Dr. Paul Fetters spoke that summer during Pacific Annual Conference, the summer after my ninth grade year. He spoke on the family, and it was excellent, even to this budding sophomore.

We used a camp in Watsonville, Calif., outside of San Francisco, which meant a nine-hour drive for those of us from Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Most of our youth group was there for the conference Bible quizzing finals.

But this particular night, I wasn’t paying much attention to Dr. Fetters’ message. Instead, I was flirting with Tammy, a shy but very cute girl. We were sitting beside each other about in the middle of the left-hand section of the tabernacle. It’s all branded deeply in my memory because of what came next.

As I carried on–and it would have been mostly me, because Tammy was so quiet–I apparently disrupted people around me. Suddenly, I felt a big hand clamp onto my shoulder from behind. I looked over my shoulder.

One of our ministers, a big guy, well over six feet tall, had grabbed me from two rows back. He then said to me, in the type of hushed voice Jack Bauer uses, “If you don’t quiet down, I’m going to take you outside and whip you like one of my own kids.”

I quieted down, fast.

I doubt that, in my traumatized state, I actually listened to much of Dr. Fetters’ message. But at the end of the service, my heart still beat in overdrive.

That hand, that large physique, that Voice of Intimidation, belonged to the pastor of our church in Sacramento. A guy named Ron Ramsey.

UBonTwitter_150.jpgWe have clambered board the Twitter bandwagon. Our Twitter feed provides little snippets of news, plus automatic notifications when anything is posted to the Bishopblog or to the UB News page. You’ll find it at:

http://www.twitter.com/unitedbrethren.

Frankly, I don’t expect a lot of people to use the Twitter feed, mainly because not all that many UBs are using Twitter, period. We’re far from critical mass. I’ve come across less than 30 UBs with Twitter accounts, and many of them aren’t actively using Twitter. It’s not exactly a necessary communications accessory.

But, this was easy to implement and will involve little work on my part. And Twitter is mushrooming in popularity. So, there it is. Use it if you want.

Tony Morgan, the “Chief Strategic Officer” at a booming megachurch in South Carolina, is one of the premier bloggers in the evangelical world. He’s especially popular among the cutting-edge crowd. Really an interesting guy.

He just posted “25 Free Web Apps That Make Life Easier.” Increasingly, things are moving to the web. Instead of using a program you install on your computer, you go to a website and accomplish the same thing, whether it’s managing a calendar, writing Word documents, or managing your finances.

I was aware of, and use some of, the web apps that Tony mentions. But others were new to me. Depending on your level of geekiness, you may be interested in checking out his list.

What web apps would you add to the list? Mention them in the comments.

A domain name is a very cheap piece of cyber real estate. Your church can register a domain for $20 or less per year. This domain can then become the hub for all of your church’s internet communications–your website, your email, a blog, etc. If people know your domain name, they can find you.

However, every year, one or two United Brethren churches lose their domain name.

  • Maybe nobody in the church office understood what the renewal notices were about.
  • Maybe renewal notices were going to somebody who no longer attends, but who originally registered the account.
  • Maybe they just procrastinated too long.
  • Or maybe they just forgot.

Many companies eagerly pounce on lapsed domain names. They like snapping up something with established traffic flow. As a result, the church loses their domain name, which has a variety of ramifications:

  • The church website address no longer works.
  • Email addresses which used that domain no longer work.
  • Business cards, letterhead, and any other printed materials which mentioned those email addresses or the website URL must be reprinted.
  • The church must find a new domain name, which will probably be less satisfactory than the previous one.
  • People who type in the name of the previous domain name will be taken to something totally unrelated to the church–perhaps a porn site.

So, some suggestions:

  1. Make sure you know where the domain is registered.
  2. Try to get the domain directly under the church’s control, rather than in the account of a parishioner.
  3. Make sure your contact information with the registrar is current, so you receive notices when it’s about to expire.

VideoDaveKline_500.jpg

Technology has its frustrations, but also its amazing sides.

This morning, the Global Ministries staff held a meeting with David Kline in Macau. Four of them gathered around Darlene Burkett’s iMac, and using iChat’s video features, they discussed some financial issues. It was smooth, and free. Here in Huntington, it was 9:30 Thursday morning, but for David, it was 10:30 Thursday night.

David, seeing me enter the scene with my camera, apologized for not combing his hair.

Pictured (l-r): Mabel Mundy (accounting clerk), Darlene Burkett, Jeff Bleijerveld, Donna Hollopeter is out of the photo, on the left. (Sorry, Donna.)

Bishop Emeritus Wilber Sites, Jr., has improved greatly since Wednesday. He was suffering from congestive heart failure which is now being managed and is under control, and he is headed the right direction. The other complication was an upper respiratory infection (rather than the suspected double pneumonia). The family
greatly appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers at this time, as well as the graciousness of God in Wilber’s life.

Honduras Conference is meeting right now, and they’ll be electing a new superintendent–possibly today. Francisco Raudales has served in that role since 1996. 

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries, is attending the conference. He’ll be presenting a plaque of recognition and appreciation to Francisco. 

MaryAnn Hancock of New Hope Church (Camden, Mich.) sent the following:
For the past three years we have given the teachers at Camden-Frontier school (next door to the church) construction paper Christmas ornaments. The teachers write items that they need for their classroom. We hang them on a tree in the church and attendees pick one and purchase the items requested.

Gifts are presented to classrooms along with a candy cane for each child just before Christmas break. We enjoy thanking our teachers for the contribution they make to our community. An added blessing is the thank you notes received from the teachers and many times the children.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

And now, one final thought on momentum from Andy Stanley. I promise–no more.

Momentum is never triggered by tweaking something old. It is triggered by introducing something new. Human nature prefers the old to the new. So our default action, when we want to become more effective, is to tweak what we’re already doing. More training, different schedule, new materials, whatever. B-o-r-i-n-g.

Perhaps it would be better to think, “What is something we’re not doing, something not even on our radar, that we should try?”

I think of our new church in Grand Ledge, Mich., which held a Vacation Bible School this summer in a trailer park. Rather than ask people to come to the church for two hours of wonderful programs, they took everything right to their target audience.

Imagine the logistics–equipment, food, shelter in case of rain, etc. But they did it, and people were saved. Such a simple idea that makes imminent sense. And it had never before crossed my mind. 

As one of those computer companies says, Think Different. (And don’t get upset by the missing “ly.”)

Steve Dennie, Communications Director
Here is another thought on momentum from Andy Stanley, adding to the others I mentioned here.

If you have momentum and you don’t know why–you are one stupid decision away from killing it.

I love my church. But right now, I think my pastor and most of us would agree, Anchor lacks momentum. We’re nowhere close to being a dead, status quo, business-as-usual church, and lots of ministry still happens. But momentum? Not so much, right now.

When Anchor (my church) started over ten years ago, we definitely had momentum. But I’m not sure why. And I’m wondering if we did something to kill it. Did we make a “stupid decision” somewhere along the line? I can’t think of anything offhand, but I’m gonna keep pondering.

Can you point to a stupid decision your church made which, looking back, may account for your lack of momentum?