<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1758373551078632&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Discover how to leverage technology in your church

Technology should not transform ministry, but rather do the things that people don’t have to do so they can do what they do best.

Creating a Welcome Email Series to Follow Up with Visitors

By Lora Horn | Nov 6, 2018 9:00:00 AM

What happens after someone visits your congregation?

At my church, the visitors sign a guest book and a day or two later, they receive a letter in the mail from the pastor—which is an excellent practice. It’s personal, especially in this detached, electronic world. In fact, it has repeatedly led to visitors wanting to meet with him and eventually join the congregation. Several people have mentioned how important that letter has been. People like to be acknowledged and the personal touch makes a huge difference.

But more can be done to help someone get to know the congregation.

Continue Reading

Communications for Last-Minute Church Events

By Stacy Yates | Oct 30, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Whether they’re potlucks, special voters’ meetings, or trunk-or-treats, last-minute events are bound to happen (sometimes more often than we would like!). The idea of driving attendance or gaining support for a last-minute event makes most of us cringe. While it is sometimes easy to explain to a volunteer that they should consider moving the date to ensure the event is successful, it isn’t as easy to tell the church president or pastor.

So, what do we do with these last-minute requests? How do we pull off a successful communication effort in a short time frame? We must dig into our toolbox of available resources and communication knowledge. We must become creative and not panic in the moment of slight (or maybe big) frustration.

Continue Reading

Adjusting Your Schedule to Get More Productive and Creative

By Katy Munson | Oct 16, 2018 2:00:00 PM

One of my greatest struggles working in a communications role for a church is finding the balance between executing existing plans or ideas and finding space for creativity and exploring new possibilities. Church communicators function within a certain tension of straightforward (relatively speaking) administrative tasks and an ever-changing communications landscape that requires awareness, innovation, and a certain amount of “let’s try this and see how it goes!” (See this post on agile failing for a little encouragement.) There are things that simply need to be done, but we can find ourselves so stuck in the maintenance of things that we forget to explore new possibilities.

Continue Reading

Evernote for Pastors, Church Offices, and Ministry Teams

By Lora Horn | Oct 9, 2018 11:03:04 AM

Before computers became integrated with our lives, the big office complaint was about paper. A good deal of our communication and information storage involved paper. How to store that information, share that information, and avoid being buried in that information was a daily challenge.

I know—it still is.

While we might deal with less paper than previous generations, we’re bombarded with more information and communication than ever before. We have a completely different kind of clutter and the same need. How do we keep it all straight?

Continue Reading

Software Training for Successful Change

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Oct 2, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Perhaps you’ve heard this story before: a congregation invests a great deal of money in a new church management software, rolls it out to pastors, secretaries, and other users. Everything goes perfectly smoothly. The software is ready to help leaders collect information on the congregation’s attendance, finances, and everything else they want to know. 

Continue Reading

Resources for Continuing Education in the Church

By Andrew Osborne | Sep 25, 2018 12:30:00 PM

In a perfect world, our churches would have all the financial means to employ ginormous staffs who can serve both the people in our congregations and the communities around us. We’d have people hired to teach Bible studies geared specifically to certain age groups. We’d have communications experts who could craft social media posts to reach all the people in our communities to draw them to our churches. We’d have it all. But as we all know, the world isn’t perfect, and our churches can’t always afford to hire people to fill each role we need to do the ministry God has called us to do. That doesn’t mean, however, that God doesn’t provide exactly what we need to accomplish what He wants with what we’ve got.

Continue Reading

The Value of a Church Logo and Why You Should Protect Yours

By Stacy Yates | Sep 18, 2018 9:00:00 AM

When it comes to logos, branding, and name recognition, it seems the world understands why it’s so important for their favorite pair of shoes or beverage to have these things, but not why their church home should.

Continue Reading
Topics: Branding Logo

Remembering 149 Years of Technology at CPH

By Katy Munson | Sep 11, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Happy 149th birthday, Concordia Publishing House! Of course, there’s a bunch of excitement about the big one-five-zero happening a year from now (and rightfully so!), but you only turn 149 once. Whatever the number, birthdays are a great time to remember, reflect, and celebrate—so here we go!

Continue Reading
Topics: Technology

Why Your Church Should Have a Blog

By Lora Horn | Sep 4, 2018 9:00:00 AM

When you saw the title of this post, what went through your mind?

  • I’m already too busy.
  • What would I write about?
  • Who would read it?
  • I have no idea where to start.
  • You’ve got to be kidding!

You’re not alone. Those are all common responses. Many of us have the experience of the forgotten blog somewhere in the internet, so some of us feel timid or even aghast at the idea of starting one for a church.

All the same, you should absolutely have a church blog.

Continue Reading
Topics: Blogs

Delegating to Trusted Volunteers to Give Yourself More Time

By Andrew Osborne | Aug 28, 2018 9:00:00 AM

If you’re a church worker, you never have a shortage of ways to stay busy. It seems like as soon as you finish your Sunday services, you’re already running out of time to get everything ready for next week’s services, especially when you add up the countless meetings and tasks on your to-do list. If you want to keep your sanity and have any kind of family life outside of the church walls, it’s important to find ways to save time and be efficient. One of the best ways to keep yourself from drowning in your work is to pass some of it off.

Continue Reading

Following Up with Visitors without Seeming Creepy

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Aug 21, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Read any number of books on church organization and evangelism, and you’ll hear some common goals. Visitors should feel at home. They should be comfortable finding their way around. They should feel like they’re welcome and that their presence is valued in the community. They should feel safe.

Those are all good things, at least objectively, but it’s hardly a list that your elders couldn’t have written themselves. More interesting are the competing ways we’re advised to achieve these same goals. Visitors should be singled out and welcomed the moment they walk in the door or they should be allowed to worship in anonymity and peace. We should follow up at their house later in the day, or send them a letter next week, or maybe just leave them alone and hope our distance conveys enough respect for their privacy that they come back. It’s a mess.

Continue Reading

The Passionate Volunteer & the Communicator: Seeing Eye to Eye

By Stacy Yates | Aug 14, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In my last post I touched on how I ditched a well-thought-out communication request form for more personal interactions with our ministry leaders. I think this idea of relationship building goes even deeper than with the leaders; it applies to each volunteer too.

Our goal as church staff members, called or not, is always to be personal and to connect. But sometimes a volunteer not seeing the bigger mission of the church can drive a wedge between what the volunteer wants to do with a specific ministry and what should be done. As a communicator, I know for me anyway that this wedge can create unnecessary friction. We want to help the congregation and pastors achieve our church goals, to do our job, and to make everyone happy. We all know that is easier said than done! Am I right?

Continue Reading

Ideas for Saying Thank You to Donors and Volunteers

By Jenn Eickman | Aug 7, 2018 9:00:00 AM

My eyes have been opened over the last two years about showing appreciation. Not that I wasn’t appreciative before, but now that I’m in development, appreciation has become a large part of my role in ministry and I’m much more conscious of showing it.

Continue Reading

Establishing Planning Rhythms in Your Church Office

By Katy Munson | Jul 31, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Ben Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Although I’m one who loves a well thought out plan, I have a lot of growing to do when it comes to having a solid grasp on this. So, I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and trying to soak up any wisdom I can from those who do this sort of thing well. One recurring theme I’ve encountered is that of planning rhythms.

Continue Reading

Staying Connected with Your Church’s College Students

By Audrey Morschen | Jul 24, 2018 9:00:00 AM

As college students are packing their bags to go back to school at the end of the summer, there are a few steps that churches can take to make sure their college students are feeling cared for. As a college student myself, I find that it is always a big transition when you start attending church at a new place at the beginning of the semester. It is hard to feel connected to your church when you are hundreds of miles away, so here are a few easy tips for churches to keep college students engaged when they head back to school.

Continue Reading

Segmenting Internal Audiences (or How to Get Emails Read)

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Jul 17, 2018 9:00:00 AM

“Why haven’t they replied to the email? I sent it over a week ago.”
—A pastor who shall remain anonymous

That is a true complaint I have heard from another pastor. And I have heard similar remarks from other people. In fact, I am fairly certain I have made a parallel lament at some point myself. I am also willing to bet that the readers of this blog have made it too.

Continue Reading

My Handy-Dandy Communication Form (and Why it Didn’t Work)

By Stacy Yates | Jul 10, 2018 9:30:56 AM

On my job description, it says, “Develop templates for media, agendas, and the like to assist busy ministry teams and lay volunteers in creating better message-driven content in a more effective amount of time.”

Great. I can do that, not too hard.

Continue Reading

A Basic Lesson in How to Write for the Screen

By Lora Horn | Jul 3, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Creating a church webpage should be easy, shouldn’t it?

Whether we’re talking about a home page, an about page, or a simple blog post—type it up and hit “publish,” right? But if you want your page to actually get read, it’s not that simple.

Don’t worry, it’s not that hard, either, but it is important to know how to structure your page so that readers want to read it.

Continue Reading

Why Connection Beats Technology in Ministry

By Jenn Eickman | Jun 26, 2018 4:30:00 PM

Have you sat in a restaurant or in a line at the DMV and just observed? Like really watched people? Are people connecting with those around them? Or are they immersed in the five-inch screens in their hands? How are they interacting with their surroundings?

Continue Reading

Communicating with Your Staff at a Multi-Site Church

By Andrew Osborne | Jun 19, 2018 9:00:00 AM

For any organization, big or small, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the employees learning to communicate with one another. Most problems that occur within a church staff happen because people aren’t communicating well, the ball gets dropped on a big project, or someone is left waiting on a piece of work they were expecting to receive.

I’ve had the opportunity to work for multiple organizations with larger staffs, and two of those have been churches with multiple sites. Communication at places like these can be extra difficult because not only do you need to learn to communicate well with the people you work with, but those coworkers also happen to be at a different location from you, typically miles away. It takes careful attention and a lot of hard work to ensure problems don’t arise because of lack of communication.

Continue Reading
Topics: Communication

Do We Become Less Human as We Interact with Androids?

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jun 12, 2018 9:00:00 AM

On May 25, 2018, Quantic Dream released their much anticipated seventh game, Detroit: Become Human. (Warning: Link launches trailer, which contains swearing.) After spending a week or so with the game, I’ve found it has much worth recommending to even your casual video game player. But, more importantly, Detroit continues a cultural conversation that’s only going to grow in coming years, and it’s one the Church would do well to get involved in. What makes us human, and what moral value do non-humans have? Is life found in the essence of a thing or in its behavior and appearance? Does it matter how we treat objects if they’re not alive? Detroit seeks to answer the question of whether androids are human, but I think the bigger question isn’t whether the android is human (it isn’t). It’s whether the android’s owner will remain human if he or she learns to behave in inhuman ways.

Continue Reading

Storytelling to Share the Gospel & Engage Your Church’s Community

By Katy Munson | Jun 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Stories are some of the most powerful tools in a church communicator’s belt. They have the power to engage us in something beyond ourselves and pass life-giving faith from one generation to another.

Continue Reading

Protecting Your Family Online

By Joe Willmann | May 29, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Because of their leadership with various communication channels, church communicators are sometimes asked by parents how to keep kids safe online. This article was originally posted on the CPH Education blog to help parents and teachers learn how to do just that. We hope this post is helpful to you as you serve the families God has put in your life.

As a parent, God has entrusted you with the care and upbringing of your children. This task has not changed throughout all time. We are called to bring them to the life-giving water of Holy Baptism, to teach them the faith, and to protect them from all harm and evil. No pressure, Mom and Dad.

Continue Reading
Topics: Online

The First Step in Purchasing Audio and Visual Equipment for Your Church

By John Elmer | May 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Before electricity, churches were architecturally designed to carry sound and light into the worship space. While modern architects often factor natural sound and window fixtures into their church designs, many sanctuaries are nothing more than drywall boxes with vaulted ceilings that may carry sound, but not well, and certainly not with clarity. The windows along the sides of the nave help illuminate hymnals, but without large stained-glass expanses featured above the chancel, seeing the pastor or the altar can be a challenge.

Enter the modern lighting and sound reinforcement system. Some form of modern sound and lighting system can be found in almost every church today. Whether you are seeking the latest digital sound and LED lighting system or just need to amplify a single microphone, chances are you will engage in purchasing sound or lighting equipment for your sanctuary at some point.

Continue Reading

Should Your Church Use the Messaging App GroupMe?

By Jenn Eickman | May 15, 2018 9:00:00 AM

I often wonder if one of the biggest challenges facing Church Communicators is deciphering the who, what, where, why, and how of church news and events. Our efforts often are spread among multiple mediums, our time is spread thin to format and reformat content, and still we often receive feedback about people not “hearing” our message. (Here’s a great article to help set up your communication framework.)

Continue Reading

Building Meaningful Connections in a World of Tech and Isolation

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 8, 2018 9:00:00 AM

We live in one of the most connected ages in history. We can stay connected with friends around the globe and have unlimited potential to make new friends. News travels around the globe in moments, and we’re routinely treated to a front-row view of history as live-streaming technology becomes more commonplace. At no other point in human history have we been so quickly and easily connected with other people.

So why are we so isolated?

Continue Reading

Enhancing Your Church’s Video Streams with Multiple Cameras

By Andrew Osborne | May 1, 2018 11:00:00 AM

There’s nothing quite like being in worship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, receiving God’s gifts and giving Him our praise. The beauty of Christian worship goes far beyond our human comprehension. Unfortunately, there can be times we miss out on that time together for reasons beyond our control.

Occasionally, we have in our congregations members who are home-bound and unable to attend weekly worship. Thankfully, with the use of the internet and technology, these members may still be able to receive God’s Word (they’ll have to wait to receive His body and blood until their pastor can come visit them) by watching either a livestream or recording of the service. Needless to say, participating in worship in this way is by no means as wonderful or edifying as being present with our fellow believers, but for those with no other option, this can be an incredible blessing.

Continue Reading
Topics: Video

Creating and Using a Social Media Content Calendar

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Apr 24, 2018 9:00:00 AM

My sixth-grade homeroom teacher stood over my desk.

“Daniel, you didn’t get your agenda signed again.” Sigh. “Minus five points. You know this is worth five percent of your grade, right?” The question of incredulity quickly following the sigh of disappointment.

Of course, what she did not seem to understand was my view. It was worth only five percent of a grade that did not matter. Harvard was not going to be checking my sixth-grade report card to see how I did. So what was the point of filling out the agenda every single day and getting it signed by my parents over the weekend? It was not like there was never enough time to finish assignments in class.

Continue Reading

Choosing Communication Channels Based on Your Audience

By Stacy Yates | Apr 17, 2018 9:00:00 AM

It seems there is a new communication channel introduced weekly, if not daily! Some have been long lived, like Facebook, and some were one-hit wonders only to fizzle out, like Vine.

Many times, a quick scroll through my social media feed and reading through communication blogs leave me feeling defeated in this mass world of instant communication.

Am I doing enough? Am I choosing the best way to reach the world with the greatest message in the world? Am I making sure our members feel connected with our various ministries?

Continue Reading

Understanding Vocation in a Machine-Filled World

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Apr 10, 2018 9:00:00 AM

There’s a story that’s told of a wise man to whom a king was indebted. The king offered him his choice of any reward in the kingdom, but the wise man demurred. Instead he asked only that the king provide him with a chessboard and a single grain of wheat on the first square. On the second square would be double that amount (two grains), and on the third twice that, and so on. The king readily agreed . . . and bankrupted his kingdom. By the time the board was halfway done, the thirty-second square was worth two to the thirty-second power, or 4,294,967,296 grains of wheat. The final square ended up being worth two to the sixty-third power, which is more wheat than the world produces in a millennium. (For the history and the math, see the wiki.)

Continue Reading

Should My Church Use Screens during Worship?

By Andrew Osborne | Apr 3, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Maybe you’re at a church plant that is outgrowing its space, moving to a new location, and deciding to bring in new technology in the form of worship screens. Maybe your church building is decades old and your congregation is ready for some updates. A while back, we wrote a blog post on how to use a screen in worship without worshiping a screen—but it’s worth taking the time to consider whether adopting screens during worship is the best choice for your congregation.

Continue Reading

Peace in the Chaos: Managing Stress During Holy Week

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Mar 27, 2018 9:00:00 AM

This is not a usual Concordia Technology Solutions blog post. In fact, there will be very little discussion about technology at all. No trends, no flashing doodads, no talk about social media or websites. Nope, this is more of a devotion for church workers and those heavily involved in a congregation’s ministry during Holy Week.

Grace, peace, and mercy to you from God the Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Continue Reading

Segmenting Your Social Media Audiences for More Targeted Posts

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 20, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Social media is an interesting paradox. On one hand, it’s really easy to use, and its strength lies in the fact that almost anyone can use it. (Not everyone should, mind you, but there’s nothing we can do to stop that!) On the other hand, though, to do it well, to stand out from the crowd and make sure your message gets heard. . . . That’s a lot harder. Hopefully over the years of reading the CTS blog, you’ve learned a trick or two and you’ve gotten a solid foothold in at least one social media community. (If you’re looking for some tips to get started, check out the archives.)

Continue Reading

Harnessing Technology So It Doesn’t Harness Us

By Katy Munson | Mar 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM

“Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms.” These words were deemed the unofficial motto for the 1933–34 World’s Fair in Chicago. More than eighty years have passed since that grand event, which celebrated great strides in technological innovation. For our culture, the same motto seems to ring a little too true.

In his book Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology, Dr. Bernard Bull discusses this pattern of our conforming to, or being shaped by, technology, at times without realizing what is happening. It’s vital we recognize that the solving of one problem generally leads to a slew of new challenges to address. Many of these challenges have significant connection to our spiritual lives and the faith formation of our families.

Continue Reading

Facebook Post Generator for Easter

By Alex Williams | Mar 6, 2018 3:00:00 PM

It can be hard to give your members the spiritual care they need when so many things need to be planned during Lent! In times like this especially, we want to help you spend less time on the computer and more time on people-focused ministry. Social media is one of those things that is important for communicating with your audience but shouldn’t take up too much time because of its impersonal nature. When you’re strapped for time, you just need to get compelling and informative messages out there so you can focus back on providing the spiritual care God has called you to give.

Continue Reading

The Next Great Debate: Will Video Be the New Norm?

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Feb 27, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Peter Frank and I get along pretty well. In fact, if we ever had the chance to meet in person, I am sure we would both be more than happy to get coffee together and talk technology, media, and theology all day long. Peter is pretty insightful on all that and is a great guy to boot. In fact, you should check out his blog post about seven tech trends for churches to watch for in 2018. Well, except for one part of it. You can ignore the first trend, because Peter is wrong about it.

Continue Reading
Topics: Video

2017 Churchgoer Giving Study: New Findings, New Surprises

By Peter Frank | Feb 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM

This post was written by Richard Bauer, e-Giving Ambassador for Vanco Payment Solutions, and originally appeared on the Vanco blog. Vanco Payment Solutions is the exclusive e-Giving partner of Concordia Technology Solutions.

Two years have passed since we released the first findings from our groundbreaking survey of churchgoers’ attitudes, preferences, and behaviors toward electronic giving, and we’re excited to announce that we’ll soon have an update to share with you.

Continue Reading
Topics: eGiving

6 Questions to Ask Before Adopting New Technology

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Feb 20, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Technology touches all aspects of our lives. From the ways we work, play, create, and learn all the way to how we spend our final days, technology plays a significant role in what’s possible, and, of course, what isn’t . . . at least for now. Ministry is no exception to this, and the Church has historically been one of the bastions on the cutting edge of technology. We were among the first to adopt the codex, and some of the earliest written words in history are found in the Old Testament. Even Martin Luther benefited from his unique timing in technological history by seeing his writings widely distributed through Gutenberg’s printing press. The Church and technology are old friends.

Continue Reading

Why Canva Is a Church Communicator’s Best Friend

By Katy Munson | Feb 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Oh Canva, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . . .

Okay, so Elizabeth Barrett Browning I am not. I do, however, have a long list of reasons why Canva is a church communicator’s best friend. Like many, my first introduction to Canva’s superpowers was learning how to create those really beautiful, crisp, professional-looking social media graphics. But there are so many other ways Canva can be used in your congregation’s communication efforts!

Continue Reading
Topics: Canva Design

6 Steps to a Comprehensive Easter Communications Plan

By Peter Frank | Feb 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Ash Wednesday is just about a week away, which means there are less than two months until Easter. Have you started planning your Easter communications yet? I realize for some churches, this started happening before Christmas, but for many of our readers, Ash Wednesday is the day the clock starts ticking.

Continue Reading

Social Media Ideas for Lent, Part 2

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Jan 30, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Peace in Christ Jesus! Once again, the calendar flips and it is the season of Lent. This year I am trying to figure out if Ash Wednesday is going to be very romantic, or if Valentine’s Day will be very somber? I will let you all decide in the comments.

Last year I wrote about six ideas for sharing about Lent on social media. This year I am back with some more. So, without further ado, I present to you: Social Media Ideas for Lent, Part 2!

Continue Reading

5 Google Tools You Should Be Using on Your Church Website

By Peter Frank | Jan 23, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Websites have a rather interesting history. At first, they were difficult to create and required a certain understanding of HTML. Then tools were introduced that made it easy to create websites. Then everyone had a website, which made it hard to get traffic. Then social media came along and made it seem like no one needed a website anymore.

That’s a rather over-simplified history of the internet, but the reality is that it’s never been easy to build a website and gain traffic, and today is no different. One interesting thing about today’s internet is that Google is its king. Over 63% of internet searches start with Google, an overwhelming majority in a previously competitive market. That means that while your church website is competing to gain traffic, it’s really only competing in one arena.

Continue Reading

How to Get Those “Big Ideas” from Group Brainstorm Sessions

By Erica Tape | Jan 16, 2018 4:00:00 PM

You need ideas for something—an event, a Lenten theme, new online outreach, a new ministry. And you need help coming up with ideas. So you decide to hold a brainstorm session. But during that session, people are pretty quiet. They’re just not saying anything, or the ideas they do share are too specific or narrow. Where’s that big idea you’re looking for?

People are full of ideas, whether they tend to think analytically or creatively. In the right environment, they’ll truly be themselves and let you know what’s going on inside their minds. So in a brainstorm session, establishing the right tone is essential to getting ideas flowing. Here’s how to create that tone so creativity is stimulated and people feel comfortable sharing all their wacky, dramatic, and big ideas.

Continue Reading

The Digital Magazine as the New Church Newsletter

By Katy Munson | Jan 9, 2018 3:00:00 PM

In our information-saturated landscape, many have asked the question “how do we communicate well with our church’s members?” The answer to that question is, of course, multi-faceted and ever-changing. A little more than a year ago, as my church—Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Rockford, Illinois—evaluated the congregation’s communication needs, our existing communication avenues, and the time and energy we devoted to different efforts, we determined that our monthly email newsletter wasn’t as helpful as it had been in the past.

Enter The Connecting Point. Well, to be honest, it didn’t have that name or a clear direction for a while. There was a good chunk of time in the development stage when I would refer to it as “the new quarterly storytelling publication that will be available both as a hard copy and digitally.” Let’s just say that, while descriptive, the name garnered more raised eyebrows than buy-in.

Continue Reading

7 Tech Trends for Churches to Watch for in 2018

By Peter Frank | Jan 2, 2018 10:30:00 AM

I’ve always enjoyed reading the annual blog posts and articles about predictions for the coming year. There’s something fun about seeing if they come true, although I rarely see follow-up posts detailing how many, if any, actually did come true. (Spoiler alert: most of them don’t.)

In the world of technology, it seems to be the trend to make big and bold predictions. Remember when tablets were going to replace all computers? Or when smart watches would be more useful than smart phones? More often than not, technology predictions are way off base, or just too early.

Continue Reading

Making the Most of a Quiet Week in the Church Office

By Peter Frank | Dec 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Welcome to one of my favorite weeks of the year: the week between Christmas and New Year’s. At Concordia Publishing House, this is a short work-week bookended by two holidays and an extra day off. That means someone can take three days of PTO and turn that into ten days off in a row. What a deal!

Continue Reading

Easy Social Media for Christmas Week

By Peter Frank | Dec 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM

We’re less than one week away from Christmas—is your social media ready?

While Christmas provides some great opportunities for your church to share the Gospel with your community, it can be a challenge to get everything done on time and still be creative. Here are three quick ways to leverage social media during the busiest time of the year.

Continue Reading

Getting Ahead for Advent and Lent by Planning Them Together

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Dec 12, 2017 10:30:00 AM

For pastors, Advent and Lent can feel more like survival times than planning times. Midweek services, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Holy Week, Easter. . . . It can be overwhelming. Since we’re in the middle of Advent right now, you might be feeling especially crunched for time. While you’re thinking about Advent and time management, I wanted to suggest some ideas you can implement when you plan for future seasons of Advent and Lent.

Continue Reading

Catechesis, Memorization, and Technology

By Katy Munson | Dec 5, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The way we use our memory has changed in recent years, and daily tasks that once required us to recall information are now done by accessing digital directories or using voice activation. When I was in grade school, memory tools were of the index-card variety, each holding a different historical fact, spelling word, or basic math equation. Now memory cards hold countless digital images and files, at times doing our remembering for us.

Continue Reading

Using Custom Snapchat Filters for Your Ministry

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM

If your ministry is on Snapchat, I applaud you! Snapchat is, in my opinion, one of the hardest social media platforms to manage and create content for, especially for churches. So the fact that you even have a Snapchat means you’re going in the right direction.

Continue Reading

Helping Your Members Pause and Give Thanks

By Anna Johnson | Nov 21, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. Is it just me, or are all these Thanksgiving-weekend activities getting a little hard to manage?

As is so often the case, it’s easy to let our celebration of thankfulness for all God’s good gifts become eclipsed by our relentless desire for more and better. How can your church help your members to pause and reflect throughout Thanksgiving weekend? Here are some ideas for simple Thanksgiving-weekend activities that can help your church and her members maintain a thankful spirit in the next few days.

Continue Reading

How Church Management Software Can Help Pastors

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Nov 14, 2017 9:00:00 AM

I had only been a pastor for a short while at my first congregation. I remember trying to look up families and guessing the ages of their children. I cannot remember if it was for confirmation or something else. The church wanted to send a letter because of an upcoming class. The secretary was walking by and asked me what I was doing. I explained and said that it was hard work. I had been doing it for a couple of days at that point. She started laughing and telling me that all I had to do was ask her. All that information was kept in Shepherd’s Staff, which was our church management software (CMS).

Continue Reading
Topics: Software Pastors

Your Church’s Complete Guide to Instagram’s New Features

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 7, 2017 3:00:00 PM

Instagram has made a lot of changes in the past two years. This photo-sharing app has come a long way from its early days of square photos, heavy filters, and jagged borders. What used to be an app that was used to share photos to other social media sites has become a standalone app that many people use as their primary social media account. Millennials and Gen Z-ers especially are locked in on Instagram rather than Facebook.

Continue Reading

The Reformation and Technological Change in the Church

By Jeremy Roegner | Oct 31, 2017 10:30:00 AM

“Immortal God, what a world I see dawning. Why can I not be young again?”

The Dutch scholar Erasmus wrote these words in 1517, enraptured by the possibilities created by the Renaissance. The zeitgeist of the Renaissance was closely entwined with that of the Reformation, also dawning in 1517, as Europeans awakened to new ways of seeing the world and understanding their individual roles in it.

It was technology that enabled the ideas of the Renaissance and Reformation to spread like wildfire around Europe: Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press drastically increased the speed and accessibility of information. This technological innovation not only transformed the way ideas were spread, but also played a significant part in developing the ideas themselves, as more and more people were able to consider themselves readers, writers, and independent thinkers.

Continue Reading

Coordinating Marketing for a Church Event

By Erica Tape | Oct 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

So there’s a big event coming up at church, and you’re the one doing the communications. You’ve got to get the word out to members and the community. You’ve got to get other people on board for the marketing and make sure they can do what you need them to do. It’s a lot to do, and it might just be a big swirly ball of chaos inside your mind. Or maybe you don’t know where to start and feel like you’re staring at a blank canvas. So how do you get started?

Here’s an outline for coordinating the marketing for an event. It’s the same process I used when running the marketing for a huge event that happened at my church a few weeks ago. This road map will guide you through the planning, execution, and analysis process, helping you manage a campaign that is comprehensive and well organized.

Continue Reading

Using IFTTT for Social Media Automation

By Seth Hinz | Oct 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM

IFTTT is a dream come true and can save an entire weekend of your time in a single click. I use this tool to automate portions of the social media marketing efforts in Michigan, and I’m always seeking out new ways to expand our reach and reduce the time we have to spend on busywork.

Continue Reading

3 Tips for Stress-Free Live Videos

By Anna Johnson | Oct 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Live video is a great medium churches can use to connect with members throughout the week. So where should you start if you’re thinking about trying a live video for the first time? How can you ensure that your first live video is a positive experience? Follow these three tips to get started.

Continue Reading

7 Hidden Excel Tricks You’ll Wish You Had Been Using Sooner

By Peter Frank | Oct 5, 2017 1:00:00 PM

It’s been quite a while since I wrote about my favorite application, Microsoft Excel. When I’m not using different combinations of formulas and applying beautiful styles to my spreadsheets, I find that there are many fantastic tools within Excel that many people have never used. These tools aren’t actually hidden, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can easily miss them. Here are my seven favorite Excel tools that you can start using today.

Continue Reading

How to Manage Your Church’s Email Lists

By Peter Frank | Oct 3, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Even in the age of social media, email still proves to be more effective than social media when reaching people. In the last five to ten years, email providers, email clients, and government regulations have combined to provide better management, more personalization, and less spam for an overall better email experience. Unfortunately, many organizations (even churches) don’t use email to its fullest and can end up abusing it.

The best way to leverage email is to properly manage your lists so you can provide the most relevant content to the right audiences. Here are some principles of list management to help you make the most of email communications.

Continue Reading

Maintaining Positive Attitudes among Ministry Staff

By Yvonne Gianino | Sep 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM

When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, one of my routines was to venture to Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle on Saturday mornings. Not only was it fun to pick out fresh fish for Saturday dinners, but the fish market employees also brought such joy and fun to the experience. They would literally toss trout and salmon through the air to each other, to customers, to anyone who would frolic in their game.

Continue Reading

Redesigning Your Church Website—Part 6: JavaScript with jQuery

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM

While HTML does content and CSS does formatting, JavaScript does interaction. If you’ve ever been on a site that reacted to where your mouse pointer moved or that allowed you to view new content without visiting a new page, you’ve probably encountered JavaScript.

Continue Reading

Simple Steps for Planning for Next Year’s Offering Envelopes

By Peter Frank | Sep 21, 2017 1:00:21 PM

The fourth quarter of 2017 is just around the corner, and in addition to Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, this time includes one of the most stressful tasks in the church office: preparing for next year’s offering envelopes.

Continue Reading

Maintaining Facebook Privacy as a Church Worker

By Peter Frank | Sep 19, 2017 2:10:25 PM

Last week, I explained several reasons why your church Facebook page should not replace your church website. The last reason I mentioned was that despite Facebook having a huge number of users (more than 2 billion!), not everyone is on Facebook. One group that can be very hesitant to join Facebook is church workers.

Continue Reading

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Page Doesn’t Replace Your Church Website

By Peter Frank | Sep 14, 2017 3:00:00 PM

It’s a trend among some churches, especially smaller ones, to have only a Facebook page and not a website. In some ways, this makes sense. Facebook pages are easy to set up, they are free, and Facebook has more than two billion users, so most people are already using that platform. With that in mind, it certainly begs the question, “Is it still necessary to have a church website?”

Continue Reading

Securing Your Church's Portable Devices

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 12, 2017 9:00:00 AM

 

This excerpt as taken from the ebook Computer Security for Your Church.

The mobile revolution has brought with it a number of new security threats.  Modern devices can carry infected files as easily as floppy disks could in ages past.  Additionally, the threat of devices being lost, stolen or compromised themselves leave a number of concerns which need to be thought through.  While it’s beyond the scale of most church offices to be able to fully secure and administrate these things, there are nonetheless a few simple precautions which can make your data more secure.

Continue Reading

Reaching Non-members with Community Events

By Stephen E. Jenkins | Sep 7, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The trends of how people first connect with a congregation have changed over time. It is important to explore these trends and adapt with them. In this blog post, we will cover how these trends have changed over time, and a current way to reach individuals in your area—through community events.

Continue Reading

Sharing Excitement about Your Communication Strategy

By Peter Frank | Aug 31, 2017 9:00:00 AM

This is the fourteenth and final post for our training course Church Online Communications Comprehensive. After covering everything from setting church goals to writing persona profiles, it’s time to put it all together, develop a strategy, and implement the strategy. Here are the answers to some common questions about rolling out an online communication strategy at your church.

Continue Reading

3 Keys to Make Sure You Leave Well

By Andrew Osborne | Aug 29, 2017 9:45:00 AM

God has a habit of opening and closing doors in our lives. He uses these opportunities to shape us and grow us into the person He created us to be. Sometimes it's easy to walk through a door He's opened up. Perhaps you're in a job you know isn't a forever job for you, but you're just patiently waiting until finally, He opens up that new door and you can move into the career you've always wanted to.

Continue Reading

Saving Time in Your Online Communications

By Peter Frank | Aug 24, 2017 11:00:00 AM

When the Church Online Communications Comprehensive started thirteen weeks ago, the discussion of online communications started with a focus on strategy. Since then, the topics have become more specific with information about individual channels and tactics.

Now that all of that has been discussed, it’s time to take a step back and see how to pull everything together. Figuring out how to get started is difficult, but not nearly as difficult as determining how to find the time to do it. Here are some ways to make communications take less time and some of my favorite tools for maximizing efficiency.

Continue Reading

Congregational and Corporate Cultures

By Ann Ciaccio | Aug 22, 2017 9:00:00 AM

There has been a lot written about corporate culture. But, more recently, it is being addressed at congregational levels.

Continue Reading

Understanding Search Engine Optimization

By Peter Frank | Aug 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Last week, we dove into the topic of social media and how you can use it to direct people to your church’s website. This week, we’re going to talk about the number one way to bring people to your site: search engine optimization.

Continue Reading

Redesigning Your Church Website Part 5 – Understanding CSS

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Aug 15, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In the bad old days of the web, users had to specify the formatting for every page and item on the page in the HTML tag.  This worked, but it led to a lot of repeated code, and it made changing your site’s look or design an absolute nightmare.  (In fairness, designing a site was a bit of a nightmare, so it evened out.)

Continue Reading

Utilizing Social Media in the Church to the Fullest

By Peter Frank | Aug 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Fifteen years ago, social media was not even an idea, much less an integral part of communication strategies. Even ten years ago, there were a lot of questions about whether social media would stick around or if it was just the latest internet fad.

Obviously a lot has changed since then, and today, social media is a far more important platform in communications than anyone would have guessed. No longer is it a question of if social media is part of a communication strategy but rather how and how much. This post will describe the benefits of using social media in the church and how to apply it as part of your church’s online communications strategy.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Writing Tips for Church Workers

By Billy Schultz | Aug 8, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Writing is a skill that comes naturally for some, and is a struggle for others. Whether or not you’re confident in your abilities, or if you have a job that doesn’t require it, it can still sometimes be necessary to write something that will be read by someone else.

Continue Reading

Establishing a Communication Hub for Your Church

By Peter Frank | Aug 3, 2017 9:00:00 AM

A couple weeks ago, we talked about how a content framework consists of a home base (your website), a media empire (blogs and emails), and outposts (social media). This week, our focus will be on the media empire, which is the source of all your church’s long-form communication.

Though your media empire may reside on your church’s website, it serves a very different purpose. The purpose of your website should be to encourage people to visit and get involved at your church; the media empire should direct people further into your website. In this blog post, we’ll delve into blogs and emails and learn how they can develop your church’s content framework.

Continue Reading

Redesigning Your Church Website – Part 4: Understanding Basic HTML

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Aug 1, 2017 3:15:00 PM

 

Continue Reading

Building a Great Website for Church Communications

By Peter Frank | Jul 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In this week's session of the Church Online Communications Comprehensive, we're going to switch our attention from the theoretical to the practical. We've spent enough time talking strategy; now it's time to get into the practical implementation. Let's start off by discussing church websites.

When the topic of church websites comes up in the discussion of online communications, it's hard to do it justice in only a couple weeks. While I'm going to focus on the highlights, it's important to remember that this will only be a sample of the many different best practices that can be applied to your church's website.

Continue Reading

Questions Every Church Website Should Answer

By Yvonne Gianino | Jul 25, 2017 9:30:00 AM

A good church website answers questions for visitors and members alike. This is instrumental in easily locating important information about your church. Below is a list of common questions every church website should answer. When creating a “What To Expect” page, here are some questions to keep in mind.

Continue Reading

Making the Most of Each Communication Channel

By Peter Frank | Jul 20, 2017 9:00:00 AM

This session will start to get into the hands-on aspects of communication. We’ll dig more into the nitty-gritty of what church communication consists of and how to successfully communicate with your audience. We’ll do this by talking about a content framework.

I've discussed the concept of having a content framework in a previous blog post, as well as in a live presentation just a few weeks ago. This is such an important concept in online communications that it's worth exploring in a bit more detail.

Continue Reading

Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Web Writing

By Erica Tape | Jul 18, 2017 10:45:00 AM

With everything having a website these days, how do you make your church’s website stand out in a Google search?

An essential thing to implement on your church’s website is SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is how we make things show up in search results. Without SEO, no one knows your site exists unless they already have its URL.

One could easily write an entire book on how to optimize a site for SEO, but here are some basic tips to get you started. Because your site will have a mix of long-term pages that aren’t frequently updated and timely pages you need to draw traffic to, you may not use all of these tactics on every single page. But implementing them when appropriate will make a big difference in helping new people find your site and get connected to your church.

Continue Reading

Communicating in the Right Context

By Peter Frank | Jul 13, 2017 9:00:00 AM

If you're just starting to follow along, this is the seventh session in our fourteen-week series about online communications in the church. Every week, a different communication strategy has been defined and shown how to apply in a strategic manner.

Recently, the topics have focused on audience personas, journey maps, and message maps. This week, we will explore how to combine these three concepts and apply them in a very practical action plan called a content map.

Continue Reading

How to Automate Your Church Social Media

By Seth Hinz | Jul 11, 2017 2:00:00 PM

This post is an excerpt from Seth Hinz's ebook Social Media Automation.


Social media automation tools will help you scale your social media marketing efforts. You’ll discover how to schedule out and recycle content indefinitely, find and engage in conversations you’ve been missing, expand your follower base, and reduce the time you spend on repetitive tasks. All of this will turn you into a lean and mean marketing machine. One stop short of full-on robot.

Continue Reading

Giving Your Communications Focus

By Peter Frank | Jul 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The last four sessions of our Online Church Communications Comprehensive focused primarily on high-level strategy. Now we'll start to transition to some lessons that are a bit more detailed and have practical implications on your day-to-day communications.

The first step in this direction is to focus your communication on a few key messages. A long-standing practice within public relations and communications is to develop a message map.

Continue Reading

4 Steps to Create a Job Description for Churches

By Ann Ciaccio | Jul 3, 2017 9:00:00 AM

When it comes time to call or hire a church worker, a good job description is the essential tool to enable you to determine the right person for the position.

Continue Reading

Creating Movement in Your Church Communications

By Peter Frank | Jun 29, 2017 9:00:00 AM

We spent the last two weeks identifying your church audiences and gaining a better understanding of who they are and how to communicate with them. Today, we're going to shift gears a bit and start planning ways to move these audiences closer to your church goals.

The way we'll do this is by creating a journey map for your audiences. This map, which could also be described as a timeline, should be based on your church goals. The starting point is right before your first point of contact with your audience, and the subsequent points, or destinations, are the desired outcomes based on your church goals.

Continue Reading

Defining and Measuring Success In Your Church

By Billy Schultz | Jun 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Success is one of those words that people seem to use without giving much thought to what they’re saying. Whether we talk about success in a personal or collective sense, we often times use the word without knowing what we mean by it. Or worse, we know what we mean by it, but when we try to measure it, we fail to look at the right indicators. 

Continue Reading

Understanding Your Church Audience (Part 2)

By Peter Frank | Jun 22, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Last week, I talked about determining the personas your church communications will be developed for. This week, we’re going to work on developing profiles for those personas.

First, we’re going to look at what types of information your personas should include. Then we’ll look at how you can compile that information. At the end of the post, you can download a free worksheet that will help you assemble that information into easy-to-understand profiles. Keep these profiles on hand so you can check your communication efforts against them and so you can easily train new volunteers on your church’s communication strategy.

Continue Reading

What I’ve Learned in Six Months of Planning

By Kimberly Myers | Jun 20, 2017 9:45:00 AM

Continue Reading

Determining Your Church Audience (Part 1)

By Peter Frank | Jun 15, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In my office, on the top shelf of my bookcase, I have a orange and purple acrylic picture frame. Aside from the material and the transparency of the frame, there is one thing unusual about it: it doesn’t contain a picture.

This picture frame is a reminder for me of the first mistake I made in my professional career.

Continue Reading

Content Your Church Website Should Provide

By Stephen E. Jenkins | Jun 13, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Including content that will both provide useful information for members and attract visitors is the most crucial part of having a church website. Church websites that do not provide proper content are as useful as not providing any information at all.

Here are a few examples of essential content every church website should provide.

Continue Reading

Setting Church Communication Goals

By Peter Frank | Jun 8, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Every good plan starts with goals, and a church communication plan is no different. Stating ministry goals and building communication goals off of them is the first step in making an effective online communication strategy happen.

Continue Reading

Creating an Environment for Learning in the Church

By Dave Farnham | Jun 7, 2017 9:00:00 AM

How many of us remember the candlelight services we have once a year?

When we engage more than one sense in a learning environment, the chance of us learning what is being taught exponentially increases. In candlelight services, we are using the senses of sight, touch, and smell. Remembering these sensory experiences later can also help us recall the message we heard about God’s grace.

From early in church history to the present day, believers have wanted to use their skills and gifts to help others learn about God’s grace. In the past, artists used paintings, sculptures, mosaics, or architecture to tell stories and share messages. Today, in a world full of technology, what are high-tech and low-tech ways we can engage the senses and create an environment for learning?

Continue Reading

Planning Church Online Communications

By Peter Frank | Jun 1, 2017 9:00:00 AM

My first experience with church communications was around the year 2000. I was fifteen years old, I had learned web design as a hobby, and my church was looking to launch their first website.

The Board of PR Communications invited me and another high schooler to work with them to build their website. These adults were not very tech savvy, but they understood communications and strategy, and I learned from them that a church website is far more than just HTML.

Continue Reading

Redesigning Your Church Website – Part 3:  Selecting a Platform

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 30, 2017 9:15:00 AM


Now that you’ve decided on your message and audiences (if not, see part 2 in this series) it’s time to look at where you’re actually going to put the website once you’ve got it perfected.  There are quite a few options, so it’s easy to get lost.

Continue Reading

Free Resources to Stretch Your Budget

By Kimberly Myers | May 25, 2017 9:30:00 AM

 
When my husband and I were younger, we served as teachers in Southeast Asia. As part of our orientation, we were given the book Where There Is No Doctor, which taught us things like how to amputate our own limbs or assist someone having a baby. Fortunately, we never had to use that book for any medical procedures! Some years later, we moved to another location and I was asked to teach several literature classes…without textbooks. Somehow, I made do and ended up cobbling together a passable syllabus and materials.

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Apps

Redesigning Your Church Website – Part 2:  Defining Your Audiences

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 23, 2017 10:00:00 AM

So you’ve decide to build a new church website, in spite of all the perfectly good reasons not to do so.  Before you rush off to buy a new copy of Frontpage and start working, there’s a few steps before we start actually building a site.  A little bit of time now will save you a ton of pain and suffering later. 

Continue Reading

Silos: In Your Congregation and School

By Ann Ciaccio | May 18, 2017 12:15:00 PM

In an earlier blog, I spoke about personal silos. Since church workers feed into a congregation’s culture, it is the attitude of the church workers that dictate what the culture of a congregation will be. So, that being said, when addressing congregational silos and how to break out, the congregation church workers’ cannot be operating out of a silo mentality, if the congregation is to move out of silos and the assumption is that the church workers are outside. 

Continue Reading

Is Your Church's Technology Safe and Secure?

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

This expert was taken from the ebook Computer Security for Your Church.

When we think about the many ways our churches serve their members, we don’t often think about things like technology or data security.  In today’s growing digital world, though, a robust awareness of data security can be one of the most important ways to safeguard the privacy of your users and their families.  Just as we wouldn’t broadcast information given to us in confidence in day to day conversation, so too in the digital world we need to ensure that the information our members and visitors entrust us with is kept safe and secure from those who would use it to cause harm.

Continue Reading

Free and Discount Online Resources for Churches

By Dave Farnham | May 11, 2017 10:45:00 AM

In churches we are used to operating on a shoestring budget.  We have to make the most of every dollar and sometimes, every penny. What I want to provide are a few things that are either discounted or FREE that you may not have been aware of previously.

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Apps

Taking On Church Communications: What to Ask Before You Start

By Kimberly Myers | May 9, 2017 11:15:00 AM

Continue Reading

7 Ways Your Church Could Use Pinterest

By Dave Farnham | May 4, 2017 10:51:52 AM

Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board or pinboard where you can share things that you are passionate about and love. Members of Pinterest will pin things that they like and things of interest to their account so they can return to them easily. It’s a great place to pick up ideas and learn from others. Pictures, quotes, recipe ideas, activities, crafts, do-it-yourself projects, and more are shared. Basically, Pinterest wants to connect people based on similar interests or organizations.

Continue Reading

Redesigning Your Church Website – Part 1:  Do You Really Need a Redesign?

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 2, 2017 12:15:00 PM

So you’re thinking of doing a complete redesign of your church website.  The theme is dated, the info is out of date, and those 4000kb background images were never good ideas.  That’s right.  It’s time to burn the whole thing down and start over from scratch.

Continue Reading

How to Determine Your Church's Brand

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Apr 26, 2017 2:30:00 PM

This post is an excerpt from Rev. Daniel Ross's ebook The Beginner's Guide to Communicating Your Brand for Churches.

Let’s do a quick thought experiment. What comes to mind when you think of: Apple; Microsoft; McDonalds; Nike; Coca Cola; Starbucks. Those companies have poured a lot of time and money into building their brands.

Continue Reading

Agile Failing for Church Communications

By Seth Hinz | Apr 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Done is better than perfect, and I needed to learn to get to “done” faster.

True confessions - rapid fire edition.

  • I love working on teams.
  • I love getting feedback on my work.
  • I hate working alone.

Here’s the problem: Most of the time, I work alone, in an office digging away at code, video editing, graphic design, you name it.

Continue Reading

Is the Medium Really the Message?

By Billy Schultz | Apr 20, 2017 9:45:00 AM

A half-century after its publishing, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man continues to be a popular work in the area of media and communications. In the opening paragraph, he proposes the following:

Continue Reading

Get Noticed in a Clickbait World: You Won’t Believe Number 4!

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Apr 18, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Only here will you get the truth and the full story!

Continue Reading

Setting Your Social Media Response Strategy

By Kimberly Myers | Apr 13, 2017 9:30:00 AM

 

Continue Reading

4 Graphics to Help You Focus this Holy Week

By Andrew Osborne | Apr 11, 2017 9:30:00 AM



Does your family celebrate Easter in any particular way? My large extended family has always loved getting together for every holiday we can think of. It can be difficult planning all of these gatherings (thankfully my mom and wife still do most of the actual planning), figuring out where we'll meet, what day works for everyone's schedule, and who's going to bring dessert. With the crazy amount of planning that goes into celebrating together, it can be easy to overlook why we're celebrating in the first place! That's why I'm thankful my family tries hard to schedule our family activities around church activities, rather than the opposite.

Continue Reading

How to Connect with Easter Visitors

By Jan Jasmin | Apr 7, 2017 1:30:00 PM

 

Easter is a season of anticipation and celebration for people who may seldom attend church the rest of the year.

For churches, Easter also requires preparation for greeting those infrequent attendees and converting them into regular members. Starting the outreach process immediately shows that your church embraces, listens to and cares about connecting with them.

Continue Reading

Silos: Good for Farms, Bad for Church Workers

By Ann Ciaccio | Apr 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

 

When you hear the word “silo” do you think of farming, work environments, or congregations?

For farmers, a silo is used as part of the process in crop storage. It is a sealed environment, keeping bad things out and good things in. 

In a work environment or congregation, it can be destructive.

Continue Reading

Am I Too Old to Reach College Students?

By Jenn Eickman | Apr 4, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Continue Reading

Using GoToMeeting for Remote Bible Studies

By Dave Farnham | Mar 30, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Many churches provide a pastor’s Bible Study class that is taught each Sunday. If you’re like me, you know of some in your church who can’t attend because they have a required work schedule or are homebound or are facing other unique situations. Although a good number of churches post the pastor’s sermon (video or audio) online on the church website, there is a distinct difference between listening or watching a sermon and being involved and connected in studying the Bible. 

Studying the Bible leads to being more reflective, asking questions, and digging deeper. The connection that takes place can be more personal than in a large-group worship setting. 

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Apps

Social Media Roundup - Posts Churches Can Try

By Seth Hinz | Mar 28, 2017 9:02:04 AM

If you oversee scheduling social media posts for your church, you may sometimes feel like you’re staring at a blank canvas each week. Either that or the canvas has so much paint on it you don’t know what you’re looking at anymore. If this is you and you’re looking for a refresh, here are some ideas for your social media calendar. 

Continue Reading

Letting Strategy Determine Technology in Ministry

By Billy Schultz | Mar 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Imagine this scenario: You work in a church coordinating communications, among other responsibilities. One day, you receive a call from a lay leader, who tells you that a business client of his showed him a new software her church uses to communicate with and schedule volunteers. This member tells you that while he knows the price is high (or spendy, if this hypothetical church is in Minnesota), he’s willing to donate the funds to purchase this software.

Continue Reading

How to Build a Church Website: Content and Navigation

By Meagan Thole | Mar 21, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Welcome to the wonderful world of creating your website! Feeling some pressure? Don’t. You can do this. I promise you, with a little guidance you’ll be sailing through and wondering why you ever worried in the first place.

In this series of articles you’ll learn the easiest way to make an attractive website for your church with the least amount of headache.

Continue Reading

An Overview of Copyrights for Churches (Part 2)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

While the copyright law inthe US provides several rights exclusively tothe rights holders of acreative work, the law nonetheless allows use of works, even those covered by copyright, in specific ways. To protect the ability of artists toreference one another’s work, teachers to educate, and criticsand commentators to reference artistic works, the copyright law provides a series of principles collectively known as Fair Use.

Continue Reading

Public Relations and Your Church

By Ann Ciaccio | Mar 14, 2017 9:00:00 AM

pub·lic re·la·tions 
ˈpəblik rəˈlāSHənz/
noun

Continue Reading

Stop the Presses or Pause the Video?

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Mar 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Pew Research recently came out with an interesting study. The study in and of itself is not interesting, however, the results are. In the rush to digitize everything and the push towards moving to video one little thing has been overlooked: Millennials prefer to get their news by reading. Overall, Americans want to get their news by watching video compared to reading or even listening to the news (46% : 35% : 17%). However, things look much different when you break down the age groups.

Continue Reading

An Overview of Copyrights for Churches (Part 1)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 7, 2017 9:00:00 AM

This article is intended to familiarize you with the basics of copyright as it relates to churches.  Because copyright is a legal issue and the intricacies of your situation might make a significant difference in your rights and responsibilities, you should consult a lawyer who is familiar with your circumstance before following any legal guidance.

Copyright is a set of laws designed to help artists and others who produce creative works to be able to benefit from their work and to control its use.

Continue Reading

Christ-Focused Storytelling

By Katy Munson | Mar 2, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Stories are a powerful way to communicate and connect. From advertising to our dinner tables, stories saturate our lives. God’s Word is filled with stories, communicating our fallenness and Jesus’ faithfulness. As we use stories in church communications(social media, blog, video, website, etc.), it’s vital that our narratives continually point back to Jesus - his life, death, and resurrection.

Continue Reading

Why You Must Question the Cultural Orthodoxy

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Feb 28, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Within any culture there’s a certain orthodox set of ideas that aren’t allowed to be challenged or compromised except at great peril.  Some of those are held in common across most, if not all, cultures, such as the idea that killing without justification is wrong.  Others of them are unique to a particular culture, place and time.  In ancient Rome, for example, one of the guiding principles was that of polytheism.  It was perfectly acceptable for someone to worship whatever god they chose to follow, as long as they didn’t make any claims to be the only god.  Obviously Judaism and early Christianity ran afoul of this principle, and as a result they found themselves on the margins of Roman society pretty quickly. 

In the western world today, we also have a set of guiding principles. 

Continue Reading

How to Improve Your Church Announcements

By Billy Schultz | Feb 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

If you’ve attended worship at a variety of churches, you know that church announcements are a wild card. You might get a newsletter when you enter into the sanctuary. There may be screens with looping announcements prior to the service. The pastor(s), staff, lay people, or a combination of those people might give verbal announcements at the beginning, middle, or end of the service. In many of our churches, there is a lot of information we’d like both members and visitors to know about us and what’s happening in our ministries.

Improving your church announcements is an important task to consider, as it’s a component of your overall communications strategy.

Continue Reading

4 Tips for Using Google Chrome Efficiently

By Andrew Osborne | Feb 21, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I love finding tricks and "secret" ways to do things easier. When I was growing up, my brothers and I played lots of video games together. I remember always trying to look online and find out if there were any secret codes I could type into the game and get extra coins or abilities. Sure, it may have taken away from the actual game-play a little, but it made me feel pretty cool.

Continue Reading

4 Easy Ways to Use Video on Facebook

By Andrew Osborne | Feb 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

There are so many option when it comes to the world of content creation. For church workers, trying to figure out where to even start can be a daunting task. Maybe some church workers just feel like they don't have that much time to invest in making a long video documentary or designing a massive infographic. Creating content, however, doesn't need to be that scary of a process.

Continue Reading

Using Slack to Better Team Communication

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Feb 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

If no man is an island that goes double for churches. It would be downright impossible for one person to do everything. Now, the bigger a church gets the more staff and volunteers are needed to do the work of calling all to faith. And, the more staff and volunteers a church has the more imperative it is for effective organization and behind the scenes communication.

Continue Reading

6 Lent Social Media Campaign Ideas for Churches

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Feb 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM


In less than a month it will be Ash Wednesday. The first thing I want to say is to my fellow church workers: breathe, it is going to be ok.

Continue Reading

How to Measure the Goals of Your Church

By Ann Ciaccio | Feb 2, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Utilizing the proper measurements — and checking and rechecking them can benefit us in so many areas of our lives.

Continue Reading
Topics: Goals Church

5 Ideas and a Tip for Facebook Live

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jan 31, 2017 9:00:00 AM


By now, you’ve probably heard about the fuss surrounding Facebook Live.  If not, Andrew’s got an article from last month that’s a great place to start.  But once you’ve started playing with it, how can you use FB Live to connect your members, your leadership and your surrounding community?  Here’s a few thoughts:

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional - Rebecca Thomas (Part 2)

By Seth Hinz | Jan 30, 2017 9:00:00 AM

 

Part two of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional - Rebecca Thomas (Part 1)

By Seth Hinz | Jan 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM

 

Part one of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Rebecca Thomas, an amazing church communicator who serves as the director of communication for Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton Township, Michigan, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

Advertising on Facebook for Churches

By Billy Schultz | Jan 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Advertising on Facebook isn’t as difficult or expensive as one might assume it could be. And it can really help your church increase its visibility in your community.

It’s important to note that increasing the visibility of your church’s Facebook page, or the reach and engagement of your posts, isn’t a goal in and of itself. We know our mission is for people to be connected with Jesus and His people, the Church, and to be fed by the Word and Sacraments. We don’t want our Facebook stats to improve but have our disciple-making remain static.

Continue Reading

3 Dangers of Over-Communication

By Jenn Eickman | Jan 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Think all of the ways a person, group, or ministry can communicate information at your church. More than likely your church has a website, a bulletin, church announcements (both verbal and slides), a monthly newsletter, and possibly social media and emails.

Continue Reading

Beginner's Guide to Storytelling

By Katy Munson | Jan 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM


The communications world seems to be abuzz with talk of storytelling, and for good reason! Stories have the power to connect, engage and inform. We learn about people as they share their experiences, joys and sorrows. Stories give organizations the opportunity to share the “why” that motivates them, along with the outcomes of their efforts on a more personal level.

Continue Reading

The State of Social Media in 2017

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jan 12, 2017 9:00:00 AM

If there’s one constant in the world of technology and communication, it’s that things change.  This is especially true when you have technologies that involve communication and where rapid development is rewarded with public interest, market share and, hopefully, profit.  It’s probably not a surprise, then, that the landscape of social media continues to shift rapidly, and it’s easy to get lost in the details.  Whether you’re a church beginning to dip your toe in the social media world or a seasoned professional trying to discover the next right thing to focus on, it’s important to have a high level view of the terrain going forward. 

Continue Reading

The Best Meeting Agenda Template I've Ever Used

By Seth Hinz | Jan 10, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Have you ever been in a meeting that veered off course and shifted to family, sports, or even movie recommendations? Most meetings appear harmless, they start with “we need to discuss X.” However, five minutes into many meetings, a team can end up looking around wondering who actually called the meeting and if it’s supposed to go 30 minutes or 60 or? 

Continue Reading

Why Person-First Language Matters

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Jan 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM


I read it in news articles. I hear it on newscasts. I hear it walking on the street. I have even heard it used in churches. I see and hear it everywhere, and it makes me cringe —Every. Single. Time. What is it? It is people using a characteristic (usually a disability) to define who a person is. And it is wrong.

Now, I am no Social Justice Warrior. Nor am I a guy who is on the extreme edge of being politically correct. This is not about that. So please, hear me out before you tune me out.

Continue Reading

Opportunities to Reach Unchurched Teens

By Ann Ciaccio | Jan 5, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Three opportunities presented themselves to me in a relatively short timeframe.

  • An international mission trip that connected with unchurch youth
  • The decline in youth group participation
  • A youth event open to our community
Continue Reading

7 Church Communication Resolutions

By Katy Munson | Jan 3, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and people are setting goals, making resolutions and sharing various ways they plan to better themselves in coming 12 months. Although I’m not necessarily one for making resolutions, I do appreciate the opportunity to take stock, do a little dreaming, and make a plan, particularly as it relates to serving in church communications.

Continue Reading

How to Use Online Surveys in Your Church

By Andrew Osborne | Jan 2, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wonder what my congregation thinks about (fill in the blank)” or I wish I could ask my youth group if they preferred (option one) or (option 2)”? Well now that a majority of people use smartphones, you can!

Continue Reading

A New Way to Communicate in 2017: Facebook Live

By Andrew Osborne | Dec 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As we head into a new year, we reflect back on our successes and failures of the previous year, and we look forward to new opportunities in the year to come. As church communicators, that involves evaluating our forms of communication and their effectiveness, as well as looking for new ways to reach more people with the comfort and joy of the Gospel message.

Continue Reading

How to Avoid Survey Bias

By Ann Ciaccio | Dec 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

You’ve just hosted a webinar and want to know if you should host additional ones. The fund-raising event just concluded and you would like to know what your sponsors’ impressions were. Your congregation wants to move forward with an expansion of their building. A family ministry wants to determine key aspects of the relationship between parents, schools, and students.

Continue Reading

How to Run Effective Meetings

By Katy Munson | Dec 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM

On average, a church worker spends about 39,204,823,907,402 hours of his or her life in meetings. Okay, maybe the number isn’t quite that large, but there are times it doesn’t seem too far off. We have board meetings, council meetings, voters’ meetings, informational meetings, and training meetings, just to name a few.

Meetings can get a bad rap, but when we keep a few things in mind, they can move from a begrudged necessity to a powerful ministry tool.

Continue Reading
Topics: Church Meetings

11 Christmas Graphics for Your Church to Share (Free downloads!)

By Andrew Osborne | Dec 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Christmas is a time to celebrate! We celebrate when "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." We celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, who would die to forgive us all our sins. As church workers we encourage our members to make Christmas about more than cookies, gifts, and parties. We share with them the true reasons we celebrate.

Continue Reading

10 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using Facebook

By Jenn Eickman | Dec 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Facebook is a fantastic tool for church workers. It allows us to interact with our members and communities outside our church walls in ways that we never could. While Facebook is extremely helpful and easy to use, we church workers can sometimes make some common mistakes that can be easily avoided with some prior thought.

Continue Reading

Inspiration or Imitation?

By Kimberly Myers | Dec 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Many people who are active in social media and blogging feel pressure to constantly develop new and exciting content. That pressure can sap creativity, making it hard to come up with original content and tempting you to closely copy something someone else has done.
Continue Reading

Dealing with Destructive Criticism (Part 2)

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Dec 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Criticism is hard to take. We all want to just have everybody happy with us and our performance. After writing an article on how to deal with criticism I had a few requests to go into further detail about dealing with destructive criticism in particular.

Destructive criticism’s point, unlike constructive, is to cause hurt, damage, and pain. Whereas constructive criticism’s goal is the betterment of all.

(Part two of a two part series)

Continue Reading

Dealing with Destructive Criticism (Part 1)

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Dec 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Criticism is hard to take. We all want to just have everybody happy with us and our performance. After writing an article on how to deal with criticism I had a few requests to go into further detail about dealing with destructive criticism in particular.

Destructive criticism’s point, unlike constructive, is to cause hurt, damage, and pain. Whereas constructive criticism’s goal is the betterment of all.

Continue Reading

How to Keep Your Staff on the Same Page and Organized

By Ann Ciaccio | Dec 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Whether you are speaking of corporate staff or church workers, keeping staff organized and on the same page is critical to the success of your mission.

Continue Reading

How to Best Deal with Criticism

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Dec 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Someone once told me that being a church worker is like living in a fish bowl. What they forgot to mention was that sometimes people threw rocks at the bowl. Anything public will draw criticism at some point. Sometimes it is a valid criticism, and other times it's not. So, how do you deal with and respond to it as a church worker?

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional -  Meredith (Part 2)

By Seth Hinz | Dec 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part two of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Meredith Whitefield, an amazing church communicator who serves as the Media Director for St. John Lutheran Church, in Cypress, Texas, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional -  Meredith (Part 1)

By Seth Hinz | Dec 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part one of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Meredith Whitefield, an amazing church communicator who serves as the Media Director for St. John Lutheran Church, in Cypress, Texas, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional -  Emilie (Part 2)

By Seth Hinz | Dec 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

 

Part two of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Emilie Finke, an amazing church communicator who is in charge of Social Media & Women's Ministry at The Point in Knoxville, Tennessee, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional -  Emilie (Part 1)

By Seth Hinz | Nov 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part one of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Emilie Finke, an amazing church communicator who is in charge of Social Media & Women's Ministry at The Point in Knoxville, Tennessee, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

A Guide to Encourage Giving on Giving Tuesday

By Andrew Osborne | Nov 28, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Now that we're all full of Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie (or at least I am), and we've taken time to think about and thank God for all of the ways He's abundantly blessed us, we follow the example scripture gives us in Luke 3:11 and give to others out of what He's given us. As church workers, it can be helpful for our members to give them a guide to giving on Giving Tuesday.

Continue Reading

3 Ways for Churches to Give Thanks on Social Media

By Andrew Osborne | Nov 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Happy Thanksgiving! There is so much for which we have as Christians to be thankful! Despite our best (worst) efforts, God continuously gives us undeserved grace because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross. While year after year, our world seems to us to be falling deeper into sin and depravity, we remain thankful that our hope is in Christ and His promise to make all things new again.

Continue Reading

4 Voicemail Etiquette Tips

By Ann Ciaccio | Nov 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Why bother, you might ask? Some experts estimate that as much as 75% of business calls end up in voicemail. Voicemail etiquette is key to securing good relationships. And, good voicemail manners create good relationships. 

Continue Reading

5 Tips for Photoshop Newbies

By Amanda Lansche | Nov 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Are you new to Adobe Photoshop? The program might feel overwhelming at first, especially if you aim to be self taught. Trust me when I say that I have been there!

Continue Reading

How to Brand Your Ministry

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In marketing, most companies come up with a “brand”: a theme that will make their company name recognizable. McDonald’s, for example, has grown their brand so much that the golden arches are known by nearly everyone in the world, and I’m almost certain that you’ve had their “I’m lovin’ it” slogan stuck in your head at least once in your life.

While it’s potentially dangerous to identify your church as a business (although we are in the business of making disciples!), branding your ministry offers some real benefits.

Continue Reading

How WikiLeaks Changes the Face of Government Transparency

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Nov 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

 

Now that the election is over and the dust is starting to settle, it’s a good time to stop and take a look at how WikiLeaks not only significantly influenced and impacted the U.S. presidential election but also affects other parts of the world.

Love it or hate it, WikiLeaks has begun a campaign to open the world’s governments and to enable people to see how things work in more direct, transparent ways. 

Continue Reading

3 Benefits of Electronic Giving for Churches

By Andrew Osborne | Nov 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In August of 2015, Vanco Payment Solutions conducted an online survey of 1,002 U.S. Christian churchgoers. They created a report that details the survey’s findings about current attitudes toward e-Giving, the most compelling motivations for church giving and preferences for communication and technology. Some of their findings were that:

Continue Reading

How to Create a Luke 2 Video for Your Church

By Katy Munson | Nov 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Two of my favorite things are creative ideas and Christmas. So, it’s not surprising that a Luke 2 video caught my attention (watch the video below to see what it’s all about).

Continue Reading
Topics: Christmas Video

Church Website Photos—Stock or Original?

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

One of my favorite things on the Internet is horrible stock photos (seriously, just Google “weirdest stock photos.”). Why would anyone ever need a picture of someone wearing space glasses holding an ear of corn? The Internet is a strange and mysterious place.

When you’re picking pictures for your church website, you can either use royalty-free stock photos or images that are of your congregation. There are benefits to both options, so it’s important to weigh your options and choose an option that fits your church website’s needs.

Continue Reading

Maximize Your Office Space to Increase Productivity

By Peter Frank | Nov 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Achieving productivity in the church office may seem to be as elusive for you as a World Series victory is for the Chicago Cubs. But just as they showed everyone last night, it is actually possible.

Continue Reading

4 Ways for Church Workers to Keep Up with Technology

By Andrew Osborne | Nov 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As Christians we believe that God's Word is unchanging. Our God doesn't flip-flop or change His mind. When He gave us His Word, it was final and infallible. In contrast, we humans tend to change pretty much at the drop of a dime.

One week, we'll have an extreme opinion on a topic, but then the next we'll learn more and change our opinion. Some of us seem to change our careers every five years or so. Our tastes and style change every time the newest fad hits the market. One of the seemingly biggest changes to hit us most recently is the change in the way we learn.

Continue Reading

4 Ways to Use Photography in the Church

By Andrew Osborne | Oct 31, 2016 9:30:00 AM

The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has been tossed around for a long time, but it is absolutely true. Pictures have a way of sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings with people that can sometimes be hard to put in words. You can even experience God in pictures by viewing the beauty of His creation. Photography is another tool that churches can use in a wide variety of ways.

Continue Reading

Incremental Change vs. Transformational Change (Part 2)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Oct 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part two of a two-part series on Incremental Change vs. Transformational Change by Rev. Bill Johnson.

Continue Reading

Incremental Change vs. Transformational Change (Part 1)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Oct 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part one of a two-part series on Incremental Change vs. Transformational Change by Rev. Bill Johnson.

An author I once read (and have now forgotten the name of) shared a story about incremental change. Take a photo. It’s a good photo, and probably one you’ll look back at often, but it’s just a photo. Take a second photo of the same subject moments later. Now, switch back and forth between the two photos. You will see that a few things have changed, and the experience will begin to feel a bit like one of those “Spot the Difference” puzzles you find in the Sunday newspapers. It’s a change, but it’s really just a notch forward. Two pictures aren’t really all that much different than one picture. This is incremental change.

Continue Reading

Avoiding Zombie Communications

By Ann Ciaccio | Oct 24, 2016 9:00:12 AM

Zombie communications reduce the ability of your information to be communicated in an effective and reliable manner. As the information travels down the pipeline, it becomes less and less effective, reducing your message to nothing more than nonsensical words. They can become an epidemic, traveling across all lines of communications. Zombie communications can destroy the collaboration between various departments within an organization. It’s that serious.

Continue Reading

How to Successfully Make Controversial Changes in the Church

By Jenn Eickman | Oct 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Change is a difficult thing to accept for a lot of people. People are creatures of habit. I know this first hand because every Sunday growing up we sat on the same side of the church—almost in the same pew.

People don’t tend to enjoy when their habits or traditions are abruptly uprooted—especially at church.

Continue Reading

8 Tips and Tricks for Microsoft PowerPoint

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Oct 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

 

October is not only Pastor Appreciation Month, but it is also conference month! Well, at least for the Kansas and Michigan Districts. Which means, I just sat through a whole bunch of PowerPoint presentations. And, by-and-large they were not pretty. Not trying to criticize, just stating a fact.

Nowadays PowerPoint is easier than ever to use. But, if you grew up in olden times it was quite the tedious program. Because of that I get the sense that many people think that the things they would like to do are cumbersome and time consuming. Well, not anymore. Things are much more streamlined and fairly simple. But, before we dive in, read Katy Munson’s article: How to Use PowerPoint Effectively.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional - Sheree (Part 2)

By Seth Hinz | Oct 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part two of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Sheree Howard, an amazing church communicator who is currently serving as the Communications Director and Director of Contemporary Worship at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

Interview with a Church Communication Professional - Sheree (Part 1)

By Seth Hinz | Oct 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Part one of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.

In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Sheree Howard, an amazing church communicator who is currently serving as the Communications Director and Director of Contemporary Worship at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.

Continue Reading

6 Ways to Prepare Your Church for Advent

By Katy Munson | Oct 11, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I have to confess. For a church season that is focused on anticipation and preparation, I don’t have the best track record when it comes to anticipating or preparing for Advent (and Christmas) communication efforts in the months leading up to it. This often results in a bunch of hurrying and scurrying in a time set aside to for reflection, repentance, and preparation to celebrate Jesus’ first coming and wait expectantly for his return. 

Continue Reading

Reformation 2016 Resources

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Oct 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As you may know, Reformation Day is coming up in just a few weeks.  While Reformation 2017 is going to be the big celebration (500 years since the beginning of the Reformation), there’s still 2016 to celebrate.  To make your planning for both 2016 and 2017 a bit easier, here are a few web based resources for preparing your celebration.

Continue Reading

Social Media For Advent: 5 Things To Begin Now

By Kimberly Myers | Oct 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I know, I know. It’s not even Reformation Day and you’re supposed to think about Christmas? But once Thanksgiving and Advent arrive, you’re probably going to be far too busy to spend a lot of time managing quality daily, or even weekly, social media posting. Instead of relegating social media to one more burdensome chore on your long list of holiday tasks, prepare and schedule social media content now so you can make the most of people’s seasonal joy while not burning yourself out.

Continue Reading

Email Etiquette Tips for Churches

By Amanda Lansche | Oct 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

My mom writes about two emails a month, while my sister writes about a hundred a day. (Their days look very different!) Wherever you fall within this spectrum, it’s important to make sure you and the people representing your church utilize proper email etiquette to imbue your communications with professionalism.

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Email

Protecting Your Family, Your Church, and Your Ministry

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Oct 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money….7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil (Emphasis added). - 1 Timothy 3:1-3, 7 

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Apps

Combining Millennials, Technology & The Church

By Hannah Osborne | Sep 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

This post is an excerpt from the ebook, Millennials and the Church, written by Hannah Osborne.

Continue Reading

How to Identify Your Audience

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

When you’re starting a communication campaign, whether it’s for your business, church or non-profit, the first two questions you need to ask are “Who am I speaking to?” and “What do they need to hear from me?”  Those questions seem simple, but in reality they’re deceptively complicated.  We’ll deal with the second one next month, but for this month I’d like to tackle some of the things to consider when identifying your audience.

Continue Reading

5 Options for Building Forms on Your Website

By Seth Hinz | Sep 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Whether it’s an event registration, contact information update, photo contest entry, guest feedback, or prayer request, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you deploy a form to collect information.

Continue Reading
Topics: Website Forms

I Hate Passwords Too: A Quick Guide to Secure Passwords

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I’m not sure anyone likes passwords.  They’re clumsy, hard to remember and increasingly easy to crack. There are a few things you can do, however, to make your passwords easier to remember and more secure.

Continue Reading

8 Helpful Tips for Proofreading

By Kimberly Myers | Sep 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

You’ve probably seen one of the many pictures of church signs or bulletins with unintentionally hilarious  mistakes. If you are the one preparing your church or school's bulletins and signs, you might have been the one who accidentally wished visitors a “worm welcome” or prayed for the people who “are sick of our church and community.”

Continue Reading

What the Church Can Take Away from the Equation Group Hack

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

There was some big news last month, and it had nothing to do with the US presidential election or the Olympics. Because of this, it largely went unnoticed by major media channels, but it’s something we should all be aware of.

Continue Reading

4 Quick Tips for Facebook Pages

By Jenn Eickman | Sep 15, 2016 9:00:25 AM

I don’t claim to be a Facebook expert, but there are 4 quick tips I believe any user could find helpful for Facebook Pages.

Continue Reading

6 Ideas for Bringing Your Sermon Home

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Sep 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Every pastor has thought about it: How do I take the sermon from just Sunday morning to my people during their weeks? Fortunately, with today’s technology it is easier than ever before with a myriad of ways. Many of these ways are low cost to absolutely free. Now, there are as many ways as there are imaginations, and some of those ways are even practical. All these methods will involve intentionality (that means time – whether a little or a lot) to implement consistently, effectively, and successfully. 

Continue Reading

How to Improve Your Church Newsletter Workflow

By Amanda Lansche | Sep 12, 2016 11:15:00 AM

Church newsletters often include copy from a number of contributors, like the pastor, youth director, and volunteers. Likely, they send all that copy in Word documents. And if you design the newsletter in Adobe InDesign, well, then you probably already know Word and InDesign aren’t besties.

If the process of moving from Word to InDesign for your church newsletter is a regular headache, try using styles to streamline your workflow.

Continue Reading

How to Use Webinars for Member Training

By Seth Hinz | Sep 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I love a good productivity hack. I especially love one that increases the productivity of me, my co-workers, and the people we serve. That’s why I’m a big fan of webinars for training. We can provide live trainings on a wide variety of topics, record them, and make them available for on-demand viewing.

Continue Reading

How to Use PowerPoint Effectively

By Katy Munson | Sep 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

PowerPoint can be an effective tool and a helpful presentation software for your church, given its familiarity and accessibility. Here are some very basic ideas for using this program in a way that enhances what you’re trying to say, rather than detracting from it.

Continue Reading

What the Church Can Learn from No Man’s Sky

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Sep 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Perhaps no game has been more anticipated (and more divisive) in the gaming community than the recent release of No Man’s Sky. Hyped as a nearly infinite universe, it enabled players to explore the breadth of its over 18 quintillion stars, each with its own planets, moons, plants, animals, and ecosystems. The player is cast in the role of a survivor of a starship crash and must repair his or her ship and make a way boldly forth into the unknown. 

Continue Reading

Creating Communication Touch Points with a Sign-In Sheet

By Seth Hinz | Aug 30, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I was recently contacted by a pastor who was having a hard time communicating with a group that meets every other month in his region. He’s already done the hard part, which is to get a gathering organized that people are interested in attending. However, the Facebook group that keeps the conversation going isn’t pulling its weight. He’s finding that when he posts, only about 10 percent of group members are actually seeing his posts.

Continue Reading

Simple Steps to Set Your House Style and Brand

By Kimberly Myers | Aug 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Set a house style for my church? Brand my church like it’s a soda or a pair of jeans? But we aren’t selling anything! We aren’t a corporation trying to make a profit. We’re just here to serve!

Continue Reading

Top 7 Features of Canva’s iOS App

By Amanda Lansche | Aug 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Canva brings high-quality graphic design within reach for anyone. Their on-trend designs, beautiful stock photos, and easy-to-use interface have made the web application very popular, especially among business professionals. Their iPad app has seen solid success since it came out in 2014. In July, Canva finally released a mobile app for the iPhone!

Continue Reading
Topics: Online Apps Canva

Technology Training in the Church

By Jenn Eickman | Aug 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Change is hard. Change is inevitable. Embrace change. Help others embrace change.

We all know that technology changes weekly, daily, and even hourly. The way we communicate and connect with others seems to change on a dime—and sometimes in ways we would have never expected.

It is our job as communicators to connect with and communicate to an age range of tweens – 90+.  Many of our members embrace the technological world and its changes. Many use smart phones, computers, tablets, can text, or video chat. But let’s not forget those that are timid to change or learning new things. Technology can be overwhelming and at times even terrifying.

Continue Reading

6 Designer Tips for Word: Using Themes, Styles & Templates

By Amanda Lansche | Aug 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Microsoft Word gets a bad rap when it comes to design tools. When you think of designing in Word, do you see pixelated clip art and hot pink Comic Sans? Thankfully, it’s not 1999 any more!

While designing in Word can be frustrating, using this software doesn’t mean your documents need to be ugly or plain. When everyone in your church office, not to mention all of your volunteers, already have Word and know how to use it, it’s a great software solution for your group. (There’s even a free online version, which is awesome when multiple users need to work on the same document.)

Continue Reading

The Value of Tracking Church Attendance (and How to Do It!)

By Peter Frank | Aug 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Church traditions are funny things. There are some traditions that have been a part of the Church for centuries. There are other traditions that are unique to church bodies or even individual congregations. If you have been a member of the same congregation for a long time, it can be hard to tell the types of traditions apart.

Continue Reading

How to Create Call-To-Action Links on Facebook

By Seth Hinz | Aug 16, 2016 9:30:00 AM

In newsfeeds that are constantly jammed with more and more content, it’s important to give your links every chance they can get to stand out above the rest. One way to stand out is to use Call-To-Action Links on Facebook. 

Continue Reading

Pokémon GO Opens New Doors for Ministry

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Aug 15, 2016 9:30:00 AM

You might have recently noticed a new phenomenon happening in your city, and particularly around your church. Groups of youth and young adults (and a few older adults) roaming in packs throughout the city, staring intently at their cell phones. They’re searching for something, and they won’t rest until they’ve collected them all.  Pokémon GO has arrived.

Continue Reading

How to Use Your Smartphone as a Resource for Family Devotions

By Katy Munson | Aug 11, 2016 11:30:00 AM

A regular devotion time gives fam ilies intentional opportunity to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus. It also helps to foster ongoing conv ersation in all areas of life, just as we’re instructed to do in Deuteronomy 6:  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (v. 4­-8). 

Continue Reading

The Effects of Technology on Millennials

By Hannah Osborne | Aug 9, 2016 9:00:00 AM

This post is an excerpt from the ebook, Millennials and the Church, written by Hannah Osborne.

Millennials have grown up relying on technology. Those born in the early 1980s might remember a time without computers, but TVs were most likely a household staple, and video game systems quickly became a major form of entertainment for young people.

Continue Reading

How to Use Video to Share Stories in Your Church

By Andrew Osborne | Aug 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

People love stories. Look around you, everywhere you turn you see a story being told. Your Facebook or Twitter feed is full of small stories from people’s lives. Books, movies, music; they all tell us different stories.

As Christians, our main focus is on communicating the greatest story ever told; the story of God’s redemptive work through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Continue Reading

Practicing Good Stewardship in Marketing

By Ann Ciaccio | Aug 4, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I was to write a blog on practicing good stewardship in marketing/advertising when I realized something. The best thing an organization can do to practice good stewardship in advertising is to have a well thought out public relations plan. So, I’m going to skip the advertising and head directly to public relations!

Continue Reading

Social Slumps—Stay Active When You Don’t Know What to Post

By Kimberly Myers | Aug 2, 2016 9:00:00 AM

VBS is done, there aren’t any holidays any time soon, and nothing exciting seems to be happening this week. You've heard experts say you need to post daily to keep interesting, but you are stumped. What can you post about to keep your church active in everyone’s social streams when you can't think of anything to share?

Continue Reading

Church Communication & Graphic Design

By Jenn Eickman | Aug 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I have a confession....I am church communicator, but I am not a graphic designer.  <gasp> Don’t get me wrong, I try, but I have no formal training and have grown my skillset through videos tutorials, blog posts, and communication/marketing discussion groups.

Continue Reading

4 Design Trends to Try with Your Fall Ministries

By Amanda Lansche | Jul 28, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Trends inform any designer's work. While trends should never dictate what you choose to create, they can refresh your style and keep you inspired!

Continue Reading

6 Uses of Google Calendars for Churches

By Katy Munson | Jul 26, 2016 9:30:00 AM

A few weeks ago, I began to see a sight that brings joy to some and dread to others: back-to-school supplies. I tend more toward the joy end of that spectrum and have always appreciated the simple beauty of a new planner waiting to be filled with the day-to-day adventures of life. And that’s about where the simplicity ends. Soon I’m wondering if I should use a pen or pencil to write things in, how to manage task lists, along with calendar events and specific meeting times, and how to share what’s going on with my coworkers. Enter Google Calendar.

Continue Reading

7 Apps for Mobile Photo Editing

By Amanda Lansche | Jul 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

The Instagram app (sometimes fondly known as Insta) was originally designed with simple editing features. You selected a photo, applied one of a few nonadjustable filters, and posted. Done!

Continue Reading

How Christians Can Waste Less

By Laura Dolak | Jul 21, 2016 9:30:00 AM

The earth is the LORDs and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

The concept of stewardship is that everything we have is God's, temporarily given to us to take care of and use in order to further God's Kingdom. I first encountered it in seventh grade confirmation class. This life-changing idea awakened my spirit of gratitude as I became aware of God’s gifts. It inspired my creativity as I brainstormed how to use these gifts. It infused my life with meaning as I saw my source of meaning (my relationship with God) interacting with everything I did. It motivated me, enabling me to thrive.

Continue Reading

How to Take Quality Photos for Your Church Directory

By Amanda Lansche | Jul 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Okay, I’ll be honest. Taking high-quality photos for a church directory is not as easy as pie. Nevertheless, it is possible, even for a nonprofessional. It just takes a little extra patience, planning, and know-how.

Continue Reading

Hands-on with the HTC Vive

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jul 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

A few months ago, I detailed the different virtual reality headsets coming to the market in 2016.  Thanks to a timely birthday/Father’s Day combo (thanks, kids!), I was able to get my hands on an HTC Vive kit to do my own hands-on testing. What I’ve found makes me more certain than ever that VR is a game changer going forward in a number of different areas.

Continue Reading

4 Benefits of Online Learning

By Katy Munson | Jul 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Earlier this summer, I made it to the halfway point of a master’s program. Like many these days, I'm taking classes that are completely online. As one who loves sitting in a classroom and taking notes (weird, I know), I was a bit skeptical as I began.

Continue Reading

Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media (Part 3)

By Seth Hinz | Jul 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM

This post is part 3 of a series called “Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media” by Seth Hinz and Bill Johnson.

Continue Reading

Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media (Part 2)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jul 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM

This post is part 2 of a series called “Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media” by Seth Hinz and Bill Johnson.

Continue Reading

Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media (Part 1)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jul 11, 2016 9:00:00 AM

This post is part 1 of a series called “Promoting and Covering Your Event through Social Media” by Seth Hinz and Bill Johnson.

One often-overlooked piece of event planning and promotion is a solid social media plan. Whether it’s for your district, circuit, or home congregation, solid social media awareness can increase attendance and allow those who are unable to be present to have a taste of what the experience is like (and hopefully attend the next time!). There are a lot of angles to consider, though, and while this probably won’t be an exhaustive list, hopefully youll find some food for thought here.

Continue Reading

How to Avoid Being Labeled As Spam

By Ann Ciaccio | Jul 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

You're someone who needs to communicate with a large list of church members, volunteers or church workers. Yet, there are systems in place that track and monitor your emails to stop what appear to be spammers. To put it simply, spammers send unsolicited, undesired email know as spam. Spam is the email version of junk mail.

Continue Reading

How to Use Smartphones in Youth Bible Studies

By Hannah Osborne | Jul 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Smartphones are, arguably, the single most formative technology in the past decade. With the invention of these devices, anyone can have music, books, and unlimited knowledge (the Internet) at their fingertips everywhere they go. Teenagers, especially, have been exposed to these devices for a large portion of their lives.

Continue Reading

How to Respond to Internet Trolls

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Jun 30, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I like Twitter for many, many reasons. I follow some really famous people on it because, well, that is the point of social media – to connect us together. But, one of the people I follow is probably one of the most famous if not the most famous single man on the planet: The Pope.

Continue Reading

22 Exceptional Google Font Combinations

By Amanda Lansche | Jun 28, 2016 9:00:00 AM

While you could spend thousands of dollars on custom web design, Google Fonts offers a great alternative. With Google Fonts, you can feature stellar font choices on your church website and blog for free! Their library with 650 fonts lets web designers take designs to the next level without even dipping into the budget.

Continue Reading

Social Media and the Death of Reason

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Jun 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As we find ourselves in the middle of an election season, you don’t have to go very far to find people expressing their opinions on a variety of topics.  This has always been true, of course, but in the last several decades a new forum has arisen, allowing people to have unprecedented reach as they express themselves about things they’re passionate about, and they don’t always agree.

Continue Reading

7 Leadership & Marketing Podcasts Actually Worth Your Time

By Seth Hinz | Jun 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Stitcher is a free app you can use to browse through and listen to podcasts. The Sticher website boasts over 65,000 podcast shows. That’s years of content.

Continue Reading

Adult Ministry for 20-Somethings

By Hannah Osborne | Jun 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I just graduated from college, and aside from trying to find a real grown-up job, the hardest part about being a 20-something is the lack of ministry geared toward people my age.

Continue Reading

Beginner's Guide to Creating a Blog

By Amanda Lansche | Jun 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Blogging has become a legitimate profession. There are blogging conferences, blogging communities, and endless blogging platform options.

I follow bloggers who make $5,000+ from one Instagram picture. Some feature products on their blogs and receive compensation from big-name brands. Kind of sounds like a dream job, right? People send you free stuff, you say a few nice things about it online, and you get lots of money. That’s my dream, at least.

Continue Reading

How to Use a Church Communications Calendar

By Ann Ciaccio | Jun 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Does this ever happen to you?

You walk into your office and the first thing someone asks is “What’s on your schedule for today?”. Or, as you drive into work, you’re wondering what is waiting for you to do.

As communicators, we have certain “to-do’s” every day/week/month. And what about the youth director who finds himself in need of communicating a bible study meeting to his group and asks you for your help in distributing the communication? Plus, you know there’s times when that urgent communication needs to go out ASAP.

Continue Reading

Why Older Adults Prefer to Give Electronically

By Peter Frank | Jun 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Technology has changed so quickly over the last 20 years that many of us (at least those in my generation) have trouble remembering a time when it was not such a part of our daily lives.

For example, I vaguely remember as a kid looking in the newspaper for the show times for an upcoming movie. It's probably been twenty years since I did that, because it is so easy to now search for that information online.

Continue Reading

The Best Ways to Use Instagram for Your Church

By Amanda Lansche | Jun 13, 2016 10:30:00 AM

I have a lot of apps on my phone. I’ve crammed most of them into folders and relegated them to the last page, since I only open them once in a blue moon. But Instagram? That little app sits in the bottom row on the front page (a place of honor, since it’s right where my short fingers can reach it when using my phone one-handed). 

Continue Reading

5 Reasons to Listen to Podcasts

By Katy Munson | Jun 9, 2016 9:00:00 AM

When it comes to consuming content, my general tendency is to read books, articles, and blogs and scan social media. For far too long, I neglected these (not-so) newfangled things called podcasts—but now they’re near the top of my go-to list.

Continue Reading

Engaging Volunteers Using Facebook Groups

By Andrew Osborne | Jun 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

It doesn’t really matter how large your congregation is, there will always be more work to do than your church staff can handle on their own. If you take a good look at thriving congregations, their church staff typically isn’t comprised of doers; it is comprised of equippers. Of course, staff workers will end up doing a lot of the work themselves, but to really get things done, they need to be able to equip their volunteers to assist them in doing the work. 

Continue Reading

Handover—Making Yourself Replaceable

By Kimberly Myers | Jun 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

A quick online search about making yourself replaceable at work is likely to try to offer you articles about being irreplaceable or indispensable. While each of us brings a special set of skills and abilities to our jobs, we should all keep in mind that illness or sudden changes in life could mean that we have to leave our job to another person with little notice. So how can you prepare for someone else to take over?

Continue Reading

5 Steps for Evaluating New Software Before You Buy

By Peter Frank | Jun 2, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Some people love to go shopping, but it is not one of my favorite activities, so I try to make it as quick as possible. I go in to the store, I get what I need, and I leave. 

However, I am not that way when it comes to purchasing new softtware. In fact, I tend to go about it in a completely different manner. I research all available options, I search for reviews, I test it extensively, and I sleep on the decision before finally making the call to purchase.

Continue Reading

How to Livestream Worship

By Hannah Osborne | Jun 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I know livestreaming a worship service sounds scary, but don’t run away. With fancy words like “streaming” and “video casting,” tackling livestream worship seems like it’s not worth the time or the effort. Before you brush this off as a passing fad, discover what benefits livestreaming worship could have for your church.

Continue Reading

What Your Church Sign Communicates

By Ann Ciaccio | May 31, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Co-written by Rev. Keith Haney, Mission Facilitator, LCMS Northern Illinois District

We see them all the time while driving down roads. Some brick and mortar, others monument, and the most recent trend - the led message center signs.

Continue Reading

jQuery for Interactive Websites

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

For many web developers who are moving beyond the basic link and page behavior, the next step is to learn JavaScript, a powerful programming language that runs in your user’s browser to enable your website to change its behavior in response to the user. (While some newer frameworks are making use of server side JavaScript, today’s focus will be on the more traditional client side usage.) 

While JavaScript in its original form is pretty powerful, there are some common frameworks that you can add to get yourself up and running with very minimal programming experience. One of the most common of these is jQuery.

Continue Reading

Church Communication & Vocation

By Katy Munson | May 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Vocation,or those roles to which God has called us to love and serve our neighbor, is at the heart of our lives as Christians. God uses means, or those things we encounter in our daily lives, to care for and communicate with His creation.

He works through what we often consider ordinary. Literally, the word vocation means “calling.” He works through the gifts and talents He’s given us, including those in the area of communication, both within the walls of the church and outside of them.

Continue Reading

Helping Parents Protect the Smartphone Generation

By Andrew Osborne | May 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Vectors by Freepik

Being a father of a young child, I assumed my days of keeping an eye on my kid’s media use were a long way off. Having a three-year-old daughter has quickly changed my mind. Part of me loves seeing how intelligent and natural my daughter is at using technology like my cell phone, but another part of me is a little terrified.

Continue Reading

4 Things to Consider When Using Photographs of Children & Youth

By Jenn Eickman | May 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In a previous post, I touched on some helpful sites to find stock photos. I believe there are many great opportunities to use stock photos; however, one place where I’d rather see candid pictures is a church’s social media stream and website.

Continue Reading

Protecting Your Church Against Ransomware

By Dave Bowman | May 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

A few weeks ago, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod posted an article about a church who recently fell victim to a ransomware attack. 

We realize that without proper knowledge, many churches could potentially become victims of ransomware as well, so we wanted to share some helpful information with you.

Continue Reading

3 Ideas to Make Your Website More Accessible

By Hannah Osborne | May 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Accessibility is a relatively new concept for the ordinary person who casually works with websites. Until recently, with dynamic website builders that allow “the average Joe,” accessibility was a foreign concept for websites. Accessibility used to be reserved for items such as wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, or elevators. When used in terms of websites, however, accessibility refers to a similar function: how accessible your website is to people with disabilities or who use assistive technology.

Continue Reading

6 Steps to Finding the Right Church Administrator

By Ann Ciaccio | May 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

“Administrator” – Sometimes I think that title was set up as a catch all for those positions which don’t fit anything else. And the variety . . . from business to technical to managerial . . . the title covers them all. Most importantly, they are the foundation of any group which runs efficiently and effectively. 

Continue Reading

Cybernetics and the Body

By Rev. Bill Johnson | May 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM

One of the staples of science fiction literature has long been the cyborg.  Part man, part machine, the cyborg often serves as man’s triumph over the limitations of the physical body.  From Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand to the more malevolent “upgrades” of Dr. Who’s Cybermen, the fascination and fear of cybernetics has inspired authors to wonder what it means to replace our bodies. 

Continue Reading

3 Time-Saving Tools in Microsoft Outlook

By Peter Frank | May 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Microsoft Outlook is arguably one of the most popular email clients available, especially for Windows users. It sure helps that it is part of the Microsoft Office suite that is standard for most businesses.

Church offices are no exception, and while Gmail and other online email clients are becoming more commonplace, Outlook is still the standard.

Continue Reading

How Inspiration Boards Can Fuel Your Creativity

By Katy Munson | May 9, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In 2015, for the entire month of February, Chick-fil-A offered free coffee to introduce customers to their new brew made from specialty beans. This generous promotion caught my attention and I found my way to their restaurant several times in those 28 days.

So, what does this have to do with inspiration boards? 

Continue Reading

6 Free or Cheap Stock Photo Websites for Churches

By Jenn Eickman | May 5, 2016 11:00:00 AM

It can be a challenge to find quality stock photos and graphics for free or on a budget. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorite places to search for artwork to use in ministry.

Continue Reading

4 Great Presentation Software Options for Churches (Part 2)

By Rev. Daniel Ross | May 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

If you have not read part one of this two-part series, please read that first. In it I covered some of the basics of Keynote and PowerPoint.

Choosing the right presentation software for your church can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this article will help guide you through the process. The great news is that there are a lot of software options on the market. The flip side is that there are a lot of software options on the market.

Continue Reading

8 Easy Blog Post Ideas for Pastors

By Amanda Lansche | May 2, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Pastors have been writing to God’s people for centuries. Remember those letters the apostle Paul wrote to the Early Church? And this one guy, Martin Luther, posted some ideas on a church door about 500 years ago. (Just think how many shares he would have gotten with a blog . . .)

Continue Reading

How to Use Google Docs in Your Church Office

By Hannah Osborne | Apr 28, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Ah, Google Docs—arguably the greatest innovation for workflow and class projects. Gone are the days where drafts were sent back and forth via email, downloaded over and over again, until, finally, the document was completed. No, these rudimentary methods are no longer needed, thanks to Google Docs.

Continue Reading

How to Speak to Your Audience

By Ann Ciaccio | Apr 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM

A manager is presenting the latest project to department workers.

An email is prepared for clientele.

A CEO prepares a speech for the stockholder meeting.

A newspaper editor prepares the editorial column.

A teacher prepares class lessons.

A pastor prepares a sermon.

What is common to all of these methods of communications? The starting point.

Continue Reading

Using Bootstrap Framework to Make Mobile Web Design Easier

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Apr 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

One of the hardest things for a web designer to do, especially one who’s just getting started, is to design a website that looks and functions well on a variety of screen sizes. 

Sites today not only have to deal with the old standard 1024x768, but they also need to adapt to resolutions as low as your smaller smartphones (320x480) and as high as your 4k monitors (3840x2160).  Not only do you need to be resolution aware, but you also need to ensure your site functions across a variety of operating systems, browsers and versions. 

Continue Reading

LinkedIn for Church Workers: How to Use It

By Ann Ciaccio | Apr 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Hopefully my previous blog post got you excited about the potential for networking and using LinkedIn as your network! In this post, I’d like to share how you can easily build your profile, build your network, and NETWORK.

If you already have a profile on LinkedIn, I’ve included some information for getting the most from it as well.

Continue Reading

How to Make Excel Spreadsheets Look Amazing

By Peter Frank | Apr 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

They say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but whoever said that clearly has not seen some of the spreadsheets that I have seen.

In my last blog post about helpful formulas, I mentioned that I have an unhealthy obsession with Microsoft Excel. That's only part of the story; I'm also an data visualization snob. 

Continue Reading

How to Use Snapchat to Reach Millennials

By Hannah Osborne | Apr 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

If you’re over the age of 30, Snapchat is probably a completely foreign word or, at the very least, an app of some kind that young people are using.

Here’s the concept: Snapchat allows you to share photos of your life, much like any other social media outlet. The difference is that you have one of two options: you can send the photo (with a brief caption or illustration drawn with your finger on-screen) to some of your Snapchat friends or post it to your “story.”

Continue Reading

The Rise of Consumer Virtual Reality

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Apr 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

2016 is a landmark year for gaming. There’s the usual array of big titles being released, including a few long awaited sequels, as well as some interesting new IPs. But this year it’s not about the games, it’s about the hardware. 

After decades of missteps (I’m looking at you, Virtual Boy) and empty promises, we’re finally seeing the first fully realized virtual reality systems being released for consumer use.  While I haven’t been able to try them all myself (I’m pushing for a bigger R&D budget, though!), I’ve looked over the specs and there’s a lot to be excited about.  There are also some pitfalls we would do well to examine.

Continue Reading

LinkedIn for Church Workers: Why You Need a Profile

By Ann Ciaccio | Apr 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM

One of the most ingrained lessons I have learned over my career is the value of professional networking.

In its simplicity, a professional network is a valued resource for seeking employment, sales, and staying in touch with colleagues. At higher levels, a professional network is a valued tool for individual growth, support, education, and helping others.

Continue Reading

4 Great Presentation Software Options for Churches (Part 1)

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Apr 11, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Ok, so you have decided that you are going to start using screens in church. You had the conversation on where best to place them, projectors verse large screen TVs, etc. Now, all you have to decide on is what presentation software you want to use.

Here is the great news: there are lots and lots of options! Here is the bad news: there are lots and lots of options!

Continue Reading

6 Ways Technology Can Improve Volunteer Training

By Katy Munson | Apr 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Vacation Bible School has a long history of doing things creatively. When looking at ways to recruit and train volunteers for this ministry, why not follow in that vein?

It might make sense to recruit volunteers and then train them for VBS or any other event or need your church may have. Yet, training information is important to have when recruiting.

Continue Reading

How to Join or Host a Live Twitter Chat

By Seth Hinz | Apr 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Here’s a complete hypothetical, but maybe you’ve been there.

You arrive to work, you set your bag down, say hi to the team, grab that cup of coffee, and retreat to your desk. You power up the computer, take one big swig of coffee, queue up the to-do list, sit back, and you think to yourself, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” or worse, you feel all alone.

Continue Reading

How to Conquer Website Mapping

By Jenn Eickman | Apr 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In 2015, I rewrote and mapped our church website. I learned a lot throughout the process, so I wanted to share what I found most helpful.

Before I begin, what exactly do I mean when I say website mapping? According to this webinar from the LCMS Michigan District, “Sitemaps are one of the key ways people interact with your website. They help organize and structure your content in meaningful ways. Without an effective sitemap the people who visit your church website will be lost and confused.” Essentially, a sitemap is the logical, organized layout of your website content.

Continue Reading

7 Ways to Promote & Grow Your Blog

By Amanda Lansche | Apr 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Your blog might be filled with super content, but it will end up flying under the radar if you don't promote it! (See what I did there? Punny!)

If you’re worried no one is reading, be patient. This doesn’t point to terrible writing or boring content. It takes time to gain traffic and readers. But don’t just twiddle your thumbs waiting for readers! Actively promote and advertise your posts to make your blog grow.

Promotion is crucial to growing your blog and its audience. Here are seven ways you can grow the audience of your blog.

Continue Reading

How to Deal with Different Personalities in the Church

By Hannah Osborne | Mar 31, 2016 9:00:00 AM

When working with other people, you will inevitably run into those who are different from you—different in terms of work style, work ethic, and personality.

We are all unique, but those differences make us who we are. How we work, how we collaborate, and how we interact with others is often determined by our personality.

Continue Reading

Designing for the Mobile Web

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost nine years since Apple introduced the iPhone, arguably the first mainstream smartphone. (There were other companies that tried, but Apple was the first to truly break in to the general market.)

Since then millions of people have purchased iPhones and Android-based smartphones. Those folks are often texting, Tweeting, and Facebooking, sometimes sending email, rarely making phone calls, but most of all they’re surfing the web, all on their mobile devices.

Continue Reading

How to Get Return Visitors after Easter

By Peter Frank | Mar 28, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I'm not a big fan of many holidays, but I love Easter.

There's something special about transitioning from the deep sadness of Good Friday and the quiet of Saturday to the joyful celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is, quite literally, the most exciting thing in the world; it is the gift of salvation won for us by Jesus Christ.

That's why I waited until after Easter to share this post. On Easter morning, our attention is best focused on the empty tomb, not on church attendance or figuring out how to reach visitors in the weeks and months ahead. 

Continue Reading

How to Design a Logo for Your Church

By Ann Ciaccio | Mar 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM

A logo is considered an essential part of an organization, be it business or non-profit. But what about congregations? Should they have individual logos?

Continue Reading

7 Free Online Tools for Sermon Writing

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Writing sermons is only one part of a pastor’s work, but it’s one that can take a great deal of time in study and preparation. Every pastor I know wants to be faithful in his preaching and therefore invests time and energy into properly studying the Scriptures and preparing for Sunday morning.

There’s not a lot of shortcuts out there, though, and many of the helpful technology tools cost a great deal. Fortunately there’s a number of tools freely available on the internet to help streamline the process.

To that end, here are my go-to online tools for sermon writing. They’re not the only ones, and I won’t even claim that they’re the best, but they’ve served me well and continue to do so. 

Continue Reading

How to Reach Your Website Visitors through Remarketing

By Peter Frank | Mar 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Do you ever feel like you're being followed online?

Have you ever been shopping on a website like Amazon.com or Target.com, and suddenly you start seeing online advertisements for those products on other websites? Did you ever wonder how your favorite blog knew that you were interested in buying that pair of jeans, or that new book that hasn't even come out yet?

Well, wonder no more as I introduce you to the world of remarketing.

Continue Reading

How Writing Can Boost Your Church Website’s SEO

By Hannah Osborne | Mar 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM

SEO is a scary acronym.

Everyone seems to be talking about SEO, and it sounds important, but how does it fit in with your church? Isn’t having a website enough? 

Not anymore—now, your website must be optimized for search engines. It sounds like a time-consuming, expensive process, but improving your church website’s SEO is actually pretty easy. 

Continue Reading

AlphaGo and the Future of Being Human

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Mar 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Had we talked three or four years ago, I’d have told you that there were some tasks computers were exceptionally good at completing, like calculations or repetitively crunching scenarios.

I’d have also told you, though, that there were some things they weren’t very good at doing, and probably never would be, simply because of the amount of variables involved, such as driving a car, reading emotions, or pretending to be human.

On some level, that changed this week.

Continue Reading

How Much Is Too Much? Giving up Technology

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Mar 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Did you know information overload has been documented as a phenomenon since the thirteenth century? What has changed in recent years is the pace—we are now receiving even more information each day than ever before. And, so, we are losing focus.

Continue Reading

Think Summer! How to Communicate Summer Ministries

By Katy Munson | Mar 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Summer. It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s pretty much right around the corner. If they haven’t already, families are beginning to schedule vacations, reunions, camping trips, and all sorts of fun.

While a few will seek out dates for events like vacation Bible school and mission trips before setting plans in stone, most won’t consider such factors until it’s too late. Rather than hearing comments like “Oh shoot, I wish we would’ve known!” from potential participants, leaders, and volunteers, think summer now and let the community know what’s brewing!

Continue Reading
Topics: Events Website

How to Hire a Church Communicator (+ FREE Job Description Template)

By Jenn Eickman | Mar 10, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Now that we know what a church communicator is and why you need one, what’s next? It’s time to find a church communicator that best fits your congregation. Follow these five steps to successfully hire the right person!

Continue Reading

How to Plan Your Holy Week Communications (+ FREE Marketing Kit)

By Amanda Lansche | Mar 8, 2016 9:30:00 AM

A consistent communications campaign has the power to inspire immediate recognition. It’s like hearing those first notes of a song on the radio while you scan through the stations. Just one a few seconds of the song (or one glance of your communications) can be enough to remind people of the bigger picture!

Creating a coordinated set of website banners, emails, social media posts, and more might sound like a lofty goal for Holy Week, since it’s right around the corner. But doesn't have to take a ton of extra work!

Continue Reading

How to Define the Role of a Church Communicator

By Jenn Eickman | Mar 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Last week, we touched on the reasons why your church needs a church communicator. Today, I will attempt to define the church communicator role.

Continue Reading

3 Reasons Your Congregation Needs a Church Communicator

By Jenn Eickman | Mar 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

There are many reasons why a church needs to consider partnering with a church communicator, whether by hiring a full- or part-time staff member, working with a contractor, or utilizing a volunteer.

Today, I will focus on what I consider the top three reasons why your church needs a communications professional.

Continue Reading

Who Are You? Defining Your Church’s Identity

By Ann Ciaccio | Mar 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

“Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?”

Sound familiar? It follows with “I really wanna know.” For younger people (or those that don’t listen to classic music) it’s the lyrics from a 1978 song by the WHO. It is also the question being asked by people who do not know your congregation.

When it comes to defining the identity of your church, the question you need to ask yourself is, “What are we telling them?”

Continue Reading

3 Ways to Entertain Your Kid Ministries with (or without) Technology

By Hannah Osborne | Feb 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

My six-year-old cousin knows how to use an iPad better than me. And I’m twenty-two years old. From the time he was three, he knew how to unlock his mom’s phone. Before he could read numbers, he was punching in her passcode so he could play games.

Continue Reading

How to Maintain a Useful Church Database

By Ann Ciaccio | Feb 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Have you ever heard the saying “Junk In, Junk Out”? If this saying applies to anything, it applies to data and databases.

Output from congregational databases can include membership numbers, small group members, contacts and mailing lists, financial reports, and people outside your church whom you have touched in some way. How you collect and store your data will have a direct impact on the information you draw from your database.

Continue Reading

How Facebook Reactions Will Lead to Better Storytelling

By Seth Hinz | Feb 24, 2016 4:30:00 PM

“Ok, Google . . . How do I effectively engage volunteers in social media ministry?”

Wow! By now you’ve seen the big changes happening on Facebook and you’re already clicking all the different reactions to let others know how you truly feel about things.

Yes, I already dove into old posts to see if a “Like” truly expressed how I felt about certain dancing puppy monkey GIFs.

Continue Reading

Webinars 101: How to Attend a Training Webinar

By Buffy Alvarez | Feb 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Here at Concordia Technology Solutions, we’ve used webinars for several years to offer training opportunities on our products and about technology in general. But if it’s the first time you’re attending a webinar, it can be a little confusing!

To help get you started, here are the basics of attending a training webinar.

Continue Reading

How to Quickly Learn More about Church Communications

By Seth Hinz | Feb 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

“Ok, Google . . . How do I effectively engage volunteers in social media ministry?”

1.3 million results.

“Hmm. Ok, Google . . . Can I please talk to a real person that has already been down this road?”

If you’re diving into a new role in church communications, you’re already well-versed in the power of Google. But you may have also noticed that Google doesn’t always get context right. It also doesn’t provide validated concepts—you don’t know what information is coming from gurus or real-world practitioners.

Continue Reading

Apple & San Bernardino—What It Means for Christians

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Feb 19, 2016 9:30:00 AM

If you’ve watched the news in recent days you’ve probably heard something about the FBI’s attempts to access the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shootings and Tim Cook’s response on behalf of Apple.

There are a lot of different angles to this story. At least some bear some theological reflection and could impact the Church around the world.

Continue Reading

Why Your Church Totally Needs a Website (Part 2)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Feb 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In my last post on Tuesday, we explored reasons why your church doesn’t need a website. I talked about how important it is to choose our communication mediums so that they reflects our audience and our message. For example, unless you already have a website that functions as a social communication hub of your church, you don’t need that kind of website.

But you totally need a website.

Continue Reading

Why Your Church Doesn't Need a Website (Part 1)

By Rev. Bill Johnson | Feb 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In 2001, I was called from seminary to my first parish, a small congregation in a suburb of Atlanta. One of the first things I noticed was they didn’t have a website. A church today must have a website, I’d been told. You can’t do ministry these days without a website or you don’t really care about reaching people with the Gospel.

Continue Reading

How to Use a Screen in Worship without Worshiping a Screen

By Hannah Osborne | Feb 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I love new things combined with old. I love seeing age-old ideas expressed in new viewpoints, common assumptions presented in innovative forms, and outdated principles rethought in fresh ways. Unsurprisingly, I love seeing the Gospel presented in compelling new ways.

Continue Reading

How to Improve Ministry Staff Communications Using the Cloud

By Katy Munson | Feb 11, 2016 9:00:00 AM

If you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you that communication is vital, especially for your church staff and ministry teams.

That’s why you’re here—you care about your message and how you share it. One of the greatest influences on how a congregation’s message is shared comes from how the church staff or ministry team communicates with one another.

Continue Reading

How to Swap Sticky Notes for Online To-Do Lists

By Hannah Osborne | Feb 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

If I don’t write down that I have to do something, I will immediately forget it. No joke. Whether it’s homework assignments, work duties, or personal chores, if it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get done.

Continue Reading

3 Simple Formulas for Crafting Better Social Media Posts

By Seth Hinz | Feb 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

“Write something,” says Facebook.

“Make me!” I say.

Staring at the social media text box—all I see is a blank space where hours go to die. You have something great to share, you really do. But without the proper framing, your great idea could disappear into the social media abyss.

So I thought I’d share some of the “secret / not-so-secret” formulas that help me stay focused.

Continue Reading

Why I Use an iPad during Worship

By Rev. Daniel Ross | Feb 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

“It’s already a big enough change that a pastor is using an iPad to lead service.” An innocent comment, but it struck me nonetheless.

I had recently accepted a call to a church where the other pastor was retiring. I was called to be the Senior and then Sole Pastor. Talking to the soon-to-be-retiring pastor, I mentioned that I hoped to change as little as possible the first year (a new pastor is usually change enough!). And, that is when he made the above comment.

Continue Reading

3 Effortless Ways to Encourage Reflection During Lent (+ FREE graphics kit)

By Amanda Lansche | Jan 29, 2016 10:30:00 AM

During Lent, we spend time reflecting on our sins and need for a Savior, celebrating our Baptism and the salvation won through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! It’s a great opportunity to reach out to your members and community, encouraging people to set aside time for reflection.

Continue Reading

5 Excel Formulas Every Church Worker Will Love

By Peter Frank | Jan 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

I have, as some people call it, an unhealthy obsession with Microsoft Excel. I get excited about anything that allows me to be more efficient. With Excel, I keep finding new and better ways to do just that.

While much of Excel revolves around numbers (all right, most of Excel revolves around numbers), there are some pretty fantastic formulas and functions that allow you to quickly manipulate text. So even if you are more focused on Bible studies and mail merges than income statements, Excel can help you.

Continue Reading

How to Reach Your “Offline” Members with a Blog

By Amanda Lansche | Jan 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM


Some people simply aren’t online much. Maybe that’s the case in your congregation. But that doesn’t mean a church or pastoral blog would be a waste of time!

Even with a “offline” congregation, a blog can still be a success. Try these 3 ideas to make the time spent generating blog content worthwhile. 

Continue Reading

Strategic Planning for Churches, Part 2—Determining the Vision behind Your Programs

By Ann Ciaccio | Jan 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Last week, I wrote about the first step of stategic planning for churchesimplementing a program review process at your church. With that step in hand, you can now set the future in motion through visioning.

Continue Reading

Strategic Planning for Churches, Part 1—Implementing a Program Review Process

By Ann Ciaccio | Jan 14, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Strategic planning is important for every organization, whether it’s business, a group, or a church. As a church leader, you are responsible for looking at the larger picture to decide what will be of most benefit to your congregation—unless your church has unlimited resources, of course!

The first step? Implementing a program review process at your church. Here’s how to get started:

Continue Reading

5 Steps to Write a Solid Blog Post

By Amanda Lansche | Jan 11, 2016 10:00:00 AM


Once you’ve gone to all the trouble of setting up your brand-new blog, you might sit back, gaze at it in admiration, then suddenly feel a sense of panic as you think “What now?!”

Obviously you want to write a solid post, one that benefits your readers and maybe even gains you a few subscribers. To do so, try these five basic steps:

Continue Reading

Mass Emailing Made Easy

By Hannah Osborne | Jan 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Sending out announcements, updates, and newsletters via email can be nothing short of frustrating with typical email host (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc.). It’s difficult to quickly send information to large groups of people because these hosts aren’t built to do that; sites like Gmail place restrictions on how many people can be sent an email at one time and don’t allow a lot of customization as far as design goes.

While it is possible to successfully utilize these email platforms, other options for mass emailing exist. Read on to discover helpful sites and programs that make mass emailing easy:

Continue Reading

5 Ways to Create One-Page Church Newsletters

By Hannah Osborne | Jan 4, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Let’s be real—creating newsletters is a pain. Especially if you’re creating your document in Microsoft Word, where formatting can be a real issue.

Whether you make newsletters for print or email, it’s a struggle to keep your announcements down to a page or two. But if your newsletters are much longer than that, readers lose interest and resort to skimming or throwing away the paper completely. Here are some tips to keep your newsletters short and informative: 

Continue Reading

New Year’s Resolution: Find Time to Blog

By Amanda Lansche | Dec 31, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Today is the very last in 2015. As the clock turns over into the new year, what ministry efforts are on your mind for 2016?

If you do not already have a church or pastoral blog, consider putting one near the top of your list! “I, (state your name), do hereby resolve to blog as a ministry effort in 2016.”

Well done. I’m proud of you.

Of course, it’s one thing to make a New Year’s resolution and entirely another to follow through Here are 5 ideas that can help you finding time to maintain a church or pastoral blog in 2016.

Continue Reading

Email Is Social Media’s Best Friend

By Seth Hinz | Dec 28, 2015 11:00:00 AM

I spent two hours creating and recreating a graphic for our Facebook page. I quickly Googled “Best times for a Facebook post” as a refresher and then scheduled what I saw as “The Perfect Post.”

Only it wasn’t. It fell on its face. Not only did it not get any shares, it got 5 likes and a reach of about 5%. I felt like I wasted my time. Worse yet, I got the sinking feeling, “What’s the point?” I don’t think I’m alone in thinking, “There must be a better way to reach your constituents, while at the same time getting your messages in front of new people.”

Continue Reading

Merry Christmas from Concordia Technology Solutions

By Amanda Lansche | Dec 24, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Merry Christmas from all of us at Concordia Technology Solutions! Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas.

Continue Reading

7 Shareable Christmas Graphics for Your Church (Free downloads!)

By Amanda Lansche | Dec 21, 2015 2:00:00 PM

We know you’re busy, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet!

Your members are probably busy, too. Think wrapping presents, baking cookies, parties with family and friends—it’s a (hopefully) fun sort of chaos this time of year.

Continue Reading

11 Photos You Really Need to Take This Christmas

By Amanda Lansche | Dec 17, 2015 10:30:00 AM

When I start working on my Christmas cards every year, I find myself wishing for a really awesome photo.

Continue Reading

3 Steps to Connect with Christmas Worship Visitors

By Peter Frank | Dec 14, 2015 10:30:00 AM

My guess is that this happens every year. Some well-meaning person comes up to you after the Christmas Eve service and says "Isn’t it exciting to see so our church so full? Wouldn't it be great if we could get them to all come back next week?"

If no one has ever said that to you, I’m sure you’ve at least had that same thought. I know I have!

Sometimes it’s really easy to get worked up about the number of people who worship at your congregation. Our culture defines success by numbers. When large numbers of visitors attend worship, we think that means we must be successful as a congregation, and our thoughts naturally turn to how we can keep them coming back.

Continue Reading

7 Ways to Attract Christmas Visitors to Your Church Website

By Peter Frank | Dec 10, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Christmas is just over two weeks away, and you know what that means! Among other things, your church will experience an influx of people you haven’t seen in a while (or at least not since Easter).

Continue Reading

Prepare Your Online Communications for Christmas (+ A FREE Marketing Kit)

By Amanda Lansche | Dec 7, 2015 4:30:00 PM


With the Advent season underway and Christmas right around the corner, your church is likely a very busy place!

Amidst all the hustle, don’t forget about the importance of attracting visitors to those amazing services you are planning. Local visitors might be without a church home—they might even been actively searching for one—so their attendance represents a huge opportunity!

As you prepare to share the story of God’s plan for salvation through Jesus Christ, take a little time to prepare your church communications to encourage attendance.

Continue Reading

How to Help Millennials Avoid Biblical Misunderstandings

By Hannah Osborne | Dec 3, 2015 9:00:00 AM

In the age of the Internet, countless interpretations of the Bible are easier to access than ever. Sites like Amazon boast thousands of published religious books. Bloggers write post after post about religion in the modern age.

Continue Reading

Developing a Content Framework for Church Communications

By Peter Frank | Nov 30, 2015 9:15:00 AM

The meaning of the word “content” has evolved over the last few years. It used to mean something that was contained, like the contents of a jar, or the chapters of a book. Now, content has the broader definition of being “a substance of significance.”

In the digital world, content is not only words (like this blog), but also images and videos. In fact, even something as abstract as an idea can be considered content.

The value of content is not defined by its container, but rather by its quality. True content can have many different containers, and the implementation and purpose of the content can change with each container.

Continue Reading

3 Ways to Show You're Thankful for Your Members (Plus, a free graphic!)

By Amanda Lansche | Nov 26, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Today and this weekend, take a moment to reach out to your church members with a heartfelt thank you. Here are just three ideas to show your members how much you appreciate them.

Continue Reading

The Complete Guide to Advent Photo-a-Day Challenges

By Seth Hinz | Nov 25, 2015 4:00:00 PM

’Tis the season to bring a little Advent/Christmas spirit to social media!

Imagine a month where you didn’t need to think about what you were going to post on social media. Pretty great, huh? Better yet, imagine a month where members of your church are creatively generating images that you collect and share throughout the Advent season. Sound too good to be true?

Enter the Advent Photo-a-Day Challenge.

Continue Reading

5 Ideas to Increase Holiday Giving

By Amanda Lansche | Nov 23, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Nonprofits, including churches, see a huge influx of donations and gifts during the month of December. With this in mind, it’s important for churches to talk about giving this time of year!

This can be done on social media, through email or a letter, on the church website, or in the church newsletter. By starting the conversation, you’ll increase the likelihood of people giving to your church (and it’s Christ-centered mission) when the desire to be generous strikes!

Continue Reading

7 Ways to Get Great Photos at Church Events

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 19, 2015 10:00:00 AM

When it comes to taking photos at events, it’s hard to capture a moment that actually looks good! All too often, event pictures turn out blurry, dark, or out of focus, or they manage to catch someone right as he puts a huge bite of cake into his mouth.

Continue Reading

How to Make Your Church Website Conversion-Focused

By Peter Frank | Nov 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Have you ever converted anyone with your church website?

To be clear, I’m not talking about a digital altar call or anything like. I know the Holy Spirit can bring believers to faith through a variety of means, including websites, but that’s not the type of conversion I mean.

In the marketing industry, a conversion is when a website visitor takes an action that leads to a business result. This could be an initial action, like adding an item to a shopping cart, or a final conversion, such as a completing a purchase.

Continue Reading

10 FREE Social Graphics (and How to Make Them!)

By Amanda Lansche | Nov 12, 2015 1:00:00 PM

Social graphics are one of the biggest trends in social media right now. By social graphics, I mean an image with text, patterns, design, etc. on it. These little works of art communicate an idea with just one glance when plain ol’ text might get lost.

Plus, including an image can really help your posts get noticed and shared. Did you know that on Twitter, tweets with a image get 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets than those without one? That’s crazy!

So, you know that saying about teaching a man to fish? Well, I’m going to give you a fish, a pole, and a quick fishing lesson!

Continue Reading

How to Better Your Writing—for Blogs, Emails, and More!

By Hannah Osborne | Nov 9, 2015 9:00:00 AM

I remember the first “book” I ever wrote. It was about three pages long, size 16 font and double-spaced, and was about a little girl who moved away from her best friends, only to find that they each sent her a letter a week after she moved! It was truly heartwarming. Friendship conquers all, and all that jazz.

I almost have my Bachelor’s degree in English, so I’m practically a writing expert (insert audience laugh track here).

Really, though, I do know at least a little bit about writing, so I can offer a tad of advice to budding and struggling writers.

Continue Reading

7 Easier Ways to Choose a Color Scheme

By Amanda Lansche | Nov 5, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Have you ever looked at one of those color picker tools, only to feel suddenly paralyzed by indecision?

That little rainbow circle offers endless color options (literally millions). Try not to hyperventilate. When you’re called on to design the church newsletter, emails, flyers, or even the website, I know the task of choosing colors can be overwhelming!

Continue Reading

Basic Church Website Components to Help Visitors

By Peter Frank | Nov 2, 2015 9:30:00 AM

 

What if you went to Walmart’s website and couldn’t find any of their products or store locations? How would you buy your detergent, baby carrots, and hedge clippers all in one place?

The same goes for your church website. Think about what a visitor needs to know and would be searching for about your church. Is she going to want to know what you believe, where you're located, and what time your services start? Probably.

There are some basic components that every church—big, small, or in between—should include. Whether you are just getting started, fine-tuning, or completely revamping a site, these key basics should be included or added to every site.

Continue Reading

Are Blogs a Must-Have for Pastors?

By Amanda Lansche | Oct 29, 2015 9:00:00 AM