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Church Website Wednesday Communication Web

Personalize Your Church Website

I’ve been working through a series of posts on tips for your church’s website. I have been making appeals to everyone involved in church leadership to not only get a website, but make it a good one. Visitors are far more likely to check out your website BEFORE they step foot in the door of your church. Many of them will form their opinion and perception of your church from that interaction.

[quote align=”center”]What perception are people getting from your website?[/quote]

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church technology Communication Technology Tuesday Video

Video Conferencing – Getting Started

One of the things I have learned in building our business is how much I enjoy taking advantage of video conferencing with clients. For me, there is just something about getting to see that person’s face vs. just the audio of their voice on the phone. I also really find it useful to help our clients with computer and web issues. I like the ability to to share my screen and show them step by step how to do something. By sharing the same view, it makes our conversation flow much more smoothly and gives me the confidence that they are seeing exactly what I am explaining.

Technology can be daunting so I’ll talk briefly about how to get setup for your first video conference.

Categories
church technology Communication Social Media Technology Tuesday Web

Church Social Media

I was talking with a new client over the weekend about their new website. Quickly, the conversation took an obvious shift to social media. We set their site up to utilize some blogging software so that they can update information and keep their site current. I was also able to provide a couple ideas in addition to their site on how to utilize social media for their ministry.

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church technology Communication Technology Tuesday Web

What’s in an… email address?

I know there are many things about technology that seem intimidating.  I will attempt to explain the simplicity and reasoning behind having email addresses setup with your domain.  In general, I realize that most people go to gmail, yahoo or the others and just get an email for simplicity sake.  I’ll admit, it is very simple to get a gmail address with something like mychurch@gmail.com.

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But is that really the best way to set things up?

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Email is beyond becoming a primary means of communication.  That matched with Facebook and it is just one of the many reasons our USPS can’t stay in business.  Most people are pretty savvy with email and I’ll attempt to offer several points on best practices for setting up email at your organization.

Categories
church technology Communication Social Media

Social Media For Your Ministry Part 1

I repeatedly get asked by pastors and church leaders about Facebook. Each time the conversation is similiar; usually a pastor that understands the need to utilize facebook for their ministry, yet is concerned about losing the personal touch with people.

Scott Ginsberg, a great author and friend of mine recently posted on his Twitter feed that “You can manage relationships with software, but you can only nurture them with humanware.”  He makes a great point about the balance that needs to be taken between using software to manage your friends, but we still need the personal interactions for more meaningful connections.

Here are a few thoughts for utilizing Facebook for your ministry.

1. Look for personal pages of your visitors on facebook and “friend” them. Seems simple and almost a bit corny, but that small measure could end up being the connection that brings that family to your church. Plus, it adds a great, non-invasive way for you to maintain a connection with your visitors.

2. Keep your posts simple, yet engaging Once again, this could sound like an oxymoron. However, people will appreciate thought provoking posts rather than letting people know how many times you opened your car door yesterday.

3. Share the posts of others. There are millions of people in the social media realm. Follow other pastors and leaders that you can relate with. Almost everyday one of them will post something relevant to your ministry that could benefit the people who follow you.

4. Follow others who share your values and interests. This became glaring apparent today as I found another blog post both re-iterating my point, but also providing a few extra solutions on using social media. Check out Michael Hyatt. His blog post today, 5 Steps to Building a Platform When You Hate Selling Yourself, filled in the gaps of my post and will be very beneficial to you as you develop your ministry social media platform.

 

Many pastors are looking at social media with skepticism while others embrace it. I have heard the arguments on both sides and in many ways can agree with both. There is, however, no debate that people are utilizing social media as a major communication tool and we are doing a disservice to not adapt our methods to include it into our ministries.

If you’d like to know more about how to include social media in your ministry, get in touch with us and we’ll help you out.

How many potential visitors (lost souls) could you have reached last month on Facebook?

Categories
Church Money Saving Ideas church technology Communication Web

Church Web Presence Checklist

Just like the picture suggests, your church’s website needs to be a piece of your ministry.  The advantages available on the web to your church are so vast and inexpensive that churches not taking advantage of them are really missing out.  The list below is not comprehensive, but gives a good starting point for your church when thinking about starting or re-developing their web presence.

  1. Don’t overcomplicate your domain name.

    – If it’s your churches name, use it, even if it’s long.  Most first time visitors or people looking for your church are not going to know the “inside names” or nicknames you have for the church.  They are also not going to know your church’s mission or other statement you use.
    – Now there is nothing wrong with purchasing those other names and forwarding them to your main site, but the main URL needs to be your churches name spelled out.

  2. Use caution when hiring a relative, close friend, high school student or church member who says they can do it.

    Every church has dealt with it, contracting with a member or friend. While in theory it’s not a big deal, when it comes time to a problem, it becomes a big deal.  Don’t give your website development project to someone without experience.
    I’ll admit there was a day when we were there. Scrapping along for and building sub-par websites.  What that taught me was that your churches web presence is too important to entrust to someone with no credentials.
    But Sue needs a job. That’s fine, give her benevolence, make her do odd jobs around the church.  The church’s website is often the first impression people will get of your church.
    Bobby built a site using Website Tonight (or insert another free tool here), he says he’s a web designer. There are tools that make building a website fairly simple and give some people an over-inflated sense of ability.  Just because someone has used one of these tools doesn’t mean they will be able to meet your needs.  Speaking of tools…

  3. Use free tools sparingly.

    – We are all very well aware of the amount of free and inexpensive church web tools that are available.  Just remember, like everything, you get what you pay for.  Just because it’s free and does the job, doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for you.
    – Often, these “free” tools come with introductory offers, restricted abilities and other issues that will end up being more hassle than you would have had if you’d paid up front.  If you must use free tools, use them sparingly and do your homework.

  4. Consider the website an investment

    – The website of your church is many times the first impression someone will get of your church.  You take pride in your building, make sure the grass is cut before Sunday Morning, take out the trash, clean the windows, and make sure there is no paper in the pews.  Why do you neglect what most people will see before that?

    – I am shocked at what some churches will spend for buildings and still have a cheap template website.  I’m also shocked of churches that have budget struggles that are not taking advantage of the vast potential on the Internet for ministry communication and opportunities.

  5. Utilize your website as a ministry of your church|

    – I meet with numerous pastors that have told me that they are struggling to see value in their website.  When I ask how they utilize the site, its usually the same answer.  They put basic info on it and let it sit.
    – Take advantage of the communication opportunity.  Link your site to Social Media and utilize it for your church.

  6. Create a Web Desination

    – This is a relatively new trend in web development, however it makes great sense.  A website is boring, bland, static, and virtually useless unless handled perfectly.

    – Why not create a web destination where people can get engaged and connected with your church.  Make it a resource, a place to become part of your church community.

If you’re interested or looking at finding some new ideas for your church’s web needs, I’d invite you to check us out.  We are here to be sure you are taking advantage of the huge potential available on the web for your ministry.  And just so you know, there is no church too small to not need a website!

Categories
Church Management Church Money Saving Ideas Communication General

Church Money Saving Ideas – eNewsletters

I am adding a category to our blog for Church Money Saving Ideas.  We have visited and worked with several churches and want to use this as a platform to provide resources and inspiration to find ways for your church to minister effectively, while being good stewards of the resources available.

Our first idea is to convert your newsletter into an email newsletter.  There are several tools out there that provide very simple solutions to putting out an online newsletter, and many of them are free depending on the size of your organization.  We have been using MailChimp for our e-newsletter solutions.  I found the application to be very easy to use and the reporting features provide great feedback on the success and readership of what you send.

Why should you use an e-newsletter?

The cost savings can be big. Let’s say you send out 100 newsletters.  Even at basic bulk rate let’s estimate the cost at $0.25 per copy.  We’re up to $25.00.  Now let’s refactor in the cost of paper, printing… oh yea, and the person putting the newsletter together.  All figured your getting close to $100.00 per newsletter that goes out.

You’re not adding to “the Clutter”. Let’s face it, we all get gobs of mail everyday.  Most of it ends up in the trash with few exceptions making it to the kitchen counter.  I would hope that most of us would glance through the church’s newsletter to see what’s going on.  However, for many of us, it adds to the pile of clutter on the kitchen counter until the wife finally gets fed up and tells you to clean it up….(oops, did I reveal too much there?)

You can see what people are actually interested in.  Most of the online tools to send e-newsletters provide great reporting functionality to show who opened the email, what links they clicked and more.  This info can be used to better tailor future issues to meet what the congregation is looking for.

Customized timing and design. We already talked about a cost savings, however, what about adding to your church communication?  With a list of e-news recepients, you now have a target audience of people that want to stay in the loop about your church.  Not only can you send a monthly newsletter, but now reminder emails and such can be sent out with virtually zero cost.  You can also use the tracking to get an idea if people are reading these.  Just remember, people gave you permission to market to them, don’t abuse it!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you, or at least got you thinking about using an e-newsletter to save money reaching your church.  We’ve been using this concept for a few years and found it to be a great way to stay in touch with our clients.  If you want an example of how we communicate, check out our site and use the signup form in the sidebar.

What steps are you going to take today to start saving money for your church?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.thechurchbusinessguys.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/joshhenry.png[/author_image] [author_info]Josh Henry is the founder and Managing Partner of Axess Network LLC. Josh saw a need to assist churches with their operations and administration and put together a wealth of solutions to help. He is passionate about helping churches develop and grow… in any way you define that. Josh is married to Keri and they have a daughter Kambell.[/author_info] [/author]

 

 

Categories
Assimilation Church Management church technology Communication

Assimilation in Your Church

When someone visits or wants to join your church, what is your process for assimilation?

I was recently at a large church in Kansas City and saw a great process for assimilating people into their congregation.  They had it figured out.  They had it described on a poster, in simple, clear, concrete language that made it simple and easy to understand.  The process had well defined steps and goals to guide people from being a seeker to believer, to follower to disciple.  While it is a clearly defined linear process, it was also cyclical as once the person passed through the process, they were worked back to the beginning to help lead others.

As I looked through the process, (without anyone from the church having to explain it) I wondered how we could help implement similar programs into churches that didn’t have the staff or manpower to organize such an undertaking.  I am still in the very early stages of thought on this and would like some input.

What are you doing in your church to move people in a discipleship process?

We are going to build some form of online application that organizes this process for your church to use.  We just want to make sure its simple, easy to implement and most of all effective at building and growing your church.  Keep checking back for more information on the development process.

Categories
Church Management church technology Communication Web

Top 10 Reasons to Re-Design your Church’s Website

Top Ten Reasons to Redesign Your Church’s Website
by: Josh Henry

10. Your current site is utilizing outdated technology.

Unfortunately, trends on the web change faster than most of us can keep up with.  However, it is possible to build your site in a way that keeps it open to changing trends.  For a site to be relevant today it must take advantage of social media. Period.

9.  Your site was built using a template builder.

There was a time when churches could get away with a simple website that didn’t look professional, however, that time is now gone.  People looking to visit your church are looking for a website BEFORE they step foot in the door of the church.  What first impression are you delivering?

8.  Your site is not updated.

Websites are a very valuable source of information about your church.  Take advantage of the capability and make your website part of your ministries.  It is probably the most effective communication tool you have.

7.  Updating your site is too complicated.

Every web company advertises the ability to update and edit your site.  Unfortunately, most of the systems require a degree in computer science to figure out.  Be sure the company you choose offers a simple CMS system and has the support structure to back it up!

6.  It was designed by a volunteer.

Volunteers in your church are a great blessing.  However, they can also create problems when it comes to website.  Often, the church’s website becomes a second priority to them and getting updates and changes made is difficult.  Keep it simple, have volunteers help, but also have a back up plan.

5.  Your site is not an accurate representation of your church.

Perception is often reality.  Be sure you are providing an accurate representation of your church through your website.  Be real, don’t try to look bigger than you are, but also, don’t sell yourself short.

4.  Your site doesn’t have vital information for visitors.

Let’s face it; people don’t need another reason to not go to church.  Visitors especially are in a very vulnerable position when they visit a new church.  Alleviate any questions by having relevant visitor information available on your site.  Where do I go, what time do I show up, where is the worship center, what do you have for my kids are all questions that need to be answered on your website.

3.  Your site doesn’t show up in Search Engines.

Most people are going to look for churches in your area through Google or another search engine.  Make sure your church is at least on the list, if not first!

2.   Your URL makes no sense or is hard to remember.

We’ve all been there, trying to remember a website address so we can go back.  Make it simple for people to find your site.  You may have to be creative.

1.  You don’t have a website!

This should speak for itself.  If your church doesn’t have a website, you MUST get one.  No questions asked; you are missing a huge outreach tool without it.

Categories
Church Management church technology Communication Time Management

Google Apps For Your Church

By: Josh Henry, Managing Partner

In my years of working with churches to help with their IT and communication needs, I have come across some great resources.  For many years, the options available to help churches from an IT standpoint where very costly.  Not only where they expensive to purchase and deploy, but they also had a huge administrative and maintenance cost as a person to manage the resource was necessary.

Now, with many changes in the industry, there are some great technological resources available for a fraction of the costs that was previously required.

Google Apps offers a great suite of tools that a church of any size can implement and utilize.  A FREE version is offered for up to 50 users which I have found to be just about everything you would need to operate your organization.

The main feature of Google Apps is the all inclusive package, all organized by your organizations domain.  All of the tools can be setup and accessed through your organizations unique URL.  For example, your domain is www.yourchurch.org.  This is now the address for each app.  Here is some detail:

email – mail.yourchurch.org
docs – docs.yourchurch.org
calendar – calendar.yourchurch.org
and so on …

Each app can be setup on a sub-domain to make it easy to find and access for those individuals you have setup.  Here is some more detail for each application and potential uses.