My friend Dave Dias recently filmed this commercial for mPower Giving, relating how we can use our mobile phones to contribute to crisis relief for Haiti in the wake of this week’s disastrous earthquake.
Thank you for visiting the Strategic Digital Outreach website! My name is Frank Johnson. I have been a digital media strategist for approximately seven years, heavily involved with internet marketing techniques in the business world. The more I learn about internet marketing, the more I find myself thinking, "These techniques should be used to spread the gospel."
This website is meant to serve as an exploration of that line of thinking. As you read, please feel free to comment - my hope is that we will all benefit from each other's wisdom.
One of my virtual friends, Dave Hackett, recently led a conference call on “Sharing God’s Message Intimately - Online and On Phone.”
During the call, Dave informed participants about the growing influence and practice of digital evangelism and newly emerging issues of online/on-phone evangelism, and also allowed time for questions and answers.
The presentation used an audio conference call and an online presentation which were accessed simultaneously.
Voice Conference Call
The audio call is available for playback by calling 641-715-3443 and entering Access Code 258593#.
To view the PowerPoint that Dave presented during the call, please have this Google Doc up on your screen while you listen to the presentation:
Mike Boyink is doing a great thing this week!
Mike runs a website called Train-ee which helps people learn how to use Expression Engine, a great content management system for websites. Mike has just finished a series of articles entitled Building A Church Website. In the process of writing that series, Mike actually created a sample church website.
That could have been the end of the project. But Mike had a better idea. And so he is auctioning off the sample church website at eBay. You can see the sample church website here. The auction will also include a year of hosting, some training/customization from Mike, a year’s subscription to a donor management software package, and more.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to charity:water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. In addition, proceeds from the sale of Mike’s books and screencasts during the auction will also be donated to charity:water. Finally, Mike has provided a PayPal donation link so that even if you’re not interested in the church website or Mike’s training materials, you can still donate to this great cause.
The auction will begin on Wednesday, April 29 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Full details about the auction and a video from Mike are available here on the Train-ee website.
I would strongly encourage you to visit Mike’s site, watch his video (I learned some things I didn’t know about water!), and consider what you might be able to do to help him support a great cause.
Kent Shaffer has posted a helpful video on the Church Relevance blog today about search engine optimization for church websites. What I liked most about his comments was the lack of focus on optimizing for “church” and the city you live in (which is as far as most church website seo goes these days). Instead, he focuses on optimizing (and by implication writing content for) the terms people are actually searching on in your geographic area.
The vast majority of unbelievers today are not searching on “church” at Google. They aren’t interested in us. But strategically including content on our websites which corresponds to the felt needs of unbelievers in our area and then optimizing for related search terms is an effective form of outreach today.
I encourage you to visit the Church relevance blog today to hear what Kent has to say on this important topic.
Do you know about Twitter? I would assume that anyone reading this blog already knows about it, but just in case, here’s a good definition from Wikipedia:
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.
Within it’s 63 pages, Anthony gives a concise rationale for the church’s use of Twitter. There is no wasted space here — it took me about an hour to read the book and all of the information is valuable.
How A Church Can Use Twitter Effectively
Anthony advocates using Twitter to remind church members of events, drive traffic to the church website, effectively target segments of the congregation (and not send irrelevant information to other segments), pass along urgent prayer requests, keep church members informed of last-minute changes, reinforcing aspects of weekly messages, etc.
I’ve been using Twitter for awhile now (and I must admit that I’m fairly sporadic in my tweets — I still find myself not thinking about it much while I’m in the midst of a project), and have thought about how the church could use its functionality, but Anthony has “taken it to the next level.” His e-book includes a number of great ideas for how the regular use of Twitter could improve a church’s communication with and among its members.
Interesting article in the Christianity Today liveblog — The Tebow Bump. In the article, Ted Olsen points out that at the recent BCS championship college football game, Florida quarterback and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow changed the scripture reference on his eye black from Philippians 4:13 to John 3:16.
The result? According to the Christianity Today article, John 3:16 became the hottest search on Google. Interesting.
What’s more interesting to me, though, is the generally mediocre (at least from an internet evangelism perspective) results that are displayed when one searches on “John 3:16” at Google.
In the natural Google listings, here are the first 10 results:
- BibleGateway.com passage lookup (New International Version)
- BibleGateway.com passage lookup (King James Version)
- Wikipedia article on John 3:16
- Blue Letter Bible passage lookup
- A Flash animation
- An AllAboutGod article on John 3:16
- The home page of John 3:16 Mission
- Passage lookup on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
- An article on fanhouse.com about Tim Tebow’s use of the verse on his eye black
Here are the paid listings:
- “Win a free iPhone easily” from prizecarnival.com
- An invitation to bid on John 3:16 at eBay.com (interestingly, the second line in the ad reads “Shop Victoriously”!)
- “John 3:16 at Amazon”
If local churches were already bidding on John 3:16 for local pay-per-click listings (so that their ad was only displayed to people living in their local geographic area), how many people would have been taken from watching the BCS championship game, to searching on Google for “John 3:16”, to clicking on a paid ad from a church in their local area and visiting a page on the church’s website especially designed to intrigue website visitors enough for them to consider joining the church for one of their local gatherings?
What an opportunity that has been missed by local churches across the world!
Obviously, local churches could not be expected to know that Tim Tebow would be displaying John 3:16 on his eye black (since apparently he has displayed Philippians 4:13 in the same location before — I’ve never been a big college football fan, so I may be mistaken). But if they were already bidding on that phrase (which should probably be a natural target for pay-per-click bidding by churches), they would have already been prepared. But since the overwhelming majority of churches have probably never even considered pay-per-click advertising, the opportunity was probably lost forever.
Here’s a short article from a Serbian media company’s website regarding the defacement of a church website.
Thanks to @Serbia for the tip.
Cynthia Ware has a very valuable post today regarding a Facebook Phishing Scam which is effecting pastors.
Gospel Communications International is shutting down its webhosting services. The Gospel.com Alliance includes more than 300 members.
Here’s a story about the decision from the Muskegon Chronicle (Gospel Communications International is based in Muskegon, Michigan).
Let’s pray for the employees and the ministries who will be affected.
For more information, visit www.gowestafrica.org.
Thanks to the Facebook For Pastors Facebook Group for the heads up!
If you look in the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see a new section called “Quick Thoughts.” Let me quickly tell you the main points of how I’m doing this and then strategize for a moment about how something similar might be useful for churches.
I’m a member of a few different social websites (I’ve linked to my profiles in case you’re interested):
- LinkedIn (I use it 3-4 times a week)
- Facebook (I use it every day, usually multiple times)
- Plaxo Pulse (I don’t use it very much - someone invited me, so I signed up)
- Plurk (I just signed up a couple of days ago - I’ve heard good things about it)
Of course, there are many other social networks. I also have a Twitter account (until recently, I hardly ever used it).
A few days ago, I came across the website of His Hands Media. Here is how they describe themselves:
His Hands Media uses digital technology to present stories that inspire people to invest and participate in God’s important work in the community and around the world. We specialize in video production and website design that extends the reach of Christian organizations and ministries allowing them to raise the funds necessary that will bring aid and hope to people in need, through the message of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I was especially intrigued by a video they have optimized of a trip to Ghana by volunteers from Opportunity International. The video is located here. As the folks from His Hands Media point out, the quality of the video is surprisingly good seeing that it was filmed with the inexpensive Flip Ultra video camera.
What would it be like if our short-term missions teams brought several of these Flip Ultra cameras to capture video of their activities? Depending on the availability of internet access, the teams would be able to quickly upload video of the mission which could then be shared with friends and supporters back home.