Archives For Tony Steward

A lot of churches are online – maybe they have a website, maybe a Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account – BUT do you actually have a strategy for how you’ll use these tools? Have you given ownership to and empowered volunteers in your church to be active on Facebook and present on Twitter?

If you’re on Facebook and Twitter, are you simply a broadcast model of making announcements or are your fostering community and starting discussions? Do you have a mobile strategy? I’ve blogged about the need for having a mobile strategy before and will blog more about it in the future.

My friend, Tony Steward (Online Community Pastor at LifeChurch.tv), said that they have a 3 phase strategy. Note the order: 1. Facebook 2. Mobile 3. The church website – They put more focus, attention and priority in Facebook than their church website. I think that’s wise.

How are you using online tools in your ministry?

Below is a post from my friend, DJ Chuang and the Leadership Network Digital Blog that I thought was worth repeating:

What the church looks and feels like is changing right before our eyes, and on our computer screens.

This article from The Gadsden Times (Alabama), “Now on your computer screen: Sunday services,” tells the story of how the Church Online of LifeChurch.tv is reaching people around the world:

… The 32-year-old [Bobby] Gruenewald is a pastor at LifeChurch.tv, an Edmond, Okla., organization that, with tens of thousands of followers, has created a virtual house of worship, with sermons, prayer and Bible study for an international congregation. 

… Gruenewald said the average “congregation” at any given time on a Sunday is about 3,000 visitors, but over the course of the 90-to-120-minute services, between 12,000 and 15,000 unique viewers will log on. The services incorporate live preaching, songs and sermons from the church’s physical locations across the United States through a live feed, while viewers can chat with one another or church volunteers.

Lifechurch-capTo further connect virtual users, the site also employs a chat function that automatically translates their language into a language of one’s choosing. Someone in Brazil can type a comment in Portuguese, for example, and it will be translated instantaneously to English for a viewer in Idaho. This feature, church leaders say, fosters a sense of immediate community among people with no other commonalities besides an abiding interest in Jesus.

And, Beliefnet blog entry “How Facebook, Twitter, and Google Might Affect the Church” links over to Mark Brown’s thoughts, How the Digital Revolution Might Affect the Church.

… we need to recognize the utter importance of powerful, transformational preaching. And we need to create systems by which those with such preaching ability and gifting can be widely available. Why restrict a gifted preacher to one community? Lifechurch.tv lead the way in making resources, including preaching, available to more than those who turn up in person for the service. 

We need to move from appointing leaders based on them completing the right degree to giving more weight to discerning their ability to complete the leadership task.

We need to create the opportunity for people to ‘be at church’ or part of a community at any moment in the day/week. Setting a special time on Sunday morning is artificial and limiting.

Mark also explores other issues affected by the digital revolution, namely, church governance, church leadership, and the institutional church as we know it. Read the full article.

From my vantage point, I’m guessing that changes to how we live out our faith as the church is only beginning. More changes are yet to come. Technology is only a part of what’s ushering in the change. (Aside: there are at least 27 churches with Internet campuses offering church online) What do you think?

// DJ Chuang, Director at Leadership Network //

I just returned from spending the weekend at LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City and got to witness this first-hand. It’s amazing what God is doing through them.

Several conversations lately have led me to consider the integration and universality of technology in a local church context. To be integrated means “combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole” or “organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.”

Universal means “affecting, concerning, or involving all”, “used or understood by all” or “present everywhere.” As I continue to chew on this concept, other words that come to mind are total, comprehensive and whole.  

I serve as a technology pastor at a church. For years “tech” was considered one person’s role (the techie, tech director or AV coordinator) – whether volunteer, part-time or full-time. Now in most local church situations there is still the need for this AV/tech role that oversees the sound, video and lights for corporate worship services and often oversees and supports campus-wide AV needs. IT is obviously another growing area in the church world and usually requires a dedicated volunteer or paid staff member or the use of outsourced companies.

I’ll be the first to admit that those that serve in “tech” and IT roles in a church have a unique gift mix and personality. In most situations these servants and leaders are seen more as geeks than pastors or ministers. I see my role as a pastor and shepherd, but that’s a topic for another article.

I bring the idea of universal technology up because we’re seeing a shift in the way the Church looks, functions and ministers to the world. The reality that we are missionaries in a digital age is becoming increasingly more apparent and hard to ignore. This brings the whole concept of “technology” to the forefront for regular pastors and church staff members – including the non-techie.

The conversations that I have regularly with pastors are about their desire to learn, understand, apply and fully utilize technology for ministry. The shift is bringing about what I call “universal technology” – meaning every Church leader is engaged in, using and communicating through technology – not just the tech pastor.

Events, gatherings and conferences that I’m regularly apart of look a lot different. The Church 2.0 Local Forums that I host around the country or the churchtechcamp, happening today in Dallas for example, 3 years ago would have been a room full of “geeks” (not my word, I got that from Mark Batterson) and “techies” (that is my word). Now, one walks into a “churchtechcamp” and it’s full of church planters, senior pastors, bloggers and lay leaders/volunteers that are involved in community/small groups and discipleship.

I’m fascinated by it and am enjoying just sitting back and watching this shift. Of course there are still giant conferences like NAB and InfoComm where us techies get together and talk about all things tech-related and the make up of attendees and speakers looks a lot different, but overall I see a change in the use of the word “tech” and the concept and adoption of “technology”.

This new reality that I’m referring to as universal technology is a good thing and a long-awaited one by me, personally. I’ve always viewed technology as a tool and not a toy, so the thought of senior pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, communication directors, small group leaders, missions and outreach leaders, etc. getting interested, involved with and captivated by technology is a beautiful sight to me.

What about you and your situation? Are you seeing volunteers and staff members that don’t have “tech” in their title or job description talk about technology, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and online ministry?

Yesterday I (and my family) were home sick. I had already watched LifeChurch.tv’s Saturday night service online, but ended up worshipping with 3 other internet campuses while home sick. I actually saw a 4th internet campus, but was not happy with it and decided not to call them out. In the next 2 blog posts, I’ll share with you the 4 churches that blessed me this weekend:

LifeChurch.tv:

I think the “Mix & Mingle” Lobby Chat is fascinating and am amazed to see how God uses it. 2 weeks ago, over 50 people prayed to receive Christ through LifeChurch.tv’s internet campuses – that’s more than most churches see in a year.

No, that’s not Craig Groeschel. They had an awesome guest speaker. Of notice in this picture is their “Give Online” area of the screen. At the botton left, you can follow the message notes. Great experience. Most people think of LifeChurch.tv when they think of an internet campus.

Above, LifeChurch.tv always let’s you choose between 2 different worship leaders. This is cool, but I have an issue. What happened to Stephen Cole?? Stephen Cole is my favorite worship leader at LC and I’m thinking about starting a petition to bring him back as an option. He rocks!

Above is LifeChurch’s Internet Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson. I need to get to know that dude.

Flamingo Road Church:

Above was a screenshot taken after one of their morning services. The red dots show you who was watching around the world!

Flamingo was having a baptism that day (they had a great video announcment about it – very cool). Want to participate in baptism? Just text the word: BAPTISM. Folks, we are literally watching the face of Church change before our eyes.

The thing that impressed me the most about my south Florida friends is that they know how to make church fun. This is a screen shot of beach balls being tossed around the auditorium. You’d have to be there to understand.

Above is Flamingo’s Lead Pastor, Troy. Flamingo was truly the highlight of my morning and a wonderful surprise. There is talk of the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Miami being held at Flamingo Road Church – shhhh!

Above is Flamingo’s Internet Campus Pastor, Brian Vasil. I was introduced virtually to Brian through my friend, Tony Steward via last week’s LifeShare. I was introduced to Flamingo Road’s Internet Campus through my friend, DJ Chuang.

More to come about these and other internet campuses this week on this blog! So… what are your thoughts? Does the thought of over 50 people praying to receive Christ via the internet freak you out? Do you praise God? Both? Is your church considering an internet campus? Are you philosophically opposed to one? Let me hear ya.

I’ll leave today to go to California with Matt and Lance from Pursuant Group/Unifyer. We’ll be meeting with Brad Abare from ChurchMarketingSucks, Robert Yang from Kindle, visiting the Dream Center, Mosaic LA and other churches, as well as speaking at the ChurchTechCamp at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena on Friday.

Here’s what the Fall looks like:

It’s been LONG overdue. I have been meaning to blog about LifeChurch.tv’s Digerati team for quite a while. I’ve blogged about LifeChurch.tv many times, but in this blog I’d like to spotlight the Digerati team and their projects. 

You might be wondering: “What in the world does “digerati” mean?” To get to the bottom of something, I go to Wikipedia. Wikipedia reads:”The digerati are the elite of the computer industry and online communities.” From what I know of my friends Terry Storch and Tony Steward (and the rest of the Digerati Team) this fits them very well. 

Maybe you don’t recognize the team, but you may recognize their work. Here is what the Digerati team has been up to and is responsible for:

EXTRA:
There’s a great article with Terry Storch in the Sept/Oct issue of COLLIDE Magazine. I encourage you to read it.
*** I’ll be doing occasional “SPOTLIGHTS” from time to time. If you know of a ministry/organization or individual that I should consider shining a spotlight on, just email me (greg@gregatkinson.com) and let me know.

This past week I got the new books you see to the left and below:

  • Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
    Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
    by David Weinberger
  • The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation
    The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation
    by Ram Charan
  • IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great Idea
    IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great Idea
    by Sam Harrison

After spending some time with my friend, DJ Chuang, last week at Barnes & Noble, I have added a few more books to my birthday wish-list. Today is my 33rd birthday. This is what my friends and I call the “Jesus year”. It really is hard to believe that Christ gave His life at this age in life. I feel like I’ve got so much time ahead of me. Wow – really makes you think.

Below are books on my Amazon wish list. What other books should I have on my wish list?


 

EXTRA:
Last night’s LifeShare was awesome. I might make a special appearance with Tony Steward in CA this Wednesday night. Watch out!

Sunday, I was working on Church 2.0 book stuff with co-writers Tony Steward and Cynthia Ware. Yes, in case you missed the announcement on Facebook yesterday: Tony and Cynthia are co-writing the technology section of the Church 2.0 book!

While we were sitting outside of Starbucks and brainstorming, we saw the Cowboys’ new tight end Martellus Bennett. Here’s the crazy thing: he saw me notice him and walked over to me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hello.” He was as nice as could be and we chatted for a bit. He was funny and warm and way nicer than someone with his fame would normally be.

I asked if I could take a picture with him. He said, “Sure” – so I did. That’s Tony sitting on the left (my right). Martellus represented the Cowboys in a great way. He was down-to-earth, friendly and a super ambassador for the team. We all remarked how well he represented the Cowboys. He even mentioned his faith when Cynthia told him I was a pastor.

I was truly impressed with his humility, humor and accessibility. My hat is off to him and the entire team, which, by the way, I’m picking to go to the Super Bowl. SO… who do YOU have going to the Super Bowl?

I had an interesting conversation with some friends this week. I found that many follow several, random people and in turn, those people then find out about them and follow them – thus they have a lot of people following them on Twitter.

That, honestly, never occurred to me. I only follow people that interest me, so it’s a relatively small group (78). I could probably have more people following me if I followed more people (makes sense), but I don’t want to get constant updates from people that I don’t particularly want to follow. Does that make sense?

So… How do YOU use Twitter? Do you follow as many as you can? Are you picky? Are you following me? 🙂 You should. I will be releasing updates and exclusive Church 2.0 info on just Twitter.

BONUS:

Check out my friend, Bill Seaver’s blog on Podcasting 101 HERE.