Technical Arts Pastor
It's easy to forget how quickly the world is changing. A few days ago I was reminded that September will mark just the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first website. Yep, before September 1994 there were no web sites to surf and no web browsers to surf them with. And even then, those first websites were nothing like what we browse today, a relatively short 20 years later. Check out for instance this image of what Yahoo looked like when it first launched in 1994 versus what it looks like today.
The technology that powers the web has come a long way in its brief existence, and in that time the Church (big "C") has continually strived to understand and effectively harness this fast-moving, ever changing technology in ways that allow those who are far from God to be exposed to the message of Jesus and to empower those who have already placed their faith in Jesus to be equipped, encouraged and connected with meaningful opportunities to transform their lives and reshape their world. Taking the things of the world and reimagining what they could do for the cause of Christ is woven into the very fabric of the Church. To take things, no matter how badly broken or perverted and transform them to be used to bring God's light and truth to broken, hurting people is to participate with Jesus in the work of redemption.
I consider myself incredibly privileged to be able to dedicate my energies to redeeming technology within the local congregation, and excited to be part of a church that is passionate about making the best use of the ever-increasing capacities made possible by those technologies currently available. So as I write, I want to share just two of the exciting things that we're doing here at Victor Valley to redeem technology in general, and the internet in particular for the cause of Christ.
The first of those things, I've shared about before, so for some of you this may be a reminder about something we introduced at the end of last year called RightNow Media. One of the more awesome aspects of RightNow Media is that it is completely FREE to everyone who calls VVCC home. RightNow Media takes the power of the internet to transmit video (ala Youtube or Netflix) and pairs it with the very best communicators and teachers of God's Word to offer a vast library of videos focused on helping believers grow at every step of their walk with God. This tool allows you and I to access a huge library of videos that spans across a huge range of topics right from home.
If you haven't been making use of this resource, you really need to check it out. Even if you commit to watching just one 10-minute video each week you will be amazed at the impact that those 10 minutes can make, both in your knowledge of God's Word and your enthusiasm to pursue Him. There are videos for your kids, videos about different books of the bible, videos about the struggles that arise in our lives. There are literally thousands of videos at your fingertips, each there to nurture your relationship with God. Check it out at rightnowmedia.org, and if for some reason you lost your invite or never received one, email me and we will get you set up.
If RightNow Media is about helping the people of VVCC connect with God's Word, then this second item is about helping the people of VVCC connect with one another. When we launched the new design for vvcc.com back in April, we had 2 goals in mind, to make the experience of finding information on the site easier, and to help those people who weren't already connected with VVCC get a better idea of what the church was about by seeing how they might find a home at VVCC. But in those early discussions about what we could do to improve the website there was a third string of ideas that at the time we didn't quite have the ability to make a reality— to create something that supported and encouraged the connection between the people who call VVCC "their church". This is exactly what our most recent work in the technology area is allowing us to do. This new system is called Church Community Builder, although around the office we just called it CCB, and I'm incredibly excited about the possibilities it allows for building community and effective communication among the VVCC community.
At its heart, CCB is an organizational tool for those folks who call VVCC home. It is by far the easiest and quickest way to:
Tammy was out running an errand and wanted to stop by the home of a member who has been dealing with some medical issues. In the past this would have meant a call into the office and dealing with taking down numbers, and then putting those numbers back into her phone to call the house, look up the address and then finally map the address. But instead Tammy was able to call the house and map the address directly from CCB running on her phone.
As much as CCB is helping the staff, it also has great features for non-staff leaders. Tammy's been meeting with LifeGroup leaders to show them CCB and the ways they will be able to use it to interact and communicate with the members of their LifeGroup, schedule events, post messages to their group, post if/when someone in the group has a need that others in the group might be able to meet. We are working to make sure that ministry leaders are able to have the information they need to best serve those they minister to while at the same time guaranteeing that people's privacy and information is protected.
On the note of privacy, we are all concerned about how much and what kind of information is available on the internet. I want you to be assured we take guarding your information seriously and without spending too much time explaining the intricacies of how CCB works, know that:
We've really just getting started with CCB, in the next couple of days we will be training our BASECAMP Check-In team on how to use CCB so that beginning Sunday, August 3rd when you go to check your child into either BASECAMP or BASECAMP jr., you will have a much quicker and easier experience using a new Check-In system, powered by CCB. Here's just a tiny sneak peak at what CCB Check-In looks like...
Much like the internet, CCB is constantly changing and adding new functionality, as it does I will be letting you know about the awesome new opportunities that it will make possible for us to connect with one another.
If the church had a current email address on file, you should have already received your invite to join CCB and begin exploring all that it allows you to do. If for some reason you didn't receive that email or if we didn't have your current email address, email me or talk to me at church on a Sunday morning and I would love to help you get started using CCB.
It's an exciting time to be part of Christ's church and I look forward to discovering what the weeks, months, and years have in store for all of us at Victor Valley as we grow together through our commitment to Christ, as we build community and as we unleash compassion!
By Neil Harris
Technical Arts Pastor
The brand new, and much improved vvcc.com is now live. We've overhauled the entire site adding cool new content (like the new welcome video on the home page) and making it easier to find what you are looking for. We've also added this cool new blog feature, which the staff and members of the Victor Valley community will be regularly posting about what is happening in the life of the church.
Be sure to check out the new media page where you can listen to recent messages or click to watch videos of those messages hosted on Vimeo. This is also where you can download an MP3 of the message if you want to listen to it on the go with your iPod or MP3 player. Now there is no reason to miss a message, even when you can't be at worship on a Sunday you can still hear the weeks message at vvcc.com.
We've overhauled the entire website to make it easier to use, and easier to add content to. This means that when you visit the new vvcc.com there will be relevant, helpful and up-to-date content. Take a look at the pages highlighting our ministries, each has received a fresh new look and are now neatly organized under the "Church Life" tab. Then head over to the Events page that has been completely redesigned to make it easier to find out what is coming up for you, your family and your friends.
And this is all just the beginning, over the coming months our team will be developing and launching even more new features for the site. That Welcome Video on the Home page, it's just the start of some very cool and very helpful video content being created to help someone visiting the website to know what they can expect when they visit Victor Valley.
It started about a month ago. After countless months frustrated by the limitations of our current website solution, I began to ask the question, "What could we do?" I had no idea how deep that rabbithole could go. Eventually the research led to a web development tool called Weebly, and that is when things really became interesting. What started as a blank screen began to become a website, or at least what looked like a website. Navigation headings along the top and a logo, some placeholder text where someday I expect actual content to go. A few functional pieces of content in the media page, just enough to demonstrate that all the services work and paint a picture of what can be expected when the site is complete.
The end of last week was a huge step, our first official design meeting. Five awesome, creative people sitting around a table talking about what we dreamed of seeing for the church's website. How it could become a destination for people who may not have yet stepped through the doors on a Sunday morning but could get an idea of what they could expect. How it could be a place for people in the community to get the latest and most important information about events coming up, and where they could send friends interested in finding out more about those upcoming events. Even how it could become a place for people who were far from God to be exposed to the life-changing story of Jesus.
There's still a lot of work to be done... content to be created, and then uploaded. We have this great idea to make videos for folks who visit the website so they know what to expect when visiting on a sunday, that's going to require a lot of work. We're going to refresh all of the content from our former website as we rebuild from scratch, that will be time consuming. But by the time you read this, that work will be done and all the stuff we were dreaming up will be available at your fingertips. It's gonna be awesome.
Time to get back to work.
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