Friday, August 31, 2012

Only God Can Make a Baby

This video shows the development of the human body from conception to birth. Truly, only God can do this.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let's Get Our Audience Right

Who is your audience? Many times, we an author sits down to write, he thinks of someone to whom he is writing. As he weaves his yarn, he thinks of that person sitting across from him and he is just carrying on a one-sided (usually) conversation. But though we might write to that person, that person is not the audience who will receive the book.

I began thinking about the average church size. 59% of the churches in America have fewer than 100 people who attend. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have known many small churches and have a great love for them. But think about the Christian books you’ve read that were written to help in the ministry of churches. How often do we see them reference things that we simply do not find in small churches? Occasionally, you’ll find a book written specifically for small churches, but I’ve read some of those and have often thought that the author didn’t get it. Instead, what you find are books written to churches with hundreds in attendance.

The problem is that we authors tend to write to the people we want to read the book and not to those who will actually read the book. Add to that the problem that an author must have a platform for a traditional publisher to publish the book. The typical church is not considered a good platform, while a mega-church is. The result is that people who are out of touch with their audience are writing books better suited for a small subsection of their audience.

What we authors need to do is to figure out who makes up the bulk of our audience and fall in love with them. Instead of assuming that our readers attend a larger church, let’s assume they attend a small church. Case in point, consider books about Sunday School. I’ve read books that talk about class size and when to split a class, etc. They had some very good ideas, and our church is large enough we might be able to use some of them, but some were an impossibility for even our church. I thought about some of the small churches I’ve been in. Those books provided no benefit for a church who has three classes, Adult, High School/Middle School, and Grade School and under. I’ve been in some churches were their average morning attendance was less than the authors thought was an ideal class size. Those are the people authors need to be writing to because those are the people who make up the bulk of their audience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Religious Hostility

— A federal judge threatened “incarceration” to a high school valedictorian in Castroville, Texas, unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.

— City officials prohibited senior citizens in Balch Springs, Texas, from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.

— A public school official in St. Louis physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

These statements all just three of some 600 in a recent report on religious hostility. The report claims, “America would be unrecognizable to our Founders.” I’m not sure that true.

Our founding fathers were no strangers to religious hostility. I remember reading about Patrick Henry attending a trial in colonial America. The story goes that two Baptist men had been arrested because they were preaching outside of the authority of the religion in that area. Patrick Henry argued for their release by pointing out that these men had been arrested for preaching the Bible. They were released, but that doesn’t change the fact that prior to the First Amendment people were hostile to religious beliefs that opposed their own.

And what of the Danbury Baptists? They wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson because they feared the First Amendment was treating religious liberty “as favors granted and not as inalienable rights.” These are not the sentiments of men who did not know religious hostility.

Let’s face it. Religious hostility exists and has always existed in America. Though we have enjoyed freedom to practice the religion of our choice these many years, the First Amendment does not have the power to remove hostility. That “wall of separation” has taken a beating over the years. But it is still there. It has been weakened at times, but it is still there.

As the ones who benefit from the protection of that wall, we need to stand behind it and support it. When the government threatens to limit our freedom, we need to push back. When religions attempt to use the government for their own purposes, we need to push back. We need to strengthen that wall so that religion remains “a matter between God and individuals.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vision Comes From The People

It is not the responsibility of a leader to decide where to go, but to show people how to get there. I’ve used this space to talk about leadership before. Not long ago, I wrote about the misuse of the word vision by Michael Hyatt, Jack Welch, and John Maxwell. I argued that vision in the truest sense is a vision sent from God. But let’s take a step back and look at their kind of vision.

As you know, a lot of people are trying to develop a vision. We hear about things like vision statements. Once you have a vision statement you are supposed to cast a vision. Then people are supposed to follow you like cows to the feed trough. While that sounds good, people don’t always do what you tell them they ought to do. Take church, for example. For centuries, we’ve been telling people they ought to go to church. Some do. Some don’t.

But I’m reminded of the wagon trains that used to head out west. Who in their right mind would leave Missouri to ride across Kansas in a wagon? And yet, there were men who led many people, not only across Kansas but some went all the way to California. What vision casters these men must have been.

Or not. The thing is, these men didn’t have to try hard to get people to follow them. They didn’t go knocking on people’s doors looking for people to go. Instead, the desire for adventure, the hope of a better life, the quest for gold all played a part in persuading people that west was where they wanted to go. The men who led them just got in front of them.

No matter what example we look at, great leaders aren’t the ones who spend a great deal of time persuading people that they know where to go. Instead, they get in front of people who are heading in that direction and guide them along the way. What that means is that vision doesn’t come from the leader. As far as the leader is concerned, vision comes from the people he is leading. The people may have gotten that vision from God or they may not have, but the leader is simply guiding the people where they want to go.

No so in the business world, you might say. But think about it. A leader who leads his company to success isn’t leading his workers to do something they don’t already want to do. What worker is there that doesn’t want to see his company succeed? Most workers have a general idea of what success for the company looks like and that’s what they want because it keeps food on the table and diapers on the babies. If the company sells books, well, the employees know that selling more books is what success is. What they are looking for is someone who can tell them how to work together to sell more books.

That, I believe, is where many leaders fail. Instead of trying to tell people where to go, they should be helping their people overcome the obstacles that are keeping them from the vision they already have.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Now Where Did That Come From?

Our God isn’t big enough. When I pulled into a parking space at church, I noticed a single white flower growing next to the parking curb. The rest of the grass was trimmed to perfection, but there was that one lily that sprang up in the night and had bloomed. It was a beautiful flower, though it grew where no gardener would’ve planted it.

Later, I saw about ten of these wild lilies growing in the median. They were bunched in a cluster right next to the road. They were not centered in the way a landscape designer would have placed them. They were just there.

Ask a child who attends Sunday school how they got there and he’ll likely respond, “God planted them.” Now we, being older and wiser, know that a seed must have fallen on that ground. The seed grew and the flower bloomed. When the seed fell, they fell in a cluster around where the first seed had fallen, giving us those ten lilies growing in the median. But we smile and assure the child that “yes, God planted them.”

In our wisdom, it is easy to forget the lessons we learned as a child. Now, when we think of God planting something, we don’t just accept it as true. We imagine God squatting down by the road and pushing those seeds into the ground. “Of course he didn’t do that,” we think. And what an odd place to plant flowers. God knows as well as landscape designers that they would look better if they were centered in the median. Or why place them there at all? Why not plant them next to a church building? So, after giving it some thought, we conclude that God didn’t actually plant the flowers. Seed fell and flowers grew.

Who are we to say where God should plant flowers? And what makes us think that God is like us? We don’t like chaos. Growing up, my father taught me to till the garden in straight rows. We want our corn in a straight row. We want our beans in a straight row. The tomato plants should be placed an equal distance apart. It’s better that way. So when we see a random placement of flowers, it isn’t were we would have put it.

But to say that God must plant his flowers in a straight row is to make our God too small. Since we know that God planted those flowers (even a child knows that), what does that tell us about God? Expand your view for a moment and don’t consider just that cluster flowers, but consider the whole landscape. Grass, growing in a field. Trees, covered with leaves. Mountains, formed from odd shaped rocks. Look at a single blade of grass, a single leaf, or a single rock and you might question why it is where it is. But look at the whole picture and it is beautiful. Even the human body is made up of billions of cells that seem to grow in random places, but out of the chaos comes something amazing.

In our limited ability, we need order so we can understand and keep track of what we’re doing. God, in his infinite ability, can take chaos and turn it into something beautiful. God knows where every flower is placed. He knows where every seed will fall. He is able to direct them at will, or just let them fall. It may seem random to us. We might have thoughts of how it can be done better. But we can’t argue with the results. What might appear to us a God throwing a bunch of seed to the wind and letting them fall turns into a beautiful landscape that is far better than anything we’ve ever designed.

Our God is so big that there is order in his chaos.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Cost of Doing It Right

Last Sunday, our church celebrated 55 years with Gaylan Henry as our pastor. That was also the date of his retirement. 55 years is a long time, so we made a big party out of it. I filmed the worship service and the celebration service and my plan is to make a commemorative DVD.

Currently, I’m in the process of securing permission to use the music from that day on the DVD. There are also some images for which I need to secure copy permission. Individuals or groups sang or played songs on ten different occasions. There was also a slide presentation with music in the background. The congregation sang three songs. But some of the songs were actually medleys, so rather than one song they were two songs arranged in to one. And while our church often uses live instruments, we also make use of sound tracks for some of our music. For one medley, I’m not dealing with just one copyright holder.

Let’s take a look at who I’m dealing with. First, there is the person who holds the copyright to the arrangement. He had to add some music to get the two pieces to fit together. But he didn’t own the copyright to the original songs, so I have to get permission from those guys as well. Assuming all three will grant me a license, that gives me a right to use the piece, but only if we were singing and playing with instruments. Since we used sound tracks for the medleys, I need a license to sync the sound track to the video. Fortunately, the sound tracks are often produced by the same people who publish the arrangement, but that isn’t always the case.

It appears that I may need as many as thirty separate licenses to produce the DVD. For one license I saw, the example rate on a website was 25¢ per song per copy with a minimum of $20. Multiply that out and we’re looking at $7.50 per DVD just for licenses with a minimum of $600 for the project. Add to that about $5 for packaging and we’re at $12.50. I’m not looking to make a profit, but I’ll probably round up to $15 or $20. The difference will end up going to covering the cost of the minimum fees (I don’t expect I’ll sell all 80 copies) and my video equipment. I’ll be doing good if I break even.

On a related note, someone asked me about posting the video online. I told her it would probably cost more than the DVD. Based on the rates I saw on one website, licenses would end up costing me $1,800 for six months. That doesn’t even include the other costs associated with putting it online.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Does This Scare You?

One of the most basic doctrines of Christianity is that though we are born sinners, there is a way for us to change. That’s a scary thought for some people. How often have we heard people say, “I was born that way” or “I couldn’t help myself?” They say the words hoping that we’ll say, “we understand. It can’t be helped. Keep doing what you’re doing.” But that’s not what a Christian says. Instead, the Christian says, “I used to think that way. I used to think that I couldn’t keep from doing the things I did. But then I met a man who changed my life. You don’t have to continue doing what you’re doing.”

Recently, there has been one sin that has gotten a lot of attention and some people have said that it is “hateful” to tell people that they can change. But why should our focus remain on that one sin? I suppose it is more difficult for us to think that we were “born that way” when we talk about other sins, and yet, we do tend to be predisposed to other sins as well.

No child is born an adulterer, this is true, but there are things about certain people’s personalities that tend to lead them in that direction. Or consider the thief. A child may not be born a thief, but some children begin to steal at a very early age. Some have started even before they really know the difference between right and wrong.

So, for whatever sin problem you might face, the message of Christianity is, “You don’t have to keep doing that.” That’s not to say that the moment you accept Christ you will be completely without sin. We still struggle and we may do so for the rest of our lives, but with the help of the Holy Spirit it becomes easier. What a blessing it is to look at the lives of the aged and see how much better are they are for those who accepted Christ.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What I Did This Weekend

After 55 years, the pastor of our church, Gaylan Henry stepped down from the pulpit yesterday. I don’t know if it is a world record for a pastor to pastor one church for that long, but it is certainly a difficult feat to accomplish. Few people are anywhere near that point.

For me, it was a busy day. We had more people at church than we’ve ever had. It looked to me like we had about twice as many cars as we have parking spaces. The sanctuary was filled to capacity and we had an overflow area where they had to bring in additional chairs because we hadn’t set up enough initially.

I filmed the worship service and the celebration service in the afternoon. I’m planning on putting it all on DVD, so I have quite a bit of work left to do. My next task is to acquire permission from the copyright holders to use the music. I suspect that won’t be a problem, as long as I’m willing to pay the royalties. But it requires different licenses for a DVD than it does to use music in a worship service.

Friday, August 10, 2012

No More Post-Christianity

I keep hearing that our society is a post-Christian society. In others words, we used to be a Christian society, basing much of our lives on what churches taught, but not anymore. While I’m sure that’s true, isn’t it time for us to stop thinking of ourselves as a “post-Christian” society and begin looking at ourselves as a “pre-Christian” society?

What’s the difference? Sure, it doesn’t change anything about our society. Many people will still be antagonistic toward Christianity. The difference is one of hope. When I think of us being a post-Christian society it makes me think, “Things just aren’t as good as they used to be.” When you turn it around and see it as a pre-Christian society, I begin to think “Things aren’t great, but with work they will become better.”

Our goal should not be to survive in a post-Christian society, but it should be to change our world in such a way that our society is once again a Christian society. What we once were, we can be again. Just because people failed to train up their children in the way they should go does not mean that we have to keep doing that. It is a challenge. Yes, it is definitely a challenge, but with God it is possible.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where Business is Booming

Recently, I’ve heard several stories of businessmen who have taken a stand for the their Christian faith. In each case, there have been people trying to pressure these men to change the way they do business. There have been pickets and boycotts and whatever they thought would work. An yet I keep seeing one simple statement, “business is booming.”

We must not forget what a great God we serve. Our God can take the actions of a lost world and turn them to our good. Let us not forget that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) It should come as no surprise to us that business is booming at companies where the enemies of the Christian faith are in opposition to the views of the owners.

So let this be a lesson to the rest of us. Let us not compromise on our walk with the Lord. It won’t be easy, but if we are serving the Lord as we should, he will bless us and use the actions of our enemies to help us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

If You Have a Watcher, You'd Better Have a Reason

Watchers – characters who work from the sidelines, influencing other characters to take action. Dr. Who is one example of a character like this. Though he is also the main character, his actions are such that he watches out for the people of Earth and makes an appearance when they need him. He always has people with him who he encourages to take action, putting them in danger, when he himself really has nothing to fear.

That’s one of the interesting things about watchers. They usually have more knowledge of the situation than anyone else and yet they seldom reveal what they know. If we include a watcher in our own writing, we’d better have a reason why the character doesn’t reveal what he knows. Perhaps it is because he doesn’t want to worry people. If you knew that the world was about to explode, would you create panic by telling them or let them go on their merry way? What’s the point of making their last few minutes miserable? Or maybe the character is the type who is trying to teach those he watches. Suppose the character is from a distant planet and he crash-landed here on Earth. He fears what would happen if he reveals what he is, but he has a desire to educate the people of Earth.

I’m sure there are many different reasons a watcher would not reveal all he knows, but to not have a reason could be disastrous. I’ve always wondered about why Cinderella had to leave the ball at midnight, for example. The story doesn’t tell us why the fairy’s magic didn’t work past that point. So we begin to think that it is silly that it didn’t. The thing that saves that story is that it makes for a better story to have the prince go out looking for her. It makes us forgiving of the problem.

But most of us aren’t writing the next Cinderella. Rather than relying on the rest of the story to cause the reader to overlook the problem, it is better if we develop a reason for the watcher not to reveal all or use all his power.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Leader Who Had No Vision

If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you. – Michael Hyatt

Good leaders create a vision, passionately articulate the vision, and relentlessly drive the vision to completion. – Jack Welch

I believe that there’s no such thing as a leader who doesn’t have a vision. – John Maxwell

Recently, my employer went through the mid-year review process. They also combined it with career discussions, so I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the direction of my career with my boss. There are a couple things it made me realize. First, I’ve had very little say over the direction my career has gone. I’ve moved from position to position within the company because they needed someone willing to do the work, not because I felt like a change in position would be good for my career. The second thing I noticed is that not only has my career not had any direction, I don’t know where I want it to go. That’s probably not the best thing to tell your boss, but it is true. If I have had any goal, it has been to help those around me get the task at hand done. The only time I went looking for a new position was when the job I was doing got so inhospitable that I couldn’t take it anymore.

You get the idea that my career has been boat without a rudder. And if you read the quotes above, you get the idea that my problem is that I don’t have a vision. I especially like the one by John Maxwell, because I’m about to tell you about a man whose life was very much like my career has been.

This man was born in a time when the king was killing children of his race. When he was very young, his mother put him in a basket and let him float down the river, hoping that someone of the more favored race would take him in. Who should find him, but the king’s daughter. She took him in and raised him as her own. He had thoughts of protecting his people, but no clear vision. One day, he saw an Egyptian hitting a Jew and he killed the Egyptian. Later, when he saw two Jews fighting, they feared he would kill them too. So, he fled to the wilderness and spent forty years doing nothing but herding sheep. As I said, no vision. His vision seemed to get on track one day, when he saw a burning bush and God told him to lead the Jews out of Egypt. He traded sheep for people and spent another forty years wandering around the desert. He had no vision. He never picked a spot and said, “We’re going over there.” No, he waited for the cloud to move. When the cloud moved, everyone picked up their tents and followed. And yet, he was one of Israel’s greatest leaders.

You see, there are two different kinds of vision. There is the kind of vision like what the three guys above are talking about and there is the biblical vision. The biblical vision is the kind of vision we see in the burning bush experience and the kind of vision we see in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” One kind of vision the guys above are talking about is having a goal your team can shoot for. The biblical kind of vision is about having faith and following God’s direction, even if you don’t know where you will end up.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in the desert herding sheep. I’m doing what needs to be done. Sure, there are some things I would like to accomplish, but I’m still waiting for my burning bush. I’m waiting for God to appear to me in a vision. I’m waiting for God to give me direction. The conclusion I’ve come to is that that’s okay.

The reason it’s okay is because God’s been good to me the whole time I’ve been waiting. Who knows, maybe my burning bush will appear and I will have the opportunity to lead some people by following a cloud. And if, when that time is over, I can look over into the land where they are going and leave them in the hands of a man like Joshua, that is not a bad thing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Is There Really No Wall of Separation?

In a 2010 debate between Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) there was a disagreement concerning schools being permitted to teach creationism as a competing theory to evolution. Coons made the argument that the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to imply separation of church and state. O’Donnell interrupted and the following was the exchange:
O'DONNELL: "Let me just clarify, you're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

COONS: "'Government shall make no establishment of religion'"

O'DONNELL: "That's in the First Amendment?"

I’m conservative, a Christian, and I voted Republican straight down the ticket in the last election, but I’ve got something to say to my fellow conservatives. When we become so focused on winning the argument that we fail to consider what we’re saying, we are in danger of losing the freedoms we hope to protect. I’m not sure who started it, but a favorite argument from pastors and politicians is “the words separation of church and state don’t appear in the Constitution.” No, they don’t, but what does appear there and what does it mean?

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now we all so know that the “wall of separation” phrase comes from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist association that was concerned that the First Amendment was evidence that the government was taking upon itself the power to grant churches the right to worship and could take it away. To alleviate their concerns Thomas Jefferson wrote to tell them that he believed the First Amendment erected a wall of separation between church and state. The reason the Supreme Court would even consider this letter is that it establishes what the founding fathers thought they were writing into the Constitution when they wrote it. But for now, let’s throw that out and consider what the First Amendment really says.

"Congress shall make no law…"

The first thing we see here is that the limitation is on Congress (later applied to state government as well) and not on churches or individuals. If we take that statement alone, we might assume there is no “wall of separation.” Congress can’t interfere with the church, but churches can do what they want.

"…respecting an establishment of religion…"

In other words, Congress can’t set up a State church. They can’t tell you that it is okay to go to church, as long as you go to the state church. They can’t pick one religion and say it is right and all the others must go.

"…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…"

Just as they can’t tell you have to go to worship a certain way, they also can’t prevent you from worshiping as you please. In this way, there is certainly a wall of separation that prevents the government from controlling religion.

Church Run States

Is there a wall of separation that goes the other way as well? Because the First Amendment doesn’t limit the power of religion, we must take more into consideration. The first thing we should ask is what happens when a church asserts its power over government. Let’s say that church A has decided that God wants crucifixes hanging from every stop sign. (Silly, yes, but I’m trying to make a point.) So out they go and hang a crucifix on every stop sign they find. They don’t ask for government funding, they just do it. We could possibly argue that Congress can’t make them take them down because it would require a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. But church B believes that crucifixes are idols and should be destroyed. Now we have two conflicting religious views with Congress stuck in the middle.

The resolution to this problem is that church A has no say over whether a crucifix should hang from public property and neither does church B. The government makes that decision based on things that don’t deal with religion (such as safety concerns) . So while both churches are free to express their opinion and to make Congress aware of non-religious issues that might sway their decision one way or the other, the belief that God wants something a certain way or the belief that there is no God can’t be the basis of a law.

To me, that demonstrates that there is a wall of separation that goes both ways. Congress can still make laws that churches must obey, such as how many people can be in a building, as long as they apply universally to all organizations. Likewise, churches can seek to influence Congress, as long as other organizations have the same ability.

Overall, I believe that is a good thing. There are religions that I wouldn’t want controlling Congress and I certainly wouldn’t want Congress telling me what to believe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's Not About the Victims

Some of the families of those killed in that Colorado theater have said that they “do not want” the death penalty for the man who did it. Good for them. At least I think it is good for them until hear some people say that they think it would be better for him to spend the rest of his life in jail thinking about what he did. It makes me think that they don’t believe he’ll have to think about what he did if he goes to hell. But that is more of a faith problem and has nothing to do with whether the man should be executed for his crimes or not.

While the Bible tells us in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” it also says in Numbers 35:31, “Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death.” Often, it seems like people have the idea that murderers should be executed so the families will get justice. God doesn’t take satisfaction in the death of a murderer and neither should we or the families of the victims. Instead of letting families continue the practice of a revenger of blood taking the life of a murderer, God set up cities of refuge to which a person could flee after taking a life (or being accused of taking a life), so that he could have a fair trial. If capital punishment is about the victims, God sure has a funny way of letting them have their revenge.

It isn’t about revenge. It isn’t about the families. It isn’t about the victims. It is about justice. If someone kills someone, they deserve to die. God is just and he will not let sin stand. As a people, we need to see that justice is carried out fairly and justly, so that we recognize the consequences of our sins. If our government doesn’t do it, then God will be forced to do it. The danger of that is that when God does it, he may use a broader stroke. If God’s judgment comes to murderers, then we may see his judgment in our lives as well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Web Hosting is NOT Your Biggest Cost

A church website hosting company recently posted an article stating that web hosting is the biggest cost of a church website. It became clear that they were promoting their own services when I saw the following list:

Take these example costs from a variety of church website providers. The number you see is the monthly cost.
  • $49-$119
  • $54-109.95
  • Clover sites: $20
  • $99-299
  • $59.95
  • Sharefaith: $14.99 (Best Value)

My first thought when I saw this list was that these are annual costs because my own church is paying about $80 a year for web hosting and I know there are other hosting companies that have even more economical rates, if you are really looking for the lowest price. But these are monthly rates and that means that Sharefaith is charging more than twice as much as you really need to pay. Even so, $180 a year isn’t really that bad if you’re putting the website to good use. But is that really your biggest cost? It may well be if you use the $3,588 a year figure given for, but it doesn’t seem like it should be.

While I’m not saying that we must spend more it strikes me as being like buying someone a birthday gift and spending more for wrapping paper than for the gift itself. Hosting a website is a necessary service and a valuable service, but if webhosting is your biggest investment, I wonder about the value of what you’re putting on the web.

Don’t Forget the Volunteers

One problem I see with churches is that they forget the value of volunteer labor because it doesn’t show up on their financial report. This is a shame because many church members give more to the church through their labor than they put in the offering plate. Suppose the church webmaster donates an average of eight hours of time each week. If you were paying him $25 an hour, that would be $200 a week, or $10,400 a year. Even at $7.25 an hour, it works out to be $3,016 a year. That’s a little less than the $3,588 figure from above, but webmasters are paid closer to the $25 an hour rate than they are to minimum wage.

The Cost of Royalties

The other thing to consider is the cost of the content that you place on the website. Some churches like to post video recordings of their worship services on their websites. We won’t count what you’re paying the pastor, since he would get paid whether you post the video or not. What we must consider, however, is the cost of the music and other copyrighted material that is included in the video. My understanding is that CCLI doesn’t apply to posting video online. Even if it did, CCLI only applies if the number of copies is less than a given percentage of the congregation size. And a lot of music doesn’t fall under CCLI at all. So, if you want to post video legally, you’ve got to get copy permission for the music used and you’ve got to pay the fees. That also means more volunteer time.

Add it all up and you quickly see that web hosting is not your biggest cost. In fact, the amount you spend on webhosting is a minor concern when we look at other costs.

What other things might cost you more than web hosting?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Today is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation day. I’m looking forward to a chicken sandwich for supper. But if they have so many people stop by that they run out before I get there, that would be okay too.

I really like this, because instead of having to show my support for Christian values by not doing something, I get to show my support by taking action. I’ve always hated boycotts because I don’t shop at many of the places that I’m supposed to be boycotting anyway. But I can go buy a few more chicken sandwiches. And though I don’t think I could eat chicken sandwiches all the time, one of the things that impresses me about Chick-Fil-A is that they serve quality food. Their sandwiches are among the best. Their ice cream tastes like homemade. Their lemonade is the real stuff. Even their diet lemonade tastes good. Where else can you get diet lemonade? And it isn’t enough that they just have it; it is good.

So it doesn’t put me out at all to buy a few more chicken sandwiches. It’s a little out of the way of my normal trip home, but I’ll manage. Considering that some elected officials are trying to run Chick-Fil-A out of their cities just because their owners stand for Christian values, it is the least that I can do to go a little out of my way to patronize Chick-Fil-A today. If I had the time and money, I would like to visit the Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Boston and Chicago and anywhere else that their elected officials are trying to ban them, just to show them that some of us still believe the First Amendment applies.