Archives For January 2011

One of the biggest concepts we’ve covered already is that social media is here to stay.  The Church cannot ignore this growing part of any given individual’s daily routine.  Your people are using social networks to manage and grow their relationships right now.

The question then becomes, how do you integrate social media technologies and frameworks into the social fabric of the church or ministry?  Is it too early to try and adapt or integrate the social web into how we do church?

The answer is a clear no, it’s not too early.  In fact, the time is ripe to seriously embrace social media into the relationship and communications flow of your community.  And there are a bunch of options available that are ministry specific so that you don’t have to cobble together your own solution if you don’t want to.

Here’s one example: the Table Project. It’s a non-profit ministry group that is producing a robust, customizable social networking platform specific to churches. Take a look at this overview that covers the philosophy/approach to TableProject:

This video above leaves you wanting for a peek at the actual nitty gritty of the TableProject experience for users, right?

Here’s just one example of how the TableProject is utilizing mainstream social web assets so that users don’t have to adopt another entirely new social networking platform.  Your community members already know how to use these features, they’re comfortable with them, and by taking this approach, TableProject aims squarely at the problem of  adoption and usage uptake for any new system.

One of the strengths of this entry into the social networking platforms for churches market is how it integrates 3rd party sites and content. For example, you’ll find fluid use of Facebook, Twitter, blog RSS feeds, and other web apps.

Here’s another video covering some of the basic features inside the platform:

It’s not open source, but it’s free (for now). It’s certainly an interesting platform to consider for most ministries.

The question to ask would be just how customizable is it — especially for larger 1000+ person communities that usually need more tailoring to their communities’ needs in managing groups, sub-groups, etc.

QUESTION: Are you encouraged or discouraged after seeing potential solutions like TableProject?

This week I wrote a guest post for a blog project centered around the book Less Clutter. Less Noise. by Kem Meyer over at Granger Community Church.  As communications director, Kem not only has a full plate, but she’s learned a ton about clarity in communicating with your peeps!

I was excited to participate in the blog project as I took on Chapter 6 of the book, “Know Your Audience” — you can find my post over at OurChurch.com (a Christian Web Trends blog you should be reading if you don’t have it on your list already!).

Let me know what you think about your bullhorn metaphor and the diagram I produced illustrating the difference between the two modes of communications you really should be aware of.  Which one are you employing?

If you haven’t picked up the book yet, head to your bookstore or Amazon and grab a copy.  If you’re interested, you can read CUSTOMER REVIEWS of Kem Meyer’s book.

Ravi Zacharias can be found on the bookshelves and airwaves across the country.  There’s good reason —  Zacharias is an associate professor at Oxford University.  His audiences have included the White House, the Pentagon, the British Parliament, writers of the peace accord in South Africa, the president’s cabinet and parliament in Peru, the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow.  Zacharias has authored /edited twenty books, including Walking from East to West:(Zondervan, 2006), The Grand Weaver (Zondervan, 2007), Can Man Live without God (Word, 1994), was also awarded the Gold Medallion for best book in the category of doctrine and theology.  So his reputation certainly precedes him when picking up this book.

This time, he has pulled together an apologetics book for the masses.  The first third of the book taps six influential peers like Allister McGrath and John Lennox to address some of the questions that are relevant in today’s culture.  Topics of atheism, Islam, Eastern Religions and Natural Sciences are addressed.

In the second portion of the book, Zacharias assembled four chapters that deal with different facets of the apologetics discipline itself — such as cultural and philosophical challenges to the Christian faith.

The last section deals with spiritually grounding the discipline of apologetics for the lay person.  Here the reader is reminded: “We need to recognize the fact that there is one aspect of apologestics that involves presentation of truth, taking into account philosophy, history, science, arts and so on.  But there is another aspect of apologetics — the expression of love within the Christian community — that is the final proof that we are the disciples of the Lord Jesus (John 13:34-35; 15:9)”  pg. 249

Many people will pick up this book because they are familiar with the clarity of Zacharias’ preaching.  However, it must be noted that he authors only two chapters in the entire book.  The upside is that the reader is introduced to a variety of Zacharias’ peers that are equally skillful with the word.

In general, the tone of writing is a much more conversational one than some other apologetics resources.  In a way, this book can be used to firm up one’s faith and confidence vs. preparing to win opponents over through arguments or artful dialogue.

This book would be of value to most Christian readers, largely because most laity don’t usually encounter thoughtful discussion on the topics covered in the book.  It will help readers become better informed on general themes and responses that the Christian faith has for each circumstance.  However, it is questionable whether this particular resource would actually lend itself to preparing someone “defend” the faith they are living as the cover points to.

Here’s a video clip to give you a sense of the force behind Zacharias’ engagement with these subjects:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

My friend Joe just hit me up with an interesting factoid and corresponding question.

Now the answer to the question really depends on the posture of your ministry, in my humble opinion. . .

But first, the factoid, and then the question:

Did you know if one spends $100 on small business, that local community gets $68 back?

That factoid makes a compelling argument to spend your money in the local mom and pop shops around town.

So, here’s the big question for our church and ministry leaders:

If one gives to the church $100, how much would go back to your local community? (Feel free to define “local community” as it applies to the church)

What a challenge to ministry leaders to think in this kind of ROI context!  Some of the tough questions that serve as a reality check immediately pop into my mind:

  • What type of impact are you having within the local community?
  • Are you actually engaged with more than just your regular attenders and members?
  • Have you reached out to your civic leaders?  Schools?  Community-wide events?
  • What percentage of your ministry budget is directed toward your building? Or your staff?  Now, how much is spent on local outreach?  Are you at the right balance?
  • While you might be proud of your missionary support activities, how are you doing with the mission field in your zip code?

What IF you could claim a noteworthy ROI for the church?  What would it do in terms of getting people notice your ministry and how you are going about loving your neighbors?

Did you know if one spends $100 on small business, that local community gets $68 back?

So, if one gives to the church $100, how much would go back to the church’s local community? (Feel free to define “local community” as it applies to the church)

Just wondering…

It is encouraging when I see ministries recognizing that communications is a function that really needs some dedicated attention from a staffing point of view.

Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington right now is looking for a Communications Manager to help engage with both their internal and external audiences.

I first heard of this position from Jason Ritchie, the worship pastor over at Crossroads — and it was refreshing to see that they are looking for someone that will be hands on regarding the communications flow through all their publications including email, web, and social media outlets.

But just because this ministry is of a pretty good size doesn’t mean your ministry can’t also focus on video, web, and graphics on an appropriately relevant scale. One of the biggest issues with organizations serving communities is the amount and type of communications that is made available in a timely manner. If you pay attention to clear and appropriate levels of communication with your people it will go a long way to build up a supporter base that are willing to commit and even sacrifice on behalf of the vision of the ministry.

Having a staff member who’s sole responsibility is to coordinate, create and disseminate messaging in creative ways is an imperative that is lost on many churches today. I hope you can see the need for such a team member within your own ministry.

By the way, if you or someone you know might be appropriate for this opportunity, take a look at this JOB POSTING LINK on Crossroads’ website.