Do You Have To Fix It If It Aint Broke?

Until recently Crossover had a perfectly good website.  You can still access it at www.crossover.net.au.  As far as a great looking, static, information based website they don’t come too much better.  It certainly wasn’t broken, so why did we fix it?  Put simply, the Crossover Task Force took a large step forward towards the end of last year by investing in expanding the staff base of Crossover by incuding a communications position.

That’s where I come in. The bar has been set fairly high for me, as we hope to achieve the following:

  • moving from a paper publishing – postal route delivery entity into a digital entity, communicating more frequently, delivering more content, and interacting with our people continually.
  • moving from an information based website (web 1.0) to an interactive website (web 2.0) with articles, video and audio.
  • to be an example of how free, open source web software can be used effectively, with budget conscious churches in mind.
  • launch Crossover on social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter)
  • connect the social media platforms to our website, and add a national e-mail database to form our new communications platform.
  • to be in constant conversation with our pastors and congregations across Australia.
  • to unearth the brilliant ideas and resources that our churches are producing and give them a national stage.
  • to find great resources which we can road test and recommend to our churches.
  • to find out what new resources are needed through feedback on our site.
  • to get out there on the road and take great resources and thinkers to our churches.

The progress so far:

Website:

We chose WordPress because in my experience it is the simplest open source (free!), CMS (content management system) for your average computer user to use.  A ‘CMS’ is a web platform that you can easily add content to, without the need for paying expensive web designers to constantly update your site.  WordPress can be used either online for free at www.wordpress.com, or you can download it for free and get it hosted on your own server (this offers more flexibility), and you can download a copy at www.wordpress.org.

Other examples of open source software are Joomla (used by Malyon College in Brisbane), and Drupal (used by the White House in Washington!).  If it’s good enough for the White House and its free its good enough for your average Baptist church!

Facebook

There has been lots to learn about the best way to use Facebook.  You can use the normal interface, or Facebook groups or Facebook pages, which is what we’ve gone for. Facebook is the most common social media platform that people in our churches connect on, and represents unprecedented opportunities for us to me in conversation with people in our churches, far beyond the corporate address lists that we usually work with.  Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crossoveroz

Twitter

Twitter has less of a take up rate amongst our churches but it is becoming more mainstream and it’s capacity for instant reaction and feedback is creating new ways in which people organize themselves and learn things. In Iran at the moment Twitter is the vehicle of the freedom and democracy movement, circumventing media and communication controls by state security. Join us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/crossoveroz

You Tube

We chose YouTube as our video platform simply because of the viral nature of how YouTube’s are shared by people with each other, and the ability to be displayed on mobile platforms. www.youtube.com/crossoveraustralia

E-mail

We have chosen Mailchimp over Constant Contact, but both are brilliant and open up new ways to communicate through e-mail.  Getting through spam filters is a huge issue for church data bases.

Communication

Skype is brilliant, and I use a paid subscription so that I can call all kinds of phones from Skype at bargain rates.  Computer to computer use is free.  I also have software that enables me to record Skype conversations as either video or audio.

We’d love to know what technology you use at your church, and what advantages you have found particularly for connecting with people outside the church.