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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.


megaphone Today’s post is from Gangai Victor who leads an interesting blog and community over at www.votivepraise.com. I recently asked Gangai to share with us some of the learnings he’s gained from the “publishing” side of things regarding his platform and social media presence. Please engage with questions by dropping them in a comment below the post!

 

Self-publishing original content online is pretty easy these days—there are loads of free platforms out there to help us. If it’s a blog, there’s blogger.com. If it’s a book, say hello to Kindle. If it’s music, Noisetrade is ready to show us some love.

The challenge is more to do with promoting our work or ourselves without coming off as spammy marketers!

Here are some tips that I’ve learned from experience and from others that could help you in this regard:

How to balance creation and promotion in the Kingdom

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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

 

 

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

 

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and beginning of the Back to School Rush. For young women pursuing educational degrees in seminary or other graduate programs, they’ll probably find that they might be in the minority on campus. What they might also find is that many organizations are out there to help support the process of education and leadership development. I recently ask Jennifer Lewis to share some options to pursue for christian women in particular.

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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.

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.

 

Today, Facebook is changing the design of the “pages” that most churches use to the “Facebook Timeline” format.  

I had a chance to sit down with Sean Coughlin of FaithStreet.com recently.  He has been gearing up for the transition for some of his church clients.  

So I asked him to share some tips that you can use right now to helping reach a bigger audience on FB.  Enjoy today’s guest post.

 

Here are 5 tips to make sure your church’s timeline is optimized to reach people on Facebook. 

(1) The change to Facebook Timeline happens on March 30th, so be ready!

Facebook says, “On March 30, 2012 your Page will automatically get the new design.” Right now, Facebook allows page users to edit their timelines in a preview stage, so take advantage.  If you haven’t made any preference changes, it’s time to visit the admin section today!

Facebook Timeline in Church Marketing
(2) Choose a beautiful cover for your Timeline.

Probably the most important feature of the Facebook timeline update is the “cover”. (The cover is the giant 851 x 315 pixel banner at the top of your new profile). Churches should make sure to choose a wide angle, high resolution photo to minimize distortion. Your church is your people, and studies have show that people engage with pictures of other people far more than pictures of places. A church we work with here in NYC, City Grace, has done a great job of creating a good-looking, welcoming covers shot. Check out City Grace Timeline and Cover here. 

(3)  Pin the posts that you want people to see first.

If you have a post that you’re especially proud of or just want visitors to see on your page first, make sure to “pin” it to the top of your timeline. This might be another great picture of some members, a recent milestone you celebrated or a campaign you’re running now. To pin a post:

  • Scroll over the upper right-hand corner of the post and click the pencil icon.
  • Scroll down within the menu and click “pin to top”
  • The post will now appear at the top of your timeline until you “unpin” it.

As TechCrunch recently reported, “The feature gives you significant control what visitors to a Page see first. Be sure to at least keep a link to your website pinned at all times, and rotate it with links to your apps and whatever else you want to drive the most traffic to or impressions of.”

(4) Post Pictures Wisely

As I mentioned above, newcomers and church members alike respond to pictures. Pictures generate more likes and shares than most other types of content, which means more exposure and an expanded “reach” for your church. Since pictures are powerful outreach tools, you want to get the most out of them, right? Here’s how you do that. Instead of posting an entire album, post one picture at a time. You’ll get more engagement per photo if you individually post them than if you post an entire album. Try posting 3 photos per week – one of Monday, one Wednesday and one Friday. This will create anticipation within your Facebook community and drive engagement.

(5) As an admin, make sure your church members (and your friends) “Like” the page

This was true for “Pages” and is still true for “Timeline”, the first step to using Facebook as a tool to reach new people is to make sure your church’s people “Like” the page. By simply inviting their congregants to “Like” their Facebook page, one church we work with here in NYC went from 35 “Likes” to almost 100 in less than a week and increased its “reach” by 495%. (reach is the number of people who have seen a post about your page, and yes, that four-hundred-and-ninety-five-percent!) You can invite your friends and fellow church members to join the timeline by clicking on the “Build Audience” tab at the top of the Admin panel.

Then, you can track your page’s reach, likes and how many people are talking about your church from the Insights box on the Admin Panel.

 

FaithStreet.comSean Coughlin is the co-founder and CEO of FaithStreet.  FaithStreet helps churches reach people using the Internet. Follow Sean on Twitter: @seanwcoughlin

Dave Ingland is one of the people that I know who always has a new book on his night stand. One of his latest reads focuses on the “Word of Faith” movement and the “prosperity gospel” in our current times. His review of Hank Hanegraaff’s book below retains a healthy perspective which you’ll hopefully appreciate.


Let me first state that I have somewhat of a bias towards Hanegraaff’s theology and his personal stand on truth. He conveys his theology and truth very well in Christianity in Crisis, but he does so at the expense of extreme prejudice against pastors that have been categorized as being in the Word of Faith movement. In essence, he uses this book as a tool to discuss what he perceives as being untruths regarding the gospel in the context of teachers of the prosperity gospel. He even uses the acronym: F-L-A-W-S to discount the position of some Word of Faith pastors.

christianity-in-crisis If Hanegraaff chose to take a stand against the propserity preachings (which I personally disagree with as well) and explained why he feels the Bible opposes such teaching it would be one thing. However, Hanegraaff chooses to name some pastors and devotes a chapter to explaining the specific context of each individual pastor and why some words that were quoted by them are unbiblical. It delves into becoming too much of a personal attack on others at times, which discounts the arguments he makes in some cases.

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century appears to have been written as an expose against specific individuals and this is where I take most issue with the book. It creates strife and causes damage to the church in my opinion. It comes across almost like gossip.

If you are not familiar with some of the Word of Faith teachings and want to see how they contrast with the author’s view of Biblical truth this is a good book to read as it is comprehensive and well- researched.

However, if you are looking to find some dirt on why you should speak against a Word of Faith preacher’s ministry I would hesitate in recommending this book.

Learning about various interpretations of Scripture can be a very important part of how we view our faith and I am all for encouraging it. In that context this book has a purpose. It would be my hope for any that read this book, that they would do so with an open mind and just as a primer to further study on the Faith movement.


Dave Ingland is a church planter based in Sacramento, CA. He’s a husband, father, activist, agent for change, advocate for the arts, and lead revolutionary of Revolution Church Sacramento. When he’s not building out his ministry you can find him twittering under @daveingland.