Church Next Book Review

I’m now starting work on my 5th competency:¬† Servant Leadership in Technology Facilitation and Collaboration. As part of my work for this competency, I’ll be sharing some book reviews.

Malphurs, A., & Malphurs, M. (2003). Church next : using the internet to maximize your ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.

Summary
The book begins with a summary of the problem of American Christianity in decline, with statistics and descriptions of the problem. Next the authors discuss issues of reaching the buster and bridger generations (also known as Gen X and Gen Y). They propose a theology of change which makes a distinction between the functions of the church which are Biblically mandated (i.e. mission, worship, and the “together” mandates), and the forms of the church, which may change in different cultures and different times. In this section, the authors also describe the concept of postmodernism and how it affects how current generations view church and are reached by the gospel. Finally, the book ends with a review of the importance of the Internet, how the Internet works, and specifically how to use the Internet in ministry.

Principles Learned
Since I’m already very comfortable with the Internet, the sections explaining it were mostly review and I skipped over them. However they are well written for lay and clergy who are uncomfortable with the Internet. The main contributions from this book for me were the background principles that provide a “why” for using the Internet for ministry.

  • Some of the church’s functions which are mandated by the Bible include: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer (Acts 2:42); community (Acts 2:44-45); worship and evangelism (v 47).
  • Examples of forms include meeting in house churches (Act 2:46, 8:3, 12:12), meeting in the temple (Acts 2:46).
  • Forms can be understood as the method of ministry. Paul set an example of “becoming all things to all people” and adapting to the needs of those he meant to reach (1 Cor 9:22).
  • Forms may fit along a continuum of legalism to liberty to license. Legalism puts restrictions on the church that aren’t found in Scripture (i.e. what time to meet). Liberty is freedom within God’s law/Word. License removes any Biblical restrictions.

These principles and ideas form the basis of a theology of change and therefore reasoning on why to use the Internet in ministry.

Ideas Gleaned
I’m already involved in my church’s web ministry (www.pmchurch.org) and (www.pmchurch.tv) and we are doing many of the things listed in the book. On page 131, the authors list some ways that churches are using the web for ministry:

  • Encourage visitors to attend their church (we’re doing that)
  • Post mission statements, sermons, text concerning faith (we’re doing that)
  • Links to denominations and faith-related sites (we’re now discouraging this due to link-rot)
  • Links to Scripture studies or devotional material (we’ve dabbled in this and could revisit it)
  • Post schedules, meeting times, communications (yes, email announcements, but need to get more people to sign up for the listservs)
  • Post photos of events (mixed success on this; it’s hard to do consistently and keep fresh)
  • Post youth group material (we’re doing that)
  • Material promoting missionary work (our TV ministry does this)
  • Seek volunteers for congregational work (new “Get Involved” section does this)
  • Provides space for prayer requests (we’re doing this)
  • A sign-up feature for classes/programs (we do this for the women’s ministry programs)
  • Allows online fundraising (not doing this with very specific reasons why)
  • Webcasts worship services (we’re doing this, but not live)
  • Provides discussion spaces for study or prayer groups (not doing this)

As I read through the ideas, I realized that I’d really like to see us find ways to minister to those getting the podcasts. Is there a way we could connect them in to online small groups? We have some other seminars that would make great little online group studies as well. I wonder how the FAST scripture memorization group is doing with their new online training. I think we could develop some cool things with this, if a few people had time to commit to it. I wonder if anyone would pay for it to help cover the cost? Or if donations would cover the cost? It’s certainly something to keep considering.

This was a useful book to explain WHY a church should be using the Internet, and had suggestions for even veteran online churches.

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Evaluation for Live Text Presentation

Live Text presentation participants, please fill out this evaluation on the session today.

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Checking Sources

This post is part of a series of my notes on articles provided by Dr. Newman in his Regression workshop at Roundtable 2008 at Andrews University, summer of 2008.

O’Neill, B. (1994, March 6). The history of a hoax. The New York Times, pp. 46-49.

The full text of this article is actually posted online here too.

This little article traces the origin of comparing the top discipline problems in the 1940s and those “today”. It’s a really interesting read, and these are some of the lessons for research that I see:

  • Roots & Fruits. Last summer at Roundtable, Dr. Covrig emphasized the importance of following the “roots and fruits” of research. i.e. where did it come from? what is it based on? (roots) and who else has quoted it? what other research has it inspired? (fruits). It’s pretty clear that it’s important to find out the source(s) of what you’re quoting.
  • “In a study” Credibility. Seems like we all believe something once someone says the words “research study.” I’ve been reading Neil Postman’s book Technopoly this summer. I figure if I’m so heavily involved in technology I should read a dissenting voice once in a while. In the chapter on “invisible technologies” he discusses statistics and polls. “Public opinion is a yes or no answer to an unexamined question” (p. 134). He suggests that we are quick to believe anyone who can quote a study. But do we take the time to examine the questions and answers?
  • Cautious Comparison. One of the flaws of the comparison of these two lists (if quoted as research), is that the question is unknown for the second list “today”. So if we don’t know what the question was, how can we compare to another? How can they be compared if they aren’t at least answers to the same questions?

A great article and interesting read. Shakes you up a bit and helps you realize the important of thinking critically about the information you consume.

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Newman’s Low R-Squares Article

This next series of posts are my notes on articles provided by Dr. Newman in his Regression workshop at Roundtable 2008 at Andrews University, summer of 2008.

Newman, I., & Newman, C. (2000). A discussion of low r-squares: Concerns and uses. Educational research quarterly, 24(2), 3-9.

This article is available in the OCLC Article First database.

Summary
The point of this article is to suggest that low R-squares shouldn’t be thrown out without consideration. They may have value under certain circumstances, so should be considered carefully.

What is an R Square?
So first let’s remind ourselves what an R squared is. Wikipedia has a very detailed overview if you want to read that. Basically when you’re using linear regression, the R squared is the explained variance. It is the percent of variance that can be explained by the variables you’re examining. I.e. why do some people get a higher¬† or lower score on your measurement than others? Your variables may explain some of that variance in scores.

Why are R Squares low?
The article suggests some reasons why R Squares can be low.

  • They can be low (and are appropriately low) in the early stages of research. i.e. not enough research has been done to identify all the variables that would account for the variance.
  • In social sciences, the predictor variables tend to have small effects.
  • There might be some measurement error. It is very difficult in social sciences to measure a construct such as intelligence, attitude, etc. So it’s pretty common to have some measurement error. This is where the reliability and validity scores come into the picture.

How do you know your research is any good?
From what I’ve learned about stats so far, there are a few ways we can look at our data to see what it tells us and if the results are useful.

  • Tests of significance tells is if the effect happened by chance or not.
  • Effect size is another important measurement, which used to not be reported, but really is a critical piece of information to help others interpret your results.
  • Replicability is also important. In fact, Dr. Newman suggests that a measure of replicability is more useful that mere significance. Maybe it’s significant with this set of respondents, but does it hold up with another set?

Under what circumstances is a low R square “ok”?
The article suggests some examples and things to consider when looking at low R squares. There are several examples in the article of places where a low effect size or R square is still helpful.

  • A drug that explains less than 1% of the variance may still impact 60,000 lives in a population of 1 million.
  • The odds ratio at casinos may be just slightly in advantage for the house over players, but that adds up to billions of dollars over time.
  • When looking at groups of people vs. individuals, the smaller R squared still has value.
  • If the small R square is consistent and replicable, it still has value.
  • A low R square may not necessarily be a wrong path (as suggested by McNeil quoted in the article), it may only be a partial explanation of the variance and further research will improve it by adding additional predictor variables.
  • It may be better to have a smaller R square that is replicable vs. a higher R square that isn’t replicable.

In summary, the point seems to be that it’s ok early on in research to have a smaller R square when the goal is to hopefully eventually get to a larger R square. This article seems really useful to use in interpreting research that results in a low R square!

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AU Higher Ed Study Tour

Andrews Leadership & Ed Admin students, if you didn’t get to go on the Higher Ed study tour this past spring, you might want to check out the blog from the trip to see what you missed. Great pictures and news articles about the trip!

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Leadership Portfolio in LiveText

This video is part of a series of informal tutorials related to literature reviews, proposal and dissertation formatting, etc. for the Leadership Program at Andrews University.

This tutorial covers how to get started with your Leadership Portfolio in LiveText.

Please comment if you have additional tips or suggestions, or even questions.

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Checking Your Reference List for APA

This video is part of a series of informal tutorials related to literature reviews, proposal and dissertation formatting, etc. for the Leadership Program at Andrews University.

This tutorial covers how to quickly check your reference list in Endnote for APA format.

Please comment if you have additional tips or suggestions, or even questions.

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