We recently left the church we had been attending for a number of years as we moved out of the area and felt it was right to find a new church rather than to make the trek back. Since then we have been looking at a number of options for a new church. We have been led to join the local baptist church, which is similar in style and substance as the church we were attending but with a much larger youth and children’s work, which suits our growing family.

In order for us to join we need to accept the rules of membership and enter a process of interviews and presentation in front of the church meeting. This is all pretty daunting, and not something we are used to, but we guess is normal in medium to large churches which need to be well-managed. The rules are long and overly detailed but it was a relief to read that, ‘membership ceases upon death’, because the thought of having to continue to attend church meetings while deceased was worrying us.

We are regular long-time Christians who are used to the ways of the church and still find this process of acceptance hard. Have you ever found the organisation or setup of your church a barrier to new people? For instance a Salvation Army church that I visited one summer on a project had a captain and a handful of members but most regular attenders did not enter into membership because it would have meant accepting the rules of that particular denomination which would have meant being tee-total. The setup was a barrier to some people, though it did not appear to matter in this case, as the church was one of the most community active churches I have ever seen.

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When I listen and search for podcasts I am often confused by churches taking a recorded sermon and posting it as a podcast. Just to clarify there is only one standard, one qualifier that makes a podcast a podcast and that’s RSS. RSS(2.0) is the technology that turns a one time download into a subscription. That subscription in text format is called a blog. In file format (audio or video) it’s called a podcast. But this is still not what I’m talking about. My definition of ‘podcast’ is a little different. Podcasts should be a lot more than posting a sermon. A lot more.

Listen to a few podcasts both Christian and non-Christian and you’ll know what I’m talking about. There are some great ones that sound like professionally produced radio talk shows with bumper music, interviews, and guest performers. There are some with rantings about current events recorded with poor quality and the buzzing sound of a refrigerator in the background. The point is that the podcasting work ranges from high quality to low quality. God calls us to do everything with excellence and that’s not always the policy in church.

There are a few things we need to make sure are included to provide quality and will ensure that people will continue to listen. In other words, if believers say the words that will save lost souls but there is no one there to hear them, does it still make a sound? Obviously I have a preference to what I like to listen to and what I don’t.

  1. Introduce yourself, your purpose, where to find your podcasts on ever podcast. Some people will listen out of order or even listen to your last podcast first depending on whichever topic interests.
  2. Mention your church website or blog, mention some way to continue the community of your podcast even after it’s done. Mention what the next podcast is going to be about.  Mention other podcasters who share your views or opinions.  The more excitement there is about your subject, the more listeners.  Even contact another podcaster and tell them that their podcast was mentioned.  It’s not a competition it’s a community.
  3. If promoting a church or a church ministry of a church, mention the contact info or directions with service times. At very least a website so people can check it out.

What am I missing?  What would you add to this list?

Hi.  My name is Chris Miller and I’m helping the site out while the normal author recovers from early childhood rearing.  

The reason I was drawn to this blog in the first place was because it appeals to my love of teaching.  I’m not the authority on a lot of things but God has given me experiences enough to help many in the field of technology and church.  I am a believer and I want to help others get the Gospel message heard by as many as possible. 

I won’t bore everyone with my bio.  But in case you are wondering, I’ll post it and you can read it if you’d like. Enough of the small talk.  I’ll get to my first blog now.

Chris Miller has kindly offered to post on this blog on all matters and sharing his expertise. Hopefully he can write regularly and become more than just a guest poster. On request for a short biography of him, Chris writes:

I work for Apple specializing in churches and technology. I write a regular article for TFWM on Podcasting and I play keyboards for my local church as well as record and perform with Lincoln Brewster. I also run the Facebook group ‘Apple Church Network’.

Thanks Chris, we are looking forward to your writing.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while.

Leaving aside theological (and other) considerations, who will feed your pets when Jesus returns?

Found via: Faith and Theology

This is just a quick note to apologise to anyone interested, in that I have not updated this site for some time.

We have now moved home and have started attending a new church. Slowly we will be easing our way into church life, but because the church is a little larger, it is unlikely to be within web development.

Therefore there might not be too many more posts on this site on a web theme, but perhaps I will get some time to post other things if possible. (I am probably going to go through my unpublished drafts so there may be some random posts here).

The other news, was that my wife gave birth in December so that has rather occupied us as well!

Thank you if you have made comments or been a reader here. I really appreciate it.

Note: this post is only likely to be relevant to those under the jurisdiction of HM Revenue & Customs here in the UK.

Charities in the UK can claim back tax at the basic rate on donations they receive from tax-payers subject to certain conditions (signed declaration etc.) In the last few years, the basic rate of tax has been 22%. This means that for each 78p donated, the charity can make a claim for 22p from the government.

From 6 April 2008 onwards, the basic rate of tax has reduced from 22% to 20%, thus people are paying less tax within this band than they were previously. This means however, that for each 78p donated though, the charity can only reclaim 19.5p.

Because of the change, and to ensure that charities are not put into difficulty by this, there is a transitional relief scheme which allows charities to claim the difference between the 19.5p and the 22p until 5 April 2011 (3 years).

The charities do not need to claim this, but it will be done automatically as part of their gift-aid claim.

Worked example:

Before 05 April 2008: donor decided to give 10% of their gross income to charity, since they earned £20k per year, and the basic rate was 22%, they gave 10% x £20k x 78% = £1,560, knowing the charity could reclaim the £440 pounds which meant they donated 10% of their £20k salary (£2k).

After 06 April 2008: donor continues to donate £1,560 not realising that the tax rates have changed and the charity can reclaim £1,560 / 0.80 = £1,950, which means that the donor is no longer donating 10% of their income as they intended. Fortunately, the charity also receives gift-aid transitional relief automatically until the 2010/11 tax year and the charity receives the extra £50.

Special note: because the tax payer is now paying tax at 20% rather than 22% they might actually be making a saving overall. The amount of saving depends on their salary because there is no longer a 10% lower tax rate.

Someone earning £20k will be £69.90 better off and someone earning £35k would be £369.90 better off. Whereas some earning £11,482 (national minimum wage for over 22 working full time for 40 hours per week) would be £100.46 worse off and once the transitional relief ends this person would need to increase their gift to maintain a 10% gross salary donation without any reduction overall in tax.

(Perhaps now we can see why people are questioning Gordon Brown’s poverty-fighting credentials when the tax changes he has introduced only help those on middle-incomes and make things harder for those on lower incomes).

Summary:

Charities including churches need to move towards educating their members who give regularly to realise that come April 2011 they will need to have increased their donations to at least maintain the level of their donations, though not all will receive the benefit of the corresponding lowering of the basic tax rate.


Inland Revenue page on gift-aid transitional relief

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