My previous blog post focused on using Google Voice at your church to minimize costs, and provide important features, especially in small churches. Now we'll talk about ways to save money and provide functionality usually only found in large telephone switches (PBXs).
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If you are part of a small church or even run one, there's many ways that you can leverage technology to save money, be more efficient and provide consistent service at the church. This is part one of a two part blog post focusing on telephones and telephone service to help your church. This first part provides tips to using Google Voice at your church.
There is a feature that almost every church has on their website, is difficult to navigate and doesn’t integrate into other services easily. This feature is a calendar or listing of events. Services like Google Calendar allow you to embed a calendar easily into your website. ..
I'm sure at some point various titles of blog posts or articles on different networks have piqued your curiosity and caused you to click to read the full post; it has for me. Even though this Network focuses on your church's website and online presence there are some posts on different networks that involve areas relevant here. I'd like to point out several different posts that would be valuable for you to read, or would be great areas for you to provide your insight and experience.
Do you expect your website visitors to know how to do Boolean searches? What about expecting them to search your site using the built-in search tool of your CMS? To help visitors search your site, you can use the power of the big search engines (Google and Bing) to provide custom search boxes for your site.
One of the most common reasons to visit a church's website is to find the church's address, worship times, or phone number. In fact, it is probably on the home page of your website so that it is easy and quick to find. It should not only be listed on your website but on Bing Local Listings, Google Places and Yahoo! Local as well.
Even if your church doesn't have a website or will never start using Twitter or Facebook, I'm sure your church records sermons. With tape players obsolete and CD players common, it would be good to make the switch to recording your service digitally if you haven't yet. Not only will this be more compatible with your church listeners, but will allow you to easily podcast your sermon.
A while ago I wrote an article detailing several items that every church website should include no matter the size of their church or website. Mick Mel's recent post "Don’t be like a “University Website"" details many of the items I mentioned along with several items that are unnecessary on your church's homepage. Most of the items are aimed at presenting a good impression for your church, but also help with not frustrating return visitors.
More and more software programs are becoming available online or 'in the cloud'. Currently, there are several popular services like Google Docs or now Microsoft Office Web Apps that make working in the cloud advantageous. Recently, Intuit unveiled Quickbooks Online which allows an organization to manage their books, run reports and more online. Now those who keep track of the church's finances and books can do so in the cloud.
Another simple and quick way to add value to your church is to have email addresses at the church’s domain. Many times church staff or leaders create email accounts with the provider of their internet service, or through free providers like Yahoo (Yahoo email), Google (Gmail), or Microsoft (Live Mail, Hotmail).
Over two decades ago Nike coined the phrase "Just do it". While this has taken on numerous meanings, the original meaning still rings true: even if it's not going to be perfect or close to perfect, just do it anyways. If you are waiting for the perfect moment and for everything to come together perfectly, it's probably not going to. Instead, take the first small steps, and go from there.
Look up; at the top of the window. Up in the address bar is the URL of this website. Have you looked at the addresses that your website is using? Your church is probably using a system (CMS) that automatically creates the URL for a page based on a template. Usually the default is for ugly unusable URLs. However, with most of the popular CMSs there are options to change the way URLs are structured.
A month ago Blizzard (a video game developer) announced they were going to require users of their online forums to use their real names with a hope to reduce trolling, flame wars, and other non productive comments. This was a bold move by Blizzard which shows the severity of their problem. Immediately, many users complained, and Blizzard ended up cancelling this requirement.
Not only is there a sample bulletin announcement and other ideas on this page to spread the word about The Network, but there are two images that you can post on your church website. This not only showcases your support of The Network, but helps us get the word out so that we can add to the number of voices on the site and share the knowledge and wisdom for the many different roles in a church.
Endless solutions exists to make your church run better, faster, and more efficient. As with any solution, there's a trade off between using a new technology since it's faster or cheaper, and the usefulness of it. Dan Hotchkiss explores the difficulties associated with new technologies and the shift to digital in an article from The Alban Institute, titled When to Adopt New Technology
Ever wonder what operating system other churches are running on their servers? What they use for email? What solution other churches use for their staff intranet? What their IT budget is? The Church IT Survey is a survey that provides responses for these questions and forty others from over 150 churches.
Two aspects of the web that are driving innovation are collaboration and lowering costs, of which almost any new web service or site provides. Recently Microsoft started the
Technical Preview of Microsoft Office Web Apps
which includes both of these. Office Web Apps (OWA) enable the editing, sharing, and storing of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote files online, through most browsers and any operating system.
Over the last couple of years it seems just about everyone is either a social media consultant or offering seminars. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, I wanted to pass along one that I have heard good things about. This next Friday WiredChurches.com is offering a one day workshop on Social Media & Web. The workshop will focus providing valuable content on your site, the best way to present it, and how to use social media for marketing. If you check out their site, look at the other events they offer and you might just come across another one that interests you.
Part of living in community is sharing needs, and abilities. As part of a church community, you probably share these needs and abilities through bulletin announcements, or someone tracking and matching up people to help. While this can be effective for some churches, it can limit the potential of helping each other by limiting it to only dire needs.
A couple of weeks ago I read an article on the NY Times blog section of their website written by one of their columnists. I was shocked to find the post rife with spelling mistakes. Not only was this distracting, but immediately led me to question the writer’s credibility.
The privacy concerns that accompanied the announcement of Google Buzz illustrate the importance of scrutinizing every option, feature, and aspect with a rollout on your website. Even though your church won't announce anything that will be as widely used or talked about as Google Buzz, there is a lesson to be learned.
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.
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.
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...