Posted



  1. Treat everything you share on social media like it’s public – All communication sent digitally (email, social networking sites, notes or posts) is not confidential. It’s so easy for someone to take a screenshot of a conversation or post and share it publicly with others.
  2. Keep records – All transcripts of online chats, blogs and videos should be saved when possible.
  3. Use private groups where needed – Adults who minister to youth and who want to connect via a social networking website can set up a private group account for the youth and their families. That way, events and activities can be discussed openly and everyone can stay informed.
  4. Be mindful of your audience – All clergy and adults who work with youth should consider the content of any post that could be read by youth. Your words are often considered the voice of the church.
  5. Sometimes face-to-face conversations are more appropriate – Email or instant messaging is not appropriate for matters that are pastorally or legally sensitive, emotionally charged or require extensive conversation. If a message is longer than a couple of sentences, it might be better to talk in person.
  6. Set healthy boundaries – In the world of social media, boundaries and safety practices must mirror the physical world. For example, a youth leader would not hold a conversation alone with a child, and should also not have a private chat on Facebook.
  7. Be smart about what you say – As the saying goes, common sense isn’t always common practice. The purpose of social media is to communicate with and inform your network, but make sure you do so tastefully and without revealing too much information. For instance, avoid advertising the location (or future location) of minors. It’s safer not to post something like the following: ‘The annual youth group lockin will be at the local YMCA on Saturday night from 9pm to 8am. See you there!’
  8. Get permission – Make sure you have permission when posting prayer requests; some people may not want personal matters shared online. If you do get permission, keep in mind some situations are extremely sensitive and you don’t need to share every little detail. Don’t post this: ‘Please pray for Susan—she is driving out of state this weekend to care for her mother who is experiencing postoperative complications after her rhinoplasty.’ Post this instead: ‘Please pray for Susan—she is traveling this weekend to visit her mother.’
  9. Respect copyrights – Speaking of permission, verify the material isn’t copyrighted when posting things that are not your own (e.g., professional directory photos, clip art, videos, articles). Share a link to a video instead of embedding it on the church’s website.
  10. Post content that is relevant – You probably already refrain from posting offensive content, but also make sure your posts are relevant and meaningful to everyone visiting the site. For instance, referring to an inside joke can alienate those who don’t know the story behind the humor.
  11. Monitor social media accounts regularly – Assign church staff or volunteers to monitor posts and delete any inappropriate content. Giving more than one person access to the accounts is a smart idea; that way if your social media manager goes on vacation or leaves, the accounts will still be updated. As insurance, post a disclaimer. (Just do a Google search for ‘Social Media Disclaimer’ if you need some examples.) You can’t control what others say, but most social media platforms allow you to block repeat offenders who continue to post offensive items.
  12. Learn how to change security settings – Remember, social media pages can serve as a first impression to people outside of the church. Although content such as group discussions should be private, make sure some of the information is public so others can learn about the church and its mission. To use Facebook as an example, the church could have a public Fan Page with posts for everyone to see and also have a private group for members to share pictures, videos and prayer requests.

Using social media allows your organization to reach diverse members both within and outside your church, from college students to busy moms. Implementing guidelines for how your organization engages in social media will help ensure safety to your staff and members.

Source: Ministry Tech

Connect with Shelby Systems on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!

 


Posted



When it comes to protecting the church, one often thinks about things like locks, on-site security and alarm systems.

But what about the threats that can exists from inside the ministry in the very congregation itself? How well prepared are you when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable members of your flock – your children?

Experts say that in order to protect the youngest church members, ministries should have a strong safety screening plan in place.

“A truly comprehensive screening program contains not only background checks suited to geographic location and position being applied to, but also a detailed child safety training program. Additionally, the program should include a rescreening policy,” said R.J. Frasca, Director of Marketing and Product Development at Protect My Ministry in an interview with Church Executive magazine.

Additional safety measures can include keeping track of children during church-sponsored activities utilizing church check-in technology.

Fortunately, ShelbyNext Membership, leading software for Church Relationship Management from Shelby Systems, comes integrated with robust  tools from our partners at Protect My Ministry. This includes the ability to do background checks and access to child safety training programs. Also available in ShelbyNext Membership is the ability for parents to check their children in to church-sponsored activities right from their smartphone and, with separate hardware, ministry staff and volunteers can even print labels for badges that include barcodes for tracking.

Whatever methods you use, always be sure your ministry has a plan for dealing with potential dangers – the ones you can predict and the ones you can’t.


Posted



The age of mobile devices is here. You can hardly go to any public place be it a store, restaurant or even a sidewalk where you don’t see people on their phones or tablets.

Originally meant to facilitate communication, these devices are now seen by many as an obstacle to the face-to-face communication that has taken place for generations. What was originally envisioned as a way to connect people is now, more often than not, seen as something that divides people.

Like it or not, we are now seeing entire generations growing up with a mobile device or devices as a daily part of their lives, so it is essential that we find ways that we can use phones and tablets as tools to grow relationships, rather than stifle them.

The first step in this process is asking the question, “How do we use mobile technology in our ministry?” Is your mobile presence just a glorified bulletin board or is it a springboard to a larger, deeper experience within your church? Can members and visitors truly interact with your church on their phones or is that app just a megaphone blasting information one way?

It is imperative that churches, large and small, start to adopt communications strategies that focus on creating a true experience through mobile devices. This starts with customizing the look and feel of the app you use and harmonizing it with your website. Next, you need to think about the kind of content you serve to your congregation through that app and make sure it is enriching and thought-provoking.

Finally, while the goal is always to foster active participation in ministry, many don’t realize that their mobile app is a decidedly passive experience. So, be sure that there is a way for your members to reach out to you and truly interact through these devices. They should be able to ask questions, get feedback, check in and update information.

It was once said that the website was the front door to your church. If that is true, then mobile devices are the porch and the type of welcome that members and visitors receive there can make the difference between walking through that door or moving on to the next house.


Posted


There’s no longer any question about whether your church should be on social media or not, but being on social media isn’t enough. You need to prioritize using it well. If you want to take advantage of all the opportunities social media provides you might need to elevate its importance. If you can’t justify time spent on social media, I encourage you to consider the following ways your ministry might be missing out.

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA MIGHT BE THE FIRST PLACE PEOPLE FIND YOUR CHURCH – Over 46 percent of church planters say that social media is their most effective method of outreach. Think about that for a second . . . out of all the possible outreach methods, almost half of today’s church plants are seeing a bigger return for time they invest into social media than anything else. With a thoughtful church strategy for social engagement and some regular money devoted to advertising, you can create an awareness of your ministry and send people to your website where they can learn more.
  2. YOU CAN BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CONGREGATION’S FRIENDS – When you explain to your congregation that their interaction with your Facebook page is a form of outreach, you can build a strategy around sharing your culture with people who might be open to learning more.
  3. FACEBOOK’S GROUPS AND EVENTS RIVAL SOME REAL LIFE CHURCH NETWORKS – Using Facebook groups for ministries or studies is an incredibly easy (and free) way to keep everyone together and on the same page. You can create groups for prayer, home groups, Bible studies, classes or lifestyle groups for people that like to do things like hike or garden. Facebook events are another stellar way to raise awareness for an event. You can invite everyone in the church, and they can invite others, too. All updates and important information can be communicated in the event group.
  4. YOU’RE MEETING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE – Did you know that 35 percent of the couples married between 2005 and 2012 met online? Instead of fighting this transition, the church should be embracing its inherent positives and opportunities. We should be taking advantage of every tool at our disposal to reach people where they are, and there may be no greater tool available than social media.
  5. YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS REPRESENT YOUR CHURCH VITALITY – When people come to one of your social media platforms and you haven’t updated it in months, it shapes their impression of your church. If you’re going to have a social-media presence, it’s important for you to regularly update it. This means that you need to be very particular about the social-media platforms your church adopts. It’s better to have one or two platforms you really excel at than to be on every platform and to do them poorly.

Source: Ministry Tech

Connect with Shelby Systems on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!


Posted



Many church websites contain good information, but the presentation is poor. So, here are six little changes you can make to your church website that can make a big difference.

  1. Get your menus set up correctly – The navigation menu for your website should be simple. Menus typically include the following: about, plan your visit, ministries, media, giving, and contact. It’s best to use drop downs for other items under each main menu tab. Keeping the most important information in the main menu at the top of the page makes it much easier to navigate for users and also allows you to place priority on where you’d have your website visitors go.
  2. Make sure your content is correct and updated – Is the sermon information from the past weekend still on your home page? This is easy to fix with a weekly website checklist. It’s just a matter of getting it done each week. A weekly website checklist allows you to keep track of needed updates.
  3. Use the best possible graphics – Your church likely does not have a graphic designer on staff. So how do you improve the graphics on your site? You have three main options: contract out your graphics work, join an online design community, or use a design program. Thanks to online programs like Canva and Open-Edit-Print, it’s actually quite simple to design professional-looking graphics on your own.
  4. Activate online giving and label it properly – With technology as ubiquitous as it is, online giving should almost be a given for churches. If you do have online giving, please make sure you label it properly. “Donate” or “Tithe” can confuse website visitors. “Give Online” or simply “Online Giving” are the easiest and most obvious labels to use.
  5. Make it easy to contact your church – If you have a contact tab in your main menu, you should have a contact page for website visitors to use. On the contact page, be sure to include the address, phone number, and email of the church. And if at all possible include a contact form to make it easy for those looking to contact you immediately.
  6. Use your homepage wisely – One of the biggest mistakes churches make on the homepage is cluttering the homepage with things that aren’t important. Keep the homepage as clean as possible and include the most important information you can.

Source: Lifeway Christian Resources

For more information on how Shelby Systems can assist your church, contact one of our Ministry Consultants today!


Posted



All things come in cycles.

People cycle in and out of different aspects of your ministry based on their age, employment, schedule and life priorities. Insightful pastors and lay leaders will watch these cycles and quickly identify the people who come up again and again. Who makes all the mission trips? Who volunteers to clean up after events more often than not? Who comes to the planning meetings and offers constructive advice? These are the people you can rely on to help the ministry grow.

But what about the next generation of leaders? If you aren’t identifying potential leaders coming out of Youth Ministries, Vacation Bible Schools and worship ministries such as the Choir, you are potentially missing out on the next lay leader or even someone who may discover a call to ministry. With all that in mind, how can you guide these young people to become the leaders of the future? Here are a few tips.

  • Track their interactions It’s one thing to hear the random comment about a young person’s attitude or aptitude, it’s another thing to keep track of it. Whenever possible, keeping track of their participation in church ministry and educational opportunities will give you an idea of what leadership areas within your ministry might be a good fit for them down the road.
  • Nurture their interests In addition to identifying those young leaders, it’s important to nurture them. When Jimmy consistently shows an unsolicited desire to help younger students in Sunday School or when Kelly has participated in the multiple food drives over several seasons, once you’ve noted that in your records, make sure to follow up to offer them encouragement and involvement at whatever comfort level suits them.
  • Look at the big picture Keeping an eye on an individual is important, but if you are really interested in planting seeds for the next generation of your ministry, you have to look at the congregation as a whole. How many of these leaders-in-training do you have? What areas of your ministry tend to attract future leaders? By looking at the broad scope, you can create more of those opportunities that bring out the best in your youngest members.

The path you set for youth in your congregation will ultimately bear fruit in years to come. If you need help building a nurturing plan for your ministry, call us anytime at 800.877.0222. We’ve spent over 40 years working helping ministries grow and prosper and we have the tools you need to identify, track and help nurture leaders for the next generation as well as reaching out to visitors or organizing groups. Let us help you.

 


Posted



For generations, everyone from carpenters to construction engineers has known one secret to building a sound structure — measure twice, cut once.  This simple rule about being prepared applies to any building project from cabinets to condominiums. But, it also applies when choosing the right software solution for your church.

So how can we better prepare when choosing software? Simple. Just remember EPPRA — Evaluate, Plan, Prepare, Reassess, and Act.

Evaluate

  • What are the biggest challenges you have in your ministry?
  • How well does your current solution work in helping you address those challenges?
  • What would your ideal solution include? 
  • Is your current solution scalable? Can it grow with your church?

Plan

  • What is your budget and implementation time frame for a church management solution?
  • Do you have staffing in place capable of addressing the demands of new software?
  • Are there any additional costs to consider such as new hardware, additional
    support or training?

Prepare

  • Begin researching solutions, viewing product demonstrations
  • Take advantage of the free trials offered by most software providers to see firsthand how it can work for you.
  • Get input and buy-in from others in your ministry’s office. This will make the transition smoother.
  • Clean up your database. No need to add extra work moving old or outdated information.

Reassess

  • Once you’ve narrowed down your options, compare the pros and cons of your current solution with the solution you are considering.
  • Does the new solution meet your views of an ideal solution?

ACT!

Like a strong building, a successful ministry is built on a good foundation. If you take the time to “measure twice, cut once” when choosing a software solution for your church you will end up with a stronger solution that will make the business of ministry much easier and more efficient. For over 40 years, Shelby Systems has been helping churches, organizations and ministries large and small operate more efficiently so they can spend more time with people and less time on paperwork. Let us show you how we can do the same for you and your ministry.  Call us anytime at 800.877.0222.


Posted



Most churches these days understand their social media presence is no longer an optional part of their communication strategy. But just because you’re on social media doesn’t mean you’re effective. Take a look at nine of the most common mistakes churches make every day and the solutions for them:

  1. Poor Grammar – take a breath and check your post before you hit send. Mistakes happen, but do whatever you can to keep them rare. If possible, schedule your posts ahead of time and run your list of posts by another person to double check your grammar and spelling. Services like Grammarly will also spell check your content before you post. Don’t rely totally on these tools, but they can be another layer of protection for you.
  2. Not Responding to Questions – not responding to questions and comments on your social media platforms is to miss the entire point of your involvement in these channels. Make a commitment to respond and to do so quickly. Try to respond to all posts within 24 hours. During a typical workday, you might want to respond within four hours if you can swing it. Engagement is what gets your content viewed and shared. Your engagement will inspire others to respond.
  3. Posting the Same Content on Multiple Platforms – In the early days of social media, this was all the rage. You’d see individuals and churches (and even a few business brands) run the exact same content regardless of the platforms. Twitter and Facebook make this easy to do. But don’t do it! Each platform is a bit different. An effective tweet isn’t remotely the same as an effective Facebook post.
  4. Forgetting the 80/20 Rule – the 80/20 rule simply states that 80 percent of your social media content should inform, educate, and entertain your audience, and only 20 percent should push your own agenda. If all you do is promote your church’s events and publicize your ministry efforts, you’ll be glossed over as white noise. Look for ways to serve your audience. Encourage them. Give them hope. There’s so little of that on social media. You’ll set yourself apart in no time when you do so.
  5. Not Incorporating Photos and Videos in an Effective Way – the algorithms for Facebook and Twitter prioritize photos and videos. Do what you can to make sure you use as much visual media content as possible in your posts. Don’t stop with just including photos and videos either. Make sure what you post makes sense in a social (and likely) mobile context. For example, include captions in your videos so that your audience can understand your videos even if they aren’t in a position to listen to them. Know the ideal photo dimensions on various social channels and be sure you use those as well.
  6. Posting Too Often – many churches have the idea that if one social media post is good, 20 must be better. Wrong! The algorithms that determine which posts get viewed and which don’t by most of the people in your audience depend heavily on how a person interacts with your church. In other words, if you send out 20 posts but a person only engages with one of them, that person is less likely to see your future content than if you posted twice and they engaged with one. There’s no set rule for how often you should post. You’ll have to keep an eye on your metrics to see how frequency impacts your engagement and reach.
  7. Posting Too Infrequently – consistency is key in social media. These days, when people check out your church, they’re not looking you up in the Yellow Pages. They’re viewing your website (probably on a mobile phone), and they’re checking your social media streams. Make sure they are updated on a regular basis. Use one of the many social scheduling apps out there to develop a consistent cadence on your posting.
  8. Managing Too Many Platforms at Once – too many churches are tempted to get involved in every new platform that comes along. While it’s important to stay flexible and try new platforms when it makes sense, it’s more important to master the ones you’re on. Make the effort to find out what platforms your audience prefers. (It’s highly likely Facebook will be one of those choices.) Start with the most-used platforms and then branch out.
  9. Not Keeping an Eye on Their Metrics – you only value what you measure. It’s an old saying, but it’s particularly true with social media. Most of what you do as a church can’t be effectively measured, but social media is not one of those areas. Nearly everything related to social media can be counted. Make sure you look at the metrics often. You’ll never really know if the kinds of posts you’re running are connecting with your audience unless you look at those metrics. You’ll also want to make sure you’re posting an ideal number of times and during an ideal time of the day. You don’t need to overdo it, but at least scan key metrics on a weekly basis.

Source: Tobin Perry

Connect with Shelby Systems on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 


Posted




Smaller churches are sometimes reluctant to embrace technology and take their churches online. However, having an online technology strategy helps boost member engagement and encourages new church visitors. Connect on a wider scale by getting your church online. It’s easier than you might think and the rewards are well worth the effort.

Keep Consistent Branding

One thing to always remember throughout your online technology strategy is to keep consistent branding. From having the same logo to maintaining the same personality, a church’s brand is what people connect with. If you’re always serious on Facebook but humorous on Twitter, people might not be able to get a good sense about your church.

Start With A Website

Your church’s online strategy has to begin with one key ingredient – a website. Think of it as your virtual home online that happens to have its doors open 24/7. A few elements to include on your site are:

  • Images/videos of your church
  • Short description and mission statement
  • Service hours
  • Contact information
  • Blog
  • Calendar of events
  • Forum for members to interact
  • Social media channels

Obviously, your site can as big or small as you want. Some churches upload their services online, while others only upload a video now and then. The key is to have a place for visitors to learn more about your church.

Plan A Website Content Strategy

With a website comes the need for a content strategy. A church website helps people find your church through search engines, but to rank higher online, you need to keep your site current. This is where a blog comes in handy. To keep visitors coming back, create a content schedule to ensure you’re posting regularly. Even if it’s only one blog per week, it’s enough to stay current in search engines.

Also, plan what types of content you’ll upload. Will you use text, video, images or a mix (which works best)? Will you talk more about church activities, tackle current issues or answer questions from members and site visitors? Having a content strategy in place will make maintaining your blog much easier.

Choose At Least Two Social Networks

It might seem like there is a new social network every week, but your church doesn’t have to maintain a presence on every network. However, your online technology strategy should include at least two social networks. Facebook and Twitter are often the most popular choices because of their large user bases, but you could also choose from sites like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. You could even get creative and use Medium since it’s part blogging platform and part social network. No matter which two you use, stay active to help build your church.

Get Members Involved Online

If you want your online technology strategy to actually be successful, you’re going to need some help. Get your members as involved as possible. For instance, ask them to connect with the church on social media and share their favorite posts. At one small church, the pastor encourages members to tag the church on Twitter when mentioning events to drive more people to the church’s social media profile. This same church even encourages members to use Bible apps on their phones if they want.

The lesson is to embrace technology, even in a small church. It’s an easy way to better engage members and bring in new members.

Offer E-Giving On Your Site

If tithing is down at your church, make e-giving a part of your online strategy. Online giving providers serve as a modern way for members and even non-members to tithe. Incorporate a giving form on your site or as a mobile app. In an age where many people only have credit cards on them, it’s easier to set up payments online versus remembering to get cash before church.

Utilize Volunteers

While getting a professional service to design your website is a good idea, you’re still left with maintaining it, uploading content and managing social media. Ask for volunteers to help manage it all. Meet with them weekly to discuss strategy and review what they’ve been doing. After all, it’s overwhelming for just one person to do everything.

Follow The Lead Of Other Churches

Not sure where to start? Search for other churches online and see what they’re currently doing. You can even learn from large churches. Don’t be afraid to send a message to any church you admire to ask questions or see how well their strategy is working for them.

According to a new study from the Hartford Institute, the majority of American churches have less than 100 in weekend worship attendance. The good news is that you can form a solid technology strategy for a church of any size. Follow the tips above and you should be well on your way to creating an effective online presence.

Source: Ministry Tech Magazine

For more information on how Shelby Systems can assist your small church, contact one of our Ministry Consultants.


Posted



Joining us all the way from New Zealand is Shelby customer and Supporting Pastor for Elim Christian Centre, Peter McArthur.

In this brief video interview, Peter tells us:
  • what his life was like growing up as a Kiwi
  • why he became a follower of Christ
  • how the church in New Zealand is different from the church in the US
  • what Shelby product he is using and what he hopes to accomplish with it
  • his thoughts on ISC 2017
  • what he’s been doing for fun in Dallas, Texas
Make sure to watch the end of the video to witness a special greeting and thanks to Shelby customers in the American church. 

Just click the image above to see this 5 minute conversation, and discover how Shelby is partnering with this growing congregation half-way around the world.