Code for the Kingdom is launching a Global Hackathon this October

Kent Shaffer —  February 28, 2015

After hosting local hackathons across Silicon Valley, Seattle, India, and Austin, Code for the Kingdom is launching its first global hackathon on October 2-4, 2015. Featuring 12 host cities, participants will create technologies using a Christian perspective to tackle challenges facing our communities.

Over the past two years, over 900 technologists have created create 86 projects through Code for the Kingdom. This first global collaboration will leverage the skills and insights of international entrepreneurs, designers, and technologists to foster an entrepreneurial culture with Christian values and activate technologists to give their skills and some time as their contribution to the mission field.

Code for the Kingdom’s primary focus isn’t technology but rather culture. Its an entrepreneur culture with Christian values. When you have grass-roots organizers, influential churches, and compelling nonprofits come together to help talented people use their skills for God’s Kingdom, it extends beyond creating cool projects. It fosters culture, community, and purpose.

You can apply to be a host city at the Code for the Kingdom website. Chosen cities will be announced March 2015.

Also, don’t miss another regional hackathon coming up on March 20-22, 2015 in Dallas, TX. I’ll be there and would love to connect.

138 Creative Church Logos

Kent Shaffer —  January 20, 2015

As a designer, updating the list of our favorite church logos is always a fun process. This year’s list has grown to 138 terrific logos.

Church Logo Sneak Peek

Check it out and enjoy the creativity of God’s Kingdom.

Did you hear what Open Church is doing in 2015? (infographic)

Kent Shaffer —  December 20, 2014

I am excited to announce that after spending 4 years with Open Church getting the right relationships in place, now is the time to build the infrastructure needed to help Christians globally collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources.

Our goal for 2015 is to develop a database directory, create new resource licenses, and hire 4 team members to lead the initiative and train volunteers.

To learn more, download the 2015 Vision Blueprint (PDF) or visit openchurch.com.

Infographic - What is Open Church?

What Ministry Conferences Are You Attending in 2015 & 2016?

Kent Shaffer —  December 13, 2014

Church Relevance’s list of 2015 church conference recommendations has been updated to over 80 ministry conferences throughout 2015 and 2016. It is not too early to start planning which ones you can attend.

Open Church is Hiring a Program Director

Kent Shaffer —  November 5, 2014

UPDATE: This position has been filled.

Open Church helps Christians collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources. We accomplish this in 2 ways:

  1. Manage a database directory of people, resources, & research.
  2. Increase access to the database with standardized approaches to cataloging, licensing, archiving, distributing, & technology.

The Program Director’s Role

Program Director is a full-time, telecommuting position responsible for the early stage implementation of Open Church’s ecosystem. Core responsibilities include:

  • In-depth research of global Christianity.
  • Nurture relationships with strategic partners.
  • Facilitate acquisition of data & resources.
  • Train & manage volunteers and interns.
  • Assist in adding content to the Open Church database.
  • Oversee quality control and project management of all programs.

This is a versatile role that will grow and evolve as Open Church grows. You are a jack of all trades, master of some. You thrive with both people and spreadsheets. And you have a deep love for both culture and God’s Kingdom.

To learn more about Open Church, read our 2014 Vision Blueprint.

8 Ways Churches Can Use SMS Text Messaging

Kent Shaffer —  October 20, 2014

What is the best way for a church to communicate with its congregation?

There is a good chance it is SMS text messaging. It is a fast way to reach almost anyone.

Consider the alternatives. Postcards and direct mail also reach almost anyone but at slow pace. Phone trees are annoying and impersonal. Email is quick but only reaches the digitally inclined. Social media is like email but with the added handicap of fighting through the clutter. Announcements at church are quite successful but only if it can wait until the next church service.

So how can a church use SMS text messaging?

TextMarks has put together a list of 8 ways churches can use texting.

  1. Inform your entire congregation.
    Send out congregation-wide alerts about events, services, cancellations, room changes, and anything else you need to communicate.
  2. Communicate with a specific group.
    Reach a specific group within your church, such as volunteers, administrative staff, parents, pastors, students, or a Bible study. For example, TextMarks allows each group or ministry to have their own keyword yet still be part of a parent group. This way you can text alerts about upcoming events to the entire congregation but add extra details for the volunteers.
  3. Boost community service.
    One of the most beautiful things about the Body of Christ is the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. When a natural disaster strikes, a food pantry needs filled, or some other need requires attention, text messaging is a great way to rally support and service from church goers.
  4. Request donations.
    Many churches are beginning to learn that offering mobile giving can both increase giving and attract new givers. For example, TextMarks allows you to configure a keyword that users can text to a short code like “41411″, which will then text them a hyperlinked url to your church’s donation page.
  5. Inspire your congregation.
    Text Bible verses or meaningful quotes on a regular or even daily basis to those who subscribe.
  6. Conduct a poll.
    Engage your congregation by taking a poll. Get a pulse on how congregants think and feel. Or even let them help you prepare your next sermon by texting their vote from a list of topics.
  7. Increase attendance.
    Want to make sure people remember to register for classes or even remember to come? Simply add participants to your SMS group and schedule text reminders to go out before the event. Research shows that 97% of people read a text immediately.
  8. Reinforce the sermon.
    Text a Scripture reading the day before a sermon, so that your congregation can prime their hearts for the teaching. And ripple the sermon’s theme throughout the week with timely snippets, quotes, and reminders.

To learn more about what text messaging can do, visit TextMarks.com.

Special thanks to TextMarks for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

Measuring the Intangible with 6 Symptoms of Discipleship

Ben Savage —  September 16, 2014
Guest Writer: Ben Savage

When you work with church leaders for long enough, you begin to identify common themes and challenges. I have been involved in lay leadership in several churches and have worked with hundreds of pastors over the years, and one thing they all have in common is the desire for people to engage with their church and be transformed by an encounter with Jesus.

Setting the stage for these encounters takes many forms. Each church is unique, but all face a similar challenge:

How do we measure the intangible with the observable?

Spiritual growth and engagement is largely intangible. You can’t measure someone’s growing love for and connection to God using a yardstick. So we look for the outward signs of a disciple. This is not a foolproof plan either; we all know stories of individuals who have outwardly lived “as they should” only to reveal later that there was little to no real connection to the Father.

But one big reason that this approach breaks down is simply that churches don’t have the right tools to get a full picture of someone’s engagement and connection to the church.There are many ways people can live out their faith, but here are six common signs of discipleship:

  • Connection through Prayer
    1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • Engagement in Scripture
    Joshua 1:8 – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  • Being Present
    Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Acts of Service
    Isaiah 58:6-8 – Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness the LORD will be your rear guard.
  • Investment in Others
    Ephesians 4:11-13 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
  • Worship through Generosity
    Deuteronomy 16:17 – Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

Arundel Christian Church, through the use of effective processes and a unifying church management system, measures people’s engagement and discovers effective ways to deepen their involvement.

Measuring the intangible can be tough — especially without the right tools. If you are using disconnected systems to track giving, attendance, and engagement, you might be making it harder than it needs to be. Eliminating data silos in your church can help you gain a fuller picture of an individual’s personal journey and involvement. How are you measuring individual spiritual growth within your church?

For more on this, read the story of three churches that eliminated data silos and increased their ability to engage people, invest in their spiritual maturity, and empower them to participate in ministry.

Special thanks to Church Community Builder for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

How to Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World

Kent Shaffer —  July 31, 2014

In June 2014, I spoke at Biola Digital Conference about how can we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world. Biola University has been kind enough to make this video free for you. View it and my notes below.

How do we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world?

Now we could talk about…

  • The importance of branding, design, and first impressions.
  • Digital atmospherics and how to nudge users in the direction you want them to go.
  • Emerging technologies and what these shifts mean for the future of ministry.
  • Or even results-based strategy.

I’ve taught about that, but it guarantees nothing! And there are plenty of books and blogs and lectures that can teach you today’s leading strategies and best practices.

I’ve spent the past decade studying the ministry models and best practices of global Christianity. Reality is I could spend 50 more years and still hardly grasp the depth and complexity of 43,000 denominations spread across 196 countries.

But what I do know – what I am confident of is that there is one model – there is one approach – that is essential to increasing your spiritual fruit.

Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.

I used to say there is no golden formula, but I disagree now. For years I watched mighty moves of God in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. And I marveled, what is it? What is it that makes them thrive? It is not their ministry models. It’s not their denominations. It is not their theologies. These movements transcend all of that. And then one day I realized it is their hunger and obedience!

There is an essential formula and it echoes throughout Scripture. There is an essential formula that should serve as the foundation of what we do.

Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.

Abide in Christ, and you will flourish.
And out of the overflow of your relationship with Jesus, pursue the foolish wisdom of God.
And then simply obey His guidance to the best of your abilities.

Now this doesn’t throw talent and intelligence out the window. It is in that last step of obedience. We need to use our brains and our bodies for the Kingdom, too. But a relationship with Christ is a filter that removes our self-reliance, that removes the wisdom of the world, and leaves us with the wisdom of God if we’re willing to listen. Continue Reading…