Resource, Article

Happy new year! Top 10 lists are all over the place right now. I figured, why not join in? Below is a list of the articles or blogs that I consider some of our “Church and Web” top entries.

1. Thoughtful Use and Non-Use of Technology

The other 9 entries on my list are more “techie”...

January 2, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

When her parents are getting her ready for church, my little 3-year-old granddaughter asks, “Are we going to the show?” That’s what she calls church -- “the show.” At her church, the service is shown via streaming video to the nursery where she goes each Sunday. Makes me wonder, how will “doing church” be different for future generations?

December 26, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Today I'd like to direct you to an article from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship called "Technology that Redeems Downtime." The article gives examples of the ways you and your church can use technology to "support a lifestyle of worship."

December 13, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

An article by Joyce Suh reminds us that being “wired” presents a danger “of gradually cutting ourselves off from the blessing that comes with being face-to-face with another human being and from being face-to-face with God.” As we begin the Christmas season, it is good to remind ourselves of what is the most important in our lives, and to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.”

December 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Q&A

At a recent elders meeting, we asked ourselves whether we should look into posting sermon videos instead of just audio. Does your church record and post video instead of audio? 

November 29, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

A few weeks back I wrote about technology as a devotional tool and received some excellent suggestions of devotions available online from several of you. How about blogs? Have you found some good ones that you find help you grow in faith?

November 29, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

What do you know about video? Well, if you’re Andrew Nutma, quite a bit. Andrew posted an entry in the forum called “Video Record 101.” You’ll learn about the low cost solution he found for video recording his church’s services. Has your church started video recording? 

November 15, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

 

Video Recording Church Service 101

So you are sitting in church thinking, man I would love it if my friend could hear this message, or see this baptism, or wedding, or funeral etc. If you’re my wife you are thinking oh boy here he goes again.

The question is how would...
November 8, 2011 0 5 comments
Resource, Article

Ever wonder why using Facebook and/or Twitter for your church would be a good idea? Or what in the world would you write about if you set up a Facebook page? Or what if I start using Twitter and someone posts something negative about our church? There’s a webinar on The Network that will help...

November 8, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

I love technology. If you’re reading this blog, you may enjoy it, too. But, even though I appreciate the use of technology, I also appreciate it when people are thoughtful about its use -- or non-use. Opposite decisions about whether or not to use technology can both be "right."

November 1, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

We’ve talked a little in the past about back-up, but there’s another side to file storage - just plain storing files in order to share them with others.

Probably the most common reason to use an online storage service is the limitations of email. Emailing large files is not only bad...

October 25, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Does your church use a wireless network? Many do, and it’s a useful tool for connecting staff members, giving web access to committee members as they meet, and so on. Many of us have it in our homes, too.

This article in the New York Times Technology section has some good tips on wi-fi...

October 16, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

Can technology be a tool to increase your devotion to God? Have you ever signed up for a thought or Bible verse a day? Did it help you spiritually? Have you ever developed or experienced a system using technology to increase your own or others’ devotion?

September 25, 2011 0 11 comments
Resource, Article

“What is the end goal of...design? Make sure you look good for God.” This is a quote from an article on art in the church that I recently read. How are you using technology at your church to “look good for God?” In reading about art and design, I was surprised to find many artists saying that...

September 20, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Those of you who follow The Network may have seen the forum discussion led by Tim Postuma regarding Google’s decision to no longer give Google Apps free to religious organizations. It’s really too bad, isn’t it? Maybe the CRC Network can help to change their minds, what do you think? 

September 10, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Some things never change. Fostering relationships involves building trust, developing rapport, and sharing experiences. But some of the tools for accomplishing this have changed. This is especially true when using technology and the web to accomplish this with kids and young adults.

August 29, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Who doesn't love a good deal? There's that shirt you found hidden on the clearance rack or the coupon you used at the restaurant for dinner. In the same way your church can get deals on technology services and software. Is your church taking full advantage of all the available discounts and freebies that it can?

August 22, 2011 0 2 comments
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
Blog

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
Blog

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

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I agree completely, Dave. I am always glad to go unnoticed when it comes to running the sound system. There have been times, with our old sound system, where I felt like holding up both my hands when people were craning to look at me to convey the message, "I wasn't touching anything!!" Fortunately we recently bought a new sound board and we're usually able to be unnoticed now when we run the sound -- always a good thing.

But I'm definitely telling my co-workers in the sound booth thanks for all their work. They do really put it on the line every time they sit behind that equipment.

posted in: Say Thanks

Thanks for the laught about the 'sound guy neck crane'! I have to admit that I've done that. I've done sound at several church and have had several times that this happened to me. I was always glad when I could do a service where I was in the zone and went unnoticed so that the congregation wouldn't have to be distracted but could focus on the intent and purpose of the service.

posted in: Say Thanks

Creative Commons is a great resource.  The majority of the images used for the blogs on The Network are Creative Commons licensed images. As Mavis suggests. if you are using images in your ministry areas, Creative Commons images and content are very useful.

Thank you, Anko! It's really valuable to get personal experience testimonies like yours.

I am currently using a back-up program called Carbonite.  It backs us files whenever I am logged on to the computer.  I also use it at home, and this weekend I had a nasty virus.  I had to reformat my computer and I downloaded all my files from their server without any problems.  Well worth the cost for an off-site backup program.

Hi Allen,

One Call Now looks like a great option. Using the phone rather than email might make a lot of sense, depending on the community, as you wrote.

Thanks for sharing the idea!

Mavis

Cool idea except for our church where our community is way behind and few people regularly check email if they have it.  We have a small group of our folks on Facebook, but many of them don't check it regular either.

I certainly see the value for churches in larger populace centers where the majority of folks regularly use web services and social networks.

We are using One Call Now and it works great.  Our people really appreciate it.

Hey Mavis,

 

Thanks for the information. It will be nice to finally put that question to rest!

 

Nate

Does anyone have a Standard Operating Procedure for church backups?

What should be backed up

What should not be backed up

Off site

On site

Kevin Sigler

Fairfield Christian Reformed Church

Fairfiled California

Nate, 

Sorry it took me so long to respond. I found this page comparing the free vs. "busines" Apps: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html. The nice thing for churches is that we get the "Education version" for free. This Wikipedia page also compares the different versions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Apps.

Hope that helps.

Mavis

Are there any legal issues regarding streaming live video on-line without first receiving some sort of waiver form?  I do not know what the proper protocals are, but I have heard that many Christian schools do not post pictures of children in their newsletters until their parents have signed some sort of liability waiver or permission form.  Anyone know details?

CCLI now offers a streaming/podcasting license for worship. The license seems pretty reasonable.

http://www.churchstreaminglicense.com/

Yeah, I had Livestream in my "you need to check this out" set of browser tabs after your previous post :-) Sure looks pretty awesome - can't wait to give it a try!

Kyle - You may want to check out LiveStream, particularly for it's Procaster tool that handles encoding from a wide range of devices. Here's the user guide. LiveStream is what we've used for the Synod webcast for the past couple of years.

I'm curious if anyone's tried converting a CCTV feed for internet streaming. We've got a CC camera in the back of the sanctuary. Right now I'm looking at using a Viewcast Osprey 100 for capturing the composite video and Flash Media Encode to encode it for Ustream.

I was involved in the launch of a website at my church recently (www.graafschapheritagecenter.org). We use godaddy.com for the domain hosting, and an online content management system.

If you have an outside person or company design and build the site, remember to be clear about what their length of involvement will be. Do you want them just to build the site, or also continue to maintain it long afterwards? Go through the above steps before you bring that person or company on board (especially the services section), then clearly communicate it to that person, so that you end up with what you want in the final product. 

Also, GoogleAnalytics is a free way to see how many people are viewing your website and where they are located. This can help you focus your promotions, expand on what people are actually using, and not waste time on what they ignore.

D.

SermonStudio (http://sermonstudio.net/index.html) is another option for placing content online. They will host audio for free or you can pay to have your video online. The church where I grew up uses this on their website: www.graafschapcrc.org

If anyone in the congregation has a Mac, they probably have an application called GarageBand (http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/) that can be used to record and edit audio and iMovie, which you could use to edit video.

Great article. One thing I have never been able to figure out is the difference between the free google apps that google offers to everyone and these google applications that you are talking about Mavis. For example, on my person email account I've been using google documents, google chat, and google calendar for years. When google relseased this paid version of google apps I got really confused because all the applications they are offering I already have. I already share files with members of my church using google documents and I share a calendar with some of the church leaders as well. Anyways, if you have any idea what the difference is (if there is one) that  would be great.

P.S. I didn't know you could use google to make a website. I might see if I can use it to complement my church management software site I'm running.

This is a great article. I have to admit that I've been avoiding creating a facebook page for my church management software website. I'm really not that tech savvy, and I thought it would be more difficult than this. I don't know if this is a newer criteria or not, but I heard that you needed something like 150 followers before you could have an official facebook page. I guess I'll go and try and set mine up and then I'll see if there is something else I'm missing.

I should mention that the members of my church do use facebook quite frequently, especially the youth. It is a great way for leaders of the church to connect with the youth. One word of caution though: there has been a few minor problems with adult male leaders "friending" female youth members. There isn't necessarily any guilty parties, just a bad perception. Unfortunately these are just the times we live in.

Thanks for the great article.

Thanks for this excellent article on SCE Technology & Equipment/Training grants. As you stated, the process is quite simple with a very quick turn around. We look forward to receiving new applications.  Lis Van Harten  Director of SCE

FYI, I would recommend FaithConnector if you want some good Content Management Software for your website.  Easy to use.

posted in: Member Only Section

When we redesigned our website three years ago we really struggled with this issue.  In the end, we decided that the privacy of our members needed to be protected in many cases.  Therefore, we have a "members only" section (called MY FCRC) ... for meeting minutes, our "focus" section of the bulletin (which contains names, phone numbers, e-mails and other things that should be kept private), budget reports, our prayer line (again, some private information).  I disagree with the statement that e-mail is best for prayer updates ... I don't think there is a "best" anymore.  For a lot of our membership, e-mail is best; for others, the webpage is best; for others, an unpublished phone line with a recording is best.  In March, for example, we had 114 visits to our member-only Prayer Line webpage -- I don't know how many people that represents, but that's between 3 and 4 visits every day -- all by our church members (since it requires a log-in).

We just updated our website, hoping to make it, primarily, a site for visitors ... there is plenty of stuff there for visitors: our bulletin (i.e. our order of worship), pictures, videos, our history, our ministry plan, our floor plan, most of our policies, etc.  But, we also wanted to have a member section for communication purposes.  See www.friendshipcrc.org.  Also, our website stats for Jan. thru March of this year can be viewed at http://www.friendshipcrc.org/files/Misc/jan_mar_2011_website_stats_summary.pdf  I think it's a good idea to know what your web traffic stats are -- we've been surprised at what gets looked at and what doesn't.  It's often good to have data.

Every church's situation will be different, so it's good to hear the different ideas and thoughts on The Network!

posted in: Member Only Section

I can see where it might sound exclusive even though it's not meant to be. Our bulletins are not in the members only section. Our members only section has links to volunteer schedules and some other parts of our Google Apps pages which would be of no interest to non-members but are a handy way for members to get to places they need to without having to remember another separate website url. We could be more subtle, maybe, with just one "Members" or "Login" link or something.

posted in: Member Only Section

 

Personally, I don't like members only sections. It can be a tough issue because I feel like churches are being exclusive to outsiders. 

I find that prayer updates are best sent through email. People aren't frequently checking the church website, but they do check their email!

Also, bulletins can be helpful for visitors to look and what your church is like and what events occur. 

posted in: Member Only Section

Mavis - What is the best way to get in touch with you?  Our church is actively considering SalesForce and I'd love to setup some time to talk with you more about your experience.   

 

Thanks

[quote=Kyle Adams]

Clearly free or cheap is also a must for the inner city church. I'm still wading through options like Mozy, Crashplan, Dropbox, etc.

[/quote]

Mozy is good but it's going to have a continued cost every month. I'd avoid dropbox for churches because it requires the user to actively select which files will be backed up... that'll most likely mean that very little or nothing actually gets backed up in my experience. If you're considering Crashplan, why not consider Amanda, it's open source (http://amanda.zmanda.com/)? I think I'd probably go that route, get a cheap server to throw in the church and use Amanda for automatic backup. Then you're not having to deal with regular payments, just a one time hit, maybe even convert an older computer into a linux server to handle the backups. The software isn't dead simple, but you can set it and forget it.

Kyle, Are these server based systems?

Ken

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

Wendy,

Thank you for your comment. YouVersion looks like a very rich tool. I plan to explore it more fully. And LifeChurch.tv, 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.

Mavis

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.

Mavis, 

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 (http://support.twitter.com/entries/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols) 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 (http://twitter.com/#!/jasondyk) and we'll have a conversation :) 

 

Jason

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

http://network.crcna.org/forums/worship/tech-gathering-and-training-grand-rapids-mi-area

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 :) 

 

Jason 

@jasondyk 

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.

Thanks

Ken

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: http://www.facebook.com/DCClibrary.) 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.

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