Technology in the Church

imageWeb-based Ministry:  Are You Taking Full Advantage of the Opportunities?
Greg Atkinson writes, "Recently I met with my new friend, Boyd, from ChurchTeams.com (a great resource for your church - I encourage you to check them out). We were talking about the future of the Church, technology and ministry and we talked about the reality that in the not too distant future, churches may not need internal servers.

I was sharing my thoughts on the Church IT world and how quickly it’s changing. How most IT departments are not keeping up with the rapidly changing world around them and how I believe that we’re just on the edge of all the change coming to our Church tech and IT worlds.

I talked about how North Point doesn’t use Microsoft Exchange - they’re all Google. Many churches are following in their footsteps. Think about it: North Point is a huge church with a large staff - if they can do it, you can, too.

I talked about how churches are using resources like Unifyer, 360Hubs, Arena, Fellowship One, Planning Center Online, ChurchTeams.com, etc., etc. - all web-based resources.

Last week I had lunch with the Emerging Media professor at the University of Texas Dallas. He started talking about this very reality without knowing I had already written most of this post. He talked about the new reality of sharing information via the cloud. I already collaborate with many people and writing partners via Google docs...

imageBank On Him
God will do whatever it takes to get your eyes on Him - to get your focus, desire, trust and hope in Him; in that way, He is relentless and can go to extremes (as Scripture, myself and countless others can attest to) to get our attention.

In light of our recent economic situation, it occurred to me that God may be at work all around. I travel the country speaking on innovation. One of the ways that I teach innovation is birthed is by desperation, but I go on to say that “it’s a desperation that leads to a dependence upon the Holy Spirit.”

When you hit the bottom in your own way: maybe lose your job, your retirement, your house, your savings, your stock portfolio, your (you fill in the blank)… Could it be that it’s by design by our Creator to bring us back to trusting in Him alone? To quote two spiritual giants and long distance mentors: “God is most satisfied in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper. In The Problem of Pain, CS Lewis says, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

More On Technology in the Church
imageFlickering Pixels:  Is Online Community Real?
I'm in the process of reading the new book by Shane Hipps called "Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith. It is a great read and very challenging. I've often said that I enjoy reading articles and books that stretch my thinking and broaden my horizons a little. This book does. Shane is a former advertising executive. It was his job to, as he puts it, "hijack our imagination, brand our brain with his logo, and feed us opinions that we thought were our own". Shane presents an interesting case that you can't really separate the medium from it's message. If that's true, it has significant ramifications for today's church.

One part of the book that interested me was Shane's take on social media and the internet. Shane writes, "I find it troubling that so many communities of faith are in hot pursuit of these new technologies. The internet is seen as the Holy Grail of "building community". However, churches will find the unintended consequences of this medium coming back to bite them..."
imageNow You Really CAN Pray Without Ceasing…
Finally! A new web technology for Christians NOT developed by LifeChurch.tv! Not sure why Bobby and Terry passed on this one, but According to the Information Age Prayer website..."Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget. We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen. At Information Age Prayer we think our service should be used like a prayer supplement, to extend and strengthen a subscriber's connection with God. Traditional prayer is an integral part of this connection and should never be forgone, even after signing up."

Wow... kind of like a prayer for hire thing. And what's best... you can enroll for the protestant, catholic, jewish, muslim, or 'unaffiliated' automatic prayers.

Here are some of the prayers you can order:
imageChurch Video Ideas:  Universal Technology
Several conversations lately have led me to consider the integration and universality of technology in a local church context. To be integrated means “combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole” or “organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.”

Universal means “affecting, concerning, or involving all”, “used or understood by all” or “present everywhere.” As I continue to chew on this concept, other words that come to mind are total, comprehensive and whole.

I serve as a technology pastor at a church. For years “tech” was considered one person’s role (the techie, tech director or AV coordinator) – whether volunteer, part-time or full-time. Now in most local church situations there is still the need for this AV/tech role that oversees the sound, video and lights for corporate worship services and often oversees and supports campus-wide AV needs. IT is obviously another growing area in the church world and usually requires a dedicated volunteer or paid staff member or the use of outsourced companies.
imageThe Cool Side of the Pillow
Okay, I’m going to be very transparent and honest about three of my favorite things to do. Besides using a Q-tip deeper than any Q-tip should ever go (which is probably my favorite silly thing to do), I also love getting my hair cut. I don’t know why, but it’s a very relaxing and fun part of my life that I look forward to. My third favorite thing to do happens at night when I’m lying in bed and just looking up at the ceiling and thinking. After a little amount of time, the pillow will become warm, uncomfortable and a little distracting. All I have to do to remedy the situation is flip my pillow over to the “cool side” and I experience terrific refreshment, a true AHHHHH moment. It’s crazy, really. All I do is turn the pillow over, but it brings me such joy and allows me to lie there a little longer: comfortable, happy and undistracted, to just think and pray.

Why do I bring this up? Because in our daily lives, I think we need to “flip the pillow” from time to time to shake things up, experience a new joy and see things in a different way. Here are a few thoughts on how to change things up in our everyday routines. Now, forgive me, these are random and I’m just going to spout them out...
imageChurch Video Ideas:  PC or Mac?
Greg Atkinson writes, "Let the wars begin! Just kidding. Actually, I ask the question because I think the answer (for most churches) is BOTH. I just talked with 2 guys that do video at 2 different larger churches and they use both Avid and FinalCut.

In the world of Church IT (which I’m blogging about this week on my blog), there seems to be a either-or mindset and after talking to a few geek friends, plus Tony Steward (who is just too fun to call a geek, but he knows his stuff) - they seem to believe that church networks can have a happy marriage of PCs and Macs.

I wonder: is this your reality? Is your church all PC? all Mac? Are you a hybrid? What’s your situation? My church is predominately PC, but the whole Worship & Arts/production staff is Mac and after talking to several of our pastors, they’d like to be Mac, too. I wonder if you, like me, since we’re at a tipping point...
imageI Am No Music Scholar… but…

Dan Kimball includes a couple of letters in a recent blog post that I found interesting. Not sure if these can be substantiated as fact, but take a look... it sounds about right...

"I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn - if you can call it that - sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this - in God's house! - don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need."
Of course, this letter was written in 1863, and the song they were talking about was "Just as I Am". Here's another one...

Technology in the Church Resources imagePastors In Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry

Why do pastors leave the ministry? Several common issues emerge from the research of Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger: preference for another form of ministry, the need to care for children or family, conflict in the congregation, conflict with denominational leaders, burnout or discouragement, sexual misconduct, and divorce or marital problems. Of these factors, which form the basis for the central chapters of Pastors in Transition, two are especially important: conflict and a preference for specialized ministry. A close third is the experience of burnout, discouragement, stress and overwork. As the authors explore these factors, they provide significant insights into what can be done to help people stay in ministry. imageEat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading

The bestselling author of "The Message" challenges believers to read the Scriptures on their own terms, as God's revelation, and to live them as they read them. imagePracticing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders

Based on his extensive experience as coach and mentor to many thousands of Christian leaders across a broad spectrum of ministry settings, Reggie McNeal helps spiritual leaders understand that they will self-select into or out of greatness.