a day in the life of djchuang
List of CMSes used by Popular Church Websites

As the speed of communication increases with the mainstreaming of social media and mobile devices by your side, quicker updates and faster edits on church websites must be part of effective church communications. And from time to time, that also means changing the software (aka platform) used for managing the content on a church website. Social proof may be helpful to churches that are looking for the support of a website company for their current & future seasons of ministry.

What are popular churches using to run their websites? I believe it’s helpful to know what churches as a starting point of researching what’d be best for your church context. Here’s what I found about the platform powering these 80 popular larger churches (click on chart to view spreadsheet with details):

I’ll leave it to you to do the math for percentages of church market share.

Increasing numbers of websites on the Internet are running on content management systems (CMS), no longer editing one web page at a time using an HTML editor.When it comes to CMSes, there are ones developed for any kind of websites, and then there are ones developed specifically for churches.

This daily-updated dashboard, Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Management Systems for Websites, shows that 22.9% use WordPress, 3% use Joomla, 2% use Drupal. These 3 are open-source free software platforms; 27 out of the 80 sample churches researched are using WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, that’s 33.75%. Other generic website CMSes being used: ExpressionEngine, TYPO3, Squarespace. (And for church websites without findable CMS info, server info is listed, e.g. PHP/apache, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET).

Larger churches have more financial resources as well as more complexity. By using one of the generic CMSes and doing custom development, churches can build out their customized features. This means each church is creating its own software modules (or contracting with a web developer or company) to build something that would have to be maintained. Having this on-going development costs might be acceptable in certain context.

However, there are also quite a number CMSes specifically developed for churches. Rather than having each church develop its own CMS, more than several dozens of companies have built church website CMSes to provide the commonly-used features, leveraging an economy of scale.churchcms-charted

Here’s the list of the website CMSes used by popular churches researched (includes ChurchRelevance’s 40 Great Church Websites of 2013), with notes of what I’d noticed:

  • Ekklesia360 by Monk Development (PHP-based; San Diego; since 2006) – used by 8,500+ churches of all sizes, from church plants to megachurches; robust set of features, API access, detailed documentation online, freely shares their thinking in white papers, case studies, and an active blog
  • SiteOrganic - full-suite online giving (ASP-based; metro Washington DC; since 2002)
  • iMinistries - (ASP-based; Chicago; since 2004) – “Equipping the Church to Share its Story”
  • Arena by Shelby Systems – (ASP-based; since 1976) – “Web based church management software” to “manage membership, groups, attendance, check-in, & more all online”
  • TAG Tools by The A Group (Nashville area; since 2001) – “a full-service integrated marketing communications and technology firm specializing in cause marketing to help faith based organizations”
  • AM Design CMS – (Dallas/Fort Worth area; since 1998) – a full-service communications agency
  • Cypress Interactive (PHP-based; since 2003) full-service technology solutions for non-profits and businesses
  • Sitefinity – (ASP-based) enterprise web content management system with 1 million+ developers; requires custom development
  • Sitecore – (ASP-based) enterprise customer experience management software, combining web content management with customer intelligence; requires custom development
  • Composite C1 – (ASP-based; Denmark; since 2010) professional open-source CMS; requires custom development

Though these large churches researched comprise of less than 1% of American churches, their influence is disproportionate over the other 99%. Several (not all) of the CMSes above are affordable to the average-sized church.

There are many other dimensions to consider when selecting the CMS that powers a church website; this post shows the empirical data for what this sample group of churches are using. For further research, these are great articles:

Using your favorite search engine, you’ll find more than several dozens companies providing church website CMSes. I have not found a currently active attempt at indexing all of them. (though someone tried back in 2008).

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What People Can Do about the Evil of Islamic State in Iraq

The bad news of genocide continues in Iraq and one has to wonder Is Anyone Answering Iraqi Christians’ Cries for Help? Yes, there’s help of humanitarian aid on its way, but that will not put a stop to the threat of killings. This ugly suffering weighs heavy and it seems like we can’t do anything but pray.

Here’s 5 things you can do = pray + give + write + sign a petition + raise awareness; read the entire article explaining how via ChristianToday.com: Crisis in Iraq – five things you can ACTUALLY do to help. The White House petition to help the Christians of Mosul and Iraq who are part of a modern day Holocaust has 43,000+ signatures (at the time of this post) has a goal of 100,000 by August 20th.
Mideast Iraq

Al Jazeera’s reported that one expert called this situation the “most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11,” the Al-Qaeda-breakaway group that has taken over portions of Iraq and Syria has declared its vast holdings a restored Islamic caliphate and required Muslims around the world to pledge their allegiance. And, in its article Iraq’s political reconciliation holds key to fighting Islamic State — “Islamic State, which in the past two months has seized large areas along the Iraq-Syria border, has the ultimate goal of establishing what it calls a caliphate. Fighters from the group have beheaded and even crucified their captives in an effort to wipe out those it considers apostates.”

And, 2 groups of people gathered for White House prayer vigils this past week, on Thursday August 7th and on Saturday August 9th (“End the Genocide of Christians in Iraq! Public Witness and Vigil at the White House!“), with little notice from traditional mainstream media; organized by two prayer leaders, Rev. Rob Schenck (Faith and Action) Rev. Patrick Mahoney (Christian Defense Coalition), cf. Faith Leaders Thank President Obama for Responding to Crisis of Genocide and the Persecution of Christians and Other Religious Minorities in Iraq; photos below from timeline of fb.com/revmahoney
wearen-whitehouse-wideangle
wearen-whitehouse8814

More photos and videos at Faith and Action’s Photo Album | Prayer and Call to Action at the White House for Religious Genocide in Iraq and on its Facebook Album
Call_to_Action_at_White_House_for_Iraq_Genocide

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50% of Interbrand‘s Top 100 Global Brands applied for new gTLDs

The Internet has already seen the launching of 250+ new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) this year and it’s estimated to be over 1,000+ new gTLDs by next year, 2015, even though a majority of people are not aware of them yet. Global brands may well be the biggest factor in changing that perception; .BMW has already launched.

One of the statistics that’s been quoted in several presentations (cf. montymetzger, SparkDotMe) is that “50% of Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands applied” for new gTLDs. You could verify this yourself by comparing the list of Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands and the list of new gTLD applications.

According to ARI Registry Services’ Infographic: A glimpse of what the Internet will look like in the near future [emphasis added, and image is an excerpt of the infographic] –

High profile brands to apply for a new Top-Level Domain include the likes of McDonalds, Apple, Intel, Samsung and BMW. Notable omissions from the list of applicants include Nestle, HP, Coca-Cola, Colgate and eBay. Interestingly, exactly 50 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands in 2011 applied for a new Top-Level Domain.

Also, Fairwinds Partners reported that Over Half of The Most Innovative Companies Also Invested in New gTLDS, citing a survey of the Most Innovative Companies in 2013 by Boston Consulting Group (BCG):

And, it turns out, over half of the most innovative companies – 28 out of the 50 – invested in new TLDs. Of these,16 applied for more than one new TLD.

A whopping 7 of the top 10 innovative companies applied for a total of 194 new extensions, including Apple’s .APPLE, Amazon’s .IMDB and Google’s .CHROME.

It seems that the most innovative also invested the most: BCG’s third most innovative company – Google – applied for 101 new TLDs while the seventh most innovative company, Amazon, applied for 76.

Many more brands, beyond the top 100, applied for new gTLDs. 664 were brand applications, or 34%, out of the total 1,930 new gTLD applications. For a complete list of all the brands that applied for new gTLDs, refer to http://ift.tt/1pocnRn

This post is part of a blog series tagged gTLD. Also see How to get the new gTLD domain names you want + When will more new gTLD websites go live? + How can I get a .CHURCH domain name? + 6 ways to choose a meaningful domain name with a new gTLD

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How many Chinese churches are in the USA?

Statistics are useful for strategic planning for the future of churches and ministries, or any organization for that matter, even if they’re estimates.

I had researched the number of Chinese churches in the United States and Canada 5 years ago in 2009 and they’re posted at: How many Asian American churches in the USA with sources footnoted. In 2009, the estimate was 1,200 ethnic Chinese churches in America. A related list of the Largest Chinese churches in North America is dated 2007 but I have kept that updated when I am contacted with new info. (cf. 華人教會)

Since that time, we’ve had a Census taken in 2010, the population projections continue to grow. Currently, these online directories show numbers of entries listed for Chinese churches and ministries/organizations in the United States (at the time of this blog post; and my Chinese literacy is insufficient to research in Chinese):

1,679 churches in the Chinese Christian Churches and Organizations Directory (managed by 中華基督教網路發展協會; redirected here via Ambassadors for Christ‘s Chinese Church Online Directory link)

1,873 churches and organizations @ http://ift.tt/1nIZIWv (managed by Immanuel.net)

Baptist Press’ Chinese Baptists strive for multiplying churches noted: “In 2010, the Chinese Baptist Fellowship made church planting a priority, with a goal of planting 600 new churches in the United States and Canada by 2020. About 55 churches have been planted since the initiative’s beginning…”

While there are not many events that bring together Chinese church leaders and pastors, there are these I’m aware of:

#aside About nomenclature: I’ve refrained from using the phrase “Chinese churches in America” because it could connote Canada and other countries in North America, or even the entire continents of North America and South America. I do typically use the term “Asian American” when referring to Asians in the United States, with implicit inclusion of Canada, to keep the word count lower than “Asian North American” or or “Asian Pacific Islander” or “Asian American & Pacific Islander”.

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Does character and integrity still matter in the 21st century?

David Brooks unpacks a counter-culture to the pursuit of happiness, using rich words like: depth, soul, virtue, character, integrity, love, sacrifice, obedience, grace. David Brooks is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, a journalist, and culture commentator. And thanks to Bob Buford‘s email update “Museletter,” he included (some of) his notes from Aspen Ideas Institute 2014.First, Bob shared his musings about that talks by David Brooks and then a link to the video to see for yourself:

Personally: Losing Our Moral Core

David Brooks never fails to dazzle. Rallying ideas from a surprising list of thinkers such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Dorothy Day, Augustine, and Rabbi Soloveitchick (who coined the Adam 1/Adam 2 dichotomy that Brooks loves to refer to), Brooks built a fresh and humbling case to balance worldly success with personal significance-or as he put it, to spare the moments in a publicity culture to build our souls.

Wait, souls? Brooks’ word was core. “Some core piece of yourself, when you make a decision,” he said, “you make it slightly better or worse. If you make disciplined and selfless decisions, you reinforce core tendencies in the self. If you make selfish or short-sighted decisions, you’ll fragment or degrade that core piece of yourself, even if you’re not hurting anybody else.”

As he did last year, speaking to the cream of the top 1 percent, Brooks warned of losing our moral center, which, in that crowd, took me aback.  Ennobling ideas of suffering, internal struggle, obedience and acceptance-he urged us to make the time to acquire real depth.

“I’m calling it depth,” he said. “You can call it holiness.”

As it happens, I do call it holiness, and Brooks’ talk brought to mind Peter Drucker’s saying America cannot survive without its foundational values, and that churches are vital to our nation in particular.

One of the questions that Brooks presented is: what do we admire about people of depth? The David Brooks’ talk at Aspen Ideas Festival is titled– The Road to Depth: Thinking about what Character Is and the video is online:

Description of the talk: “Some people seem to lead inner lives that are richer and more substantive than the rest of us. How do they do it? This talk is a survey of some of history’s most substantive characters. How love, suffering, struggle, surrender and obedience lead them to their depth.”

Do you aspire to be a person of depth? What can possibly motivate someone to do the actions that are right and good and lasting? Can you see how character and integrity is truly the hallmark secret sauce to making the world a better place?

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Orange County is where many Asian Americans live

Orange County, California, affectionately known as the O.C., has the third-largest Asian American population in the United States. This statistic recently got some attention (in LA Times, NPR, Cal State Fullerton, press release) from the publication of a report titled “A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County, 2014” produced by Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.2014 A Community of Contrasts, Orange County

“With over a half million Asian Americans, Orange County is home to the nation’s third-largest Asian American population. Asian Americans make up 20% of the county’s total population, the largest concentration of Asian Americans in California outside of the Bay Area.”

… “Yet Asian Americans and NHPI have not realized their full potential as participants in the political process.”

This is not new news per se; in May 2011, OC Register had already reported 2010 U.S. Census numbers that O.C. has third highest Asian population in U.S. : Orange County has one of the highest concentrations of Asian residents in the nation, according to new census figures. And, to round out the ranking, the top 2 largest Asian American populations by county are Los Angeles and Santa Clara.

Demographics are destiny. With any group of people, and especially large concentrations of a group of people, will have need for more leaders. Not just more Asian American leaders reaching their potential, but also Asian American leaders who can serve beyond an Asian American demographics. Excerpted from an article, Asian-American Leadership Programs Tackle The ‘Bamboo Ceiling’ (NPR, July 2014)::

It’s not that Asian-Americans aren’t a part of the companies at all, in fact, they’re usually the biggest non-white demographic outside the tech division (at Yahoo, they’re 57% of the tech sector). But when it comes to leadership roles, their numbers shrink, along with those of other minorities; about 70-80% of the top management across the board is white.

There are many kinds of leadership roles, in the corporate management world, in the immediate community, and in the broader national and international communities. Each leadership opportunity and context requires unique gifting, skills, and perspectives. One experienced leader cannot lead equally effectively in every context.

As I age into my late 40s, I’m exploring how I can do more of my part to raise up a next generation of Asian American leaders. For other 15+ years, I’ve heard the recurring theme, the top need, from young Asian American leaders wanting to find a mentor and role model. I’m incubating on how I can do that more intentionally and virtually as well as locally. If you are an Asian American in your 20s or 30s, I’d love to hear from you.

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Why is there so much low quality Christian stuff?

Sometimes I talk with people who are serious Christ-followers and they share with me their disappointment and frustration about how Christians produce work of average (or worse) quality. The work could be in the arts (movie, media, music, song, painting, drawing, t-shirt design, posters, signs); the work could be a non-profit initiative (community service, social cause, service project, building maintenance, after-school tutoring); the work could be a ministry initiative (church worship service, evangelistic event, Christmas program).

And, yet because these works are done out of a sincere Christian faith, or for the Christian cause, somehow that makes it okay and beyond critique? Somehow, Christian zeal for doing something gets that person an immunity card. It’s as if because you’re in the Christian family-of-God that you have have to stay loyal to the home team, even if they’re never going to win the World Cup (a timely reference to the current event in sports). The Bible does say, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Where is the hunger to win, to produce the best quality goods to the glory of God?

Why can’t more Christians do better than mediocre? This frustration over low-quality Christian work is most often noticed and noted in the arts; perhaps it’s little safer to critique art. I searched for an answer using the popular search engine, and came up with a few insights and exhortations:

The credibility of our message comes into question when we do mediocre work.” – Kyle Cooper @ Christians Making Movies – Up The Ante (Jay Caruso, ChurchMag, October 10, 2011)

“Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. — quoting Jon Foreman @ Why Switchfoot won’t sing Christian songs (Dave Browning, December 5, 2013)

The term Christian film has become synonymous with substandard production values, stilted dialogue and childish plots.” @ Why Are Christian Movies So Bad? A call for Christians to get serious about being artists. (Scott Nehring, Relevant Magazine, October 26, 2010)

And here are some other finds::

A couple of my personal thoughts, as I ruminate and wrestle with this topic (not that I have arrived at an answer; these are a snapshot of my tentative thinking at the moment of this blog post):

First, all of humanity, both Christian and non-Christian, are created in the image of God, the Creator of the Universe, and I believe God the Creator is the source of all the great creative human accomplishments of recent history, seen in Pixar movies, Steve Jobs’ vision for the Apple iPod and iPhone, Tesla smart cars, Peter Drucker‘s wisdom on managing social capital, and of history past with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo’s art, Handel’s Messiah, and there are many many more. Greatness and excellence is self-evident. I’d like to think that Christians who have a “personal relationship” with the Creator God would have more creativity flowing through them, but it hasn’t been my overwhelming experience thus far.

Second, maybe a bell-curve distribution shows how any group of humanity has its share of talents and skills. A majority of people are just plain ol’ average, in competency and creativity and intelligence. And that’s okay, they’re still worthy of dignity and have intrinsic value. There’s a minority that are below average, and they too have just as much intrinsic value and dignity. There’s a percentage that are above average, and they have more giftedness and developed their skills better, but with no more intrinsic value for their humanity than the less gifted. I’d say these 3 groups (average, below average, and above average) account for 99% of the population.

And then there is that (less than) 1%, that are exemplarily gifted with smarts and skills and talents far beyond the norm, a la Steve Jobs, Michael Phelps, Pele, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and I already mentioned Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Yes, these “elite” have had to work hard and overcome adversities; yet I do believe they have something innate by nature took their lives beyond what nurture could.

Third, who are the Christians enabling these mediocre expressions of creativity in the name of God? For big movie productions and other costly endeavors, it takes some high net-worth donors to fund those projects. While wealthy people may have a certain high quality standard in their business life, it doesn’t seem to apply in the Christian world, the ones that are okay funding mediocrity. This ought not be. Integrity would be better lived with consistency in both the secular and sacred, as it is all one world, all under God.

Fourth, I think I’m realistic enough to realize that perhaps a majority of people do not understand the enduring value of quality. Granted, part of that is most of us can’t afford high quality stuff that’s typically expensive. Nevertheless, as a Christian family, it bothers me that we too often appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Fifth, (and I do have more thoughts on this, but wanted to get this published sooner than later,) for good Christian people that get flustered with mediocrity, I’d say, don’t waste your time and energy frustrated by those who don’t value quality like you do. Invest your time and energy with those who do care about and strive for quality. I think of the principles of stronger vs. weaker brethren is informative, cf. Romans 14-15. While a majority of people don’t have the training or talent to know how to create great quality stuff, even the untrained eye or palate instinctively and intuitively knows when something is beautiful and awesome and high quality.

What do you think? What can be done?

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Looking for 2nd Generation Korean American or Chinese American Parents

Julie J. Park is Assistant Professor of Education at University of Maryland, with research interests in racial diversity and equity in higher education, religion, Asian American college students, affirmative action and college admissions, social and cultural capital. She is looking for Asian Americans that would be interviewed for this project below:

Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park are interested in learning how “second gen” Korean and Chinese American parents approach education and child-rearing for their “third gen” children. We are looking for people who fit the following criteria to participate in a one-time interview:

  1. Your parents are immigrants and you were born in the U.S. or immigrated before age 7
  2. You are of Korean or Chinese descent
  3. You have at least one child over the age of 6
  4. You reside in the DC metro (DC/MD/VA) or LA/OC area.

We’d like to understand your experiences as a parent, your memories of your own experiences with education, and reflections on education in the Asian American community. You will receive a $10 gift card for participating in an hour long interview. If you are open to being interviewed and/or have questions, please contact Assistant Professor Julie Park at aaccstudy@gmail.com. Thank you!

(Editor’s note: I personally didn’t qualify for the research, since I immigrated to the U.S. at age 8. I did get 3 out of 4..)

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Ideas that shaped Western and Eastern cultures

Scholars have noted the major thoughts and philosophies that have influenced Western civilization and Asian cultures.

The 3 major influences of Western civilization are Greek culture, Roman culture, and Christianity.

“The Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions are the two principal components of Western civilization.” — in Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Volume 2 by Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue, p. xxiii)

“Christianity, no less than the Greek and the Roman legacy, has been chosen by many historians as the most important cultural “foundation” of the West.” — in The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne, p. 461.

The 3 major influences of (many) Asian cultures are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

“Many Asian cultures are influenced by the philosophies of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Among the values that appear common to many Asian cultures are those of harmony; humility; and respect for family, authority, and tradition.” — in An Introduction to Multicultural Counseling by Wanda M. L. Lee, p. 104.

“… Buddhism and Taoism represent two other strong influences, alongside Confucianism, on Chinese culture and society. These three streams of thought fused together to form the Chinese view of man’s place in society and influenced Chinese character and personality development.” — in New Asian Emperors: The Business Strategies of the Overseas Chinese By George T. Haley, Usha C. V. Haley, ChinHwee Tan, p. 1964.

Here’s the question, then: What would it look like if Christianity were to influence Asian cultures more?

Church of the Holy Mother. Sheshan. Shanghai, China

[photo credit: santochino]

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