categories: church, innovation, leadership, vision
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October 22nd, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

What the Church Should Learn from Google (3 of many)

3. They haven’t arrived.

Most of us would say Google is pretty big. Just 11 years after they launched their search engine, they are one of the top ten most well known brands in the world. But despite how big they’ve become, they continue to think bigger. Instead of looking back at what they’ve accomplished, they look outward and to the future.

For example, with Google Translate they are aiming to break down language barriers across the globe. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, but it’s just the kind of big vision that helps propel organizations to go further.

As churches, it’s really easy to look at what God’s done–our history, heritage, or recent success–and become more focused on that instead of the big opportunities for what could be.

Is your church as big as Google?

No? Great, there are a lot more opportunities for your church to reach this world.

Yes? Great, there are a lot more opportunities for your church to reach this world.



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categories: blogs
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November 11th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

Swerve (or any other blog) translated into any language

If you’d like to read swerve (or any blog) in any language, you can now easily do this with Google Reader.  If you are new to Google Reader, you can take their online tour to learn more.  Inside of Google Reader all you have to do to translate any of your blog subscriptions is to select “Translate into my language” from the Feed Settings dropdown.  Now you can share swerve with your friends who don’t speak/read english…we just hope Google gets the translation right!

Any foreign language blogs that you think I (or others) should start reading?

HT: Michael Arrington from TechCrunch.

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categories: church, leadership
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September 22nd, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

What the Church should learn from Google (2 of many)

2. Incremental Improvements Matter

Google hit the scene just over 10 years ago in a business environment that was highly competitive.  There were already very strong and well-funded search competitors like Yahoo, Lycos, and Alta Vista.  Contrary to modern-day perception, Google did not invent the search engine; instead they perfected it.  BUT, have they actually perfected search?  The answer: they are constantly perfecting it and it’s never been complete.

Even though they have the largest search engine market share (more than three times their nearest competitor)…even though they are highly profitable…even though many people would argue that Google’s search results are the best…Google doesn’t think they have it right yet.  They consistently try incremental improvements, measure how people respond, make changes, and then try to improve it again.  They are evaluating every detail: color, font size, spacing, click rates, etc.  People change and so Google will need to continue changing if they want to continue to be the best at search.

Though there are definitely exceptions within the Church, I’ve found that many leaders are content with the mindset of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Why go through the effort to improve something that no one is complaining about?  Because, by the time someone complains…it’s too late.  This doesn’t mean you should change just for the sake of change, but it does mean you should change.

I believe that we, as leaders, should adopt an attitude or posture that acknowledges that the methods we use (HOW) to connect with people MUST be incrementally improved if we desire to continue connecting with this ever-changing world.

What are some practical ways that you have be able to make and test incremental improvements at your church?  If you haven’t made any improvements in a while, what is the next improvement that you need to try?



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categories: church, communication
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September 17th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

What the Church should learn from Google (1 of many)

The title speaks for itself…so here ya go.

1. Make your user interface simple!

There are few user interfaces that are simpler to use than the Google search box.  Who would have imagined that the massive scope of the entire Internet could be navigated through that simple box?  In contrast, we (The Church) often seem to create extremely complex interfaces to the same basic, but yet important, content.  Now, to be fair, many times that is not intentional.  But…that’s actually the problem (lack of intention)!

Just to clarify, I’m not simply talking about our websites.  We make it complex for people to find answers about God or be a part of a church in general.  We put so many barriers in front of people and try to simultaneously convey way too much information and give people very little control over what information they receive and how/where they receive it.

I would never use Google if it required me to leave my house and travel to an unfamiliar building on Sunday only once a week…listen to 30 minutes of unrecognizable music, followed by a person talking for 30-40 minutes, and still possibly have to try to find a person who looked “official” just to find “results” for my search.  That would be absurd! But, that is a substantially abbreviated version of what so many churches put people through who are searching.

I’m not talking about the content you communicate (though that should be easy to understand/navigate too!), but rather the way people access and interact with that content. Is it easy for them to find what they’re looking for? And what about things they don’t even know they should be looking for—is there a simple flow of involvement that leads them there?

Some of you have already simplified the “interface.”  What are some examples of things that need to be simplified in the Church interface?  What are some simplifcations that have worked for you?



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