All entries for Friday 11 January 2008
January 11, 2008
Review: 'Beyond the OHP', Jackie Sheppard, 2002.
Published by Spring Harvest, a national Christian umbrella organisation that runs huge festivals every Spring, this book can claim to be fairly authoritative.
The book is helpful in establishing what can be done, why it should be done, and examples of churches that have successfully implemented IT projects. However, it is focused almost exclusively on 'Sunday morning' meetings and so its scope is relatively limited.
Almost all of the examples are taken from a select few large American churches, alienating much of the audience that a Spring Harvest book would have. Once the authors aims have been laid out, there is also very little holding back on promoting IT in churches. Maybe this approach was needed several years ago, but now many churches seem to have realised IT's potential, and a more balanced approach is necessary.
Guidance is given on how to put together and work as a team operating the technology (including lighting, sound, and other technology not so related to my project) which is very useful as the author has extensive experience in this area.
If you need to know what can be done with a wide range of technology, this book is very useful, however it is surprising how it is already feeling a little out of date just six years on. A new balanced approach would help, as would more innovative uses of technology in and out of the main church meetings.
Review: 'Using Technology in Worship and Mission', The Methodist ICT Project, 2005
You can download this leaflet for yourself at http://www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/ca_technology_1005.pdf.
This leaflet, commissioned by the Methodist Church, lays out guidelines for how ICT can be used in methodist churches (and could then be extended to other churches too).
It covers why ICT should be used, but warns that it is only a 'means, not an end'. It says, 'Every investment must be evaluated against its contribution to to the Church's mission in contemporary society.' On the whole, the arguments given were pretty well balanced, however the purpose of the leaflet is partly to demonstrate how ICT should/could be used in churches. Because of this, it presents a very good case for using IT in church, whilst warning against the pitfalls, but not really giving any evidence of bad use of IT.
Many resources are linked to for further information, for example websites with free images for use in presentations. There is are basic ideas for how ICT is commonly used in churches, and some pointers to how to implement these methods.
It gives some interesting case studies of innovative ICT projects, mostly initiated by the individual churches (often just by tech-savvy individuals within those churches) rather than the Methodist umbrella body. There is a good range of projects and their aims. Many attempt to get young people interested in church, or to include them by using their invariably-extensive IT skills. However there are also examples of projects aimed at older age groups, showing that IT is not just for the youth!
Some of these projects were relatively new, and although they seemed to have been implemented successfully, there is a need for seeing how successful they turned out to be in their 'contribution to to the Church's mission in contemporary society.' It is quite possible that projects may have been later abandoned when the people running them moved on, or funds run out. It is also currently in vogue for churches to be seen as technologically sound and innovative, so once this 'bubble' bursts, will ICT still be a useful and used tool?
Progress Report and First release
I believe it's probably about time I released the progress report. Here it is: progress_report.pdf
Then I am also pleased to announce the first increment of PSALM can be released!
Download PSALM First Increment here (ZIP, ~190kb)
To run it and find instructions for use, please refer to the instructions for the prototype.
This version now displays chords correctly (hooray!), using a handy free monospaced font (Bitstream Vera Sans Mono) that I think will be used for the final release as I think its pretty clear. If you want to change the way the chords are displayed (e.g. the colour or font), please edit the psalm.css file, which should be fairly obvious how to edit, especially if you have used CSS before.
The add/edit/remove song features all now work - although please note that if you download this in the next few hours, this version will actually write to a different file (appending an 'a','e' or 'r' to the filename) than the original loaded database. This, together with a few minor things will be fixed in the next few days. I'll post again to let you know when this is done.
Please let me know if you have any problems installing/using this, feedback is much appreciated.