Give Your Input To The Next Geeks and God Conference

geeks-god-conference-logo.jpgWe just closed the door on the first Geeks and God conference and the planning has already started for the next conference. We are riding the wave of excitement and energy into planning the future of Geeks and God. The first planning meeting is this coming Friday!

I am looking for your help to make the next conference even more of a success than the first. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions regarding the next Geeks and God conference please comment on them here before Friday.

Happy Earth Day

earth-day.jpgEarth Day is a great reminder of this grand creation that God gave us and how it has fallen because of us. G. K. Chesterton described it as living in a shipwreck. On this day I like to review some of the things each of us can do and have as part of our lives that will make us better stewards of his creation.

If you're trying to get your mind theologically around how we are supposed to be with regard to the environment a couple articles you might consider reading are "Just Another Animal?" and "A Green Faith".

So, here are 3 technology things we can do to better care for the environment.

  1. Use Compact Fluorescent light bulbs. They use less power to produce the same amount of light (more energy efficient), they last longer, and they are recyclable.
  2. Turn electronics off. Don't we tend to leave things plugged in and turned on? Do you turn off your computers on weekends and at night? Many people don't. Let's turn them off or put them into power saver mode. This goes beyond computers. Do you unplug your cell phone charger when you're not charging your phone? Keeping it plugged in can burn extra power.
  3. Recycle Batteries. Where I live it's not that convenient to do this. The general recycling doesn't take them. There is a drop off 3 times a year at a local facility that I you can recycle them at. It may be out of the way but with all the battery powered electronics we have it's a good thing to do.

What tips or steps do you have to be a better steward of creation? I'd love to hear them. If you have tips, thoughts, or questions outside of the technology realm come join me in this living green forum for that discussion.

What Is Your Church Doing For Earth Day?

Some of the greatest destruction of our God given natural surroundings has been an expense in an effort to better our technology. With more electronics we've had a greater demand for electricity and part of that electricity generation is bad for the environment. With new gadgets comes with disposing of the old ones and dealing with how we dispose with the new ones. Many of our gadgets aren't recyclable or don't get recycled; filling large landfills with our waste. So, what is your church doing about it?

Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd. This is a great opportunity for churches to talk about our responsibility as it relates to taking care of creation and what we can do about it.

International Earth Day has a rich Christian heritage. Julius Sterling Morton (the man behind Arbor Day) and Eddie Alberts (an actor behind environmental causes in the past) were Christians whose birthdays were April 22nd. This was big part of the decision for Earth Day to be April 22nd. Add to that, John Muirs (someone who had a strong influence on the environmental movement) had his birthday the day before these men and was a Christian.

Our Responsibility

Yeah, I said it. Christians have a God given responsibility to be good stewards of His creation. If you are looking for some simple justification there are a few biblical things to consider.

First, Psalms 24, along with a number of other passages, points out that "The earth is the LORD’s". It's not ours to do with as we please.

Second, according to the bible we are to "fill the earth and subdue it". When God put man in the garden he put him there to "work it and keep it." There is this tie between man having a responsibility with the rest of nature. If you are curious about what this means check out the article "Just Another Animal" by Jon Petering.

Finally, God calls us to be a good steward over his things which he has given us to run. This is not only a theme but something Jesus specifically talked about.

What Can We Do About It?

There is a lot that we can do in our everyday lives. We can wash our clothes with eco friendly soaps, we can recycle, we can turn off the lights when we leave a room, and thousand other little things that fit right into our everyday lives.

One of the things my little church is doing is handing out a postcard sized reminder to people about taking care of the environment. Are we being bad by handing out a reminder? Well, the ink is made of soy, the paper is from sustainable paper stock, and we are asking everyone to recycle them. On one side of the card is an image with a light justification to get people talking. On the other side is a few practical things people can do and a URL to an online group in our church that talks about this with practical examples on how to live this.


Other ways to talk about this are by adding something to your church bulletin, showing a short video, giving an announcement, or even having a sermon on this.

In any case, I challenge every church to do something this coming Earth Day to highlight our role as Christians in taking care of the this great creation of Gods.

Comedy and Compassion

BANANAS-COMEDY-LOGO.pngThis past weekend I say the Mason & Ramsey Comedy Expedition and laughed myself silly. This comedy show is a family friendly Christian based comedy show that I was actually able to laugh at. But, that's not what caught my attention with relation to technology and the church. After seeing the show and poking about their website I saw an example of crossing between people and a bunch of different technologies to bring comedy to us.


The first thing that caught my attention was during the tie in with Compassion International. The comedians didn't just take the time to talk about Compassion International. They showed a 5 minute video from one of the places compassion is setup where they had gone to visit. Using video in a relational way (we related to them and they related to the kids Compassion is helping) to show something to the audience. This was a great way to use video effectively.

Bananas Comedy

The big tie in came with Bananas Comedy, one of the sponsors of the show. I started at their, drupal based, website where I first saw promotional video about their 4 DVD releases. But, they don't just have their video clips on their site. They, also, have video in YouTube and GodTube.

Then, I notice the link in the menu for Bananas on TV. Part of me is tired of dirty comedy and yearns to laugh at something that isn't based on sex or tearing into people. I discovered that seeing these comedians on TV will have to wait until September 2008. But, this is yet another tie in with technology around fun (something Christians have a reputation of having far to little of).

What I see in this site and in the show is a tie in between technologies in different areas and people. There is television technology, audio and video to share the comedians, a website to connect people to the comedy (there are even contact and signup forms for them), live personal video to share the message of compassion, and it all relates back to people.

When you go to work on a project to do you look for all the technology and people tie ins that you can?

Legalese On Your Site

asian-legal-network.jpgWhen we add more and more functionality and user interactivity into our websites legal concerns start to pop up. We want to make sure we can handle situations when a situation goes bad, that we can do the right thing on our sites, and that we are legally covered when we try to do good. This is especially true with churches where I have recently listened to some legal concerns from church leaders. Let's take a look at some common things we can do.

The Privacy Policy

You often see privacy policies on websites like Google and Facebook. But, they are something that can be put on everything from the large corporate website to the small personal blog. They let people know where we stand and what we are up to.

If you have a lawyer available they are the best place to get this from. They can know your personal situation and can give you something customized to you.

If you don't have one available the folks behind over at Automattic have put their privacy policy online under a creative commons license for anyone to take, modify, and use it.

The Terms of Service

The terms of service for a site lets people know what the site is up to and how the site is going to handle things like abuse and content people post to your site. This is important if you are going to be taking down someones content for abuse. The terms of service is where you define that, among other things.

Again, it's best if you have a lawyer draw this up. If you don't have one available check out the Terms of Service on It was written by lawyers and released under a creative commons license.

Children Under 14

Have you noticed the trend for websites to not let anyone register who is 13 or younger. This isn't to try and protect minors. This has to do with legal issues. In the US, for example, there are laws about collecting information for anyone who is 13 or under without parent or guardian approval.

To avoid this many sites will either ask you for your birthday and not let you register if you are 13 and under or they will have a check box on the registration form asking you to verify that you are 14 or older.

Drupal Legal Module

On the sites I create there are times when I want my users to accept the terms of service before they register for the site. In this case I use the legal module. It enforces accepting the terms of service before someone can register. You can, also, add a check box for someone to check before they register saying they are 14 year old or older.

These are just a few of the legalese features I build into sites where necessary. They are there for some good reasons even if they seem like a hassle. I'm no lawyer so make sure you check with a lawyer before you dive into legalese.

Help The Hungry With Free Rice

freeRiceLogo.gifThe church isn't just called to go make disciples. The church is called to love others and the example Jesus and the Apostles set for us has us loving others by helping them in their pain and low places. is a great example of technology that does that in a unique way.

The site works by having visitors play a word game with advertising on the pages. Every time a user gets an answer right 20 grains of rice are donated to the hungry.

Whether you are looking for a way to help fight hunger in the world or are looking for innovative ways to use technology check out

Technology Gone Bad

Technology is used in harmful ways every day. I'm not talking about the direct and obvious kinds of harm like chemical weapons development. I'm talking about the kinds of harm that are so subtle that we usually don't even notice they are happening or the affect they are having.

Amber Mac did a segment on one of her shows where they showed how magazines make those perfect women. The image above shows Amber before the photoshopping on the left and after 5 minutes of photoshopping on the right. You can see the steps in altering the image on Greg Danbrookes website.

If you've known anyone with an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia you've seen a bad thing that technology used like this contributes to. If you've seen anyone who piles on the makeup and dreams of plastic surgery because they believe they are ugly you've seen a bad thing that technology used like this contributes to. We live in a society where a belief, usually spoken about behind closed doors, is that beautiful people are loved and our example for these beautiful people is photoshopped and unrealistic images in magazines.

As a church and a Christian looking to know how to love others we need to see the reason people feel unloved. We need to notice this technology use gone bad to know how to love others in their weak places. To help them build up a defense from the bad things in this world that seek to tear people down.

This is just one example of technology usage gone bad. Knowing people who have suffered with bulimia and anorexia this one regularly pops up on my radar. What examples of technology usage gone bad have you seen? Can you see how to love others in their weak places caused by this?

The Top 75 Best Looking Church Websites

bay-view-baptist.pngComing up with a design for a church website is no easy task. Even the best of designers can have trouble finding inspiration for a site. Something that helps inspire me is to look at other good designs. These designs can inspire me, can remind me of things I've forgotten, and can help me have that "ah ha" moment where a design comes to shape in my head. For someone who isn't a web developer looking over top sites looking for something to emulate seems to be a given. One place you can find such a list is on Church Relevances' Top 75 Church Websites List. While I wouldn't go so far as to call these the most innovative sites, they are fairly good looking sites that can provide some great inspiration.

What Makes A Good Podcast?

questionPodcasting is hot these days. There are a lot of Christian podcasts to choose from. The problem I've found is that most of the ones I've come across are tough to listen to. Some are sermons that don't translate well to the Internet. Others are ones that either have bad audio quality or there is something about the style of the hosts that just doesn't work. Now that I'm involved in two podcasts and just finished listening to part of an episode of a really bad Christian podcast (I just couldn't finish it) I'm working through the question, what makes a good podcast. Here is my short list of what it takes.

Hosting Style

While hosting style can be all over the place I think there are a few common elements. First, the hosts don't spend a lot of time talking about themselves or their life. When they do it's to relate to part of what they are talking about. People don't listen to podcasts to be involved in the hosts lives. They listen because the topic is something they care about.

The hosts are kind, caring, and honest. The podcast episode I just listened to had the hosts bashing someone for the way they looked. That isn't appropriate (and isn't something Christians are called to do). If the hosts had been kinder that would have been a good step in making it better to listen to.

Finally, I think podcasts with more than one host that have a good conversational style is key. We love to be apart of a good conversation rather than being told something. Podcasts that are a conversation seem to be easier to listen to.

Decent Audio Quality

A podcasts audio quality doesn't have to be perfect. But, it has to be decent. There are a lot of problems that can creep into the audio which are annoying to our brains on an unconscious level. When those sounds are there people don't like to listen and often don't even know why.

Consistent Content

The show needs to be consistent. People listen to podcasts for the topic of the show. If the topic is all over the place people aren't interested in the show. If the podcasts starts off as a knitting podcast and starts having episodes on brewing beer the audience is going to get turned off. This may be an obvious example. But, a Christian podcast for the Asian community that starts to add episodes for the Latin American community would very likely have the same issue.

These are my big three, in no particular order. What do you think makes for a good podcast? Is there something I missed?

Publicity with Desktop Widgets

geeksgodpodcast widgetDesktop widgets are a great way to get free publicity. These days both Windows users and Mac uses can have widgets on their desktop. They are built into the Mac operating system and Windows Vista. For Windows XP users there is Yahoo! Widgets. These widgets can be fun, like the dancing hula girl on my desktop, or functional, like the weather widgets. In either case, these widgets are great free publicity.

Darrin, one of the regular listeners of Geeks and God and an active member in the forum, recently created the Geeks and God Podcast widget for macs. It lets you listen to the podcast right from your dashboard, easily get to past episodes, and see information about each episode. This is great publicity for the podcast.

When someone goes to Apples dashboard downloads and chooses Radio and Podcasts the Geeks and God widget is on the list. Now, this might not seem like a great way to publicize something. But, it's out there in a new place, in a way that people consider fun and hopping, in a place where lots of people go, and in a place that you couldn't reach through other means. Plus, it's not something you have to pay for regularly, it just sits out there doing it's thing, and is a constant additional point of entry into your web presence.

If you have a podcast, a website with updating content, or some other web presence a widget is something to definitely consider.