Archives For Church

modernized-tithing-texting-kiosksAs the Church has progressed into the 21 Century, many of its functions have been modernized.  We have guest services instead of ushers. Our fellowship halls in the back of the buildings have become Café’s and lounges in the front of the Church. Our music has moved from Hymnals to Projectors. Yet with all the modernization the Church is going through, one thing remains etched in the stones of the past – Our systems of tithes and offerings.

Fewer People are carrying Cash or Checks

Fewer and fewer people in today’s society pay with cash or checks. We even find that Millennials are using credit cards at an all-time low, as well. This leads to a dilemma for Churches. How do we get people to give tithes and offerings, when their only choices of giving are cash, checks and sometimes credit cards?

Here are some surprising trends in Consumer Spending:

  • 2 out of 5 people carry less than $20 on their person (Bankrate)
  • 38% of consumers NEVER write checks. Another 20% only write a few per year (The Financial Brand)
  • 6 in 10 Millennials do not have a credit card (Washington Post)

These trends will eventually become a tipping point to where the tithe and offerings payment options offered do not reflect the payment methods people have with them while at Church.

A New Approach to Giving

It is true that people carry less cash, write fewer checks and carry less credit card debt, but there is one interesting fact. They all have money in a bank. The issue is the way they spend money. Their payment methods now consist of paying bills and buying goods online with a bank card.

Knowing this, we can create a system that capitalizes on the congregations ability to pay electronically. Better yet, we can make giving even more easier, increasing the revenues that come into our churches. Even better, giving doesn’t have to be done in a 5 minute devotional time in between Worship and preaching. It can be done at any time in the lobby or on their cell phones.

Part 1: SMS Text Messaging

Everyone has their smartphone in your service. A lot of them are using You Version to follow the message. Knowing they do mobile banking, why not offer them an easy way to tithe?

Enter www.kindrid.com. This service, and others like it, allows Churches to setup giving via Text Message. You have seen these in various forms, most notably the Red Cross. You have seen their advertisements for, “Text #XXXX to donate $10.”

With this solution, your Church sets up a giving number. You then include this number in bulletins or during announcements. People text the amount they want to give to the number and they are done. It is fast and simple for both the Church and the congregation.

Part 2: Congregation Based Giving Apps

Tablets are taking the World by storm. Combining these with smartphones, we can account for nearly every person attending a Worship service. We can make it as easy to give as creating an app that allows them to give right from their smartphone or tablet.

How do you create a giving app without spending a fortune to develop it? Well, there is an app for that. It’s called www.givelify.com. Givelify offers Churches a branded app for tithing and offerings. Pricing varies, but it is priced the way a credit card transaction is priced: example – 2.9% + $0.30 per donation. Users are used to this, since this is how paypal charges its fees.

The trick is getting people to download the app. The trick is to use QR codes. In your Worship service handouts and in announcements, place a QR code that leads to the app install. A simple click of the camera and the app is installed. From there, the user can give anytime he or she feels led.

Part 3: Giving Kiosks

Giving Kiosks are beginning to gain traction with Pastors. Why limit giving to the actual Church service, when you can allow people to give before and after service, as well? A giving kiosk will stand in the foyer area of the Church and provide visitors the easiest way possible to give their tithes and offerings.

They consist of three parts, an ipad, giving app and a stylish modern kiosk. SecureGive offers this as an all in one package. It can be seen at http://www.lilitab.com/pages/solutions.

SecureGive did a survey of Churches that used its services and found that giving increased by 27%. The study also found that the offerings given on the kiosk were 20% higher than non-kiosk giving.

With these applications in place, Churches can encourage giving from the front of the Church to the back of the Church. Thanks to technology, not only can we make giving easier, we can do it in an affordable manner.  All of the solutions mentioned are cost effective and provide a very low barrier of entry so that every Church can get in and test these new ways of giving.

 

 

Social Media PlatformToday’s post is from Jason Caston who helps to equip churches as they connect their ministry with the online community. There are many resources are available on his blog ichurchmethod.com. I recently asked Jason to share with us some of the up and coming social media platforms that have gained popularity.

An interesting transition is happening in the world of social media, Facebook is undoubtedly the king of the hill and Twitter is up there as well but the popular new kid on the block is Instagram and it’s here to stay.  Instagram now has 200 Million users, over 20 billion photos shared, 1.6 billion likes daily and 60 million photos posted daily (instagram.com/press).  With this type of impact it’s no wonder that Instagram is one of the best social media platforms we use for our ministry (our main ministry account is instagram.com/bishopjakes).

In order to be effective on Social Media you must have a strategy, and Instagram is no exception.  Before we post a single graphic or video, we make sure we have an overall strategy for Instagram and an idea of what we consider success.  Overall, our strategy for Instagram includes consistently posting photos/graphics and videos that are inspirational, informational and conversational.  Now let’s break that down, first thing we make sure is that we have a consistent flow of content and posting between 2 – 5 times daily.  Next, we want to post inspirational content that uplifts and inspires our audience, we also want to post informational content that keeps our audience updated on things going on with the ministry.  Lastly, we want to make sure we keep our posts conversational by responding to comments and questions as often as possible.

Now that we have our strategy laid out, we have to actually create and post the content.  Devotional memes are created using our graphic artists or apps like Tweegram, we basically take the daily devotional we post on Facebook or Twitter and add it to a meme and post on Instagram.  When we have events we make sure we create flyers or posters that we post on social media, including Instagram.  Normally, our flyers are 900×1500 and we make sure we have a 600×600 version created for Instagram.  One of our most engaging posts are based on our Sunday services where we take an action shot of our pastor and add a quote from his sermon to the photo and post it.  Also, we take 15 second clips from his sermons and post those as well, which for some people is the only ministry they receive and we understand how powerful this platform can be.  Lastly, one of the things that our audience loves most is the personal and family moments that are posted by our pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes.  Whether it’s a banana pudding he baked for his family or a hug he is sharing with his children, people love to see his transparent moments as a father, husband, family man and regular individual.

Overall, Instagram is yet another platform that our ministry uses to visually tell our story as a ministry.  We have so many individual stories from our members, leaders, staff and volunteers that showcase how impactful this ministry is and how great the gospel can be.  And the best part of it all is through all of the photos, videos, devotionals, quotes and everything we post, God gets the glory.  Amen.

Jjasoncastonason Caston (@jasoncaston) is the author of The iChurch Method (ichurchmethod.com). Additionally, he is also the Digital Platform and Innovation specialist at T.D. Jakes Ministries.

Business man with pen
 

They, your church attenders, don’t want another verse from John in their News Feed.
What if you social media presence was used strategically? What if you didn’t only promote your church, but was a positive influence in your community. You can help others and grow your church through social media, but it will require more strategy and less random verses.

Most likely the youngest or the techie (or trekkie) got the job of social media point person. They might be the best person, but they need vision on how to use your church’s social media presence. You need to speak vision into your online strategy. You need to move beyond just a Facebook page to having an online community. The first step is integrating your social media and other online ventures into your overall strategy.

Here are my four social media tips summarized:

1. Align your social presence with your church’s vision (Think: strategry)

2. Write down your daily post topics and times of posting (Think: calendar)

3. Use photo templates to promote series and extend the reach of each post (Think: brand)

4. Positively lift others up through engaging your online connections (Think: pastoral care)

The secret to social media is to treat others on your social media channels, as you want to be treated.

I write more about this topic in my new eBook “Social Media Made Easy for Small Businesses” available at www.socialmediamadeeasysb.com

Jay-KrandaJay Kranda is the Online Campus Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Jay oversees: Saddleback’s 167 online services that attract over 23,000 people weekly,  1,200 small groups gathering non-locally, and 63 extensions. To learn more about the ever changing and evolving world of church online visit www.JayKranda.com

 

 

church technology blogs

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Do you use your cell phone in church?

Is it encouraged or shunned in your church?

Churches that discourage cell phone use during church worship service

Westminster Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbytery of San Fernando in Burbank, CA. Prior to the service they actually showed this video of how they handle cell phones in church.

This is such a great topic because you’re probably firmly rooted one side or the other.  .  .

Either cell phones are a menace, to the preacher, to the people around you, and a distraction from the activity of worship itself OR it can be an amazing tool that augments the worship experience as well as empowering the congregation to be evangelistic *during* the actual service itself.  

What is interesting is that ministries like YouVersion have even explicitly built services to encourage smart phone usage in church.

Which side are you on?  Are smart phone cell phones something that should be allows in church? Share your comments below.

New Media Project

Digital Church Theology and New Media

Today, I had the chance to spend time in NYC with other folks interested in today’s church and new media usage by church leaders and their communities. The New Media Project was the host of todays conference on the Digital Church: Theology & New Media.

For some reason, this conference on the digital future didn’t have any form of content streaming. One of the speakers who runs a large print magazine outfit even commented how he envisioned this conference with live interaction elements with Twitter, etc. He said he thought there would be some monitor with ongoing tweets or some other live connection to new media. He was right, there were a bunch of missed opportunities (i.e. the org’s new website is “under construction” a major no-no in today’s web reality, without the most critical piece, an email capture form that could be building an audience well before they are ready to roll).

Eugene Cho Digital Church Conference
So I did what any self-repecting digitally native participant would do: I lit up a Google+ Handout and invited people to join. (Eugene Cho dropped in while were were chatting away during a break).

It is important to keep investing in your trade, or as Seth Godin calls it, your art. What are you doing to keep yourself moving forward, growing in your own art? Continue Reading…

I’m excited because this month at Liquid Church we are launching a massive campaign to get up to 3,000 people to read the entire New Testament Bible in 40 days all together as a community.

If you aren’t aware of some of the trends going on with Bible engagement and churches today, take a look at the infographic I pulled together to help share the situation in the Church:

 

Bible Engagement Trends

 

So for 40 days leading up to Easter, we will be reading the Bible in 225 small groups across New Jersey. We even have several church online groups forming so that our community of online worshippers can participate with us. All the details are available at www.40daybiblechallenge.com

Bible reading campaign

 

The program is being put together in collaboration with Biblica, who is the copyright holder of the NIV Bible. We have been able to produce thousands of custom printed Bibles for our campaign through their Community Bible Experience. With Biblica’s help, we’ve also been able to make it available in PDF, Kindle, ePub, and audio formats. In addition, we’ve produced a spanish translation as well as kids versions of the daily bible readings. We’ve got iTunes podcasts. We also have links to the YouVersion reading plan available for your smart phone. And to top it off, we have a daily email devotional that will be sent out every day to keep everyone encouraged and on track. There you go, no excuse NOT to read it with us.

I’m excited to see what happens when our entire community is in sync reading the same portions of text weekly over the next 8 weeks. What is been surprising is the enthusiasm people have shown to sign-up to read together. You would think in today’s day and age that reading the entire NT Bible wouldn’t be a huge draw. But by doing it together, it has brought out the best participation and energy we have seen in awhile.

Have you ever read the Bible together with your entire church? How did it go?

I have been thinking more and more about one of the fundamental failures communicators are making in their work and was reminded of it when I drove into my local ShopRite parking lot the other day.

After renovations which made grocery shopping fun and delicious (new food court in the actual store!), traffic went through the roof. But the store didn’t stop there.

Thinking about the user experience even before we walk in the door, the management realized while shopping inside the store was fun, getting a parking spot wasn’t anymore.

putting audience first

So what did they do? Call them crazy, but I now have free valet parking at my grocery store. The first in the entire state apparently.

What are you doing to make the experience of your guests, audience, followers, supporters and volunteers to be a WOW-experience? Where can you go further to put their needs first?

If I looked at your website, is it really tuned for first time visitors? Or is your content set up in a way that “everyone else does it”?

Do you talk more about what you need from your supporters (like tons of “give give give! Just give us money!” type messaging) vs what they might really want to explore or hear about regarding their opportunity to participate in impactful work?

Do you talk more about you, as in your “institution” organization? Or do you really celebrate “you,” the person reading your content — you know, the volunteers, supporters, constituents who are the real heros, without which you wouldn’t have a job?

What can you do to pull out all the stops to out to put your audience first, kind of like giving free valet parking for me to run in and grab a carton of milk at my ShopRite?

3 Trends for 2013

 

 

My colleague Rich Birch over at UnSeminary.com has spotlighted 3 important trends ministry leaders need to watch out for in the coming year:

  1. Everything is going mobile – from announcements to giving to community participation to social sharing.  You need to open your eyes and see that everyone’s phone is more than just a phone.
  2. Compassion action – individuals in today’s culture want to change the world, not just sit and soak in the pews.  What are you doing to help your people fulfill the call for mercy and justice beyond the walls of your building?  Whether it be down the block or around the world, the opportunity is here and now.
  3. Data can drive everything The Church is known for being stuck in the Gutenberg world while everything else has raced ahead into the Google world. If you start to look at some simple data about your people, about what’s happening, you can respond and provide better environments for discipleship, better engagement with your community, better experiences for visitors.  Forget about the fancy shmancy stuff. 38% of church leaders reading this don’t even have a church website in 2012.  Heck, if you can budget just $2000 and I’ll build you a clean basic one just to get something up on the web.

What other trends do you think we’ll see in 2013?