Author Archive for Allan Buckingham – Page 2

Church And Technology.ca’s good reads, week 13 2014

Each week Church And Technology.ca shares some of the worthwhile reading we found on the web that you might be interested in.

Church And Technology.ca’s list of interesting articles from the last week:

One Seismic Shift Churches & Non-Profits Need To Make Now In Social Media – SteveFogg.com
Here’s a very brief summery: Using social media is no longer a free way to promote/keep in touch. Unfortunately I have a feeling this will be a slow lesson for many churches. It sucks I know, but it’s true. You don’t have to pay much, but with the changes to the Facebook algorithm for pages, even if you’re creating lots of engaging content, you’re likely only hitting 5% of your church’s Facebook audience. And that will be making it’s way to other social networks as well. No budget at all? Facebook’s still not a waste of time, but it’s not the connection machine it once was.

5 Ways to do Church Communication on the Cheap – Orange Leaders
Cheaper isn’t always better, and as mentioned in my comments on the last article, as well as this one, churches need to start thinking about the possibilities of paying for social media views. However, taking a look at what you can do for the least expense is often a good exercise for organizations, churches included. I’d also add taking a look at PicMonkey for image editing using Google Hangouts On Air for live streaming church services.

Quit Asking for Tips, Develop a Social Media Strategy – Church Tech Today
I’m a big fan a strategy. It doesn’t always come easy to me as I also love to experiment with new platforms and tools, but I recognize it’s importance and strongly encourage everyone to determine their strategy. This can be before getting started, or if you didn’t then, afterwards works too. A late strategy is better then no strategy.

Announcement:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.

Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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What to Look For in a Church Database or Church Management System

I got asked recently about what to look for in a church database, which led me to write the post Why Have A Church Database. I’d now like to expand on that post and more fully answer the question about what you should be looking for in a church database or Church Management System (ChMS).

Make A List of All the Features You Might Ever Want

Photo Credit: Zeusandhera via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Zeusandhera via Compfight cc

Look for something that can do all the database things you think you want now, or ever. I know there’s no real way to know what you’ll ever want, but try and think big. You might not want to have multiple church newsletters now, but maybe you will some day. Transferring data isn’t a huge deal, but it’s a pain in the butt. Many services have multiple add-ons or plugins you can buy so that you’re not paying for more then you need now, but can easily add on features later if you’d like.

Along those lines, I’d make sure you can also either send newsletters, or integrate into other newsletter programs. Integration is key to me, as I’d like to be able to use the best programs for what I’m doing in each area and have them work well together. Some people though prefer to have everything in one place, which I understand as well. Either way, you want to be able to easily communicate with everyone in your database.

It’s also great to be able to give everyone multiple “tags” so that you can target them differently, or find them easily. For example someone might have “regular worship, kids at Uni, Turkey Supper, not members, love music events”. Once that’s set up, if you want to email everyone with kids at University it’s a breeze. Or maybe you’re trying to find someone who loves music and is generally at church Sunday morning so you can ask them to help out, if you’ve got tags for that it will be easy to do.

You should also look at using an online (cloud based) service so that information can be accessed and shared easily among different people and in different locations. This is great if you want to send something out while you’re working from home as well as letting multiple people access the database at the same time.

Try, and Compare Before You Commit

What to look for in a church database

You may not need a church database quite this high tech.
Photo Credit: ditatompel via Compfight cc

Most of the software out there gives you an option to try it out before you commit to buying it. Make sure you do so. Set up a few people and see if you can find them, send them emails, etc. You should already have a list of the features you want to be using, so now’s the time to make sure the software you’re looking at does what you want. You should also make sure you like the interface. Is it easy for you to use? Will it also be easy for others to use? This may seem like a silly thing to consider, but if the software is a pain to use, you’re not going to want to do it, which means eventually you’ll stop using it, which defeats the whole point of getting it.

I’d also make sure to look at church specific databases as well as generic not for profit ones. You may end up paying a bit more for a not for profit one, but it may end up doing more of what you need. Then again, maybe not. That’s why it’s good to check things out.

The more time I spend thinking, the more ideas I get about how to use a church database. This is a good start though for what you should be considering as you look at improving how you organize your churches data.

What features am I missing? What’s the best way to use a church database?

Announcement:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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Church And Technology.ca’s good reads, week 12 2014

Each week Church And Technology.ca shares some of the worthwhile reading we found on the web that you might be interested in.

Church And Technology.ca’s list of interesting articles from the last week:

50 Social Media Habits You Can Stop Doing Now – Ann Handley: Author of “Content Rules” Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs
While I wish this post had the full 50 things rather then a link to a, admittedly free, book, it does make some good points. More then that though it reminds us that like offline society, things are constantly evolving on social media. Just because something made sense last year doesn’t mean it does now. This shouldn’t scare you though, I personally find it freeing. It means it’s never too late to join and start learning. It also means that something you thought may have been a good idea before but didn’t work, might just work now, so you might as well give it a go again.

More Facebook Impact For Your Church – Christian Media Magazine
I most appreciate the second point “Extend the Sunday Message”. It includes great ideas like
You can ask questions related to it, create picture quotes from it, post short video clips of it, show behind the scenes of the Pastor prepping, short clips of staff talking about it, text post of Scriptures from it
other things you could do include: new related thoughts and questions you got asked during coffee. The later stresses that people are already engaging you about it.

A guide to Google Plus notifications – Plus Your Business
If your church is on Google+, or thinking about adding a Google+ strategy you should take a look at this post. It goes through they different ways you can have Google+ notify you, as well as some of who you’ll be sharing with when you post in different ways. While you won’t find as many people on Google+ as you will on Facebook say, due to Google+’s influence on Google search results, it’s something to consider.

The Typecast Church: Old-School, Tech-Junkie, or Digital Church? – Church Tech Today
It’s a pretty simplified analysis, but interesting none the less. There’s always more technology that can be added to your church, but it’s not always good. It’s not necessaraly bad either. Like in life, church technology use needs to be in balance with the goals of the congregation as well as the people involved and those they are trying to reach.

Announcement:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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Giving Up Social Media for Lent: Why You Shouldn’t Do It

Giving Up Social Media for Lent imageLent begins today. Unsurprisingly my Twitter stream and Facebook news feed are reasonably full of people talking about things they’ll be giving up for 40 days. While fasting is a spiritual practice I have great appreciation for, it’s not one I’ve done recently, mainly because I’m not sure I’m strong/committed enough at the moment. My personal failings aside, I have great respect for those that are fasting this Lent, if not from food, from something else. However, I need to get off my chest how annoying I find it they way many people talk about giving up Social Media for Lent.

For example:


or

Why People Give Up Social Media for Lent

Part my dislike for this trend is that I don’t like how people give up things for Lent that they wish they had more control over the rest of the time. For me this isn’t really what it’s all about. I get it that that is a lot of what Lent has become, in North America at least, but that doesn’t mean I like it. The other reason I think the trend towards giving up social media for Lent is a bad thing is that it feeds into the notion that social media is a vice. Seeing as we tend to give up thing for Lent that we think we’d be better off without, helps give social media an undeserved bad rep. Treating social media and technology in general as a vice is way to common with people I know, and I gotta say, I hate it.

I don’t see people giving up winter boots, or driving, or talking to people on the phone. How many people do you know who are giving up reading? Not just for pleasure, but all kinds of reading, even street signs. I can’t say I know any. These may seem like extreme examples, and kind of stupid, which they are, but hear me out. All my examples are things that are external to our physical bodies and are enhancements in some way. This is the same for technology. We are all genuinely better off thanks to technology, but still it gets treated like it’s a vice that we should be able to live without, and that if we do we’re a better person. This I find really troubling.

Why Social Media Should Be Treated Better

Just because innovations use electricity, doesn’t mean they come from the devil. Not that many people actually think that, but it’s the impression I’m often given. For most of us, this is not actually something we believe, although we sometimes act like it. I recognize that people are weary of new things, but I feel this gets taken overboard when it comes to technology. Social media is as plainly a part of my life, and many other peoples lives, as are winter boots, cars, and telephones (of the talking variety). Sure I may use social media for fun sometimes, or end up wasting time, but I also drive places for fun, and waste time talking on the phone with friends. Even though social media is new, we should give it the same respect we give other things, not treat it purely as a vice that our lives would be better without. Our lives would be different with out social media, but I wouldn’t jump to say better.

Lenten Fasting Should Be A Sacrifice, Not A Chance to Live Without A Vice

Now all that said, I must add that there is a time that I think it would be fine to give up social media for Lent. If you intentionally want to cut yourself off from the world to explore the spiritual nature of sacrifice. If you’re thinking if it like a 40 day long silent retreat rather then trying to learn if you can abstain from alcohol for 40 days. If it’s a spiritual retreat giving up social media for Lent might be acceptable to me. Although, just giving up social media doesn’t really accomplish that, but it might if you added in email. And for sure if you added in talking on the telephone.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that Lenten fasting shouldn’t just be a way to see how hard it is to live without something you consider a vice. Giving something up for Lent should be about removing a vital, life giving part of your life, and filling that whole with God.

How do you view the Lenten practice of giving something up? Do you see social media as a necessary part of life, like winter boots, or as a vice like loving chocolate?

Announcement:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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Church And Technology.ca’s good reads, week 11 2014

Each week Church And Technology.ca shares some of the worthwhile reading we found on the web that you might be interested in.

Church And Technology.ca’s list of interesting articles from the last week:

How to Get a Better Video Image Out of Your Existing Cameras – Christian Media Magazine
While the camera budget talk about in this post may be more then you could ever fathom, ignore the amounts they’re talking about and pay attention to the key message. Lighting is more important then camera quality. If you’re looking at recording your service/sermon for posting to your website, or live streaming your service, worry less about the quality of the camera then about the amount of lighting.

Design Basics: 5 Things Designers Need to Teach Non-Designers – Church Marketing Sucks
Some good things to keep in mind for those of us that aren’t designers, but that work with things that need designed. My favourite tip: “there are dozens of things that need to happen before I ever turn to the computer in order for a project to be successful.” That is true in so many situations, but not necessarily easy to remember.

#ChSocM (Church Social Media) Chat Transcript: 2/25/14: WhatsApp, Messaging Platforms, Lent. – #ChSocM
Lots covered here including a look at using independent messaging platforms as well as conversation about Lenten social media fasts.

Announcement:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

Related Posts:

Why Have A Church Database

Frustrated by lack of church database (small)

Avoid spreadsheet headaches
image via stock.xchng

I got asked recently about what churches should be looking for as they consider moving away from Excel and towards a more robust church database. This got me thinking about how lots of churches are still using Excel or other spreadsheet programs to keep track of things. These programs are good enough for what some churches need to do, provided they have someone who knows how to use them, but as you grow and start to do more, a specialized database can be a boon to your church. Also called Church Management Software, a church database is a great way to easily keep track of the things you’d like to track, attendance, offerings, etc. But it can also be a great way to keep in touch with your church members and adherents.

What Is A Church Database For?

If you’re new to this whole church database or church management software (ChMS) thing, here’s a brief list of some of the things you can do.

  • Keep track of people and their involvement
  • Track visitors
  • Send email notices/newsletters
  • Manage donations
  • Be reminded of follow-ups for pastoral care
  • Attendance tracking

Lots of organizations use similar software to keep track of people. Businesses for current and interested customers and non-profits for members and interested donors are a couple of examples. There is specialized software for different industries, like churches, but as a church it’s worth checking out some of the non-profit ones as well, it may by that you’ll find something there that fits better with what you’re after. You may also not be interested in all the features of some products, so make sure to check out a few before you jump right into one.

Church Database / Church Management Software Options

I’m personally a fan of being able to mix and match services I use, rather then an all in one solution. For many though all in one solutions are their preference and there are lots out there to choose from. Just remember to make sure you get something that can do everything you’d like, or that integrates well with the other services you’d like to use. For example if you use MailChimp or Constant Contact for email distribution, make sure the church database program you use integrates with them.

Church database, or church management software, can be found in all kinds of price ranges, which is another reason to make sure you check out a few before you commit. Depending on which one you choose though, the cost will likely be made up pretty quickly in the reduction of time spent fighting with spreadsheets or other programs that aren’t designed to easily do what you’d like.

Conclusions

While not for all congregations, to me it’s worth looking at different donor or church management systems. You’ll be way better off for keeping track of people and their involvement with the church. What better way to keep your staff and volunteers happy?

What features would you most be after in a church database program? Or if you already use one, what features do you like best?

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Church And Technology.ca’s good reads, week 10 2014

Each week Church And Technology.ca shares some of the worthwhile reading we found on the web that you might be interested in.

Church And Technology.ca’s list of interesting articles from the last week:

Social Media: Improving My Everyday Life Every Day – Inge G. – LinkedIn Influencer
For those on the fence about church social media use, here’s a great post about how social media helps keep us connected and makes our lives better. It’s nothing mind shattering, but a good real life example.

How to Spend Only 10 Minutes Per Day on Twitter – Mashable
If you’re new to Twitter, you’ve got to start here. If you’ve been at Twitter for a while, this still has useful info, basically make sure you’re using lists and a program that makes using them easy. Also, auto-schedule things you can. Don’t auto-schedule everything, then you seem like a robot, but there’s lots you can use an auto-scheduler for, and reTweeting some of the interesting things you find each morning is one of them.

5 Reasons Why the Church Must Engage the World with Social Media – Christian Media Magazine
In case you needed a bit of a push into church social media, here are lots of reminders why it’s important to spread the Good News and why social media is a good way to do it. I especially like “We engage because the conversation happens with or without us”.


Announcement:

If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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