Do You Kiva?

godvertiser —  2009/12/28 — Leave a comment

This year for Christmas, we introduced to our kids. They are old enough now where we want to try and instill some meaning to the “spirit of giving.” Kiva is the perfect Christmas gift to enjoy together while doing just that.

Kiva enables micro loans of $25 at a time from “lenders” like you and me to entrepreneurs in developing countries. It handles all the administrative issues, tracks the loans, provides narrative updates, lets you see and connect with other lenders to the same Kiva loan if you wish, etc. The repayment rates are unbelievable, topping 95% in most cases. Which means that you’ll most probably get your $25 back in several months (each loan has a set repayment schedule too, so you’ll see the progress of the loan as well) where you can take it back or . . . invest in another Kiva loan!

Here’s the Kiva story our kids picked out to invest our $25 from Christmas. By May, before their school is out, they’ll see the success of their loan. And hopefully we can choose another loan to reinvest for the summer and beyond.

You can see details of our our Kiva loan group right now: My Kiva Loan

There are tons of other sample loans available to invest in:

Kiva loans are addictive, makes a visible connection with someone else across the globe and better than writing a check to a faceless charitable organization.

Do you Kiva? Tell us about your Kiva story and leave a comment below.

This Christmas break, I’m sitting down again with Tim Keller and his Counterfeit Gods. It is always refreshing to take in a story or message that’s well told. And that’s what Dr. Keller, lead pastor of Redeemer Pres in NYC does – tell great stories, share some great messages.

As Dr. Keller starts to put out a book a year (I’m eager to find out more about his next book which is apparently on suffering/evil), his unassuming style is being noticed by more and more people. You’ll notice that the buzz about #tk is constant in the Twitterverse. And yet some people can’t get enough of the messages he offers from the pulpit.

If you haven’t been tipped off yet, here’s some good news. Redeemer has released 150 doses of classic Tim Keller. You’ll notice that much of the content that Redeemer has chosen to give away completely free are great to share with friends — especially those that have questions about faith, the Church, and God.


The only issue anyone can have with this huge archive of free sermons from Dr. Tim Keller is that there’s no 1-click to download all 150 mp3 sermons at once.

But if you listen to just one sermon a day during your daily commute, workout, or daily devotion time, you’ll get to spend enough time with Dr. Keller over the next 5 months to the point where you will probably find yourself starting to tell some great stories…share some great messages. Doesn’t that sound like Good News to you?

The Brady Bunch was a classic TV show. Whether your favorite was Greg, Marcia or even Alice there’s something that all ministry leaders can learn from the Brady Bunch show. And all you have to do is watch the first couple of minutes of the show literally. The opening sequence with the 9 talking heads on one screen is the key.

These days, there’s a new generation that’s reaching out across the web to meet online in multi-user video chat to collaborate in real time: meet the Tokbox Bunch. allows anyone to jump into a video conference chat with NO software downloads or installations. It works across all platforms so all those Mac and PC people can actually make friends.

What you get is a screen of webcam headshots – and you can control each one. Enlarge any one if you’d like to see them better. Mute or hide any participant. You can even shuffle around the order/placement of the boxes on your screen. Text chat is right there in the same window as well.


The best part is that it’s free and it works.

Dave Ingland, a church planter from the left coast recently tweeted a meet-up in a Tokbox room and instantly half a dozen of us joined the conversation. We ended up discussing some of the recent developments with online worship communities such as Andy Stanley’s church and how they are embracing online small group Bible studies. We heard some other online church’s experiences for using video conferencing in their own ministries as well. You always learn something when talking with other peers and leaders in your own field. That’s the point.

The conversations are real. The video allows you to have full expression. It’s live and real-time. One real big upside is that you can easily tweet, call, text, or grab someone and tell them to get in the room by simply visiting the tokbox link. DONE. is another multi-user video chat service that has taken off as well. Both harness technology for what it’s good for – removing friction of offline problems (physical distance) in an elegant way.

BONUS TIP: And note that the service is perfect for group meetings, but works just as well if you have only 2 people involved. So think of it as Skype without the software or account hassles. You can suddenly make long distance video calls internationally for free.

Have you tried or video conferences? What’s your experience?

It’s the Christmas edition of Twitteratti Tuesday at!

Check out this week’s installment of free Chrsitian Twitter Graphic Backgrounds series.

You’ll notice that all three of them are Christmas themed! With just 2 weeks to go before the big birthday party, we listened to your requests for Xmas Twitter backgrounds — so that you have your chance to help spread the Good News Twitteratti-style.




How to upload a custom background to your Twitter account:

  1. Log in
  2. In top navigation bar, click Settings (or go to
  3. Click the last settings tab, Design change-twitter-background
  4. Select a template, change your text and background colors, or upload your background image
  5. Save your changes

We welcome your participation in helping to “fill the Twitterverse with the Bible and teaching of Christ!” If you are a designer and want to contribute a Christian-themed background for Twitter users, use the contact form and we’ll arrange to display + share your work with our brothers and sisters on the digital highway!

If you look at the most successful salespeople in any industry, they are all diligent, focused and on point. They manage relationships well, they articulate benefits with clarity, and they always are moving to close the deal.

But if you take a closer look at the top of the food chain in any sales organization, there are basically two buckets in which you can put the pros into:

The best of the best either love it, or they shove it.
Which one are you?

The love it crew love the product or service they are pitching. In this method, their credibility lies in the fact they fully understand what they are talking about. This crew can explain things in ways that are personally relevant to the person sitting across the table. Why? Because they use it, they live it, and in the end, they succeed because they simply share it. That’s how they gain more customers.

The shove it crew doesn’t have any personal investment in the product themselves. All they are interested in is pushing the customer to sign on the dotted line whether it makes sense or not. They claim the product is exactly the medicine needed. “Our product will solve your problem,” whether you knew you had a problem or not to begin with! This approach is all about speed, agility, and understanding where any vulnerabilities may be located. The shove it sales pro’s mission is certainly to help. . . themselves! They see their own job solely as shoving the product down the prospect’s throats.


Both can be quite effective. The question is which is your choice in doing the job? Especially when your job is to demo something that is all Good News.

Church “Marketing” gets a bad rap sometimes.

Why? Because when you hear the term, people might immediately think of the over commercialization, almost crass marketing tactics that some churches are using to get attention. Yes it is a fight to grab attention in this media-frenzied world today.

But the answer is not to reduce it all down to “productizing Jesus.” Nor is it running your ministry with the ultimate objective and measure of success to be church services that mimic a Superbowl half-time show.

In my own humble opinion, using marketing tactics to support the Gospel is entirely different than using the Gospel to support your marketing tactics.

Those that know me personally understand that this is NOT what I mean of being a Godvertiser:

Godvertising and church marketing should serve a clearly different purpose — not the marketing or event itself. But rather to put God and His work on display.

Want the best litmus test to know where you stand? As soon as you think “look at me!” vs. “look at Him!”, you’ve crossed the line.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on a little web-app to help me look up Bible references quickly.

I used to have to figure out which site had the translation I’d like to look-up; then go to that site; then input the Scripture reference; then use the drop downs to find the translations, and finally submit.

If I wanted to send the link to a friend via email, facebook, twitter, or even in live worship chat during church online, I’d have to take some additional steps – open up, or some other favorite URL shortcut services out there. Copy the long URL from the Bible site, paste it into the shortcut generator. Submit. Copy the short-cut url, and viola. FINALLY, I had something I could pass on.

This just didn’t seem efficient. I simply thought that there must be a better way.

I couldn’t find anything much better, so I decided to just create it.

So here I am introducing the “BETA” version of No more searching, waiting, submitting, copy/pasting, etc. whenever you are looking up Bible verses online.

This new web app is a 1-Step Bible Look-Up Web App. Basically, find the Scripture reference you want in the translation you want IN ONE LINE — straight from the URL.

Here’s how it works:


Just add ANY Scripture after the main url:

  • http://WordOf.GD/+BibleVerseHere and you’re done.

Just TRY IT to understand how this works. Try clicking on some of these:

If you want a specific Bible translation see how all you have to do is add the abbreviation after the verse? Over 30 different popular translations are supported right now and more to come.

Speaking of abbreviations, it will accomodate most common abbreviations for books of the Bible too. ie. Matt, Mk, Lk, Jn, Gen, Rev, 1cor, 2cor, etc.

One you get the Bible verse, you’ll notice in the header bar, an EMAIL LINK, TWITTER LINK, (and FACEBOOK LINK to come). In addition, a short-cut URL is automatically generated for the specific verse ranges and translations you just looked-up if you want to copy/paste for any other use.

This has been pretty useful for mobile web browsing since connections are not as zippy as on a desktop usually and you want to minimize as many steps as possible.

NOTE: This *IS* a beta version – we’re continuing to update it as we go along and there might be some glitches while we polish it up. If you come across any issue, please leave a comment here or send me a tweet ( with the details.

Let me know what you think! Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Twitter offers 12 free background templates which you can use to customize your Twitter page.

It’s a good idea, although the actual options Twitter gives are not the best way to go.

Why is it a good idea? Well, for starters, it legitimizes your Twitter profile. By installing an individualized Twitter background graphic, it signals creativity and leadership. It shows you are familiar with the environment. You are choosing to express your own identity, not letting Twitter define your identity.

When you use a custom Twitter background graphic, you also have the opportunity to show specific facets of your identity. Here is your chance to witness to the world of your faith.

Every Tuesday, we’ve been releasing a free background design for you to download and use with your own Twitter profiles. Some are explicitly Christian, others with subtle themes, and still others with Bible anchor verses integrated into it. Twitteratti Tuesdays at wants you to have a Twitter Facelift today.

dave-avatar-600x600-11-22-2009 This week’s design comes from Dave Ingland from the “left coast” who is currently planting a church in Sacramento, CA. He’s a husband, father, activist, agent for change, advocate for the arts, and lead revolutionary of Revolution Church Sacramento.

You’ll find that this Twitter background is different than most — it plays with the ability to use images with transparency. So after you upload this background design, you can set the page’s background color to your liking by clicking on the CHANGE DESIGN COLORS link in the design settings section.

You’ll see that I chose a nice deep red for my background. You can make it yellow or blue or green or anything else you want! Thanks Dave for such a neat little feature.



How to upload a custom background to your Twitter account:

  1. Log in
  2. In top navigation bar, click Settings (or go to
  3. Click the last settings tab, Design
  4. Select a template, change your text and background colors, or upload your background image
  5. Save your changes
  6. CHANGE DESIGN COLORS next on this same settings page if you want to adjust the page background colors.

Are you regularly introducing new people into your groups? (If not, you have to question yourself, why not?!) A sign of healthy groups are one that invite new people into the mix regularly. Whether just visiting, as a mixer or formally bringing someone into the fold, having visitors should be happening more regularly that you already do, right?

In any case, ministry leaders and pastors should be always thinking about how to reduce the friction of getting to know one another in your groups.

Otherwise, your groups will probably stay compartmentalized into several sub-groups. It might be by age, ethnic background, etc. But it happens.


Whether you agree or not, part of your job is to help people get to know each other. Whenever a new person comes into your group, it is a great time to use some icebreakers.

If you don’t have a bunch of simple icebreaker activities for your youth group already, there are plenty of resources out there to find some good ones. Books like Ice Breakers Ahead compile some of the better interactive ice breaker games.

What ice breakers have you used successfully in your ministry? Please share with us in the comments section below!

You’re either in or out. Excited or confused. Optimistic or a party-pooper.

People always ask me why I use Twitter. Without getting into the usual “no, it’s not about broadcasting the flavor of my toothpaste, or any other mundane details of my daily living” conversation, here’s one concrete example that hopefully helps give a better picture for the power of Twitter.

While I know that we’re not to make idols of men (or pastors of really big and successful books for that matter), but to illustrate the point, I’m sharing with you that I recently received a Tweet from none other than . . .


Yup, it was Pastor Rick Warren himself tweeting me about one of my latest web projects (more on that in other post soon, I promise!).

Twitter, and social media in general, has collapsed the 6 degrees of separation into 1.

You are now able to connect and collaborate with almost anyone else imaginable that’s relevant. It’s not that I tweeted back and forth with this person in particular. It’s the fact that just a couple of years ago, being able to connect, exchange, collaborate with someone like Rick Warren directly would take a lot of energy. Even if he tried to be as accessible as can be to people outside of his network (i.e. people he’s never met before), getting to him when I’m on the east coast, and he’s on the left coast (or somewhere else in the world) just isn’t that practical or easily done. I’ve emailed his “” email address listed in his books and website before. I’ve been to Saddleback worship services several times before. I’ve called the PDL team when our church launched our own 40 Days campaign before. I’ve gotten what I’vee needed from his ministry organization each time, but getting a chance to interact with Rick Warren directly himself wasn’t really feasible.

Today, with social media, things have completely changed: The friction of access and connection is infinitely reduced because of social media. If you are proactive, purposeful and pleasant (don’t discount that last one!), the possibilities are plentiful.

It’s not just Rick Warren. Whether it’s Leonard Sweet or David Pogue of the NY Times, or even YOU that I’ve tweeted with . . . the fact of the matter is that 6 degrees of separation has become 1.

That’s why I use twitter. What about you?