15 Media tools to use for your church or organizations

While some in the Christian community have declared an all-out war on media tools, many Christian churches and organizations utilize many widely available tools to reach more people, ease planning & enhance communication, all for the Glory of God.

Below, I list 15 tools we utilize at City On A Hill Church (www.cityhill.tv). If you are in any way involved in the ministry of the local church or a non-profit organization, most of these tools can serve as a great blessing. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be writing a blog about each media tool separately; until then, here is a short version and explanation of each tool.

City On A Hill website1. A Church Website

Whether you agree or not, the church website is today’s “Front Door” to your church. Most people will check your website out, before they come to your church, or support your organization. With that in mind, here are some suggestions:

a. If you are not ready to invest heavily into a church website, at least create a free “blog” through WordPress or Blogger, and upload basic UP-TO-DATE church information, like address, contact info, & church service times. Blogs are heavily valued by search engines, and will come up near the top, if your church name is searched. If you are willing to pay less than $20 a year, you can make your blog url to be personalized; for example – I blog using wordpress. If I wouldn’t be willing to pay, my blog web address would be www.russellkorets.wordpress.com. But, I was able to purchase a domain, and my blog address is simply www.russellkorets.com. Both of these domains will lead to the same location on the web.

b. Great websites can include such things as a calendar, the ability to live stream church services, an archive of videos of past sermons, news, pictures, an About section, and links to connect to church’s social media pages.  Here are 2 links where you can view some great church websites:

http://churchrelevance.com/resources/top-75-church-websites/

http://ministrycss.com

c. Mobile Apps are beginning to play a big role for online access. More and more users are going online using their phones. A church should consider creating a church app. There are many companies that are willing to do it for a fee. Here is one company that will create a church app for less than $20 a month:

http://www.churchlinkapp.com/?gclid=CPPttYSrsLYCFeN_QgodYRoAsw

d. Most churches don’t store the actual “videos” on their church websites. Typically, those videos are on a different website, and links are just placed on the website. The two big video locations are YouTube and Vimeo. We highly recommend using Vimeo for churches. Though YouTube videos can get more views, the ads played before a video starts are  often inappropriate, and, when the YouTube video ends, YouTube displayes images of other videos that they suggest, and often, those images are also very inappropriate.

social media2. Social Media Sites

This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and for the Slavic churches, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki.

If you utilize Social Media, it’ll be your biggest driver of traffic to your church website. Millions of people are on Social Media, daily. Your most faithful members will not visit your church website, unless they are reminded of new content through a social media post.

Though there are many social media sites, there are tools that can allow you to interconnect them. A post on Facebook can directly be reposted to Twitter. Social Media phone apps allow for fast and easy abilities to post from anywhere, anytime. Facebook groups can be a great communication tool between ministry leaders. Google Hangouts can be utilized for small groups or leadership meetings.

Churches can also utilize advertisements through social media. For example, we did an event in the Seattle area, and advertised it on Facebook. For $187 dollars, the event was shown 1,485,396 times to an audience we selected.

Here is a link to City On A Hill’s Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/cityhilltv

Here is a link to 2 pastors for whom I helped set up their Facebook Pages:

https://www.facebook.com/georgedavidiuk
https://www.facebook.com/pastoralexshevchenko

txt city3. Text Messaging Service

What is the fastest way to get information and updates out to a large number of people? How about this: 90% of text messages are read within the first 3 minutes. Sure, there is email, Facebook, Twitter, and other tools that should be utilized. But, one cannot ignore the power and opportunities provided by sending text messages.

I wrote a blog on how a church can and should utilize text messages. In that blog, I share in detail about a free (Twitter) and paid (txt180.com) way to send text message updates. Here is the link to the blog:

https://russellkorets.com/2013/04/26/sending-text-message-updates-for-churches-ministries/

4. Church Management Online

Churches need a way to track membership, visitors, contributions, contact information, a system to send out emails and updates, track birthdays & anniversaries, etc. Some churches are gifted with people who have a golden memory and they keep everything in their head. Other churches use plain paper. Most churches use an in-house computer, where all that data is stored in word and Excel files.  Some churches don’t keep any of this information because they are too spiritual, and too busy fighting demons. Some churches, including City On A Hill Church, use an online management software.

Some of the Online Management softwares available are The City, Church Community Builder, Fellowship One, Servantpc, ACS Technologies & Church Office Online. Initially, we used “Church Office Online” as a church, which was really affordable, and easy to use. I wrote a blog 2 years ago sharing our experience with that program (https://russellkorets.com/2011/01/05/churchmanagementreview/). Currently, we are in the process of switching to FellowshipOne. The biggest reason for the switch: Kids Check-In. If you are a small, or new church, Id highly recommend Church Office Online. They are the most affordable, and have many great new features that they’ve come out with in the last several months.

Here is what a Church Management Software can help a church with:

5. Planning Center Online

This is the tool we use to schedule our order of service. During a regular Sunday service, it takes many volunteers and leaders to run a Worship service. Media, worship team, ushers and speakers all need to be aware of what’s going on, and when. Planning Center Online is the perfect tool to bring everything to one place. It easily integrates with ProPresenter, and is accessbile from phones, ipads, and any computer where there is online access. You owe to your team of hard working volunteers to keep them in the loop of what’s going on. Here is a short overview of Planning Center Online:

podcast6. iTunes and Podcasting

If people are committed to your church, then they love your church, and sermons. But, due to sicknesses, work, & vacations, people often miss services. You have people who volunteer in Sunday school or nursery, and miss hearing the Sunday messages. And yet others want to hear the Sunday’s message a 2nd time or share it with a friend. Cassettes and Cds are become more and more obsolete, and everything is going online. It does not take much to podcast your Sunday’s messages. Typically, our Sunday’s messages are available for podcasting the same day, right after service.

iTunes is the easiest and most available tool for podcasting, and is free (unless you want to charge people, which you can also do). But, iTunes does not store your contect, iTunes is just a bunch of links to content. Basically, you upload the content to your own website/blog, and tell iTunes that they can create a new link and make it available for people to download. Here is a short blog from wordpress on how to set up podcasting using their blog:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/podcasting/

propresenter7. Stage Screen Display during Worship Service

There are several tools available to display song lyrics, scriptures, pictures, videos, and backgrounds during church services. The 2 widely available options are ProPresenter and EasyWorship.

Ive used both in the past. Not sure if it was the computer I was using or possibly another problem, but EasyWorship always froze up on me, and though it is easy to use, Id still recommend ProPresenter over EasyWorship.

For more information or to tour ProPresenter, visit this website http://www.renewedvision.com/propresenter.php

donate button8. Debit/Credit Card donations, Online Giving

There are many companies that you can use to set up online donations, or to process debit/credit card donations. We use PayPal and have had no issues. Through PayPal, you can set up a “Donate” Button to share on your church website, and even on your social media account.

When members fill in a giving envelope using a credit/debit card, we also process these payments through PayPal. And then, once a week, once a month, or whenever you want, you can transfer the funds from PayPal to your church account.

dropbox9. Dropbox

There are several ways to share word documents, logos, applications, and other pamphlets. The most common way is through email. But, the problem with email is that it can be easily lost, or deleted. Also, whenever anyone updates any document, it has to be resent to everyone who needs the latest updated version, which leads to a constant search for “the latest version” of each document. At our church office, we heavily rely on Dropbox. This is where we store commonly used printed materials, church logos, updated “time sheets” for employees, and graphics. When something is changed, it is changed for everyone automatically. For example, we have a person that designs weekly church bulletins; after designing it, it is uploaded to dropbox. Because we have 2 campuses, each campus prints their own version, at their campus. Also, the same person designs graphics that will be displayed on the screens on Sunday. Instead of relying on little thumb drives which can be lost or forgotten, the graphics are uploaded to Dropbox, and both campuses are able to download them directly to ProPresenter to use during the Sunday service.
If you don’t use Dropbox but plan to, click on this link and set up for free. By clicking this link, youll add some free space to my account, which I would appreciate!

http://db.tt/T2APyPUg

10. Event Registration

Most church events are open generally to the public, and there is no need for registration. But from time to time, we host events for which there is a registration fee, or we want people to register in advance, to be able to regulate how many people come to a certain event, or to raise funds to cover event expenses. Some of the past events that we’ve set up online registration for are the Christmas Concert, a Talk Show with a guest speaker, New Years party, and a Couple’s Retreat or seminar. Typically, we use “Eventbrite” for such events. It is easy to set up & easy to promote. Once people purchase tickets, it is easy to check them in at the door with phones, or from a pre-printed list. Here is some info about Eventbrite:

11. Taking donations through phone

From time to time, a church or ministry will hold fundraising dinners, auctions, car washes, or bake sales. People can donate with cash and checks. But many people today carry only debit or credit cards. By giving people the option to give through debit/credit cards, you will be able to raise more funds.

Mobile Phone payments can be easily taken through PayPal or Square. Here is some information about both:

ustream12. Streaming Church services online

If a church is able to offer their service LIVE online, it serves as a blessing to many. It takes a team of several dedicated individuals to make this happen. Some of the platforms available for streaming services online are:

  • USTREAM
  • Livestream
  • ChurchOnlinePlatform

Church Online Platform was developed by LifeChurch.tv, a great church. They reach over 100,000 every week, through Church Online.

When choosing a platform, if it is a free platform, make sure the advertisements are appropriate. I have heard numerous stories of churches using free platforms, only to unknowingly offend people watching online, especially if those people assume those advertisements are coming from the church.

stufficanuse13. Free Online Graphic Resources

Not every church can afford to have a full or part time graphic designer. But, there are a number of churches who, after designing and using graphics, make them available for other churches for free, or for small cost. Of course, Google Images is always available, but, the use of such content could fall under copyright laws. Here are some website that allow you to use their content:

www.stufficanuse.com
http://open.lifechurch.tv
http://www.creationswap.com
http://www.bluefishtv.com

translation14. Translation Headsets

One in 10 residents of the United States were born outside of the United States. Minorities make up a majority in at least 25 major US cities. Miami 2nd largest Cuban city. There are more Jews in New York then Tel Aviv. Chicago is the world’s largest Polish city. Los Angeles is the 2nd largest Mexican city. There are more Hispanics in the Los Angeles area than in the seven Latin American countries. If a church is going to reach their community, it will draw people who don’t speak English. In such cases, translation headsets can serve as a blessing to bridge the gap, and help reach an ethnic group. Here is a blog a wrote earlier, with very important information, when considering purchasing a system.

https://russellkorets.com/2011/01/07/tips-on-purchaing-translation-equipment-for-church/

google-maps15. Google Places

Last, but not least, make sure your church is set up in Google Places. People search for addresses, directions, and contact information through search engines. Google Places is one of the first things that will come up for your business and/or organization. Every church should keep track and update their information at Google Places. Start here:

http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/

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