well. 

Then there is the attempt to get a lot of visitors, so we include Bible Gateway links, a Bible verse for the day, the local weather, and links to local government or entertainment. These are attempts to make a the church's site a portal site. It is labor intensive and maybe works in small communities, but I doubt it works well beyond those places.

Our choices are in part determined by who we think our audience is. If it is newcomers and visitors, we want it to be simple and attractive, and get out a few key ideas and images that say who we are.  If it is our own members, then we want easy-to-find elements of our ministry -- information that members may need. And maybe one can do both, if members understand they have to go deeper into the site to get what they need.

Thanks for this post Jerod - an important topic when it comes to websites that the people take seriously.

I coordinate blogs for a few different companies and guest blog for others.  Generally writing for the web is different that writing for print.  When people read on websites they are looking for content that is easy to digest that they can get through quickly.  I'm not suggesting you write fluff that doesn't change people's lives.  I am suggesting that you make it easy for people to read and understand your writing, especially for complex topics. 

This is done by following some of the suggestions above such as, using plain English instead of abstract Christian language that the average person wouldn't understand without it being explained to them.  Other ways to make your reading easy to understand is by:

- using short paragraphs of 4 -5 sentences maximum, sticking to one point per paragraph

- using clear subheadings throughout so readers can quickly find the part of the post that they are looking for

- using lists to make points easier to follow (for example, this was a paragraph before I hit the publish button, then after reading it I realized a list would be easier for readers to understand) 

- use a compelling title that actually says what your post is about - not something abstract

- enslist the help of an editor, someone who can give you feedback and ask you questions about parts that aren't clear

Remember you are writing for your readers.  The harder your audience has to work to understand the point of your message, the more likely they not finish reading your post, an will click to another post that is easier for them to find the information they are after.

Awesome post, inspiring. 

My church youth group has been using a facebook group for a few years. It is a great way to communicate. However the problem is some people "do not do facebook". So that got me thinking what about the others? My solution was to use a wordpress plugin to read facebook groups and post them on the church website site check it out http://www.terracecrc.org

Thanks Andrew 

Our church doesn't currently have a Facebook page, but the Senior High Youth Group does (https://www.facebook.com/groups/crcssrhighyouthgroup/)  I'd like to know what folks would like to see their church Facebook page do.  Is this for internal chat's with associated friends just dropping in, or is it more an external meeting place?

Jerod have you noticed that when you post links on your Facebook page depending on the image FB will crop the ends of some images that appear on the post? 

Here's a followup story Christianity Today just posted this morning about it.

thanks for the great ideas!

Jerod,

I was really glad to hear Google Apps were free again to non-profits. In case others would like more details, some time ago I wrote an article about setting it up.

Thanks.

Mavis

As an active Google Apps user, I was happy to see this posting.  Unfortunately, the non-profit program remains unavailable to organizations outside of the US, according to the eligability requirements found here (http://www.google.com/nonprofits/eligibility.html).

Until the non-profit program is opened up to organizations outside of the US, non-US churches may wish to consider using either the free version of Google Apps or paying for the business edition.  Differences between the free and business editions are doucmented here (http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html).  The free edition is likely sufficient for most churches.

This is GREAT news! We have Google Apps at the free level for our church, and it's GREAT! Here's some of the ways we use it (just adding some examples to ways already mentioned!)

- Shared calendars. Our entire calendar is embedded on the church website, but individual ministry leaders have access to their calendar to update events for their ministry. The great thing is that once updated, the changes are immediately visible online, there is no additional step at the church office to keep the website up-to-date.

- Google Docs. This is excellent for sharing documents when more than one person needs to have access or update something, and everyone sees the changes immediately. For example, our Worship Director maintains a monthly schedule that includes everything from each week's song choices to who is serving that week. Our Secretary may access it anytime to update it with the Pastor's scripture and sermon titles, and viewing the information for creating the bulletins. You can set the sharing settings for any single document or group of documents so you know who has access.

- Email addresses with our domain name. All staff have an email address with @crossroadscrc.com. We use the same naming convention for all addresses, so that everyone knows they can reach someone using the formula firstname.lastname @ _________.com.

I work in ministry part-time and in my other part-time job, I use google docs at a for-profit company, so I'm using it literally every day somewhere. Highly recommended. :)

That's right Paul, non-profits get the business account for free.  Sign up information is here: http://www.google.com/nonprofits/.

In general it's good to keep personal and professional accounts seperate.  I'm sure someone much smarter than me could give you all the legal reasons to do it.  Google Apps for Business gives you more administrative control over what people can and can't do with their church email account and helps you have more access to employees data.  Here's some more info: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/details.html

Hi Jerod,

Thanks again for being the guide for this important area.

I have a request that maybe Mavis in a previous post addressed.   The request is more of trying to start a conversation on this site about content filtering tools- for not only computers, but especially for mobile devices that can access the internet.  In our church we desire to recommend or at least give our parents and other adults the links/resources for accessing these fitlering tools.  

Also - some ethical questions, since Apple is very proprietary about its mobile operating systems, is  'jail breaking' acceptable?  Some think that since the Mobsafety Ranger filtering app (for Itouch/Ipad/Ipod) is really modifying the operating system, that this is unethical.    Can we explore this issues?

Thanks again,

 

Greg Bode

Third CRC, Lynden, WA

Hmmm. Are you saying that churches can get free corporate accounts? Many pastors I know simply use personal accounts and so use all of the services for free anyway. What benefits are there to getting a corporate account? Where would you go to sign up for it? 

Thanks for the help Jerod! pvk

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