I recently released a new free book for download. You can download it for yourself on your iPad or on iBooks for those of you running Mavericks on your Mac. Click here to check it out.
I was recently asked to give a lecture to a class at Spring Arbor University on using the internet and technology in churches today. Considering I do so quite at 1208GREENWOOD Free Methodist Church, I thought I’d share a few ideas as to how you can incorporate such technologies in your ministry.
Facebook is about as obvious as it gets when it comes to incorporating the internet into your church. You can upload pictures, tag people, give updates, and link, link, link. It creates an online community in which your congregants can see that much more goes on at your building than just a Sunday morning service. They can see how they can get involved and be aware of events coming up (even if they’re last minute).
However, there is a problem with many church Facebooks: they’re dead. Sure, there is a page people can like, but for the most part nothing is there (or at least what is there is from a year ago). If you want your church to look alive in healthy, show them that it is. Take a picture every other day of something going on and post it to your Facebook. Write a blog post so people can keep up with you. If your Facebook page is dead it might lead others to think that (A) you aren’t doing anything or (B) that your church doesn’t understand technology. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with not using technology, but if you’re looking to attract today’s generation at all, they may take notice that you use technology and use it well. And if you use it well, you can get the word out. For example, here are some flyers we post on Facebook.
If you have any video editing skills, take some footage every once in awhile and throw it up on your YouTube channel. From there, you can link it to Facebook and show the world what you’ve been up to. Show people how an event went or make a video to get the word out about an event coming up.
Twitter is easy enough to use as long as your not long winded. You’ve only got 140 characters to say what you need to say. As you can see, we update our Twitter by simply linking Twitter to Facebook. That way anything we post to Facebook will automatically be posted to Twitter with a link to the thing we said on Facebook. That way, if we write too much on Facebook then you can click on the link to see the rest of what we were saying. Another great way of getting the word out there and with how popular it is, it should definitely be utilized.
If you’re in ministry and have good backing in some kind of exegetical education I highly suggest you start practicing what I call the spiritual discipline of blogging. There are many aspects to this, but I’ll try to keep my explanation brief.
Today, anyone can blog and get their beliefs and feelings out there. This is good of course, but can create some problems as essentially anyone can get their beliefs and feelings out there. Now I’m all for free speech, but let’s face it: people misinterpret the Bible all the time. I’m not asking people to stop blogging, but I am do wish those who know the exegetical basics of Biblical interpretation to step up and blog. You are the ones who can break the cycle and present scholarly blogs. Writing such posts will grow you with God and make you a better writer. It will also give you an avenue to teach through outside of the pulpit.
I highly suggest getting a WordPress account if you’re going to blog. No blogging service will benefit you quite as much as WordPress will, especially with all of the free helpful statistics and insights it offers you.
With the rise of the iTunes and other music distributing technologies came the ability for local bands to get their music out there. We are now stepping into a world in which writers can do the same. Now with most writings this is not a problem, but when it comes to Christian writings we have the same problem we have with blogging: anyone can write a book. Again, this isn’t bad and it doesn’t mean that what anyone has to say is bad, but it can be. If you understand how to read and interpret the Bible, you have the power at your fingertips to now write a book about something God puts on your heart. I’ve now personally been able to publish two books: COLOUR, and The Prophetic Jacket.
If you have an iPhone or Android you may have heard of this app. It’s essentially a social network for checking into places. When you stop somewhere you check into that place on the app and you get points for doing so. You tend to get more points for going to new places and if you check into a place more than anyone else, you become the mayor of that place. The points are just for fun and it pushes you to compete with your friends and check into lots of places.
This is a good way to get word out that you exist. When people check into 1208GREENWOOD Free Methodist Church it will let others know that they are there. It will even post it to Facebook if they have linked their Foursquare account to Facebook. The more people see people check in, the more they’ll be curious to check you out sometime. It’s a creative way to get word out that you exist and get people not in a church, into a church.
If you own your venue on Foursquare you can also put specials up on your Foursquare page. For example, I got free parmesan bread at a local pizza place for checking in there three times. I can’t figure out what kind of a special would work for a church yet, but it’s a cool idea to put in place if you can think of one.
7. Church Apps
If you have someone in your church who is good with developing software, see if they can make you a mobile app. If you don’t have someone like that in your church, do what we did and ask an app developer like iGivings to make one for you. We lucked out and happened to get an app made from iGivings for free during a limited time offer, but you can still pay to get one made. If you want to see what that app will look like, check out ours. This is a great way to get mp3s of your messages out there as well as upcoming events and blog posts. It puts them all in the same place. It’s similar to Facebook, but cool to have (especially if you have enough app users in your church).
We don’t really have the money to print off a bunch of beautiful color newsletters every time we make one, but we do have the ability to email great looking PDFs to every single person in our church. We also make a link available for download on our Facebook page. This allows us to get word out to everyone about what we’ve been doing, are doing, and are about to do. This way we don’t even have to worry about making everything printable or trying to make it all look good in black and white. We can just expect that it’ll be read on a computer or tablet. Or people can even print it off themselves and then read it that way if they prefer to do so.
9. Cloud Drives
You can get a free cloud drive for your church quite easily. Just use Dropbox or Google Drive. They’ll give you a few gigs to store files on and you can makes those files public or private. We have a private Dropbox file for our church in which we transfer our PowerPoints and other service files back and forth. We also have a public one where people can download our messages, newsletters and what have you. They can be very useful.
After about a year of writing, I have finished a book I call The Prophetic Jacket. This book is my attempt to express all of the love, grace, and mercy that is Jesus Christ. I start with a story about a jacket and follow a stream of thought into all kinds of areas of Christianity, expressing God’s love in everything along the way.
You can download it for free on iBooks by clicking here. If you don’t own an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch to read it on you can download a PDF or ePub file by clicking here. You can also download the book on Amazon’s Kindle Store, but it will cost 99 cents there as I am forced to give it some kind of a price. You can also read it and download it for free on my Goodreads page.
However it is that you decide to download it, I would greatly appreciate it if you would still give it a download on iBooks, even if you can’t read it there. Every download helps me promote the book by moving it up the charts on the iBooks store. Thanks and I hope you enjoy it!
No, I’m not talking about that stupid Windows error that never actually let me exit a window myself—I’m actually talking about stealing music, movies, TV shows, software, video games, and really anything digital. I imagine most everyone in today’s generation has been guilty of this crime in some way or another. We just don’t ascribe any meaning to something we can’t physically hold in our hands. Heck, we don’t even have to feel the guilt of holding a burnt CD in our hands. We just dump a few megs of info on someone’s iPod and forget all about it. So many of us are guilty of stealing and we don’t even care.
That is they don’t care until their TV show gets cancelled. Or the band gives up because they’re not making any money. Or game developers have to charge people extra for online services just to make a few bucks off of a legal selling of a pre-owned game.
See, I used to be like that. And then I got convicted. And then I became like that again. And then became convicted again. And now here I am, writing this post.
Let me just be frank with you for a second: we have absolutely no reasonable excuse whatsoever to steal anything—whether it’s digital or not. I’ve heard every explanation. In fact, I’ve made every explanation! But eventually I was convicted of my error and have done my best to turn away, though I realize now that there are plenty of places where I haven’t even realized I was probably doing wrong. For example, I might want to hear or preview a song really quick that I don’t want to buy, so I might go stream it on someone’s YouTube channel really quick.
Yes, I’m trying to go the extra mile with this situation. The story inspiring this post is that I finally decided to pay the ten bucks Spotify was asking for to enjoy all the music I could. No more annoyingly loud ads! And now I could even download the songs to my phone and take them on the go with me! All of the music in the world was at my finger tips. And then just a few minutes ago I learned a few things and immediately canned my subscription and have decided to wait for their service to look up.
Do I love the idea of Spotify? Yes. Does it benefit me immensely? Yes. Does it save me money? Definitely, yes.
Unfortunately, I’m just not willing to give so little money to the artist. Musician Derek Webb points this out in a blog post of his:
I am paid $0.00029 per stream of a song on Spotify, and even this amount depends on whether the song is being streamed by a paid user or someone using the service for free. This means it will take upwards of 3,500 streams of a single song on Spotify to earn $1.00 versus that same revenue for one iTunes song purchase (not to mention the fact that Spotify refuses to pay the same amount to independent artists as they pay major labels, unlike iTunes).
Or to put it in another light, it’s rumored that 1 million streams of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face earned her a whopping $167. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it’s a fairly popular rumor.
Plenty of you will read this article and be ticked off at me. That’s fine. I’m really just trying to push your buttons, which, despite what you may think, is not always easy for me. I don’t care to get negative feedback anymore than the next person.
I’m calling you to at the very least live legally. The next step after that is to start thinking more deeply about some of the things that are legal, but sketchy. For example, perhaps you’ll feel as though you shouldn’t buy pre-owned video games. Or perhaps like me you will want to wait until Spotify changes their ways a little bit before you really start using it. Take some kind of a stand for something.
I’m not trying to condemn you or look like some kind of holier-than-thou kind of person, but I am trying to convict you. For many, illegal downloading is an addiction. Break it.
Throughout the years I’ve taken a lot of pictures. I am by no means a professional photographer as any professional photographer would happily point out to me. However, my desire to take photos remains. That being said, I have taken some of my best pictures to create a book I call COLOUR. Why do I spell it as though I’m from the UK? Because face it: it looks cooler that way.
If you have an iPad, I hope you’ll consider downloading it here. Unfortunately it won’t work on an iPhone because there’s more going on than simple writing. But I do have a few other writings that will be coming out soon that will work on both iPad and iPhone.
The point of COLOUR is to captivate you with the beauty of God. He’s so amazingly beautiful and creative and it’s so obvious in absolutely everything He’s made. So again, feel free to download it for free at the link above. Here’s a few screen shots of what the book looks like:
Before you jump into this study, I suggest you first take a listen to Cory Asbury’s song Always Faithful (Prophetic Song) on his album Let Me See Your Eyes. If you have Spotify, you can listen to it here. If you do not, there is always buy it on Amazon (the entire album is currently $5 there and well worth the investment!) or on iTunes.
You’ll hear tongues sang throughout this song. Take some time to reflect and meditate on God as the song goes on. Perhaps take some communion as we did while at Apollos we listened.
Tongues has always been confusing to the majority of Christians. See if our study clears it up for you at all and ask God to move in this spiritual gift to learn more yourself from the greatest teacher you could have.
Huge credit to Dr. Ken Brewer on this session of Apollos. He’s been a great mentor to me and a lot of this particular study came right out of my notebook from his class on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Also, new class starts next month. Get there in person if you really want to advance your learning:
This is the first good song I wrote many, many years ago. Yet, despite it’s age, I still enjoy playing it. I did actually sing a few of the words wrong in the video, so if you’d like to read actual lyrics, you can check them out below.
Also, you can download the old recorded version for free by clicking here.
i find myself here again
Tired and unrested
From the endless hours on end
Of being tested
But i find my strength
In Your wings
Yet another day passes again
And the damage is done
i’m fighting all the battles
That i should have won
But i find my comfort
In Your arms
And the sun will rise
And i will stand in awe
Of the beauty
Beauty of Your love
And the sun will set
And i will watch it fall
In the wonder
Wonder of Your grace
i stand here looking again
And look at all that You’ve made
Seeing how You love me so much
Through all that You’ve gave
And i find my shelter
In Your shade
The rocks cry out Your glory
The mountains sing Your praise
The skies echo the story
Of Your love’s amazing grace
The trees will wave their branches
The grass will bow before
And we will take our chances
And give You what is more
The clouds will come hard crashing
The lightning will strike hard
The wind will start its thrashing
And with You i’ll soar so far
The flowers reflect Your sweetness
As the sun will rise
The birds sing Your greatness
And with You i’ll fly so high