In this third and final post on Technology and the Gospel, we’ll overview useful web-based technology that churches, particularly church plants, can utilize for effective ministry. It could be titled “Technology and Church Planting.” The gospel itself is the power of God to salvation, so these tools do not enhance the gospel. Rather, they are effective ways for a church plant to organize, equip, and spread word about God’s gospel work in and through the body of Christ. If you’d like, see Part I here and Part II here.

Church Web Site & Blog
Web site – www.graceofalexandria.org
A carefully-planned, quality-designed, and regularly-updated web site is indispensable for starting a church. You get what you pay for. If you don’t keep the content on your site fresh, you lose credibility with visitors. Not sure where to turn for help? The Worthwhile Company has done a great job creating and suppporting our web presence.

gcawebsite

Google Calendar – calendar.graceofalexandria.org
Our church needed a simple, easy-to-use online calendar for our congregation to know what’s coming up at Grace Church of Alexandria. We’ve found Google calendar to be problem-free and easy to integrate into our web site.

Leadership Team’s Blog – www.graceofalexandria.org/blog
We’ve structured this church blog as part of our church’s web site. That way when web visitors find this blog, they’re already on our church’s web site, may navigate to other pages on the site, and then consider visiting our church. We post news of coming events as well as include audio and lyrics to new songs the congregation is learning. In addition, often we share pictures such as these from our Hot Tub Baptism to show friends and donors to our ministry how God is using their prayers and support.

Google Analytics – www.google.com/analytics
A free tool to gauge your web site’s effectiveness in reaching the residents of your community.

Social Media
Twitter – www.twitter.com/gracealexandria
People have discovered and attended our church via Twitter. It’s an easy way to get word out about your church, speak brief encouraging messages to your congregation, and inform attenders about coming events.

Facebook Fan Page – See GCA’s here.
A free page to spread word about your church in your community and to update your congregation on coming events and opportunities to serve.

Collaborative Tools
Google Docs – docs.google.com
This suite of online tools like spreadsheets and word processor allows teams within your church to work together effectively without needing to be in the same place. Best of all, it’s free, unless you want the ad-free version.

Action Method –www.actionmethod.com
If a team within the church needs to co-operate on task management, this is the tool to use. Action Method is a web-based task management tool with the added benefit of an iPhone app.

Email Communication
phplist – www.phplist.com
This tool makes it easy to send out email newsletters and updates to our regular attenders, members, and supporters of our church plant. We have one newsletter for attenders of GCA and one for prayer partners and supporters of our church planting effort in the Washington D.C. metro area. We keep the emails simple and clean, with lots of pictures to draw interest and visually show God’s grace at work in our church family.

Worship Planning Tools
Planning Center Online – www.planningcenteronline.com. Tools like this enable pastors and others who plan worship to do so easily, keeping an archive of past orders of worship and tracking who is available to pray, read, and play instruments in corporate worship.

Sermon Podcasting
Sunday sermons are posted here as a blog post with a player embedded in each post. They’re also accessible via iTunes, an RSS feed, and our church’s main web site. You may think we’re going overboard with so many venues to access our sermon podcast. We’ve found that the average guest to Grace Church of Alexandria has already listened to at least one, if not several, sermons on our podcast. That’s how they know we’re committed to expository preaching that takes the Bible seriously. Numerous members of our church have told me they were eager to visit GCA after listening to our sermons online, because they knew how we handle and preach the Word of God.

I’d like to thank our church’s “deacon of technology,” Shayne McAllister and Peter Beninate, for the contributions they’ve made in managing and enabling the tools our church relies upon. What are other web-based tools you’ve found useful for church ministry and church planting? Share them in the comments area below.