CHURCH2GO: Technology to Help the Church Grow!
Membership Growth Workshop December 10, 2011
9am to Noon Holy Innocents, San Francisco
Technology is changing the way we do God’s work by making it faster, easier and more fulfilling to be in community with others who are seeking many of the same things we are. But our experience with technology also is raising our expectations that the church will grow with us as we learn to put new technologies to work to make our lives better, our work easier, and our community more transparent, inclusive, and welcoming. The Church Growth Program has given us an opportunity to study the research and review the surveys and listen to the aspirations of faithful people speaking from their hearts.
What are we looking for when we go to church?
We want to see the church as our family of faith not a place we go just on Sunday, a safe place where we are loved for who we are and fed spiritual food to sustain us:
- Help me discover Jesus in my life and support me on my spiritual journey.
- Help me give my kids a good faith foundation that will guide their lives.
- Help me be in community with other faithful who welcome me as I am.
- Give me options to pray, worship and serve others to be the Body of Christ.
- Be there for me in my times of need to pray with me, comfort me, love me, stand up for me and stand by me when I need it most.
We expect the church not only to teach us the lessons of the Gospels but also to connect and empower the people to be the Body of Christ. We want to hold up our faith traditions and rituals but we also want the church to do more. By teaching us to pray, helping us learn the lessons of the Gospels and sending us out to do the work God has given us to do we realize that the church must make use of social media and technology to make it easier for us to be in community, to collaborate and share, to work together on mission and ministry programs, to find new ways to serve. The job of the church is to be our gate opener not our gate keeper.
The People of the Church are going Social—shouldn’t the Church join them? Almost every church has a website but few are places we really want to hangout. Like a billboard that rarely changes we just don’t go there. The reasons are most first generation web technology was not designed for two way collaboration and sharing. So while we consume a lot of information from the web, it is only recently that new web collaboration and social networking tools, mobile phone apps and other use of technology is changing the way we do church.
Do We Need a Social Network for the ?
A key discussion item for our Church2Go workshop is our need for better communications, transparency and collaboration tools for doing God’s work in the vineyard in ways that allow other to participate and learn from our experience.
Our discussion will focus on identifying the areas where social network collaboration tools may be useful and discuss some options for making them available.
Experience the Bible with Others. It could be a local small group Bible study. We all know how that works, but this version of Bible Study is done in a big community of faith. I’m talking about YouVersion, and online collaboration site that allows individuals to participate in Bible Study groups. YouVersion is an online community of LifeChurch.tv that uses social networking technology to ‘engage people into relationships with God as they discover the relevance the Bible has for their lives.’ The site offers different versions of the Bible to fit every faith tradition. It offers the Bible in five languages. It offers Bible Apps for your smart phone. Any YouVersion user can join groups that are organized by churches, Bible study groups, and other organizations. You can do church online not just on Sunday mornings but on your time and participate in YouVersion Live events that group is hosting. You can belong to multiple groups at the same time. In short, YouVersion is Church2Go in real terms, in real time.
Nonprofits are using Salesforce CRM and the Force.com platform for fundraising, program management, volunteer management and other uses to:
- Work smarter – innovate in the field while driving operational efficiencies
- Stand out – improving constituent loyalty in an increasingly competitive environment
- Prove impact – gain visibility into operations and outcomes to drive greater success
The advantage of a software as a service solution is there is no software to install or hardware to maintain. This frees up resources, so you can focus entirely on your organization’s mission. At our Church2Go workshop we will hear about how St. Mary the Virgin is using salesforce.com to facilitate its stewardship program. The Salesforce.com Foundation provides qualified nonprofit organizations with the initial 10 Enterprise Edition licenses and then steep discounts on all future licenses and products to fuel this transformation. See some of the features included in the Enterprise Edition. Are you interested in getting a quote for more than 10 licenses or other discounted Salesforce.com products?
Smart Phone Apps Suggestions from Swimming Upstream Blog
Apples iOS now has scores of Apps useful to Christians. Here are a few suggested by Craig Sturm in his blog Swimming Upstream along with his comments about each. Unless otherwise noted, all of these apps are free.
- Accordance – You can get several of the most essential reference tools here for free: Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Nave’s Topical Bible, some Greek and Hebrew helps, and Matthew Henry’s complete commentary.
- Christian Creeds and Reformed Confessions – Handy for catechesis or reference.
- ESV Bible (free) and ESV Study Bible + ($14.99) – This is my favorite app for Bible reading. You can listen to the ESV audio, too, if you’re online.
- YouVersion – An app version of the popular web site. It offers all kinds of translations and other resources.
- Fighter Verses ($2.99) – From Desiring God.
- Free Bible Study Tools – The BibleStudyTools.com app has an impressive array of resources, including dictionaries, commentaries, and encyclopedias, and the longest list of available Bible translations I’ve seen.
- Grace to You – A nice enough interface to the audio and video on gty.org.
- Ligonier Ministries – An interface to ligonier.org with plenty of audio, video and other resources.
- Husting Pocket Hymnal (formerly Popular Christian Classic Hymns) – This is a decent little app, for all its simplicity. Maybe a little niche, but if it’s a free Christian hymnal you want, this is the best I have for you.
- Logos Bible Software – It tends to be slow, quirky, and unstable, but it syncs with the desktop software—which can also be slow, quirky, and unstable at times! If you just want to read books in your Libronix library, I recommend Vyrso (below) instead, which is basically the same thing without the Bible reader and study tools.
- Olive Tree BibleReader – You can read the Bible on this app, but I use it for the many good free books you can download through it, from such authors as Spurgeon, E. M. Bounds, and John Piper.
- OnePlace.com – A podcast buffet, serving some delicacies and some garbage. (At least they don’t host Joel Osteen anymore!)
- PocketSword – I’m impressed with this little gem! The interface isn’t pretty, but it gives simple access to lots of great free resources—most of all commentaries!
- PrayerMate – Quiet Time Organiser ($2.99) – I use this to organize my prayers. Very useful.
- Reformation Study Bible ($9.99) – Just what the name says. Note that this is licensed to a third-party and is not created by Ligonier.
- Vyrso – This is pretty much the Logos app (above) without the Bible reader and study tools.
- Reeder – The best way to access your Google Reader account and digest all those blogs ($2.99).
- Calling All Church Geeks (churchgrowthprogram.com)
- Growing the Church means Seeing Christ in Each Person (churchgrowthprogram.com)
- The Bible Is Unlikely Competitor To Angry Birds (setwatchman.com)
- First Impressions: Bible Reader for Mac (alex.huggett.me)
- Growing Christian Website Wages War Against Alarming Youth Exodus, Promotes Faith in a New Generation (prweb.com)
- Visualize The Great Commission (churchgrowthprogram.com)
- iOS Apps for Christians | Challies Dot Com (craigsturm.wordpress.com)
- ScanBiz Mobile Solutions Launches Its New App on Salesforce.com’s AppExchange Mobile (prweb.com)