Technology Questions from Banff Pastors Retreat

Below are answers to questions that were submitted at the Technology Workshop at the 2016 Banff Pastors Retreat.

How do we help people who don’t use social media not feel excluded and out of the loop?

I love this question and think it is going to be an important dynamic as social media continues to root itself in the culture around us and in the church.  I think there are a few avenues that could be taken to address this.  Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments section below.  So here are some ideas:

  1. Never post anything on facebook that you haven’t communicated in a different way in your church. While this limits the effectiveness of using facebook and social media, it would prevent people from being left out.  It then becomes a tool to revisit what was communicated, or catch up on what was missed when people weren’t at church.
  2. Have a computer or two in the library with internet access and a volunteer standing by to assist. Then those not on facebook can go the to church computers (they don’t have to be in a library but that makes sense to me) and they can view all the videos and other content on facebook.
  3. Include in the bulletin a ‘best of facebook’ section that posts some of the comments and posts from the church facebook. This would allow people to see the written content at least, and would be a ‘curated’ list so it minimizes waste and maximizes benefit.

So those are a few examples of ways to be inclusive.  It takes some creativity, and it  needs to be a solution that will work for your setting.  However I think the desire to be inclusive is so worth pursuing so we do not create a digital divide in the church of ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’ when it comes to social media.


As a professor, what would be good reasons for me to create my own website?

This is a bit harder of a question for me to answer, as I’m not a professor…. But I have been (and currently am) a student, so I’ll try and answer from that perspective.  For a website to be used it needs to have one of two things – it needs to have either longterm information that is needed or up to date current information for something ongoing.  So in the terms of a professor perhaps long term information such as research, syllabuses, etc.   For the ongoing information that is current it could be course due dates, a current syllabus, information on projects etc.  Also as a professor the website could be used for personal research and sharing that information with students and other academic circles

One last option that I really like is the idea of a forum where conversations from class could be continued online or additional conversations could happen.  The professor could post in the forum and then the class could continue the conversation in response to the post.

 Do I think every professor needs a website? No.  Do I think a website can be a valuable tool for a professor?  Absolutely.    The question of whether to have one or not is whether the website will be used, maintained and updated in appropriate fashion.  It does take time and so that needs to be a consideration.


How much does it cost to do live streaming?   How is it done?

In theory live streaming is now no cost at all.  You can live stream right off a cell phone or ipad.   There are other ways and, arguably, better ways to live stream.  So what I’ll do is walk you through what we have in our church and why, and the value we think it offers.

First off we have a Tricaster Pro system.  It’s a dedicated computer for live streaming and they run from $7000 and up.   Ours is fairly old now but is still working.  This box gives us software that allows us to connect in 3 cameras, select which camera is broadcasting, add titles and slides, put transitions in between camera shots, and also record the video at the same time as live streaming.

We have three cameras mounted across our sanctuary.   They come to a Sony control panel that lets us remotely control each camera in terms of rotation and zoom, as well as focus.  This gives us a lot of flexibility in how we do things.

We upload our live stream to an account with which then restreams the video on the internet so multiple viewers can watch the video without it getting slowed down by too many connections.  The cost of this service with is about  $250 a year.

Now you can live stream as simply as using an iphone or ipad on facebook using their new facebook live feature (you can google that for more information!).    Another option is to do livestreaming over youtube.   You can google either of those options for details.

I hope this helps!  You can phone me at the church at 306-764-5869 if you want more specific information!


You do facebook ads, how do you do that?  And where do you put those ades?   Cost?

Facebook are fairly easy to do if you have a bit of experience working with graphics.   A simple way to setup an ad might be using powerpoint and exporting the file as a graphic.   First off for facebook ads you set your price for how much you want to spend.  The more you spend per day, the more people who will see your ads.

In terms of setting up an ad facebook has help files for this and there are plenty of tutorials available.   One tutorial can be found here:

Only 20% of the ad can contain text and the rest needs to be graphics.   I’d suggest googling facebook ad graphic size to find the current size of facebook ads.

Make sure your graphics are nice and catchy as that is what will draw people to your ad.

I think churches are under utilizing facebook ads and hope to see more engaging on this platform for promoting services and special events.


What is the name of the software that works with Onsing?

I think you are talking about Planning Centre Online. which is a website used by a number of churches to plan and communicate regarding worships services.  They also have many other services they provide as well.   There’s a bit of a learning curve, but they also have a bunch of videos you can look at to learn as you go.  We use Planning Center as a church database and can even print our church directory from within it.  They have components for attendance, for managing groups, and even giving.


Still confused, Google Apps is different than google with gmail?   Free website with google aps did you say?

I didn’t say a free website with google apps, but google does have the capacity to host websites though not in a super user friendly way in my opinion.  For more on that search the web for ‘hosting website with Google’ and you’ll find webpages and videos that can inform you about this option.   For me, I host all my sites with for about $4 of $5/month and I am happy with that as I can host using WordPress.  WordPress is the backside of about 25% of the internets websites.  The google apps part that is about websites is at

Google Apps is a suite of applications that comes with every google app.  Gmail is a part of the google apps.  Some of the other applications included in every gmail account that make up google apps are Mail, Calendar, Drive (store files online!), Docs (word processor), Sheets (Spreadsheets), Slides (like powerpoint), and contacts.  They work well but are not quite as good (in my opinion) as Microsoft Office or the Apple software.



One Comment

  1. Ian H. said:

    I wonder if the church has a role in promulgating positive use of social media. Facebook refuseniks and Twitter abstainers might make up a majority of your congregation now, but social media and device integration into our daily life is not going to decrease in the future, only increase. Catering to a shrinking demographic is a losing proposition in any circumstance, but tailoring outreach to folks who are defiantly anti-technology is a way of looking back, not forward.

    November 30, 2016

Comments are closed.