Month: March 2008

Anyone else going to the Orange Conference?

I’m very excited about going to the Orange Conference. Last year I missed my conference opportunity. I was taking my staff to the Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry Conference until it was canceled. I was so disappointed. I ended up taking my staff on a retreat instead which was good, but I really missed going to a big conference. I hadn’t heard of Orange until it was too late to sign up, so I began making plans to attend in 2008. I didn’t know much about Orange other than it seemed to be a conference for Student and Children’s Ministry. What the heck was up with that name? Although I was no longer working at my church, I was planning to attend regardless as I really felt this was a conference I was supposed to attend. Now as I’ve learned more about what Orange is, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am supposed to be there. God has been stirring things up in my heart about ministry over the past 6-9 months and I’ve discovered that Orange specifically addresses the things I’ve been wrestling with. Isn’t that just like God? So, here are the breakouts and Preconference sessions I am attending: Preconference Workshop 1: FAMILY MINISTRY 101: Family Ministry Around the Table Preconference Workshop 2: ADMIN 101: Necessary Conflict Preconference Workshop 3: PRODUCTION 103: Creatively Wired...

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Enterprise 2.0

Okay. I think this this my last post in this two week series of technologically heavy posts (I think). I actually came across the little slide show below several months ago. It’s not outdated, but there are now other web application out there now that could also be included in this presentation. Here’s where we are. The multi-site model of doing ministry is exploding. Members of the same teams are sitting in offices spanning cities and even states. Even though I was only 15 minutes away from one of our campuses, sometimes a few weeks would go by without even seeing the CP at that campus. So, we need the tools to effectively work together when we are apart. This is Enterprise 2.o. Most of the tools listed in this presentation are free (or very low cost). See how it may change the way you collaborate!Where are we headed? I think we’ll spend more time collaborating “apart.” Here is what I’m waiting for. I’m waiting to see 4, 6, or even 12 children’s pastors from across the country (perhaps even the world) collaborate on a project together. Maybe it will be an event, maybe it would be a kids church series. The beauty of multi-site is when several children’s staff get together to collaborate on a project. Why couldn’t multiple children’s pastors (maybe those who don’t have the luxury...

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Free: Google Calendar

Okay, I’m on a Google tangent here, but I had to share. Maybe you’ve used Google Calendar before. Even if you have, things have changed! I started playing around with Google Calendar a little over a year ago. I immediately LOVED it. The interface was so easy to use and efficient. It integrates perfectly with Gmail as well, which is what I use for personal email. One of the things I loved the most was how it handles appointments. You can invite other people, regardless of what network they are on to appointments and when they click yes, no or maybe… it immediately updates their status on your guest list on your calendar. This function feels a lot like evite. Although I loved the interface, Google calendar was just not a viable option for me. My work calendar was my primary calendar. Since I had appointments on my work calendar that often took place after work hours and on the weekends, it made no sense to maintain two calendars. We used Microsoft Outlook with Exchange. This way I could access my calendar anywhere, including my phone. However, there was a major limitation with Outlook and Exchange. You can’t really invite people outside your network to meetings through the calendar. You would have to email them and manually add their response to your calendar. In addition, you can’t share your...

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Free: Google Docs (bonus)

I had to share this cool new feature of Google Docs, but I didn’t want the last post to go any longer than it already was. One of the great things about Google is that they are always innovating. One of their coolest innovations is an online form that fills data directly into a Google Spreadsheet. So here’s how it works. Open up a Google Spreadsheet and click on the “share” button. This will give you the opportunity to share as collaborators, viewers or to to fill out a form. Click on the “fill out a form” selection and write whatever questions you need. Then you simply add the email addresses of who you want to fill out the form. They’ll get a slick form in their email (if for some reason the form doesn’t work, it includes a link to the form on a separate web page). As people complete the form, their responses are automatically added to the spreadsheet you created in Google Docs. How might you use this? Easy! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve created a camp application where I forgot to ask what size t-shirt the child needs. Or there have been times where I’ve needed to collect some simple information from a large number of people. Perhaps you want to contact all your volunteers before Christmas and ask them what service(es)...

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Free: Google Docs

Google Docs Rocks! If you have a Gmail account, then you already have access to Google Docs. If you don’t, just sign up for free. It’s really easy. Basically Google Docs are simply an alternative to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. No, there isn’t anything wrong with these programs and I use them all the time (well, not PowerPoint as much anymore). Actually the Microsoft incarnation of these programs are much more powerful. You can’t do complex formulas on Google’s version of Excel and you can’t do a mail merge on Google’s version of Word. However, there are some unique aspects about Google Docs that I love. 1. Accessibility. Ever lose a document or spreadsheet? Accidently deleted? Maybe you just can’t find it as it’s buried somewhere among the thousands of files and folders on your computer. Ever been somewhere and wish you had a document that was sitting on your computer? Google Docs takes away the frustration of all these situations. Google Docs is stored online and can be accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connected computer. 2. Collaboration. As we spend more time online and more time “away” from co-workers, the demand for collaborative tools has soared! Goggle Docs allows you to share your documents with anyone you please. You can control their editing/viewing rights. If you’re working on it at the same time, you can use...

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Free: Zamzar Video Conversion

Over the years I’ve had used several programs to convert videos. Whether it was a video I got off the web, a video from a volunteer’s camera or one of my own videos that I had to get into a certain format… and man are there a bunch of formats. Presentation software I’ve used often requires the full gamete of files from wmv, mpeg1, mpeg2, avi, or mov. In addition, there have been times when I’ve had a huge avi file that I needed to make smaller. Most recently I used inexpensive video encoding software from ImTOO. Although I still used ImTOO quite a bit, I’ve had a lot of fun with Zamzar. It’s really simple to use and it’s free. With Zamzar, you can take video you have on your computer and upload it to their site and they’ll convert it for you and send you an email with a link to download the converted file. For these kinds of projects, I tend to use ImTOO, but there is one thing that Zamzar does that others can’t. You can type in the web address of videos you see online (such as YouTube) and Zamzar will capture that video and convert it to whatever file type you want. I’ve used this many times to show a funny commercial clip at a meeting or in a kids church. Again, I’m...

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Free: LifeChurch.TV is “open”

Have you been here yet? Life Church out of Oklahoma have created a part of their web site called “OPEN.” It’s where they’re giving away their resources… and these are amazing resources. Everything from financial tools, leadership tools, documents, message series, outlines, graphics, videos and everything in between. An like LifeChurch, it’s all excellent. Be sure to check it out. Feel free to take what you want, it’s all free. I believe this is the first church to give away resources of this magnitude to date. Just another free resource for you to check...

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What you see is what you get

For church, Easter is HUGE! Obviously the day is significant for spiritual reasons, but its one of those big days of the year where everyone and their brother comes to church. I know that there is a huge temptation to go over the top for Easter since it is such a special day with so many special visitors. However, I’m not sure that we shouldn’t try to resist that temptation. I’ve been there. My church has rented out the sports arena (definitely a cool experience) and we’ve done the special theatrical productions in the kids services. I’ve seen that each year sometimes the thought comes to mind, “What are we going to do this year to top last year.” Although this is fun, is it false advertising? We have 20-30% more people attending who we’d love to have come back, yet if they came back they’d experience something different than they did when they came on Easter. The first impression might have been great, but the second impression could be a let-down. I like the churches that begin a new series on Easter Sunday. It’s kind of like the cliff-hangers we love (or hate) on TV. We get a great new audience on Easter Sunday, but with an “excellent” service that leaves them begging to come back next week we communicate that “this is who we are and what...

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Free: Coordinatr

Coordinatr is to Evite what Twitter is to blogging. It’s specialty? “Microevents.” Want to invite a bunch of friends over for dinner and a movie? Coordinatr is your tool. Now I love Evite. I typically use it for something every month or so. Even one I used it for a volunteer training at church. The only downside? I think our Evite page had a Victoria’s Secret ad on the sidebar most times I logged in. Not exactly the advertising I wanted to have for our Children’s Ministry training, but it wasn’t a huge deal. The beautiful thing about Evite is how it allows everyone to get feel the momentum of who’s coming to an event. Coordinatr does this is a very clean and simplified manner. I’m new to it and have only created a few simple invites, but plan to use it in the future. One great feature is that it will add events to participants personal calendars. It also provides a community feel where people can leave comments, discuss things and even post pictures and video. I see a lot of networking and collaboration possibilities (kind of like pre-meeting information and discussion) for non-staff members working on special projects or teams. Best of all, it’s free! Visit Coordinatr here. Technorati Tags: Events,planning,meetings,Childrens...

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