Web Presence

Church Tech for Mortals Free e-book


The people over at www.churchm.ag have pulled together an outstanding e-book for pastors and church leaders. The title of the e-book is Church Tech for Mortals. It’s full of great advice on a myriad of ‘tech topics’, specifically for the local church.

For example, the very first chapter is entitled, Website: The Untamed Internet and gives you very basic suggestions on getting a decent website, including some helpful price comparisons. There’s a chapter comparing the virtues of Mac vs. PC and another on Going Mobile. That’s all the tip of the iceberg. The e-book also talks about worship presentation software, video editing, internet providers, routers, networks, web filters firewalls and more.

Each chapter is short and to the point, giving you just enough information to get you started but not so much as to overwhelm you and it’s all written for the regular ‘non-techy’!

Here’s how you can get your copy of the e-book. Browse to this page and subscribe to the Church Mag newsletter. You’ll be prompted to fill out some information and then will receive the e-book as a pdf document. make sure you save the pdf to your computer! If you decide you don’t want to receive Church Mag’s newsletter, they make it real easy to unsubscribe.

So what are you waiting for? Get your copy today!

Tumblr vs. Blogger


This is a guest post by Josh Cummings. Josh serves as the Technical Director at Elim Gospel Church in Lima, NY. Josh is passionate about all things audio & visual. His world includes wires, cables, buttons, knobs, computers, software, lights, speakers and a million other odd and weird knick-knacks. He is, by far, the coolest tech-dude I know.


If Facebook got married to Blogger and then had a trendy teenage son, that would be Tumblr. When I saw the Transforming Leader post on 2/14, teaching you how to create a simple blog using Blogger, I immediately thought of how Tumblr could be useful for ministry leaders. I have used Tumblr for a personal blog for a while, and I would advise anyone contemplating creating a blog for their ministry or organization to consider using Tumblr.

Here’s a few quick thoughts on using the Tumblr blog platform:

First things first: if you don’t know why you should blog, check out some of the older posts in the Transforming Leader that explain the rationale of using a blog for your ministry or organization. You’ll want to read those first before getting into the details of how to create a functional, appealing, and effective blog.

Both Tumblr and Blogger are free and have features such as: mobile apps, customizable design templates, custom domains, photos, videos, group blogging, email and mobile posting, additional pages/tabs, Feedburner support, third party apps, scheduled posting, and custom CSS and HTML. Tumblr has many of the same features as Blogger, but if you’re deciding which blog platform to use, you want to know what the advantages are of each blog. Let’s take a look at appearance, media, social interaction, and comments in order to compare Tumblr vs. Blogger.

Appearance: Tumblr
The Tumblr theme garden has much more visually appealing themes than Blogger. The first thing that people will notice when they visit your blog is the visuals. If a blog’s layout is outdated, it is likely that the reader may assume that the content may also be irrelevant. Both platforms allow customization, but in general, Tumblr blogs have a better design than Blogger blogs. You’ll be able to create a more attractive blog with a smaller time investment.

Media: Tumblr
Blogger does allow you to post photos and embed videos in your posts, but Tumblr simply outperforms Blogger in this department. Tumblr supports photosets similar to Instagram, allows you to post audio clips (as long as you don’t break copyright law), and to post quotes.

Social Interaction: Tumblr
Tumblr is basically a cross between Facebook and Blogger. With one click, you can reblog another users post. Not only can you follow Tumblr users (or subscribe via RSS if you’re a non-user), but you can favorite posts and post automatically to Twitter and Facebook. One killer feature for users of Tumblr is that you can subscribe to tags. For example, I am subscribed to tags such as Tozer, Tim Keller, and Francis Chan. Whenever one of those names is mentioned in a post on Tumblr, it is sent to my list on my dashboard. If I click on that list, I can read all posts that include those tags in their posts.

Comments: Blogger
With Blogger, comments are built in to your blog. Tumblr users have to use a website like IntenseDebate to get custom HTML to modify their blog to support comments. Once you’ve done this, it’s no different than Blogger, but it requires some basic tech savvy to set up. Every blog should have the ability to leave comments.

Tumblr also has a few more features that Blogger doesn’t, including private blogging, a Tumblr bookmarklet, call-in audio posts, blog rights, and a cool question and answer feature where readers can ask a blogger questions. This is similar to a comment discussion, but it’s a new post that will go to all of your subscribers’ inbox or RSS reader. If you want to compare more on your own, check out Tumblr’s features and Blogger’s features.

I’m not trying to sell you Tumblr, but we all want to have the sharpest tools possible to accomplish our all-important mission of making Christ’s love known to the world. If you’re planning to do that through a blog, I think that Tumblr could be very useful to you, as it has been for me. If you go with Tumblr, I would encourage you to take all of the principles that Pastor Wayne outlined in his blog “Create A Simple Blog With Blogger” and apply them to creating your Tumblr blog. Make sure that your blog has comments and email subscription, and that you consistently update your blog with useful posts. 90% of blogs out there are quite narcissistic, and it’s the helpful, focused blogs that succeed and make a difference.

If you’re curious, check out my personal blog Arthodoxy on faith and music or my (outdated) Elim Gospel Church tech team blog for an idea of what Tumblr looks like and works like.

Create A Simple Blog With Blogger

Last week I posted two articles about creating a ministry blog to build momentum and create unity. Here are those two posts for your reference:

In this post I will share the first few steps for creating your ministry blog using Google’s Blogger.


To start, you must create (for free) or login to your Google account. You can do that by browsing to www.blogger.com. If you do not have a Google account, click on the ‘Get Started’ button on that page.

After logging in for the first time you will see a button prompting you to create your first blog. After selecting that button you will then be prompted to name your blog as well as give it a web address.
  • Name Your Blog
    You can name your blog whatever you want. Obviously, the more descriptive and interesting your name, the better. For example, if you are creating a blog for church volunteers in your guest or host ministry, you might name the blog: FCC First Impressions (with FCC being the name of your church). Note: you can change the name at any time.
  • Give Your Blog a Web Address
    You will also see a place to give your blog a web address. This is the address you will eventually give to everyone to find your ministry blog. Try to make the address simple and easy to remember. For instance, using the above example you might try “fccimpressions”. Blogger will tell you if the address of your choice is available. Note: you can also change the address in the future. Additionally, you may want to choose to buy your own web domain later on. In that case, you pick your own web address and are not constrained to stick with the .blogspot.com extension at the end.

You will also be required to select a template for your blog. To be honest, this isn’t the place or time to finalize what template you really want. So just pick the ‘Simple’ template for now. You can adjust the look of your blog later. Note: do not select the ‘Dynamic’ template.
The next step I recommend is to create your first post. You will DELETE this post later so the content and formatting are not very important. The reason I recommend creating a post, though, is to help you see what your blog will look like with information applied. Write out two or three paragraphs of text and click the “Publish” button. Remember, you haven’t created a blog design yet, so don’t worry if the blog doesn’t look nice yet!
Let me take a moment to help you understand the links in your blogger interface. Refer to this image and then see my explanations after. If your blogger interface does not look like this, then you may have ti first click the link at the top right of your screen that says “Try the updated blogger interface”. Or if you are already viewing your blog, click the ‘Design’ link in the top right of your screen.
Here is a quick run-down of each of these sections. You may click on each one to see the content associated with them.
Overview: This will give you some basic statistics on your blog as well as some helpful links (in the Blogger Guide section) to help you be a successful blogger.

Posts: This is where you can edit or delete past posts.

Pages: This is an advanced feature you may want to take advantage of in the future. It allows you to have multiple ‘pages’ on your blog. As an example, check out the various pages at the top of my blog at www.transformingleader.org. They include ‘about me‘, ‘services‘, ‘reading lists‘, etc.

Comments: If your readers comment a lot on various posts, this is where you will go to manage comment options and individual comments.

Stats: You can find out details about how many people are viewing different posts and when in this section.

Earnings: This is for professional bloggers and probably not something you need to worry about right now.

Layout: This is where you will adjust what else is on your blog page besides blog posts. For example, I have several elements in the layout of www.transformingleader.org, like subscription buttons, a general greeting, a search bar, the top 5 posts of the week, etc.

Template: This is where you will determine what your blog will look like. There are numerous template options to pick from.

Settings: This section will allow you to make various changes and tweaks to your blog to make it most like what you want it to be like. In particular, you can add authors in this section. For example, if you would like a volunteer or another staff person to be able to post to your blog, you can add their email address here and they will be able to create their own Google account and post to your blog.

Next you should spend time on your blog’s layout. This includes the various elements on the right side of your first blog. By selecting the ‘edit’ links next to each element you can adjust or remove them. To get you started, I recommend you remove ALL of the elements preinstalled except for ‘Blog Archive’. Next, I suggest you add each of the below elements (or Gadgets) to the right bar.  To add a Gadget, simply select the ‘Add a Gadget’ link. Drag and drop each element to your desired location after you have created each one. I recommend the following order:

  • HTML/Javascript (Welcome
    This will allow you to create your own text. I recommend a short greeting explaining the purpose of your blog. As an example, read the short greeting entitled ‘Welcome to my Blog!’ here at www.transformingleader.org.
  • Follow By Email
    This is very important. It will allow your primary audience to ‘sign-up’ for email updates whenever you create a new blog post.
  • Subscription Links
    Again, very important. This will give your more tech-savvy audience options to subscribe to your blog using a blog reader on their computer or phone.
  • Search Box
    Add the search box so that readers can search through past blog entries using key words. I suggest you only check the first check box. This will keep your readers on your blog when searching.
  • Labels
    Your blog will be much more useful if you begin using labels right from the start. You can always adjust labels for each blog later. For example, you might label upcoming event posts as ‘Events’, devotional thoughts as ‘Inspirational’, and particular topics as most appropriate, like ‘Leadership’, ‘First Impression’, etc. I suggest you uncheck the ‘Show # of posts’ checkbox.
  • Blog Archives
    This section should already be present. It allows your readers to go back and find blogs by date.

Finally, you will want to tweak the design of your ministry blog. You will do this by selecting the ‘Template’ link in your left toolbar. You will see a list of various blog designs and may select different ones to see how they look to you. IMPORTANT: First focus on everything except the background image. In selecting your template you’re looking for things like, “Is the text easy to read?”; “Do I like the design?”; etc. You can CHANGE the actual background image whenever you want.
To change the background image, simply select the ‘Customize’ button after you have find your favorite template. Next, select the ‘Background’ link and then choose the background image and color scheme of your choice. When finished, select the “Apply to Blog” button at the top right of the screen.
You will learn best by doing. Begin creating posts and text by clicking the ‘New Post’ button. Always remember to create a Title for your post and 1 or 2 Labels for your post. By experimenting, you will eventually be able to learn how to add and adjust images, format text, etc. As you grow comfortable with creating posts, you will discover advanced features and options as well. For instance, it’s very easy to embed code (like for a video) into your blog by using the HTML button. Don’t forget that you can always delete old posts. You may also create as many Drafts as you want without actually publishing them.


There is no way that I could explain all of the details of creating and managing a blog in one post. I probably won’t follow up with many other explanations either, since this is not the primary purpose of this blog. However, I think this article will at the very least get you started. I suggest you take your time and slowly get comfortable using Blogger by experimenting and through trial and error. You will also find some great tutorials and more help in Blogger’s Getting Started Guide. Happy blogging!

Why A Ministry Blog Beats Email Everytime

Last week I wrote an article entitled, “Build Momentum & Create Unity With A Blog“. I’ve received a lot of questions about this topic recently. Underlying many of these questions has been the more foundational question of, “Why?” In particular, “WHY go through the pains of learning new technology and building new systems to create a blog when email works just as well?”

Answer: Because email DOESN’T work as well.

Reasons Why A Blog is Better.
Let me explain why. Following are some of the top reasons why I want you to consider creating a ministry blog. Remember, I’ve outlined three target audiences for three kinds of ministry blogs: congregation, volunteers, leaders.

  • It Gives People Options
    Unless your target audience is living in the last decade, email is no longer the preferred method of communication for the world at large. Yes. Most people now have email, but in today’s social media driven culture, people want to have choices. A blog gives those choices to people. The tech savvy may choose to subscribe to your blog via a blog reader like Google Reader, NewsGator, or BlogLines while the less tech savvy still have the option to utilize email.
  • It Leverages Social Media
    Similarly, there are ways to connect blog entries to various forms of social media. For instance, every blog post could also be connected to your personal or church Twitter, FaceBook, or LinkedIn accounts.
  • It Encourages Feedback
    If you keep your blog’s ‘Comments’ feature turned on, then you will encourage input and feedback from your readers. Sometimes blog comments can become a great place for people to get engaged in the topic, especially if the author stays connected in the comment discussions.
  • It Expands Your Influence
    A good blog will make it very easy for readers to re-post individual articles to their friends and family – as well as to the world at large. For example, at the bottom of this post you will find several buttons that you may use to repost this article on your social media medium of choice (including email). You may also ‘Stumble’ this article which will increase the chances that stumbleupon users will find your website.
  • It Is Searchable
    It is easy for your readers to find you or a particular article. In fact, often they can search and find what they need right from a Google Search. For instance, if you Google “Ten Systems of the Local Church” you will very likely see several of my posts show up in the results. Additionally, you can add a search field to your blog, making it easy for your readers to search your blog for something you said in an old post.
  • It Stays Active
    Emails come and go at the click of a button. It shows up in the inbox, we read it, then delete it. Not true for blogs. Every entry is saved and readily available for your readers to quickly find and read again, as needed.
  • It Can Be Organized
    One of the best benefits of a basic blog is the use of labels or tags. An intentional blogger will tag every article with a category or label of choice. For instance, blogs promoting events could be tagged, “events”; devotional blogs could be tagged, “inspirational”; leadership blogs . . . you get the point. Again as an example, check out the labels on my blogs to the left on this site.
  • It Maximizes Communication
    It is so easy to help new members, volunteers, or leaders ‘catch up’ on things you have communicated and said in the past – especially if you use labels effectively. For example, let’s say you have a Host Ministry blog for your greeters & ushers. Every new recruit could be sent to the blog with instructions to read all entries labelled, “How To Greet” as part of their initial training.
  • It Gets Things Done
    Let’s face it. You probably don’t have the time or emotional energy to write a ministry or volunteer manual. To do it right you would want to include a lot of great material, like inspiration, instruction, policies, procedures, and especially values. You never get around to it because it’s such a big project. Your blog gets it done. Assuming you blog regularly, you will be closer to your goal in 18 months of blogging than you have been in years.
I could go on. Suffice it to say, a ministry blog beats a email as a standard communication medium any day. NOTE: I am not suggesting you replace personal email communications with your blog. Let’s be very clear. I’m talking about ongoing encouragement, inspiration, and communication to your readers. I’m not talking about personal interaction. That will happen best face to face, over the phone, email, etc.

Build Momentum & Create Unity With A Blog


I am a proud father of four fantastic children. Every day I get to hang out with my preteen daughter, gradeschooler, preschooler, and toddler. As you might expect my daughter and her three younger brothers attend the youth and children’s programs at my church. My wife and I want to stay informed about what’s going on with our kids at church. Elim Gospel Church’s Children’s Pastor, Rob Hagstrom, is doing a great job.

In the last week I’ve received three communications in my personal inbox because I am subscribed to his blog. On Monday I received a summary of what my gradeschooler has been learning all month. On Tuesday I received a post entitled ‘Understanding Your Toddler‘ and this morning I received one more informing me that there will be no kids program this Sunday night as well as information on upcoming kids ministry events, Sunday morning message topics, and Scripture memory verses. I am well informed.

I am pretty certain EGC’s communication to parents has never been better! Here’s the important part . . . IT’S REAL EASY TO DO AND IT’S FREE!

How You Can Enhance Communication With A Blog
I’d like to suggest several ways a simple blog can revolutionize how you communicate with your congregation, volunteers, and influencers. In a future post I will share some tactical tips on getting started with a free blog platform like WordPress or Blogger.

This section highlights some ideas on how the pastor can maximize communication to his congregation. Note: Some churches have a ‘church blog’ that includes several authors, not just the Lead Pastor.

  • Recap the Sunday Morning Message
    I have a surprise for you pastors. People don’t actually talk about your sermon all week long. In fact, you’re lucky if they remember the theme of your message by Sunday night. Sorry. The good news is that you can refresh their memory with your blog. Probably the best time to do this is on Sunday night or Monday morning (within 24 hours of your message).
  • Communicate Big Events
    Although I wouldn’t recommend you blog about every single event in the church, it can be very effective to blog about upcoming events that you want everyone in the church to get excited about with you.
  • Share a Devotional 
    Let your congregation get extra input from you during the week, besides the weekend sermon. Share a brief word of encouragement during the week.
  • Setup Your Message
    You may want to occasionally encourage your congregation to ‘get ready’ for your upcoming message with a short story, Scripture, or quote.
  • Get Personal
    Your blog could be a great way for your congregation to stay current on various and interesting things going on in your life. For instance, if you just had a baby – post a pic!
  • Highlight A Story, Person, or Current Event
    People love stories – and they want to hear from the leaders in their lives. Use your blog to tell transformation stories from people in your blog. Or invite an elder to post a devotional thought or story as a guest blogger. Finally, link your readers to another blog, article, or news piece that you feel is relevant to them.
  • Enhance a Sermon Series
    At Elim Gospel Church we have occasionally utilized Pastor Josh Finley’s blog to emphasize a sermon series. For instance, in our “New Thru 30” series (we read the New Testament together in 30 days) we organized various church leaders to write an article and arranged them into the blog so that church members received an article every day for the 30 day series.
This section highlights ideas on how a ministry director could utilize a blog to effectively inspire, instruct and inform volunteers in each one’s unique area of ministry. For example, your Greeter Ministry might create a blog for your greeters, cafe hosts, and ushers; or your Children’s Ministry might create a blog for the preschool and/or gradeschool volunteers.
  • Inspire
    Your volunteers will be most effective when they are inspired. Use your blog to motivate them towards fulfilling your church mission and vision by sharing stories, links, articles, etc. For example, this would be a great place to share a short devotion with the Worship Team about the ‘audience of One’ during worship.
  • Inform
    Everyone knows that confusion breeds anxiety; and lack of communication breeds confusion. There’s probably no better way to frustrate volunteers than to keep them in the dark about what they should know to be a success. Things like volunteer meetings, volunteer schedules and information about what they are supposed to do, when, and how are all extremely important. Additionally, your volunteers want to know about your new strategies and ideas before you implement them. A ministry blog is a perfect place to roll out any or all of those things. 
  • Instruct
    Another way to create a frustrating environment for volunteers is by holding back on the pertinent training, resources, and procedures needed to be successful. Your ministry blog can help to facilitate this by providing links, articles, and information on how to do their job. For example, your could write a simple article for your Greeters one week entitled, “How To Greet Parents”. You could share three simple steps. Again, as an example: (1)”Offer assistance with doors and coats.” (2)”Greet the child(ren) first.” (3)”Greet the parent next.”
This final section highlights ideas on how you might utilize a blog to encourage unity among your members and leaders. For example, you might encourage all of your members to subscribe to this blog so that your leadership can effectively keep them informed about strategic plans designed to fulfill your church’s mission.
  • Missional Momentum
    Your blog is a great place to systematically reinforce your church’s mission. This can be done with key stories, exhortations, and short teachings that reinforce and remind your influencers of ‘Why We Do What We Do.”
  • Values Reinforcement
    Similarly, a leadership blog can be very effective in strengthening your church’s core values. For instance, if you have a core value of ‘integrity’ or ‘caring’ or ‘family-focused’ you can highlight that value on occasion with an example of what fulfilling that value might ‘look like’ or ‘sound like’ in the context of ministry in the church body.
  • Culture Shifts
    Most church leaders understand that culture shifts can be a long and tedious process. Your leadership blog can help to build or maintain momentum with culture oriented strategies. For example, let’s say you have been intentionally focusing on building a ‘guest friendly culture’ or a ‘prayer culture’ in your congregation. That won’t happen overnight; but it CAN happen over time and with consistent reminders from your influencers blog.
  • Vision Casting & Strategic Roll-outs
    You want your influencers to be informed and have time to process change and new initiatives. A well thought out blog series can play a big role in setting your leaders up for success as they have time to give their own input and feel part of the beginning stages of your vision. For example, you may be getting ready to start a new small group initiative. You could write several articles over the course of a few weeks to your influencers first letting them know the development of this vision and asking for input and feedback. The result will be greater buy-in and trust from your leaders.
  • Feedback
    Since this particular kind of blog is dedicated to your ministry leaders and influencers, it can be a great platform to get honest feedback without worry that guests or the community is privy to conversations that could perhaps be misunderstood. Posing a question in your blog and inviting comments or inserting a survey into your blog can be very effective and easy.
  • Communication
    Similar to Volunteer oriented blogs, your leadership blog can be a great tool to request or remind your influencers to do something or be somewhere. For instance, you might write a short blog the week before Easter requesting all influencers to remember three things on Sunday morning: (1)Greet 3 People You Don’t Know. (2)Show Up 10 Minutes Early. (3)Let Us Know Of Any Problems Right Away.

Ten Church Strategies: The Marketing Strategy

Here’s another one of those words that make some pastors and christian leaders cringe when associated with the church: marketing. I contemplated just calling this the ‘Outreach’ system since it is primarily about encouraging the community to visit the church. The problem is that we also associate Outreach to much more than that (like missions, and ministry to the poor/needy). So I’m keeping ‘Marketing’ as the word to describe this system.

Despite the uncomfortable connotations of the word, nearly every pastor believes in marketing the church. If a church has a website, ads in local papers, info in the white pages, or a sign on the front lawn, then that church is into marketing. In fact, I recommend you check out this page located at, interestingly enough: www.churchmarketingsucks.com.

In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will outline several areas every church should develop in order to effectively attract the unchurched, overchurched, and dechurched (been there, done that) in their communities. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of The Marketing System:
Following are the key Sub-Systems related to The Marketing System. You’ll notice that a core value of marketing is effective and relevant communication.

  • Website System
    The church website is a vital part of The Marketing System. This system will include the development of a powerful website that is both attractive and easy to navigate. The best website will serve both prospective guests as well as longstanding members. The Website System will also ensure that content is consistently updated and relevant. (Check out ‘Guest Friendly Website’.)
  • Traditional Advertisement System
    This system will include a clear analysis and implementation of the most appropriate forms of traditional advertising. It may include things like newspaper ads, TV or radio ads, and telephone book ads.
  • Social Media System
    Unless the church is reaching a very narrow group in the community, social media is and will continue to become a very important part of church promotions. This system will include determining the best types of social media to engage with and will keep each one relevant and up to date. Social media systems may include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.
  • Special Event Promotion System
    This system will focus on the effective promotion of special church events that may draw the community. Church productions, Christmas programs, unique outreaches, upcoming message series, and key classes are just a few examples of possible events to promote outside the church. The Special Event Promotion System will get the word out to the community in the most effective ways possible. It may include touchcards, posters, billboards, radio ads, and more.
  • Word of Mouth System
    The best marketing happens informally through attendees who are excited about the church. The Word of Mouth System will equip attendees to ‘talk it up’ through effective communication and hands-on materials they can use to supplement their invitations. Pastors and church leaders will intentionally tell church attendees about upcoming exciting events or services so they can get the word out. The best system will also put something in their hands to use as an invitation – like posters, flyers, or touchcards. Obviously, an updated and exciting website and social media should support and supplement this system as well.
  • Church Communications System
    Church communications is probably one of the most challenging systems to develop for pastors and church leaders. This system will ensure all church activities get promoted appropriately. It will prevent some events from getting over-promoted while others are under-promoted. The Church Communications System will provide a simple way for church leaders to submit communications requests. Those requests will eventually be approved after consideration has been made as to what methods of promotions they will receive – for example, verbal promo, newsletter, e-blasts, bulletin inserts, website page, etc.
  • Branding & Graphic Arts System
    This system will determine what needs to have a specific brand within the church. Of course the church itself should have a relevant logo, but sometimes specific ministries or events should be branded as well. Often, individual message series, sermons, or special events will have a unique brand too. This system will develop brands and graphics and distribute them to the other Marketing sub-systems.

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

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