The world’s best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has passed from this life to the next. He was 99 years old.

He took the Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called “crusades.” Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and he shared the gospel with uncounted millions.

Billy Graham never built a megachurch, set up a relief agency, launched a political lobby or ran for office. Yet he redefined American life by popularizing Christianity’s core message — Christ died for your sins — downplaying denominational details and proclaiming the joys found in faith.

“He was so real, he made Christianity come alive.” observed Susan Harding, an anthropologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz. “He was homespun, historical and newsworthy all at once. He could span the times from Christ to today, from the globe to you, all in one sentence.”

High among his numerous honors: The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Billy and Ruth in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him in 1983, and the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982.

After receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, Graham responded: “As Ruth and I receive this award, we know that some day we will lay it at the feet of the one we seek to serve.”

For a more personal remembrance of “America’s pastor”, please read the following recollection from Thom S. Rainer, President of Lifeway Christian Resources:

It was my first visit with Mr. Graham since his beloved Ruth had passed away two years prior. Her photos and keepsakes were visible throughout the home. This visit was certainly different for that reason. Still again, my time with Billy Graham was poignant because he was in his twilight years. He knew it. So did I. Sadly, this would be my last visit with him.

I also knew that when I meet with people like Mr. Graham, there is always an opportunity to learn from them. So in the visit I had with Mr. Graham, I wanted once again to glean from his life, his wisdom, and his experience. My quest was not disappointing. To the contrary, I came away realizing that I had been on the mountaintop in more ways than one.

Here are five simple but profound lessons I learned from that visit with Billy Graham.

  1. A life pleasing to the Lord is a life of integrity. The name of Billy Graham inevitably reminds us of integrity. His was a life that did not compromise morally. It was a life that was above reproach financially. And his was a life of incredible honesty. Leadership at any level cannot begin to function well unless the leader has integrity.
  2. Our first ministry is to our family. The home of Billy Graham was a home of love. It was the place where Billy and Ruth Graham raised children and welcomed grandchildren. At one point in my visit with Mr. Graham, he pointed to a portrait of his late wife Ruth. With tears in his eyes he said, “I can’t wait to see her in heaven.” Today, he has that joy. Thank you, sir, for reminding me again of the priority of family.
  3. Listen to critics, but don’t dwell on them. In my position, I am subject to criticisms more often than I like. Indeed I am pretty thin-skinned, so it is an area in which I constantly struggle. So I asked Mr. Graham how, in a lifetime of international ministry and scrutiny, he dealt with the constant stream of criticisms. He smiled at me and simply said, “I ignored most of them.” While he never implied that he was blameless, he knew that dwelling on criticisms would distract and harm his ministry. So he simply moved on.
  4. Humility is one of the greatest virtues of leaders. He counseled presidents and kings. He preached to millions. Volumes have been written about his life and ministry. Some have seen him to be the world’s most influential person of the second half of the twentieth century. Yet in each of the times I was with him, I witnessed one of the most humble men I’ve ever known. Billy Graham never thought too highly of himself. What an incredible example he was.
  5. All that really matters is Jesus. Mr. Graham preached about Him for most of his life. The message of the gospel was the heart of his ministry. He understood the brevity of life. And he knew, when it is all said and done, our relationship with Jesus Christ is all that really matters.

These lessons are but a sampling of what he has undoubtedly contributed to the millions and millions of lives he has impacted through his ministry.

And as I reflect on his life and ministry, I know I will never come close to becoming the man he was. Still, I can learn. And you can learn too.

We can learn to love our family and others with a greater love. We can learn to have a greater humility, understanding that we are nothing without Christ. We can learn that the simple things in life are those that really matter. And we can learn that this life is not about us.

It’s all about Jesus.

That was the life of Billy Graham. It was all about Jesus. That is the type of life I desire to have.

Thank you, Mr. Graham.

Thank you for your time. Thank you for your ministry. Thank you for your integrity. Thank you for your humility.

Thank you for your life.

Source: Lifeway Resources


This financial news is brought to you via the Alfred Johnson blog. We hope you find it useful.

NOTE: The new features listed below will be available on the upcoming Financials Release (8.10).


Overview:  Prior to Release 8.10 Admin users had the ability to choose one of the following password security strength settings:

  • Medium: The password must be between 5 and 30 characters long and must contain at least one digit.
  • Strong: The password must be between 8 and 30 characters long with at least one number and one special character.
  • Extra Strong: The password must be between 8 and 30 characters long and must contain at least two upper case letters, three lower case letters, two numbers, and a special character.
  • Custom: Select the custom option if you want to enter your own regular expression to define password complexity.

However, the Admin could not change the default settings defining the number of times a user could try to login without being locked out of the program.  Nor, could the user define the length of time that the attempted logins occurred, and could not set the number of minutes the site would be locked for access if login attempts failed.  These default settings are:  10 tries over 5 minutes results in access being locked for 15 minutes after last failed attempt.  (NOTE:  Financials users that also have Arena can make these changes in Arena if they have Admin access rights.) 

With Financials 8.10 and later, Admins have full access over all of these password options.

Using New Control Settings in Release 8.10:  Use the following steps to modify Password Login Security settings:

  1. From the Financials Opening screen, hover over Utilities and choose Organization.
  2. Click the Security Settings
  3. Choose Password Strength using the pull down arrow on the Password Strength
  4. Enter the number of times a user is permitted to login before being locked out of the program in the Threshold Count
  5. Enter the length of time before the program restarts counting number of attempts in the Threshold Minutes
  6. Enter the length of time in minutes that the user will be locked out of the program.
  7. Click Update to save your settings.




It’s a common situation. The pastor is the only paid staff member at the church, but now funds are available to bring on another full-time person. Who should the first hire be?

The response was unanimous, according to the 2,000 member Church Answers team, in urging the pastor to get a children’s minister. So why is the children’s minister position in such demand?

The Church Answers community let us know, with most of the responses fitting into one of these five categories.

  1. Millennials have a lot of kids. The Millennial generation is the largest generation in America’s history (though they may be surpassed by Gen Z). There are 78 million young adults ranging in ages from 18 to 38. And they have lots of kids. If they visit a church, one of their highest priorities is the quality of the children’s ministry.
  2. A healthy children’s ministry usually results in a healthy student ministry. It makes sense. If there is quality teaching and ministry for the children, these children are more likely to move to student ministry better prepared for life and better discipled for God’s work.
  3. A quality children’s ministry requires a large volunteer force. Indeed, this rationale was one of the key reasons the leaders at Church Answers responded in unanimity for calling a children’s minister. Leading the volunteer ministry can be a full-time job by itself.
  4. If churches desire to reach families, they must be prepared to reach children. If the Boomer generation acted like helicopters and hovered over their kids, the Millennial generation is acting like sidecars, and want to go wherever the motorcycle/child goes. You can’t reach a family with kids unless you are really prepared to reach the kids.
  5. Parents insist on safety, security, and hygiene for their kids. We live in a nervous time heightened by the greater awareness of sex abuse, shooters, and germs. Parents want to know the church is a safe place for their kids. The presence of a quality children’s minister is a huge positive statement for these parents.

We saw this trend five years ago. It is now a reality. The staff position of the greatest demand in congregations is the children’s minister.

Source: Lifeway Resources


Shelby Systems has all the tools you need to help your church establish a successful children’s ministry. To learn more, please contact one of our Ministry Consultants today.


According to Barna Research, 46% of non-Christians do not understand why Christian celebrate Easter. This statistic has huge implications as you plan your church communications for the Easter season. So how do we use the tools we have today to help people understand the true meaning of Easter?

Why we have this challenge:

To begin, the term “Easter” itself to most non-churchgoer’s today means chocolate bunnies, sugar eggs, and the Easter bunny. Look around stores filled with Easter goodies. You seldom see the chocolate crosses that were sold in the past—today, it’s all bunnies and chicks and happy little candy eggs. Even more than at Christmas time, we need to remind our communities that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Clarify the meaning of Easter:

When you use the term “Easter” as in “Easter Concert” it means nothing to unchurched people this time of year. Just because the term “Easter” is a big deal to you, doesn’t mean it is a big deal to any of the folks in your community. Instead of using the term “Easter” lots of churches refer to it as Resurrection Sunday. That at least gives people a hint of what we are celebrating.

Use all the tools of social media and technology to implement these suggestions:

think of your website as a place to say all the things you could say to people if you had time to explain the Christian faith and what Easter is all about, such as:
  • Articles about the meaning of Easter, the history of Easter written from the viewpoint of someone new to the church.
  • Ideas on how to celebrate Easter with kids like the Jelly Bean Prayer and Resurrection Cookies.
  • Questions about the Resurrection of Jesus, why you believe it’s true and links to apologetic websites 
  • Complete and clear schedules and directions to all Easter events—this is so basic and important and so often forgotten. Being sure all the details are easily available on your website is one of the greatest ways to show you love your church family and community.
YouTube: You don’t need to have perfect production values to get some church videos up on YouTube—you just need to have something significant to say. There are few messages more important than the message of Easter—that we are forgiven and will live forever because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Shoot short videos of people in your church sharing what this means to them, how Easter changed their life; what they wish their friends knew about Easter.

Instagram and Pinterest:
Because these are so highly visual you should post your Easter outreach materials or great Easter graphics with clear captions and links back to your church website.

Facebook and Twitter:
Make the obvious announcements and encourage people to come to Easter events—but always remember that these two forms of media are like rivers that flow past your house—and you can’t always remember something that quickly streams by. Be sure anything you post on Facebook and Twitter is also added to your website, so that when people forget the time of the kids Easter Egg event or the Thursday service, they can look it up.

The Apostle Paul talked about how he “became all things to all people that he might win some” Let his words challenge you this Easter season to use every technological and human tool you have to share Jesus and the joy of His resurrection.

Source: Ministry Tech

Shelby Systems has decades of experience helping churches in all aspects of ministry, for assistance contact one of our Ministry Consultants today!


This financial news is brought to you via the Alfred Johnson blog. We hope you find it useful.


OVERVIEW:  The audit period should normally be used for the following situations:

  • Entering opening balances when first starting to use the product, unless we convert your existing data into the system.
  • Release from donor restrictions
  • Reclassify a disbursement to a capitalized asset
  • Year-end audit adjustments

Rationale: In each of the above situations, transactions are entered that should not be included in monthly reports.

Best Practice:  When adding a new year in Financials, users are given the option of including an Audit period.  This period is different from the monthly (or otherwise defined) periods which have associated calendar dates.  If the Audit Period is left open, then there is a chance that someone might inadvertently post a normal transaction to it.  As a best practice, the Audit period should be marked Closed until needed.




Remember International Shelby Conference is in Memphis in 2018. It’s going to be a great time with a lot to see and do. Pastor and actor Ken Bevel is our Keynote Speaker, and Ellie Holcomb, Christian singer and songwriter, performs at a concert on Thursday morning. Schedule your 10+ breakouts from 200+ topics that are relevant to your staff skills and to your ministry support.

Register through February 15 and save on your fee.

Join us in the Home of the Blues for Shelby’s biggest event of the year.

Get all the details here:


Facebook recently started showing users more posts from their friends and family in the News Feed, a move that means people will see fewer posts from publishers and brands….including churches.

According to Facebook, the move is designed to encourage people to interact more with the posts that they actually do see. The thinking is that you’re probably more likely to comment and discuss a post shared from a family member than one shared by a business or organization you follow.

It’s a big gamble, in part because Facebook is bound to alienate a major set of users: publishers that create a lot of the free content that appears on Facebook. The social network has a reputation of routinely changing the algorithm, which in turn means publishers need to change the content they share on the service.

But Facebook is clearly taking a stand and declaring personal connections trump publisher and business reach.

According to a new study from Lifeway Research, 84 percent of churches have a Facebook page. While this change is likely to have a large impact on them, Nathan Clark, Director of Digital Innovations at Northland Church in Orlando, Florida says that it might not all be bad.

“The great commission call that Jesus gave us was a very personal call for us to move in the context of our existing relationships, sharing the love of Jesus and inviting people to follow Jesus with us. Facebook’s move will make it harder for Northland Church’s account to reach people. But, that’s because Facebook is making it easier for each of our congregants to reach people. Which, in the end, is the sort of evangelism Jesus called the church to anyway. So there’s a lot of opportunity from a discipleship and evangelism perspective and ultimately we’re more excited than concerned.”

And Clark also believes the move might ultimately be good for churches forcing them to expand their social media presence in other directions.

“It’s a good reminder not to put all our eggs in someone else’s basket. Facebook is like a rented facility with no set lease. So while we want to take advantage of any platform for the Gospel, our chief focus will always remain on God and the people we’ve been called to love and train and invite into community. And while a tool is effective to reach those people, that’s great. But if the tool no longer works, we can look for other ways to faithfully steward our congregation.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is also responding to criticism that time spent on Facebook “is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other” adding Facebook expects the change will mean that people will spend less time using the service.

Source: Ministry Tech


This financial news is brought to you via the Alfred Johnson blog. We hope you find it useful.

The next Financials release will be a minor upgrade, containing only 3 small enhancements, and 50 bug fixes.  Most of our programming time was devoted to making Financials run faster.  Lots of long hours and late nights were involved with that process.

Be watching Alfred’s blog for pre-release notes.




A new report on giving provides more evidence that churches need to be taking donations online. 


Here’s the good news. This year’s Annual Report on Philanthropy from Giving USA shows that “religiously affiliated people are more likely to donate, whether to places of worship or other charitable organizations.”  Even as church attendance is decreasing, the rate of giving for those who attend church has not wavered.


And here is even better news.  Technology has provided a way to make it easier for all generations to give to churches no matter what age group they fall into.


Preferences by Age Group

According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of surveyed Millennials donated or want to donate to a nonprofit via an online website. Eighty percent like it best when nonprofit websites are mobile-optimized.


Gen X’ers are much the same According to the 2013 study “The Next Generation of American Giving.”  This generation represents 20 percent of total giving in the U.S. Compared to Millennials, more established Gen X donors are likelier to make a monetary gift to support a cause. They also give more frequently than other age groups.


This tech-savvy generation values donating and connecting with nonprofits online, especially through mobile devices. According to the 2013 study, nearly half (47 percent) of Gen X donors indicated they would consider donating through their mobile device. Social media is also an important engagement channel, with 47 percent of Gen X respondents following a nonprofit on social media.


Baby Boomers represent the top source of income for nonprofits. They sum up 34 percent of the nation’s annual donor base, but they contribute 43 percent of all gifts made by individuals. While they still engage with nonprofits through direct mail, their online giving and social media use continue to spike. The study found that more Boomer donors now give online (42 percent) than via direct mail (40 percent), a switch from 2010 when more Boomers gave through the mail. With 77 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 using the Internet, this trend is likely to climb upward.


How Local Churches Are Using Online Giving

Jeff Christian, the Director of Communications and Marketing at Cornerstone Church in Chandler, Arizona says online giving is the primary way people give at his church.


He says it has enabled recurring giving, which he calls a game-changer for Cornerstone that has “levelized giving throughout the year.”  Thanks to recurring gifts there are fewer drastic down-turns during typically low attendance periods.


Whatever your donation strategy, online giving is growing in popularity with many church goers.  Failing to provide them with a tool to fill that need is akin to expecting donations without passing the plate.


Source: Ministry Tech


Shelby Systems is committed to helping churches large and small streamline their giving process. We provide the software and the plan that can help your church make the leap to digital giving. To find out how, contact one of our Ministry Consultants today. And don’t forget to ask about our special Digital Giving Package!


Some call it the digital church.
Others call it the Internet church.

In either case, it refers to people joining worship services, and even groups, virtually or digitally. They are not physically present. These some of the major shifts taking place.

  • Any church can have digital worship services with technology today. There are many options for churches today, most of them free. Facebook Live is the most common option, and it is free for the churches that use it. Just a few years ago, only the large churches with greater resources could live stream their services. Now any church with an Internet connection can do so.
  • More church leaders are asking if the virtual or Internet attendance should be counted. The question they are really asking is: Is a virtual attender the same as a physically present attender?
  • The theological debates about the digital church are increasing. There are some really strong opinions being articulated. And since we Christians tend to love a good theological debate, I anticipate the discussion will grow more heated.
  • Some churches are reporting a decline in physical attendance as they provide virtual attendance venues. There are church members who are beginning to view attending church virtually as just another option, much like they can choose among multiple worship services where they would be physically present.
  • Churches are reporting mixed results about giving among virtual attenders. Though the information is anecdotal for now, church leaders report some pretty decent offerings among the virtual attenders if they give them the opportunity to give. But they are also reporting a decline in per capita giving when a member shifts from physical attendance to virtual.
  • This issue will be generational to some degree. Millennials and, even more so, Gen Z, see virtual communities as real communities. Some of them can’t understand why churches can’t have vibrant virtual communities in lieu of being physically present.

Though this issue is not new, it seems to be approaching a tipping point.

Source: Lifeway Resources

Shelby Systems has decades of experience helping churches in all aspects of ministry, for assistance contact one of our Ministry Consultants today!