Archive for November, 2008

Children’s Ministry Online maintenance

Posted on 30. Nov, 2008 by .

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So, I’m in blog maintenance hell.

Over the summer I upgraded to a new version of wordpress. Somehow in the middle of it, I deleted all of my categories. Normally that wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but the way I have my permalink structure set up, the actual URL address for each post has the category in it. It basically renamed all my categories to 15 digit numbers… it was a mess. I started to make the correction to all my posts but then forgot. So I basically had several hundred blog posts with funked out categories and strange URLs.

A few weeks ago I came across a website called Website Grader. Basically it analyzes your website and tells you what sucks about it. Mine sucked pretty bad. I got a 65 out of 100. There were a few things that were pretty good, but one thing it pointed out was that it was not effectively optimized for search engines. Although a lot of my pages are indexed with Google and I get a fair amount of traffic from random web searches, my blog was not optimized like it should. What was missing? Metadata.

In every post there is some key data that Google and other search engines look for information. The Page Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords. Whenever I create a new post, I obviously write a title and I usually type in a few keywords. However, what I didn’t know was that WordPress was not transferring any of that information to my metadata. I found a WordPress  plugin called “All In One SEO Pack” that gives you a place to type in all of this metadata for each post as well as the main pages.

So, as I’m fixing all the broken categories on 300+ posts, I’m also entering all the SEO metadata.… Read the rest

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I officially dedicate this post to Johnathan Cliff

Posted on 20. Nov, 2008 by .

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The videos say it all.

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A new generation takes power: Generation We

Posted on 18. Nov, 2008 by .

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Absolutely fascinating video. In some ways it excites me and in other ways it scares me to death. What is this country really going to look like in 15 to 20 years? I’m hopeful though. I’m not exactly sure things are going to be better or worse, just different. Should be exciting though.

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My collaboration team

Posted on 17. Nov, 2008 by .

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Both Matt and Jonathan already linked to Sam’s video. Here it is in case you haven’t seen it already. Sam created this video for his Pipeline Conference last week. What a great video, and I’m not just saying that becasue I was in it. ;)

I think some of these guys were were talking some already, but it was last May that I sent an email to Sam, Matt and Jonathan for some help on an article I was writing for K Magazine. It was kind of a shot in the dark, but I got great feedback from everyone and in the few days that followed, all of us kept emailing each other back with other ideas, thoughts and everything in-between. From my perspective it wasn’t really that intentional, it just kind of happened…. but I’m glad it did. Not too long ago Gina joined our group and has provided some incredible thoughts, ideas and feedback. It’s been one of the best things that I’ve experienced in ministry in recent years.

So, if you don’t have someone to collaborate with, I recommend a little intentionality. Read lot’s of blogs and develop relationship with the authors (comments and emails). Do the same on sites like Kidology and CMConnect. Find people you gel with and start collaborating. It’s a beautiful thing.

Here’s the video Sam made!


Collaboration Video from Sam Luce on Vimeo.… Read the rest

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Maybe blogging isn’t quite dead yet

Posted on 15. Nov, 2008 by .

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I just found this blog post that was linked from ProBlogger’s twitter feed.

A few weeks ago I wrote this post in response to “the death of blogging.”

I enjoyed the article. Although I believe that the social networking has changed the web since blogging made it’s debut many years ago, I’m not convinced we’ve seen the end of blogging. The article made some good points. Personally I get a lot out of reading blogs written by other church leaders as I know many other do as well. I follow their tweets as well, but it’s not the same as the blog posts. I really don’t think the next platform has arrived that is going to usher blogging out. We’ll just have to see.… Read the rest

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First six months: Automated communication

Posted on 14. Nov, 2008 by .

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I didn’t forget about stage three for my communication process. I’m including it last because I’m not done developing it here at Gateway.

The weekly email and blog posts are separate forms of communication I have to write every week. However, there is a substantial amount of communication that does (and needs) to happen every week that I really don’t need to be involved with. Every week we get questions about infant baptism, questions about our programs and opportunities to serve. In addition, we get many visitors who may come back if we follow-up with them. A lot of times, these are the communication pieces that fall through the cracks. If done well, our parents will feel valued and informed.

We have several pre-written emails to respond to our most popular questions. My admin can field these questions by cutting and pasting the pre-written response. If they have further questions, I or my staff can follow up. Otherwise I’ll be explaining why we don’t baptized infants three times a week. In addition you can automate follow-up communication to visitors. We can run reports on Monday that will track first, second and third time attendance on that weekend and print out labels for us to attach to postcards. The more simple things you can automate like this, the better your scope for communication.

Well, that’s it for my series on communication. Again, I’m not expert, but this really worked for me. Hopefully there will be a few people other there that might find this information helpful.… Read the rest

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Predicting Christmas and Easter crowds

Posted on 13. Nov, 2008 by .

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Okay everyone. I need some ideas and suggestions.

This year, we are having five Christmas Eve services. Two on the 23rd and 3 on the 24th. In years past, we’ve had some services fill up more than others, but none of them packed to the gills. We’re providing programming for kids up to Kindergarten.

As a church we’ve been throwing out the idea of ticketing the services. Families will have to pick up tickets before the service to “reserve” space. We will open the doors to the auditorium 30 minutes before the service for people with tickets and it is open seating 15 minutes before the service begins. From what I’ve heard, Gateway has experimented with ticketing before. Some people on my Kids staff have indicated that they planned on more kids than actually showed up. Although that is good, they didn’t feel that the tickets really helped them know how many to plan for.

What do you think? Have you used “ticketing” or something like this before? Are there any things you’ve done to predict the number of kids who will attend? I’ve got my own idea of something I was moving forward with, but I’m not sure I can do it along with ticketing. I hope that some of you who experience massive crowds for Christmas and Easter can throw out a few ideas.… Read the rest

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First six months: Results

Posted on 13. Nov, 2008 by .

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I don’t love that only 1/3 of my parents are opening my emails. Why can’t it be half or 2/3? However, I’m getting 300-400 people open my email every week. That’s still a lot of people.

As soon as I started doing this, I was barraged by emails of parents thanking me for keeping them in the loop. I don’t get nearly as many emails with general questions anymore. Even when I have silent weeks where no one emails me back or sends a question, I’ll overhear people talking about things I wrote while in the check-in line on Sunday. Or a parent I hardly know will ask a specific question about something I blogged. I love it!

Sure, only 1/3 of people are opening the email every week, but these are the people who when you don’t communicate are the ones who will beg for information. I’m giving them what they want. Sometimes I’ll have a parent come up and ask me a question on Sunday morning. I’ll answer their question and then say, “did you know I have a Kids Quest blog with answers to questions just like you asked? If you’d like, I’ll put you on the email list this week.” I’ve found that when there is no communication, people get frustrated. When there is communication, people may have to ask where to get it, but once they know, they’ll be good from that point on.

TIP: Oh, just in case you wondered. Every week my admin adds the emails of new parents who attend each week. She does this in addition to updating this information in our church database as well. My Constant Contact will always be a copy of the data that is already in our church database.… Read the rest

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Twitter Tricks: Friend or Follow

Posted on 12. Nov, 2008 by .

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Yesterday was supposed to be my last Twitter Trick post, but I came across another one. FriendOrFollow will help you organize and clean out  the list of people who you are following or who are following you. Go to the website and type in yoru twitter name. It will show you three options:

  • People you are following and not following you back
  • People that follow you and you don’t follow back
  • People you follow and follow you back

I know there are times where people start following me and for some reason I didn’t realize it or neglected to sign up to follow them. So, this little tool will help you organize and clean house.… Read the rest

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First six months: Blog and Constant Contact

Posted on 12. Nov, 2008 by .

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I’ve been writing this week about my first six months at Gateway and how intentionally communicating with parents has been a huge deal.

I was building a process for communication and I needed something that was efficient and something that would scale well. Sending emails from my inbox wasn’t a good long term solution. How would we add new emails? How would we remove emails? Who would manage this every changing list? If my parents are constantly getting a long email from me every week, are they going to be more or less likely to read or respond to other emails.

So, I implemented stage two of the communication strategy. I launched a blog for Kids Quest. Now I set up a domain on a server, but that’s only because I’m partially OCD and a big geek. There’s nothing wrong with using blogger or wordpress. I immediately began blogging. I realized that people were not going to read my long emails. However, the information was essential and needed to be said. So, my plan was to write blog posts about everything that needed to be said. I figured in one week I could have 5-10 different posts depending on what was going on. If people wanted all the juicy details, they could read the blog posts that interested them and skip over the ones they didn’t care about. Then I would send out my email every week, but instead of making it a really long email with all the information, I would just highlight the main things and say, “if you want to read more about this, click here.” This would take them to that specific post on the blog. Now my emails could be substantially shorter which increased the likelihood that my parents would actually read them.

Part two of this stage was to sign up for a Constant Contact account.… Read the rest

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