Archives For Software

As we near the end of the year, I want to thank our two main sponsors of this blog for the past quarter: eaHELP and MAG Bookkeeping.

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Both companies are great resources for your church, non-profit, business or ministry. I blogged about eaHELP years ago when they were new and I could see their potential. They have now grown significantly and are serving tons of churches and businesses and key influencers like Michael Hyatt.

Check out THIS article about the day in the life of an EA Virtual Assistant. It’s quite interesting. I encourage you to click on their logos and see what they have to offer. You won’t regret it. I only partner with advertisers that I respect and trust. Check them out!

 

 

The following is from my friend Dale at WorshipHouse Media:

Christmas is probably the time more churches use media than any other time of the year. We decorate trees, why not use some great seasonal media to “decorate” your Christmas media presentation? Here is a roundup of 5 short videos that are being used at churches all over the world this Christmas.

 

1) True and Better  (new this year)

by Dan Stevers

Why it is great: Stunning animation, Longer script allows you to base your sermon off the video, Works beyond Christmas as a gospel video

How you would use it: We have heard many churches have loved it so much they are theming the Christmas season to “True and Better.” Perfect to show it before, during, or after a sermon.

 

2) Christ The Savior Is Born (new this year)

by Centerline New Media

Why it is great: Visuals, easy to read text, Scripture based, short in length

How you would use it: As a stand alone reflection piece, Prior to a Christmas Sermon, Prior to worship to set the tone of praise.

 

3) The Christmas Scale (2012 best seller)

by Igniter Media

Why it is great: Familiar Music, True Story

How you would use it: To blow peoples minds! No, seriously – it is an amazing story about something so familiar people will be surprised. Can be used in conjuction with another Christmas video as this one is unique and great as a stand alone video at the beginning of your service.

 

4) The Christmas Truce (new this year)

By Shift Worship

Why it is great: The animation is amazing, Based on a true story so history buffs will love it.

How you would use it: This would be perfect in the middle or near the end of your Christmas message to bring home depth and meaning to our own celebration of the birth of Christ.

 

5) Christmas Welcome to Our Church (new this year)

by Floodgate Productions

Why it is great: Seasonal way to welcome visitors, Visuals and Voice over easy to follow.

How you would use it: Either in place of a countdown at the very beginning, or just after a countdown to start your service.

 

We hope you enjoy these Christmas videos from some of the best producers of church media! It was really hard to pick just a few as we have so many awesome videos in the Christmas seasonal store this year. What is your favorite?

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Diving_Day_Six_332b-300x200 Mark 2: 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

Follow me now – and please don’t take this as an exegesis of this Scripture passage. I’m chewing on something and honestly it’s still stirring in me, so you’re reading thoughts in development – kind of like me thinking out loud. If “new wine must be put into new wineskins”, I think new strategies and tools to reach, connect, engage and mobilize people must be employed with new mindsets.

The following is from my friend, Bill Seaver’s, MicroExplosion blog:

[…A lot of companies are considering trying some new marketing approaches these days. They have become enamored or curious about the new social media tools that are widely publicized and are trying to determine how it can work for them. This is a good spot to be in, but I’ve realized  something is still missing. What’s missing is the appropriate mindset needed to use the social media tools, techniques, and stategies well. The old mindset won’t work with the new tools. They don’t mix. Seth Godin wrote an entire book about that called Meatball Sundae.

New marketing only works with the new mindset. Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want…]

Many of you know that I work with churches, organizations and companies of all kinds. I’m brought in as an innovation consultant and these days almost all want to talk about using new media and social networking tools. What I’ve noticed is that they get excited talking about these new tools and desire to use them, but haven’t had a change in mindset (like Bill said) and thus are striking out.

I’m thinking of 2 cases in particular: One with a well known Christian organization (there’s no need to share their name) that desperately wants to reach the next generation and brought me in to consult on how to use social media/networking to connect with them and the other is with a fitness/health company that I consult on using new media to help get their message out and expand their business.

Both want to tap into the buzz (or what I call “the awesomeness”) – the latest tools and technology. Mind you: this isn’t a bad thing. I do like to keep it in perspective and realize that these are all just tools, but I like that they are wanting to enter this world.

The problem that I see with these 2 organizations (and honestly with a ton of churches, including my own) is that they don’t dive in. They try to dip their toes in the water and hope they catch a fish. A fisherman gets dirty, gets wet and smells. I love to fish and I know that when I fish, I don’t wear my best clothes and I don’t expect to cast once and catch a bass on the first throw. You have to have patience. You have to be committed. You have to think like a fish. You have to use the right kind of bait.

Some churches I work with don’t “get” Facebook. Most really don’t “get” Twitter. My assessment is that they haven’t been patient enough and don’t live in those worlds. Remember Bill Seaver’s quote: “Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want.”

One organization I work with had previously tried using Facebook in a broadcast-type model (we put out some info about our ministry and you come check it out). It didn’t work and they blamed Facebook. I’m now working with them on how to engage people on Facebook and tools like that. You don’t just put it out and say “Come get”. I talked about this recently with students and church leaders at The Institute of Nebraska Christian College.

Again, I’m processing a lot of this out loud and expressing things that have been rolling around in my head, but I think I’m speaking to somebody. Maybe you gave Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or something like that “a try” and it didn’t meet your expectations. Maybe you, your church or organization is in research and development mode. Maybe you’re in experiment mode. Maybe you’re testing the waters, but haven’t fully dived in.

My prayer, heart’s desire and encouragement/challenge to you is to WRESTLE with Bill Seaver’s quote: “Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want.”

Friends, let’s discuss this out loud (or via comments). Does this hit home with anyone? Does this resonate, scare or encourage anyone? Are you committed to getting dirty, wet and smelly to reach fish? Get the right mindset and don’t give up on social media. We have an unprecedented opportunity to share the good news.

grand theft auto

Let me say up front that I’m not a true “gamer.” I play video games with my kids, but I have friends that stay up until 2 or 3 am playing games and are true gamers – that’s not me. With that being said, I want to offer some pastoral counsel and advice to church leaders and parents: Be careful what games you let your kids buy and play.

I recently had a friend purchase “Grand Theft Auto V.” He got to the third scene and had to take it back to the store because it was so bad and vulgar. He described people having sex in a van, two going at in the street and one scene where the paparazzi pay you to take pictures of a teen star having sex. Of course in the game, you can still pick up a prostitute. Read this review of the game to truly know what goes on.

Some of you may be shocked. Some of you may be yawning and thinking what’s the big deal? The big deal is what our kids are seeing behind closed doors in their rooms when we think they’re playing a simple racecar game and they are acting out sex, crime (remember it’s called “Grand Theft Auto”), and violence (there are a lot of fights and car-jackings).

When parents don’t get involved in details like this in their kids’ lives, it leads to trouble down the road. Kids are growing up today with a taste and thirst for violence (think “Halo” and “Call of Duty”) and when you mix that with a negative view of women and thinking of them as sex objects, it makes you think what the next generation of leaders, pastors, teachers and businessmen and women will be like.

I don’t want to preach or come down too heavy. I just want to raise awareness of a problem and strongly encourage you to check into what your kids are playing. If a thirty-three year old friend of mine had to return the video game because it made him blush and feel dirty, what business does a teenager or child have playing it?

So, like the title says: Be careful little eyes what you see. My kids play games like Madden (football) and Indiana Jones and Star Wars. We are intentional not to buy them games with graphic content or violence. I encourage you as leaders in the church to be careful what you look at (on computers, tablets and gaming consoles) and be a present parent to your children. They look to you for guidance and today’s kids need all they can get. So as the Christmas season approaches, take a careful look at what games and movies you buy your kids. Okay – I’m stepping down off my soap box!

 

typhoon

Our world has watched in horror and shock as the Philippines was devastated by a typhoon. All forms of media have been buzzing with up-to-date news coverage and stories of search, rescue, survival, and death.

I’ve been amazed at the use of social media to help bring aid and relief to victims. Numerous sources have written about and commented on the use of social media to rally people and retain resources to help in time of need.

From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, people and organizations are getting the word out about how to bring help and order to what seems like chaos.

According to TechCrunch, relief efforts are now underway, including one by the Geeklist Corps of Developers, which is recruiting coders, product managers and other tech experts from around the world to build tools that will help coordinate rescue efforts, enable crisis communication and make sure emergency supplies and food are quickly distributed to areas in need.

The initiative is working with the government of the Philippines to deploy and start using finished projects. Kat Borlongan, the initiative’s coordinator, tells me that they are searching for designers, developers, product managers and social media experts to help out.

So people are employing and utilizing social media experts to bring help and aid, but even ordinary people are taking to their own initiatives to bring relief. Check out the following story:

“We are just doing as much as we can and I put a post on Facebook. I said: ‘Can you help? I am going up there with the car.’ So I got a lot of donations from my friends and family,” said Simon Timmins, as he made his delivery. “I got about 1,000 pounds so I have got enough for at least two trips up here. This is the first trip and I will be coming up again later in the week.” This is just an example of one person who is trying to make a difference and using a simple tool like Facebook to collect supplies and donations.

Patrick Meier is director of social innovation at the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute in Qatar. He develops tools, like the just launched website MicroMappers, that quickly sort through online data, from tweets to uploaded photos, and then display the information on satellite maps. Aid agencies can view the maps, which change in real time based on data coming in, and then use that information to help plan their relief efforts.

When National Geographic asked how they are mobilizing to help victims of the typhoon? Meier answerd, “We launched MicroMappers in order to very quickly tag tensof thousands of tweets (and soon pictures) coming out of the Philippines. More specifically, and at the UN’s request, we are asking volunteers from all around the world to tag tweets if they are related to “requests for help,” “infrastructure damage,” and “displaced populations.””

We’re doing this entirely online via the Digital Humanitarian Network and anyone can volunteer, no prior training or experience required. You can learn more about the efforts at MicroMappers.com.

When asked about their specific goals for crisis mapping amid the typhoon’s aftermath, he said, “Our goal is to rapidly map the needs and damage resulting from Typhoon Yolanda so that our UN colleagues can respond more quickly with their relief efforts.”

This is the good of social media, friends. We saw this with Hurricane Sandy, and in Chile, Japan, Iran and Haiti. People took to social media to mobilize, coordinate, raise support, communicate and raise awareness – and bottom-line, make a difference.

This is why we champion and focus so much on social media here at CMM and this is a great example that technology is not a waste of time. God has given us these amazing tools to communicate with others and who knows, maybe even save a life.

 

FamBackground2

My kids are getting older and are constantly on computers, iPads and mobile devices. I wanted to protect their innocent eyes from bad stuff on the web so I ordered Pandora’s Hope. I set it up in a matter of minutes and made some adjustments to their settings, put in my list of words to be blacklisted and bam – no more porn.

Continue Reading…

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We use CMG or Church Motion Graphics at our church. I met the owner Jeff via social media and then in-person while speaking at a conference up in his neck of the wood (Canada). I got him connected with our worship pastor, Matt Rector. This is Matt’s review of their resources:

If you work for a church on a tight budget, like me, I am sure you have run into this dilemma more than once.  I reached a point where I wore out my motion background library.  I felt like I was gonna tear my eyeballs out if I had to see the same stale loops again.  So where do I turn?  I could reach to a pay-per-download service.  I could go with a free resource that is a total grab-bag.  Or I could go with a brand new service I learned about earlier this summer when I traveled to speak at a conference in Canada.

The resource I speak of is called Church Motion Graphics.  I was wondering through the exhibitor hall and ran into a guy named Jeff McIntosh.  Behind him, I saw a screen leaping to life with slick, colorful, and diverse graphics.  I was quite impressed by what I saw, so I began to ask about CMG and what Jeff’s service was all about.  Jeff explained to me that he was a designer who wanted to create an easy, affordable, high quality worship media service that anyone could use for a cheap monthly rate.  As I looked at his demo reel, I was thinking “for something this nice, you’ve gotta be charging $20-$30 per month at least.  That’s not so affordable in my book.”

Then Jeff hits me with the jaw-dropper… his service costs $10/month!  I was pretty surprised.  After our conversation ended and we got back home, I decided to give this service a try.  Here’s what I got…

  • an email link on the first of each month with directions to download the newest set of media.  That’s right… new media every month, not just a subscription to a library!
  • each month’s package includes several really cool motion backgrounds (for August 2013, I got 9 awesome backs), available in 720p or 1080p in either PC or MAC compatible formats.
  • among these backgrounds, you get some title graphics slides that match this month’s theme… things like “welcome”, “events”, even seasonal messages.  In the August 2013 pack I got four title/message backs and 2 special videos exalting the many names of God.

So now, I know you are asking… “Matt, for $10 a month, how good can this stuff be?”  Let me tell you, for the most part this media is excellent.  They range from bright, fun, and energetic to slower, subtle, and more worshipful.  Jeff is trying a lot of different ideas out and every once in a while I will come across something that doesn’t blow me away.  However, I totally applaud him for trying out new things.

We have been using CMG for three months, and it has truly been a great experience.  Our visual experience gets a facelift every month!  I look forward to that email so I can see what new goodies I get to play with. It’s like Christmas comes the first of each month, just with less births of the Savior and more presents.

The icing on the cake is the additional free resources available through the site.  Jeff has a great blog with lots of tips regarding the implementation of media in worship experiences.  In fact, he is about to release an e-book called the Worship Media Handbook.  I have great confidence using this resource because Jeff has tons of experience in this field and is willing to answer any question or solve any issue that may arise.

So, after checking out this service and product, I can’t encourage you strongly enough!  Check out Church Motion Graphics! They have a great website with some great examples of their work.  They have other packages besides the $10/month if you are interested in the back catalog of media.  Overall, they are a great team and a really cool resource for any church that is trying to make every dollar count.

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

I’ve blogged numerous times and for various websites about getting started in social media. However, if you are still new to this and curious, I thought I would repost this very informative blog by Ed Stetzer. This is his how-to guide to getting started and I think it can really help you. See his thoughts below:

Recently, Leadership Journal interviewed me about social media, publishing it under the headline: “Not Tweeting? Repent!” So, in light of the fact that I basically called pastors sinners for not being on Twitter, I thought I should share some tips for getting started in social media.

Choose An Outlet

First, you’ll need to consider which social media outlet to use. My recommendation would be to engage in both Twitter and Facebook. The simple reason—you’re more likely to engage men over Twitter and women on Facebook.

Twitter is more of a broadcast medium. Users send out content (“tweet”) and people can reply to you if your tweet provoked a thought they wanted to share with you. Because of the way Twitter is set up, users don’t necessarily see one another’s replies to your original tweet.

On the other hand, Facebook is a bit more of a community-oriented conversation in that people can see each other’s comments in what is called a thread, short for a comment thread, underneath the original post.

There are other social media platforms as well (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+), but the two biggest are Twitter and Facebook, so I think that’s probably the best place to start.

Getting Started on Twitter

Set up separate Twitter accounts for you and your church. These accounts will be able to complement each other. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to set up a personal Twitter account.

  1. From an Internet connected device go to http://twitter.com.
  2. Choose the New to Twitter? Sign Up box on the screen.
  3. Enter a name and email address. (You will need to access this email address during signup.)
  4. Twitter will help you find a valid Full Name and Username. The Username is the one associated with the “@” symbol. Mine is @edstetzer. Sometimes you’ll need to add a number or underscore “_” to your username for it to be unique.
  5. Follow the step-by-step instructions provided by Twitter. Don’t forget to upload a clear photo of yourself.

To set up an account for your church follow the same directions as above. If you have a long church name you will need to abbreviate or modify it to find a workable username. Usernames are limited to only 15 characters. If your church is First Charismatic African Methodist Episcopal Church of Waxahatchie, you might need to be really creative! For example, I pastor Grace Church, but our Twitter handle is @GoGraceChurch.

The next obvious questions are, how often should I tweet and what should I tweet about? Well, first look what other people who are successful on Twitter are doing. For example, here are some examples of pastors who do a good job. See what they’re saying, notice how they’re interacting, and learn from them.

  • Jared Wilson, pastor of in Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont: @jaredcwilson
  • Zach Nielsen, pastor of The Vine Church in Madison, WI: @znielsen
  • Mark Marshall, pastor of Clearview Church in Franklin, TN: @mxmarsh

Your church account can be more about what’s going on in the church, retweeting things people in the church say, news of specific interest to the religious community and reminders of upcoming events. In most cases your church account will be less followed and connected than your personal account.

Here are some things you need to know about Twitter that are applicable to either type of account:

A “retweet” is when you tweet what another person has already tweeted. It is one of the most active features on Twitter. A tweet being retweeted exponentially compares to something “going viral” in the world of YouTube videos. Most people understand that retweeting a tweet does not imply that you endorse the content of that tweet. It does mean the content (typically a link to a news story) is worth reading.

A “favorite” is similar to a “like” on Facebook or +1 on Google+. It doesn’t actually mean it’s one of your favorite tweets of all time. It is a means of acknowledgement without giving a “reply” or retweet.

“Following” is like subscribing to a Twitter feed. You can follow people, news organizations, sports teams and more. Anyone on Twitter can “follow” you and mutual following is not necessarily expected.

I talked about replying earlier. While they aren’t visible to everyone who follows you, they are public though. So, if you want to speak to someone privately on Twitter, you can send them a “direct message” or “DM.” Those are only seen by you and the other person.

Getting Started on Facebook

To be effective on Facebook you need both a personal Facebook account and a different account for your church. Depending on how well known you are, you may end up needing to move from a personal Facebook account to what is called a “Page.” However, if you’re to that point you probably have a social media helper and there is no reason for me to go into all of that. So, let me focus on creating your personal account and your church’s page.

If you do not already have a personal Facebook profile, you need to create one before you can start a church page. Go to https://www.facebook.com and fill out the information to sign up for Facebook.

Once you have established your personal profile, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/pages and create your page. The setup wizard will walk you through the rest of the steps. Church pages fall under the Company, Organization or Institution category.

There are also Facebook Groups. These groups could be used for subsets of the congregation if you so choose. You could create groups for different ministries or sets of volunteers to share details with a select few.

Groups can be open to the public or password protected. It’s best to decide on the privacy of each group based on the content that will be shared with the group. A youth ministry group might not need to be private. However, a group for Celebrate Recovery or Divorce Care just might.

Blogging

In the Leadership Journal interview, I also suggested that you probably don’t want to jump into a full-fledged blog, where you are promoting daily content and things of that sort, unless you are in a specific ministry niche as I am.

However, if you are on Facebook and Twitter and you create a blog where you share weekly updates—some pastors call that “Between Sundays”—you can tweet links to the post or share them on Facebook. So, even though people aren’t generally going to your blog every day, and you don’t have a large blog readership, because you post it on Facebook and Twitter you can share updates during the week and people can share it with others.

So now that you know how to get started, repent and move forward into the social media world!

Feel free to ask questions or for clarifications as needed, and I will update this article to help all those who are interested.

netflix

A couple of months ago, we cancelled our DISH Network subscription and are now just paying $8 a month now to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix. I know of several friends that have done the same thing and are just using services like Netflix and HuluPlus and canceling subscriptions to cable and satellite. I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from the company of Netflix and two shows that I watch on Netflix (Fringe and The Walking Dead).

Lesson 1: Adapt or die. I have a whole chapter about this in my upcoming book. Companies like Blockbuster didn’t adapt and they got passed by new a new up-and-comer like Netflix that did things differently and more efficiently. Blockbusters process and policies were old, out-dated and frustrating their customers. Netflix tried the Blue Ocean Strategy and decided to do video rental in a whole different way.

Lesson 2: Just because you used to be successful does not guarantee future success. Blockbuster used to be a giant in their field. They were booming and successful. Now they’ve filed for bankruptcy. What happened? Maybe they got cocky. Maybe they got lazy. Maybe they lost their focus and stopped casting vision. Maybe they didn’t adapt and change to the digital world around them. Maybe all of the above? I can’t tell you how many churches I know that boast of their glory days in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. Days when they used to have to bring extra chairs in. Now those old pews sit empty on Sunday and the congregation is small and declining. What happened? Maybe… you know the drill. See above.

Lesson 3: Content is king. Why was it so easy for me to give up the hundreds of channels on my DISH Network? I would venture to say that I knew I could still get good content from Netflix and HuluPlus and that my entertainment time wouldn’t suffer. I knew Netflix was packed full of great content and I could still scratch my action, comedy and Sci-fi itches through their service. Why is this important to us? You can hype and market your church all you want, but at the end of the day, you got to show the goods. You must create compelling experiences for people to encounter the Living God. As a blogger, I know that content is king. If I have nothing to say, I lose my voice. If your pastor or teaching pastor doesn’t effectively communicate God’s Word to both the Christian and the non-Christian, you’ll have people leave and go somewhere where they can experience the life-changing truth of the gospel in fresh and creative ways. To quote my friend, Mark Batterson: “If people love a book (or church or service or company) they will tell their friends about it. There is no substitute or shortcut that can compensate for life-changing content.”

Lesson 4: There is an unseen world. This is a lesson that is reinforced in the TV show Fringe that I watch on Netflix. We are to be constantly reminded that what we see is not all there is. We live in a natural world, but there is a supernatural world and all around us are angels and demons and things that we can not see. We serve a God that rose from the dead and this makes Christianity a supernatural faith. When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart. God is always at work, behind the scenes – working things together for our good.

Lesson 5: Somethings can not be explained. I’m also reminded of this in the show Fringe. So many times in life, in medicine, in ministry, things happen that can not be explained. Lives are changed from the inside out, someone gets healed, someone doesn’t get healed (despite much prayer), miracles take place. Often times God moves in mysterious ways and we don’t understand Him, His ways, His plans or His timing.

Lesson 6: You must have faith. This is a spiritual them that runs through most shows on TV, including Fringe. When you don’t understand, when your mind is blown, in good and times and bad – you must have faith. Faith is something that endures through trials and valleys. It is battle-tested. It’s not enough to have faith when everything is going your way, you must have faith when you’re hurting, confused and scared. Always hope. Always trust. Always believe.

Lesson 7: The war rages on. In my ebook Church Leadership 101, I have a chapter that reminds us: “You have an enemy.” We must never forget that in this unseen world (all around us), there is a war that rages on between good and evil. You have an enemy that wants to take you down, take you out and if he could – kill you. You must put on your spiritual armor and fight the good fight of faith. Never let your guard down. The enemy is waiting to prowl on you.

Lesson 8: I see dead people. One of my new favorite shows is The Walking Dead. I love the title because all around us our people that are spiritually dead walking around. One of the powerful truths that I must constantly be reminded of is that we don’t save anyone. Only God saves. Only God redeems. Only God restores. Regeneration is a beautiful thing. God has the power to open blind eyes and awaken a dead heart, changing someone from the inside out. Place your hope and trust in the saving work of God, the finished work of the cross, and the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.

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Recently I came across a resource website called CREATIONSWAP. I forwarded it on to my worship pastor and didn’t think much more about it. I went into his office one day as he was working on our pre and post-service slides (they’re really sharp) and he was using the free graphics and artwork on this website. He said it was a tremendous resource and he highly recommended it. So, I thought I share it with you if you haven’t heard of it. Check them out!