Have You Heard of ORA?

ORA Provides Cutting-Edge Technology For The New Way to Pray

oracollage

Introducing “ORA” a disruptive technology to promote the oldest form of recognized religious expression in the Christian and Jewish faiths–prayer. The ORA system creates a personal mobile experience for the individual and an enterprise-quality community management platform for any organization to invite, connect, share, respond and interact with one another in intercessory prayer.

That’s a lot of words to describe it, but ORA’s technology gives us the ability to do so much more to leverage existing social networks and mobile devices to connect individuals in the most meaningful relationship they can have with others and with God, said Jeff Bone, Chief Marketing Officer for ORA. 

ORA collects, organizes, tracks, reminds, connects and securely shares prayer requests and answers with anyone you choose. ORA does this at a personal and intimate level with your friends and family through the mobile platform or â€˜app’ on your smartphone. Stated Dusty Gulleson, ORA Chief Executive Officer.

We’re looking forward to integrating Ora into the life of both our physical and online church congregations. What an incredible tool to engage communities of believers around the power of prayer! stated Nils Smith, Web Pastor at Community Bible Church of San Antonio. 

Social networks are typically inappropriate high noise areas that are not private enough for many sensitive postings like prayer requests. ORA offers an environment where prayer is the most important thing. ORA not only makes prayer available on your smartphone, but it makes comments, reminders and prayer partners always available too. ORA offers immediate feedback to requests, questions and comments from prayer partners and helps to track and remind the user of how prayers are answered immediately or over time. ORA helps you get a glimpse of the eternal that can be missed when we’re caught up in the stress of everyday life.

ORA is a free download for iPhone (and is coming soon for Android). The ORA smartphone app integrates into the ORA Community system. The ORA Community system is a software as a service (SaaS) solution designed with many more management features that allows an organization to administer community-wide prayer communication and easily integrate with existing email, church management or relationship management software from leading providers. For a limited time, ORA is offering a no-cost trial of the ORA Community system for an organization.

Visit the ORA website for more information: https://ora.net

Download ORA for the iPhone in the App Store! https://appstore.com/ora

Enter ORA’s Apple iPad Mini Giveaway this week! https://bit.ly/orapromo

Introducing TheCommon.org

Have you heard of TheCommon.org? Maybe you should! They are my newest sponsor and have a cool service for your church that you should consider. Check out this guest blog post:

TheCommon.org started with a need.  Actually it started as a list; an extremely inefficient list of things people needed help, being communicated to a huge audience of people who “might be able to help” that led to an idea.  You see, every community has both Needs and Abilities.  And we’ve found that, generally, People want to help each other.  But the process of connecting these needs with the people who want to help is severely broken.

What if there were a better way for people help each other, and for communities to help people help each other?  Not just another piece of software or a place to share photos, but a movement and a connecting point—something that has true value to the community.  Something that can embrace both philanthropy and simplicity.

Connecting people looks like a huge, complex system in most communities.  You have an entire ecosystem that is dependent upon a central system of administration to drive service, outreach, care.  And your system is then limited by the capacity of that individual or team.

But when you open communication—allow your community to connect directly with those opportunities—those limits go away. I can really only speak from personal experience.  In the three years that TheCommon has been a living, breathing resource for people to serve, there have been connections I have been able to make, places to serve and relationships formed that flat out wouldn’t have happened in whatever you consider the “current model” without it.

And in the last few months I’ve witnessed some incredible interactions on the Projects and Marketplace as well: from baby clothes and waffle makers, to cars, refrigerators, and computers being given away to help people—all because they were made aware of a need and stepped up to meet it.

So, what happens when people have easier access to the needs in their community and partner communities through blending?  Check out our Twitter feed.  Listen to the 73 year old woman who just received help packing boxes, or the guy who just got help with his car repair.  They share the stories of connections made and the good that is right therewaiting to be done.

We would love for you to test drive it in your community, and for a limited time are extending a FREE 60 day trial to all of Greg’s readers.  Click the link HERE and be sure to enter the code “ga2011” when you create a community account.  It’s simple to get started and we have some great resources to help you along the way.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at hello@thecommon.org.


This was a guest post from Jay Kroll who works in Marketing and Relationships at TheCommon.org.  Follow them on Twitter at @thecommon.

Apple Introduces Yet Another Game-Changer

Last night during the amazing Super Bowl commercials, Apple introduced the world to The Daily. I’ve already stated that I think this changes the game. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of traditional newspapers. What say you?

Do You Use LBS Services?

Today’s question and discussion around LBS technology. Do you use it? From Wikipedia: A location-based service (LBS) is an information and entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device.

80 days ago (after 2 years of debating it), I joined Foursquare. I travel a lot and wish I had joined sooner. I’m usually an early adopter, but it took me a while to get on board with an LBS (location-based service). Very recently, I also joined Gowalla, but don’t use it regularly.

From Wikipedia: LBS services can be used in a variety of contexts, such as health, work, personal life, etc. LBS services include services to identify a location of a person or object, such as discovering the nearest banking cash machine or the whereabouts of a friend or employee. LBS services include parcel tracking and vehicle tracking services. LBS can include mobile commerce when taking the form of coupons or advertising directed at customers based on their current location.

My social media marketing company (GTK Solutions) utilizes these tools for our clients, so I wanted to know what we were offering people. I see the value for businesses offering loyalty-based incentives and think it’s great. I also realize you can see friends that have checked in at a restaurant, store or business and know they’re there and stop by and surprise them. Each Sunday, I see several people check in to churches around the country.

I’m curious: Do you use an LBS service? Why or why not? If so, which one and what do you like about it? Do you see uses for churches in this area of mobile technology?

A Social Network Christmas

Yesterday, my friend Rob Thomas of Igniter Video posted this video on Facebook. I checked it out and was blown away. This moves me on so many levels. From the old, old story told in new, relevant, contemporary ways to the creativity, innovation and hard work that went into creating something like this. I’m absolutely amazed and encourage you to purchase it HERE and use it at your church this Christmas season. You can check it out below:

Apple TV or Roku?

Ever since I witnessed the launch of the new Apple TV for $99, I’ve been planning on getting one. Then I started hearing a lot of hype and buzz about Roku. Have you heard of Roku? I first heard about them thanks to Twitter. I then saw it compared to the Apple TV on a TV show.

If you want more info, read THIS article that share’s one guy’s opinion on why you should buy the Roku instead of the new Apple TV and read THIS article that gives a good comparison of the two products.

I’ve mentioned before that I think there are a number of uses for products like these at churches. I know my church has an Apple TV and uses it often. I also remember Terry Storch of LifeChurch.tv saying that it was an essential piece of gear that all churches should possess.

What about you? Any of you have the new Apple TV? Any of you have the Roku? Have you compared the two? What’s your verdict? Or are you waiting for something else (like Google TV or the new Sony product)? What are your thoughts?

Do You See What I See?

This made a splash on Twitter on Wednesday. I’m just now getting to blog about it. I think this has great potential to be a game-changer and will be keeping my eye on the development of this technology.

Check out what FastCompany had to say about this new product:

Ever see something you wish you had on film? Say, a miraculous home-run in the ninth, or your baby’s first steps? A new wearable camcorder called Looxcie (look-see) aims to capture all these shooting-star moments.

Looxcie ($199) is a Bluetooth headset that features video recording–but no record button. Rather, the device is designed to constantly capture video, which can either be viewed live on one’s smartphone, or saved to memory if a YouTube-worthy event occurs. Like any Bluetooth headset, Looxcie fits snugly around one’s ear (it’s a bit heavy), and can make and receive calls. But since the device is constantly on and recording to a temporary storage buffer, one must only hit the “Instant Clip” button, and the last 30-seconds of footage is automatically saved to your Android, and soon BlackBerry and iPhone. What you see is what you record.

“How can I capture things and be fully present in the moment?” says Bob Kron, Looxcie’s VP of marketing. “Everybody gets the splash, but nobody gets the whale–you’re always just a little bit too late. With Looxcie, you capture the moment as it happens.”

To store and record constantly, Looxcie comes with 4GB of flash memory and has a 4-hour battery life when continuously recording video. (Battery life is much longer when the camcorder is turned off.)

What’s more, using the Looxcie app, video clips can be instantly shared via email, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. It’s the camcorder for the social media age–a device that captures tweet-size video which can immediately be uploaded online. And in case the last 30 seconds wasn’t enough, users can always grab up to the last hour of footage through using the Looxcie app.

Though many smartphones have video recording, they’re often sitting in your pocket. It is Looxcie’s TiVo-esque playback feature that won’t let you miss a moment (think: Sully landing the plane on Hudson).

Of course, there’s always the issue of style. Capturing video of your baby’s first steps with Looxcie means you’re probably wearing a Bluetooth headset during your baby’s first steps. It means you’re probably the kind of person who wears a Bluetooth headset around-the-clock. But if you’re comfortable or shameless enough to wear one in public, why not add a camcorder? Who knows what you might see.

Check out the video quality below:

*** What are your thoughts? I can see bank tellers wearing these. I can see police officers wearing these. What uses can you see for this? Do you see a way that this could be used at church? Share.

10 Ways to Improve Your Sermon Archives Right Now

The following is a guest blog post from one of my sponsors (on the right): Brad Hill of SiteOrganic. Be sure to click on their ad and check out what they’re doing. Below is the guest blog:

Have you ever wondered if Jesus considered the distribution of His words, as much as the words themselves?  I think it’s pretty clear that He did.  During His earthly ministry, He spent time dispensing Truth, exposing falsehood, and demonstrating love.  Along the way, He chose his audience and forum carefully.  Those who saw and heard Him were blessed (John 20:29), but those people, in turn, perpetuated a viral firestorm that spread throughout the world and continues to this day.

They used the tools of the day to spread His message. Throughout history, there is a long history of people using new technologies to spread the gospel (examples here, here, and here).

If Jesus were walking the earth today, I think he would have a Website.  It’s kind of fun to dream about what he’d do with it (music playing on the home page? Popup ads? Big photos of the disciples? I think not…)  One thing is for sure.  He would be using it–along with every other available means available–to spread His message.

You and I are the Church, and Jesus left us with the task to teach others about Him (Matthew 28:16-20).  We should be doing everything possible towards that end, using the technology available to us.  Assuming that you are preaching the unadulterated Truth from your pulpit, then you should be using online tools to spread that Truth to the ends of the earth!

If you have a Website for your church, Here are 10 suggestions on how to improve and enhance your sermon audio or video content. Read this as a quiz and see how you would score your church Website:

1.     Add scripture references to every sermon.

2.     Organize your sermons by date. Covenant Life Church does a great job of this (click on the date tab): https://www.covlife.org/resources.

3.     If you preach sermons as part of multi-week series, then be sure that your visitors can find the series easily. I suggest creating a landing page for each sermons series.  Mars Hill has a good example: https://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/preview.

4.     Don’t charge money to hear your sermons online. Give them away to all that will listen! (You don’t charge admission to attend your services do you?)

5.     Use the MP3 format for audio, as opposed to Windows Media, Quicktime or another proprietary standard.  This ensures the broadest possible compatibility.

6.     Provide an easy way for people to share the sermon with others (Email, Facebook, Twitter)

7.     Write a synopsis of every message, to make it easy for people to understand the big idea inside each presentation.

8.     Include every sermon in your podcast, no later than Monday lunchtime. Traffic logs consistently show that sermon content is in greatest demand the day after the service.

9.     Provide links to documents and supporting materials.  For example, any outlines, notes, or other resources should be included as part of the online sermon experience.  This is especially true if you provided these resources to people who were sitting in the room when you recorded the sermon.  Treat your online visitors like first-class citizens and give them the same resources!

10.  Every sermon should be searchable (your site does have a search feature, right?).  When someone on your home page is searching for prayer, marriage, Jesus, or end times, your sermons should appear in the results right alongside your other resources.  With good keywords in place, you’re more likely to provide the right message at the right time, right when a person needs to hear a certain message.

Extra credit: Provide a transcript or manuscript of your sermons.  These serve both as an aide to the hearing-impaired, and also a great tool for discussion group and small group leaders who want to build on the content of the sermon.

So how did you do?  Think about how you might be able to build or improve your own church’s media archive this Fall, and take advantage of the amazing tools available to you. Heaven knows, people need to hear the Truth via any method possible.

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Brad Hill is founder and President of SiteOrganic.  As one of the leading providers of online ministry tools, they design some amazing sites for churches around the country. Their heart really is all about helping ministries reach more people online for Christ. In addition to their portfolio of easy site management tools, SiteOrganic has a brand new media sharing system called Media Suite 2.0.  If Brad’s post got you thinking about how to improve your sermon archives, then definitely check out https://www.siteorganic.com/media2 and give him a call!