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Today’s guest post is written by David Cantor, who is involved with legal work involving sex crimes.  David’s post not only provides a couple of concrete tips for a safer internet at home, it hopefully helps you pause and consider what safeguards you can activate in order to provide a safe and positive environment for your entire family regarding the Internet.    If you would like to contribute a guest post, please check out the guidelines for more details.

 

Safer Internet Day

The summer months mean time away from school for your child. Unfortunately, with the busy working schedules of most parents, it is often difficult to monitor what your child is doing online during the summer when you are not available to supervise. The Internet, while a wonderful tool for shopping, education, and social media, can be a dangerous place for children and teens. There are, however, a few tips to keeping your child safe online. By following these four steps, you can help to keep your child safe when using the internet.

1) Limit Access

Your child may not think it is fair, but by limited his/her access to the computer to only a short amount of time while you are home during the day, you can make sure that your child has supervised online time. By locking up the computer in the master bedroom or adding a log in password that only you know, you child will not only be less susceptible to online predators and misbehavior, but they will also get to spend more time outside in the summer, which can lead to a happier and healthier life.

 

2) Parental Controls

If your child uses the Internet for summer projects or correspondence with friends from far away, totally restricting computer use may not be the best course of action. Many web browsers will allow parents to set up customizable parental controls in the browser that will eliminate the possibility of your child stumbling onto inappropriate websites.

 

3) No Mobile Data

Mobile data plans for cell phones are great for busy adults who may need to access email and other online business tools on the go. However, your child does not need mobile Internet on their cell phones. They can text their friends and call you with their mobiles phones, but leave the mobile online access to the adults.

 

4) Social Media with a Catch

If your child is complaining that all of their friends are on Social Media websites and they are not allowed, grant them access with one condition: They must provide you with their username and password. That way, even if your child is permitted to be on the Internet at home while you are at work during the summer months, you can remotely check their social media home pages to make sure that they are only involved in appropriate and child friendly activities.

The Internet can be a helpful tool that is educational and fun. However, online bullying and Internet predators make most parents nervous about the idea of their child or teen using the computer with limited supervision during the summer. By following these four simple rules, however, your child can enjoy the Internet while you work without worry.

 

David Cantor is an Arizona Sex Crimes Defense Attorney whose law firm, Law Offices of David Michael Cantor is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. 

Are you one of the thousands of ministries that still don’t have a website or has a site that was designed and set-up back in the 90’s (or gasp, before that?!) and hasn’t been touched since?  Today, having a web presence with a basic level of aesthetics is a must-have for any ministry serious about attracting new visitors.  Most people today will look-up your website well before making the decision to walk through the threshold of your building.  

This week, I’ve asked Drew Key, of Calvary Baptist in AL, to provide a basic walkthrough of some options for a church that wants to get on the web on a budget.  If you are interested in writing a guest post, check out my guidelines.


You don’t have to pay big bucks to get a decent website. There are a many low-cost options that can provide your church with the tools to build an interactive web presence that can carry your church’s message to the masses.

One such option is WordPress. It was originally billed as a blogging platform and while it is still used by bloggers all over the world, it has become more developed to the point that it is used to power everything from e-commerce sites, news websites like CNN.com, and corporate websites like Construction Partners, Inc.

Setting up a WordPress website is easy if you don’t mind having a domain name like crosswaybaptist.wordpress.com. Just head over to www.wordpress.com and get started.

Wordpress.com for starter websites

But don’t think you have to be tied down to a wordpress.com domain name. If you would like to have a WordPress website that is set up with your own domain name, then you can do that too. However, it will require you purchasing a domain name at an online registrar like networksolutions.com and then a hosting account with a company like hostgator.com. (Read more about the difference between a domain name and a website host.)

 

An advantage of hosting your website with Hostgator is that they provide a “one-click” installer which automates the creation of the database and the installation of the software on the web server. After you have signed up for hostgator and have your domain name parked there, go to yourdomainname.com/cpanel and login.

cpanel login

 

After you have successfully logged in, scroll down and click on QuickInstall.
control panel
In QuickInstall, look for and select WordPress.
wordpress installation
Then press the Continue button that comes up next.
On the next screen, complete the form following the example below.  Most of the time you can leave the Application URL field alone and it will install the software where it needs to go. Be sure to use your real email address for Admin email. For Blog Title just enter the name of your church. Then enter your first and last name and click the “Install Now!” button. After WordPress finishes the installation process you will receive an email with instructions on how to log in to WordPress.
install wordpress

I’m not going to lie to you; WordPress is a very powerful website platform, but it does come with a learning curve. If you aren’t web-savvy, you may need to find someone at your church to give you a hand.

An easier solution is to go with Google’s Blogger platform. From a usability standpoint, it will be much easier to wrap your head around Blogger than it is WordPress. One of the best things about Blogger is that you can set it up to run on your own domain name (e.g. www.crosswaybaptist.com) by paying Google $10 per year. If you would be okay with a domain name like crosswaybaptist.blogger.com, then you can get things going for free.

To get started, just go over to www.blogger.com and click the Sign Up button at the top right to get started.

blogger website set-up

 

One option would be to rethink the idea of having a website entirely. Website platforms such as Blogger and WordPress are great for building websites, but why not go to where your congregation already is? Facebook allows for just about any organization to create what is known as a Fan Page. A Facebook Fan Page can be “Liked” by people in your congregation and in the community which allows them to see your Church’s status updates in their news feed. You can also use the Facebook platform to send out event notifications, post videos, photos, and more. Since you are probably already familiar with how to use Facebook, this should be an option to be considered if WordPress or Blogger are out of the question for the moment.

Don’t think that you have to promote your website as www.facebook.com/yourchurchname either. That can be too long for many people to remember. A better option is to buy a domain name that you will be happy with at NameCheap.com, and then redirect anyone who types in that domain name to your Facebook page. Check this article on how to set up domain name forwarding at NameCheap.

There are many alternatives to spending a great deal of money on a website. Don’t get me wrong, a professionally created website can pay for itself many times over if done correctly. But not all churches are going to have the money for a professional website. Hopefully these three options will give you something you can work with until the day comes when you can hire a professional and do it right.

 

Drew KeyDrew Key blogs for King Church Furniture, a manufacturer of church pews located in Dothan, Alabama. Drew also is a Technical Arts specialist at Calvary Baptist Church in Dothan, Alabama. He loves the web, graphic design, marketing and Apple computers and gadgets.

 

Video marketing and video seo are hot right now.  It’s one of the most effective tactics to focus upon regarding your online marketing mix, at least for the next 12-18 months.  One non-profit that has had great initial success implementing simple strategies to promote their video is led by Deric Milligan whom I have known from the Redeemer Entrepreneurship Initiative community.  It has been great to see Deric go from zero to sixty over the last several years with his diligence in learning best practices and simply executing on them.  Enjoy today’s post about how he’s focusing on video marketing these days.

Inheritance of Hope // Deric MilliganDeric Milligan’s life was changed drastically in 2003 when his wife, Kristen, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.  Apart from his time-consuming role as caregiver, he felt led to alter his professional aspirations.  Deric and Kristen founded Inheritance of Hope in 2007, and after completing an MBA (with distinction) from New York University’s Stern School of Business, Deric became the Executive Director of Inheritance of Hope.  His passion is for serving and supporting families like his; young families living with a parent battling a life-threatening illness.


The organization I co-founded with my wife, Inheritance of Hope, recently celebrated its 5th birthday.

To mark the occasion, we released a short video about the organization and its ministry to young families living with a terminally ill parent.  We worked hard to create a video that captured the heart of our mission and was “remarkable.”  Check it out here! :http://youtu.be/GoHl9XZSVQk

 

YouTube Video Marketing Tips and Tactics

These are 7 specific strategies we implemented to get more than 3,000 YouTube views in the first week:

1)     We created a short version “teaser” of the video to stimulate interest two weeks before the release date.  We released the short version through our monthly e-newsletter and made sure our audience knew to look for the full version on its release date.

2)     We released an email blast to our subscribers early on the release date with nothing more than the link to the video.   The only action they could take after opening the email was to click on the video.  We have also found that putting the word “video” in the subject line improves our open rates.  With an effective subject line and a clear call to action, our clickthrough rates were significantly higher than our monthly e-newsletter.

3)     We sent targeted emails to key supporters, volunteers, and past participants telling them to look for the video and asking them to share it with their friends.  We gave specific instructions about how they could share it (Facebook, forward the email, share via YouTube).

4)     We asked our inner circle (4 people) to share the link on each and every one of their Facebook friend’s wall on the morning we released the full version.  It took some time and effort, but we found that it got far more traction than simply sharing it on our own wall.

5)     We shared the video with relevant blog writers and asked them to share it with their readers.

6)     We made the video easily accessible from a number of landing pages on our website.

7)     We shared the video through our Facebook cause.

While 3,400 views is just a start, these strategies can be easily implemented by organizations of any size.  I hope these tips help you spread the word about your ministries!

Are you surprised that these tactics drive traffic for online videos?

Today’s guest post comes from Bill Blankschaen, with whom I recently connected at Seth Godin’s live event in NYC.  He’s a breath of fresh air and definitely someone who understands that we all need to Pick Yourself and start building a Tribe.

Bill BlankschaenBill Blankschaen is a writer, thinker, and speaker who is passionate about connecting real life with real faith. He has served as a church elder, interim pastor, and non-profit leader over the last fifteen years. His dozen years of retail management experience with both small business and big-box retail (Target) combined with his MBA from Case Western Reserve University with a concentration in Non-profit Management give him a unique perspective on ministry issues. He presently serves as the Principal of a successful K4 -12 Christian school near Cleveland, Ohio: www.cca-impact.info


WOW experienceWOW!

Is that the first word on the lips of the typical person who visits your church, engages your non-profit , or encounters your ministry efforts for the first time? It should be. If not, something’s wrong.

Why?

It was the first word everyone used after he or she had an encounter with Jesus. And Jesus knew a thing or two about ministry.

Think about it. An offer to give a drink at a well gets a whole town talking. A request for wedding help behind the scenes gets a miraculous vintage. A plea for an extra shekel receives a fresh set of legs. A tearful call for sympathy produces life reborn as a stone is rolled away. And so it goes.

See if you can find an encounter with Christ that didn’t result in far more than anyone anticipated. Think about how it rocked your world. Now think about how people feel after they first encounter your ministry – a church, a school, a non-profit outreach – any extension of Christ’s call to love your neighbor as yourself. Is “WOW!” the first word used to describe their interaction?

When someone walks away unimpressed by what you’re pouring your life into, it’s usually not about what happened during the encounter. It’s about what didn’t happen. You were boring. Really. Sorry.

Here’s a quick way to make your ministry standout: WOW them – like Jesus did!

1. Jesus blew them away. Not only did he answer the questions they had, he met needs they didn’t even know they had. Think of the woman at the well. She just drifted into his presence. He intentionally engaged her and systematically built the relationship. Who does that today? You do, if you’re smart. Train your team or group members to invest the time.

2. Jesus engaged with bone-deep authenticity. You’ve got to hand it to him. Jesus never faked it. People can detect polite retail manners. Think of your last encounters with cashiers. You know without much thought if they were sincere when they wished you a good day. Authenticity stands out. Be real.

3. Jesus always cast a bigger vision for a brighter future. People asked him for physical needs. He spoke to them about their deeper spiritual needs. And then he met them. When people first encounter your ministry, do they leave still talking about the vision that pulls your organization forward – and how it can change their world? If not, why not? An encounter with Christ always left people buzzing about exciting things to come. Just because you know it doesn’t mean anyone else does.

 

Quit being boring. Get people buzzing. Be like Jesus. Make your ministry stand out by leaving all you encounter with one word to share – WOW!

Where do you think your ministry efforts need to change to better resemble the first impressions Christ left? What ways have you found to be intentional about blowing away expectations?

Leave a comment to share the growth.

 

If you’re like most organizational leaders, a significant part of what you do on a daily basis is process emails. . . Responding to emails, initiating emails, filing, deleting and forward emails.  We all do it.

The problem with the clear majority (95%+!!!) of email is that when you sit down to process your email inbox, you are deciding to let other people’s agendas dictate how you spend your time IMHO.  So figuring out how to tame that inbox is one of the most strategic things you can do for your own work.

One of my colleagues is a master of killing that inbox every day.  So I asked Rich Birch, to share some of his best practices for dealing with email.  Take heed and you’ll find hours being freed up every week so that you can spend more time on things that are on *your* agenda, not others’.  Enjoy today’s post below.


Remember when email was fun? I do.
I was one of those kids with an email address in the 80s. It’s true. My parents got me a subscription to CompuServe because it had an online encyclopedia. I used to sell access to my friends . . .only $0.25 per printed page! (But that’s another story!) Back in those days it was magical to send emails to people all over the country.

 

Email isn’t fun anymore. In fact, for most people serving in a church, it’s a drag. It seems like an interruption to what God is calling you to do. Your behind on answering your emails and afraid that there is a message waiting from someone who is disappointed you haven’t got back to them . . . so for some weird reason we avoid dealing with our email . . . and the cycle continues.

Email Inbox Processing Best Practices

I need to confess . . . I kinda like email. It’s a great way to move information around . . . to prepare people for face to face meetings . . . to connect with a wide variety of people.

Here are 6 “not-so-obvious” email tips from what I’ve learned after almost 25 years of trying to figure out this email thing . . .

1. Email Is Not Your Job

Don’t mistake what you are called to do in your ministry with doing email. Email is just a tool. You are called to connect people to the church and build up leaders. Email simply aids the core function that you do. If you feel like all you do is email all day – talk with your supervisor and restructure your job. You are more valuable to the Kingdom than just answering email.

2. Schedule Your Time

Set aside time every day when you are going to process all of your emails. Don’t just keep scanning the list of emails . . . “checking email” is not dealing with emails. Sit down for an hour and respond, delegate, defer or even delete every email. When I’m at my email best – I’m up early in the morning and cranking through the email from the day before.

3. Don’t Use a Smart Phone

 I’ve had a Palm Pilot, BlackBerry, iOS devices and my beloved Android. These are all fun toys for filling in time when you have a few extra minutes during your day. They are terrible for processing email. All you ever do on a Smart Phone is read the headlines of emails . . . which gives you the false sense that you are actually dealing with your inbox. You’re not. Put the iPhone back in your pocket and go do your work . . . later sit down at a computer and do your email.

4. Filters Are Your Friends

Every email program has some sort of filter function built in. These filters will automatically process emails when they come into your inbox. I currently have over 40 filters running on my inbox. I have emails that I get every month that I need to forward to other people . . . my system automatically forwards those emails and I don’t ever see them in my inbox. I want to highlight emails from some people as urgent when they arrive . . . as soon as my email sees that certain people email me it flags them for me. I’ve heard that some people will even filter out those pesky forwards from parents who always send them their way . . . of course I’ve just heard about that and have never done that. 😉

5. Reply Sparingly

There is only one sure fire way to reduce the amount of email traffic coming into your inbox. Send less email. I’ve sent 28,000 emails since 2007 . . . in that same time I’ve received 55,000 emails. Every time I send an email I think to myself “I am going to receive two emails in return . . . is this email that important?”

6. Use Gmail

I’m biased. Gmail is the solution for email power users. This cloud based system mops up any client based solution by a long shot. Their SPAM killing is amazing. You get tones of free space. You can harness the power of Google’s search technology for your personal information world. The threaded conversations keep you up to date. The “labs” feature has all kinds of great hacks for making email more efficient. It’s free. If you are still using an old school “client” to process your email . . . where have you been for the last 5 years?
I’d love to hear your tips for dealing with the email reality that we all face in ministry. [Leave a comment below on how you deal with email!]

Rich Birch - KillerChurch.comRich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000 people in 12 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. Currently Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey.
Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution. He blogs at www.killerchurch.com

This is the third in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists.

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at howard@zoeycreativedevelopment.com


 

GARDENING IS ACTUALLY THE WORLD’S OLDEST PROFESSION

During the last two segments, we’ve looked at finding more money and raising more money.

This week, we look at tending to what we’ve found and been entrusted with.

Wise farmers, and smart geneticists who deal with environmental issues, know that over-farming or farming the wrong crops can all but permanently ruin a piece of land.

Those of us in ministry who ask our people to give need to consider them not as ATMs but as living, organic beings who are created in God’s image (Gen 1), are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) and in fact are God’s very handiwork (Eph 2:10).  If we truly took these truths to heart, we would fully engage in the top two tasks yet not fail to do the last.

Let the ground ‘lay fallow’ sometimes.

One of my favorite ministry leaders sends monthly letters that one might expect would ask for support but instead tell a story and relate one of God’s truths.  They bless me.  I look for them in the mail, and I have given to this organization simply because it refreshes me, in addition to the good work I believe it does.

Likewise, the national political campaigns that have raised the most money online since 2000 have been the ones that emphasize building community first and ask for money second.  (They want money, no doubt, but they know what must come first in donors’ minds.)  The most successful of these to date solicited one time for every nine news items or community messages.

Refresh your donors.

Thank them often.

And trust the sovereignty and goodness of God who—when you selflessly invest in the spiritual growth of your givers, whom he has made for a purpose—will provide for you to carry out your purpose as an organization.

This is the second in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists.

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at howard@zoeycreativedevelopment.com


 

GIVE TO GET

Last time we looked at how to find more money.

Christian organizations should avail themselves of select professional tools like prospect research, because fundraising and engaging donors in a vision is a profession and should be approached with professional standards and ethics.

This week we look at raising more money. Our recommendation is not exactly ‘orthodox’ by traditional fundraising standards. But it is biblical.

Most organizations try to employ increasing numbers of tactics to make people give larger gifts and more frequently.  Some of these techniques are certainly useful, such as one- or two-click online giving, multiple methods of giving, fundraising events, classes in budgeting (to reduce debt and free up income for giving), etc.

But the truly radical way to get people to give is to teach them what the Bible has to say about money, who Jesus is, and calling them to live a holistically generous life.

What makes it radical is to do it with no expectation of return.  (Try passing this by your church finance team!)

One group doing this very well and offering programs almost free to Christian organizations is Generous Giving.

Their ‘Journey of Generosity’ (JOG) events now have metrics to show that the transformation of attendees is not just deeper discipleship but—to make those finance teams happy—fuller coffers.  Of those surveyed:

  • 75% say that the JOG “changed their perspective or practice related to generosity.”
  • 43% say they have already made a new gift they would not have made before the JOG.
  • 76% say they plan to make a gift in the next 12 months they would not have made before the JOG.
  • 97% say they have talked about the impact with someone else.
  • 77% say they plan to attend another GG event in the next 12 months.

The key, though, is that it must be done for them, and not for your organizational budget.

While space doesn’t allow here, studies by George Barna and Brian Kluth show that regularly talking about the budget from the pulpit can increase giving marginally, but teaching on generosity can increase giving exponentially.

In the next and final post, we look at something—stewardship—that the best secular and faith-based organizations both do well.

And I use the metaphor of the world’s oldest profession.  (It’s not what you think…)

This is the first in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists. 

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at howard@zoeycreativedevelopment.com.


 

There is not a ministry which I’ve heard or read about that doesn’t need to raise more money, or raise more money this year than last year.  If you’re in the group that still needs to raise money, here are tips to find more, raise more, and sustain more. 

A METAL DETECTOR WILL FIND THE NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK

Most ministries and even churches go to “the same pockets,” leaving these individuals and families worn out and even discouraged, especially if they hear from the leaders only around the end of the fiscal year or during campaigns. 

What most organizations fail to do, though, is look at steady givers deeper in their database or even to do research on them.

Considering “prospect research,” however, appalls a lot of Christian organizations.

But just as some churches should consider a press release, even though that seems counter to “what churches do,” organizations of all types should know what giving capacity their constituents have.

image: vichie81

At the last two organizations I worked for, we used a research tool that my firm now uses with our clients.  At my most recent organization, using this at the beginning of a campaign translated into more than $100,000 of unanticipated gifts in the first two months, making the tool cost less than $0.03 per dollar raised.  It became cheaper as more gifts came in.

If you don’t want to invest in using a research tool, consider these measures to find more gifts and more donors among older and younger constituents: Continue Reading…

The viral spread of social media is one of the most obvious indicators of the break-neck pace of cultural change.

For many pastors already trying to cram 25 hours into a single 24 hour day, social media poses a range of dilemmas. . .

Do I use social media at all?

Is it merely a distraction?

Is it a legitimate way to reach and shepherd people?

Am I too enamored with it…or too resistant to change?

Wherever you fall on that spectrum, here are a few thoughts to fuel your pursuit of balanced answers.

Top 5 Reasons Pastors Should NOT Use Social Media:

1. Everybody else is doing it.

There is nothing more miserable then watching someone who isn’t interested in facebook, twitter, or blogging using the social application out of duty or a need to keep up with the guy down the street. They don’t want to use the application and have no plan. They simply throw stuff on the wall and hope it sticks.

If you can’t find an internal and healthy motivation, don’t fake it.

2. Brand “Me”.

In the age of Pastor as entrepreneur/CEO/rock star, it’s worth asking yourself if you are using social media to promote yourself or elevate your own profile.

If your gut tells you this is part of your motive for using social media, don’t do it.

3. Quick Fix.

Just because you’re tweeting, facebooking, and blogging, doesn’t mean all your church problems are solved (i.e. bigger crowds, more baptisms, and more revenue). Social media is not the silver bullet, even for better communication.

While we are at it…there is no silver bullet.

5. Creating Noise.

People don’t care that you almost ran over a squirrel on your commute this morning. Well, maybe the animal lover in your church cares, but you aren’t earning any points there. Be a good steward of your followers’ time. If you are going to post something, make sure it has value (see below). It’s fine (even good) to be whimsical and fun as you develop a sense of what you’re doing. Just don’t let meaningless banter become the norm. People will notice, and you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time.

If you are just creating noise, don’t do it.

5. Distraction.

This is probably the most important reason you should not use social media. It can be a total time suck. Listen, your congregation (and your social media friends and “followers”) need you to be a lover of God and a shepherd of people.

If social media is just one more thing that will distract you from the things that matter most, don’t do it.


Paul LoylessThis guest post was shared with us by Paul Loyless, the President of d2design (formerly Details Direct). d2design is faith-based church branding organization that excels in helping small churches and church plants communicate clearly.  You can find more of Paul’s thoughts on his blog at: http://blog.d2design.com or on Twitter @d2design

The following is a guest blog post from Pastor Randy Kinnick in Arkansas.  He shares some great ideas regarding community and connections.  Enjoy. . .


People long for connection…we are designed that way.  The power of belonging is a strong drive.  Although negative peer pressure can be the result, if we understand that this need to be in community is a God-given trait, we can approach life and evangelism from a perspective that embraces and celebrates it.  Erwin McManus has pointed out…

There may be no greater proof of God than the power of community.

There may be no greater gift than a place to belong.  While it may seem you’re selling out to admit you need people, the irony is that you’ll never really know yourself until you’re in a healthy community.  We only truly come to know ourselves in the context of others.  The more isolated and disconnected we are, the more shattered and distorted our self-identity.

We are not healthy when we are alone.

We find ourselves as we connect to others.

(Soul Cravings, 2008 Thomas Nelson)

In light of this, there are ideas we can utilize to effectively connect with our community at large while creating stronger connections within our faith community.  The end result is that more people are touched with the love and truth of the gospel. 

Here are 10 ideas that I believe will accomplish this in any church. . . Continue Reading…