Have a Global Impact-Tithe Your Time Online

What if you spent 10% of your time online collaborating with others on how to get better at college ministry? We teach graduating students how to be good stewards of their money. We talk about sacrificially sending our best people to all parts of the globe to pioneer new movements. Yet few people set on reaching university students view spending intentional time online to learn and share with others as a worthwhile cost/benefit.

I suggest every person who desires to see millions of students bringing the gospel to every corner of every campus should tithe of their time online to share tips, resources, ideas, struggles and stories. The mission can’t be executed by creating trade secrets, hoarding knowledge, or protecting resources.

Today’s web tools scream effectiveness as they empower learning, uber-transferability and scale. The platforms exist, but a mindset of collaboration doesn’t.  By spending five minutes to upload the presentation from your last small group leader training you could save someone hours.  Instead of pinging someone with an email, having the conversation on a forum might allow someone else to answer the question better than you could.  Tweeting the articles you’re reading helps identify valuable insights we can all benefit from.

Do you think the eternal rewards of investing 10% of your online time could be worth it and make the  other 90% of time more effective? There’s probably someone who knows a lot more about reaching students than you.  There’s probably someone who could really benefit from what you know about reaching students.  If we’re all on the same team, for the same mission, for the same King, then why aren’t we talking?

[Photo courtesy of tiridifilm]

  • http://campusministryguy.blogspot.com Guy Chmieleski


    Thanks for the challenge. You are right on! It might only take a few more minutes of our time each day to tweet, share, upload, etc., and the potential benefits for others – not to mention the mission field of college students – is tremendous!

  • http://thinkvlm.cru.sg Luke (aka Kheng Boon)

    I like your idea of tithing time. In Singapore CCC, we are going to implement some guidelines that every campus staff to spend 2-4 campus “hot hours” online to do internet evangelism and discipleship.

    It could be blogging to educate, facebook disciples to connect with them, and learning to type a prayer for a non-believer friends on facebook.

    I will tweet about this article to share your perspective :)

    • http://brianvirtue.org/ Brian Virtue

      Luke – I love hearing that. The wisdom of that to me is two-fold. First, it’s mobilizing people towards effectiveness and strategic engagement on students territory if you will. Second, it actually helps equip and serve staff so that staff are growing, adapting, and learning those skills and forms of engagement and communication needed to reach today’s students. I think most campus ministry folks would benefit from having some of that time carved out every week. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen Ip

      I too loved hearing about spending “hot-hours” online to do internet evangelism or connecting with our students. Incredibly strategic and I think most of us do this anyway at 11pm… and yet we forget that it really is working. It’s great to help train our staff to “re-think” different ways of connecting through other means and to remember that it is still work. Maybe we’ll have better time management because of it… who knows?

  • Eric


    FastCompany had a great article awhile back about how Cisco has benefitted by doing this very thing. They have their own internal facebook-like application that allows anyone to blog about their experience.


    I’ve heard rumors they’ll be offering the software for sale in the near future. I’d love to see CCC implement it.

    Great post. How would you address the fact that many of our staff don’t feel like they are technically savvy enough to start or run a blog?

    • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

      Eric, thanks for the link to the Fast Company article about Cisco. They are a company I think we should watch more. I really like the way Chambers lives out the vision. I was blown away in this talk (see #2) from a few years back. (If you have an hour – I recommend his talk).

      Re: staff not being tech-savvy.
      Be resourceful – pay a high-school kid 100 bucks to help you get setup. (That was a joke). Seriously, I think starting is the key. Make a goal of commenting on three blogs a week. If you have people reporting to you, make sure you read their blogs.

      Most people think that getting a gym membership will help them lose weight. Getting the membership is the easy part. Getting out of bed at 6am to exercise is the real issue. Getting the technical help is not the issue, cultivating the mindset and discipline to learn and lead differently is the issue. Just start.

  • Eric


    that’s a great idea to help staff integrate ministry in the “real” world and the virtual world.

    However, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have staff use their “hot hours” to do it. Ministry online can take place at any time, it doesn’t need to be during some of the best time to be on campus. I would want this to help accelerate momentum on campus, not be a hindrance.

    What was the reason they chose to do this during those times and not others?

    • http://brianvirtue.org/ Brian Virtue

      Eric – I read that as there would be a different set of hot hours for online interaction and that those wouldn’t necessarily be the same hot hours as we think of in terms of daily campus presence. I would agree with you that one of the beauties of online engagement is the flexibility of when we can do it. But I wonder if we identified a 2 hour time that is prime-time for online engagement – when would it be? Would it be afternoon? Early evening? Late evening? It’s an interesting thought to develop online “hot hours”.

      • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

        My theory is that after 4 pm is hot online hours. I have a theory that students (especially ones that live on campus) are checking Facebook before and after dinner). After about 8 pm students are online all the time but should be distracted with studies.

        But the beauty is that the engagement can happen any time over the period of days.

        • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

          MANY of my students report having significant ministry conversation via fb chat after 11pm.

          both the fb chat and 11pm takes me out of the running for being the most effective person to participate in it :)

          • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

            forgot about Delicious!

            seriously an underdog.

            so easy to search, save, and share bookmarks. on the cloud.

            don’t have to worry about managing local bookmarks and deciding what goes on my bookmark bar.

        • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

          I remember as a student (not that long ago), logging into MSN on a Sunday night at around 9pm and being amazed that almost all my friends and classmates were online, doing homework, hanging out and getting ready for the week ahead.

    • http://thinkvlm.cru.sg Luke

      Hey Eric!

      Appreciate your question. The staff asked me the same question too.

      “Why would I use the precious hot hours to do online ministry when I should be using that time to meet up with a disciple for personal time.”

      Increasingly, staff experienced lesser quantitative and qualitative time with students because of their busy schedules. It’s common to see students coming late and leaving early from our discipleship group meetings because of project meetings back to back. So if your disciples are already on facebook, or online most of the time, why not engage them online to better make use of the hot hours.

      By implementing the 2-4 hours hot hours to do online ministry, the campus leadership actually communicates to the staff that they have the freedom to try new things online to better interact with disciples or look for opportunities to engage pre-believing students.

      We have yet to work out the guidelines of the 2-4 hot hours, but the campus leadership believes this initiative will get the staff to experiment online tools, and perhaps learn from their students how they are living in the online world.

  • Richard Lim

    Hi Russ,

    I like learning. Sometimes I learn something from scratch, but more often I learn by building on what others have learned. It’s just more efficient and effective that way.

    If I expect to learn from the experiences of others, then I need to allow others to learn from my experience too!

    So yes, I think we need to invest our time online to collaborate with others. As the saying goes, all of us is better than one of us.

  • Doug Leppard

    Russ good points. What does your personal online time look like? How is it spent?

    I only ask that to learn from you.

    • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

      Disclaimer: My time online looks different than a lot of campus ministers because I don’t often go to campus . My role is to build capacity as I lead the operations team and that means mostly being in meetings, working online and travel.

      I try to spend about 20% of my time learning, researching, blogging, engaging and connecting with others. This means reading blogs, news, books, watching talks, playing with toys, leaving comments, brainstorming and dreaming. I try to lead out in initiating discussions in various collaborative spaces I’m a part of.

      The rest of my time would be doing the nuts and bolts of my job which mostly happens online since my team is virtual.

      Some general principles I follow.
      – Everything in the cloud. Very little of my work is dependent on me being logged into my own computer. It’s accessible from any web connection.
      – I try to minimize context switching and only deal with one steam, application or task at a time. (I’m far from perfect at this.)
      – I use the Inbox Zero framework and try not to live in my inbox.
      – My team has an ongoing skype chat where we can get a hold of each other if needed (you can set skype to only notify you of certain text, or callsigns in our case), this eliminates email and can prevent unnecessary interruptions.
      – I try and post two blog posts a week. I have a google doc of brainstorming ideas that I scribble things down in often.
      – I treat and tweet high-value things max 7-9 times a day. “I’m going to the bank” is not high value.
      – I rely on search to find mail and articles which I tag in Google Reader or delicious if they are relevant
      – I try and schedule time each day to keep up on feeds. If I fall behind, I give myself a set amount of time, pick the most important sources to check first and when the time is up all the rest are marked as read.

      I have four main streams that I monitor systematically multiple times per day.
      Twitter – for news and social
      Google Reader – for blogs
      Google Wave – for meeting notes and conversations
      Mail – a lot of feeds/notifications pour in here, not to mention memos from my boss

      How do others spend their time online?

      • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

        Russ, This was super helpful!

      • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

        dude can you please say EVERYTHING ON THE CLOUD louder!

        twitter search would be the place i think is most un-tapped–mostly bc right now i’m listening to chris brogan tell me how effective it is :)

        i would add to the cloud idea this:

        how much can you do on your phone? and if you don’t have a smart phone (android or iphone, let’s be real), why not?

        don’t tell me it’s price bc we all spend 10x that on coffee.

        i can’t tell you how much significant work i get done on my iphone–coupled w google calendar integration, google reader to sync up my feeds, and tweetie to manage my twitter profiles.

        i would honestly recommend buying a droid or iphone before they buy their next computer.

        thanks for letting me rant.

        • Doug Leppard

          I second that on the phone. I got an android hero in October; it does change how you do things.

          I did a large project at home with lots of physical labor. I used Google listen to find interesting podcasts and listened to them for hours each day as I did this project. Many of the podcasts opened my eyes to what is happening out there.

          iphone/android is the way to go.

      • Doug Leppard

        Thanks Russ this was helpful.

      • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street

        Most to scam on old chicks from high school via facebook Oh wait, that is actually a good way to spend your time online. Must be more like Russ.

        Seriously, thanks Russ. Can you get that down to 140 characters or less for me?

        • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

          Here’s 139…

          adding value to the kingdom by intentionally working in the cloud in front of and together with others, forsaking email as much as possible

          • http://toolsforcampus.wordpress.com Terra

            Great words Russ.

      • http://www.onleadingwell.com Ken Cochrum


        Great post! Seeking to shift the mentality of ‘hot hours’ is key to reaching this generation of students. The old mindset asks: When do I have to be on campus? The new mindset (or really the 1951 mindset) is “Where are the students and how do we reach them in their context?” That’s online.

        Your list above that highlights how you prioritize your time online is SOLID GOLD. Please convert that into a blog post in the future.

  • http://www.keynoteconnection.org Renae Nanney

    Great idea about tithing time. I especially like the emphasis on sharing what we’re learning. I tend to do more “stalking” and seeking ideas from others. While it’s benefited me, I’m not as apt to turn around and share with others. I’ve been doing better.

    I’ve been helping some of my ministry partners recently in an effort to launch a college age ministry at their church. I’ve found great ideas from your site, Russ and Brian barela’s that I can share. thanks for tithing!

  • Jamie

    10% of our time would be a half day a week. If Campus staff have other responsibilities beyond their own campus (as many do, such as International partnerships, Winter Conference, etc), then we are cutting more time into face to face contact with students to help them discover Jesus.

    Would you suggest this for all staff or just certain types of staff?

    I think time on the internet collaborating would be fun and I could see the potential benefit, but I already feel like my weekly time pie chart is sliced so thin. I am willing to learn though. This is something I am wrestling through… how to best spend my time for the glory of God!

    • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

      Good thoughts, Jamie. I definitely think different types of people will approach this differently – for some it will be “fun” (I’m that type of person, usually), and for others it will simply be a spiritual discipline (although often we grow to like those, right?). And some will dive in to much bigger degree. I imagine it’s something like how foreign missionaries approach professional development, too.

      But it helps me to realize that the point of online collaboration isn’t the “fun” side – it’s not just dropping in and seeing the latest ministry trends or catching up with people on Facebook. It’s doing the hard work of learning and dialoguing about the very issues you’re facing daily in all those other tasks. Like any “professional development,” either we spend regular time getting better (and therefore get better), or we don’t (and don’t). So that’s where the whole idea of spiritual discipline comes in. There are plenty of days when I don’t feel like thinking and am slogging my way through the College Ministry blogs I read and certainly am having very little fun. Other days, it’s a blast. Either way, it’s extremely valuable in the long run.

      Of course, you also noticed something really important: Middle-of-the-day “campus time” probably isn’t the time/place to do most of this.

    • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

      Important note: I qualified time as “online time”, not total work time. Thus, if you are online for 1hr/day for work, you would spend 30 of those minutes in a week intentionally tithing.

      I do not want you to have to cut face-to-face time with students, but rather re-think those precious minutes you are online as a part of your work. Largely what I’m suggesting is that with relatively minor modifications to how we interact, the whole of kingdom building could be really advanced through collaborative sharing.

      For example, the next time you have a tough question to answer in discipleship, what is the first thing you’ll do? I bet you’ll Google it. If no one takes the time to contribute good material, thoughts and opinions, Google won’t be able to return you search results that will help you prepare for that appointment. I’m challenging you to be the one who helps others when they “Google it” by tweaking your mindset, doing the work you’ve got to do anyway, but in a way that others beyond just your campus can benefit from.

  • http://increasingcapacity.blogspot.com/ Josh

    Excellent idea! To answer our question – by spending 10% of your time doing online collaboration or social media evangelism/training, you are essentially multiplying your impact because the 10% can be retweeted and shared virally. In a sense you are making contributions to the online world by “tilling the ground” with God-positive, Christ-centered work that can encourage another Christian or bring a non-believer one step closer to making a decision to follow Christ.

    • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

      Josh, I’m a huge fan of this thought. Let’s multiply our impact. Put your strategies/perspectives/calenders in a public place where people can access them or engage with them. There’s always emerging leaders that are chomping at the bit to learn.

      Think about the leaders that could be empowered if we’d just share our campus calender with each other. Think about community that would be built. It’s astounding.

  • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

    Obviously, I’m a big fan of all this. Thanks, Russ. It’s an honor to get to follow you as a “host” tomorrow.

    I really like the idea of creating useful “dumping blogs,” where we put quite a bit of our nuts-and-bolts elements (presentations, outlines, etc.). Any thoughts ultimately on how we might help people locate what they need? (Obviously, we’re pretty far from having the problem of having TOO MUCH out there, but I’m a hopeful fellow.)

    And thank you for pointing out once of the biggest issues in the field of college ministry. I wish it was in bright red, 64-point font. Perhaps with that old stupid “Flash” code so it would blink:

    “The platforms exist, but a mindset of collaboration doesn’t.”

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      hey benson the dumping blogs is a great point.

      some categories that i apply when i’m starting one of these:

      share-ability: can this content be easily shared via facebook and email? if not, find a different place.

      basic statistics: when someone looks at/downloads a piece of your content, do you know? and how easy is it for you to find this out? i love slideshare for documents because it COUNTS interaction. YouTube/Vimeo as well.

      centrality–if this content can only be accessed by you, or has your email attached to it, try again. i just went through w the guy replacing me at chico state and switched all of our accounts to a chicocru gmail login and easy to remember password.

      • http://www.himynameisjaked.com jake demaray

        this is one of the things i’m totally for and have been trying to figure out a good way to implement beyond dropbox. probably one of the most frustrating examples of this is the ccc wiki… God bless the folks who are running it but i struggle to find anything that i’m looking for on there. how do we make things like this more user friendly?

    • http://www.seabourn.org/ Keith Seabourn

      A little promo here for inConversation.org, a blog aggregator created by Joseph Gibbs, staff member in New Zealand. If you blog about ministry stuff, please connect your blog to the aggregator. It’s a great way to collaborate by sharing your stuff and thoughts with others. It can be your entire blog, or just a specific category or tag that feeds into the aggregator.

  • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street


    Great thoughts. You guys north of the border are really smart!! Keep pushing and challenging us!!

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  • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

    what if we cut out one mtg every two weeks? if you have a staff team of 5, and a mtg that lasts 2 hours, you just gained 10 hours of time to do something like this.

    i’m not even going to say what i think about cutting out one day of every ccc conference….whoops :)

  • http://www.epicslo.com Brendon

    Totally agree. I’ve never thought of this as tithing, but it makes a lot of sense. Almost subconsciously, I’ve been using my FB and Twitter accounts as encouragement tools for others: I’ll tweet articles and advice, and my FB account aggregates my latest personal blog entries (which are mostly about ministry lessons). I’ve seen great fruit arise from this.

    • http://brianvirtue.org/ Brian Virtue

      I love this idea and think it’s well worth the investment. One of my hang-ups sometime is that I don’t always like putting unrefined or almost finished things out there. I sense this from others at times too. There’s a temptation to not put things out there, not because people don’t want to, but because of things like perfectionism or low confidence that imperfect tools and resources can have a significant impact in the hands of others. How would you help create a culture that helps people overcome some of their fears and personal barriers to sharing so that their contribution can perhaps be multiplied by others through collaboration?

      • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

        – Realize blogging/collaboration is a marathon. See mistake 5.

        – Encouragement. Heap praise on those just starting out.

        – Don’t expect everyone will get in the first time, but help people continue to take bigger and bigger steps.

      • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

        I think fear rules a lot of willingness to share what we’re doing or thinking in our ministry context. Fear of being wrong or corrected.

        This thought is a preview of my post on thursday :)

        • Victor Toh

          Matt, you hit the nail right on the head for me. What if I come off sounding stupid? (I can’t stand the thought of that happening!) plu, how could I ever blog anything of real value when there’re already multitudes of thinkers out there?

          I know in my head that these are self-defeating and foolish and I’m much worse off for NOT writing/getting input than keeping quiet and pretending things are fine as they are, but it’s exactly this point you make that keeps me from really getting started blogging.

    • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

      Brendon, thanks for leading out in this. I find a lot of what I read, think about etc… is really influenced by what people in my network are thinking about.

      Often, they help me learn about something I didn’t even know I didn’t know and can really help me immediately.

    • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

      For the sake of practicing what Russ is preaching, can we get your blog address? Thanks, Brendon!

      • http://twitter.com/ChelseaMorrell Chelsea Morrell

        Brendon’s site is http://www.brendonatslo.com or twitter.com/brendon.

        What I love about Brendon’s use of twitter, fb, and blogging through epicslo.com is how well he understands the culture of the students he’s communicating with, and totally engages with them. I would say that epicslo is an EXCELLENT example of how social media will be effectively used in the next five years for ministries.

        I know I wish wish wish there was something better than discipleship journal to post/grab resources for discipleship. Yesterday I google searched “The Grid” to try to go through with my girls, luckily an obscure AIA movement on the east coast had some of the materials up there so I didn’t have to guess my way through it.

        I know staff out there have tons of great things that they’ve made, or are in progress. There was one article that was photocopied so many times it was illegible – if it was posted on some wiki that was accessible to student leaders as well, it could still be used today instead of dying out.

        • http://www.seabourn.org/ Keith Seabourn

          Chelsea, another search tool that might help you find good resources is search.ccci.org. It’s a google search tool that indexes about 2000 known CCCI websites in 25+ languages from 50+ countries. If you click the Sign In button and use your GCX signin, you can even see lots of private sites with good info. This is the same search you can do from staffweb.org in the Search All CCCI spot.

  • http://www.danbirchblog.com Daniel Birch

    Hey Russ,

    I think this is a great blog, and idea. I think tithing 10% of your time would be a great initial starting point for people who’ve never used the webs/social media intentionally for the gospel. But I think the FINAL Goal is a “100%” mindset change to the fact of “being a christian online.” People need to understand that the internet will not replace human interaction, but is a great way to supplement our ministries making us wiser and more effective. I fear that if 10% becomes another check mark on a staff “list of things to do” they will miss real effective opportunities and not believe in the actual 10% they are doing is helping there ministries. Again, especially with older people on staff there needs to be a 100% willingness to enter this medium effectively.

    • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

      Hey Dan! Hopefully it’s been cleared up by some of Russ’s statements above, but I believe he means tithing your time specifically for professional development work online. But you’re right – it’s long past time for us all to jump with both feet into this-stuff-as-normal-life.

      • http://www.danbirchblog.com Daniel Birch

        Hey Benson,

        Yeah totally I saw Russ clarify some stuff. I guess with the !0% tithing word usage always make me weary that people might think because there so called “investing or intentionally online doing some things” they wont want to grow more, and try to be more effective. We have a gift as human beings to turn good things into “works based” attitudes and actions. Thats why the big picture of everybody communicating constantly on this tools and learning would be just apart of life.

  • Jen Ip

    I Love this idea Russ. I’m sure all of us have experienced the late night scramble to find something we needed for a discipleship time. it’d be great to have a place to put it all and by category… with CCC there is the wiki… but not super user friendly… I think that is one of the key elements to creating a place to have a sharing of ideas… the uploading and information would be easily accessible and user friendly. KInda like the way Mac does it russ when you and your wife make yearbooks on iphoto. It’s simple, smart, and anyone can do it, even technically challenged people like myself.
    In light of a few things people have shared about the information of ideas and resources online, i’ve also found a way to invest in my students via a blog. I created a “closed” blog for 15 women to connect through. I write a blog twice a month and their only commitment is to read it and to respond to it.. and share openly and vulnerably. It’s great cause 1. i travel a lot but can still connect with them and 2. they can read it anytime on their own time and I don’t have to try and spend hours trying to meet with each of them. It’s been great to see the vulnerability of each girl and it’s been cool for other women to read the other women’s posts. It’s a simple idea for those who travel a lot to still connect and invest in your students or your friends. I Just make sure I can connect physically with them throughout the quarter at least once or twice and as a large group.
    Anyways… thanks russ for the exchange idea…

    • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

      I really like what you’re doing with the “closed blog”. Although my post is largely interpreted as we need to share more publicly, I think a deeper value in sharing and learning happens if more people did what you are doing in the context of a small community. Very impressed, keep up the good work.

      In getting to movements everywhere, having safe places where communities of believers grow, learn and share together are key.

    • http://www.danbirchblog.com Daniel Birch

      Hey Jen,

      Thats awesome, to hear how you use the blog in your ministry. I think thats a great idea! whats even more encouraging to me, and not to open a can of worms:) but I sometimes feel that there is a stigma that “men” or the one’s using online tools and women arent. I feel that women can be intimated sometimes but online tools or communication, and I think its going to take each gender to be effective overall. I hope I dont sound sexiest:) I just really liked hearing from you what your doing.

      • http://twitter.com/ChelseaMorrell Chelsea Morrell

        Hey Dan and Jen,

        Jen – I love that you use a blog that way! My discipler is a mom and super busy, so I love reading her blogs or seeing pictures that her husband tweets of their kid. It would be sweet to connect in the way you do with her and the other girls she disciples, since we all know each other anyway.

        Dan – Yeah, I think that there is a legitimate gender gap with technology but it’s rapidly closing. Some of the girls I disciple get frustrated when I want to get them to email me their schedules because they only check their email a couple times a week (I don’t even know how that is humanly possible!!!), but the girls I’ve been discipling for the longest are younger. One of them I connect with a lot on twitter, the other I connect with on fb.

        I know that all of them appreciate it if I email them different resources that aren’t easily accessible or that I’ve made up and that we’ve gone over so they can then use it with the girls they disciple.

        Dan, how have you observed the way men and women can use online tools in different ways? (to be honest I don’t pay attend to how the guys in slocrusade use facebook at all)

        • http://www.danbirchblog.com Daniel Birch

          Hey Chelsea,

          Yeah good incite on that women side of internet tools, interesting to hear your perspective. To be perfectly honest here’s what I’ve seen. First of all I feel the men and women are “created” differently so we are attracted to different things. And so I’ve seen more guys be into technology in the first place, case and point my ideal day is at Bestbuy but not for my most women:) Secondly, I’ve seen the women who do I have iphones, computers, be on the medium but not want to commit fully so as to be associated with it. Basically I think I see some women almost be fearful of the medium because of a perception from others. I’m not saying there isnt exceptions on both sides. But I just think that social media ministry can be modeled by women, and by other women using it, I think it will break down stigmas and make people feel more comfortable. thats my take.:)

      • http://www.amberdawnlo.blogspot.com Amber Lo

        Hey Daniel,

        You obviously aren’t familiar with the mom & women blogging industry! They are some of the most tech saavy people I know of (aside from “computer nerds”…and I mean that in a good way.) Fortune 500 companies are spending significant money advertising through women bloggers and there are even whole conferences such as BlogHer and She Speaks that are geared to helping women create successful blog “businesses” using online tools like Facebook and Twitter to promote their blogs. I can confidently say that aside from my husband, I think I know more about online use and tools than every other man on our team.

        Because many moms can’t be on campus every day, they are often forced to think outside of the box when it comes to connecting with students, and many of the staff moms I know are more effective and knowledgeable about online tools & communication than men I know on staff. There are definitely exceptions, and there is a group of men who are extremely knowledgeable about and interested in technology (such as the ones participating in this blogference.) But, I wouldn’t put women in a box of being intimidated by online tools and communication.

        It is actually a woman that I think has the most effective use I have ever seen of technology and online tools for her ministry, both with students and ministry partners! She uses it as a great supplement to her face-to-face on-campus time.


        • http://www.danbirchblog.com Daniel Birch

          Hey Amber,

          Great point, honestly I guess I’m not familiar with it. And I’m not trying to cap on women at all, or criticize them. But let me clarify I’m thinking in terms of single women students not necessarily moms. I’m thinking of the 18year old students in Campus Crusade movements. And honestly I don’t see that much intentionality to be on the medium and transmit gospel resources or be as evangelistic. I do think there is still a barrier in that area. I think the women bloggers are amazing, and again I just want to promote women in the area, and encourage more to be on it.

    • http://www.amberdawnlo.blogspot.com Amber Lo


      That is a FABULOUS idea about the blog with 15 women. I am definitely going to remember this idea and try to implement it in the fall. I am a regular blogger and enjoy writing, so this is an intriguing idea for connecting with women on campus in a way that I enjoy and that meets them where they are at…online. Since the campus I spend most of my time on is a commuter campus, and most of the students we minister too also work (many full time), I think the fact that they can do it on their own time, when they are available, is key and could be extremely beneficial to creating community for the times when we are face-to-face. I have “blog friends” that I have never met face-to-face, but I feel like I know from our online interactions. I can imagine that this would definitely carry over to the type of blog you have described, creating community that makes the in person gatherings deeper and more meaningful faster.

      How could we use this idea with students going on summer projects to begin creating community before arriving at our project location? I think this is the heart behind Facebook groups for projects, but from my experience, interactions there can be limited. I would be curious to see how this type of blog might encourage even deeper connections on the front end.

      Thanks for sharing!


  • Jeff West

    Good thoughts Russ. Pride is my problem. Posting something on in a forum, especially if it is an incomplete thought or idea in the developmental stage, might come across as either stupid or arrogant. Once I have something thought out and put together, I don’t mind posting it to have it ripped to shreds. Consequently, my tendency in not to involve EVERYONE in the process, but am willing to share the product with everyone to use or critique.

    • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

      Yes, the fear of either coming across as a know-it-all or worse a little stupid is a big barrier to putting ourselves and our stuff out there to be viewed, commented on and critiqued. (This will come up on my thursday post.)

      I’ve found that when I’ve taken the chance and put my unfinished thoughts in public view the result has far exceeded my expectations. The amount I’ve learned from others is off the charts. Generally speaking my fear of backlash or embarrassment is unwarranted.

      Which takes me to my second thought. Do you think this fear is coming from the structure of our organization? Command and control has been the basic leadership format for a number of years. Has that created an environment that is hard to foster collaboration in?

      Just some thoughts.

      • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

        This may be a question I just need to re-enter on Thursday, but since you broached the subject…

        As people (rightly) are willing to hypothesize, theorize, suggest, “think out loud,” and otherwise online, it is important that somehow readers recognize that this is what’s going on. Blogs aren’t meant to be as “authoritative” as books, but readers don’t always realize that. (And honestly, some bloggers don’t always realize that their pronouncements aren’t as valid or applicable as they think.)

        Is there a need to / way to help both bloggers AND their readers function well in an environment where there’s a lot of trial and error, where “publication” does not indicate peer review or even self-review, and yet where it leads to helpful peer review and self-review? Or… I guess I’m struggling to figure out how that all works, while very much wanting to promote what you’re saying.

        Not sure if this concern even makes sense… but I’m thinking out loud. :)

  • Eric

    I agree with Brian on the phone. I’m seriously considering making it a requirement for our team. I’m able to do so much on it even while just riding the bus to campus.

    Now for a mpd app…

    • http://www.himynameisjaked.com jake demaray

      tnt for iphone would be amazing…

      • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

        yes this wins the best idea for blogference day #1

        Lets make TNT mobile accessible.

        • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

          i wish we could pull tnt off the table for one year because:

          –staff would have to learn how to manage their own databases better, and curate/groom them to include more key pieces of data–fb profiles, blogs, flickr albums, etc.

          –staff just might move into more dynamic online communication. it’s too easy (i’m being dramatic) to just take that spreadsheet tnt generates and plop it around the interwebs.

          –i think staff would do mpd less out of fear and the negative and more proactively and positively.

          prime example:
          you open tnt
          your account is $2000 lower than it was last week
          you freak out
          you frantically comb through your database, looking for who isn’t giving
          you stress everyone out around you for the next week/month/year until your account recovers.

          RE-Think example:
          you see a reminder on your google calendar to comment on a minsitry partner’s adoption blog
          you check batchbook from the web and easily retrieve their blog url
          you quickly go over to facebook and see what’s going on in that person’s life
          you write a authentic, caring, personal, and well timed comment on their blog

          6 months later they receive an inheritance and give you $20,000.

          i think tnt is keeping many staff from building personal relationships online with their ministry partners.

          • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

            Can I shout an AMEN to this one!

            If MPD is relationship driven. It would make sense to figure out how connect it (or some other managing software) to online applications that our donors are on.

            • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

              yeah matt staff can cling to tnt for the impersonal data but in doing so miss out on collecting and managing personal data–which as you noted is the stuff that drives relationships and giving.

              chris brogan talks about getting ready to make a sales call and checking twitter to see how that person’s day was going–turned out their pet died and the person was distraught–and instead of calling and asking for the sale he called and expressed regrets for the loss of the person’s pet.

              that’s mpd!

              • http://www.seabourn.org/ Keith Seabourn

                It’s interesting to read the various thoughts about tnt here. I personally find tnt very helpful for exactly what you are talking about. I use the history extensively. It’s a little extra work, but cut ‘n paste stuff from their blog or facebook or even “archaic” email or whatever into a history record. Doing a blog search or a twitter feed read is good for instantaneous stuff about today. I do that all the time. But remembering what I’ve read and/or written to someone in a few months when I have a chance to meet face to face or some other personal contact is where i find tnt’s history invaluable.

                • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

                  hey keith batchbook sets up an rss feed for EACH contact!

                  all that you mentioned would be bundled into an rss feed.

                  i’m guessing you’re on the high end of maintaining your database. i’m certain a VAST majority of staff do not.

                  my thought is that managing a database in your browswer (where staff are on fb and gmail all the time) might actually help them connect not only those personal interactions but the online interactions.

          • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

            re: i think tnt is keeping many staff from building personal relationships online with their ministry partners.

            I think this is a weak argument with little evidence. TntMPD is a tool. TntMPD does not prevent people from building online personal relationships with people, it’s more about a choice/discipline/initiative than anything. As Keith shows below, I think TntMPD can be used (with a little bit of elbow grease) to manage many interactions with donors. I’ve benefited greatly from TntMPD and I have never found a feature in terms of the mechanics of fundraising that isn’t in there. I’m thankful for the creator and support team who’ve dedicated many hours (by raising their own funds) so I can save many hours and I don’t even have to pay for the software. Isn’t that a great example of Kingdom collaboration and servanthood? TntMPD is probably the most stable program I’ve ever used and has amazing user support and global/multi-lingual adoption.

            Do I wish TntMPD was native on the Mac – yes.
            Do I wish TntMPD was on the web, so my wife and I could both access – yes.
            Do I with TntMPD integrated more with social media – yes.

            Can Batchbook tell you that your donor just increased their monthly pledge so that you can send them a thanks (pinging them however you want)?
            Can Batchbook tell you that someone is behind on the commitment they made to you?
            Can Batchbook segment your gifts to know which appeals worked?
            My guess from a cursory overview is no. Could it be done, probably (and it would be fun), but at the end of the day, I still need a tool to do those heavy lifting components in MPD.

            I know you are saying this to get a reaction, but I guess blaming the tool seems unsettling to me. I think the issue is broader.

            Your point has me thinking more and more about the possibilities of developing a more social MPD tool that integrates the social web with the mechanics of fundraising. It has helped me move another 20 yards down the field in how I think about interacting with my donors as I head into a season of concentrated MPD. I’ve got lots of ideas on this. Check out http://www.radian6.com/

            Wanna start a company together that will develop such a tool? I see Batchbook has third-party integration.

            • http://stiragir.wordpress.com Jess Wynja

              I’m looking for a “like” button for:
              a) more social MPD
              b) tntMPD being a tool
              c) tntMPD being online

            • http://www.brianbarela.typepad.com/ Brian Barela

              hey russ i am being dramatic, but it’s because of a training i did last summer at ocean city for the staff–35 staff from around the US.

              data point: 90% of the staff were NOT using fb strategically for ministry

              data point: the largest groups of people joining fb are those who fit the typical donor (45-60).

              data point: 50% of my supporters have family or “mom” blogs

              my point–tracking the online social graph and the meta info associated with it of our supporters is more valuable than tracking donation-based information.

              from your comments i would say you are in the MINORITY (in a good way) in terms of how you use tnt. it sounds like you use it as a “process”–i have seen MANY staff use it as an EVENT.

              data point–more and more staff are buying macs, increasing the friction related to using TNT. in my region i’m guessing the percentage of mac users might be 70%.

              data point: 90% of the staff “prayer letter” emails do not have analytics tracking on them–so they could be sending 1000 emails out a month and literally have a 1% open rate.

              i have much respect for tnt–however at this point in my opinion it’s keeping staff from collecting soft/social data on supporters.

              as you mentioned it’s not tnt’s fault–it was developed a long time ago and not given significant resources to develop and morph into something social.

              i’m blaming the tool because the broader issue is that many staff have no idea that there is anything out there other than tnt and mass emails with no stats as their main tools for mpd. the over-dependence on the tool is the broader issue for me.

              thanks for challenging my thoughts russ! i’m trusting that it’s causing people to rethink these issues.

              • http://www.seabourn.org/ Keith Seabourn

                Great interaction, Brian and Jess and Russ. I didn’t know anything about Batchbook or Radian6. I’ve got some investigating to do!

                Incorrectly thinking of MPD as an event rather than a process is not a recent problem from the TntMPD era. That’s been a long-term problem for most of us as staff. I, like many other staff I know, have had to adjust our thinking if we want to stay financially healthy and available for God’s continue use.

                I rarely use the email function built into TntMPD. Rather, I use an email mailing list tool that manages my list much more effectively than I would personally. But it is disconnected from my TntMPD contacts, so I must manually maintain it. :-( Jerry Hertzler is testing a service that looks interesting called MailChimp.

                YES, I would like a tool that integrated with social media, was available online as well as offline, and worked on a Mac (I’m a Windows user but empathize with Mac-ies)!

          • http://www.amberdawnlo.blogspot.com Amber Lo


            I definitely haven’t perfected the art of keeping in touch with ministry partners through Facebook, blogs, etc. but it has definitely been an asset for me in knowing our ministry partners.

            My husband had already been on staff for 8 years when we got married and I joined staff. He already had an extensive network of ministry partners and it felt like an absolutely overwhelming task to recognize and “get to know” all 200+ of them. But, blogs and Facebook have really helped me chip away at that task, put names and faces together, and get to know our ministry partners that are active online.

            We have a ministry partner that lives states away and we are friends that have never met-through our blogs. I regularly read her blog and comment on all of the cute videos and posts she posts about her family. She regularly visits and comments on my blog. We both are excited to finally meet some day. I can’t tell you how often a ministry partner tells me that they just made a recipe I posted on my blog. I have often said to my husband, I wish all of our ministry partners had blogs!!! Facebook has also helped me to connect with and build relationships with some of our ministry partners.

            We haven’t gotten a $20,000 inheritance yet, but maybe someday!


            • http://www.brianbarela.typepad.com/ Brian Barela

              hey amber thanks for sharing that.

              the fact that you are doing SOMETHING means you have perfected it.

              another key data point is that many of those 45-60 use facebook for entertainment–like watching tv or renting a movie.

              think about that for a second–your status updates, pictures, comments, and photos are most likely being consumed as entertainment.

              compare that to how many people view email! even my favorite people on staff that send me email newsletters aren’t that great–i open less than 20% of them, and of those that i open i rarely if ever read the whole thing.

              let’s all be praying for the inheritance :) and do the hard work of connecting personally with our ministry partners (had to say that bc ellis may be reading this).

        • http://www.mattmccomas.com/ Matt McComas

          I did notice on the new Concur software that you can access it through your smartphone.

          However the official training told us not to….which I think is crazy talk.

          So maybe I can approve expense reports while I’m riding the bus to campus now.

    • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

      Just as an advocate for us non-CCCers here at the Blogference…

      MPD = Ministry Partner Development = fundraising
      TNT = some sort of fundraising software that CCC people use

  • http://danielcberman.com Daniel Berman

    Its really fun, and somewhat scary to hang out with passionate people like you folks. I think I have learned more about the inner workings of CCC in this discussion than I have in the last couple of months atleast regarding logistics and the tools you guys are working with to get the nitty gritty done.

    That said, as a person outside of CCC if I was to ask what a para-church “intranet” would look like, what sort of a picture would you draw? How do you believe your tools are stifling a mindset of collaboration, and how do you think its possible to change that…?

  • http://bridgewaycollegestudents.blogspot.com Tim Ehrhardt

    As an official “old fart” who has been doing ministry with college students for 25 years, obviously most of those years were without the use of on-line resources. Blogging and reading blogs has been an invaluable tool in several ways: seeing a much bigger picture of what the Holy Spirit is doing in college ministry; encouragement to keep persevering in ministry; quick responses from folks like yourselves from all over the country to questions and comments; connecting with some of the best and brightest people (which happen to be campus ministry people!); keeping on the cutting edge of college ministry; the chance to mentor others outside of my geographical sphere on influence. Those are just off the top of my bald head, but I know I could come up with many more reasons. God bless you all in your work, and keep enjoying Jesus and students!

  • http://stiragir.wordpress.com Jess Wynja

    Love the conversation going on here. Russ, I love your blog & I love how you help me get things done and use the web better.

    This discussion is a bit strange for me, mostly because I’m of the Facebook generation. My first year of University was 2004, the big year FB came out. I’ve never done campus ministry as a staff or student without it.

    This is my first year on staff and having an iPhone with the FB app on it has been great. It means when someone is interested in keeping in touch after a “random” evangelism time, I add them to facebook right away. They help me find them on facebook, sometimes they’re even able to accept my friend request on the spot as well.

    But has it helped my conversations? Not exactly, because I haven’t scheduled time in my week to actually be pursuing these covos and people.

  • http://www.amberdawnlo.blogspot.com Amber Lo

    Loved reading this conversation, especially since we’ve been talking about online ministry & the use of technology on staff for the last two weeks during our staff meetings…and debating the “pros & cons.” I am a proponent and very interested in exploring more fully how we can use online tools both for ministry effectiveness and evangelism, and in our own leadership development and for collaboration.

    I desperately wish that there were more organized, user-friendly online sources of information sharing, both within CCC and with other ministries. I feel like the Wiki is intended to meet this need, but it is highly underused and lacks the organization and collaboration (on the part of users) that would make it more useful and effective. CCC has SO many great resources, but finding them can take unfortunate time. I’ve been on staff for 3 years and still get confused about which CCC website has which information or resource that I need. Sadly, the search function isn’t great at returning applicable results either. I have thought many times that I wish there was one central place to find all of the information and resources that I need! The best example of a USCM Wiki that I have seen thus far is the Wiki for Epic. But, I admittedly have had enough disappointments that I don’t spend a lot of time exploring the Wiki now.

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  • http://www.doublederivative.ca Russ Martin

    I would recommend wordpress.com or typepad.com.

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