categories: LifeChurch.tv, marketing, mobile, technology
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June 24th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

The New LifeChurch.tv

LifechurchtvsiteSome of you may have already noticed the new LifeChurch.tv website we recently rolled out. Thanks for the kind words and helpful feedback some of you have sent our way. I wanted to share some thoughts about our approach to overhauling the site.

  • We’ve kept the launch fairly low-profile to give ourselves some margin as we iron out any issues that have popped up. We don’t wait to go live until things are perfect–that’s just asking for indefinite delays. Now that it’s out there, it’s easier to see what’s working and what’s not, and we have a stronger sense of urgency to get those things updated.
  • We designed for mobile first. Knowing that mobile devices are going to dominate the usage of the web in the future, we didn’t want our mobile site to be an afterthought. It drove our development and forced us to include only essential content. We killed many pages, streamlined the design, tightened up copy, and were very intentional about the interface.
  • We shifted our focus to people who are new to LifeChurch.tv. I’ve posted already about the way we offloaded some online functionality to Facebook, and that shift allowed us to change our focus for this site. Instead of trying to create a site where people would hang out (now our users are doing that on Facebook), we were able to narrow the audience and gear our content toward visitors and people who are trying to learn about us. Of course, plenty of areas (giving, resources, etc.) still offer helpful content for regular attenders, but our overall strategy is to reach out to new people.
  • We added more storytelling. I’m a firm believer in looking back to recognize all the things God has done within the life of our church. Our new site incorporates some of the work we’re doing to document, share, and celebrate what we get to be a part of.

We’re excited to get this launched and have a site that better represents who we are. What are some of your favorite church websites?

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categories: accountability, mobile
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January 8th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

X3 Watch

image002My friend Craig Gross from XXXchurch.com has just released a free application that provides accountability while surfing the web on your iPhone. image006When a user enters a website that might contain questionable material, the application records the site along with the date and time it was visited. A detailed report is then sent out to your designated accountability partners every one to three weeks, depending on your preference. So, for those of you iPhone users who are looking for a tool to help filter questionable materials and safeguard your surfing, download the application here .

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categories: YouVersion, mobile
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October 6th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

YouVersion Live is here!

yvlive-graphicToday is a very, very good day. YouVersion Live officially launched just moments ago! In case you haven’t heard us mention it before, YouVersion Live is a new addition to YouVersion.com and it offers a brand new, free way to interact with live events on almost any mobile device.

I’m so excited that you can now dive in and start exploring all the different ways you’ll be able to use it. We’ve created a demo event that will allow you to try it out and get a sense for how it works. Just open up the Bible App on your mobile device, select the “Live” icon from the dock at the bottom, and you’ll see it as an available event.

As part of rolling out YouVersion Live, we’re also introducing a Groups feature to YouVersion.com. You can read about how it all works together on the YouVersion blog.iphone_liveevent_poll

It’s hard for me to stop thinking of the many applications that are possible for churches, ministries, and organizations, but I really can’t wait to see it in the wild. I know you guys will come up with some very creative ideas to bring a new level of interaction to your weekend services, youth events, conferences, Bible studies, and more.

As with any new resource like this, it’s not the technology that provides the wow factor—that comes when people become more engaged with Scripture and experience God’s truth in a way that stays with them.

Go give it a try, and then let us know what you come up with!

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categories: YouVersion, mobile
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May 8th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

YouVersion Mobile Update

If you haven’t checked out the new look of m.youversion.com, now would be a good time! YouVersion mobile just got a significant redesign, giving our mobile users easier access to more features. Get the whole story on the YouVersion blog.

mobile-mdot

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, mobile
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February 5th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

Mobile: Quick Mobile Site for Your Church

If you want to reach people where they are, one of your first steps should be to create a mobile site for your church. People are already trying to search for your church or visit your church website using their mobile phone.  The problem is that most websites are not designed to be displayed on a phone and consequently people struggle to find basic information about your church.

It doesn’t have to be complicated—start with directions, service times, and other basic things you want people to know about your church.  You can see the simple mobile site that we have at http://m.lifechurch.tv.  Additionally, if you view http://swerve.lifechurch.tv from your mobile phone you can see how we have used a WordPress plug-in to appropriately display this blog on mobile devices.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are simple, free tools like MoFuse.com that allow you to accomplish this without advanced expertise.  Here are a couple of sites where you can read more about MoFuse.

How many of you already have mobile versions of your blog or church website?  If so, can you share the URL with our readers?

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categories: mobile
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January 6th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

Mobile: A Quick Education

Mobile-2Since I plan to spend several posts discussing mobile, I figured it would be good for us to start with a quick 101 to cover some the basic terms and concepts surrounding mobile.  Warning to you tech-savvy readers: this post will probably be very basic.  I want to be sure to have as many non-technical people as possible stay engaged in this series of posts…hopefully this post will be helpful.

First, I am using the term “mobile” to refer to mobile phones, AKA a “cell phone” in the US, Canada, South Africa; “handy” in Austria, Germany; “mobile” in the UK and many English speaking countries; and a whole lot of other terms around the world.

Here are some capabilities of mobile phones and the associated terms:

  • Send/Receive text messages: SMS or “Short Message Service” allows you to send short (160 character or less) text messages to and from mobile phones. SMS is often referred to as “texting” and is actively used by 2.4 billion people around the world. (see wikipedia)
  • Send/Receive emails: Separate from text messages, many phones have the ability to send and receive emails.  This is particularly popular with corporate users, but is still growing quickly with consumers worldwide.
  • Browse mobile websites: Most mobile phones today have a simple web browser that provides access to pared down versions of many websites. The iPhone, the G1 and several other phones have a full web browser that displays websites in a very similar form to what you would see on a desktop computer  (accessing websites via a mobile usually involves extra costs and/or a data service plan).
  • Install/Use applications: Several smart phones (iPhone, BBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Android, Nokia/Symbian) include the ability to install and run programs (applications) on your phone, similar to applications you’d use on your computer.  Examples include: games, instant messaging, GPS/navigation, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and even the Bible :)
  • Capture/View Photos/Video: Many newer phones include a camera that can take surprisingly good pictures, and on a few phones, record and send video.  Even more phones have the ability to view photos and watch video (though the capabilities of what type/format of video that can be played varies greatly by phone).
  • Voice Calls: The most common, but often overlooked use of a mobile phone: to make a phone call :)
  • GPS/Location Aware: Many newer phones have the ability to access the GPS (Global Positioning System) and tell you where you are on Earth within a few meters.  This service has initially been used primarily for navigation/map applications that can give you driving directions.  The fact that many mobile phones are location-aware enables all sorts of applications that could help people find nearby services, people or other location-specific information.  This may not be a good thing for some, since this recent survey says 8 out of 10 people use their phones in the bathroom.

This list is by no means complete or comprehensive, but it should form a foundation for our conversation.

What are some other uses, terminology or “mobile phone” nicknames that you are familiar with?

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categories: church, future, global church, mobile
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January 5th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

2009: The year the Church better get mobile!

mobile-1If you know me, then you know that I am a huge fan and user of mobile devices. My passion is not about having the latest and greatest, but because I see mobile as the single greatest space (present and future) to impact this world using technology.

At the start of last year, 3.3 billion people were mobile phone users.  This is a global phenomenon and contrary to what many believe, “global” actually includes the US :) 13-17-year-olds in the US send/receive an average of 1,742 sms messages each month.  EVERY populated area on Earth is affected by the growth of mobile usage.  So mobile is really both global and local.

I believe the Church must communicate with and engage people where they are at (not just spiritually, but geographically). Most pastors and church leaders I talk to agree with me, but think that using mobile technology is out of reach or expensive. It is true that you can spend a lot of money trying to reach people via mobile if you want to…but you don’t need to. 

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share and discuss what I think the Church should be doing with existing (and often inexpensive or free) tools to engage people where they are at.  It will be practical and you won’t want to miss it.

It is imperative we get it!

But first, let’s find some examples to celebrate…where have you seen the Church leverage mobile technology in an effective way?

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