The Cloud

Introducing The iChurch Method Live

I have been testing and utilizing Google Hangouts on Air over the last few months and I believe the product is a game changer. I am always looking for new ways to use the service and I realized that with a macbook, HD webcam and a built-in mic, you can live stream any event. Well for the numerous events that I speak or teach at, I always have my macbook with me since I am training from it, and then the lightbulb moment occurred...I could stream all of my events live. And with that, The iChurch Method Live was born.

I have been teaching The iChurch Method classes (Phase 1) at The Potter’s Institute, a training division of The Potter’s House of Dallas, where I work as an Internet Church Developer. Last week I conducted a test where I used Google Hangouts on Air to stream my class live and record it via my laptop. The audio and video worked great  so starting Tuesday September 18, I will broadcast my classes every Tuesday for the next 4 weeks until October 9, 2012. Then we will start another session of The iChurch Method classes, Phase II, from October 30, 2012 – December 11, 2012. Each session is five courses where I will teach from The iChurch Method book.

I will also live stream my speaking/training event, October 19, 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Social Media and various dates of Google Hangouts in between. Tune in to for dates on upcoming events and I look forward to your comments and participation. We are very excited about this new venture.

Make sure to use Google Alerts

Google Alerts is by far one of the best google services available. I have been using it for about a year now and believe that all businesses, companies, ministries and churches should use it to monitor their brands. There’s no reason to continue Googling yourself, your business or your ministry, you can now just setup a Google alert and anytime your brand is mentioned online, you will receive an alert/email.

Here’s how it works:

Go go For Search query: Type in the name of your business or church or the phrase that you want to monitor For Result Type: Choose Everything For How often: Choose how often you want to be alerted (once a day is good) For How many: Choose only the best results Deliver to: Input your email address

Finally, click on the red “Create Alert” button and you will be taken to your alerts page where you can see and manage all your alerts. I currently manage all my brands, my name and my books and find this tool to be extremely useful.

For example, I just found out that a college was using The iChurch Method in their 2013 curriculum. Thanks Google Alerts!!

The iChurch Method Podcasts

Stay updated on all The iChurch Method Podcasts via iTunes or the great iPhone/iPad Podcasts app. The iChurch Method has numerous audio and video podcasts that you can take with you and listen to topics from The iChurch Method anywhere, anyplace, anytime. To Subscribe to The iChurch Method Podcast CLICK HERE

Church Technology, bring the people in or take ministry to the people?

I was having a conversation with a childhood friend (who is now a pastor) about Church and Technology and we came to a crossroads about how we thought churches should utilize technology. We both agree that churches should use technology to reach people and expand the outreach of the ministry, but he asked me how often does technology result in additional people in the sanctuary. My approach to technology and the entire premise of The iChurch Method was to use technology to take the ministry to the people. I developed a strategy that would inform your local congregation and give them a way to connect with the ministry online, increase your online audience that is not local by providing them online tools to connect and providing information for future church supporters by positioning the ministry to be accessible in numerous ways via technology. To help churches make sure they were taking ministry to the people, a supplement to their base premise of creating a location for people to come, get healed, change their lives and participate in ministry.

It never occurred to me that there was a focus by pastors to utilize technology to get people into the sanctuary OVER building an online audience and increasing the supporters that may never set foot inside the church. It appears easy for pastors to understand tv ministries and using TBN or The Church Channel to broadcast their churches to millions around the world and look for donations from their tv supporters, whom may never step foot into the sanctuary. But there seems to be a disconnect by these same pastors when it comes to building an online ministry using video, social media, mobile devices and streaming to build an online audience that they may never see but will still support the ministry via online donations.

Therefore, I believe that churches, ministries, pastors and Christianity in general will need to embrace technology, invest in online ministries, websites, mobile solutions and social media. Churches will need to continue to take the ministry to the people and make sure whatever device a person picks up, their ministry is accessible from it and accept the fact that online audiences will continue to grow and the church will have supporters that they see every weekend for services and supporters that they don’t see but still embrace the church as well. What are your thoughts on Churches embracing technology?

Amazon Cloud Computing Outage? Cause for Concern?

I was just reading Managing risk in the wake of Amazon's cloud outage and it discussed the outage that occurred last week where the cloud servers at Amazon went down. The issues were said to occur due to bugs in the code or inclement weather, depending on which source you read. With that being stated, here are my thoughts on the dependability of cloud computing. In the early 2000s I was working in corporate america for a variety of companies because I was a web developer consultant. I had the opportunity to see a variety of organizations IT structure and how they reacted to the monthly and even weekly server issues that occurred within the company. Microsoft Outlook email would go down, Intranet server would go down, Internet connectivity would go down and every time a vital service went down, no one panicked or questioned the use of the service, they just waited until it was resolved. Yes, millions of dollars was being lost in man hours due to the lack of productivity during this downtime but there was never a mention of removing the Microsoft office servers or any other servers as our solutions.

Now, since the cloud is a viable solution to help small businesses compete with larger corporations and grow from a one man website into a fortune 500 company, it appears to come under attack more often than not. The cloud, and more specifically Amazon cloud solutions and even Google’s cloud solutions have a very successful uptime rate that is upwards of 95% - 98%, that’s extremely higher than what we dealt with in the early 2000s and for a fraction of the costs. When Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest went down last week, it wasn’t the cloud that we were upset with, it was the fact that these services that we depended on went down and someone had to take the blame. When in reality, we could’ve all been patient and waited a few hours or a day for Amazon to fix the issue and we go back to life as normal.

Companies need to make sure they have redundancy plans in place and backup sites available but the best lesson for working in the cloud was the title of this article - How to deal with cloud failure: Live, learn, fix, repeat.

Evolution of Digital Ministry

I was reading an article on the evolution of digital ministry and it gave a good explanation of where the church had been and where it was today. I spoke about this just last week at the Pastors and Leadership Conference in Orlando Florida. I explained to people that my job within the ministry was to make sure the ministry was able to utilize the most current technology that is available today as well as forecast where technology was going and make sure the ministry would be able to utilize that as well. As I read about where digital ministry had been, I started to see a more clear picture of how it got to where it is today and where it is going. Here is a recap: In 2000…Websites An increasing number of churches recognized the value of a church website. It was a digital land rush where most sites served as a digital billboard or brochures highlighting the church’s ministries. Unfortunately, this approach offered little value past the first visit. The website was a one way communication where churches broadcasted information to online users such as service time, location and church information.

In 2003…Multimedia As bandwidth access grew in homes, more churches saw the potential to distribute sermons and other media to a much broader audience than their brick and mortar congregations. Thus they started having archived multimedia on their website (audio and video) and using flash on their websites.

In 2006…Ecommerce Content management systems rose to popularity as churches took control of maintaining their own content through blogs, event calendars, and other features. Church websites transitioned from being a static brochure to a dynamic magazine. The arrival of e-commerce came with online donations and online stores.

In 2009…Social Media Many churches start implementing streaming sermons, social media (Twitter and Facebook), and some offer a church online experience (internet campus v1) complete with worship, sermons, instant chat, and online prayer.

In 2012…Mobile (and more social media) Due to smart phones, mobile web browsing is surging, but most church sites are clunky to navigate in a mobile browser. Church apps and mobile sites are becoming more interactive and facilitating a way to interact and communicate with the ministry. Social media integration is growing with a focus on social streams and social sharing of church content.

In 2015…Internet Campus/Internet TV/The Cloud With 4G and eventually 5G internet access the cloud will become a larger player in bringing technical costs down in online ministry. Online software such as Google Apps and Dropbox will be integrated into ministry technical solutions and work will not be limited to onsite at an office but be anywhere via a tablet or other mobile device. Sharing everything via social media will become more common with options such as seamless sharing via the social graph and facebook. Online Interactive Internet Campuses will become more common and triple in numbers. Church attendance will increase 50% but not in actual pew numbers, but due to online members who support churches from their computers and mobile devices. Internet TV will become more common with internet enabled televisions and internet tv devices becoming more powerful and common.

This evolution of digital ministry is the basis for The iChurch Method, as you can see each year highlighted above has a topic that was prevalent at the time next to it and these correspond to the chapters in the iChurch Method book, Websites, Multimedia, Ecommerce, Social Media and Mobile. This is the order we believe that your church online strategy should take. And of course the 2015 hot topics are what the next edition of the iChurch Method will focus on...stay tuned.

Can the cloud help the Church?

First and foremost, let’s make sure we clarify that the cloud is a technical term for hosted applications and not an actual cloud or heaven, LOL.  A few months ago I did a post about the cloud and how it could help ministries ( Today we are going to update that post and give a great explanation of applications that a ministry can use to go to the next level. I did first want to extract a few points from a great post that I read over at about the Pros and Cons of moving your Business to the Cloud and how this topic can be applied from our church perspective.

First the main benefits of moving to the cloud according to the article are:
It’s scalable. If your business takes off, it’s easy to adjust your computing needs. Most cloud-computing is billed at a monthly rate, like a utility. So, if your business grows, you can just order more server space.

The initial costs is are very affordable. With the cloud, you don’t have to set up a server and spend all the man-hours it takes to get one up and running.

It can save money in other ways. Virtual Office apps located in the cloud make the administrative costs of running a business minimal.

There’s less IT infrastructure staff to manage. With cloud computing, you don’t need to hire a tech team, and a smaller team will save you money on payroll, benefits and more.  

Now let's look at the main drawback:
Your business is in the hands of another company.  If the servers go down of the online applications that you are using, then your business comes to a halt.  Even with SLAs (Service Level Agreements) that guarantee 99.9% uptime, you still have to account for the .1% change that your business is affected and have the appropriate redundancy plans in place.

Now, what are great applications that a ministry could use, that are located in the cloud?  Well here are some great ones to start with:

  • File Storage - A central location where files for the ministry can be accessed from laptops, desktops and mobile devices.  Also a place where backups and versions of files are kept as well as a secure environment.
  • Office Software - Email, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Scheduling, Intranet, Photo Management, Analytics and other administrative software that can be accessed from laptops, desktops and mobile devices.  Also, this software has real-time collaboration features where users can work on files simultaneously.
  • Project Management - Software that includes estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, quality management and documentation or administration systems, which are used to deal with the complexity of large projects. This software can be accessed from laptops, desktops and mobile devices.
  • Phone and Video Conferencing
  • Web Hosting and Content Management Systems
  • Social Media

Can the cloud help ministries?

With the announcement of iCloud by Apple, cloud computing seems to have gone mainstream.  What was once a topic reserved for tech geeks and IT debates, is now being discussed by soccer moms and middle age men.  Cloud computing has been around for years but not until Apple announced it, did mainstream media truly embrace it.  It seems that when Steve Jobs says “it just works” then it’s easy enough for commoners to embrace it.

I was reading the following article and this was an interesting take on how iCloud’s real purpose is to kill windows.  Now I don’t necessarily agree with that but I do like the fact that iCloud now brings virtual office software to the forefront.  Google Docs has been around for quite a few years and is a great solution to online documents.  In my opinion, Google Docs is much better prepared to kill Microsoft Office than Apple iCloud, but with mainstream adoption, iCloud does open the conversation for the next generation’s Office software.

The strategy of Apple’s iCloud as well as Google Docs is that they are embraced by the younger generation.  Generation X, Y and I, have access to Google Docs via their google accounts as well as Google’s integration into schools/colleges by offering Google Apps for free.  Likewise, with over 100 million iOS devices being used by numerous young people, iCloud will be available to them on their devices and thus they will take full advantage.  Now, the best part of this strategy is that when you get the young adults and youth to embrace your technology, when they become adult workers, CEO’s and teachers, they will utilize and implement the technology they are comfortable with which will be Google and Apple technology.  

In terms of ministry, virtual office software can help ministries operate more efficiently by allowing them to conduct business anywhere.  If a ministry has a staff of 5 or 500, virtual office software allows them to have the infrastructure of a major corporation for a fraction of the costs.  Google Apps, iCloud and (online storage provider), lets a ministry have email, word processsing, spreadsheets, powerpoint, project management, contact management and a variety of other online software that can be accessed from any device (computer, laptop, tablet, phone) via the internet.  Now the ministry doesn’t have to be done from an office, but can be done anywhere.  If you add in skype video conferencing then you can actually have meetings online and each member can be anywhere in the world.  

I know this is alot to take in but we are in a time now where business is done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in the world and the ministry needs to be able to compete and operate as an efficient business and utilize these tools.  The best part about these tools is that about 10 years ago, a corporation would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have these tools and it would all be connected to an office.  A company today can get them for a few hundred dollars and they can access it from any internet connected device, so instead of the employees coming to a location to do business, the business comes to them.  And that is the premise of iChurch, to take ministry to the people where they are at using technology.

Ministries should utilize Internet TV

One of the best ways ministries reach large audiences is via television.  Many of the largest megachurches have a complimentary Television Ministry that usually puts their pastor in front of millions every week via television channels like TBN, BET, The Church Channel, ABC Family and The Word Network.  These channels as well as others had high entry fees and the production costs to create professional television show were also barriers to numerous churches establishing a television presence.

Fast forward to today and there are numerous online video options for ministries such as,,, and even creating your own online campus for archived video viewing.  While these options are great and can create a great online viewing experience for users via their laptops, desktops and mobile devices, they still don’t tap the builtin television audience that traditional channels reach.

Well the future is coming! I was reading an article at Zdnet on Apple TV, Google TV, Roku boxes and the entire Internet TV emerging market.  These new devices are setting up the framework for people to integrate the living room TV, which is prime real estate, with the internet.  The majority of people haven’t integrated the internet into their main viewing televisions but these devices are helping make the process a seamless transition.  Now, the question is, how can ministries take advantage of these emerging opportunities? I’m glad you asked...

Internet TV is mainly ran by apps and the open web, thus instead of ministries having to spend thousands of dollars weekly to keep their television show on the air in your local area, they can create apps for these Internet TV devices one time and update them with new shows for a fraction of the costs.  Google TV uses apps that are similar to the apps you can create for their android phones and tablets. Likewise, Apple TV will open their device up to apps that are similar to what’s created for their iPhone, iPod and iPad devices.  Lastly, Roku devices uses apps that are able to be created in a timely manner and not complex or overwhelming for a programmer.  Overall, the costs of making a ministry app for these devices that people can view from their televisions is vastly less than the cost of running a nationwide television campaign.  Of course, the technology has not reached maturity yet and the majority of people do not have Internet TV devices, but their audiences are growing and the future generations that churches are trying to reach are already familiar with this technology.

If your ministry or church is interested in learning more about Internet TV solutions and how they can take advantage of this upcoming opportunity, please contact us.

Internet Church is coming

Over the last few years I have been watching the Internet Church phenomenon and how it is evolving and taking shape.  Since I find Online Church/Internet Church as the inevitable next step in the evolution of The Church, I have been researching what new technologies and strategies are coming to the forefront and how churches can use these opportunities to advance their ministries online. What I am starting to see are more options for Online Church/Internet Church as well as younger people migrating towards digital ways of connecting to ministries instead of the traditional church interaction of weekly attendance.

Now don’t get me wrong, virtual church attendance will never supplant actual church attendance in terms of importance but I do believe that there are some churches that will need to address the fact that there will be people that will support their ministries, watch their streaming services and consider themselves members of the church and never step foot inside the church. I have seen churches address this with examples of Internet Churches setup by, and  Another great example of this was the Church on Facebook experiment conducted by Liberty University. I won’t recite the entire article but to sum it up, Liberty University conducted their weekly church service online because the location they were supposed to use was not available.  They used Facebook as the main tool of communication and streamed the services online and interacted with the online audience.  Here is a quote “What is Facebook, after all? It’s a community. What is church, after all? It’s a community. For us, doing church on Facebook isn’t innovative. It’s intuitive,” Moore wrote.  The experiment was a success and a great step for Liberty University to further develop their online church audience, which was more than 61,000 people last year.

There have been a few companies that have arisen to help churches take that next step and create their own online campuses.  Companies such as Streaming Faith and Streaming have paid options that are available where a ministry can select a package and these companies provide the entire solution from streaming to social media integration.  But the best option may be coming January 9, 2011 when the most innovative and technologically advanced church, releases their Online Church product for FREE.  This software will allow churches to utilize their own streaming software and integrate it into their online campus software and create that full online campus experience. The only addition that churches will have to supply on their own will be live streaming services and this can be done with FREE websites like or  

Overall, I believe that many of the larger churches with the resources will adopt these Internet Church/Online Church options within the next year or two but it will take up to five years for it to trickle down to the smaller churches.

What is The iChurch Method?

The iChurch Method is simple: a method to help ministries advance the Kingdom online and take the gospel to the world. It’s a five part approach to taking your ministry online and reaching the world: Part 1: Website – A Great Website that is Easy-to-Use. Part 2: Multimedia – Interactive Multimedia. Part 3: Ecommerce – Online Stores/Online Donations. Part 4: Social Media – Engage and Connect. Part 5: Mobile – The Future of Technology and Ministry.

With these five parts, a ministry can reach and change the world. The iChurch Method book is a MUST READ for every ministry leader who desires to have a global presence online. Caston Digital and CEO Jason Caston, created this method to help all ministries establish a global presence and utilize technology to the fullest, without having to worry about huge financial investments and hiring numerous technical specialists. As explained in the book, this method is as advanced enough for a technical expert to understand, but simple enough for a non-technical church leader to understand.

Order The iChurch Method Book today!!

Google Docs can help ministries

I was reading an article on TNW ( and they had a great piece on the 15 tips to get the most out of Google Docs. The best part about Google Docs is that it's one of the premiere software packages that I endorse when I explain to ministries about cloud applications. "The cloud" has provided a great opportunity for ministries to access and utilize administrative and collaborative software at affordable rates and sometimes free.

Here are the keypoints of the article but click on the link above to access the article.

  • Google Docs is much less expensive than Microsoft Office
  • Automatic Backups and full downloading feature
  • Revision history
  • Drag and drop uploading
  • Drag and drop image insertion into many document types
  • Google Docs Templates
  • Google Docs Search
  • Google Docs has enough space to store ALL of your documents
  • Collaboration of numerous people on documents
  • Add Youtube videos to Presentations

Welcome to iChurch

Welcome to the iChurch blog. Here we will provide ministries with the tools and information to advance their ministries online. This blog is based on the book "iChurch: The New Internet Church" by Jason Caston. Oh, and for the record, I am Jason Caston.

Now let's answer the main question that everyone is asking, what is iChurch. Well if you Google "ichurch" you get a variety of results that range from a social network for Christian singles, an interactive viewing module for people to watch live services, to a few blogs talking about how the church is integrating technology into it's overall outreach. Most often, when a church says that they have an ichurch, it's the interactive viewer where you can watch live (and archived) services, donate, chat, take notes and read the online bible, all from one page. Now this is a great feature but it's limiting if that's all they consider an "iChurch experience".

I decided to write this book and start learning about the integration of technology and ministry because I had the great opportunity to work with some amazing mega churches and I started to see how they were lacking in terms of technology. But it wasn't just the implementation of technology (websites, ecommerce, computers) into the business of ministry, it was a general misunderstanding of how technology could be used to advance the kingdom and take the gospel worldwide.

Therefore, I decided to not only learn and stay updated on ALL new technologies that ministries can use to advance the gospel online, but I started to develop a methodology that ministries could follow to create a full online presence. This approach, which breaks down the iChurch method into 7 areas or building blocks, gives ministries a road-map to developing a full internet church presence. These seven areas, websites, multimedia, ecommerce, social media, mobile, elearning and virtual office, are the foundation of "iChurch: The New Internet Church" and this blog.