Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

A minor example of the social web facilitating the gospel

July 16, 2009

This past Sunday (July 12) we had a excellent sermon on Habakkuk by one of our elders.  This particular elder is a high school and college history teacher and has many “friends” on Facebook, including myself.  After I published the sermon Sunday night I posted the link on his Facebook wall.  I was hoping to see a bit of a bump on the web stats.

Habakkuk stats bump as of July 14, 2009

Habakkuk stats bump as of July 14, 2009 for Word of Life Christian Fellowship

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the bump we received.  A bit under half of the hits were referrers from the Facebook post. I pulled the raw stats and found the number of clicks on the PDF sermon notes was about the same as the Facebook referrer count (as was the sum of the hits against the audio format hits).  I’m not going to say that each referrer from Facebook clicked on the PDF and listened to the audio, but I will say that a fair percentage appear to have.

I post our sermons to our Facebook group every week and we receive almost no hits from Facebook normally.  Those associated with our Facebook page typically have already heard the sermon in person.  It is the diversity of his “friends” that, I think, is the difference here.  It is an interesting enough difference that I think I need to reconsider how I’m using Facebook a bit.

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Technology is meaningless

February 15, 2009

Last week was a hard week for me.  The Lord took a hold of my career and pointed it in a different direction on Tuesday.  Thankfully, I didn’t lose my job, but pretty much everything I’ve built for the last seven years is something to get out of within my new organization, not something to continue and grow.  It is a business decision, and while I may disagree with it, it is not my decision specifically to make. But, as I was doing my impression of Jacob wrestling with God this week He reminded me of two things that He shows me all the time that I keep forgetting:

  1. He is taking care of me and my family – I have lost count of the times I can directly see His hand in my life but for some reason I need to be reminded of it all the time.
  2. Technology is meaningless – Technology is a tool, it always changes, and always fails eventually. To invest one’s life in technology of any kind is vanity.

I was reminded of the saying: the two only things that last forever are the Word of God and the souls of men (never been able to find a definitive reference for that saying).  If I’m to invest in something, regardless of how, it should be those two things. For us who are working in His ministry using technology we (should) understand this – we are using technology, ostensibly, for His purposes.  It doesn’t matter what CMS/Blog Engine we’re using, or if (or not) we’re using Twitter, Facebook, PHP, Java, Ruby… none of this matters.  The only thing that matters is where you are with God and what you are doing to follow His direction for your life.  If you’re using technology in your ministry, great!  But don’t lose the focus that what we’re doing with our ministries and our technologies should be showing people Christ’s love and their need for Him or encouraging the faith of of our brothers and sisters.

Technology, in and of itself, is meaningless.  Use technology, learn technology, but don’t invest your life in technology.  Invest your life in the only thing that will last – Jesus Christ.

More “interesting” content for the church site: a senior pastor blog

February 14, 2009

Now that the  comments are open on the church site, its probably not going to be sufficient to have only bulletins, some key announcements, and some sermons to comment upon.  Sure, the sermons might start some, but being primarily audio, I’m not confident that they alone will generate interest.  No, what we need is more “interesting” content.

A Senior Pastor Blog

The first area I’m trying to develop is a senior pastor blog.  The senior pastor is the face of the church.  When I was visiting churches a few years ago I would have loved to have had a chance to read the thoughts of the pastor before attending.  For potential visitors, this gives them an opportunity to understand who he is and what he’s concerned about.  For church members, he has an opportunity to continue the discussion of Sunday’s sermon expanding it in ways that are not possible at the pulpit.  Plus, he can use it as an alternative pulpit to write about other topics and target the local community (or even the larger web community).  If you can get him to use Twitter, there’s even more possibilities, but that’s for another post.

I find myself fortunate that my pastor agrees that this is a valuable and important concept.  He is busy finishing his M.Div right now, but in May has committed to start doing this.  I know many churches have their senior pastor writing, but I know many don’t.   I hope it soon becomes automatic. Building your site over a good CMS (like WordPress) can go a long ways toward facilitating this.

I have several more ideas that I’m going to be moving forward.  I’ll write more about them soon.  I’m curious about  how well pastor blogs are working out for others.

Using your church web site for discipleship

February 6, 2009

One responsibility of being put onto the WOLCF’s leadership team is that I now have to use my ministry (web) to grow and disciple others within the church.  The control freak in me makes this a bit harder than it probably should be.  But I’ve been looking carefully at what operations in the maintenance of the site can be split into discrete areas for which others could take responsibility.

There are several important positives that result from this:

  1. others start having an investment in the church
  2. the workload is distributed more (my immediate responsibilities are reduced)
  3. we create opportunities to mentor and encourage others in their daily walk
  4. I can look a bit more strategically at what we can do with our site and the ministry in general
  5. we start getting more ideas on what we might do and where we could go with the site

I’ve also pulled in another church member to serve as a backup to me – someone else to have the “keys to the web kingdom” and have the understanding of what’s going on in case I’m unavailable.  In a professional shop these steps are automatic (depending on the size of the organization).  But the churches I’ve been part of have all been smaller and had their members all activitely involved in other areas. It still makes sense to grow and develop others within the church as this ultimately comes around to developing relationships and encouraging each other in Lord.  That is part of what you’re trying to do with your church web site, right?  I’m wondering how others are dividing up responsibilties on their sites, or not.

Real thinking about church site design is going on

January 21, 2009

In my wonderings around the web these days I’ve been noticing that there seems to be a great deal of real thinking going on about church site design.  I’m really glad to see it.  Articles like “The Role of Design in Modern Church Marketing” by Darren Hoyt show much of the challenge that we face when doing church designs.  It was fun for me to see a picture of Stonebriar Community Church on page 2.  Stonebriar was a site I took note of a number of months ago when was surfing church sites.

We need to be thinking very carefully about our sites.

Online Missions Trip

January 17, 2009

I ran across this site promoting doing an Online Missions Trip February 1 – 14, 2009.  It is encouraging teens to use social media to evangelize.  There’s not much documentation (as far as I can find) though there seem to be a number of churches involved and a couple of guides for youth leaders.  I think this is an excellent idea.  Maybe your youth group can make use of it.

Tim Tebow and lost opportunities for the local church

January 16, 2009

In Tim Tebow, John 3:16, and the local church Frank Johnson wonders about a lost opportunity for local churches to have capitalized on a bump in the search engine traffic on John 3:16.  His thoughts painfully forced me to admit that I failed to see that opportunity.  It also makes me wonder what others I should be seeing but have not.

However, I do not believe this opportunity is completely lost.  A quick Google search still shows no local hits for John 3:16 in my area and its not very expensive to get into it.  Someone will likely do something like this again and we may well see another bump.  Will it be as large?  Probably not.  But are you going to let an opportunity like this pass by a second time?  I don’t like operating in such a reactionary fashion, but I think there’s real potential here that we should be carefully considering.

Part of what bothered me about this post was that I think it points out that we, as stewards of church web minitries, are often not making the most effective use of this medium.  I have a few plans for changes in my own church’s web ministry that I’ll be writing about shortly.  Some of these changes are likely going to challenge me but hopefully they will encourage you in a way as to extend the reach and relevancy of your own web ministry.  I’ll also be interested in any changes you might be thinking about to grow your ministry.

A simple visual design assessment tool

January 8, 2009

Generally I’m more technical than creative.  Being technical comes freely to me as a God given talent while doing creative visual design stretches me.  So, I’m always looking for ways of assessing a design to learn what is working and what isn’t.  Visual design is often subjective, but there are definitely “strong suggestions” that we should at least recognize before we go completely counter to them.  Ross Johnson in the post “The Gutenburg Diagram in Design” shows us a simple tool that we can use to reflect on the overall flow of a design. Composing a good visual design is harder than merely following a diagonal line, but I’m adding this tool to my design assessment toolbox for future reference.

The thoughts and musings of a part-time church web master

January 1, 2009

To get this started, I thought I’d give some reasons why I finally decided to write a blog.  In my journeys as the web master for my home church these past four years I have looked for quality resources around the web; resources for insights, cost-effective ideas and sympathy for the love and effort that goes into trying to bring a new ministry into our churches.  I’ve run across some… some better than others.  I intend to write about the tools and resources I use, as well as the inspirations and struggles I have, in my effort of building a new ministry area of the church.  I hope that you will find these writings thoughtful and useful to your own efforts to do the same.