Code for the Kingdom is launching a Global Hackathon this October

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.

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

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?

Open Church is Hiring a Program Director

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.

Measuring the Intangible with 6 Symptoms of Discipleship

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.

Act Like Men Conference 2013

Act Like Men Conference

In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul admonishes us to, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” It is a beautiful mixture of tenderness and toughness.

This fall the Act Like Men Conference will visit three cities to encourage men to follow God with obedience, lead others with grace, wage war on their own sin, and eagerly minister to needs around them.

  • Oct 4-5 :: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Oct 18-19 :: Long Beach, California, USA
  • Nov 8-9 :: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Speakers include Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Greg Laurie, James MacDonald, and Eric Mason with LeCrae and Vertical Church Band leading worship. Registration is only $69 to $109, but you have to act before August 15th in order to get the early bird discount.

Powerful things can happen when a group of men get away to talk about God. As a child, I watched my own newly-saved father benefit deeply from the Walk to Emmaeus men’s retreat. His excitement for Christ set the tone in our home. And the example of him and his godly friends had a great deal of influence on my impressionable mind.

I pray that the men who are able to attend the Act Like Men Conference will have such a real encounter with God. May their hearts yield to the transformative power of God’s Word. May their hearts be reformed and their minds renewed. May their hunger for God grow insatiable. May they decrease and empty themselves to make room to be filled by more of the Holy Spirit.

If you are going by yourself or with a group of men from your church, remember that events like this are about more than just good speakers and worship music. Make sure you take the time to connect with other men. Talk about God together. Pray for one another.

To learn more about the 2013 Act Like Men Conference, visit www.ActLikeMen.com.

Special thanks to Act Like Men for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

Half a Child and the J127 Curriculum

David C Cook publishing is well known for their books and music, but not many people know that they are actually a nonprofit using a considerable amount of their proceeds for global ministry.

Recognizing that orphans and hurting children need more than food, clothing, and shelter, David C Cook created Half a Child to meet children’s spiritual and emotional needs, too. James 1:27 admonishes us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” For Half a Child, this means working with children one-on-one and ministering to their unique circumstances.

When people talk about orphans, they talk about adoption, but the sad reality is that most orphans will never be adopted. We must not forget to care for them, particularly those who have been abandoned, abused, or betrayed.

Half a Child J127 Curriculum

J127 Curriculum

After the Haiti earthquake, David C Cook noticed that trauma counselling distinguished the Christians from other humanitarian groups. Through focus groups across India, they also learned that childhood counselling is one of the major missing pieces.

So in response, they created J127, a curriculum for the developing world by the developing world. It is designed for 8 to 11-year-old orphans and features almost 500 sessions (3 times per week for 3 years). It weaves Christian teaching beautifully with collegiate-level counselling approaches but all in a way that is easy for kids to understand.

Currently, it is being extensively tested in India using trained and paid workers.

However, variations of it are also being used by the Church of Uganda (12 million members) and by 17 denominations in Bangladesh, including Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostal, Anglicans, The Salvation Army, and Reformed churches. They change the culture but not the theology of the program for each country. In fact, J127 functions well across global denominations and theologies. Rarely, has theology been an issue.

The intellectual property for the J127 curriculum is free of charge. However, those wishing to use it must be willing to be trained in how to use it and willing to share in the cost of printing and distribution. This customized curriculum approach involves teacher training, cultural tweaks, new lessons based on needs (i.e., lessons on child sacrifice in Africa), and rebranding if necessary.

The Story of Jesus in Korea

The Story of Jesus

Half a Child also distributes a simple comic version of The Story of Jesus. In fact, they’ve already distributed over 30 million copies of it through 1-on-1 relationships.

While certainly challenging, it is exciting to see that is possible to raise the bar for 1-on-1 discipleship and still have high numbers.

You can learn more about these initiatives and how to get involved at GlobalChurch.com.

70 Creative Church Set Designs

Creative Church Stage Designs List

We’ve updated our list of creative church set designs, which includes:

  • 9 new stages for 2013
  • 10 new stages for 2012
  • 1 new stage for 2011
  • 1 new stage for 2010
  • 1 new stage for 2009

Church set designs are becoming increasingly popular with the rise of creative sermons and multi-sensory worship experiences.

Environment can have a remarkable influence over how people feel, behave, and learn. So while nothing replaces the power of preaching the gospel and God’s Word, a creative church set design can help make a sermon more memorable and create an atmosphere that is more worshipful, reflective, and in awe of God.

View the list of creative church stage designs.