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LifeWay.com offers technology help to churches large & small

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Pastor Chuck Horner doesn’t need a secretary. He’s already got one — in his pocket. Toting a personal digital assistant (PDA), the tech-savvy minister has even wired his church for high-speed communications, making wireless connection possible anywhere in the building.

Calvary Baptist Church in Hayward, Calif., where Horner has served as pastor 10 years, isn’t a large church. Only 30 or so people attend Sunday morning worship services. But whether a church is small or large makes no difference when it comes to technology, Horner believes. That’s a point he’s shared as a contributor for a new technology “channel” offered by lifeway.com, the website of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. A channel is a website focused toward a specific area of content and resources.

The new channel/website is dedicated to helping ministry leaders better use technology for ministry purposes and offers a practical collection of articles and resources that apply to ministries of any size, budget or technical expertise.

“Most pastors either get paranoid [about technology] or they have a controlled appetite for it, but in the end it becomes a toy instead of a tool for improving their ministry,” Horner said. At Calvary Baptist, however, Horner makes use of PowerPoint, video or streaming video downloaded from the Internet.

The goal for LifeWay’s new web area is to bring useful and practical information that benefits churches of all sizes and locations, said Gary McClure, marketing manager for the e-business group at LifeWay.

Key sections of the technology channel include information on Internet safety, websites, e-mail, hardware and software, worship and technical issues. A wide selection of topics is covered within each section. Representative articles include everything from “10 Steps Toward Online Safety” and “Starting an Email Newsletter” to “Can I Use Downloaded Music?”

“We are addressing the key topics and issues that are most requested of our LifeWay technology group, as well as other technology-related content important to ministry leaders,” McClure said.

The channel also offers a unique combination of content from both industry experts as well as practitioners. The practitioners are ministry leaders who have hands-on experience using technology for worship and wish to share lessons learned.

“We’ve found through working with thousands of churches that people appreciate learning from their peers,” McClure said. “They want to gain insights from those who have gone before them. Sure, advice from the experts is essential, but learning from fellow leaders is also valuable.”

A directory of products and services for technology-based solutions such as filtered Internet services, projection equipment, lighting gear and more also is available.

“The goal is to bring a wide selection of resources together in one place to save people time searching for answers and get started more quickly,” McClure said.

Horner views LifeWay’s new technology channel as a much-needed resource for churches and ministry staff today. He himself is a card-carrying member of PUG, short for “Palm User Group” and president of a local chapter that meets at the church monthly.

Technology makes ministry more efficient, Horner believes, not just for worship, but also for personal organization related to the job.

“When I enter a record on my [PDA], I can put particulars to help me remember why that person is in my records,” he explained. “If someone is going through cancer, I can type that in and instantly get a list of other people who are experiencing the same thing and refer that person to someone who knows what they’re going through.”

Horner went through the Franklin Covey training and “lived in denial” for several years, lying to himself every week about sitting down and entering information into the computer.

“When I use my [PDA], it’s real time, and I don’t have to worry about entering it when I get back to the office,” he said. “And I only have to put something in once and it’s there ’til Jesus comes.”
The technology channel on LifeWay.com can be viewed at www.lifeway.com/technology.

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  • Sara Horn