Church and Ministry Website Poll

I am amazed at the number of church and ministry website companies that have popped up over the last few years.  It seems like there were only a handful of companies a few years ago that offered services to create and get your church or ministry online.

With so many choices  many churches and ministries wonder where to start.  I know that this is driven by the size of the staff and if there is an on staff IT, graphic designer or technology person.  I imagine the discussions within the staff teams are: Do we hire someone to create a website for us?  Do we get a volunteer from the church to help us? Do we use a template?  Which company? etc.

I have been involved with the development of a number of different websites over the last 11 years.  In my next post I will share some thoughts and lessons learned.  I would like to hear from you.

How does your church or ministry manage its website?  Is there a person on staff?  Does your church or ministry work with an outside company?  If you use an outside company or service which one do you use?

Creating An Online Ministry Plan

In my prior post I said it has become much easier for churches, individuals and ministries to conduct ministry online.  While this is true it is important to put together a plan for how it will look and work for your outreach.

  1. The first step you will want to take is to evaluate your community.  Questions to ask would be: Who do I want to reach?  What is the best way to connect with them?  How am I going to communicate with them once they respond?  If you would like a great overview on different demographic groups check out Chris Forbes (Ministry Marketing Coach) post here, here and here.
  2. You will then need to determine how many people it will take to work with the community you’re reaching out to.  You will want to utilize volunteers as much as possible.
  3. What online services and approaches are you going to use (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, My Space, personal websites, blogs, church or ministry website).
  4. Create messaging and graphics that are consistent.
  5. Train all your volunteers how to “minister” to people online.
  6. Keep it simple.
  7. Think though all the steps that you will want to lead a online contact through.  For example, if you are presenting the Gospel online and someone responds, what will be the next step you will want them to do.
  8. Keep records of your work.
  9. Try to connect the individual to a local contact, church or ministry for continued interaction.
  10. Share your results.

In the next post, I will cover ideas for outreaches online.

Effective Ministry Using Web 2.0

I have been "on the Internet" since 1996 and a lot has changed since then.  It seems like Internet trends and technology is growing and changing faster each year.  Since the inception of Web 2.0 , opportunities for churches and individuals to have or engage in ministry outreach online is so much easier.

Individuals want to engage, interact and be "in community" online.  If you have an interest in Internet ministry or you have been involved with it for some time, I would recommend checking out The Internet Ministry Conference .  It will be October 20-23 at Calvin College Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Over the next few days I am going to share some thoughts and strategies that I have found to be useful for having an online ministry.

Facebook Applications for Ministry

Facebook, the social utility that connects you with people around you, has over 3,000 types of applications that you can “plug-into” your personal profile. There are many different types of applications available. You can display the books you are reading, the music you are listening to, rate movies you have seen, draw graffiti and much more.

Since Facebook has opened their platform to developers to develop their own applications you continue to see new ones come up almost every day.  I’m not the only one who has been thinking about this recently, but this would be a great opportunity to develop Facebook applications for ministry purposes. Dan over at Blog Ministry has posted about this idea as well. He has created a Facebook Brainstorm discussion board for you to share your ideas.  Dan mentions in a few posts that there have been several applications that have been developed by Christians for Christians.

Here are a few that I have come up with:

  1. Who Is Jesus- an application that updates daily talking about Jesus and a link to how you can know Him personally.
  2. Ask a Christian- an application where someone can post a question and others can answer it.
  3. Share Your Story- an application that enables you to post your testimony by text or video

What are your ideas?

Using Squidoo for Testing Ideas

I have written about Squidoo before. For some time now I have been using my “lens” as a way to test the interest level that visitors would have in a certain topic ( Sermon, Church and Ministry Videos).  In my testing I have found the Squidoo pages rank very well in natural searches on Google.  For example, if you do a search on “church videos” my “lens” comes up, as of the writting of this post, in the top ten of the natural search.  It also has done well under the searcn term “ministry videos”.  I recently added the term “sermon videos” to see how that will do.

As a result, I found that there was interest in the topic so I created a new blog which I have linked to it from the Squidoo lens.  This has been a good source of new visitors to the Church Video Reviews blog.  So, if you are thinking of creating a new website, blog, business or product consider using a website like Squidoo to do testing.

Creative Logo Ideas

Thanks to Cory Miller for pointing out a great resource for designing or redesigning a logo.  Check out these examples from some Web 2.0 based websites.

mobileGlu- Push/Pull Technology For Your Cell Phone

mobileGlu brings together services you may use online into one place on your mobile. You can pull data online and optimise it for your mobile device automatically. It will allow you to post to your online services from your mobile. mobileGlu currently supports del.icio.us, Flickr, moblogUK, upcoming.org, and RSS feeds.

Using Social Network Websites for Ministry

The internet is a tool that builds social networks. In a new report from Pew Internet they explore “The Strength of Internet Ties“. With the emergence of Web 2.0 web applications it has become much easier to build personal social networks. Some of these include MySpace, FaceBook and Flickr. You can find an extensive list here.

Below are possible uses of these applications for ministry. Please leave some of your ideas as a comment.

Squidoo
Squidoo is a service where anyone can build “lenses” on various topics. It is a place to share ideas and knowledge about a certain topic. Squidoo can be used to send people to other websites and blogs. At the same time you can earn a royalty. Though this part of the service is currently “turned off” in the beta stage, eventually it will be a way to earn money for a charity of your choice.

You could use Squidoo to build a lens about a certain topic and “bridge” it with an evangelistic message or point them to another evangelistic website that relates to the topic.

Facebook
“Facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools.”

It is said that around 85% of college students use Facebook. You can get an account with Facebook if you have an .edu e-mail address. Many universities provide alumni with .edu e-mail addresses to stay connected with them.

You could encourage students that you know to share their faith on their page and create a group page for a Christian organization on their campus. You can purchase a Facebook Announcement and target the message to a particular campus to advertise an event or if you are trying to sell something. This has a lot of potential.

Flickr
An online photo management and sharing application.

You could post and tag your photos to tell a redemptive story.

The Future of Internet Ministry

Today I attended a lunch put on by my co-blogger friends. They gave a good overview for possible ministry application uses of Web 2.0. Check out the notes here.