categories: church, church online, innovation, technology
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December 6th, 2011

by Bobby Gruenewald

Free Platform Helps Any Church Launch an Online Ministry

One of the most common questions we receive about Church Online is, “how can I start something similar at my church?” That’s why I’m excited to share this news about the Church Online Platform…

If you’d like to stay in the loop as we near the launch date of January 9, just enter your email address at ChurchOnline.org. And if you know churches who might be interested, please share this post with them!

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categories: church, church online, community, staff, team, technology
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December 9th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Online All Staff Meeting

We had our first online “All Staff Meeting” this week. Several people were asking how we did it, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

HOW? We used our church online platform at www.churchonline.org.

WHY? Since our staff is spread out, bringing them together is costly, time consuming, and challenging. We hoped an online event would provide us with the opportunity to communicate, inspire and motivate.

In addition to simply receiving information, the staff had the additional benefit of talking to each other through the online chat.

SURPRISES: None of us had any idea how much fun we’d have. I was laughing out loud much of the time at the hilarious chatting. The staff was buzzing with excitement the day after the meeting.

When we asked people to get serious, they did quickly. The corporate worship was powerful and the prayer time was deeply moving.

We will continue to meet together in person and do an online event once or twice a year when it makes sense. Here is a short clip from the meeting.

If any staff members would like to add some thoughts about your experience, please do.

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, OPEN, technology
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November 8th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

LifeChurch.tv comes to your home TV via ROKU

Now in addition to your computer and mobile phone, you can stream LifeChurch.tv content directly to your TV. The LifeChurch.tv channel is now available on the Roku streaming player.What is Roku? Roku is a little box that allows you to instantly stream content from many sources including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon.com, and now LifeChurch.tv.

Version 1.0 of the LifeChurch.tv channel offers the current and recent message series in up to HD 720P resolution. Additionally, the current Talk It Over video (featuring discussion questions about the messages) is available for small groups. Future releases will offer even more content.

LifeChurch.tv is excited to be able to offer content to the more than 1 million Roku users completely free of charge. To learn more about Roku visit Roku.com. To add the LifeChurch.tv channel, visit the channel store on your Roku streaming player. Not a Roku user? No worries. You can always access our messages at http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch or download from OPEN.LifeChurch.tv to use them at your church.

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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: LifeChurch.tv, innovation, social networking, technology
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April 7th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

Campus Facebook Strategy

We’re in the process of overhauling our LifeChurch.tv website, and I’ll have plenty of details to share about that in the coming weeks. But for now I want to let you know how we’re employing Facebook at a campus level.

Currently, www.LifeChurch.tv has individual campus pages with specialized content management tools for each of our locations. To some extent, this solution met the need of sharing information about upcoming events and campus-specific information. But the tools were hard for our teams to use, and it relied on people visiting our site to keep up with the latest information.

Recently, we’ve been shifting much of our campus-specific content to Facebook. As Facebook has grown (currently over 400 million active users), it’s become a place where more and more people are connecting with each other in a meaningful way—keeping up with friends, uploading photos, sharing links and videos, and learning more about the people they meet.

We’re just starting to roll out custom Facebook pages for our campuses. Here’s a look at the page for our Oklahoma City campus, and some of our reasons behind this transition:

  • Instead of forcing people to come to us (our site), Facebook allows us to go where they’re already active online. Instead of trying to be a separate destination, we get to integrate with their lives.
  • The outreach potential is huge. Example: we post  a baptism photo and tag the person in the photo who is getting baptized. The photo shows up on that person’s Facebook wall, as well as in their friends’ feeds, giving them a simple way to share their new life in Christ with their Facebook friends.
  • In addition to conveying information about events, classes, etc., Facebook creates the opportunity for community and connection. It serves as an online representation of the campus, where people can get to know each other, ask questions, and keep up with what’s happening in people’s lives and the life of the campus.
  • It reduces bloat on our LifeChurch.tv site and allows us to be laser focused with our content there.
  • We don’t have to re-create the wheel. Facebook is already accomplishing many of the goals we have for our campus communication. By leaning on their tools, it frees up time and development resources in the long run.
  • It’s free!

We’re also providing our teams with some basic and advanced training so they are equipped to get the most out of their Facebook presence and interaction.

Is your church using Facebook? If so, what are some challenges and advantages you’ve experienced there?

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categories: church online, global church, global culture, technology
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March 18th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

India: Urban Youth

While many of us are accustomed to hearing about extreme poverty in India, there’s a growing demographic that you might not be as familiar with: the middle class urban youth. This is a group that’s globally connected. They’re not only being influenced by input from around the world, they are influencing and adding to that input as well.

These are the people it’s possible to reach right now using media and technology. In the past, you might have heard me say, “There are more people alive today than at any other point in human history, and they are more connected now than at any time in the past.” India is at the very center of that…both from a population standpoint, and in terms of being globally connected.

We have an incredible opportunity in front of us to reach this population, but we’ll need to move beyond conventional methods. That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about India being the country with the largest attendance at Church Online. With just a few clicks, these globally connected youth can experience a message of hope and salvation from across the world.

Several churches have adopted experiences at Church Online as an online mission project. We’re in the process of adding more experiences, so if you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity check out this post from Church Online.

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categories: culture, global culture, technology, vision
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March 17th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

India: Technology in a Thatch Hut

During our recent travels, we spent some time in India learning more about the cultural landscape and the great work some ministries are doing there. techinthatchhutWhile we were visiting different areas, I took this picture. Located in a poor village, this thatch hut has no running water or sewer, yet it does have satellite TV.

The government has created some initiatives that help make televisions more widely available, but the contrast is still surprising. It makes me wonder how having access to information might change poverty over the course of generations.

It also got me thinking…someone living in these conditions could be exposed to the Gospel while watching their satellite television. From a thatch hut in India, the poorest of the poor could hear a message of hope from somewhere across the globe.

If that’s possible, then what could that mean for the future possibility of using technology to share Christ with the world? This experience only increases my resolve to use these tools to reach the world, whether it’s satellite TV in a thatch hut in India or a mobile phone in the middle of Africa.

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categories: church, leadership, technology
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March 15th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

Tracking the Intangible

I’ve been traveling for a few weeks and made my last stop this weekend in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Interactive technology conference. Terry Storch and I were speaking on Technology for Results, Not Profits, and the people attending the session were from very diverse backgrounds. Most were from non-profits, but only a few were from churches.  We talked about sustainability for non-profits (keeping the boat floating) as well as the importance of measuring results.

In a for profit company…the one main measurable is obviously profit. In a church context, there are several common tangibles that are measured (attendance, giving, baptisms, members). We track this kind of information at LifeChurch.tv, and created ChurchMetrics to make it simpler.

But beyond these metrics, there are other indicators that can help us gauge whether we’re on the right track (community or spiritual growth, for example). What are some of the intangibles that your church is trying to measure and how?

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