I am a big fan of This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Mainly because I get to hear quippy commentary from George Will during the round table portion of the show. But they also have a section of the show called “In Memoriam” which reviews the “important” people who died that week, and displays the total number and list of soldiers names who have passed away in Iraq and Afghanistan during the week.
This month they listed a little-known person named Robert Adler, who literally changed my life. Co-inventor of the TV remote control, Robert Adler was quoted at a later point in life as saying “This thing has so many buttons. I don’t know what most of them are for and frankly I could not care less.” Proof that the people who invent the technology are not always the first to value its use. Zenith has a great write-up on Rober Adler’s work for them. Read the rest of this post... (415 words, estimated 1:40 mins reading time)
For a few weeks I have been pondering a post about the various options for ministries wanting to distribute video via the web. Looks like Bill Seaver and Greg Atkinson may beat me to it with a comprehensive look… which is great because I never felt good about the post anyway. Not really an expert on the topic. Even so, let me point to a few things I have been keeping tabs on after my time at NRB.
Having been an avid YouTube lurker since it’s start, I am fascinated by the concept that churches could use video they are already creating, or that well-trained servants produce, to engage new and interesting people in a discussion that may eventually open the person to Jesus. NRB, though attended by a strange mix of blue-haired comb-overs and over-confident Millennials, connected me with a number of interesting projects and people I had not been aware of before (including the microexplosion blog referenced above).
iquestions.com, which I mentioned before, is an interesting video project. I think they need more of a user-contributed video focus and less “subject matter expert” advice to gain critical mass. They seem to be well-funded though, so it may be a question of which audience segment are they trying to reach. They use some cool technology for the backend of the site, and the design is pretty sweet too. Read the rest of this post... (467 words, estimated 1:52 mins reading time)
Another question and answer post from my talk at NRB.
Doing online ministry well represents a significant investment in strategy, time, and resources. This means money. What would you say to a pastor or ministry leader who is reticent about creating a whole new budget item for the Web?
1. Create an Exit Strategy.
If they are a broadcast media ministry, I would suggest they create an exit strategy, because they are nearing the end of their product life-cycle. Millennials don’t care about broadcast. They like user-generated content. They don’t trust authority, but they trust reputation. Not the kind of reputation that comes from being a subject matter expert, but the kind that comes through relationships and shared experience. It isn’t to say they wont read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch your TV programs… but it is to say they listen with more skepticism and cynicism than any group before them. They won’t give to your ministry just because they consumed… they don’t figure they owe you anything since content everywhere is free. Read the rest of this post... (504 words, estimated 2:01 mins reading time)
This is another response to some questions proposed for my talk at NRB. Two previous posts about NRB were my Initial Reflections and What Ministries Need to Know about User-generated Content.
What are examples of online technologies where churches could be doing a better job?
1. Forums and Email lists.
These have been around for awhile, but in many cases they are not being owned by the ministries. By owned, I mean promoted and managed. It’s one thing to ask your constituents to engage you on your forums, but it is another to have the maturity and perspective to let sinful people be themselves. Many times in ministry we want the people we serve to not bring their baggage with them. Well the online culture promotes transparency and vulnerability. The privacy of homes let’s people do things they would not otherwise do, and yet, this provides an amazing ministry opportunity. Forums, when done well are an example of a 10 year old technology that hasn’t been done well but by only a few ministries. Read the rest of this post... (681 words, estimated 2:43 mins reading time)
- One example is theooze.com. This community has grown to include over 150,000 monthly visitors from ninety countries. Run mostly by volunteers, it is an example of a successful virtual space where Christians and non-Christians engage each other sharpen one another.
So I attempted to cancel my Blockbuster.com subscription a few moments ago because of a bad experience, and had to fill out a survey to get it done. There was a comment field where they asked “How Can We Improve? Would you mind taking a minute to explain why you’ve decided to cancel your account?” So, I was willing to help out and wrote the following in my very sick state (the flu or a cold maybe). Upon submission of the survey, a form error was returned on the comment field which reads: “Please type in 255 characters or less for your comments.”
Apparently, Blockbuster doesn’t want all of my comments or a true discussion with their would-be customers. So, I am posting this to my blog for the world to see and adding the link to the comment field in the Blockbuster.com subscription cancellation field (I doubt they will read it). The first amendment has never been so sweet, has it? Read the rest of this post... (762 words, 1 image, estimated 3:03 mins reading time)
I was asked a few questions for my talk at NRB that were fun to answer. I thought I would blog the answers in a few posts.
User-generated content is a huge buzz topic right now. As a Christ-centered ministry, how can we take advantage of this trend without exposing ourselves to problems? Read the rest of this post... (632 words, 1 image, estimated 2:32 mins reading time)
- I don’t think you can. Frankly, there is some level of risk/exposure with any new idea. No pain no gain is the catch-phrase, but with user-generated content, this is true. And I realize it is scary that there aren’t a lot of examples of ministries doing this well, but not that many are trying either. We can move past this fear though.
Having returned late last night from the National Religious Broadcasters conference (NRB), I am still processing this quick trip to Orlando. I was there speaking on a panel in one of the REACH sessions about the use of internet content in ministries. Regarding the conference, I can’t say I learned a lot of unknown information, new technology, or that my attitudes about broadcast ministries changed, but here are some initial take-aways:
A) With regard to the web and ministry, I am smarter than I think I am. I mean this humbly as a recognition of how God has gifted me. As I spoke with ministry leaders and visited the various vendor booths, it hit me that I am one of the forward-thinkers in web ministry. Not to say others don’t get it, but it is to say many still struggle with the basic questions of technology and its opportunity for ministry that I have long since worked through. So in a sense, this trip reassured me that I do know what I am doing and I have a responsibility to share with other ministries what works. I think this is more a recognition of the sad state of affairs within Web Ministry than it is that I am really all that. Read the rest of this post... (860 words, estimated 3:26 mins reading time)