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Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category


Ideas come and go. Good ideas don’t make it on their own. It takes a thorough process to see an idea come to fruition. Too many times a great idea gets lost in the chaos of other ideas or general busyness. That is why I keep an extensive catalog of ideas on the back burner. Every time I’m brainstorming (or in the shower, where most ideas hit me) I write down any and every idea that sounds good but isn’t applicable to the current situation. Scott Belsky (Making Ideas Happen) calls these little gems “backburners”.  Once a list is started, I revisit this list once a month to see if any ideas are relevant now. Any ideas that stay on this list more than a year get thrown out. This is my backburner ritual. More often than not every month an idea from the backburner list gets moved onto the production line! Don’t waste ideas! Create your own backburner list and ritualistically revisit it at least once a month!

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Relationships. It’s a topic every youth pastor has to do a series on at least once a year.  So the question arises, “How do I keep it fresh? (since we’re really saying the same thing every time). Here’s one way…ask.  A couple weeks ago I posted about Poll Everywhere, a text voting service that we use. Here is one way we are using it.

Next week I’m starting a relationship series and for the first 5 min. of the sermon will give an introduction on “relationships”. During this time, students will VOTE for which question about relationships they want to hear about (see pic, click to enlarge). The poll will animate in real-time and I will then proceed with the most popular answer. At the close of the talk, I will again open another poll for questions that they now have as a result of this sermon (see next pic). And, just like that, there is complete interaction between the “Pastor” and the “congregant”.  How many times have I sat and said, I want to hear more about THIS or THAT. Well, these students will now have that option! I’ll let you know how it goes! Or you can watch our LIVE broadcast on May 19th at 7pm. Click here for our LIVE BROADCAST link.

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Too good to be true? Hardly. Here’s how. WordPress is what this blog is written on and it’s free. Go Daddy (if you can get past their awful ad campain) registers domain names for $10 a year (and that includes “domain forwarding with masking…I’ll explain later).  So, start to finish, here’s the steps to get your ministry or organizational or personal website up and looking crazy awesome in 5 easy steps.

5 Steps to A Great Website for 10 Bucks:

1) First, you need a domain name (i.e. http://www.yourchurchsite.com) and you get it through Go Daddy for $10.
2) You go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free blog. Try to give it a similar name as your .com domain.
3) Here comes the fun part. While on WordPress, navigate to your “dashboard”, the “behind the scenes” section, and under the “appearance” menu (left column) click on “themes” and pick out a theme for your site.  Then, make some “pages” with various content, leave a few posts, and play around with “widgets”.  The more you play around with this interface, the more familiar you’ll become with it and the more you’ll discover just how simple having a website really is.
4) Once you’ve designed your site, put in your content, and are happy with it…it’s time to show it off. Go back to Go Daddy.com and on the their upper menu click the tab “log in” and…well…log in.  In the center of the window you’ll see your new domain name.  Click on it and it launches “dashboard” (wow, the same name as wordpress…it’s a conspiracy of simplicity). Click on “forwarding” and input your WordPress site address (i.e. yourchurch.wordpress.com) and click “advanced options”. Choose “forward with masking” and enter the info that you want people to see when they navigate to your site. Click “ok” and you’re done.
5) You’ve done all the hard work…now tell people about it. Anyone can now type in your domain http://www.yourchurch.com and it will “forward” them straight to your wordpress site! Enjoy. You just got an awesome site with YOUR NAME for $10 a year!

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Simply TXT

Email is dead. Youth communicate primarily through text, so why are you still trying to communicate your announcements through email, snail mail, and (God forbid) fliers!

With mass text messaging you can communicate instantly to your entire youth group or congregation! Simply Youth Ministry has come up with a ministry focused program with a 30 day free trial and per month fees as low as $10.

How we have used it:
1) Youth group announcements
2) Sign-ups. Example: We need volunteers for VBS, text me back if you want more information.
3) On our church bulletin we have a tear off section: “Sign-up for Text Message Announcements”
4) On our Uturn website students can sign up to receive these announcements
5) Reminder announcements about events and weekly info about what’s going on at Uturn
6) Bible Verse reading for the day

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www.redlaser.com

Red Laser is an iPhone app that’s been out a while. It uses the built-in camera to accurately read barcodes on virtually any product and then give you a list of both online and local stores that sell the product at the lowest price.

Here’s the crazy thing. Retail stores are now accepting this for price matching! Including Best Buy. Here’s an example. I walked into Best Buy to purchase a video game for our youth group and it was selling for $52 off the shelf. I scanned it with Red Laser (a 99 cent app) and it showed that Amazon.com was selling it for $39. I took it to the front, showed the result at checkout, and received it for $39, no questions asked. As a youth pastor who buys a lot of stuff I’ve learned to always ask, you’ll save so much $$$. Just since the beginning of the year I’ve saved over $200 through price patching with Red Laser.  Watch this video to find out more.

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How many times have I sat around thinking, what should I speak to these people about? What do they need to hear? Even praying the prayer, God what do your people need right now (and that’s not a bad prayer), what are they struggling with?  One could argue, immerse yourself in the culture, read-read-read, and even ask them!

However, even when asking people straight out, you don’t always get the kind of deep, heartfelt answers you’d receive if you ask anonymously. So, survey them. We survey our students every year and ask various questions to help us improve our ministry. Here’s an example for you to fill out: Click here to take survey

We get some pretty varied feedback, but you must ask the hard questions!
Here’s the latest survey we had our students fill out: UTURN SURVEY
I had to face the fact that some kids thought my messages were horrible and  what I thought was a strength, our small groups, had a really big weakness…they never ended on time! This information would never have been openly shared in person, thank you Survey Monkey! Survey monkey is a free service, take advantage of it!

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Article Summary:

1) Google Apps = Word, Excel, & More
2) Education Edition free for non-profits

Ok, so we all know Google will someday rule the world and might even be the anti-christ…someday…but not today. Today it provides incredible resources for the local church through Google apps.

First, for those who don’t know about google apps education edition, it’s a set of online programs that include:
1) Google Mail – Ad Free, & Calendar
2) Google Docs – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, & Drawing (for flowcharts, etc.)
3) Google Forms, Site (free website)

What are all these Apps good for?
The main benefit is that all your documents are online and accessible anywhere!
The secondary benefit is that you can collaborate on the same document, at the same time, while chatting or talking to each other via google video or audio chat!

Here’s how we use some of the apps:
1) All Prayer requests are put in an Excel document that all staff members and prayer team members can navigate to. When they receive an update, THEY can update the document so it always stays current.
2) All my sermons are organized in a folder and accessible at any time from any location.
3) Google Site allows us to have an inner office intranet where all important logos, letterhead, etc. are kept and easily downloaded.
4) Google Forms allow us to embed registration forms on our website. The data from those forms can easily or even automatically be put into a Google Excel document for interpretation of data.
5) All our Email is AT OUR DOMAIN (i.e. jon@esfoursquare.com, not @gmail.com) plus if you own mulitple domains (we own esfoursquare.com, .net, .org, esuturn.com) people can email you at any of your domains and it goes to the same account (jon@esfoursquare.com, jon@esfoursquare.net, jon@esfoursquare.org)

Best of all…It’s free!

Information on “how to” get the FREE Education Edition (same as Premium which costs $50 per user, per year)
Information on Google Apps

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