A call came today regarding non-profit licensing of Microsoft products. The Healthy Ministry Resources office took advantage of this several years ago, buying multiple copies of Microsoft Office for the Mac for about $30 apiece (a huge, huge savings). Learned about it through Chris Moore at Emmanuel Community Church.

But in checking for the Office 2008 version, I learned that Microsoft changed the requirements to, basically, eliminate churches. Their new policy reads:

Religious organizations with a secular community designation may participate in the Microsoft and I CAN software donation programs. A secular designation is defined as an organization separate from the church or religious organization that provides services to people regardless of their religious beliefs and does not propagate a belief in a specific faith. Example: A food bank with nonprofit or charity status that is run by a church, but is a separate and unique organization that provides food and meals to anyone who qualifies for services, regardless of religious beliefs.

The pastor who called today had been told, through CDW, that they do qualify, and he should submit an application (which, ultimately, would need to be approved by Microsoft). I’m skeptical he’ll get approved, but told him to go for it and keep me informed. (I also read on a discussion board somewhere about a church that got non-profit Microsoft licensing through Dell. Whether or not they represented themselves truthfully….)

What’s been your experience? Can you clarify anything here?

Devonshire Church in Harrisburg, Pa., is the latest United Brethren church to offer a podcast of the weekly sermon. That makes 17 churches doing podcasts. Plenty of great sermonizing there. A number of other UB churches are doing podcasts.

A podcast is simply a sermon you can download from a website and listen to on your computer or on a music player, like an iPod, Zune, They are typically an MP3 file.

At least two churches are doing video podcasts, which means you can watch the sermon: Emmanuel (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Mount Pleasant (Chambersburg, Pa.).

The new BishopBlog has several purposes:

  • A vehicle for me, as bishop, to cast vision.
  • An informational Grand Central Station (as already described).
  • A forum for interacting over UB-related issues.

We’ve needed a forum.

  • The United Brethren magazine was a forum…until we discontinued it in 1993.
  • Annual and midyear conferences were a forum…until we discontinued them in 2005.
  • The national conference isn’t a good forum. Not with several hundred delegates, and meetings only once every two years.

But good interaction can occur via the Internet. That’s what we want here.

  • I want your honest reactions to what I and others write.
  • I want to know what’s on your heart.
  • I want to know how you perceive things.
  • I want to learn from you.
  • I want us all to learn from each other.

The BishopBlog is your one-stop United Brethren browser bookmark. The UB Grand Central Station of information. Come here, and we’ll point you to what’s happening in the UB world.

The United Brethren church has a large web presence.

  • The UB.org site–the official website of the UB church in the United States.
  • UBMissions.com–the work of Global Ministries and our international conferences.
  • Huntington.edu–the Huntington University site.
  • The BishopBlog–which is where you’re at right now.
  • AtMyChurch.com–a UB service which provides websites for churches.
  • The UB News page–where we regularly post UB-related news.
  • The staff openings and church websites pages frequently contain new info.
  • The UB church and missionary directories are tied into our master database.
  • Blogs by UB people–a growing list.

So how do you keep track of what’s happening?

  • Bookmark all of these sites in your browser.
  • Check each one individually to see if something has changed?

No. Just come here. As a shortcut, Bishopblog.org will get you here, too.

I’m glad you made it to the new BishopBlog on the new HealthyMinistryResources.com
site. The BishopBlog will be the centerpiece of United Brethren communications.

We’ll talk about a wide range of issues here. This is also the place to learn what’s happening in other parts of the UB internet world. 

When I took office, I intended to create a “brand” for the national office in Huntington. It would do the following:

  • Provide an official name and logo for the office. In the past, we’ve always used generic names, like UB Headquarters, United Brethren Offices, or for the more sarcastic among us, “Mecca.”
  • Focus our purpose squarely on serving and resourcing our churches.
  • Emphasize that our only reason to exist is to help our churches thrive. Our churches don’t exist for the sake of the national office.
  • Change the perception of this building as a bureaucratic, top-down, hierarchical entity.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • We’re not changing (or de-emphasizing) the denomination’s name or logo. 
  • The Healthy Ministry Resources name and logo apply only to the national office. 
  • The UB.org is still the official website of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.

Healthy Ministry Resources is focused on serving local churches. It’s why we exist. I pray that our heart for churches, and for fulfilling the Great Commission, comes through strong and clear.

We lifetime churchgoers have our own lingo, with inside-the-Bible-Beltway terminology seldom used beyond the church walls. And some words, though they get used in the secular world, adopt a slightly different connotation when used in a church context. We all know that, but ingrained speech habits are hard to break.

Last Friday I attended a Communications workshop at Granger Community Church. Since they focus laser-like on unchurched people, they force themselves to use language which the world understands. Now, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to get too uptight about this stuff, but it is worthwhile to be sensitive to it. So, here are some terms they avoid at Granger, and how they replace them.

Churchy Word Replace With…
Fellowship Community
Intimacy Connection
Ministry Group
Target Guest or visitor
Go deeper Next step
Need Opportunity
Program Experience
Maturity Growth
Recruit Invite
Pulpit Platform
Sanctuary Auditorium
Foyer or vestibule Lobby

I was reminded of this a few months ago when I attended a funeral at a Lutheran church. They used terms like “chancel” that weren’t part of my church experience, and I felt like an outsider. Yes, I was an outsider. But a church shouldn’t remind someone of that. We need to help people feel comfortable, find ways to put them in their comfort zone. As Kem Meyer said in the workshop, a person’s comfort zone may be behind a cup of coffee or sitting in front of multimedia. But much of what we do in churches does not make an outsider feel comfortable. We don’t inflict this discomfort intentionally; we’re not thoughtless or cruel. We just keep stumbling into our familiar ruts, and kinda forget where other people are.

Thinking about the words we use is a nice start in helping visitors feel comfortable in our midst.