Archives For Books & Media

The “New Year”is half over! — and it’s time to think ahead about what BHAG’s you can accomplish in 2014.

One of my goals is to publish a series of books (most on the Kindle platform) to help more individuals, non-profits and ministry leaders ramp up their communications efforts.

For one of them, I am inviting you to become a contributor in an effort to help empower more people to harness the power of social media for their own cause.

Simply submit your contribution below to get started!

Digital Mission FieldAt every talk on social media these days, I point out that the big 4 search engines you need to pay attention to are: (1) Google (2) YouTube (3) Amazon (4) iTunes. Most people got the first, but underestimate YouTube and the others. While tweeting with Sean Cannell recently, I asked him to share some of his YouTube for Churches awesomeness with my readers. Sean is the Campus Pastor of The Church OC, co-founder of THiNK International, a Church Leadership Blog and well known YouTube channel, and Author of YouTube for Churches. Well, here it is — enjoy!

youtubeforchurches.com
YouTube is the most underrated and underutilized social network by church leaders and churches. Facebook is usually the priority, followed by Twitter or Instagram, with video hosting and sharing usually on Vimeo. If a church does have  a YouTube channel, it usually is an afterthought, not receiving the best energy of the creative staff or volunteer team.

I think our social media priorities are out of order.

What most church leaders don’t realize is that YouTube has almost as many unique monthly users as Facebook (over 1 billion), and is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, while being the  3rd most visited website in the world.

When it comes to reaching people with social media, YouTube is one of the most important platforms for churches and church leaders. This is true now, but will be even more true in the future with the accelerated growth of online video.

How is YouTube a mission field?
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world! That means 2nd only to Google, people are searching for answers to questions on YouTube. That is a huge opportunity for for churches and church leaders who have biblical answers to those questions.

Your church, your team, and you and your iPhone, have the opportunity to be on the other side of that search query!

YouTube can help you  practically reach people by helping your website rank higher and your church get discovered locally, BUT, beyond that, YouTube gives you access to a global audience to share the Gospel and answers to questions people are asking!

Using the YouTube Keyword Tool you easily can discover some of these questions. “Is God Real?” is searched 25,200 times a month. “Is Jesus God?” 50,000. The solo term “God” is searched over 5.3 million times a month! People are looking for answers to life’s biggest questions on the same website they watch viral cat videos on.

Don’t Wait, Start Using YouTube to Reach People!
Tapping into YouTube’s search power is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how it can be used by churches and church leaders.

So take YouTube seriously, make a plan and take action!

And if you are interested in a YouTube Crash Course, just go to YouTubeforChurches.com and you can access a free 4 video training series and a free ebook to help you save time, energy and get legit results with YouTube.

Keep crushing it,

Sean Cannell

p.s. Access a free 4 Video YouTube Training Course and eBook at youtubeforchurches.com

 

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?

So Want to improve your communications for end of year donor development or other community building campaign?

Take just one of the 6 core principles shared in this great video overview piece on the Science of Persuasion and you’ll be sure to see some improvements in responsiveness and engagement.

First, take a look at this fun video:

 

I’ve previously shared about the book, The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity — edited by Daniel Oppenheimer and Christopher Olivola. If you want to learn more about the 6 principles shared in the video, that you’ll love this book — because it talks about the value, social factors, role of emotions and other important influences in charitable giving.

But again, even before diving into the Science of Giving book, I’d challenge you to take just one of the principles of persuasion presented here, and figure out a way to incorporate some of it into something you’re doing right now.  How can go back and revise language or positioning, or the sequence of messaging to leverage this learning?  Here’s a quick review again of the principles. . .

6-principles-of-persuasion

Continue Reading…

Today, we have a guest post about using the iPhone to access The Bible.  There are tons of great Bible apps out there.  I have a bunch in a folder on my iPhone.  Here’s 4 iPhone apps you might want to download and try out.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest blog post, check out the guidelines I’ve written up to help you get started.


Getting to know about religion or Bible is a top interest for many around the world and now, accessibility is not an issue for anyone anymore. For example, with Apple’s iPhone, looking up verses of the Bible is just a few touches away. Now, the Bible can be carried with ease and can be referred to anywhere and at anytime of the day. There are numerous applications which are available for the iPhone, but then a few stand out to be one of the most preferred apps amongst many:

YouVersion1. The Bible – The Bible app has been developed by LifeChurch.tv and is one of the simplest and popular apps available at the app store. One special feature in this phone is the ability to access hundreds of different versions of the Bible.  A wide array of passages can be selected for future reference and reading plans are easy to follow with this app. Many versions of the bible are present which include the NIV, ESV, NLT, NKJV, NASB and the CEV bible translations. A keyword search facility makes it easy for users to search a particular verse and go through with ease. This app also has few versions of the Bible in Spanish and the German Language.

BibleVerseofTheDay2. Bible Verse of the Day – This splendid app allows a user to take a break from the busy and demanding lifestyle to go through a verse from the Holy Bible. This app is a self-functioning one and does not need any updates or a live connection to the internet after being downloaded. Features of the app include reading random verses from the Bible and e-mailing them to friends on the list. This app costs under a dollar and is available at the ITunes App Store.

HolyBible3. Holy Bible – The Holly Bible app mainly features almost 23 Bible translations. The ability to read the original and the translated text keeping it side by side is truly commendable. Specific passages can be selected and bookmarked for further reference. This app is a free one in the App Store.

The church iphone app4. The Church – This app is known for its features and functionality which can help Christians around the world to start their own prayer journals, receive inspirational quotes, and memorize verses. This app also comes with a tithe calculator and has an offline Bible too.

Sapna is an online manager at Taaza.com, an portal / horizontal site. Significant verticals include Jobs, Classifieds, News, Education, Photos, Movies, Travel, Shopping and Finance.

Timothy Keller Center Church Book

In the new book trailer video, Tim Keller talks about how the model for city-center church ministry developed at Redeemer reflect the following components:

  • Biblically Balanced
  • Urban Centered
  • Gospel-Centered
  • Theological Values

60 days left before you can get your hands on a copy!

Timothy Keller’s next book, Center Church is now available for order on Amazon.

My friends Jason Locy and Tim Willard just published a short ebook on rest and sabbath (they are also co-authors of the big fat yellow book, Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society).

The short devotional text, The Sound of Silence, challenges readers like you and me to slow down and push back against the frantic pace of life.
Sound of Silence iBook by Jason Locy

 

Here’s an excerpt from the ebook.  Enjoy:

“The life of sensation is the life of greed,” writes Annie Dillard, “it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.” Dillard’s “life of the spirit” is far from our reality; a bygone idea. Yet the life of the spirit is one we were meant to live. We were meant to grow in wisdom, to have relationships and to experience life in all of its complexity.

But the life of the spirit is hard and requires commitment. We’re not used to the idea of “less and less.” On the contrary, we strive to do more, to acquire more and to be more. What would it mean to go against what we know, this life of greed? It means forgoing the Saturday trip to our favorite department store. It means getting off of the couch and taking a hike. It means stopping by a friend’s house unannounced just to say hello. It’s emphasizing the relational, the simple and the quiet of life. It’s all the things we used to do as kids but, for some reason, have abandoned.

I remember a time when the choices about how to maximize time were pure and innocent. A time when we knew what rest looked like without even knowing that we knew. It was found in action and friendships and ice cream.

I remember the tire swing over Jeannie’s Creek. Everyone would meet there for a long hot Saturday in the cool mountain water. I always wanted to be the first to launch off the boulders, grabbing the tire swing in mid-flight and screaming my lungs out. That was real and wet and terrifying and a knee-busting good time.

Memory makes the captured images in my mind glimmer. Hindsight does its magic, making everything better. There was more sunshine then, too. Right? I remember it flecking through the oak boughs, bouncing off the creek into a million pieces. Things took longer back then. Those afternoons at the creek felt like an eternity. Life was lived in analog—saturated with a richness that is now only shadowy nostalgia.

The Analog Language of Memory

Friendship back then was a gift. Our shared experiences pulled us all closer to each other. We spent nights on Samantha’s deck playing cards and counting the stars. If it got too late, everyone would just crash. There were no friend lists—just friends. The firefly nights at the Jigger Shop eating ice cream and sipping coffee together always left us knowing we were making memories. Tonight it’s ice cream, next week live jazz on the open lawn at the winery, next week a trip to the ocean, next week a midnight splash in Hammer Creek off Pumping Station Road. And always there were fire nights; nights where we sat around the blazing ring just “being.”

Now it all seems so antiquated, almost a novelty. I think progress ages us faster than time. Now, it seems, we would rather sit in front of a monitor or television and consume: ads, meaningless shows, social networks, blogs, Twitter, etc., etc. We are cultural animals now; enlightened, ironic, savvy and connected. We speak a new language, one more sophisticated than the one we spoke jumping into the creek. The ideas and concepts of this new language are not compatible with the analog language of our memory. We speak and mimic what we see on the screens and only understand expressions from that context, in that same language.

Thoughts of spending a day at the creek with friends are voided out. We have too many other things to do. But we don’t know what they are, really. We just know we’re busy and important.

What about you? Where does your memory take you? Is that you, running through the leaves with your friends? Is that you, piling the leaves on top of yourself and laughing? Is that you, gathering more and more and more leaves because you can never have enough? Thoughts, like the leaves, begin to pile on your brain and you realize you’re still that same little girl in the leaf pile, you’re still that brazen little boy at the creek. You just can’t see yourself. You can’t see the purity of who you really are.

The memory almost convinces you. You begin to see things in a different light. You can see … and then your phone vibrates.

It’s a text. You gotta go.

 

Pick-up to The Sound of Silence iBook for your iPad and pause your day for a moment or two.

Do you think there is a way to have REST, SPIRITUAL RENEWAL and SABBATH while utilizing today’s technology and being plugged in?  Please leave a comment below and enter into conversation.

Seth Godin speech

Seth Godin and Kenny Jahng headshot

THE SETH GODIN LIVE EVENT IN NYC

This past week, I had the delight of traversing the 2/3 Downtown Express subway to Tribeca and see Seth Godin speak for several hours.  The event was called “Pick Yourself.”

Tickets for Seth Godin Live in Tribeca May 16, 2012

A little bit unusual in format, but interesting enough that it had potential — Seth spoke for an hour or so walking through a several of this trademark stories, and then opened up the rest of the time to questions from the audience.

The upfront talk ended up circling around this one point — Stop waiting for the tyranny of waiting to be picked.  And simply, Pick Yourself.   Yup, you.

Seth Godin in New York City Live - talking about being remarkable

As an advisor to entrepreneurs, I agree that I’ve seen first hand how lacking the courage, initiative or persistence is a common denominator across most of the group that thinks of themselves as one…but consistently has trouble delivering.

Personally, I would have rather heard him talk straight for the entire day, instead of riffing off of random trajectories in thought from the diverse crowd.  But I did note that over time, it was interesting to see how Seth would literally say, “I’m not going to answer your question, but answer what I think would be a better question instead,” and then proceed to resurface some of the core axioms that roots everything he does.

Useful?  Sure.  Directly practical to the person offering the question?  Debatable.

Seth Godin answering audience questions in New York during his Live event in Tribeca

 

Here’s a nice little video interview that gets the point across:

 

What you get when you listen to Seth Godin from 9:30am — 4pm

As one of the tools to help me sort things out, I’ll use this space for a little journal-“ism.”  I suspect that I’ll revisit the topic a couple of times as I try to connect the dots with things going on in my own sphere.  So here goes:

  • Seth is calling your bluff.  Define the ultimate problem and solve it or just fail.  One of the exercises during the day was to define our business PROBLEM on a card that was handed out.  And then discuss it with a fellow Seth Godin fan next to you to see if you can diagnose it and come up with the next step for a SOLUTION.  Much of the day, including this exercise served to basically let you articulate what is keeping you from success objective.  But by defining it and making it a tangible external problem (with associated potential solution), Seth basically is basically forcing the issue and calling your bluff.  The reason why you’re not doing what you know you have to do in order to succeed in a radical way, is not because of all these other hypothetical issues.  It basically is because you have a lizard brain that thrives on inertia.  So if we can solve THIS problem, then you’ll be a rock star in your industry?  Really?  OK, let’s push forward and solve that problem then.

Seth Godin Pick Yourself Exercise -- Define your problem

Seth Godin fail fast or fail forward or perhaps. . . succeed

 

  • The title of the event was “Pick Yourself” – that’s code for “you now have permission to go off and do it.”  Seriously, Seth said so.  A lot of this feels like the natural extension of Tribes.  A large part of the reason why I’ve been able to do some really interesting stuff over the years is because this notion of “pick yourself” was instilled in me early on in my childhood.  I was very fortunate to have and teachers/advisors within my primary school years to really apply an approach that empowered me and my peers.  Looking back, some of us were given a huge amount of responsibility at a very young age for extracurricular activities.  The result was understanding that if you want something that doesn’t exist yet, just go create it.  If something isn’t optimal, you can improve it.  If you want something big to happen, convince, sell, evangelize and lead a following.  This Pick Yourself stuff ain’t new, but it’s still always good to hear the same charge to crowd once in awhile.

Kenny Jahng's copy of Seth Godin's Pick Yourself Manifesto

 

In case you want the actual text of the Pick Yourself Manifesto by Seth Godin, here it is, nice and clean:

Pick Yourself

Authority?

You want the authority to create, to be noticed and to make a difference? You’re waiting for permission to stand up and speak up and ship?

Sorry. There’s no authority left.

Oprah has left the building. She can’t choose you to be on her show because her show is gone. YouTube wants you to have your own show now, but they’re not going to call you.

Dick Clark has left the building. He’s not going to be able to get you a record deal or a TV gig because his show is long gone. iTunes and a hundred other outlets want you to have your own gig now, but they’re not going to call you either.

Neither is Rodney Dangerfield or the head of programming at Comedy Central. Louis CK has famously proven that he doesn’t kneel to the tyranny of the booker — he picked himself.

Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permissioin, authority and safety that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.”

Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you — that Prince Charming has chosen another house  — then you can actually get to work.

The myth that the CEO is going to discover you and nurture you and ask you to join her for lunch is just that, a Hollywood myth.

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribue abound. Not the opportunity to have your resume picked form the pile, but the opportuniyt o lead.

When we take responsibility and eagerly give credit, doorss open. When we grab a microphone and speak up, we’re a step closer to doing the world we’re able to do.

Most of all, when you buckle down, confront the lizard and ship your best work, you’re becoming the artist that you are capable of becoming.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.

~~~~~~~

  • The web is not a broadcast medium.  It is the first to do both — transmit AND receive.  That brings a lot of new conundrums with it including new expectations based on new possibilities.  Social media is not about tools.  It is about connections.
  • Don’t just define success.  Define ‘failure’ before you start.  Now, when you reach that point, you can STOP.  LEARN. and then move on to the next enterprise.  This is an echo of what I find myself teaching coaching clients early on.  We need to fail quickly.  So that we can fail forward.  What we do is never going to be the big thing on the first try.  second try.  third try.  So we need to figure out if what we’re doing now is it or not.  We need to move it with such velocity so that we can quickly know if it is a failure.  If it is, pick up the next thing and move on.  If not, then move forward faster till you find the answer.
Seth Godin being remarkable
Seth Godin storytelling
[event photos creative commons Seth Godin squid11 on Flickr]

Those are my four big ideas so far from Seth’s talk and Q&A.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I’m sure I’ll have more to articulate in the weeks and months ahead.  But something to be used as an excuse to take up that fight against the lizard brain and figure out how to *ship* as soon as possible.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SETH GODIN RECENTLY?  Have you read Linchpin, Tribes, or any of his other books?  Go ahead and write that reflection down in the comments below and see where that will lead you.

I was fortunate to connect with Paul Caminiti, vice-president of church & bible engagement at Biblica at the Q conference in Washington D.C. this April.  On a daily basis, 700 people quit reading the Bible.  And that means not just taking a break or putting the book down for a couple of months, we’re talking *quit*.  The latest project at Biblica (the copyright holders of the NIV), is an elegant approach to a seemingly ubiquitous circumstance.

Distinctive features of Books of the Bible NIV – part of the Community Bible Experience

  • They’ve taken the NIV bible and the chapter and verse numbers have been removed.  
  • It’s printed in single-column across the page like any other book we are used to reading these days.
  • The books are re-arranged (un-arranged?) in an order that makes more sense in terms of keeping authors’ writing together and individual books that later tradition divided into separate parts were put back together again.
  • And footnotes, headings and any other call outs have been removed from the pages of the sacred text.
Then they’ve added a community component by packaging it as a “book club” — meant to be read together with discussion facilitated by a couple of simple questions — not the usual fill in the blank, let’s all figure out what the “correct Christian-ese” answers might be.
Books of the Bible no chapters no verses
In my mind, the reading experience must be quite like the experience I’ve personally had in listening to dramatized audio Bibles.  God’s story starts to come alive and actually is seen as a story among other outcomes.  I had a chance to interview Paul on the Books of the Bible NIV and Community Bible Experience.   Here’s the convo below:

Q. It is interesting how instead of going through deep word studies of various scriptural pericopes, or other similar avenues that Bible study groups typically end up pursuing, the Community Bible Experience decidedly takes the path of trying to read the Bible in large conceptual swaths as it consumes it through a story lens. To this effect, how does Community Bible Experience promote conversation within the small group / book club setting?

A. In-depth word studies are great, but only when you have the big picture backdrop. You don’t gain a comprehensive understanding of your favorite novel by doing grammatical analysis of a word here or there. You gain the most understanding by reading the whole thing. Same goes with the Bible. That’s what we’re trying to achieve with Community Bible Experience. We’ve found the very act of “reading big” promotes conversation, simply because when you read 12 pages a day, you come to the group with plenty to discuss. We give groups five basic questions to help navigate the conversation; but some groups don’t even need them. They just open up and start talking. Sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of the way.

Q. Typically, book clubs grow organically as friends of club members hear about it and get invited in.  How does Community Bible Experience fall in line with that trait of book clubs?  

A. Community Bible Experience is still fairly new – and relatively small. We don’t have big promotional budgets or a slick ad campaign. So most of our participation so far has been through word of mouth. We’re OK with that. So many programs promise to revolutionize your church or whatever. We happen to think in-depth Bible engagement is the one thing that can make a difference in every area of Christian life, but we’d rather let the experience speak for itself. So we’ve kept it as simple and organic as possible.

Books of the Bible Community Bible Experience

Q. How would you pitch this book club to a fellow soccer mom or dad? How do you overcome the visceral gut reaction to hearing that a bunch of people are sitting down and reading/discussing “the Bible” straight through — typically perceived as a very boring, Bible-geeky, or even a religious fanatical thing to do by most people outside the church?

A. Our sense is that many people, including those who are nominally Christian or  consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” have a natural curiosity about the Bible. Reading the Bible at least once is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. But many of us have tried one of the various “read the Bible in a year” plans and failed. What if there was a way to read the Bible that (a) is doable and (b) doesn’t come with a hidden agenda? That’s how we see Community Bible Experience. We see our role as helping you experience the Bible; we’re not here to tell you what to think of the Bible. We’re not here to force a particular interpretation on the text. That’s why Community Bible Experience has been embraced by churches and groups across the spectrum – from Episcopalians to Southern Baptists.

Q. Is there a difference in themes or issues that tend to get brought up in the conversation under this format? How does this Bible study experience differ than a “traditional” Bible study group?

A. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. Some of the best groups have been those where seekers and seasoned Bible readers were in it together. The book club model levels the playing field, so to speak. It also opens the discussion to a wide range of questions – including those not normally considered “safe” or “acceptable” in a traditional Bible study. We’re not asking people to give fill-in-the-blank answers. In other words, we’re not trying to “control” the discussion.

 

NIV Books of the Bible project

Q. One of the immediate flags that many people have is when they see that you are “messing with” the Bible.  They might say we have final expression of the current canon for a reason.  Are you trying to replace the NIV Bible people carry? Do you expect them to carry just one or the other? How does The Books of the Bible NIV compare to the current one being used in the church?

A. We would probably say we’re “un-messing” with the Bible, giving it an “un-makeover.” Much of what we’ve done is to remove formatting that’s been imposed on Scripture over the last 500 years (e.g. verse numbers, which were first added in 1551, centuries after the Bible was completed). The book order was quite fluid until the invention of the printing press. Sometimes, reading in a different order than the one we have today can be quite helpful. For example, which is more useful: to read Paul’s letters from longest to shortest (as they appear in almost every Bible today) or to read them in the order they were most likely written (as they appear in The Books of the Bible)? That said, we’re not out to replace people’s traditional chapter-and-verse Bibles. A lot of the features in a traditional Bible are there for reference purposes – to help you find a specific word or passage. We still need reference Bibles. We see The Books of the Bible as an ideal “reading Bible” to compliment and help you get more out of your traditional Bible.

Check out The Community Bible Experience Resource Site

Check out Books of the Bible on Amazon


Paul Caminiti Paul Caminiti is Vice President of Bible Engagement at Biblica, where his team pioneers innovative ways for the 21st century church to engage the Bible. Previously Paul was the Bible publisher for Zondervan, where he led the launch of the award-winning Archeological Study Bible and The Bible Experience. A leading spokesperson on all things Bible, Paul has been featured in media such as NBC, Fox News, Newsweek, The New Yorker, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.