Dec 302011
 

Pulling some data from Google Analytics and here’s what bubbled up as most popular from 2011, from all time, and featured posts I believe to be valuable and important.

Popular posts this year

  1. Least Churched Cities in America
  2. Top Church Pages on Facebook
  3. 30 emerging leaders listed in Outreach Magazine
  4. top 15 most popular varieties of apples
  5. 5 types of personal branding websites for web presence
  6. Table a free social network for just your church
  7. Perception of Asian Americans as a brand
  8. churches dying with dignity and recycling
  9. talking is the new texting
  10. Great Bible teachers you’ve never heard of

Popular posts from past years (“long-tail effect“)

  1. churches closing and pastors leaving (2010)
  2. How to stream and record video chat interview (2009)
  3. Emotional maturity and stages of development (2009)
  4. what is emotional maturity? (2008)
  5. video chat between Mac and PC (2006)
  6. how to develop emotional maturity (2008)
  7. emotional immaturity vs. emotional maturity (2008)
  8. evening worship around Washington DC (2006)
  9. Why I like Keller more than Piper (2006)
  10. perceptive differences between Asian and European Americans (2005)

Featured Posts from 2011

 

Dec 272011
 

We had a most memorable Christmas this year as a family, having family time together _and_ family time with the Family of God, as we took an OC Christmas tour all over Orange County to attend Christmas week worship services at a total of 10 churches. (Couldn’t quite make it to 11, as originally proposed; kept the family a priority and not the events.) I’m happy that my family (wife and 14-year-old son) could enjoy these times with me – I know that many people don’t enjoy so many church worship services as I do (if any at all). Here’s my video about the OC Christmas Tour, with on-site debriefs compiled together into one:

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers at each of the 10 churches for celebrating Jesus’ birth and making our Christmas all the merrier:

  1. Harvest OC, Irvine
  2. Eastside Christian Church, Fullerton
  3. Friends Church, Yorba Linda
  4. NewSong Church, Irvine
  5. ROCKHARBOR, Costa Mesa
  6. Saddleback Church, Lake Forest
  7. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach
  8. Mariners Church, Irvine
  9. Kingsfield Church, Aliso Viejo
  10. Coast Hills Church, Aliso Viejo

   
While I won’t name any one particular church service as a favorite or as the best, I will list these highlights and comments:

  • Biggest Surprise: big-band-style concert band at Friends Church
  • Most creative production: shadow-puppets retelling the Big Story at ROCKHARBOR (Journey of Joy video) [probably over 1,000 pieces cut-out & painted and every performance live!]
  • Best Christmas gift: family portrait photo-shoot at Eastside Christian Church
  • No more room in the inn (full-capacity crowds): Harvest OC, ROCKHARBOR, Saddleback Church, Mariners Church
  • The more popular Christmas songs: Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, Joy to the World, O Holy Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • Don’t recall hearing: Away in a Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bell Rock
  • Most consistently-presented theme: Eastside Christian Church [paper-mache Christmas trees and paper snowball as physical prop for responding to sermon to "let go"]
  • Most comfortable seating: Friends Church, Coast Hills Church
  • Screen with the widest aspect-ratio: Kingsfield Church
  • What we didn’t see: a Gospel Choir, Handel’s Messiah, Christmas musical cantata, live Nativity with live animals, drama/skit
  • Quietest worship time: late-night 11pm worship in the chapel at Mariners Church (very cool to hear the chapel bells ring at midnight of Christmas)
  • Best-dressed choir: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (actually, the only choir we saw, and they sounded great!)
  • Children singing: Eastside Christian Church, NewSong Church


And the memories that stay with me about the OC Christmas Tour 2011 and a few learnings about churches: Christmas has inspired people all walks of life, not just churches and those who follow Jesus, most obviously through the arts and movies. We love a wide variety of expressions of worship in different churches. Churches really do produce their best worship services for Christmas, and that takes a ton of planning, preparation, and volunteers. It takes a lot of planning of logistics to get from one church to the next — gotta tip your hat to itinerant speakers/preachers who travel a lot. I can sympathize with those who go to church for the first time (or rarely), and how being in a strange place not knowing where to go or what to do is quite daunting.

And, for us, you can never get too much of Christmas!

Dec 202011
 

We love Christmas yes we do, we love Christmas how ’bout you? Worshiping Jesus is what Christmas is all about, and in Orange County there are many worship times serve many people. And it’s even possible to worship at 11 different churches for a more fuller and wider experience of worshiping together with a wonderful variety of styles and presentations! It does take considerable planning to pull this off, though.

  

To make this Christmas Tour 2011 possible, I went researching and found 19 OC churches that had special Christmas worship services, starting as early as Wednesday 12/21 all the way through Sunday 12/25. Here’s the schedule charted out via Google Docs’ spreadsheet:

It’s not easy to fit in 11 worship services due to geography and scheduling overlaps. One itinerary to map out the tour:

  1. Wed 7pm @ Saddleback Church, Lake Forest
  2. Thurs 7pm @ Harvest OC, Irvine * Phil Wickham concert
  3. Fri 3pm @ Eastside Christian Church, Fullerton [+ quick dinner]
  4. Fri 7pm @ Seacoast Grace Church, Cypress
  5. Sat 12pm @ ROCKHARBOR, Costa Mesa
  6. Sat 1:30pm @ The Crossing, Costa Mesa [+ early dinner]
  7. Sat 5pm @ Mariners Church, Irvine
  8. Sat 7pm @ St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach
  9. Sat 10:30pm @ Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove
  10. Sun 9am @ Compass Bible Church, Aliso Viejo
  11. Sun 11am @ Coast Hills Church, Aliso Viejo

How would you arrange an itinerary to visit 11 churches for Christmas in the OC?

I confess that I personally won’t be able to get to 11 churches during this Christmas week. I do prioritize family time and that’d include time to be with extended family. What I can do is report my tour stop in real-time via my twitter @djchuang . And note that the above list is an attempt to design a schedule to fit in 11 worship services, and it won’t be the itinerary of my whereabouts. Realistically, I think I can get to 6 or 7 this year – that’d be a great Christmas!

[photo credit: sister72, *clarity*, jeffweese, jdbradley]

Dec 192011
 

What is the number of church websites in the United States? Yes it’s quite a herculean effort to count the exact number and I’m not sure there’s research money to pull off such a census. Plus the wide range of differing theological definitions for what is a church exacerbates any attempts to quantify them.

First, the big number, that is, how many churches in America. Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. Of those, about 300,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 22,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. And: According to the book Beyond Megachurch Myths, there were 320,000 Christian U.S. churches in 2007.

 Two surveys have an answer for how many churches have websites: 69% and 78%. Doing the math on the conservative side (because just having a website doesn’t mean the information is current), 69% of 300,000 is 207,000.

Here’s the numbers behind the numbers –

The FACT 2010 Report: A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000 – 2010 cited “… By 2010 over 90% of congregations used email; seven in ten had websites, and four in ten had Facebook pages…” // … the FACT 2010 national aggregated data set includes responses from 11,077 congregations, and over 120 denominations. … Sampling error for a survey such as FACT2010 can only be roughly estimated. We believe a conservative estimate is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level. … with responses from 14,301 congregations it remains the largest national survey of congregations ever conducted in the U.S.

LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media cited “… survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78 percent have a website …” // Their methodology: LifeWay Research conducted a phone survey among a stratified, random sample of Protestant churches Sept. 8-20, 2010, interviewing 1,003 staff members most responsible for making decisions about the technology used in their church. Responses were weighted to reflect the natural size distribution of churches. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed ±3.2 percent.

Dec 162011
 

Mission statements are supposed to be really important, along with vision and values, for an organization to have purpose and alignment and the like.

Look at this list actual mission statements below. I confess the meaning of a mission statement is lost on me. I can’t tell what it is that the company or organization is actually doing. So if you’re starting an organization, does this mean you can pick any one of them? They all have good purposes and apparently they’re working.

Maybe a mission statement like this could work just as well: “to make money so the world can be a better place” or “to make a difference in the world by providing good jobs and making great products” or “to give people a great experience“. Yes?

Look for yourself ::

“… to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with (us).

“Be America’s Best Quick-Service Restaurant

And, these mission statements, all from Fortune 500 companies:

To help all people live healthy lives.

To nourish and delight everyone we serve.

Bringing the best to everyone we touch

Our purpose is to enrich the lives of people we touch.

… to earn money for its shareholders and increase the value of their investment.

Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment

… to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders

Undisputed Marketplace Leadership

To supply outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence.

to provide products and services to the market which meet or exceed the reasonable expectations of our customers.

Our mission is positive outcomes.

We are a market-focused, process-centered organization that develops and delivers innovative solutions to our customers, consistently outperforms our peers, produces predictable earnings for our shareholders, and provides a dynamic and challenging environment for our employees.

Serving Others For Customers A Better Life For Shareholders A Superior Return For Employees Respect and Opportunity

Our goal is to be the leader in every market we serve, to the benefit of our customers and our shareholders.

We are committed to attracting, developing, and keeping a diverse work force that reflects the nature of our global business.

We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.

We will continue to build a corporate culture that respects and values the unique strengths and cultural differences of our associates, customers and community.

Our mission is to design, manufacture, and deliver products and services that meet the unique needs and expectations of each customer.

Dec 062011
 

Getting a custom welcome landing page (aka welcome tab) to invite someone to Like a Facebook Page has become a popular tactic for businesses and organizations to build its audience. While there is Facebook Developer documentation online that has a Page Tab tutorial, I don’t find it plain and simple to use. Here are template-driven web apps for generating a custom welcome page (and asterisked ones have additional apps that integrate into Facebook page tabs):

Of course, growing audience engagement takes more than a welcome page, but sometimes non-techie decision-makers aren’t aware of the total cost of effort to keep fresh content flowing consistently. (cf. When A Welcome Tab Isn’t Enough: Use Custom Facebook Tabs To Give Fans More)

[* Unfortunately, much of this info is obsolete, since Facebook changed the rules of the game, and Facebook pages use that timeline format since February 2012]

Dec 032011
 

There are so many reasons people want to attend Verge Conference 2012. And this week is the open poll for you to vote who gets to go for free (1 gets a free trip to Austin and 5 gets a free registration) — here’s the excerpts of the reasons why these candidates want to attend and your vote will determine who gets to go!

  • Matt Cote mattcote.net “As a future church planter I would love to be a part of this conference. Francis Chan, David Platt, and Alan Hirsch will be there! Connect with others who will be attending. Learn and be challenged.”
  • Michael Rich in-formatio.com “… Verge 2012 will be an opportunity to hear first hand from some of the leaders of this movement, to network with folks who are at the forefront of the movement, and to prepare myself for working in my own community and the world in a missional way.”
  • April Salvant salvant7.blogspot.com “… I would love to see a movement of missional communities spread throughout Haiti. Why? Because they (MCs) have literally changed my life on numerous occasions MORE than any church service EVER did.”
  • Allen Smith allenandsandi.com “… I’d love to go with a band of like minded brothers who are striving to connect the gospel with mission and community.”
  • Tim Hoeksema timhoeksema.com “I desire to connect with other like minded folks. Verge 2012 is such a gathering of people. People united around the Gospel. Learning to live it in community and on mission in this broken world.”
  • Frank Friedl theoppositepc.blogspot.com “… to fellowship with others who are like-minded to seek and save the lost, make disciples who make disciples, and practice the pure and faultless religion of taking care of orphans, widows and our communities in need. I’ve already been piling on to my reading list thanks to Verge: For the City by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter and Building a Discipling Culture and Covenant and Kingdom by Mike Breen. Now I want to learn practicals- hands on and first hand from those doing it.”
  • Blake Thompson blakethompson.net “I want to be able to know more, to experience more, and to be able to cast the vision of what it means to live on mission in all areas of our lives. … I need help in figuring out how to practically lead our current community group ministries into understanding the heart of Missional Communities. “
  • Miguel Labrador pathwaysinternational.org “Having Served in the Cloud Forest Communities of Ecuador as a missionary for nearly six years now, I’ve only attended one conference and produced one. Both were edifying experiences and seemed to take place in that perfect time between the need to be encouraged and the desire to equip others. … we work in remote areas as Missionaries to the Marginalized, but often, this produces a debt of the “Wisdom of Many Counselors.” “
  • Hal Khalaf missionalmotorhome.com “”
  • Dawn Carter chroniclesofdawnia.com “I am a mom who needs help. … I crave hearing more. I want to learn from folks who live this out, who share the good news of Christ’s love in tangible ways. I need to see how others wrestle with living out love each day to people who are different. I suck at it, but I’m learning.”
  • Aaron Clayton aaronandcharity.wordpress.com ” in learning what it means to live this way and rubbing shoulders with those who have been living this out, this is a good place to be.”
  • Josh Collins nycdisciples.wordpress.com “I have attended a few lectures and conferences and benefited from the leadership in the missional community, my wife however has not been able to attend these with me. This year we would like to attend as a couple. We really feel that our community, our church, and our neighboring communities will benefit from our attendance.”
  • Nicole Quiring nicsdays.blogspot.com “… to choose a conference each semester to attend in addition to his seminary classes. He has picked one out for the Spring. It’s called VERGE. It’s one that hits where our hearts have been the last 5 or 6 years. It resonates with the journey God has us on right now. It has a line up of some phenomenal speakers. It’s in a great state. We could talk ministry, future and dream with each other for several days without the normal responsibilities of life.”
  • Jeremy Davidson jeremydavidson.org “I want to go to Verge Conference 2012 to discover how Harrah Church can begin embedding ourselves deeper into the fabric of our community. How can we weave our small group strategies around serving the neighborhoods where our groups meet? What kind of ministry can we do within the daycare centers in our community? What can we do to help the schools improve student achievement test scores and graduation rates? What established groups within our city can we pull up to and begin working beside? What kind of ministry is taking place in retirement and nursing home communities? How do you support foster families who are taking in the kids displaced by addiction? How do we increase awareness and bring solutions and education to our community about the social problems that are affecting families? How can we connect the faith communities in our town with the needs of our neighbors? I want to go to VERGE to find answers, to meet practitioners, to discover solutions to our community’s issues, to discover answers to questions that I don’t even know to ask yet.”
  • Benjamin Titsworth iamnotbutyouare.wordpress.com “to partake in the great teaching and fellowship. But that’s not all this conference is about… This conference is about the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST and making that GOSPEL known.”
  • Allen Kleine Deters allenkleinedeters.wordpress.com “… now that I’m the senior pastor in a long established 107 year old little country church, I am even more aware of the DNA of entrenchment. But these folks are different in that they want to be more missional. … We recognize that we live in one of the poorest communities in the country with the two poorest counties just south of us.”
  • Sean Peters creatinggrace.blogspot.com “The honest truth is that trying to plant a church that goes against the grain of traditional church planting models is difficult to say the least. There is very little support and encouragement, and there is a great deal of pull to simply jump on the status quo boat and simply do things that way they’ve always been done. I need to be reenergized, reinspired and reminded that the picture of the church that God has laid upon my heart is right and true. I think that having the opportunity to attend this conference would do the trick. “
  • Steve Allen thejourneyofachurchplanter.blogspot.com “Having spent the last four years teaching church planters here in Zambia, we find ourselves embarking on a new journey as scary and exciting as the one that led us to Africa four years ago… as a missionary coming back in December 2011 to church plant, I need this weekend in Austin, Texas to continue networking and learning. “