Archive for March, 2010

What makes a great iPhone App?

Posted on 31. Mar, 2010 by .

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iphone_theres_an_app_for_that_t_shirt-p235968994486945626t5tr_400“There’s an app for that.”

It’s a famous phrase that’s commonly used now days. I’ve been accused by someone on my staff of saying it too much myself. Yes, I love my iPhone and I love finding great new apps to enhance my live/experience. However, I’m going to challenge this famous phrase. Just becasue there’s an app for that doesn’t mean there should be. Right?

I’ve downloaded many apps that I’ve deleted immediately after opening it. Either it was broken, didn’t do what I thought it would do or I thought to myself, why do I really need this one? Seriously, there are some apps that people invested way too much time and resources on.

So what makes a great app?

This is purely my opinion, but since this is my blog, I guess I’m free to share it. :)

Here’s two things that I believe make for a good app.

1. It brings content that would normally be found on the web and puts it in a more device friendly environment, maximizing the features of the device.

Let’s take a look at some of the apps out there that do this really well. The Facebook App for the iPhone is amazing. It didn’t start out that way, but it is there now. It’s super easy to navigate between updates, photos and my inbox. You get around facebook differently on the iPhone than you would on your computer, but it’s easy to figure out. Also, you can’t do everything you could do on the computer, but what you can do works really well, possibly even better than on the web. Take a look at IMDB for the iPhone. You have the entire movie database at your fingertips in a very easy to navigate way.

What about other apps like foursquare or games like Super Monkey Ball.… Read the rest

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Pace of innovation

Posted on 31. Mar, 2010 by .

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Last month I flew out to Nashville for a week. While at the airport, I noticed three distinct things.

IMG_0509First of all, I noticed the advertising in the security check-point trays. Since 9-11, going through security has changed everything about air travel. We wait in line and just about literally undress to go through the check-point. It’s been nine years since all of this changed for us, but it wasn’t until this trip that I found advertising in my little security tray. Good job Haynes. Thousands upon thousands of people see this advertisement every day at the Nashville airport, why didn’t someone do this earlier?

Only 3-5 minutes after coming out of security I passed by a Redbox. IMG_0510Duh! Redbox has just about taken over DVD rentals here in the United States, why is this the first one I’ve seen in an Airport. This is about the smartest thing I’ve every seen in an airport. I remember thinking it was pretty cool when those DVD and DVD Player rental companies set up shop in airports, but there was always that uncertainty of whether they’d have a kiosk in the airport you were flying to. Redbox is everywhere. Rent at the airport in Nashville, return at the McDonalds in Tampa. Watch a good flick while you wait for your flight to board. It’s a beautiful time we live in.

IMG_0511Last but not least, my return flight was the first wi-fi enabled flight I’ve taken. I know it’s been around here and there for a last year or two, but in flight wi-fi seems to be pretty widespread now. How amazing is it that you can check your facebook, blog and return email all at 30,000 feet. These are amazing times!

It had only been six months since the last time I’d flown somewhere.… Read the rest

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Kidmin dismissal

Posted on 31. Mar, 2010 by .

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goodbye

I’m just trying to gather a little bit of information. Tell me about how you dismiss kids and why you do the things you do, specifically with elementary. I know that what you do depends on how you check-in your kids, but I just want to know more about what everyone does.

Do parents come into the classroom to pick up their kids? Do they wait at the door and you bring their kids to them? How do you verify that the parent is authorized to pick up a child? Do you keep their name tag? Do they keep their name tag? Why?

What have you found to be most efficient? What have you found to be most secure?

I’m hoping to learn some things that you’re doing that can make my check-out/dismissal even better than it is right now. Don’t be shy, right out a long and detailed comment about what you’re doing. Everyone can learn something from anyone. Don’t make me call you a lurker!… Read the rest

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Googe Docs tips and tricks: Forms

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .

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Screen shot 2010-03-30 at 5.05.15 PMI wrote about this two years ago. A lot of you weren’t reading this blog that long ago and those of you who were might want to take a second look at this. It’s just way too cool of a feature.

Let me throw out the situation you might have found yourself in.

  • You’re putting together a volunteer meeting and you want people to sign up to come. You want to ask them if they’re coming, what they’re bringing and if they have kids who will need childcare. You don’t want to use Evite because quite frankly, too many people avoid Evite due to it’s add plastered pages and you don’t want your invite to get lost among the other evites you’re volunteers tend to ignore. Your check in software offers registration, but you don’t want people to have to sign in, register or anything like that. You want easy.
  • Or what about when you want to gauge interest about a possible curriculum, and event or retreat? You could send an email out to everyone, but then you’d have to sort through all the emails that come back. You’d like a quick way to sort your answers and see the results live as they happen in an easy to manage system.
  • What about when you’ve got 50 kids coming to camp and you realize you forgot to ask what T-shirt size the kids need. Again, you could email, but then it would be a hassle to sort through all the emails.

Have you ever found yourself needing a tool that will do all those things? Yeah, I know there are tools out there that do this, but not a lot that can do all of these pretty well, and for free. It’s called Google Docs.

Yep, it’s “forms” from Google Docs and I’m going to demonstrate how beautiful it is right here, before your eyes.… Read the rest

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A different blog you might enjoy

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .

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24842_10150163402775548_127108530547_11740790_1530534_nDo you ever get tired of reading ministry blog after ministry blog after ministry blog? Do you need a “blog vacation?” I thought you might.

Let me introduce to you my favorite, non-ministry blog. It’s called Dixie Gypsy and it’s written by my beautiful wife. When I was 18 I made a list of the things I wanted in a wife (yeah, I was that kind of guy). I’ll share a secret with you. One of the items on the list was that she would be a Southern girl. Hey, what can I say? If you’re from the South, you know what I’m talking about. :)

So, my little Southern Belle is writing her own blog. Actually, she started the blog almost two years ago but got busy with other stuff. She’s back at it again, writing about food, trips we’ve taken and raising a little giant. She’s such a gifted writer and has such an amazing way with words. I think you’ll really enjoy reading her blog, but I’m partial.

So, click here to visit the Dixie Gypsy.… Read the rest

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Jim Wideman’s Good Friday sale

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .

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23605_367161217350_833242350_3699005_1167306_nLast week I got this email from Jim Wideman. I thought I’d pass it along to you. Yesterday I shared how everyone needs a coach. Jim’s my coach and he could be your coach as well.

On Friday, April 2nd JWM is going to put on a sale like you have never seen before. I know that budgets have been cut and many of you have been hurt by the economic crisis in our country so I want to help. Back last year I cut the price of theClub in half for people over 30 and started giving it away free for those under 30.

For 1 day I’m going to cut the price of most of my resources including my 1 day Coaching/Seminars called “Day Trips”. I’m also going to give away a free 6 months of infuse to someone who registers for a “Day Trip” on Good Friday! There are 4 different topics so if you register for all 4 you’ll have 4 chances to win a free 6 months of infuse. It’s the desire of my heart to make a difference in the next generation of Children’s Ministry leaders. I hope you will take advantage of these savings on opportunities to grow as I attempt to make Good Friday a really good Friday for Children’s Pastors everywhere!

Thanks for all that you do for kids!

So, head on over to Jim Wideman’s site and at the very least, sign up for a Day Trip. If you can, check out a semester of Infuse.… Read the rest

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Book review: Revolutionary Parenting

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .

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272-largeBuy this book. Read it. Buy a copy for everyone on your team and discuss it together. Get as many parents to read this book as possible. Help them do what this book says. Period.

How’s that for a review?

I honestly think that this is one of the most important books I’ve read in the last 3-5 years. Several years before that Barna released Spiritual Champions which was essentially hailed the holy grail of Children’s Ministry resources. Children’s Pastors from around the world heralded this book as the stamp of validation for what they do as being really important. It was a great book, but I think this one is even more important. This book speaks to results.

In case you don’t know what it’s about, George Barna researched, polled and questioned kids (now young adults) who possess a biblical world view that they developed as they grew up in Christian homes. Barna questioned everything. What happened? What did your parents do? What did they say? In the same way, Barna asked the parents of these children about what they did intentionally to lead their kids spiritually. This book is the combined results of this research.

We live in a day and time where most kids walk away from their faith. Most parents really don’t know what they’re doing. They hope their kids will turn out okay, but most lack the confidence that what they’re doing will work. Plain and simple, this book is a guide. Here’s what hundreds of parents did… and it worked.

This book is shaping the way we equip and train our parents. Unfortunately, many of our parents aren’t ready for this book. It’s a little intimidating for the barely Christ follower who’s still trying to get past certain things in their own walk, yet at some point this needs to be a part of every parents journey toward Christ.… Read the rest

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Huge Giveaway: What do you think?

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .

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bayarea_coverA local church (when I say local, I mean another church in Texas) is doing a creative outreach this Easter Sunday. Bay Area Fellowship of Corpus Christi is giving away millions this Easter Sunday. That’s right, millions. Bikes, guitars, TV’s, gift bags and cars. Yeah, I said cars. It’s part of their message this Sunday called the Ultimate Giveaway. Read more about it here.

God did give us a free gift in his son, Jesus. The gift of grace through this amazing sacrifice is the most valuable and priceless gift ever given and it’s worth getting excited about. Bay Area feels that giving away millions of dollars in gifts not only illustrates the example (obviously not to the same degree) of God’s divine giveaway, but also is a high profile lure to get people to come in and check out what’s going on at Bay Area Fellowship this Easter weekend.

I have no doubt that the house will be packed this weekend (expecting between 15,000 to 20,000). I have no doubt that Bay Area Fellowship will grow as a result. I have no doubt that there will be an energy and excitement that will be hard to describe.

What do you think? I know that opinions on something like this vary from one extreme to the other. I ask this becasue Bay Area’s “stunt” has been highly criticized, but this same strategy is followed (not to the same dollar amounts) in children’s ministries everywhere. Prizes are given away on a regular basis to first time visitors, regular attendees or for earning Bible Bucks for bringing friends, bringing Bibles or memorizing scriptures. I hear very little criticism about these techniques as a method to reward kids or lure kids to come to church, but when the same thing is done on an epic scale, people are up in arms.… Read the rest

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Move over David and Goliath

Posted on 29. Mar, 2010 by .

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Yogi_Bear_and_Boo_Boo_by_MissLeo

So my friend Sam Luce wrote a very interesting blog post today about his situation in the Blog Madness final four. He posted a beautiful illustration of David and Goliath and compared himself to David and Rob, Amy and I to big ugly giants. Seriously, is that really fair? I mean, Sam has been blogging now for almost three years, he’s and editor for K Magazine and a recently published author with Michael Chanley’s new book, Collaborate. So, I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to compare himself to little ‘ol David. Sam’s totally big stuff.

Secondly, is it really right to equate our blogging battle to the biblical account of David versus Goliath. Our situation seems a little subjective and I’m not sure I want to play the role of the giant. Yes, I have been described as giant-like, huge and humongous, but that’s besides the point (I tend to hang around small, short or skinny people). So, I figured if we’re going the biblical route, I’m choosing 2 Kings 2:23-24 as my situational illustration.

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

I’ll leave the interpretation to you…

Click here to vote for Kenny Conley.

Click here to vote for someone else.… Read the rest

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Googe Docs tips and tricks: Embedded docs

Posted on 29. Mar, 2010 by .

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GoogleDocsYesterday I featured Google Docs as my app of the week. Let me show you another reason why, a prime example of why you might want to start using Google Docs in your ministry today.

Do you ever have to manage any kind of volunteer schedule? In the past I remember having created the schedule and then sending it out to all my volunteers. Now that we live in the digital age, one mass email and I’m done. Not too shabby. However, how long until that schedule is obsolete? Hours? Minutes? Volunteers call and email with their changes making the schedule you just emailed to everyone outdated. It would be pointless to email everyone with a new schedule every time it changed. Luckily several options exist.

  1. Create the schedule in a Google Doc and simply share the document. I’ve done this before. It’s really not a bad idea. You can manage everyone’s rights and it allows everyone to see what the most current schedule looks like. There are some downsides though. Not everyone has used Google Docs. Some will be confused. Some will never look at it. In addition, you have to paste in everyone’s email to share the document with them which can be time consuming. In addition, you have to keep track of who you’ve shared the document with. If they’re no longer a volunteer, you may want to remove them from viewing rights. It’s good solution, but there’s still a hassle.
  2. Here’s my favorite and the simplest option. Click on the “share” button and choose to “publish as a web page.” Essentially you can create a live page on the internet where people can always come and see the most up to date schedule. When sending out the schedule, rather than attach it like you’ve done in the past, sent them a link.
Read the rest

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