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Ctt ebook final

  1. 1. CTT’s Top 10 Helpful Church Technology Articles of 20111|Page
  2. 2. Table of Contents#1 - Is Google+ the Next Best Thing for Church Communication? page 3#2 - 9 Areas Every Church Should Measure page 6#3 - HTML5 Improves Church Technology page 8#4 - 6 Great Church Tech Christmas Resources page 11#5 - 3 Ways to Maintain Your Church Production Gear page 13#6 - Choosing the Right Worship Software page 16#7 - 3 Reasons Why Visitor Follow-up is Critical page 18#8 - Does Your Church Have a Social Media Policy? page 22#9 - 4 Ways to Extend the Sermon Past Sunday Morning page 24#10 - Tablet Computing and Church Software page 262|Page
  3. 3. #1 - Is Google+ the Next Best Thing for ChurchCommunication?Written by Rachel MotteEveryone is asking: will Google+ become the next best social mediadestination, or merely another noisemaker in the virtual cacophonyof tweets and status updates? No one knows yet, but here are afew Google+ pros and cons to think about:PROS:1. The most unique aspect of Google+ is the ability to arrange your contacts into “Circles.” Circles help you classify people according to real-life relationships. For example, not all your online connections are actually your friends. Some are acquaintances, some are business contacts, and others may be people you’ve never met but would like to follow. Google+ lets you put people in the most accurate Circles, and gives you complete control over which of these circles sees your status updates. This is perfect for those who want to, say, share family pictures with close friends but not with business associates.2. Google+ tries to combine the best features of Facebook and Twitter in a clean, easy-to-use interface. So far, it seems to have succeeded. Most of us already use other Google applications like Gmail and Google Reader, and their integration3|Page
  4. 4. into the site makes it easy to switch back and forth between applications. 3. Some have complained that the new site doesn’t play well with others (you can’t automatically update Facebook or Twitter from Google+, or vice versa; it’s a self-contained system), but this may turn out to be a feature. It’s supposed to be a social network, after all. If too much content is driven by automatic updates, you’ll have a lot of (noisy!) content and not very many actual people. 4. Google+ looks set to become a viable alternative to Facebook. That’s good news for those whose concerns about Facebook’s confusing privacy controls. It’s also good news given that Facebook’s marketing director has said that internet anonymity “has to go away.” CONS: • Google comes with its own set of privacy concerns. App integration is convenient, but is it prudent to give one company access to so much information? That’s certainly something to consider.• Don’t take down your Facebook page yet, because churches can’t join Google+ just yet; only individuals can participate. If your church wants to interact with people on Google+, it’ll have to do so through individuals, and not all church staffers will feel comfortable devoting their personal accounts to ministry work. 4|Page
  5. 5. • Google+ is still brand new, and there are still some bugs to be worked out. It is in Beta testing, after all, and since membership is by invitation only, your audience is limited. If you do decide to move your online ministry into Google+, here are a few features you may find helpful (from Google): “Why is the Circles feature so important to you as a church leader? Because it streamlines who you communicate with and the way you do it. Instead of choosing between an e-mail, a blog post, or a tweet, you now have one place to communicate and an easy way to get the word out. The following has been observed: • If you address something to a single person, it’s like you’ve written an e-mail or note; • If you address something to a Circle, such as church members, it’s like you’ve written an open letter or newsletter; • If you address something to a group of selected Circles, it’s like you’ve tweeted; • If you address something to Public, it’s like a blog post everyone can enjoy.” 5|Page
  6. 6. #2 - 9 Areas Every Church Should MeasureWritten by Steve CatonChurch leaders have a level of uncertainty about whether they aremeasuring the right things. Often, just pinpointing the right areasto measure, then isolating the method to measure them by is thehardest task.If I were leading a church, there are nineareas I would want to measure consistently:1. Attendance. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how manychurches no longer track this. I’m not justtalking about Worship service attendanceeither. Tracking small group and event attendance is equallyimportant and I would be sure we were tracking the faces whoshow up, not just the numbers.2. Missional participation. Who is getting involved and whoisn’t? Who has expressed a desire in missions but hasn’tparticipated?3. Volunteering. I’m always interested in connecting volunteeringto other factors like attendance, giving, serving, leading etc. I thinkyou’ll find that those who volunteer tend to be more engaged onmany fronts.6|Page
  7. 7. 4. Online activity. Where are people spending their time on yourchurch’s Web site, and how are they using your site? This is vital toyour overall Web strategy.5. Giving. Watch for dramatic variances in giving over time. It is asign of spiritual activity…or inactivity.6. Event outcomes. It is necessary to connect each and everyevent to life change. What happened as a result of your investmentof time, energy, and resources into an event?7. Assimilation. We typically push people through our one-hournew members’ class and then tell them to call us if they need us.How can we be sure no one falls through the cracks? How do ourmembers behave differently than our attenders?8. Growth. Where is growth taking place? What age groups? Whatministries? Why? This is important for future resource investmentplanning.9. Attrition. Why are people leaving your church? Speculation isn’ta good idea. We need to be asking and recording what we learn.While this might uncover painful experiences, it can lead to somevery critical changes that we might not have ever consideredbefore?7|Page
  8. 8. #3 - HTML5 Improves Church TechnologyWritten by Lauren HunterJust when you thought the web couldn’t get any better, it has. Withthe advent of mobile browsing (surfing the internet on your phone,tablet, or other device), the format for displaying graphics andvideo has undergone a radical update, which has the possibility ofimproving church software to boot. HTML5 developed by Opera,has become to defacto standard for all devices, and so, it quitefrankly, makes the web even better, not to mention churchtechnology.Last month, Adobe, maker ofFlash, announced that it is putting all its eggs inthe HTML5 basket, which initially frightened manywebsite designers and software developers whoperhaps, didn’t see this coming. But for all theother software developers (like our site’sawesome sponsors) out there who have beenfollowing mobile development and are on top of thischange, you’re in for a real treat.HTML5 and Church WebsitesOne of ChurchTechToday’s newest sponsors, Clover Sites, makessome of the finest church websites out there and has extremelysimple and intuitive editing software called The Greenhouse. Theytoo have prepared adequately for the shift by putting a plan inplace to migrate Clover over to HTML5.8|Page
  9. 9. A few of the benefits of using website creation software that is built in HTML5 are:• A church’s full website (not just a mobile version of the site) will be available on an iPhone, iPad, or any other mobile device.• Faster loading times, better accessibility for visually-impaired visitors, and new options to embed code into a website are also great features. HTML5 Rocks the Church E-Newsletter For video email marketing software maker, BombBomb, HTML5 has been the plan all along due to their mission to make email marketing more personal through video. BombBomb’s software is designed to allow email recipients to play video right inside the inbox with HTML5 technology. “Where HTML5 isn’t present or supported, a Flash fallback lets the people who get your emails watch your video on a dynamically- generated, mirrored landing page (it looks and functions exactly like your email). This is in contrast to most others offering video email, who play your video outside the context of your actual email,” comments Connor McCluskey, co-founder and CEO of BombBomb. The bottom line is, when you’re looking at purchasing new church technology, it pays to ask the “HTML5 million dollar question.” If a firm’s software isn’t already planning a move over to this platform, 9|Page
  10. 10. keep searching until you find software to accomplish your goalsthat will include this integral mobile platform now and into thefuture.10 | P a g e
  11. 11. #4 - 6 Great Church Tech Christmas ResourcesWritten by Lauren HunterThere are many great free and low-cost resources out there forchurches who want to succeed at reaching out to people during theholidays. Below are six great resources:1) Christmas Communications ebookby Yvon Prehn. For your inspiration andcommunication production convenienceduring the Christmas season this 80-pagebook downloadable ebook has how-toarticles to make you more effective in yourchurch communications for Christmas,plus ready-to-print PDFs that range fromvery simple one, clip art designs to onesusing full-color illustrations. Cost: $6.50(http://effectivechurchcom.com)2) Year-End Giving Free ebook: If your church is looking tomaximize the year-end giving habits of the people in your pews, Iwould highly recommend you download this ebook immediately.It’s completely free. (http://www.serviceu.com/year-end-giving)3) LeadNet Community Groups: Leadership Network launchedthree new Leadership Community topics during 2011: Next ChapterPastors, University Ministry, and Multiethnic Churches, and fournew InnovationLab topics: Internet Campuses, Dream Centers,Campus Pastors, and Externally Focused Small Groups. Greatcommunities to help expand and grow your church.11 | P a g e
  12. 12. 4) Evernote for Pastors ebook: Ron Edmondson and BenStroup have recently released a great new ebook to help pastorsbecome more organized and productive through the use oftechnology. Through January 31, 2012, Ron’s newebook, “Evernote for Pastors,” is on sale for just $1.99 per copy.For less than a cup of joe at Starbucks, you can have access to agreat pastor resource, written by a pastor who understands thechallenges you face. (http://evernoteforpastors.com)5) BombBomb Email Marketing Free TemplateOffer: BombBomb is one of the top video email marketingsolutions on the market for churches (and well, anyone). Currentlythey are still offering new customers two free templates so thatyour email newsletters and digital communication can match yourchurch website or business. This is a great offer – don’t miss out ongetting your church set up to become a better communicator in2012! (http://bombbomb.com)6) ROAR and LifeWay Partner to Give 1,000 Churches FreeMobile Apps: LifeWay Christian Resources and ROAR, a mobileapp development group, are giving mobile church apps to 1,000churches throughout the month of December. ROAR, LifeWay’srecommended church app development partner, will customizemobile apps on the platform of the church’s choice. Church leaderscan choose either iPhone/iPad, Android, or both. Offer is only goodthrough Dec. 31, 2011, so act now. (http://roar.pro/digitalchurch)12 | P a g e
  13. 13. #5 - 3 Ways to Maintain Your Church Production GearWritten by Bryan BrooksMaintaining your church’s production gear is an absolute must. Likeany other kind of technology, it requires our care to continueworking properly. I hate to be gloomy, but things like unreliableperformance, intermittent glitches and a slough of technicalproblems will constantly plague your church productions on aregular basis if you don’t maintain your equipment properly.If you don’t have a regular maintenanceprogram in place for your church productiongear you should seriously considerestablishing one. Whether you have a smallchurch with just a few pieces of gear or alarge one with a ton of gear, maintaining itproperly will get you into the land of technical peace.If you already have a maintenance program in place at yourchurch, that is fantastic! But for those that don’t yet or are in theprocess of establishing one, here is a list of 3 basic items everymaintenance program should include:1. A complete inventory of all of your gear. This includesthings like the manufacturer, model, location, serial #, P/N#’s. Youneed to know what you have and the basic details about it. Take ita step further and create an Excel spreadsheet with all this criticalinfo, and make it available to the administrative pastor at yourchurch.13 | P a g e
  14. 14. 2. Maintenance procedures for your gear. There are a coupleof options for procedures: Some people choose to extract theimportant maintenance items from the manufacturers manual anddevelop their own simple one or two page procedures. Taking thetechnical jargon and turning it into an easy to read document thatcan be understood by a church volunteer. Or another option wouldbe to just use the procedures listed out in the manufacturermanuals, which is typically found in the back of it. Once you createthese procedures, make sure it’s posted in a communal location sothat others can fill in if need be.3. Maintenance schedule master worksheet that lists out eachpiece of gear, the maintenance item that needs to be completedand the recommended maintenance schedule. For example: o Projectors Eiki Projector LC-XT4/ Clean Filter / Quarterly o Computer systems Mac Pro Tower system / Blow dust out of hardware components / monthly o Lighting Fixtures Mac550 Mover / Remove dust from the head fans and air vents / MonthlyOnce you have these basic items in place, then its time to startperforming the maintenance. You yourself can do it if you have theexperience, you can train up church volunteers to do it or even hirean AVL consulting company.Think of maintaining your church production gear like maintainingyour car. You know that your car needs maintenance to run14 | P a g e
  15. 15. efficiently. With proactive regular maintenance on your car, youfeel safer when you drive it and you save money with things likebetter gas mileage and longer engine life. But, when its notproperly maintained it doesn’t function effectively and sooner-or-later it will break down and won’t run at all. That’s called “ReactiveMaintenance” — Let’s wait until it breaks, and then fix it. I don’trecommend that approach. That approach not only will cost youmore, but in some cases, it takes a lot more time to get thingsrepaired and back to normal operation.I am a huge advocate and play an active role in ensuring thatmaintenance on the gear at our church The Father’s House getsdone, seeing the results of increased reliability and performance inour gear is well worth the effort and time investment. Of course weare not exempt just like you from gear glitches every now andagain, but it sure does give the tech people and the pastors apeace of mind to know that they can just serve God with their giftsand talents without the technology creating a major distraction tothe spiritual climate of the production.The bottom line is this, whether you’re a tech person or a pastor,maintaining the church production gear we rely on week in andweek out is necessary. We need to be good a steward of thetechnology God has blessed us with, which means taking care of itregularly. By implementing a basic maintenance program, you willsee the fruit of a church production system that every time it’sturned on will produce the level of excellence, reliability andperformance you expect from it.15 | P a g e
  16. 16. #6 - Choosing the Right Worship SoftwareWritten by Jeffrey MirandaYou might be ready to start using a worship software package thatwill allow you a greater deal of flexibility over PowerPoint. Thereare a variety of software packages available, but the importantquestion is how do you decide which one will best fit your church’sneeds?Easy Worship is one of the mostcommonly used software packages. Itprovides both the King James andAmerican Standard version. This willallow you to chose scripture on the fly. Itfeatures an easy to use interface,supports dual video outputs, and has a whole host of transitions tochose from. It also allows for use of live video.Another common software package used is Song Show Plus. It hasan even more extended feature-set. This software also allows fordual monitors, video, and had a database of over 6,000 songs.While simple, it offers more video control over Easy Worship. Bothpackages allow you to overlay text over graphics and video. This isan especially cool feature if you are looking to put either the wordsof a sermon or the words of a song over a special background,photos, or a video. I have seen special videos used under lyricsduring Easter and Christmas celebrations, and they can certainlyenhance the service.A third commonly used package is Presentation Manager. While I16 | P a g e
  17. 17. have heard of this software being used less than the first two, thisparticular package is especially well-suited to smaller churches. Ifyou are a church on a tight budget, simply looking for a PowerPointreplacement, without many of the bells and whistles, this could bea good choice. It provides a flexible format, with an easy-to-useinterface. Many of these church presentation software packagesare available to try on a free trial basis. I would suggest tryingseveral of them before purchasing, just to make sure it is exactlywhat you are looking for.Media Shout is also a great option and used by many churches. Ialso found a fairly comprehensive list of worship softwarecompanies listed here.Additionally, ProPresenter by Renewed Vision is also a popularchoice, with ProPresenter 5 due out in 2012. Proclaim Online andEasy Slides are also viable options.17 | P a g e
  18. 18. #7 - 3 Reasons Why Visitor Follow-up is CriticalWritten by Lauren HunterMy family recently visited a nearby mega church because a familyfriend was speaking during a part of the church service. We havefriends that attend this church, we know people in leadership there,and the church has a thriving Christian school where many youth inour area attend. That said, the way in which they followed up withus – because we registered our kids for their classes – was verynice. It caused me to ponder on visitor follow up, and why this iscritical for churches:1) Reason One: Visitors need you tostart the conversation. Visitor followup is critical because if the church is goingtodraw people in to meet their needs andshow them who Jesus is, you have to firstget the conversation started. Now I’lladmit, sometimes people visit yourchurch, are greeted well, sit by veryfriendly people who immediately invite thenew couple out to lunch, and the rest is history. But we all knowthat isn’t really what happens most of the time. Getting theconversation started usually means that the church has to havesome kind of follow up procedure in place to begin theconversation in the first place. o What does your first time visitor follow up procedure look like?18 | P a g e
  19. 19. 2) Reason Two: Visitors are your opportunity to grow yourchurch. Perhaps you aren’t driven by numbers, that’s okay.There’s a natural ebb and flow of church membership; some folksjoin, some folks leave. Unfortunately, this is often referred to as“the revolving door” of church attendance. Without a follow-upprocedure, the cycle continues and church leadership aren’t quitesure why people come and go without really knowing what’s goingon. By reaching out to visitors and current attenders, you have ahuge opportunity to pull people in, let them know you care, cast avision of where the church is going, and encourage spiritualgrowth. o How will you aim to stop the “revolving door” of church attendance and3) Reason Three: People expect you (the church) to careabout them. This might sound silly – of course you care aboutthem! But imagine for a moment that you visit a new church, youeven go out on a limb to fill out a visitor card or bulletin tear off tolet the church know you’re new, then you receive nocommunication in return. In my book, that’s called rejection. If youwant to show visitors that you care about their spiritual journey,then you have to set up practices that ensure they arecommunicated with within a week or so of their first visit. o How quickly do you communicate with visitors and how do you reach out? (phone, email, mail, etc.)Technology can play a huge role in alleviating the burden of follow-up. Most church management systems have follow-up protocols19 | P a g e
  20. 20. built in or have customizable ways to assign follow-ups with specificpastors via your communication method of choice. Here are someof the top church software companies out there that can get youstarted with figuring out a method to your church’s follow-upmadness:• Church Community Builder – Here’s a great success story on growth via first-time visitors.• Fellowship One – Recently acquired Connection Power and ServiceU.• Bellevue Church Management System – Church plant shares success.• IconCMO – Just launched the first iPad Web App for churches. Additionally, companies like ServiceU that offer online event registration, online giving, and other events management solutions offer the ability to capture first timer data – whether from events or donations – so that church staff can follow up with them in the future.Lastly, BombBomb is a great company that offers church-focused video email marketing and integrates with man of thechurch software companies above to make reaching out via emailmore streamlined and less of a hassle.Below is a bulleted list of methods to use for communication: • Personal Email • Email newsletters • Video email newsletters or individual communication with video email20 | P a g e
  21. 21. • Phone calls • Direct mail • Personal letters or cards • Personal invitations • Visitation21 | P a g e
  22. 22. #8 - Does Your Church Have a Social Media Policy?Written by Lauren HunterIt’s undeniable these days that churches should have a writtensocial media policy (or collection of policies for each social mediaoutlet). It’s like the old proverb, “Those who fail to plan, plan tofail.” With pretty much everyone on one social media site oranother, chances are you as a church need to have a plan in placeto help guide conduct no matter what site.There are many resources onlineavailable if you Google, “Social MediaPolicy.” Great differences lie betweensecular for-profit companies and theChurch, but businesses can help leadthe way for how to create a socialmedia policy.My goal is not to spell out exactly how to put together a policy, butto get you thinking about it.Here are a few resources I came across: • Social Media Policy from Mashable • Writing a Social Media Policy from Inc. Magazine Online • Online Social Media Policy Toolmaker • Real-Life Church Social Media Policy ExampleThe obvious differences between a secular policy and a policy forchurch use would be including prayer as a part of your planning22 | P a g e
  23. 23. and strategy. The social media landscape is still somewhat of a wildwest, but through prayer and planning, churches can begin to tameit.23 | P a g e
  24. 24. #9 - 4 Ways to Extend the Sermon Past Sunday MorningWritten by Lauren HunterMost churches encourage people to be thinking, pondering, andpraying about the message delivered during the sermon on Sundaymorning. Technology can offer many valuable ways to help extendthe sermon past Sunday morning. Here are four ways to thinkabout:1) Blog about sermon preparationsprior to delivering the sermon. Beopen and honest about how God isworking in you as you pull togetherthe message to share with yourcongregation.2) After the sermon, blog about some of the applicationalmessages that apply to everyone. Offer a few additional scriptureverses to use as application during the week.3) If you use a bulletin insert and provide questions for additionalstudy or sermon notes, use these questions to prompt discussionon your church’s Facebook page and Twitter account.4) Use text from your blog post about sermon application as anarticle to run in the weekly church e-newsletter to help continuediscussion of the sermon. Link to your church’s web-based churchmanagement system that offers groups for private discussion abouttheological issues that relate to the sermon.24 | P a g e
  25. 25. These are just a few ways that can assist your church in extendingthe message and helping people develop a deeper relationship withGod.25 | P a g e
  26. 26. #10 - Tablet Computing and Church SoftwareWritten by Steve HewittJust as when church software companies feared the move fromDOS to Windows, the time is upon us now when another newphenomenon is clamoring for attention: Tablet computing. WithChristian Computing Magazine’s church software (often referred toas church management software or systems ChMS) issue due outin October, it’s important to recognize that more and more peopleare adopting tablets into their arsenal of technology tools—bothpersonally and professionally.Nearly all of the church softwareproviders out there are offering acloud (web-based) version thesedays. The next step beyond cloudcomputing is mobile computing.There is an obvious shift in the technology industry from desktopand laptop computers to tablets, whether they run Apple orAndroid operating systems.Tablet computing offers its own advantages and perks to mobilecomputing and it HAS already become the direction we are goingwhen we “compute.”As I travel across the nation speaking with churches, their messageto me is they WANT their ChMS to work specifically on tablets.26 | P a g e
  27. 27. I am not going to write a book here about the advantages of tabletcomputing, or why church software companies need to move tospecific apps or cloud ChMS that work for those accessing viatablets, but if you read CCMag, you will be noticing more and morearticles that will be pointing all of us in that direction.Notice Amazon.com just did a major redesign of their website sothat it works better for those accessing via tablets.Walk into a BestBuy and notice the space in their computerdepartments now given over to a host of new tablets. The iPad ofcourse, but here in Kansas City, (where technology is behind therest of the country) they are all promoting at least sixunique Android tablets.Think tablet computing is mobile and cool but not a serious dataentry machine? Desktop computer sales continue to drop and asubstantial percent of mobile computer users state (accordingto Pew Research) that their mobile device has become theirprimary Internet connection!Have you seen the new Toshiba Thrive? It has a full-sized USB andHDMI ports and a mini-USB socket as well as the ability to add SDcards, making it easy to transfer extra files as well as add storage.This tablet is a true tablet, with the ability to download thousandsof practical apps that connect computing with accurate userlocation, touch screen, etc. that you expect with tablet computing.BUT, drop it into its docking station, connect a full keyboard andmouse (via USB) and a large monitor (via HDMI) and there is littledifference between this tablet and your main computing EXCEPT it27 | P a g e
  28. 28. runs aps (which is what people want) and not programs (which aredying).I can provide several studies that say tablets will be bought fivetimes more this year than last, and I can provide several studiesthat show tablets being bought and used more than notebooks inthree years. However, all of those studies are short sightedbecause they didn’t take into account the large number of very cooltablets that have hit the market in just the last six months. And,now that major retailers have picked them up, marketing, sales anddistribution will increase dramatically.One final note. The iPad is cool, no doubt. They have the bestmarketing. But just like the Mac vs Windows contest of the last twodecades, I think it is obvious that the Android tablets will rule themarket. Recently we asked CCMag readers which tablet they wouldlike. The results were 3-1 in favor of an Android tablet over aniPad. I believe this is due to the abilities of tablets like the ThriveAND the fact that you cannot access FLASH on an iPad. Just try tovisit SermonSpice or WorshipHouseMedia and check out Christianvideos for your next service on an iPad. It can’t be done withoutusing special programs to get around the FLASH issue.So to wrap it up, tablet computing is going to become the norm,not the exception. Many church software companies out there offerusability via tablets already, and others have developed specializedapps for both iPhone and Android tablet use. If your ministry isalready using tablets, I’d love to hear about what you are doingand how your church software is serving you in your ministrythrough tablet usage.28 | P a g e