Archive for Technology Tidbits

Reboot Your Worship

Your regional church has invested in Dr. Marcia McFee’s “Reboot Your Worship” on your behalf. Dr. McFee’s worship workshops were well-received at General Assembly, and now you can learn from her without traveling. Read on for more information and the link to participate.

Our participation gives you access to 6 weeks of downloadable articles and videos and 6 live webinars with Dr. McFee, a renowned worship designer, consultant, and educator.

She will be training churches in five basic ways to improve their worship immediately, no matter the size or style of worship and without a big budget or drastic change. Just as we have an occasional need to reboot our computers, “rebooting” your worship is simply a way to look through fresh eyes and get some fresh skills. Dr. McFee will be getting you ready for your best Advent season ever all along the way!

Sign-up is free, webinars are free, resources are free, and the number of participants from your church is unlimited. Your region has paid the price for all our churches!

Sign-up at the sign-up page, in the box District/Region/Presbytery, type “Kansas Disciples.” 

Copyright in the church

Technology Tidbit: What churches need to know about copyright law

With the advent of technology, it is easy to share music and videos.  Being a Non-profit/education based organization, churches are not exempt from copyright. In most cases, if you are not charging people to come hear the performance of music then it falls under the fair use doctrine. 

Fair use doctrine promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. In determining fair use, consider these factors:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

In the cases of churches, we collect an offering and one can argue that we are “charging” people.  That is where the CCLI license comes in.  It protects both you as the church as well as insures the appropriate copyright holder gets the royalties if any.

With the advent of technology, the CCLI license insures song writers still get paid for their work. Permission is required to reproduce lyrics of copyrighted hymns or songs. Owning a set of Hymn books doesn’t provide permission (unless otherwise stated). The electronic storage on a computer of hymns/songs counts as reproduction including projecting the words using PowerPoint slides. With a CCLI License, the church has permission to write, type, or copy song words and music.  Remember to report usage to CCLI.

The license doesn’t cover photocopies of lyrics or music directly from hymn book. Books have a typography right which is 25 years from first date of print. A Music Reproduction License covers the right to photocopy from a book. 

Only the copyright owner has the right to change or amend their work.  Finding difficulty in how a song has been written, or concern with its theology doesn’t give you the right to change the work without permission form copyright holder

Under CCLI reproduction songs/hymns require you to show:

  • the copyright symbol
  • the writer
  • copyright holder
  • copyright year
  • license number

Example: Fred Smiley © 2000 Happy Music Ltd, CCLI Licence No: 12345

When projecting the lyrics using PowerPoint slides, remember to display this information on the bottom of every slide of each song.

Church Websites: Where do we begin?

Church Websites: Where do we begin?

Tuesday, January 31
9 – 11 AM
Chapel, Disciples Center at Tawakoni,
Between Andover and Augusta

7 -9 PM
Grace Room, Pine Valley Christian Church
5620 E 21 St. North

When it comes to church communication in the digital age, church websites are the first step in the digital progression. In this workshop, learn how create an engaging and effective website on any budget.  Workshop leader Jessica Marston, Christian Church in Kansas Webmaster, will walk you through starting your own church website.  After completing this workshop, participants are encouraged to attend “Websites: Where do we go from here?” on Tuesday, February 7.


  • $15 per Workshop
  • $75 for all 6 workshops

Registration including payment is due Tuesday, January 24.  A minimum of 6 paid registrants are required for each session. Registration without full fee is incomplete. This workshop is the first of six workshops in the Church Communication in the 21st Century Workshop Series. Those workshops are:


  • February 7 – Websites: Where do we go from here?
  • February 14 – Social Media in the church: Connecting to Millennials
  • February 21 – Church Publications: Communicating effectively in print, online
  • February 28 – Church Branding and what it says about you
  • March 7 – PowerPoint, Screencasting & Video: Your church on the big screen

Save $15 by registering for all six workshops!  Register and pay online below or download and mail the registration form with payment to the Regional office in Topeka, 2914 SW MacVicar.  Registration including payment is due Tuesday, January 24, to receive discount. 


Church Communication Workshops

Church Communication in the 21st Century 
Workshop Series

In order to keep up with ever-changing modes of communication, churches must adjust their means of communication with members and visitors. 

A six-week series of workshops will explore effective digital and printed communication strategies for churches. Workshops will be on Tuesdays, January 31 – March 7. Two identical sessions are offered, 9 a.m. in the chapel at Disciples Center at Tawakoni and 7 p.m. at Pine Valley Christian Church, Wichita.

The presenter is Jessica Marston, a graduate of Fort Hays State University with a degree in communications. Working out of the South Central satellite office of the Christian Church in Kansas, she is copy editor for the Kansas Messenger and Kansas Mini-Messenger, webmaster for, and all-around creative and tech guru.

Workshop topics are:

  • Websites: Where do we begin?   Church websites are the first step in the digital communication progression. In this workshop, learn how to create an engaging and effective website on any budget.
  • Websites: Where do we go from here?    An out-of-date website is no website. It is vital to keep yours current, and relevant to your target audience. Learn how to attract church visitors by maintaining it well.
  • Social Media in the Church: Connecting to Millennials     Social Media is another way to engage people with the gospel in our increasingly digital world. Learn about the different social media platforms, how to connect to the millennial generation, and use social media in a safe and secure way.     
  • Church Publications: Communicating effectively in print, online Learn about both print and electronic forms of newsletters, brochures, postcards and other modes of communication for members and visitors.
  • Church Branding and what it says about you     Branding is the visual representation of your church’s identity. Explore the three elements of branding and developing your church’s unique identity.
  • PowerPoint, Screencasting & Video: Your church on the big screen   Adding projection systems to sanctuaries has changed the look and feel of worship today. In this session, learn about the resources available and how to use them effectively.

Beginners and digital experts will benefit. Attend all sessions, or any session.  Each session is $15 per person; pay just $75 for all 6 by registering before January 24. Register and pay online below or download registration form and mail with payment to the Topeka Regional office. Classes may be cancelled for insufficient preregistration. If winter weather forces cancellation of a session, it will be made up on March 14.


Prezi: Next Generation of PowerPoint

Have you ever sat through a really boring presentation and felt like you learned nothing? 

Prezi is a presentation tool that can be used as an alternative to traditional slide-making programs such as PowerPoint. Instead of slides, Prezi makes use of one large canvas that allows you to pan and zoom to various parts of the canvas and emphasize the ideas presented there.

Prezi helps you organize your thoughts and deliver them in a clear way that makes an impact on your audience and helps them reach that ‘ah-hah’ moment faster.

Unlike slides, which literally box you in, Prezi gives you a limitless zoom-able canvas and the ability to show relationships between the big picture and fine details. The added depth and context makes your message more likely to resonate, motivate, and be remembered.

Prezi supports the use of text, images, and videos and also provides a collection of templates to choose from to help new users get accustomed to the interface.

Opening a blank Prezi will take you to a large white canvas, a place where you can post your ideas then arrange and re-arrange until the presentation flows. You will be able to zoom to different parts of the canvas where your content will be organized.

Your audience will want to recognize visual connections between your content, so adjust your content accordingly. The visual representation of what you are saying should be able to convey the message better than the words that you are saying. This is why Prezi can be so effective in comparison to PowerPoint.

With Prezi you can tell your story and convey information to your audience in a non-linear, dynamic way that is both engaging and easier to understand. To take your Prezi to the next level, rotate text and objects to help the audience visually experience the circularity, curvature, and rotation in your Prezi. Rotation is a great method for representing nonlinear concepts such as turning a corner or looking at something from a different angle. You can even place sub points inside the text of your main points!

Once you have finished creating your Prezi and you’re ready to present it to the world, you need to enter Present Mode. You don’t need to save your file as a video, simply entering Present Mode will put you in a position where you are ready to present.

Costs: Prezi is a cloud-based service, so you don’t have to download it to your computer and you can get to your account from any internet-connected device. There is no cost for a basic account; the cost for advanced features varies from $59 to $795 per year.


Transforming printed materials with QR codes

qr code (CCK home)

This QR code leads to the CCK home page.

Have you have seen these funny looking squares? 

Originally started in Japan, the QR code allows churches to harness the power of the smart phone and computer tablets by allowing printed materials to become interactive.

What is a QR code?

A QR Code (it stands for “Quick Response”) is a mobile phone readable bar code that can store website URL’s, plain text, phone numbers, email addresses and pretty much any other alphanumeric data.

In its simplest sense think “print based hypertext link” – simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone or other camera-enabled mobile device at it. If the device has had QR Code decoding software installed on it, it will fire up its browser and go straight to that URL.

How do you make a QR code?

There are a number of free QR code generators available on the web. Type QR code generator into your favorite search engine to find one.

On most generator sites, you are given a choice between Dynamic and Static QR codes. A dynamic QR code lets you edit the QR code without having to generate a new one. Most of the time, obtaining a dynamic QR code requires you to set up an account; there may be membership fees. In most cases, a Static QR code is sufficient.

To generate your QR code, type in the URL you wish to link and click on generate. Your QR code is ready for download. Download and save to your computer’s hard drive.

To use your QR code insert the QR code image into any document, just as you would insert a photograph or clipart.

Why should I use QR code?

By adding a QR code to event posters, church membership brochures, newsletters, or any other printed materials, you give members and visitors another way to participate in church life.

Your QR code could link directly to event registration information, church contact information, online giving, etc.  The possibilities are endless.  Members and visitors can then pull up additional information on their phones and/or tablets that connect them directly to that information.

Try it out for yourself! 

Your website as a doorway to the world

Technology Tidbit: Your website as a doorway to the world

In the age of technology, a church website can be your greatest outreach and evangelistic tool.  Today, you don’t have to be a website genius or have lots of money to create your own website. Several companies and web servers allow novices to create and publish their own site for free.

Here are a few dos and don’ts of websites to put your best face forward.

  • Create a clear sense of audience: Identify specifically who you are trying to reach (ie. Intercity families with young children or single parent homes from the suburbs). Remember you can’t be everything to everyone. Skew 75-90% on your content to non-members within your target audience. Research has shown that 90% of non-members will look at your site BEFORE the come to church.
  • Think Hospitality: Your home page is your welcome mat for visitors not a bulletin board. Convey who you are in about 150 words or less. Think elevator speech. Put the most important information first then get more detailed latter.  Use open inviting pictures of people with smiles.
  • Keep site current: update information at least once a week and remove/archive material that is outdated and/or irrelevant. This gives visitors a sense that your church is full of life and direction. Also, the design of your website is like fashion and needs to be updated every 3-5 years.
  • Have more than one website administrator who is not the pastor: This is for your church’s protection as well as diversifying your content. Having different contributors will give a different feel as writing styles are different and different people are involved in different aspects of church life.  It also serves as a checks and balances system so that the content on your website is your best impression to new visitors.

If you or your church would like to know more about affordable and effective websites, contact the South Central District Office,

**Taken from “Affordable Effective Church Websites” workshop by Bet Hannon October 2015.

PowerPoint in Worship

Today, many churches are using projection systems to project announcements, songs, scripture and more. The most popular program used to organize all these elements is PowerPoint. PowerPoint can be your best friend, but you have to use it right. 

Modern versions of PowerPoint offer many different options including photos and videos in addition to text and it can easily get overwhelming. In addition, churches need to be careful of copyright issues that may arise.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts churches should consider when preparing their PowerPoint presentations for worship.

  • Keep it simple: Too many eye-catching animations and other options overwhelm the senses and slow the pace of your service.

  • Keep your audience in mind: Remember the demographics of your congregation and adjust colors and graphics to maximize readability. Use font styles that are big, bold, and easily read from every angle. A rule of thumb is body text at least 18 pt. and titles at least 20 pt.

  • Color should add not subtract: Generally place light color text on dark backgrounds and dark text on light backgrounds. The red – black combination is harsh on the eyes and difficult to read. Red – green combinations are nearly impossible for your color-blind folks. Yellow text is hard to read, no matter what the background may be.

  • Think poetry: For readings, create line breaks at natural pauses. Song texts are poetry; present them with line breaks at held notes and stanzas on a different slides. Don’t crowd your slides.

  • Watch out for copyright: Trouble alert! Churches are NOT covered under the non-profit exception to copyright law. When using graphics, pictures, or backgrounds from the Web, make sure they are in the public domain. Not all images that appear in a Google search are free to use. When projecting songs include the writer(s) of the lyrics and the music composer, copyright date, and source in 10-12 pt. font on each slide.

Harnessing the Power of Facebook

Recent studies have shown that as much as 25% of web referrals come via Facebook and that 13% of all time spent online occurs on Facebook. A staggering 14 hour per month average for U.S users alone.  For churches, Facebook can be a great asset in connecting to multiple generations. With a little time and effort, churches have a free tool to help keep members informed on church life.

Don’t have a Facebook account?  No worries.  Setting one up is free and simple.  All you need is an active email address.  How do you set up a Facebook account?

Decide whether a group or a page will serve your needs; you may want both for different purposes. A group page tends to be more closed and restrictive and requires more administrative maintenance, while a page allows for more open communication and can link directly to your church’s website. Please don’t use a “Person” page for your church; it’s just awkward.

To create a page, login to your personal account and click on “create page” from the left hand column under the subheading “pages”. From there, a page with six boxes should appear. Click on the top center one labeled “Company, Organization or Institution,” select “Church/Religious Organization” from the top drop down menu and type the name of your church in the second box. As stated in last week’s post, if you are one of our First Christian Churches, include your city/town in the name so that members can find you easily.

Next, follow the step-by-step directions on your screen filling out as much information as possible.  The more information you include the easier it is for potential members to find you.

When setting up your Facebook page or group limit the number of administrators, but make sure you set more than one.  This will prevent any one person from having too much control over your page.

So how can the church better harness the power of Facebook in our social media plans?

  1. Post regular content:  posting content regularly will boost the activity on your page and increase the likelihood that people will come back to your page again and again.  Posting regularly also shows potential members that you are a church alive and on the move.
  2. Post content frequently: In addition to posting regularly, posting on a weekly to daily basis keeps church members connected with their local and regional church.  Posts published on Sunday get 52.9% more interactions than the average Facebook post.
  3. Post a variety of content:  Americans are visual people and will naturally go to images and videos first. By posting a variety of different types of content you can increase your interactions and your reach. Pictures get 179% more interactions than the average Facebook post; videos are the most shared post type, with 89.5 average Facebook shares. Post content that helps people know more about the mission, vision, and character of your congregation.
  4. Link back to your website: Posts that link to long form content (2000+ words) receive 40% more interactions than linking to short form content. On any social media platform you have about 3 seconds to hook someone so make it count. An easy way to do this is give a brief (>100 word) summary teaser with a link back to your website where a more detailed version of your article or event is located.
  5. What to post: announcements of activities, with information designed for the public. Not “at George’s pond,” on the assumption that everyone knows which George and where he lives, but “at the Johnson farm pond,” with a location. New Bible studies and classes, with the when, where and what. Ask yourself what a stranger will need to know to take part, and share that. Post mission efforts. Share news from the wider church. Encourage growth in faith. Challenge shallowness. Develop leaders.
  6. Keep private things private: Don’t post the travel plans of your members or your pastor, don’t post hospitalizations and illnesses on your page. If you want to use Facebook for this type of information, create a closed group instead of a page. Social media is a public forum and once you publish a post it is there for the whole world to see.