Category Archives: Web/Tech

PowerPoint For This Morning’s Sermon

I didn’t have time to add the PowerPoint for the sermon I posted earlier today. Here it is. Once again, I have used that marvellous iPad app Haiku Deck. It also now comes as a web browser app, but so far my experiments with using it that way have been unsuccessful and I have returned to using my tablet.

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iPad Worship And Visual Impairment

The Daily Mail reports on a Derbyshire church that is sending its prayers, hymn words and readings over the wifi in the church café to worshippers equipped with tablet computers. Apparently it’s a hit with some of the visually impaired worshippers. The Leadership Team at one of my churches has engaged in a lot of research to see what we can do for people who are registered partially sighted, and iPads have been suggested to us. Here is a church actually doing it.

What do you think? Will it meet resistance or fear from some older worshippers who are nervous of the technology? Or is this a genuine way forward?

Where Is The Internet Going?

Google Glass. The purported Apple iWatch. The thought that smartphones had already brought us the ‘Internet everywhere’ is about to be shown up as small fry. Such will be the personal and predictive nature of the technology we could be using in the next few years, that if you thought Facebook had abolished privacy, you’re in for a big shock as information and data about you gets shared everywhere. Companies are going to know frightening amounts about their employees and customers. The disruption coming needs measuring on the Richter Scale. The Christian Church needs to be thinking about this. (CODEC, is this on your horizon?)

There is an insightful introduction to all this in an interview Robert Scoble recently conducted with Marc Andreessen. Give it 37 minutes of your time: it’s worth it.

Nancy Duarte: Christian Values In Business Leadership

A while ago, I saw a great TED Talk video on ‘The secret structure of great talks’ by Nancy Duarte:

I didn’t need much persuading to buy her book Resonate, about improving your presentations. (It’s not a book of PowerPoint techniques, it explores the principles of good presentations instead.) I recommend it highly to all public speakers.

Now, I have seen an amazing interview with her on The Good Life Project. I wouldn’t normally sit through thirty-eight minutes of video on a computer, but this had me hooked. I had no idea Duarte was a Christian (that confession comes about twenty  minutes in). What is so wonderful about this interview is the way her Christian convictions have so permeated the way she leads and runs her business:

* She sees her job as to shepherd her staff. It is her duty to make sure the work is there so her one hundred employees can put food on their tables.

* She has a place both for the outgoing, quirky people who are good to put before clients and also the introverts who will hunker down and get a job done.

* Having been told by a coach that the two verbs applicable to her are ‘conquer’ and ‘liberate’, she uses these, not in what she calls an ‘Attila the Hun’ mode, but in terms of what she wants to do for others – again, specifically including her employees.

* When asked near the end what ‘the good life’ is, she emphatically rejects the notion of ‘bling’ in favour of generosity.

So put the kettle on, make a drink, and watch this inspiring video:

Carol Service Sermon: Shepherds Come, Shepherds Go

I’ve tried writing an address using an app on my new iPad called Haiku Deck. It’s a way of making simple PowerPoint presentations. You don’t get to do anything fancy with transitions, animations or anything like that. You just get to enter two lines of text and choose from some stunning Flickr images that have a Creative Commons copyright licence.

I’ve based this on the story of the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20. Obviously this isn’t a full script, but I hope there’s enough here for it to make sense. Let me know in the comments if it needs illuminating in any way.

Guest Post, Gathering the Flock into the Fold Digitally: 4 Mobile Apps for Christian Clergy by Jessica McMann

Having just acquired an iPad, Jessica’s post is apposite for me. I confess I’ve had this on the stocks for a couple of weeks, but we have had major problems with our main computer, so it has had to wait. I’m grateful to Jessica for offering this post, writing it and then being patient while our PC was repaired. – Dave

As with any facet in our modern, connected world, mobile technology can help immensely in bringing people together and helping us do our jobs. And church is no exception. Check out the following apps to help you craft effective sermons, connect with your congregation, and keep learning about the faith:

Yap Tap

Yap Tap is a communication application that helps pastors stay specifically in touch with their youth groups, although it can be used for a variety of church-related groups as well. It’s essentially a social media, text messaging, and email system all rolled into one. Everyone in your congregation or youth group has their own preferred communication method. With Yap Tap, you have complete control in terms of who, when, and how you send communications to your church. Yap Tap is especially helpful for clergy members who find it difficult to communicate with so many different online mediums available. [Editor's note: in a British context, there might be child protection issues around using this app with a youth group. You may need to check your Safeguarding policies. - Dave]

Not Just Words

Crafting a sermon is difficult, especially when you can’t quite remember the Bible verses you’d like to incorporate. Not Just Words solves this problem immediately. It’s a mobile Bible search application that enables users to search any word or phrase, after which it will generate search results for related words and phrases. For example, if you search the word “speak” it will find verses that use related words like “uttered.” Not Just Words also enables users to search for themes in specific Bible books. If you’d like to find out what the Book of John says about faith, just search “faith in John,” and the tool pulls up all mentions of faith in the Book of John.

Pocket Prayer Pro (Lite)

There are quite a few prayer apps out there, but this one I found to be most useful. It’s a great tool to help you manage prayer requests and maintain a prayer journal. The app also features more than 100 sample prayers that you can bookmark for later use. This is a great one to suggest to members of your church for their own personal use as well.

Create your own App

The Church App is a mobile app platform that enables church leaders to create their own, customizable apps for their congregation. The Church App will build a mobile app for you that enables you to do a variety of things, like share sermons in audio or video, create events with maps, integrate giving, and empower your congregation to communicate.

Of course, these aren’t the only helpful apps out there for clergymen and women. But they’re definitely a great start in getting your church and congregation to be more connected. Good luck!

Jessica McMann is a freelance writer whose primary interest is Christian education. She enjoys writing about homeschooling, Christian universities, and learning through a Christ-focused community. Check out more of Jessica’s writing at ChristianColleges.com

Justin Welby And Social Media

Bishop Welby’s elevation to Canterbury was announced by Downing Street on Twitter:

In his press conference, the ABC-designate said, “I intend -if I am not stopped – to go on tweeting.” (Currently he tweets here, but that will change.)

If these are early signs that the incoming Archbishop understands the communications world in which we now live, that is a good sign.

The ‘Four Alls Of Methodism’ For Today

My church at Knaphill is redesigning its website. I’ve been asked to write a ‘Statement of Faith’ for it. While Methodism doesn’t generally produce doctrinal statements in the way many Christian organisations have since around Victorian times, I have drafted something based on core Methodist beliefs. This is what I have come up with – although I’m sure it will need tweaking:

What do we believe? The Methodist Church holds the same basic beliefs as all the major Christian traditions. These are summarised in documents such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

We are historically connected to the Protestant Reformation, and John Wesley was particularly influenced by the warm devotion of Moravianism and Arminianism’s stress on human free will.

In particular, historic Methodist belief can be summed up as ‘Four Alls’:

All need to be saved
All can be saved
All can know they are saved
All can be saved to the uttermost

What do these mean? Here is a brief outline:

All need to be saved
We believe that human selfishness (‘sin’, if you want the religious word) separates us from God and makes us deserving of divine judgement.

We are unable to change this of ourselves, but God can. Jesus’ death on the Cross absorbs the power of evil and the cost of forgiveness, putting us right with God. His resurrection gives us new life.

Our response is to trust this good news and turn away from our selfish ways of living in gratitude for what God has done in Jesus.

All can be saved
We believe no-one is beyond the possibilities of God’s transforming love. This good news is for everyone. God does not exclude anyone from the offer of his love. That means you and me!

All can know they are saved
What’s more, God wants us to be sure that he loves us. We believe God wants us to have that assurance. It comes through both the promises God makes us in the Bible and in an inner personal experience of God’s love through the Holy Spirit.

All can be saved to the uttermost
The Christian life isn’t just about being forgiven now and waiting for heaven. It’s about our lives being changed for the better here and now. We believe God wants to do that through the power of the Holy Spirit. We want to live differently as a sign of gratitude for God’s love. We want to make a difference in the world as a result.

Social Media At Work: The Downside

Learnstuff.com has an interesting infographic about the downside of workers and students accessing social media in between tasks. It is US-based, so needs some translation for us Limeys in Blighty. It’s also aimed at the general (‘normal’?) workplace, rather than the peculiar environment of church work. It also seems only to conceive of social media in terms of leisure.

Nevertheless, there are some sobering thoughts here. I guess this is the converse to yesterday’s post. Perhaps I should tell you to get off this blog and get back to work!

Social Media At Work

Stephen Holmes On The Church And Social Media

I’m not sure who I saw refer to this recent video, it might have been Vicky Beeching. This is an interesting seven-minute interview with Dr Stephen Holmes of St Andrew’s University. I’d be interested in your views.

A couple of the points for conversation that struck me were these:

1. Dr Holmes says that the church is often slightly behind the curve when it comes to adopting technology. This is my experience, too. We cannot adopt things as wholeheartedly as people like me would like to, because inevitably several of our older members do not have access, and we don’t want to treat them as second-class. However, that also means we lag further behind in contemporary means of communication. And like it or not, one of the things the Christian church is about is communication.

Furthermore, I even find among many Christians who are connected to the web that they are reluctant to embrace a lot of social media, with the sole general exception of Facebook. Sometimes it seems we are only using electronic technology as a new form of typewriter.

2. What about his point that it’s only in recent times that our culture has been so private? There is a lot of nervousness about the way privacy is broken down in social media, but Dr Holmes suggests near the end of the interview that we are merely reverting to the way society once was, and that such openness is a good thing. What do you think about that?

Here is the video:

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