Monday, July 16, 2007

Some Suggestions from Emmanuel's Net Friends

We are in the process of unveiling new ministry and worship opportunities at Emmanuel for Sundays and Wednesdays beginning September 2, 2007. Without going into all the details, one of the most signficant changes will be switching to three 'live' services on Sunday morning 8:30; 9:45; and 11:00 a.m. instead of just two (currently our third service uses remote telecast of the message). The 11:00 a.m. service, beginning September 2, 2007, will be broadcast live at 11:00 on the internet via 3:16 Networks. 3:16 Networks began as a joint venture with The North American Mission Board and is now the leading provider for internet broadcast streaming for Christian ministries. 3:16 Networks will broadcast our worship service live , and will also archive all previous worship services on our website. 3:16 Ministries will produce podcasts of the weekly sermons, and our church members will be able to receive vidego weekly devotionals and ministry updates from our staff via their email. Alan Riley, the director of web operations for 3:16 Networks, is a wonderful businessman with many years of service as a worship leader in Southern Baptist Churches. I have been very impressed with the 3:16's incredible technological infrastructure, their employees desires for real Christian ministry, and their vision for internet broadcasting to spread the gospel message around the world.

One of the advantages of entering live broadcasting is the ability to broadcast not only worship services, but funerals (at the request of families), weddings (again, if requested by family - so that Great Grandma who can't make it to the ceremony can watch it on a computer) and other church wide events via the internet. We plan to broadcast 'live' the Sam Storm's Conference in October, with guest worship leader Daniel Brymer, and we would encourage you to join us for the conference on your computer at home. 3:16 Networks is the same company that broadcast the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, and has had the live broadcast of our convention for the last few years.

This is where we could use a little help from our net friends. Dr. Cyril Kumar, Emmanuel's missionary to Bangalore, India, and now on staff here at Emmanuel while obtaining his Master's of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary, is implementing some of the technological advances we need to make in order to move our church into a new and broader phase of ministry at Emmanuel. Dr. Kumar has been working on our internet site and has so far proposed changing our home page from this -- to -- this design which will offically launch on September 2, 2007 (the scroll links are not yet operational).

Here is where you can help Dr. Kumar and our staff with some of the design work on our site by making a few comments that relate to the following questions.

(1). Have you ever watched a regularly scheduled worship service of another church via the internet (either live or archived)?
(2). Would you watch 'live' a Bible conference, revival service, or special event of interest to you if it were offered via 'live,' real time video streaming through our church's web site?
(3). When you go to a church's web site, what is it that you look for first?
(4). Do you have any specific suggestions on making a web site more user friendly?
(5). If you were a member of a church that provided the ability to real time 'live' broadcast weddings or funerals so that anyone, anywhere, could watch the service or ceremony, would you take advantage of that ministry opportunity for you and your family?

Feel free to answer any or all of the questions, or give us comments that aren't even related to the questions above. We would be interested in your thoughts. Sometimes the best nuggets of advice come from people not affiliated with our church. This post will remain up until late Tuesday night when I will post from Richmond, Virginia regarding the first day's plenary business session of the International Mission Board trustee meeting, which will be held next Monday through Wednesdsay, July 16-18, 2007, in Richmond, Virginia.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

Some internet audio services require the user to sign in each time with clumsy screens that do not support autotext or Google AutoFill. Please don't go in that direction.

Steve A

Glen Alan Woods said...

Short answers to your questions:

1. Yes.
2. Probably not since I am not SBC, nor a member of your church, but I am open.
3. Ways to connect with real people. I look for authentic community.
4. Drop the jargon. Lose the Christianese. If you must publish your doctrinal statements, mission statements and core values, then put them on an "about" page. Do not have them on the index (home) page. Try to focus more on what you are for, than what you are against. Remember that a mission statement is diluted each time a comma is added. Keep it simple. When describing staff and ministers, focus on relational characteristics (e.g. like to fish, write, fly airplanes, scrapbook, whatever), rather than simply academic and professional pedigree. Have a bookstore if you must, but don't slam users with marketing. Don't be so slick that you cannot be relational, but don't be so down-to-earth that the site looks cheesy. Find a balance.

6. Interesting question. I would have to give that some thought. Not sure.


Glen Woods

PS, Wade, blogger now has a poll widget you can use if you want. You would need to update to the new blogger, but it works very well.

Glen Alan Woods said...

By the way, I just looked at the proposed new site after making my first comment. I think it looks very nice. My only concern would be to check and make sure that dialup users can load the site within a reasonable amount of time.


Glen Woods

Bob Cleveland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Cleveland said...

I'll try to get it right this time.

1) No, and I probably wouldn't. Barring illness making me stay home, I'm not likely to. Even when I was out for 3 Sundays after getting a replacement knee, I just watched Live!, a Brooklyn Tabernacle DVD. Watching worship services just isn't a substitute for worship, for me.

2) Conferences, yes I would. Particularly yours, upcoming.

3)The staff, and what they say about them. Then the statement of faith.

4) What Glen said.

5)Weddings and funeral, yes definitely.

Last, I'm with Glen on question #6. At least I think I am. I can't see it.

Anonymous said...


Glen posted before I could make my comment, but my biggest concern would be the speed of the internet of someone not only trying to load the site, but the content as well (ie: podcasts).

New site looks GREAT.
1. yes, watch our church's service about every other week - seem to get more the second time.
2. Definitely, will start watching from Emmanuel's.
3. I personally look for the quality of graphics. New one has great graphics.
4. I would agree with the earlier post about autotext and fill.
5. Have done it before and would do it again.

Good to see you and your good-looking family last weekend.

Brett B.

Anonymous said...

Stock photos get old. People know if the people on your site are real or not. Muppets and animation gets old really fast. I believe most people are looking for information and a reason to come back often. Take a look at some of the greatest website companies and you will find the same thing: Simplicity with style. The only issue with 316 is it is anti-Mac. Other than that it works fine.

Harpo111 said...

1. no
2. yes, possibly-if it was a subject i was interested in..i do webcasts for IT stuff all the time.
3. What makes them special...what their core is....what they do that I can relate to that tells me God is there...
4. Keep the front page flasy stuff that takes forever to load....hookem...then reelem ...
5. possibley-if i couldn't make in person...rebroadcast of say a funeral on the web would be good too...some of us can't just take an hour at 3pm for that because we are on the go..but can come back later and watch...

make the site simple to understand...where a 5th grader can look at it and navigate...then you got a winner...

hope that helps...

Anonymous said...

Hey Wade,

I took a look at your new proposed site and had a couple of concerns.

The core concern is that your entire site looks like it's Flash based. While this was the norm about 10 years ago, most professional organizations have abandoned the approach because it makes the site less accessible to people with handicaps. For example, low vision people can't increase the text size to make it easier to read, and screen readers (software that reads text on the screen for the visually impaired) can't read the text embedded in the Flash file. You might consider giving a read to get an idea of how to make your website available to the widest possible audience.

Another drawback with Flash is that it adds significantly to the load time of your site. About 40% of metro-area Oklahoma internet users are still on dial-up connections, and that percentage goes up as you move into more rural areas. On average, a person will spend about 15 - 20 seconds waiting for a page to load before moving on.

Finally, search engines such as Google and Yahoo can't effectively index sites that are totally flash based. They need to be able to read the underlying HTML codes, and there aren't any. In that regard, your old site, while perhaps not the most up-to-date, is actually better. A side effect of this is that it can make your site incredibly hard to update, and you'll wind up scraping it and starting over from scratch down the road when you want to redesign it.

I don't mean to rag on Flash, it does serve a purpose (beyond those annoying punch-the-monkey-and-win-a-prize banner ads you see all the time). When used sparingly to add one or two interactive elements to a page, it can have a great impact, but as with all things, moderation is the key, and I think you would be doing your congregation a disservice going with an entire website designed in Flash.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean "11:00am" and not "11:00pm" ?
Enough Baptist sleep at 11:00am...let alone 11:00pm !

Alan Paul said...

I am on a MAC and I use both Safari (MAC OSX browser) and FireFox. The site didn't work in Safari at all - only the top bar and the bottom bar loaded - not of the animation features loaded - and I have run all kinds of different sites in Safari - flash animations, etc. The site did work in FireFox though and looks nice - way better than your current site from an ascetic point of view.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: Above all, remember the quote I heard about committees:

"None of us is a dumb as all of us." said...

Thanks for the good ideas so far.

I will definitely be visiting with Dr. Kumar about the advantages/disadvantages of FLASH.

Blessings to all.

Alyce Faulkner said...

Wade, I really like the new site and the new ideas.
I would absolutely tune in for special events and the idea for special occasions is great.
I'm on a mac too and Safari opened just fine.
I agree with Glen on a couple of things.
Jargon ie Christianese and the stock photos.
I think using real people you are part of Emmanuel's family would be much better.

Anonymous said...

1. Many times.
2. Probably not on a regular basis but I feel it is an excellent idea. May check in from time to time.
3. Yes indeed.
4. n/a
5. You better believe it. There are times that a person may not be able to attend something like a wedding or a funeral, especially if a person made travel plans a long time ago. They might be able to carve out some time on a computer to view a church event.

I would suggest that if you do flash that it would not be the entire site. If you want some flash it is very prudent to have a similar version without the flash and add a link to allow a person to choose the non-flash version. This will allow those with dial-up access to enjoy the page.

You could have an intro page where you give a person the opportunity to choose Flash or Non-Flash, download Flash. You can have the intro page with basic information that can be easily indexed by search engines and identify EBC. It is very important to have your site easily found on search engines.

If at all possible even though the vast majority of people have computers with the Windows OS you have the hardcore Apple customers that might want to access the services also. The newer Apple systems should be able to view video using Windows Media Player 9 series. However older systems or older Mac versions of WMP might not work. Not sure about how using Flip4mac in QT will work. I have not access 3:16 Networks but it is probably similar to other streaming media ministries I have accessed.

I'm excited to see the update plans for the web site. When the Internet became available in the 90s my first thought was 'foreign missionaries can keep in touch'. The church I attend here in Tulsa currently puts all their messages (MP3 format) on a web site for free access and download. A few months ago they started doing video with the hope of placing them online also. The ultimate goal is to have streaming media as well.

J. Guy Muse said...

I for one look forward to the internet broadcasts. So many of us M's out there scattered all over the world are truly blessed to occasionally tune in to these kinds of streams with folks back home who speak our own language. Please keep us informed about the details and thanks for thinking of a broader audience beyond those there at EBC in Enid.

Anonymous said...

(1). Okay, I'm gonna answer this both as a member in the State and as a member that's an overseas worker -- since I've been both, and keeping the church in close contact with it's workers is a passion of mine; too many churches suck at it. As I member in the States, very rarely have I watched a regularly scheduled worship service of another church via the internet (either live or archived), and even then it wasn't all the way through.

Personally, I prefer podcasts (or mp4s or cds). I listen better than I watch and I have more opportunities to listen than time to watch.

However, as an overseas worker I would have loved-loved-loved to have the services streamed over the Internet, including the worship time (which will involve, for you, getting copyrights to broadcast any music you use). Especially the worship. I missed it tremendously. There are enough Internet cafes and such around the world that would have the connection speed needed streaming video. And if your workers are in more urban settings, they may even have good broadband or Cable/DSL connections. Even if they can't get it every week, there may be some special times they can go to the nearest 5-star hotel and nab a little broadband time and get to "participate" in a service or two. From that aspect, I'd say go for it.

(2). I don't think I'd watch 'live' a Bible conference or revival service if it were offered via 'live,' real time video streaming through your church's web site. I'd don't know that I'd watch it on my church's site either. Unless I was there and want to relive, or not there and heard amazing things about what happened. Now, if my owm church of Mosaic back in LA were to put up their Origins or Ethos conferences, I would totally watch. I've been before and know how powerful they are. But any other special event, I probably wouldn't watch.

But again, if I were overseas, I'd probably watch whatever I could get to run on my local connection.

(3). When I go to a church's web site, what I look for first in ease of information. How easy is it to navigate from one page to the next, and more importantly, to find the information I want. If I'm visiting I want service times and a map. If I'm thinking of joining I want information about staff and ministries. If I'm a member I want event information.

Also, I look at a website as part of the church. So to a degree, I'm judging the church -- its ability to reach the community, culture and the world -- by how effective, up-to-date (technically and informationally) and savvy it is. I realize there are churches out there that are accomplishing great things for the Kingdom who don't have a good website (or one at all) but I look at it from the perspective of how willing and able is the church to utilize the most modern technology to reach their community. Because that's how willing and able they'll be to reach the world, in my opinion.

(4). No, no advice really, except to perhaps point you to my church's website. I think it's the best one I've seen in a while (and I'm not just bragging here). It's very functional and informational without being clunky or out-of-date. It's Rolling Hills Community (yep, SBC).

Ooo, I take back my "no". Try to make it informational for your overseas workers as well. Think about what they'd like to hear about and make sure you have a page dedicated to that sort of news, with a clearly labeled link in the front page. Also, if your workers have blogs, build an aggregator that pulls their latest posts (and perhaps yours) and put it on your front/main page. That can help keep your members connected to your workers overseas and to what they are doing.

(5). Again, as a member in the States I probably wouldn't watch real time 'live' broadcast weddings or funerals; at least not weddings. Funerals, which tend to be right smack in the middle of the workday, I probably would watch if I knew the person but was stuck at work. But I think an overseas worker would love to see that stuff as well as the services.

Be sure to archive everything you broadcast, since most workers won't be able to watch real-time.

Also, you're probably already working on this if you don't have it already, but make sure your sound is truly broadcast quality. Nothing will cause a person to quit watching something quicker than bad sound. And even the most basic computers these days have high quality audio, so they're gonna know when its on your end. It's best to have someone mixing the broadcast in a separate, sound-proof room. I served on the sound team for a bit at The People's Church in Franklin, where they also broadcast the service every week, and the sound is truly professional (and usually amazing). Granted, they have professional engineers volunteering on the sound team, but still. That's the quality you're looking for.

That's just my two-cents, for all the half-penny it's worth. :)

John Moeller said...

I watch many special events from various ministries. It's a great way to be part of a special event even though I may be a thousand miles away.

Our church does live video every sunday and receive many e-mails from all across the world from people we have never met. It's been wonderful.

Also consider pod-casts. aka, packaging the live video into a pod-cast the next day for downloading. I travel a lot and like to watch things on the plane.

On tips; Remember that music is copyrighted so give credit where due to keep out of hot water on broadcasting music.

Also consider providing the outline for the live broadcast as a download in case the listener wants to take notes just as if they are at the service.

You can also do a comments tab that allows the listener to make live comments to a web commentator. This way, if a listener has a question, wants to respond to the message or make a decision for Christ, it is a live person they are IM'ing at the church.....


irreverend fox said...


I just check out the new's this blog.

David Simpson said...

(1). Yes, many times.
(2). Yes I would.
(3). I don't look for, I look at. I look to see if it is a quality website. I am prejudiced against websites that look like there wasn't a lot of effort, energy, or creativity invested.
(4). Always keep it simple.
(5). Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

(1). Have you ever watched a regularly scheduled worship service of another church via the internet (either live or archived)Yes
(2). Would you watch 'live' a Bible conference, revival service, or special event of interest to you if it were offered via 'live,' real time video streaming through our church's web site?
(3). When you go to a church's web site, what is it that you look for first?
Ministries and listen to pastor's sermons
(4). Do you have any specific suggestions on making a web site more user friendly?
(5). If you were a member of a church that provided the ability to real time 'live' broadcast weddings or funerals so that anyone, anywhere, could watch the service or ceremony, would you take advantage of that ministry opportunity for you and your family?