Blog

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

June 20, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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

June 13, 2011 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

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

June 6, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

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

Best Practices
If you...

May 31, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

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

May 16, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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

May 9, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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

May 2, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

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

April 26, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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

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

April 18, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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

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

April 12, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

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

April 4, 2011 0 0 comments
Q&A

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

April 2, 2011 0 6 comments
Blog

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

March 27, 2011 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

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

Audio Recording

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

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

Free software for working with sound recordings.

March 18, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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

March 14, 2011 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

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

March 7, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

The peaceable kingdom is one of my favorite Biblical images. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could say the web could be an example of the peaceable kingdom? How awesome if we could say, “The world wide web is not the church, but the church is doing its thing there.” ...

March 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Hello! My name is Mavis Moon and I’m taking over as guide of “Church and Web.” I’ve been a fan of this network since its beginning and my goal is to explore ways to use technology as a part of God’s kingdom work...

February 28, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

Over the last year I have had the chance to share with you what's on my mind, write some useful how-to guides, and even almost go off on a couple of rants. I've enjoyed the chance to share these items, hear your feedback and try some of your suggestions myself!

February 21, 2011 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

For those working with their home church website 

Do you have your church library hooked up with your website? 

Do you have a discusion forum about library materials? 

If you do these things could you share with me. I am head of the Church Library as a Ministry Group and would...

February 21, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Years ago my church switched from mailing church items (newsletters, flyers, forms, and more) to putting mailing a mailbox at the church where with the idea that each home could pick up their mail each Sunday. This took a lot less time for church staff since they didn't have to stuff envelopes and address labels, and they didn't have to pay postage.

February 14, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

While it is easy to debate the importance of some social media sites like Linkedin, Myspace, and Last.FM for connecting with your community, I believe it's almost impossible to argue that Facebook is an important platform to use in communicating and connecting.  Church Marketing Sucks explains how and why to connect with your church through status updates on Facebook.

February 7, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

If you have any doubts that technology is helping people and communities in ways that haven't been done before, check out this story. A preacher cancelled the Sunday worship service because of inclement weather. However this didn't stop him from having a service since he streamed the service from his house onto the church's website via Ustream.

January 31, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

An advantage to working in a large office or in a large company is that you are usually part of a team that has overlap in responsibilities or knowledge. This makes it easier to collaborate and to seek out advice and ideas. Unfortunately this isn't the case in most churches which makes it more difficult to get fresh new ideas, and sometimes just get it all done! Here are some great resources if you're stuck.

January 24, 2011 0 0 comments

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

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

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

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

Thanks

Ken

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

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

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

Our current approach:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Advice!

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

David,

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

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

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

David,

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

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

Thanks for the connection.

Thanks Robert, I do appreciate your openess.

Warning, I have a vested interest in this answer, but I'll offer it anyways.

Faithwebsites.com is a powerful and user-friendly CMS made specifically for churches, and modified slightly for Christian Schools. We have over 700 organizations using the system, and many CRC churches and Classes. Monthly hosting and support starts at $35/mo.

You can contact me for more information, or check out faithwebsites.com

Blessings!

Bob

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

For hosting, I highly recommend www.justhost.com , which is the cheapest I've found (yet reliable). I also often use www.000webhost.com , a completely free(!) host, for test sites I'm developing and for small sites for freelance clients. In my experience its uptime is not as good as it claims, but for small sites it's a good option--it's free up to 1.5GB of storage, which is plenty for the majority of church websites. This is the only free host I know of that does NOT place banner ads at the top of your page. (They try to sell you on switching to their paid hosting via www.hosting24.com, which is another fine option; no better or worse than justhost, bluehost, or godaddy.)

For a content management system, WordPress is the best, but for more basic, user-friendly options, see http://designm.ag/resources/simple-cms/ .

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

Google Apps is probably a good option for churches too.

Hi Marieke,

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

Mavis

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

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

Thanks, Marieke

Thanks for sharing. That's a great resource.

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

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

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

posted in: Thankyou

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

posted in: Thankyou

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

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

Ranmavmoon@moonfamily.cc
Mavis

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

Crossroads CRC website - http://www.crossroadscrc.com/Church_Life/calendar.htm

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Thomas,

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

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

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

Hope this helps.

Mavis

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

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

Thanks and appreciate your feedback.

God bless-Thomas

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

I was\am not too familiar with "fair-use."  After reading through the Wikipedia article, I did a little additional searching.  There is an artcle on this up at the US Copywrite Office web site, http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html as well as another helpful article at the Stanford University web site, http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/.  These make me lean more towards the idea that there may not be as much latitude on this.  The proof in such a case seems to reside with the defendent.  This means anyone who see's something of their work that was streamed without prior consent, could take you to court, even if they knew the case was "iffy." 

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

Hey guys, What your talking about is fair-use of copyrighted materials. YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A LOT OF LATITUDE with fair -use. Go to wikipedia under fair- use it explains how it works in the USA and Canada. Basic rules are not written in stone, but are based on common sense.  Wikipedia is completely free so Quote away.

To be honest, it is still not clear to me ho the laws work and it may be different in USA compared to Canada, which where we are. Currently we record the entire service. Members can get a copy on CD/tape/mp3 upon request. The sermon part is posted on the internet. We currently do not post the entire service behind username/password anylonger and it seems to be OK. I am to afraid to run in to trouble with copyrights etc.  You can see it at www.fellowship-church.ca

I've been thinking about the copywrite issue.  Do the requirements change if you don't do a general broadcast, but only do one that is available to members through a login\password?  If the goal of the webcast is to reach a broader community, both local as well as remote, then getting whatever licenses you need makes sense.  However, if you are limiting your broadcast to a selected audience, your shut-ins for example, would you need to meet the same requirements?

Schedules - volunteer schedules for greeters, coffee, nursery, children's church, sound booth, etc., etc.

posted in: Member Only Section

Thanks for the comment Stanley.

I’m glad you raise the issue of aesthetics and/or colors. It is a valid question that I believe has not
been asked or answered in regard to computers and projectors, simply because they are so new in the church. Do we just go with the latest program, in this case Mediashout? Do we just put up pretty pictures of scenery with words in front of them? Is whatever the younger generation wants, the way to go? Do we ask for everyone’s opinion about their preferred colors?

Do we need to reinvent that wheel, or re-establish our moral rational for what we do in church, and what is the nature of Christian art? I think not, but I may be wrong.

In my outline I am conveying what has been researched on using projectors. These are not my opinions. The color scheme (yellow letters with a plain medium blue background) is the optimal contrast and optimal color scheme. If what you want to do is insure that the most people can read your message, that is what you will use. That is what the best and latest research has come up with.

Yes, there are personal preferences. Yes, variations can be included, I find it most amusing, and telling that on the website of the American Foundation for the Blind (afb.org) they allow you to change colors very easily and they use a variety of color combinations on their first page EXCEPT on the box that says DONATE NOW. Guess what colors are used for that important message - yep, medium blue background and yellow letters. That want you to read it, understand it and apply it and not simply enjoy the colors!

If you want people to get the message, do not use fancy effects or personal aesthetics, instead, imitate what God created when he gave us a blue sky and a yellow sun. He wanted us to get the message too! He also wanted it to be appropriate for our nervous systems which he also made and we scientists are slowly coming to realize. What a surprise. Yes we have grey days and black nights, but there is hope - joy comes in the morning!

I looked at the slide you made with 36 point Trebuchet font using grey letters and dark blue background using half the screen and wondered how best to explain this.

On the slide sample I gave I used Arial 80 point and Arial 54 point font and filled the entire screen. Those were two additional points in my outline, so, if you want to try other colors and fonts it would be better not to leave out using the largest font size possible with a meaningful chunk of words and filling the entire screen.

Are those two aesthetic points to be discussed as well? Maybe, I do not think this dialogue has been carried out in church with ALL the elements I offered in my outline included in the discussion, so maybe it needs to be.

I still wonder how much needs to be taught, tried, and re-invented. There are a lot of details in the outline I wrote and I guess it will take time to try them all out. At my church, I’m wondering when they will get to the part about large print bulletins!

John 

Of course, there's something to be said about aesthetics. Frankly, I think the bright yellow text on the blue background in the projector sample looks very unpleasant. To avoid glare/car headlights effect, perhaps a black or dark blue background with light grey (as opposed to bright white) sans serif text would work? Something like this perhaps... https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0ATmyBsyV0TpjZGNzZHJ0MnBfMDduMmN2c2dr&hl=en&authkey=CPaTorIM.  (Feel free to edit it.)

Respectfully,
Stanley

[quote=al.kuiper]One more tip: use 72 dpi resolution for web display. For printing, link to the high-resolution version at 300 dpi.[/quote] Actually, you can set your mind at ease about this one! When creating web images, DPI doesn't really matter as there is no such thing as an "inch." A pixel will be different sizes on different monitors and browsers don't account for that when displaying images. So if your thumbnail is 150x150, it will always display at that size regardless of the DPI setting.

Admin Note: Closed because this topic is already being discussed here.

posted in: Captcha

One more tip: use 72 dpi resolution for web display. For printing, link to the high-resolution version at 300 dpi.

How about live video feed of the service on the net to member shut-ins? You could take this to you tube also which would be a great way bring the Word to internet masses.  Another is a closed church net (The World) like my wife's clinic uses in the medical field.  Thanks for the dicussion.

great idea! I know friends who are expecting would love this, so I'm not sure this really fits under "deacons."

Love the concept of common.org

Try http://www.christianvolunteering.org

I haven't used it, but have heard others who were very impressed and pleased.

At Synod, I heard about a competing service being run by a relative of one of the delegates (if I remember right). It sounded like that service might have some advantages over theCommon.org and it would be nice to be able to compare them. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the other site. Does anybody know what it might be?

I think that amateur photos are fine, as long as they are in focus! Candid shots make it seem more authentic. 

You mention photos of the building vs. the people of the church. I completely see your point. But here is the dilemma ... if the church has a small (or even medium-sized) budget for the website, where are the photographs of people going to come from?

Photos of the building are easy for an amateur photographer to take. But as soon as you put any people in those pictures, you can tell pretty easily that they were not done professionally. Everything from lighting to posing and framing becomes much more difficult to do right. And my thought is that amateurish photos don't belong as design elements in an otherwise professionally-made layout—they stick out like a sore thumb. (A church photo gallery would be a different story.)

So if it's too expensive to hire a real photographer to take quality photos of "real people" for the site, and amateur photos don't look right ... what's left? Stock photos.

And those pose another problem. I remember one time that my church of maybe 100 people switched to a pre-made bulletin design that had photos clearly meant to promote or reflect racial diversity at the church. And while we would have loved to have more diversity in our congregation, the fact was that those photos didn't really match what our congregation looked like, and so it was immediately obvious that we had picked those bulletins out of a catalog.

Meanwhile, I saw a similar bulletin when I visited a large church closer to the heart of the city, and yet I had a feeling I was looking at photos of people that actually attended that church.

All of that to say ... stock photos can end up having a really weird effect when used in church materials, since a church is supposed to be a community where you know and recognize lots of other people. And yet the smaller communities that know each other best are the ones that would least be able to afford their own professional photography.

So I think it's a dilemma! I completely agree that something is missing if you only have church building pictures. Any thoughts on a solution?

Don't know the exact link but here's ours from SD

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Corsica-SD/Corsica-CRC-and-Grace-Reform...

Post almost daily. How do you get more people to interact with it? It feels sometimes like a one way conversation

Thank you! I appreciate all the links, it's helpful to see what churches are doing with their Facebook pages.

As a regular Facebook user, I connect with a lot of news outlets and other websites on Facebook. Although I find the information very helpful, I almost never comment on those links and pages. Based on my own experience, I'm not sure that interactions are the best measure of success. I think, like Stanley said,  it's greatest usefulness may just be in having an online presence where people are anyway.

facebook.com/telkwacrc
Usually something gets posted at least once a week. Same as New Hope above, "there's not a lot of two-way conversation on our page," but it's helpful for having an online presence and for alerting people to upcoming events.
Stanley

Our Facebook page is doing all right. We have a good number of fans. But, like others have said, we don't get a lot of back & forth conversation. I try to post something at least once a week.

http://www.facebook.com/sjcrc

Yes, it was started by a church member (not church 'official') and it was quite a while ago...so for both those reasons it was a Group instead of Page. When someone has time, we might switch it over...

I really appreciate that link about Groups vs. Pages. I hadn't come across that one before...it's a nice summary with up-to-date info about both.

Pages