Church Tech Tips

Date Posted: 6/23/2017

The Center for Congregational Excellence has specialists offering free technology consultation to churches across the district.
 
Neil Connelly is a resourceful member of Atascosita UMC (AUMC) with a knack for technology who learned to live stream the worship services using only his smart phone. Neil’s technology world brightened recently when he heard about Toby Dagenhart, a member of the TAC Communications Advisory Committee with a passion to share his technology expertise with other congregations.
 
At AUMC’s Vibrant Church Initiative Communications workshop, Neil learned that Toby is the managing director of creative arts and production at Chapelwood UMC Houston, and serves as one of the church resource “specialists” that the Center for Congregational Excellence offers, at no charge.
 
To improve the audio and live streaming process, AUMC invited Toby to the campus recently to make recommendations. “Toby quickly identified areas for improvement. He was a fantastic resource -- very accessible, knowledgeable and thorough,” Neil says.
 
Toby, Jon Montes and other members of the Chapelwood technology team consider it part of their job to use their talents not only at their home church – but beyond. “I love helping others leverage technology on behalf of the kingdom,” Toby shares. “We are blessed to have equipment, employees and experience and we want to share those blessings with others, as time allows.”
 
Specialists “To Go”
Rev. Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of the TAC Center for Congregational Excellence is thrilled to have a team of technology specialists to offer churches of all sizes. “Subject experts are among our best resources for congregations,” he explains, “and we also have experts in stewardship, communications, leadership, finance and worship planning. We are happy to assist churches go from good to great in any way we can.”
 
In addition to consulting churches on live streaming techniques and options, Toby’s tech team can also assess and make recommendations on projectors, video screens, sound systems, and other technology related to audiovisual and IT needs. “We truly enjoy working alongside other churches to find new ways to build the kingdom,” he adds. “It is always a collaborative partnership where we learn from others while we share our knowledge.”
 
AUMC’s Rev. Deborah Proctor says, “We are still in the implementation phase but it’s already clear that Toby and Jon are exceedingly helpful in bringing impartial advice. They met with our volunteer team and helped take the conversation to a new level.” Adds Deborah, “We appreciate these specialists helping expand the audio to include our congregational singing. Our worship team is putting their advice into action to consistently guarantee a quality broadcast.”
 
Toby’s Tip: Churches Qualify for Google Ad Grants
Church leaders may be excited to learn that Google offers tools to help nonprofits be more efficient, more collaborative and to share their story with a wider audience. Toby has experienced the benefits of Google Ad Grants and he is pleased to share this resource with churches seeking in-kind advertising through Google Search.
 
Q- How do you get started?
A- Step one is to register with Tech Soup, Google’s authentication partner, and once they verify the 501c3 status, churches can bid on key words with their grant money and then create text ads. These words act as search engine magnets and can be targeted to geographical areas or broader terms that might draw an international audience.

A- “For Chapelwood UMC, we’ve used our Google Ad Words campaign to promote Easter and Vacation Bible School activities to our local community, and we’ve used this free resource to promote live worship to a much more global audience,” Toby reports. “This is a measurable tool to expand your outreach efforts. We have received many clicks on all of our ads, and we have more and more people telling us that they found us through Google.”
 
Q- What about the payment information section on the application?
A- Toby explains, “When registering for the grant program, it is important to ignore the payment information section on the application. Skip over it and you will be able to access your ad word credits later in the process.”
 
Q- How do you select the best “ad words”?
A- There are tutorials that take a little time but are worth. Google Grants allow nonprofits to bid up to $2 max for keywords.
 
Q- What is Google Grant Ad Words Express?
A- For nonprofits without volunteers or staff to handle this, Ad Words Express is a simpler, quicker resource to leverage keywords. There is a trade off with expediency and effectiveness, but it is still a good tool to boost Internet exposure.
 
Q- Are there any requirements?
A- Google requires grantees to log in at least every 30 days and modify something. It’s best to set a reminder on the calendar for this. Churches spend a lot of money optimizing their website, but this is a no-cost and low-maintenance option to grow web traffic.”
 
To pursue technology help or Google Grant advice from this talented volunteer team, email Toby Dagenhart at tdagenhart@chapelwood.org or call the church at 713-354-4464. The Tech Team will consult with other churches, at no charge, as time allows.