Over the past year, I have done a little website design in my spare time.  I created a new website FEDesign.net to handle my webdesign and consulting, and I wanted to share a few of my recent projects with my readers. I do some WordPress design work and for the rest of the sites I use a custom content management system that is incredibly easy for clients to update on their own. My speciality is smaller businesses and churches that don’t have a huge budget.

Since my primary passion is preaching and teaching, I have limited time to work on websites. But it’s something that I really enjoy and I like to stay current on web technology. I’m working on several sites now, so let me know if you are interested in working together. For more information, check out this page about the different services I offer. The images below are some of my recent projects.

 

We have more accessibility to the Bible now than we’ve ever had. You can read the Bible on your iPod, iPad, laptop, phone, xbox, and almost every other electronic device.  And now, we are getting to the place where we can not only read the Bible anywhere, but we can also listen to the Bible anywhere. I wanted to highlight two different mobile apps you can use to listen to the Bible.

YouVersion recently added audio Bible to their android app. They have audio for several different translations and plan on adding more. It’s still officially in Beta, but it works great.  You can read the details on the YouVersion Blog. I expect that you will see this feature rollout to other platforms in the near future. I know I have blogged about YouVersion a lot lately, but they keep innovating and adding features, and it is one of the most used apps on my phone.

 

I also found another option on the web and for android and iPhone/iPod/iPad. Bible.is is a great tool to listen to the Bible on the go. The Bible text scrolls as it is being read, so that you can both listen and read at the same time.

I plan on using this when working out, while driving on long road trips, and while doing work around the house. Learning and listening and meditating on Scripture helps me to stand strong against temptation, and it helps me to worship in any and every situation.
 



How will you listen to the Bible? Is this something that you will actually use?

If you are interested in creating a safe online community for your church, then check out the Table Project. It officially launched today and it looks like a great solution. The best part – it’s free!

In the past, I have always thought it is better for the church to be involved online where people already are signed in. Why do we really need another online service to keep track of. But this has promise because of the way it integrates with existing services and with existing church management software solutions. They even address on their blog why this isn’t just a Christian version of Facebook.

Watch the two videos below to get an idea of how it works, and then sign up and give it a try. If you are a Cornerstone attender, we’ll add you to our test group to try it out. Our Cornerstone Table is at http://mycornerstone.tableproject.org

The Table Project – Introduction from The Table Project on Vimeo.

The Table – Main Tour from The Table Project on Vimeo.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the different worship presentation software solutions out there. Proclaim Online is getting ready to launch and it definitely looks interesting. To add to the excitement of the release of Proclaim, they are giving away $25,000 in worship resources at their site http://proclaimonline.com. They have some good prize giveaways, and the promotional video is worth your time to watch.

This is more of a cloud based solution, where pastors, musicians, and graphic artists can collaborate and add content for services.  I’m not sure yet if it would be a good fit for our church, but I’ll be checking it out once it releases. It seems like the big three programs right now are ProPresenter, Easyworship, and Mediashout, so it will be interesting to see where Proclaim will fit in.

Making Prom Affordable

February 17, 2011 — 1 Comment

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At Cornerstone, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to minister to the community . My wife was talking with some of our youth about prom and they talked about doing a prom dress outreach.  One of our ministry friends has a similar outreach in the Johnson City/Kingsport area called Head 2 Toe, and we thought about how we could make something similar work here in our city.

They ended up with the idea to take donated prom dresses and accessories and plan a big weekend extravaganza, selling dresses for only $20 and giving out multiple door prizes.  The idea grew and more people became excited about how we could meet a need in our community. With the high unemployment levels and the high poverty levels in our community, a reality is that many girls simply cannot afford to go to prom. We want them to realize that they are special and loved in God’s eyes, and we want to show them that we care. Along with the door prizes, we will be giving each girl a special packet of material to let them know that Jesus cares for them as well.

When we announced it at church, the idea really took off. An article first showed up in the Carroll County News. Then it was picked up by WXII-12 news in Greensboro/Winston. Then it was picked up and shared by the national Christian radio station K-Love (listen to the segment here), and it hasn’t stopped yet.  Our local paper is doing a feature story in Friday’s edition, and we are receiving a lot of phone calls from people wanting to help. This event has really seemed to connect with our community and with our church.

So the excitement is building and we can’t wait to open up our church as prom dress central on March 11th and 12th. Here is what we need at this point. We need gently used dresses and shoes and accessories. We have had a good response so far, but with all the publicity we really don’t know what to expect. Most girls will only wear a prom dress once. After that, the dresses just end up in a closet. Let’s put them to good use and help those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.

Going Back to Nicaragua

February 15, 2011 — 1 Comment

When you trust God, plans can change very quickly. I got a call from Don Gillette at Because We Care Ministries a couple of weeks ago asking if I wanted to go back to Nicaragua and help teach pastors for a week in March.  I hadn’t planned on going this year, but it didn’t take long after praying to realize that this was definitely something that God was leading me to do. So the next day, I emailed him back and told him I was in, even before I knew what I would be doing. Now, if you know me, you know this goes against my personality. I like having all the details and information and being fully prepared before committing. But when I went on a mission trip there in November of ’09, I left a piece of my heart there. So, this time, it was an easy decision.

I found out yesterday what I will be doing. I will be teaching a group of 12 to 15 local pastors theology for a week. I’m going to be focusing on who God is. His nature, His character, His attributes, and His love. I’ll be teaching each morning and joining a mission team for some ministry as well. Don told me to be prepared to preach as well, so I’m looking forward to preaching with a translator again. I’m excited to see some familiar faces and reconnect with the people of Nicaragua. Most of the time will be spent in the village of Somotillo, which is on the northern part of Nicaragua close to the Honduras border.

I’m already planning and preparing to teach, so leave me a comment if you know of a good book that describes God’s character and nature. This is a great chance to make a lasting impact. When you go on a mission trip for a week, you can see life change, but when local pastors are trained, you can be part of the transformation of entire communities. I’m excited to teach on the Love, Holiness and Righteousness of the awesome God we serve!

Facebook is constantly evolving. Love it or hate it, you have to admit that they are not afraid to add features and change functionality of the site. For users, it means that every 6 months there seems to be an outcry about why Facebook has changed. For people who administrate Facebook pages, it means that you have to constantly redo your static FBML welcome pages and layouts of your tabs. And Facebook is not famous for giving you a warning before changes are made, so you have to read and study what has changed each time. Facebook rolled out some big changes to how pages work yesterday, so I wanted to give you a heads up on few things.

Facebook Pages

Pages are a great way for companies and organizations to interact with their customers and members. With the new update, the biggest new feature I see is that now page administrators can comment and interact as themselves instead of as the page administrator. Before, if I commented on our church’s page, it always showed up as our church instead of as me personally. There are times for both, and it’s great to see that Facebook is finally giving you the option to choose how to post to your Facebook Page wall.  Photos are also more prominently displayed at the top of your page, so you will need to be watching to make sure that the photos that are posted are appropriate for your page. Although it’s not new, you can also integrate facebook places with your facebook page, so that people can view a map of your organization and even check-in. You can find a pretty good discussion of the new changes over at allfacebook.com.

The biggest downside to the new design is that your Facebook tabs aren’t as noticeable and as of right now, you can’t set one as your default landing page. Since many organizations have built their Facebook pages around custom pages, this won’t be well received by many users. Overall, I like most of the changes. The new pages look more similar to user profile pages.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups were updated several months ago, but I have seen very little written about them. Facebook has been on a search to find a solution to connect smaller groups of people. They tried friend lists, which I really liked, but they decided it wasn’t interactive enough. The old style Facebook groups added some interaction, but they still weren’t satisfied, so they updated it yet again.  With the newest version of groups, I think we now have a great solution for small groups and youth groups at churches.

Here’s what the new groups offer:

  • more control over who can join a group, including open and closed groups, and administrator approval of new group members
  • more control over how you are notified. You can now receive an email notification every time someone posts to the group page
  • the ability to share basic documents
  • a group email address that can be used to post to the group wall
  • group chat! Everyone in the group can participate in a group chat. Think of using this for online study groups or small groups. I’ve even thought of using it to setup an online weekly prayer meeting for all our college and high school students.

You can read more about groups at allfacebook.com, or by watching the video from Facebook below.

How are you going to use the new Facebook Pages and Groups?

Super Bowl Thoughts

February 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl at church yesterday with great people and great food. It helped that the game was close and competitive until the end. You could tell how the game was going by all the cheering and yelling during every big play. I didn’t really have a preference as to who won the game, so I was glad it was close. Here’s a couple of thoughts I had about watching the game.

  • I’ve seen a lot of comments on facebook and twitter today about Christina Aguilera messing up the words to the National Anthem. I was more surprised that she could actually sing. While it is disappointing that she forgot the words, I wouldn’t criticize her unless you have been in the position of singing to over 100 million people. She was gracious in saying she messed up, so let’s extend grace, not condemnation.
  • Jon Acuff had a great post about what to do during racy commercials during the Super Bowl. While it is frustrating that all commercials are not created to be family friendly, that is unfortunately the world we live in. People are going to watch this game whether at church or at home, so I want to provide an environment where we can talk about what we see while in Biblical community. I had a great time talking about life and football with many people that I didn’t really know that well. I firmly believe that the church is called to change culture, not condemn it. I’ve said it many times before, but we should be known for what we are for instead of what we are against.
  • I actually enjoyed the halftime show, but from comments on facebook and twitter, the feedback was really divided. It seems like the cutoff age was somewhere around 35 to 40 years old.  Those older thought it was the worst halftime show ever, while those younger thought it was great. Personally, I was just glad they had someone do the show that teenagers and college students actually knew. Usher and Slash were a fun surprise as well, and at least this time there were no wardrobe malfunctions.  For the last several years artists like  Tom Petty, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney all did the halftime show and I watched teenagers completely tune out. The artists were old enough to be my grandparents. As much as I liked their music in the 80’s, I don’t want an image of a 70 year old ex-rocker in leather pants burned into my memory.  As churches, this should really make you think. Are you holding on to the music of your childhood, or are you open to the music of the younger generation? If we are honest with ourselves, most contemporary praise and worship music is late 80’s/early 90’s slow rock. Most of my youth have never even heard of U2, so why is all of our youth praise music created to sound like them. If it makes you feel old, it should. Let’s build some generational bridges using music.

What are your thoughts about the game? Any favorite commercials? Leave a comment and let me know.

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