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Posts Tagged ‘jesus’


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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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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www.cloversites.com
This is a no-brainer. As a church you NEED a good web presence. Problem is, you’re not a web designer and you never will be. Enter Clover. They make a site that an idiot couldn’t screw up (personally, I think that should be their slogan). Plus, even if you can design, why waste your time? They do an amazing job and only charge $1000 for a site, then $20 a month for maintenance. But, always ask for a deal. Foursquare Denomination gets $150 off, I’m sure others do as well. We saw them at a conference and got an additional $100 off, plus they had a $100 off special going on, so we got our site for cheap! Always ask!

*Here’s our church clover site, edited and maintained by our staff who doesn’t even know what HTML stands for!

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Presentation Remote.
If you don’t have an iPhone, move on to another post 🙂 If you do, and you’re a presenter, and wanna be super cool, read on.

I use this almost every week. It syncs up with Apple Keynote through Wi-Fi and allows you to view your notes. When you “swipe” to the next page of notes, it automatically advances the presentation on the big display! Super neat-o!  It also allows you to turn the iPhone sideways and use your finger as a highlighter on the big screen…crazy!

*Practically, it takes one or two weeks for congregants to get over the cool factor (meaning it’s kinda a distraction at first), but then it’s just plain awesome!

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www.smartevents.com
No, I don’t get paid by anyone for anything I put on this blog. I do however USE all of them on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

Smart Events, the name says it all. Online event registration, accept VISA payments and refund them (for cancellations), “assign” rooms, buses, and so forth based on friendships, the list goes on and on. Best of all, it’s very, very easy. The same company that made PlanningCenterOnline has started up this little web software. We are using it this summer for our camping program, I’ll update you along the way to let you know how it works.  I can tell you this already, I’ve been talking with one of the programmers, Scotty, and he’s implementing some of my ideas for functionality. That says a lot! They listen and respond to their customers!

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www.dropbox.com
Get drop box. That’s all I need to say. Forget a network server, this is the easiest way to share files…period. You install a little app (both mac & pc) and it looks like just another folder on your computer. But, anything you drag into it, automatically is synced to every other computer you choose. Imagine the possibilities. You have all your logos, letterhead, and important docs shared and updated all the time. You have a safe and secure online backup of all your important documents (free) that you can access from anywhere. You have a folder with all your previous sermons and PowerPoint files so when you’re asked to speak last minute…you’re prepared.

*One way I use it. Every week, during our LIVE broadcast, we have a copy of the sermon notes in a pdf file that can be downloaded by anyone watching (so they can follow along). Rather than updating the website every week with a new file, I just “drop” the latest pdf file into my dropbox folder, on my computer and give it the same name (sermon-notes.pdf) and dropbox automatically puts the new file on the server and my web link never has to change. Brilliant! (not me, dropbox).

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Ever wonder how the “big boys” plan church? It seems like everywhere I turn I hear some other mega-church is using PlanningCenterOnline. Why? Because it’s mega-effective and mega-time saving. It’s a web based software package that tracks all your volunteers, all your music (It’s a worship leaders best friend), and all your services. Imagine a world where you never have to call and ask for volunteers again! Imagine scheduling a volunteer team and when you “click” send it automatically emails each volunteer and text messages them. Then they can respond with an “accept” or “decline” right from their phone or computer. It’s heavenly, in fact, I do believe that God will be using planning center in heaven…truly.  It does much, much, much more so check out their video demonstration.

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As a camp director of over 500 kids a camp, I understand you NEED good admin resources and forms. Here are all the forms I’ve developed over the years, from medical releases to staff job descriptions. Most forms were created in an apple program called “pages“. Below you will find a zip file with all .pdf files and another zip file with all the pages or word documents.

1) Zip File with all PDF forms
2) Zip File with all Pages and Word documents

Documents include:
1) Cover letter (explaining everything to camp leaders)
2) Cabin Leader Criteria
3) Financial worksheets
4) Camper & Leader Registration form & medical release
5) Letter to Parents
6) Policies & Procedures
7) Rules & Packing List
8) Gift Certificate for fundraising
9) Staff Job descriptions

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www.centerlinenewmedia.com
As a video editor and all around picky person, it’s tough to find really GOOD media tailored for a Christian audience. Centerline New Media is top notch. From motion backgrounds to mini-movies, stop sifting through all the worthless junk on sites that start with “sermon” and go directly to the source. I know I sound like a salesman, but we’ve purchased dozens of videos from this company. And everything they produce is quality. At centerline, you get what you pay for and then some!

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Trust me, this is simple. And very, very effective. And very, very free.  First question to answer, why? Here are the top 5 reasons:
1) For perspective visitors who wouldn’t dare step into a church.
2) For congregants who are sick or injured.
3) For people who’ve moved (i.e. college students, etc).
4) For a free video recording of your services.
5) For those who don’t live close but want to see a baptism, special performance of their nephew, etc.

Here are the 3 simple steps:

1) Log on to Ustream.tv and create a free account.
2) Have a computer and a webcam or (video camera connected with a firewire cable) (point webcam at stage)
3) Link or embed your Ustream account to your website.

Optional: Download the free application, Ustream Producer and use that interface instead of the online one.

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www.polleverywhere.com A-ma-zing. This little web software has an infinite number of applications. LIVE AUDIENCE POLLING through text.  It’s free for the first 30 responses, then the monthly fee kicks in. You can poll and have free rolling texts. Simple and effective. Here’s some application to ministry:

1) A game. Create a keyword for “boy” and “girl” and have the kids text in as much as possible, over and over and see the bar graph jump in real time.  Which gender can type faster!
2) A question. “What if….” and you let each person fill in the blank with their texts.
3) A survey. Each week poll your congregation with a question, this software will generate reports.
4) Voting or fund-raising. Have a contest and the audience can vote (once, they have the option to restrict voting to 1 vote per number) for a winner.
5) Choose your own adventure, I mean sermon. Start a message, pitch your 3 points, and let the audience decide which one you actually speak on…LIVE.

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This book will change your life.  Maybe.  It’s a quick read, but a book you’ll reference over and over. It presents a creative work-flow for organizations (i.e. church staff) and individuals who HAVE ideas, but struggle with getting them done. Author is Scott Belsky of BeHance.  Order it from Amazon for only 11 bucks (hardcover).  Great for anyone who dislikes long, long, long meetings.

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We use this idea at least every 5 weeks in our youth group, Uturn. One of my recent epiphanies has been that I do a lot of reading about what this “next generation”  needs to hear and not a lot of asking.  So, we have TEXT ANYTHING nights. It involves a panel of experts on stage who will answer anonymous questions that are texted in and show up on the display screen. So, how do you do this…for free?
Simple Steps.
1) Sign up for a free account at http://www.textmarks.com/.  This will allow you to have anyone send a text to 41411 + (your keyword that you decide on, name of your organization, etc.) their message. It will collect all answers, completely anonymously, and then…

2) You can copy/paste them into your presentation program of choice: PowerPoint, Media Shout, Pro Presenter (my favorite) and send them up on the display screen so that your panel can answer them.

3) There really isn’t a step 3, but since most pastors only speak in 3 points, I’ll make one up (they’ve been known to do this too).  Another application for this technology. People can text in questions throughout the presenter’s speech or sermon and then the presenter can take a few of those questions at the end of his message.

Well, that’s it. Text Anything. Look for more “texting” ideas. I’ve actually stopped asking kids to put away their phones during service, they have become such an incredible tool for engagement.

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