Facilities http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities Sun, 25 Sep 2016 20:27:52 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 4 Reasons to Welcome Smartphone Use in the Worship Service http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23168-4-reasons-to-welcome-smartphone-use-in-the-worship-service http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23168-4-reasons-to-welcome-smartphone-use-in-the-worship-service

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our culture. There's no denying the influence of the smartphone on the rise of social media, changes in commercial marketing and even the church.

Rarely a week goes by without me receiving an email, message or tweet from a pastor or church leader asking about church apps, social media strategies, or mobile website functionality. "Don't leave home without it" applies more to our smartphones than it ever did to American Express. And it applies when people are headed into their weekly worship service as well.

Before I get to the specifics of the post, allow me a couple of caveats. I'm not saying people should be piddling away on their smartphones in the worship service. If you can't have your phone out and refrain from playing games or catching up on email during a worship service, then keep it put away. The same would go for tablets. But as you will see below, these four reasons all involve using your smartphone to share or enhance what's going on in the worship service.

1. Using a Bible app. This may be the most basic use of a smartphone while in a worship service. While many still prefer a hard copy of God's Word (myself included), a digital app version is quite convenient.

2. Taking notes. Many, if not all, of the leading Bible apps allow for note taking. This is helpful if you like to keep digital records of your sermon notes. Evernote, the native Notes app, Pages, or even Word can all be used to catalog sermon notes as well. For some, digital sermon notes are actually preferred to handwritten ones simply because they can be searched and indexed so much easier.

3. Tweeting quotes. This is the main way I use my smartphone while in a worship service. This is similar to taking notes, but you share the quote instead of keeping it to yourself. One piece of advice on this particular smartphone use: ensure that you use an app like Buffer or Hootsuite that doesn't automatically pull up your social media feed. You're less likely to be distracted by what's in your Twitter feed if all you see is an input box. I only use Buffer for sending out sermon quotes for this particular reason.

4. Online or text giving. As online giving and text giving become more prevalent, smartphone usage for them will only increase. If you're promoting online giving or text giving during the offertory, it only makes sense that people would use their smartphones to participate in worship through giving.

Two final reminders: Pastor, when you see someone on his/her phone during worship, it's not always a bad thing. Worshipper, if you're on your phone during a worship service, make sure what you are doing is related to what's going on in the service.

Do you use your smartphone during the worship service? If so, do you use it for anything else? {eoa}

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Jonathan Howe ) Technology Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:00:00 -0400
An Overlooked Technology Option for Churches on a Budget http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23170-an-overlooked-technology-option-for-churches-on-a-budget http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23170-an-overlooked-technology-option-for-churches-on-a-budget

It's tempting to get the expensive IT equipment you need for your office, church or school at half price, and used IT equipment is very tempting indeed. However, not all second-hand computers and tablets are the same.

There's actually a very big difference between warrantied factory refurbished (also called reconditioned) devices and ones that are simply used products. I should explain.

Refurbished Is Better Than Used

I recently wrote a piece for TechSoup called the Top 6 Myths About Refurbished Hardware. I explain that there is a world of difference between getting used electronics items on Craigslist or eBay and getting reputably refurbished devices. It's true that used items from auctions or online classifieds may be cheaper, but they are often sold without warranties and likely not rigorously tested and verified to be fully functional.

IT support is often in short supply in churches, so equipment that is fully functional and that will last a long time is pretty much a requirement. Reputable refurbished products are rigorously tested and carry good warranties. A year is standard, the same as Apple products. Some refurbishers offer a full three-year warranty.

Refurbished May Be a Better Choice Than New

There are now lots of new Windows laptops and Chromebooks on the market for under $200. While new equipment is often preferable to used, you should consider whether to buy office- or consumer-grade devices.

New commercial-grade computers are roughly double the price of consumer devices. Consumer-grade devices are less expensive, but not made for heavy daily use and are usually less repairable. As an example, Dell Inspirons are consumer-grade laptops, and Dell Latitudes are office-grade devices.

Rather than buying cheaper, less durable new consumer-grade equipment, it may be a better idea to outfit offices and schools with commercial-grade reconditioned IT equipment. Reconditioned office-grade computers are comparable in price to new consumer-grade equipment and are very durable.

If you want to learn more about the difference between consumer- and commercial-grade devices, I recommend Michael Archambault's comparison piece on this difference.

IT Equipment in the Cloud Era

The demands on processing power in laptop and desktop computers is decreasing these days for common uses like email, office applications, social media and web browsing. This is because we're doing more and more of our work with cloud-based applications (software that is hosted on the Internet) that don't put heavy demands on computers.

For many daily office activities, it's no longer necessary to have the latest processors in our computers. Any dual core machine will do most of what we all usually do with our computers. Before ordering your pastor's new refurbished computer or tablet, make sure the software she needs will run on it.

Refurbished Servers for Church Networks

It's not so easy to generalize on whether your church should opt for new or reconditioned servers to run your network. There are lots of good solid reconditioned servers out there, but since the hardware must match the server software applications each church is specifically using, I wouldn't hazard a blanket statement. Server software ranges from relatively simple to very complex.

As an example, ChurchTechToday recently did a piece on the free open source church management software, RockRMS. RockRMS runs on Windows Server 2008 or 2012 on at least a 2Ghz dual core or higher server computer. In this case, a reconditioned server computer should easily run the software.

In the same way that cloud-based applications can decrease the demands on your computer, cloud-based software can also decrease your church's need for a server. Lots of applications that previously required churches to run them on a network (using a server) no longer require that. Major church management systems like Church WindowsChurch Community Builder and Servant Keeper all are cloud-based and require just ordinary computers to use them, refurbished ones included.

Children's Check-In Kiosks

More and more churches are using children's check-in kiosks especially for keeping track of children on busy days. ChurchTechToday has of course covered this part of church tech well.

Most, but not all, of the kiosks from various vendors use tablet computers with their mobile apps to run their check-in kiosks. Those vendors that allow churches to supply their own tablets can use refurbished tablets.

Here are some examples:

  • Elexio's check-in solution is designed for Windows tablets that run the full Windows operating system. Churches can use refurbished Windows tablets for Elexio.
  • PowerChurch Check-In works with any Windows PC and also Windows tablets. Refurbished Windows laptops and tablets will work with these kiosks.
  • Free Church Kiosk can run on your own iPad, refurbished or not.
  • Church Office Online will work also with your own iPad or a refurbished one.
  • Advanced Kiosks is an example of a kiosk vendor that doesn't allow churches to supply their own devices. Their equipment is self-contained with integrated hardware and software that they supply.
  • KidCheck can run on your own iPad, refurbished or not.

Of course, as with any IT vendor, check with the company to see if your existing devices or ones that you're considering will work with their software.

Where to get Reputable Refurbished IT Equipment

Good warrantied factory refurbished IT equipment is now available from most of the large well-known IT vendors like Newegg.com and TigerDirect.com. The big computer makers like DellApple and HP have online stores for refurbished equipment. Tablets are readily available from online retailers like Best BuyWalmart, and Amazon.

The Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program has a great listing of local refurbishers in your area. One of the largest school suppliers in the listing is CDI Computers. They are one of the refurbishment companies that offer three-year warranties.

TechSoup's well-regarded Refurbished Computer Initiative sells good commercial-grade, warrantied IT equipment suitable for churches. Our great refurbishers for that program are PC Rebuilders and Recyclers in Chicago, and InterConnection in Seattle. {eoa}

Jim Lynch is a staff writer and director of green technology at TechSoup in San Francisco. TechSoup is a high-tech nonprofit whose mission is to provide charities, churches and libraries worldwide with donated and discounted software, hardware, and the knowledge to use them. Visit Jim at techsoup.org.

For the original article, visit churchtechtoday.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Jim Lynch/Techsoup.com) Technology Mon, 19 Sep 2016 21:00:00 -0400
5 Ways for Pastors to Capture a Vision for Media http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/23056-5-ways-for-pastors-to-capture-a-vision-for-media http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/23056-5-ways-for-pastors-to-capture-a-vision-for-media

Whenever I visit local churches, most of the time I'm faced with a frustrated local media producer who's at his or her wits end. They're usually good producers, often with extensive experience, plus a real calling to use media to take the gospel to the culture.

But in nearly every case, he or she is either burned out, upset or ready to quit. Ninety percent of the time, I get the same response: "The pastor just doesn't have a vision for media—especially television." It also comes in numerous other laments, such as, "Every time I try something new, the pastor hates it." Or the tried and true: "The pastor just doesn't get it—he doesn't even watch TV himself, so he doesn't understand how to use it as a tool to reach the community." And last but certainly not least: "I've never had the budget I really needed."

In the words of a former president: "I feel your pain." I've worked with enough pastors, evangelists and ministry leaders over the last three decades to know the frustrations and challenges that exist in this sensitive area. So over those years, I've discovered five critical steps to help you get in sync with the pastor, and hopefully give him a better vision for the possibilities of using television and other media to impact this generation:

1. Change your perception from being a "techie" to being a "producer." In most churches and ministries, the "media person" is perceived by the pastor and staff as little more than a "techie"—someone who puts "A/V stuff" together and is somewhat astute at electronics. But when the pastor views his media person only as a "techie," he's not likely to develop a friendship, share his personal vision or view you as the person who can guide that vision to reality. But how do you move from being a "techie" to a "producer?" Start with you. That leads us to number two:

2. Start thinking from a pastor's point of view. I've been in meetings between pastors and their media staff when all the media people talk about are wireless mics, video levels, digital recording, NLE's and a million other terms about which the pastor has no clue. His interest lies in words like preaching, communicating, impact, storytelling, changed lives—not arguing about HD versus 4K. All the fancy TV terms in the world won't impress him because that's not his passion. Until you can get on his wavelength, he'll continue to tune you out. Remember—people who can adjust video monitors, set levels and run computer programs are relatively plentiful—but people who understand how to effectively use media as a vehicle for reaching the world with the gospel are few and far between. Make sure the pastor understands that's your heart and ultimate vision.

3. Get past the budget battle. You work at a church, not a Hollywood studio, so get over it! Low budgets are a way of life! Instead of moping around constantly depressed—complaining about all the things you wish you had—start using what you have more effectively. I've taught directing classes in places like Russia and India, and needless to say, they have less equipment than most tiny churches in America. But what they do have is vision—and a real desire to use the tools they have to make a difference. Trust me—constant beefing about how little budget you have will not endear you to the pastor or administrator either. So understand that you have realistic budget limitations and adjust.

Remember how much you hate crew members who constantly nag and whine? That's the way the pastor feels at every meeting with you.

When the pastor and administrator see how you handle a limited budget, they'll be much more friendly when the next round of funding comes through, so ease up and make the most with what you've got. And if you find out you just can't do that, then I suggest for your mental health you get another job—why be miserable for the rest of your life?

One positive way around a perpetually low budget is to get out there and raise money yourself. Independent producers do it every day, and it works just as well for a motivated church or ministry producer. There are numerous Christian media producers around the country who have gone to local merchants, businessmen and foundations to raise money for studios, equipment and other funding. Do you have any idea the high esteem your pastor would give you if you suddenly brought in enough money to expand your television ministry?

Think about that for a change.

4. Become an "idea source." In many churches the pastor feels like everyone wants him to come up with all the ideas. Whether it's the youth department, teens, married couples, seniors or the million other outreaches of a typical church, most pastors feel an incredible weight of responsibility for developing new programs and ideas. But when you begin offering him creative ideas on a regular basis, the pastor will feel that he has a real source of new concepts and inspiration. He'll more likely call you into important meetings, and listen to your advice for a change.

But to be a successful idea source, you have to understand one important principle: Make sure your ideas are possible.

  • Within the budget framework of the church. Don't suggest you shoot the Christmas musical in the United Kingdom with the London Symphony Orchestra, unless the church can afford it. Sure it may be a terrific idea, but what's the point if you can't pay for it?
  • Within the style and outreach of the church. If your church is in a rural area, a hip inner-city style outreach might be a wonderful idea, but not appropriate for your target audience. Always keep in mind who you're ministering to and trying to reach.
  • Within the ministry calling of the pastor. Every pastor has a personal style as well as an overall calling and direction for his life and ministry. To ask him to dramatically deviate from that style of ministry is like asking Michael Jordan to enter the Olympics as a downhill skier—you're in for a lot of problems. Recognize the inherent spiritual gifts and expertise of the pastor, and use that in your creative thinking.

5. Start thinking in terms of the "big picture." To be a media director or media minister today is an awesome responsibility, but I find that many in the ranks think of themselves as little more than "tech people." Until you think of yourself on a higher level, no one else will. Learn about product "branding" and apply those principles to yourself. Increase your perception in the eyes of those around you and you'll be amazed at the meetings you'll be invited to, the decisions you're asked to make and the responsibility you'll be given.

Keep in mind one last important principle—changing others' perceptions will take time. You've spent years with the pastor and staff perceiving you in your current light, so it will take time to change.

But there's no better time than right now.

Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California (cookepictures.com) where he helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."

For the original article, visit philcooke.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Phil Cooke) Media Mon, 08 Aug 2016 13:00:00 -0400
8 Mistakes Your Church Website May Be Making http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23009-8-mistakes-your-church-website-may-be-making http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/23009-8-mistakes-your-church-website-may-be-making

Your church's website acts as the front door of your church. It's likely the first place a guest will look for information about your church. I've written in the past about what is essential for effective church websites, but today I turn my attention to what churches often lack on their website.

Here are eight mistakes churches make with their websites:

  1. Not having the service times and address near the top of the home page. These are the two most important components of your church's website. People need to know when to show up and where to go if they want to visit your church. This information should be some of the most obvious information on your home page and some of the most repeated information throughout the site.
  2. Not having pictures of the church staff or leadership. This may be more of a personal preference than the other items in this list. But when I show up somewhere new, I like to know who I'm looking for and what to expect. A simple staff directory with contact information and pictures goes a long way in helping visitors feel more comfortable—especially if they have kids. Which leads me to...
  3. Failing to give parents information about the children's ministry or student ministry. Parents, especially those with small children, want to have as much information as possible about who will be caring for their children. The more information you give parents on your website, the more they will trust your church and the volunteers caring for their kids.
  4. Having outdated information on the site. If your July 4th information is still prominently displayed on your church's website, you need to fix that immediately. If your Christmas Eve service details are still on the homepage, you need a new webmaster. Potential guests want to know what's coming up at your church, not what you did a few months ago.
  5. Using poor graphics or copyrighted images. If your church is still using clip art or pictures from a standard Google image search, stop it. Sites like pexels.com and istockphoto.com provide high-quality images for either no cost or a low cost that will be both attractive and legal.
  6. Being unclear about beliefs or doctrine. If someone is new to church, they may not understand all the differences in doctrine from church to church. However, a new resident to the community who was deeply involved in a church in their previous town might be quite adamant about visiting churches with similar doctrine and beliefs. Be clear about your church's doctrine on your website. Doing so displays honesty regarding beliefs and benefits those interested in visiting your church.
  7. Making online giving difficult. In our podcast with Rich Birch, he mentioned the difficulty he had when making online donations and offerings to some churches. When you setup your online giving to be both simple and fast, you lower the barriers to those interested in giving online.
  8. Hiding your contact information. It may not actually be hidden, but it may be difficult to find. You obviously cannot put all the information about your church online, so it's quite likely that people will have questions. Make it easy for guests (or members) to contact your church.

When used correctly, a church website can be an indispensable tool for churches. When information on your website is missing or difficult to find, your church suffers.

Are you making any of these mistakes on your church's website? What would you add to this list? {eoa}

For the original article, visit ThomRainer.com.

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of LifeWayPastors.com. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications.

taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jonathan Howe) Technology Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:00:00 -0400
7 Steps to Make an Effective Pre-Service Video http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22786-7-steps-to-make-an-effective-pre-service-video http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22786-7-steps-to-make-an-effective-pre-service-video

Like you, I'm always looking for new ideas that will make my church better.

When I got the idea from Rich Birch's podcast "5 Elements of Effective Pre-Service Videos" to make a countdown video for our services that shows our church in our city, I knew we had to do it.

It's brilliant: give guests a two-minute story of your church as they take their seats and they will likely be more predisposed to your church. And reinforce your church values with your congregation without a word, every week—that's brilliant too. Then see it spread across social media to attract the community? Priceless.

Watch our video here, then I'll break down how to make one of your own.

Here are seven steps to make a pre-service video about your church:

1. Cover every step in prayer. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans" (Prov. 16:3)

2. Think through the purpose and goals. Think through what is important about your church. What is your story for your city?

We wanted to show each of our campuses and their cities. We wanted to show what we value—our DNA. We decided to show the ministries of our church in the context of our DNA statements.

And importantly, we wanted to show that our church is more than a Sunday morning service. It's alive all week long, all across our region. It's a place to find meaning and value in Jesus.

Action: How do you want to tell the story of your church in your community?

3. Ask the person in your church who has experience making videos to do this project. We have a very capable music and video producer, Joe Tran, in our church. He brought his experience to the project and you can see his talent in the video.

Find the best person you can and don't be intimidated by others' expertise. Be authentic and do your best.

Action: Who should you ask to do this project?

4. Write a script. Plan the places, the shots, the services, the ministries, the people and the leaders you want to include. Plan to show your buildings but put the focus on the people using the buildings.

Watch our video, and the three on Rich Birch's post, to get ideas for points you want to make, the pictures you want to show and how to craft a meaningful flow.

Then plan the locations and the schedule.  Figure out where you need to go and what time you need to be there to get the footage you need.

Action: What is the script for your video?

5. Film and edit. Stake out the scene before you film it. Plan the crowd shot to catch people's faces. Set up staged conversations because they will seem more authentic than candid conversations that turn awkward when people realize they are being filmed.

Don't worry about not having expensive equipment; simple is satisfactory. Use your cellphone or an HD camcorder to film. Use iMovie or your preferred software to edit.

Keep the video as short as you can to accomplish your purpose. We went for 2 1/2 minutes of awesome. Each clip is just a few seconds long.

You may need to go back out to film a few more shots.

Action: What is your time frame for filming and editing?

6. Choose the music. The decision about what music to use comes before you begin editing and it is just as important as the video you've taken. If you have exceptional video but choose weak music, the result will be disappointing.

The mood of the music creates the mood of the video. Choose upbeat, inspiring music. We used theatrical trailer music rather than worship music. You're already running the race and winning the fight just by listening to our video.

If you can, try to sync up the beat of the music with the action of the clip, or the change of the scenes. This will increase your emotional impact of dramatic shots. Speed up or slow down the footage to connect with the music and make it more powerful.

Be sure to pay attention to licensing the music you use. Facebook will pull your video if you violate copyright, so here are two options:

Search for and download royalty-free instrumental music.

Ask one of your musicians to write your own underscore using GarageBand, Logic Pro or Ableton Live.

Action: What do you have in mind for the music for your video?

7. Plan for it to get shared. Your video will go beyond your worship services to spread across social media if you do two things:

  • Make it meaningful. We know that things that amuse, inspire or entertain are what gets shared, so be sure people connect to your video emotionally.
  • Ask people to share it. It's amazing how many more shares you will get if you just ask.

When your countdown video shows up in Facebook feeds and on Instagram and Pinterest, then you're spreading the story of your church, winning good attention and attracting people to church.

Action: Who is good at social media and will help promote your video?

Now What?

  • Go back and jot down your answer to the action steps.
  • Be the catalyst to get the video made.
  • Then share the video and your lessons learned in the comments below or to the PastorMentor Facebook page. {eoa}

Hal Seed is the founding and lead pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at pastormentor.com.

For the original article, visit pastormentor.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Hal Seed ) Media Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:00:00 -0400
How Your Building Is Killing Your Growth http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22711-how-your-building-is-killing-your-growth http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22711-how-your-building-is-killing-your-growth

Senior pastors typically underestimate the impact their building has on their church's future growth.

Building Too Late

Church planters believe the lie that they don't need a building to grow, ignoring the fact that your chances of survival begin to plummet drastically after year six outside of a permanent facility (whether owned or leased). We will always find growing church plants past that age in rented/temporary facilities, but those outliers are breathing rare air.

Senior pastors of established churches, likewise, face their own unique challenges.

Expecting A Silver Bullet

Many assume that simply "rallying the troops" and building a new building, or relocating to another location, will automatically ignite growth. What happens, more often than not, is the increased debt and facility expansion doesn't overcompensate for the fact that the church hasn't addressed the underlying issues that stalled their church's growth in the first place. As the old Buddhist proverb states, "Wherever you go, there you are."

Inevitable Bottlenecks

Others assume they can overcome the size limitations their facility places on their ministry. The rule of thumb when it comes to facilities is that there are three things that impact a church's ability to grow: parking, seats in the auditorium, and children's ministry space. If any one of those three becomes a bottleneck, it is worth considering expansion.

What many realize, too late, is that expansions in these areas rarely cause growth. They simply allow it to keep happening if it is already occurring.

Too Much Room

Still, others are often in the unenviable position of having too much space in their worship area stemming from building too big or shrinking in size. Ministry friends will tell you what a delight it is, Sunday after Sunday, to have too few people in a room three times too large.

Growing churches always manage to keep their seating occupancy vs. capacity in the "40-80 zone" (never allowing their services to drop below 40% seating capacity and rarely more than 80% capacity). Allow your services to drop below 40% of your seating capacity very long and you'll eventually sputter out. Push the envelope beyond 80% very long and you stop retaining new people, in addition to losing existing attenders.

There are two more issues facing senior pastors of churches in their own permanent facilities that are more devastating than the others combined: ugly facilities and excessive debt.

Too Much Debt

Church leaders often succumb to "magical thinking" when it comes to buildings. While they might argue for months over how to save money on facility maintenance, it's astonishing how quickly leaders will go into debt without fully mapping out how that added weight will impact the church's future five, ten, fifteen and twenty years on down the line. I've seen the allure of quick potential growth cause even the most financially astute leaders to make dumb financial decisions. Beware of that siren's call.

Holy Cow, That's Ugly

When one looks at "church" from a neutral, purely sociological perspective, "church" is nothing more than a building that human beings gather in. Rarely do people frequent stores, restaurants, doctor's offices and the like that have ugly facilities. We have a word for those entities in our culture: "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS." Why should your facility be any different?

Here Are Some Solutions

Listen, almost every senior pastor I know, including me, has struggled with one or more of the issues above. Why? We're pastors, not construction professionals. We're funded by free-will offerings, not by selling products and services. We can't raise venture capital. Communities change. Priorities shift. Culture reinvents itself.

Building and maintaining relevant, effective ministry space is simply hard work. There are no easy answers. And we're all in the same boat.

But there are a few things I think Senior Pastors and church leaders can do to make cost-effective, workable changes:

1. Identify and rebrand your facility's "red zones" every seven years. In the same way updating a home's kitchen and master bath will provide your strongest returns on investment, churches have similar areas that provide the biggest bang for the buck. I call these areas "red zones" because they have the greatest ability to attract and/or detract people to/from your church. Fortunately the "facelift" for each of these areas is pretty small compared to new construction.

Here are the areas of your facility to focus on:

Church facility "Red Zones"

  • Road Sign – This is the first thing new people see when they approach your complex. Usually it's a pre-done, cheesy looking thing from the '50's. My suggestion is to take pictures of 25 different corporate signs in your region and make your sign almost indistinguishable from the best on that list.
  • Front Entrance – The best thing I can suggest is to go to our friends at Plain Joe Studios and have your entire team look at what fresh graphics can do to simple box structures. The addition of 3-4 large banners at your entrance could transform even the most dated looking church building.
  • Lobby Space – Space is more important than what's in it. Remove absolutely everything that's in there – walls, chairs, etc., until you have enough space to move traffic freely. Once that happens you can slowly add back Guest Services areas, etc., if they fit.
  • Children's Ministry Entrance/Lobby – Wowing parents of children is one of your highest priorities when contemplating facility renovation. Have your entire leadership spend a few hours together combing the pages of our friends World of WOW! and you'll walk away brimming with great ideas you and your volunteers can implement with a little bit of money and elbow grease.
  • Kid's Classroom Doorways/Entrances – See above.

2. Take a leadership field trip to get ideas. When you realize there are changes you need to make to your facility, the first thing I tell senior pastors I coach is to put their leaders in a van or bus and hit the road. It's one thing to see ideas on a website. It's a completely different experience to see the same thing live.

Three years ago we rented a bus and took 60 of our most dedicated volunteer leaders to visit LCBC Church in Lancaster. We attended a service, met with their staff, and then had a wonderful dinner in the home of a sweet Amish Family. We took away a number of great ideas from that experience.

Seeing and feeling the vibe of a place breeds vision. It breaks through what psychologists call "groupthink." It helps your people walk back into your facility with fresh eyes.

In the past two years I visited 30 different churches in six different metro areas to simply see what churches in the 2000-5000 range are doing, and to bring video and pictures back to my team. You may not have the resources to do that, but you could do a "virtual trip" with your team. Find people that are willing to Facetime or Skype while walking around their building.

3. Get outside eyes to give unfiltered feedback.  One of the exercises I do with Senior Pastors I coach is have them record a video of every aspect of their building. Then we watch it together as I have them take notes while I give unfiltered observations about what comes through my mind first. I quickly notice "low hanging" fruit that can be quickly changed – paint, too much "junk" in the facility, outdated signage, etc. You can do this with anyone.

4. For oversized worship venues, create "virtual capacity." Virtual capacity is a phrase I coined to describe the attempt by church leaders to make our worship facility venues feel like they are near capacity, regardless of the number of people in the room. We always want our buildings to feel full, even when they're not.

Room too big? Space out your chairs and rows and hang floor to ceiling cloth barriers on the sides of the room to block peripheral vision.

Have pews? Rope off sections. Cover them. Move the stage closer by placing a temporary smaller stage in front of a portable backdrop.

Ask your people to help provide creative solutions to your "too much space" problem and I'm confident you can shrink the emptiness of the room.

5. For with too little ministry space, challenge your people's assumptions and priorities. I'm shocked how recalcitrant church members can get when asked to reconsider what is "necessary" for Sunday morning activities.

For instance,

  • Will you REALLY not grow as disciples of Jesus if you are encouraged to give up coveted adult Sunday School space so that your church has the children's ministry classes it needs? You may have not been told this but in the grand scheme of things children's classes are more important than adult Sunday School classes. Read Matthew 19:14. Get over it.
  • Will your church's ability to fulfill the Great Commission be hampered if you redecorate that ugly worship space you've grown to love? Of course not. Get uncomfortable.
  • Will the world really end if you put up a Sprung Structure for a few years to create more lobby space? Churches all over the country are doing it. I have a friend whose church grew from 1,000 to 3,000 meeting in a tent. A TENT.
  • Will you really be unable to worship Jesus if you ripped the carpet and pews out of your sanctuary and replaced them with polished concrete and chairs so that space could be used 7 days a week by multiple groups? Of course not. Make the change.

Challenge your people (and yourselves) to maximize the space that you do have to reach as many people as possible in your area.

Challenge yourself to not become the pouting, self-centered Christians caricatured throughout the world.



Do hard things.

That's what disciples do.

Moving Forward

Will redesigning your church's "red zones" every seven years cost money? Of course it will. But it won't be nearly as steep as the cost of church decline, which is exactly where you're headed if you do nothing.

The reality is where there's a will, there's a way. You CAN do a lot of this yourself, but you have to drive this.

If you want it bad enough you'll find affordable solutions that will allow your facility to continue to enhance your ministry, not detract from it.

But you have to find a way to win. If one, two or twenty different options don't work, the 21st one just might. Keep pushing and don't become apathetic about this.

Like I say all the time, you can do this.

You can.

Brian Jones is the founding Senior Pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley, a church that has grown from 0 to 2,000-plus people in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. His personal passion is to encourage and coach fellow senior pastors in the trenches. He is the author of several books including Second Guessing God,  Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It). Connect with Brian at seniorpastorcentral.com or on Twitter @brianjonesblog.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Brian Jones ) Expansion Fri, 25 Mar 2016 21:00:00 -0400
How You Can Worship God With Tech Gear http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/22618-worshipping-god-with-tech-gear http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/22618-worshipping-god-with-tech-gear

I used to think the worship team members were "the people who lead music on the platform." I didn't think they had anything to do with the tech team. At the same time, I felt that worship only happened when I attended church and sang worship songs. But as I grew to be a leader of tech teams, the Lord shared with me that this thought process was wrong.

God created us to worship. Technicians, musicians, preachers and the congregation all have a logistical role to play, but the main role we play is worshipping God in everything we do.

As human beings, we were created to worship God, but how does that translate to a technician and his specific duties? The answer is simple: Our gear is simply an instrument of worship.

If a worship leader with a piano, drums or guitar is considered playing an instrument of worship, then a technician's sound console, camera or lighting board is just as much an instrument of worship. Many times, we ask our technicians just to be in the background and "make it happen." But we need to realize that technicians are a critical part of the worship team. They ultimately preside over the service's flow, creativity, atmosphere and the worship team's abilities.

Technicians are not behind the scenes; they are the scene. How a technician uses instruments of worship is critical to painting an atmosphere that welcomes the Holy Spirit and engages the congregation in deep worship. This atmosphere doesn't begin with how well we play our technical instruments of worship; rather, it all starts the moment we wake up in the morning. The spiritual environment we usher into our lives is the starting point of our worship. As John 4:24 says, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." Technicians must orient their spiritual lives in a way that points toward God and what He wants for us. This doesn't start at church; it starts at home.

Holding your tech teams to these standards will change your perspective on all of your tech needs, mistakes, wants, desires and performance. The goal is to reduce distractions and paint an atmosphere of worship through tech. That's a vision the team can latch on to. It also creates a lens for everyone to look through when providing the tech needs of a worship event.

Don't get me wrong. I am not completely throwing out the need for qualified or talented people to operate your gear. Similar to the talent of a worship team member, gifted tech people who understand and can operate the gear is important. But I prioritize talent behind someone who has a heart for worship and a passion for the worship experience being the best it can be.

You may say, "This is all pie in the sky!" You may think there is no way you can have someone who has this passion and also possesses tech abilities. My answer to you is this: It is possible, but it takes time and work. Be sure to set up systems that identify where people are in their walk with God, passion for worship and tech abilities. Just as a coach does, work hard not only to fill positions but to have layers on your team. These layers should include everyone who is just putting their toe in the water to test whether they like working in tech all the way up to the experienced and then leadership level. Develop a plan to train and move people from layer to layer, then make sure you have a way of monitoring those layers. This is critical to ensuring you have bench depth and the heart, culture and vision carrying throughout the entire team.

As techs or tech leaders, our ultimate goal is to create teams whose members are not on the team to be cooler, flashier or more creative than the next church but want to use tech to point everyone's attention toward our God. This happens when all of us use our talents, relationships, attitudes and abilities to worship Him in everything we do.  

David Leuschner is associate senior director, technical arts and technology at Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth. He facilitates the live audio, video and lighting for events and oversees approximately 230 volunteers and more than 30 full-time and over 60 part-time staff.

webmaster@strang.com (David Leuschner) Technology Mon, 21 Mar 2016 21:00:00 -0400
The Deaf Should Be Privy to the Gospel Too http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22594-the-deaf-should-be-privy-to-the-gospel-too http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22594-the-deaf-should-be-privy-to-the-gospel-too

Last Sunday, more than 110 million viewers tuned in to watch one of the biggest sporting events in the world—Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.

The Super Bowl ended with what seemed to be one clear winner and one loser. But there were millions of other Americans who, once again, lost.

They are the ones who communicate in American Sign Language. As the national anthem was sung by Lady Gaga, Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning deaf actress, gave her beautiful rendition of this most patriotic song in American Sign Language. It's sad, though, that only a few seconds of it were seen.

It seems only fitting that after the success the National Association of the Deaf has had in getting Netflix and iTunes to provide captions and subtitles for deaf individuals to be able to watch movies, something like signing the performance of the national anthem at one of our country's largest public gatherings would be an awesome sight to see and experience, as well as important to the deaf community.

Whatever reason the media uses to explain this away, it comes down to the simple fact that they probably didn't see any value in it and chose not to show it.

Several years ago, the Deaf Bible Society team spoke with people at a well-known ministry that holds large crusades. The crusades are streamed live. We were so excited to find that they offer an interpreter at the event—so we proposed that they should also live stream the interpreter, so that deaf from around the country could tune in and learn of the salvation message. We were told that it would cost too much and would take too much time to accommodate such a small part of the community. This was frustrating but not unusual coming from a group unfamiliar with working with the deaf.

Deaf Bible Society believes that the best way to engage deaf communities with the Scripture is to provide access to the Bible in their heart sign language. We understand that communication is vital. A breakdown in communication results in a loss of information, leaving people without knowledge or understanding. The deaf are considered one of the largest unreached people groups in the world because we have not taken the initiative to make the gospel available to them in their heart sign languages and in a way they can efficiently engage with it and share it.

The challenge for Deaf Bible Society is that we lack the resources necessary to make this happen. We need to help the media and other ministry organizations understand the value—transforming the lives of the deaf. It is not unlike the communities that were colonized or enslaved; people prohibited from education because "an educated man is a free man." Historically, governments kept people down by creating a breakdown in communication and prohibiting education.

Showing the signed rendition of the national anthem was easy, inexpensive and desired by the community. If this simple and easy resource is not made available, what happens to the more challenging situations? Those challenging situations are much more critical than the opening of the Super Bowl—they involve the eternal lives of people.

Deaf Bible Society believes it is the right of every deaf person to have access to the Bible in their heart sign language—a language they communicate in effectively so that they can decide the relevance for themselves. Whatever your religious views are of the Bible, as a literate person, you have had the opportunity and choice to read or not to read it; to engage with it or not engage with it; and decide what you need for your own spiritual benefit.

The same lack of understanding that the media had with showing the signed rendition of the national anthem has infiltrated the church at large. We allow ourselves to be persuaded that sign language Bible translation is difficult, expensive, hard to understand and, ultimately, not valuable.

However, if we truly believe the Great Commission, Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28, then we must agree that all nations includes all deaf people. It isn't left to us to determine which people groups are worthy of the message, but it is left to us to take this worthy message to all people groups. 

J.R. Bucklew is the president of Deaf Bible Society.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (J.R. Bucklew) Media Fri, 12 Feb 2016 22:00:00 -0500
Adopt a Village, Transform Numerous Lives http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22318-adopt-a-village http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22318-adopt-a-village

The honor was all mine. Sitting at the dining room table of a village leader, I was privileged to listen as she shared about the needs of the Mganduzweni village in South Africa. Her husband had been the village leader, but since he had passed away, she was providing leadership for the community's 170,000 people.

As I inquired about the needs of the village, she replied without hesitation, "We need water." I couldn't believe they didn't have water. She explained that they have water brought in once a month, but the supply was inadequate to meet their basic needs. Before I knew what I was saying, I told her, "We are going to get you water. We are going to dig you a well. Not only that, but we are going to build a church here, and one day I will come and preach here. Is that OK?"

With tears in her eyes, she simply replied, "Yes." That was a defining moment not only for our church but also for a village in great need of hope.

Since that meeting two years ago, our church has built and dedicated two wells in the village. Not only that, but we broke ground for a brand-new church building, a facility that will provide not only a place of worship for C3 Church South Africa, which worships every Sunday, but also a building for the children that we feed and care for throughout the week in partnership with an organization called Children's Cup based in Prairieville, Louisiana.

One Village at a Time

From the beginning of this journey, our passion has been to ask God to direct us to one village that we can give hope to and wrap our arms around. Our church can't solve every problem in the world, but we can do something. Our prayer is that God could use C3 Church to reach out to this village beset by poverty, AIDS and witch doctors and turn its people completely to Jesus. On our trip to South Africa several years ago, the late Dave Ohlerking, founder of the Children's Cup organization, said these unforgettable words: "Hope's name is Jesus."

One of the verses that drives us to fulfill God's vision is Acts 1:8: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I've discovered that when I lay down my personal agenda and goals and look around, I see what God sees. There are so many people around the world who are hurting and hopeless. If all churches would take just a small piece, we can change the world—one village at a time.

One Step at a Time

Churches motivated to change the world through adopting a village or community can take these steps to get started:

1) Start where you are. Many people want to change the world but need to know they can begin by making a difference where they are. Where do you live? Where do you work? In what activities are you involved?

Start serving those around you and see what God does. When I'm faithful to use what God has put in my hands, He fulfills the dreams that are in my heart. Decide today to make a difference where you are now.

2) Take others with you. Ministry has the greatest impact when we serve with others. Great things can happen when people in their local church join together with others of a similar passion and begin serving together. Most churches have opportunities to get involved locally as well as globally. If God opens the door for you to go on a mission trip, take others with you. Even Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. My wife, Martha, and I decided several years ago to take at least one of our three children with us when we travel and minister. When we took all three of them to Africa with us, it was one of our most life-changing trips. The trip was a defining moment for all of our children. One of our daughters spent a summer in Swaziland serving and studying at the Global Leadership Academy. My son will be going on his third trip in November to serve and provide Christmas parties for thousands of children in South Africa. The passion our children now have for the world began with our trip together to Africa.

3) Partner with your church or a missions organization. For many years, our church had a passion to make a global impact but didn't know where to start or how to accomplish our mission. We also had limited resources and time. But after establishing strategic partnerships, we have been able to accomplish more than we could have on our own. We partnered with different organizations, including Children's Cup, which provides care points for children to be fed and discipled. Children's Cup also offers opportunities to sponsor children.

4) Wait on God's timing. You can't force a door open. The right decision at the wrong time can lead to disaster. Sometimes God takes leaders and churches through a process of growth and preparation for what He has for us to do. But while waiting, it's important to keep serving and trusting God to open the doors in His timing and His way.

5) Expect challenges. Satan doesn't like it when we give people hope! Impacting the dark places of the world isn't easy. That's why, according to Ephesians 6, we need to put on the full armor of God to withstand the schemes of the devil. Many Christians glamorize the mission field, but we must not let the devil blindside us. Nevertheless, the challenges are worth it when you look into the eyes of the children you have helped and see their hope.

6) Every child matters. Although not everyone in your congregation will be able to go to the mission field, they can still support the effort by praying, serving and giving, perhaps through sponsoring a child. Sponsors often reflect on how they feel knowing they have a child they are caring for personally. On our family trip to Africa, we got to meet the children we sponsor—it was so emotional! Even with the cultural differences, the impact and connection we had was evident. Together, we can change the world, one child at a time. Never underestimate the power of sponsoring one child.

7) Remember, hope's name is Jesus. Our passion is to provide real hope for real people in a real world—and hope's name is Jesus! Providing food, clothing and education is fantastic, but if that's all we give, we miss out on the most important thing they need. They need to know that Jesus loves them and that He is their only hope. Everyone needs hope and a family. We have the answer for hope in Jesus, and we have a family for these children in the church.

The opportunity is in front of us, we have the answer, and the time is now. Let's change the world together!  

Matt Fry is the founding and lead pastor at C3 Church in Clayton, North Carolina.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com ( Matt Fry) Ministry Facilities Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Moving Beyond the Paper Trail http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22314-beyond-the-paper-trail http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22314-beyond-the-paper-trail

When the phrase "church administration" comes to mind, you may not instinctively think of cutting-edge digital tools. With the administrator's role centered on organizing information, managing team logistics and communicating information, that is a fair assessment. While the business of the church is not driven by technology, and administrators likely have a longer paper trail, technology can still make an impact on church administration.

Tools and Transactions

The most widely known administrative tool is online giving, most recently taking the form of mobile giving. Online giving has allowed the church administrator to keep tithes and offerings in the forefront as well as special projects like building campaigns.

Not long ago, unless a church member attended a congregation that still handed out a box of tithing envelopes, the member didn't see anything about his giving record until the end of the year. Today, by using technology as a transaction tool for church attendees, we have real-time information as a reminder of their financial role.

With regard to church administration, processes come to mind ahead of technology. For instance, long gone are handwritten job applications, and job listings have found a home in the digital world. Employee reviews no longer are an end-of-year event but rather a day-to-day conversation using tools such as TrakStar. Scheduling staff for the weekend, managing vacations and tracking time can be managed and viewed at once on an iPhone by using tools like Paycom and Planning Center.

In this day of megachurches, multiple campuses and church ministries starting every day, it can be hard to know where members and attendees are growing or struggling. Used well, church management software helps everyone on staff get the big picture of who's connected through a small group, who is engaged as a part of the church and which classes are the most helpful. Web analytics can support this as well.

Staffing is a significant responsibility for the administrative or executive pastor. The question he may ask is: How do we ensure we have the "right people on the bus in the right seats"? Online assessment tools such as Strength Finder, StandOut and Keirsey Temperament not only get the right people in the right role but also help those with different roles and personalities work well together.

However, these instruments are only helpful when they are actively used, and the administrator, who tends to be more analytical, will find that these sorts of tools are only effective when used outside of the data. Knowing someone's primary aptitude isn't enough. Leaders must nurture these strengths with clear and measurable results while also equipping people with their different skill sets.

Of course, we can't talk digital and not address social media. While social media doesn't directly correlate to the administration to-do list, it should be kept in sight. Executive pastors should consider crafting a social media policy that fits their culture. Administrative staff needs to understand that church leadership expects them to be an extension of the congregation, whether their social media is seen as an extension of their role as staff or is entirely personal.

Members of the communications team also need to understand the expectations of the church regarding tone and boundaries on social media, answering questions such as:

  • Do we allow and retain comments that go against what we are preaching?
  • How do we handle inappropriate or inflammatory comments?
  • Who answers messages asking for church assistance?

Direction and Danger

The biggest opportunity on the horizon is in pulling all of these elements together. Today, a church's website is often static. Everyone is getting the same information. Imagine tying these technologies together and serving the content that matters most.

For instance, instead of showing online to a happily married man that a singles group is meeting Saturday night, the website invites him to watch the game at a men's small group. For the person who attends services but hasn't yet engaged through giving, how about showing him a video of how finances are making an impact through the church in the community? To move in this direction, it's best not to let technology do the leading but to learn from the church administrator who might use technology to better direct and power the ministries of the church.

One of the dangers of technology, in both the church and wider world, is to allow it to drive strategy. Everyone else has a mobile app, so your church builds one. Everyone has big tech on stage, so why shouldn't your church implement it? The problem is we become high in tech but low in strategy, which flatlines our effectiveness. We may have a cool mobile app, but nobody is gaining anything from it and a stage that looks good but doesn't connect to the overall brand of the church or support the weekend series.

It's true that we often don't think of technology when we consider "church administration." But as we let administrators have a say in strategy, the church can then look for ways to support these strategies with technology, bringing significant benefits to the congregation.

Michael Buckingham serves as experience team pastor at Victory World Church (victoryatl.com) in Norcross, Georgia. Email him at mbuckingham@victoryatl.com or connect via Twitter at @mbuckingham.

webmaster@strang.com (Michael Buckingham) Ministry Facilities Wed, 18 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500