Recovery.gov

Facebook, Twitter, and blogging have led a new generation of humanity to find a new, digital way of embracing community: transparency. And now, Barack Obama has said that this transparency will spread to the government, with the creation of recovery.gov. Recovery.gov will be a site that will allow people to view how government from Obama's stimulus plan money is being spent. You can see the announcement here. So here's the question: is your church willing to be this transparent? Could your church have its budget listed on it's website? Would you church leaders have the courage to use a site like Mint.com to track it's spending - and then make each and every penny available to be seen by it's members? One of the most shocking things to me in my church life was when I learned that our pastor had to go without a paycheck for a few weeks because our giving was below the budget we had planned. I learned this a year or more after the fact; it hurt me, because if I had known, I wonder if I would have been able to eat out one less meal and give a few more dollars above my regular tithe. Would your church benefit from being transparent? Would your community see the struggle of planning a church budget, and realize how important their contributions are? Or would the community rebel against the budget, and decide that the pastor doesn't need an assistant or such an extensive book collection? As we continue to allow technology interface with our transparency, can the church be a leading example of how to communicate and work through the needs of the questionable economic climate? Please discuss: what technologies could churches use to help make their budget more transparent, without giving away access to any confidential information (salaries, account numbers, passwords, etc)?
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Considering the Microsoft Surface (for Ministries)

I recently had the opportunity to play with the Microsoft Surface.  The unit was just running all the basic tech demos that have been show here and there, but even still just touching the unit maade me see what all the hype is about and let me know that I was touching what will someday be as common as the television set... continued
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What is New Media?

I was recently asked by a respected peer a very open ended question: "What is New Media?" It's a hard question to nail down, because there are so many possible answers. The definition of "New Media" is a hard one to come by because of the continual change of its use, new technologies, and marketing speak. So here I was, on the spot, known as an expert in the field to the people at the table; how do you define new media to someone who purposefully does not have a home computer? After some thought, I defined it something like this: "New Media is broadly-accessible content that is intended to receive a response from the person who engages it." cont'd
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The 1,000 Foot View of a Fickle Public? (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog)

Scott McCellan recently posted a reader's response to the very idea of a magazine like Collide.  To pull from the posted quote:  You don’t seem to be interested in the 1,000-foot view. You take a myopic look at things like Facebook, etc. that will fade away and be replaced by something else in a year or two by a fickle public. In doing so, it seems like you promote the methods over the message. Any church that follows fads like that will always be chasing after the next thing in the never-ending quest to be “relevant.” Christ wasn’t interested in cool. He was interested in loving people, and in doing that, he redefined cool.  I'm posting my response on my blog instead of the Collide blog because I don't want anyone to be confused with my opinion on this matter with any kind of official Collide response (since I've written for them). First, I have to say how awesome it is that Scott would be transparent and post such a quote and response that's diametrically opposed to the very nature of the magazine, and open it up for discussion on his blog.  Second, I think that the respondent who wrote the quote is completely wrong on the idea of culture more-so than any kind of question about Christ being "cool" or about chasing something "relevant." The respondent appears (to me) to be frustrated with methods or the "fickle public"'s desires changing every two years or so.  The problem, to me, is that he thinks that churches interested in things like Facebook or some cutting edge technology or underground cultural shift is an attempt to be somethinig that the church is not. For me, acknowledging that I am, in fact, a part of mass culture and am influencing and partake in it, I see a very different side of this arguement.  It is not that the church is struggling to keep up with culture and "fads" but that the entire concept of "fad" has radically changed in the past few years. A "fad" is no longer a "fad" - it is culture.  Innovation follows innovation in today's world and, as such, the mass media and culture is always shifting and changing.  By the time any cultural shift hits mass/old media, the culture leaders have moved on to something else. The New York times recently produced an article on how the fast-paced world of blogging-for-pay creates additional stress and has negative health effects on the bloggers.  This may be true for most of us.  However, today's young adults have been blogging for years; today's children are used to blogging being a part of their lives.  Blogging wasn't a new thing to many people several years ago, and it's certainly not a "new thing" today.  But people still treat it as a fad. There are still many spiritual leaders who don't understand that blogging or Facebook groups or church web sites aren't some attempt by the church to catch up to culture.  I, instead, proclaim that it is the exact opposite. The freedom that technology brings to broadcasting a message means that, for the first time in church history, lay people can share their faith journey with the church - and world - at large.  No longer must the strongest, most Spirit-driven message come from the pulpit.  Instead it can come from a teenager's blog or a media guy's video cam. Magazines like Collide and sites like digital.leadnet.org exist not so the church can chase after cultural shifts, but so that leadership can understand the changes their membership is goign through.  I fear a pastor who doesn't have a blog because it tells me that he won't be able to connect with where I am in life.  I fear a church that doesn't have a website because it means that they think people will find out their address by looking it up in the phone book (you know, that big yellow thing you throw away when they keep delivering it to you). My biggest fear, however, is that those of us who have embraced the new tools at our disposal won't be mentored and loved by our forefathers who have not embraced the technology.  That they will think it's all a fad and that we don't understand the 1,000 foot view and, as such, aren't worth investing in.  And all their knowledge and passion that could be broadcast to the world will simply die with them. So please, don't judge me and my kind as being fickle or not understanding of Christ's love just because we have the ability to flow with the changes in culture and understand that "fads" are either dead or the norm, depending on your point of view.  I'd rather learn from you.  I'd rather sit at your feet and discover what your heart is about and how your passions can still impact humanity on a person-by-person basis.  I want to know what has you so caught up that you want things to stay the way they always were... because I've never lived in a slow-enough-paced world to even know what that means. And, in truth, I can't wait to see what replaces blogs and what's after social networks and how videos change our worship services.  I can't wait until music ministers can embrace the internet and use tools like LifeWay Worship to gain access to hundreds of songs to find the right one to compliment the worship experience.  I can't wait until the seminaries provide completely online degrees so the pastors who can't take the time to leave their congregration can be better educated.  I can't wait until we get past this bubble of growth in the digital world and have a new common denominator where people are connected all the time and have been used to it so that it isn't so stressful on our bodies. And maybe then I can feel loved by the people who judge me and my tools of communication as worthless. 
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Considering the Whiteboard Sessions

For the past few months, I've been considering attending the White Board Sessions. Last year, I attended the Q Conference, and it was simply amazing.  I'm not going this year because it's in New York, and I simply cannot afford it.  "Affording it" is my same quandry with attending the White Board Sessions. Though the White Board Sessions is a much cheaper endeavor... it still costs me money.  It would cost me gas and miles on my car.  And, just as important, it would cost me time. Now then, I'd LOVE to go for the connections and the experience of being there... and it really seems that Ben Arment is really making a conference worth attending.  But I don't know how big the conference is, versus something like the Connect Conferences* where I know there's only going to be 75 attendees (thus making connections and networking the top reason to go, imho). But then, the reality of the fact that there are conferences all over (DJ Chaung, leader of the digital.leadnet.org blog, is attending six in April alone) and that some speakers are recycling their talks... it makes me wonder if there isn't a better way to do this. Q got it right last year: they filmed the talks and offered for viewing online for a fee.  Even though I attended, I subscribed to the service.  I don't know what Whiteboard's post-conference plans are, but I do hope they're able to post the videos out to the rest of the world who doesn't show up. That being said, if I had to pick one Christian conference to go to this year, it probably would the Whiteboard Sessions.  I know Ed Stetzer will have something stellar lined up, and I've come to expect great things from Mark Batterson.  But still, I find it hard to commit to such a journey (a day of driving, the actual conference, a day of siteseeing(?), a day of driving back). Perhaps I've been to spoiled with online video and webcasts of major keynotes in the past for non-Christian related things.  Perhaps I want an easier way to hear these messages, whether they be world-changing, life-altering, or niche-filling.  Or, perhaps, I should just find solace in knowing that there are great ideas being shared and I can let them trickle down to me and I don't always have to be at the forefront of ideation. *DISCLAIMER:  Yes, I work for LifeWay.  Yes, LifeWay is putting on the Connect Conferences.  But seriously... the Threads team is putting a lot into these conferences... I know, because I've been in some of the meetings.  The Connect Conferences are going to be an amazing oppertunity for anyone interested in young adult culture and ministries.  They've got some great stuff lined up, and the oppertunity to connect with other leaders and experts is going to be unlike anything else I've seen coming up.
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How Should Your Church Blog?

One of the things that I get asked often in relation to blogging is a simple question: how should I blog? Blogging is a trend, for sure, and many people have a sixth sense that it's something they should be doing. Blogging is so very relational and specific to the author's style that it's hard to put a simple "this is how you do it" together. Instead, let's first look at the different kinds of blogs that might be out in the digital ether... con't 
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After HD-DVD: The Next Format War

On February 19th, HD-DVD died. I bought my HD-DVD player in April of 2007.  I have 16 HD-DVD movies (and the Heroes Season 1 set - which, honestly, was worth the cost of the player itself) compared to 8 Blu-Ray discs.  Yes, I'm an early adoptor... and yes, I mourn the loss of HD-DVD. The silver lining in this is that there is, in fact, a winner in the high-def wars.  I had expected the battle to go on well into late 2009, with no clear winner until holiday 09.  The problem with Blu-Ray winning, however, is that I don't think they've really won and that we have a different format war on our hands. The real format war is physical media vs digital media... continued
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A Lesson for the Church: Data Portability

It has seemed that many of the driving forces behind culture in recent years have dug deep roots into the online world. It's hard to pinpoint exact examples because culture and the internet have become ubiquitous, feeding one another for the general population. Geeky and technosavvy words enter our lexicon daily. Social networks are still being discovered for use by churches, while he pioneers of such tools are anticipating the next big thing... continued
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now contributing at...

I'm now contributing at the digital.leadnet.com blog.  I got to interact with it's curator, DJ Chuang after the Q Conference earlier this year (I really need to finish up my series on that... where did my notes go?) and, in an effort to be a little more intentional with my time, mentioned contributing for him at the site.  He took me up on the offer, and there we go!I'll probably keep up with those posts here the same way I do with my Threads posts... give a teaser and then let you click on through if you're interested.  So, without further ado, my first digital.leadnet post! *** I attend a church with a lot of artists - singer/songwriters, video producers, and actual painters/illustrators. Throughout our Sunday Mornings we often try to find ways to utilize them in some form or fashion during the worship service, so they have a time and place to give back some of their talents to God. However, we also have some technical-minded people: programmers, database analysts, and web designers. It doesn't always seem fair that they don't get to find an outlet for their skills and talents to be used for worship or discipleship. click for the rest  
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