Showing posts from July, 2011

The Trouble with Bookstores, Redux

A few months ago, as Borders closed some of its stores, I wrote this blog post.  This week we get the word that Borders is completely liquidating and will be no more. 

When I came to Jackson, Michigan, seven years ago, we had several small bookstores.  None of them were great.  Almost all of them are now out of business.   What's gone?  Best Books in Jackson Crossing, a small bookstore in a strip mall on West Ave., another small bookstore that was on West Ave. (I can't even remember their names), the Nomad Bookstore on Mechanic (which both came and went during these years), and now, we'll see the Waldenbooks in Jackson Crossing close, as well.

Where can you buy a book, other than online, in town?
You can buy textbooks at Baker College and Jackson Community College.You can buy Christian books at Agape in Jackson Crossing.You can buy children's books at the Toy House and a lesser number at Toys R Us.You can buy comic books at Nostalgia, Ink. You can buy used books at the

Two Cents on the Justice GA

For the record, I'm not really opinionated about what is being called the "hot mess" -- the resignation of two members of the GA Planning Committee. I don't know enough about the internal politics of the GAPC or the UUA Board to really weigh in on the issue.  Kim Hampton's post about the roll of worship and the SLT in the Justice GA is informed and informative.  And I think Tom Schade is right on point to say, "It's always useful to remember that the future hasn't happened yet."

I am opinionated about the "Justice GA," on the other hand.  And I know for every person who was sitting in the Plenary Hall when we voted for a "Justice GA" there was a separate opinion, and not all of our expectations can be met.  Half of us probably think that there should be a Service of the Living Tradition, and half of us don't.  Half of us think there should be an exhibit hall, and half of us don't.  And the half that do and the half th…

Design Your Church a Mobile Website! - Maps Addendum

It turns out I was over-thinking the maps option.  I had created a page called "Directions" which had the address and phone number and an embedded customized Google map of  the church in it (200x300 pixels).  This was entirely workable.  Someone could change the size of the map and move it up & down and so forth, to see what they wanted to see.  It was pretty much like this:

View Larger Map

But this wasn't what I really wanted.  I wanted to click on it and have the option pop up of going to my navigation app on the phone.

I discovered that if I clicked on the (plain text--no hyperlink) address itself that I had typed above the embedded map, I would get such a pop-up asking if I wanted to do that.  But this wasn't intuitive enough and some people might not know their phones work this way (and some phones might not do it, for all I know).

Then this weekend someone sent me directions to an event using Mapquest. When I went to print the directions, Mapquest asked me i…

Design Your Church a Mobile Website!


Some time ago I installed a button from Extreme Tracking on the bottom of my church website, inconspicuously, I hoped.  I don't pay for the service, so I only get the free version, which tells me about the last twenty people to visit the website.  At the time, I was noticing the diversity of browsers people were using--the usage had changed from almost exclusively Internet Explorer to a diversity of browsers with Explorer representing the largest percentage, but less than half, and Firefox hot on its heels.  The big question then was how to design a page such that it looked good at different resolutions and through different browsers.  That was just a couple of years ago.  Earlier this week when I looked at data on the last twenty users, six were from mobile phones (one of which I could rule out as mine).  With one-fourth of the users looking at the website from mobiles, I knew I needed a church webpage that was friendlier to mobile usage.  I suspect that mobile phone users a…

Evolving Worship in the Social Networking Age - Part 3: Possibilities & Opportunities

In Part 1 of this series I wrote about a proposal being generated through blog discussion about shorter sermons tied to social media in new ways.  In Part 2 I wrote about some of the limitations as I see it.  The main take-away there is that while some populations of some churches may be ready for this, others are not over the threshold yet.  The problem is that we're on a cusp right now, where some "digital natives" are ready for something different, not everyone is comfortable with the use of it.  As you go up by age/generation, a smaller percentage of people are using social networking. 

Evolving Worship in the Social Networking Age - Part 2: Limitations & Expectations

So in my last post I talked about a proposal being generated to look at worship, particularly the sermon, in a new way in the light of social networking.  I think it's worth noting that the authors of the three posts I cited are all people who are not full-time solo ministers with the corresponding preaching schedule that such demands, and that Dan Harper, who comes the closest to that role in his role as Associate Minister, is in a large church with presumably some staff, and in Silicon Valley, as well.  What he describes seems less doable in a small country church such as I serve.  So here's what I see as the limitations to the model he proposes:

1.  Podcasting/Live streaming/any audio or video component -- Much as I love the idea of it, I don't have the technology for it.  And should I have the technology, I still don't have the tech support that I personally would need.  I could acquire the know-how to do it all on my own, given the technology, but right now that&#…

Evolving Worship in the Social Networking Age - Introduction

An interesting conversation has been going on in the UU blogosphere starting with Scott Wells at Boy in the Bands, then with Dan Harper at Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, and finally Phil Lund at Phil's Little Blog on the Prairie.  All three are UU ministers--Scott Wells works for the Sunlight Foundation; Dan Harper is the Associate Minister for Religious Education at the UU Church of Palo Alto; Phil Lund is on staff at the Prairie Star District of the UUA. 

Diving in--the original notion that Scott Wells posted is that in a digital age, the sermon is too long.  He writes, "It made sense in a education- and resource-poor (and frankly, entertainment-poor) age, but if I held forth for twenty minutes or more every Sunday, I expect to be regularly challenged (perhaps mentally, and in an unspoken way) by people who would Google for facts during my oratory."  Phil Lund echoes this: "Thing one: settling into a cozy pew for an hour or so to listen to a ripping goo…