Month: October 2013

Three Questions For Churches That Have Online Campuses

I had the wonderful opportunity a few weeks ago to attend the iMinistry Conference in Dallas, TX. Lakepointe Church were great hosts and everyone there was open and willing to learn from each other.

My motive for going there was very simple. What is the future of online church? What does an online church look like? Is an online church a healthy, sustainable concept?

While attending the conference answered some of my questions, there are three questions that I have yet to have answered. So I’m throwing them out to my church social media friends to see if can get answer.

How does giving (tithes and offering) for your online campus compare to that of your physical campus?

This is the question that no one wants to talk about. However, at some point this does become an issue if your online church begins to take up resources that would normally be spent on your physical campus. So online campus users, what does online giving look like? Is it lower or higher per attender than your physical campus?

If a person joins and attends your church online, how do they participate in short term mission trips?

One thing I love about my church is the many opportunities to go on short term mission journeys around the world. I think it keeps our congregation grounded and keeps evangelism on the forefront of our minds. So if someone only attends your church online, how do they participate in this vital ministry opportunity?

What does online discipleship look like? How do you maintain accountability in an online environment?

I know plenty of online churches have small groups, however I’m referring to more than just small groups when I say discipleship. I’m referring to that “iron sharpens iron” moments that happen when we share meals and life together. Can you do that only online? Do members that attend online miss out on this chance for growth?

So online church pastors and attenders, what do you think? Can you answer the questions above? If so, feel free to share below.

Guest Post: The Top 4 Social Media Myths

Social media doesn’t have to be so scary.
As a 22-year-old working in a mostly 40-and-over world, I am quite familiar with the fear that many middle-aged adults exhibit about social media. My attempts to demystify social media are often met with questions like, “Won’t that compromise our privacy?” “How can we possibly make time for that?” “Isn’t that only for younger target markets?” and “How do we know it will work?”. Though I understand these concerns, I often sense the underlying problem is the belief that social media is not for everyone.

But if we are truly evangelistically minded, then we will be willing to use the tools God has given us to reach people currently beyond our scope of influence. Today, I want to help demystify the use of social media by addressing the four most common concerns and offering some practical tools to help along the way:

1. Won’t that compromise our privacy?

The beauty of social media is that you choose what you post. Social media does not necessarily compromise privacy, but it magnifies influence by sending your information directly to the people instead of requiring them to find it. Even so, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have basic privacy controls in place to help control spam and modify which audiences see your posts. Though it’s important to establish a policy that informs your staff on what types of content are appropriate for social media, it’s also a great space to exercise your creativity and capture the attention of people you probably wouldn’t otherwise reach.

2. How can we possibly make time for that?

In this rapidly changing culture, you don’t have time not to use social media. Though it is a time commitment, tools like Buffer and HootSuite help simplify and integrate social media into your daily life. Once you get started and gain momentum, using social media becomes a habit and a skill that takes progressively less time to practice. Even though I manage several personal and business social media accounts, social media use takes 20 minutes or less of my time each day.

3. Isn’t that only for younger target markets?

I digress that younger generations are typically quicker to adopt social media due to our upbringing. However, the demographics are changing as quickly as social media is growing. People of all ages are using social media so it is becoming increasingly important that churches engage them there.

The wisdom of older generations must unite with the enthusiasm of younger generations to make social media a truly well-rounded medium that can reach more people than ever before. Please don’t let your fear of social media rob its users of your much-needed voice.

4. How do we know it will work?

Unlike most marketing tools, social media results are generally measurable. Tools like Google Analytics and Klout are easy to use and they provide real-time, comprehensive data about which posts are reaching furthest, who is seeing and engaging with your information, and how your content is spreading across the web. This helps you learn to repeat what works and scrap what doesn’t work. Consequently, social media becomes a science and an art.

Just as Jesus met the people where they already were — at the well, in the synagogue, by the seashore — we as the church must meet them there, too. Social media is simply the bridge we use to reach the masses, and consequently, the individual. Ultimately, social media is for everyone, especially the church.

Amy Lamb is a writer, speaker, co-author, and non-profit manager at the University of Mobile Center for Leadership. An avid traveler, she has conducted evangelistic humanitarian efforts in more than 25 countries across the globe. Amy’s hobbies include playing classical piano, tweeting, and writing about herself in the third person. For more from Amy, visit amyrlamb.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @amyrlamb.

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopincc

Guest Post: Starting Up A Church Website 101

There is no denying that in today’s world, having a ministry that lacks a digital presence may seriously be limiting the impact that they can have on a community. Now, no one is suggesting that a church website and social media accounts are the foundation to a church’s ministry, but look at it from the perspective of someone that just moves into your town because of a job or going to school. The family or individual probably knows very few people and so if they decide that they want to go to church, how are they going to figure out their options? If it were me, I would jump onto Google, type “churches in Colorado Springs” and start going through a list of the websites that come up.

Michael Hyatt, a renown author and speaker on what it means to have a digital platform, says that the most important digital presence that an organization can have is their website. You control the medium, you can share your ministry’s information with service times, staff, and ministries available to families, and you can share the vision and mission of your church all before that family ever steps foot into your building.

Where Do I Start?

The idea of creating a church website for someone who is inexperienced may be a very daunting adventure. We want to give you a couple of practical steps to help you along the way and we will leave it to you to make it as easy and simple or as large and complex as you care to take on.

Web Content

It may seem strange for some, but you actually should figure out what you want on your website before you actually go out and create a website. Not only will you be knowledgeable about what you want, create a budget for what you believe that you should have to pay for it, and a basic design that you need to incorporate, but having a layout of the pages and content that goes on every page will make the construction of the website a breeze. This means that you need to come with every photo, write out every word and heading, and figure out how what pages are most important to you.

Web Hosting

Now that you have the basics of the website figured out, we need to decide who will be hosting our website. We have a couple of options for you to do that require a various set of skills and money to do.

WordPress For those that would like to have flexibility in what they do, feel comfortable with doing some of the legwork of installing and creating pages, WordPress is the best option out there as it is the most cost effective but requires the most skill. Some great hosting options for those that use this option would be WPEngine, MediaTemple, or BlueHost which varies between $60 and $300/month. For great web designs, we recommend looking at ChurchThemes.com or WPforChurches.com for some great web designs that also offer support licenses if any issues come up.

CloverCloverSites.com is a great option for those with little skill but great design. We recommend them because of the great quality service they give you as well as the easy to use administrative user experience. Do know that this will cost more, but for someone that does not have the experience, this is a good option.

Your Church Software If you are using some church software like Elexio, you may want to check your license and see if you actually should be getting a church website along with the software. This is a great solution that integrates with your databases created from first-time visitors, volunteers, and ministries and auto-populates your whole website for you.

Keeping It Fresh

Creating a website is fine, but what happens if you get a new pastor, change service times, or decide to have a blog? Who will be updating all of this information? Would you like to host videos of your sermons on the website? Who is coming up with the content and who is going to keep it up-to-date? These are all questions that should be answered before everything goes live.

While this process may look like a lot, if you have the right people on board with you to help you along the way to make it easy. If this is a priority for you, your church can actually start with the idea of a website and have something amazing up and running in a week or two. So what do you want to do? Share your church’s website in the comments below.

About the Author

Jeremy Smith is a Christian first, husband and father next, and then a blogger at 78p.tv, writer, and social media realist. He is currently working at Youth for Christ/USA as the Social Media Specialist and attending Denver Seminary for his Master’s of Counseling in Mental Health. His bachelor’s degree is in Computer Engineering and Master’s in Family Ministry. For those that are looking to create a successful Social Media and Blogging Strategy for their church, ministry, or blog, he would love help you make the most of your work through the Social Media and Blogging Consultation.

What Senior Adults Can Teach You About Social Media

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of spending some time with my church’s senior adults and talk about social media. Though my time with them was short, I was reminded of how passionate they are about ministry and our church.

In a world where “youth is king” it’s easy to forget about senior adults and what they bring to the table. More importantly, we can forget that senior adults can teach us a lot about social media. Here are a few examples:

What Senior Adults Can Teach You About Social Media

Age Is Not a Factor

I’ve written before about the growth of older Americans usage of social media. In August, more data was released showing that senior adults using social media is still growing at a rapid rate. If you think that social media is a young person’s game then you’re ignoring an audience that can be leveraged to help get out your church’s message. (more…)

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