Archive for August, 2012

iPad Check-In

Posted on 27. Aug, 2012 by .

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Two years ago, we experimented with using iPad for check-in. It worked well, but  it didn’t seem like it’s something that would work every week. Fellowship One, the software we use for check-in, doesn’t have a mobile app, so to make it work on an iPad requires being creative. Two years ago, we used a remote desktop client that essentially allowed the iPad to take control of a check-in station. Having the iPad didn’t “add” a check-in station, but essentially replaced one.

This is the time of the year when our crowds get pretty crazy, so we decided to beef up our check-in. We placed two new check-in stations that we hadn’t started using yet and put them in a central location in our lobby. We used two iPads using the “Real VNC” app for the iPad. We installed “Real VNC” on the two computers and from there, it was piece of cake. Each iPad took control of of the check-in station. We put one volunteer at the printers to manage the labels. We had two volunteers in the courtyard with the iPad catching families before they entered the kids building. Parents were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed getting checked in outside, avoiding any kind of line.

Again, I’m not sure it’s a long term fix as it required a computer that can’t be sued for anything but supporting an iPad. However, I have a volunteer working on a better solution. One computer that could run 3-4 session of widows at once, sharing one printer. This setup would allow many iPad to connect to one computer. We haven’t tried it yet, but we’re interested in seeing if it works. That would be a good solution for iPad check-in. Otherwise, using Fellowship One on the iPad is more of a novelty at this time… just not quite worth the effort.… Read the rest

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App of the Week: Soocial

Posted on 26. Aug, 2012 by .

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Okay, it's not really an app. It's a service... but it's pretty cool. I don't know if you are like me, but I have multiple email account synced to my phone. Four to be exact. Now that I live in the smart phone era of the 21st century, I host all my contacts though my gmail account. No more contacts living only on my phone so that when the phone dies or I get a new phone, I have to worry about contacts that are on my phone. However, I have four gmail/google apps account synced to my phone. There have been times when I'm on my phone and I can't find one of my contacts. I know I have their email address, but its not in my phone contacts? Why, because my contacts with my phone syncs to the contacts of one of my gmail accounts, but the contact I want is in the contacts of another google account. Frustrating!

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Criticism is your friend

Posted on 21. Aug, 2012 by .

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We all like a pat on the back, don't we? When someone has something negative to say, most of us get an uneasy feeling in our gut. Upon hearing criticism, our thoughts immediately go to all the reasons why something is the way it is either because it is the truth or because we aren't comfortable in the critical position. Out of a innate need for self-preservation, we avoid criticism like the plague. Most of us don't willingly send out evaluations for personal reflection or invite people into a conversation beginning with, "What do I do that you hate?" I think it's really important for us to remember that criticism is our friend. We must not forget, we are biased individuals who are in love with ourselves and the way we do things. Criticism is just about the only honest way we're going to get better and one of the best ways to utilize the amazing power of criticism is the systematize it. Send out a survey to first time visitors every Monday morning asking for feedback. Send an evaluation to families after events or classes like child dedication or baptism. Have leaders evaluate services/messages each week so your staff and planning team can know how to make improvements. I think its amazing how most of us continue to do the same things year after year without asking the question, "So, how are we doing?"

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What motivates us

Posted on 13. Aug, 2012 by .

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A good friend forwarded the following video. It was very intriguing. I encourage you to watch the full ten minutes. The ideas have implications on how we "reward or don't reward" kids or volunteers. I'm not sure why, but we are always super quick to offer treats and rewards for specific behaviors. It's like we're all wired to do it. However, is it possible that rewards are harmful? According the this research, yes they can be. According to the research, rewards given for tasks that only involve mechanical skills (no higher thinking or creativity) increase productivity. The more the reward, the higher the productivity. However, any taks that involved even rudimentary cognitive skill, the higher the reward, the lower the performance. If this research is true, rewards don't produce the outcome you want for tasks that require thinking. They found that if you don't pay people enough, they won't be motivated. But, if you can pay them enough to take the issue of money off the table, they are motivated entirely by three different factors: Autonomy Mastery Purpose When I watched this video, I immediately thought of high level volunteers who give a lot to our ministries. I'm amazed by the people who give 10, 20 or more hours a week in serving in ministry as a volunteer.

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Gmail hack: Scheduled emails

Posted on 08. Aug, 2012 by .

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I love Gmail. I’ve been using it for almost a decade. I remember getting an invite from a buddy because it wasn’t public yet. In the years previous, I had to switch my email every 3-4 years because the spam would get so bad, it was easier to start over. Hotmail first, then Yahoo. In the 8-9 years of using Gmail, I’ve never had an issue with spam. Thank you Google.

Gmail isn’t perfect though. It does have it’s shortcomings and is lacking certain functionality. One of which is the ability to schedule emails or even the ability to set up reoccurring emails. It seems that every two weeks, I have to send that same email to certain staff to remind them of something. Or what about realizing that in two or three days, it’s going to be someone’s anniversary. I could set an appointment on my calendar to remind me to send a “Happy Anniversary” email, but unfortunately, I’ll be out that day and I’ve got plenty of time right now as I think about it.

I know, Outlook already lets you do this. Truthfully, I was a big fan of Outlook when I was tied down to the whole Microsoft Office Suite. The web version of Outlook was convenient, but not perfect either. My world is all online now and all my email is centered around 3-4 gmail/google apps accounts.

Yesterday I did a google search and I was pleased to find two great options. Actually, there are a handful of hacks and work arounds, but these two options are pretty solid and full-featured.

(Disclaimer, neither of these are free)

Boomerang
The first is called Boomerang. It’s a Firefox, Chrome or Safari browser addon/extension. I think that means that no matter how many gmail or google apps accounts you have, it should work on all of them.… Read the rest

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Doing Church Strategically

Posted on 06. Aug, 2012 by .

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The High School serving trip to Branson I wrote about last week and the strategic view of a spiritual path of lost to leading has had me thinking quite a bit lately. Gateway Branson is crazy focused on reaching the homeless and working poor in Branson. Currently, they are working with about 20 hotels, serving meals to 700 or so people every week. They know that there are about 400-600 more that they need to provide meals for and they're working hard to get the resources to do this. Here's what I love about this model of ministry. They have a hyper specific target, the poor and homeless. They know how many they are. They know where they live. They are actively pursuing ministry to their target. Probably within the next couple of years, they will have a significant presence that saturates their target. I think that success for them is probably where everyone in any one of those hotels feels loved and cared for by Gateway Branson. When that kind of environment is created, people will experience the life and freedom that only comes through Jesus. I'm sure their work will never be done, but with this very strategic target, you could almost set a deadline for "completion." X Number of meals a week, X number of events at each hotel each month and X number of small groups/recovery groups at each hotel. I love that kind of strategy. Last night I experienced the same kind of excitement about Gateway Austin.

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Spiritual Path: Lost to Leading

Posted on 02. Aug, 2012 by .

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On Tuesday, I wrote a blog post about Gateway Branson, one of my church's networks that we took 30+ students to serve last week. The way ministry is happening there seems to have struck a chord. It's so different, but it seems so right... like church in it's purest form. Gateway Branson actually started as a non-profit ministry that fed the homeless and working poor. That was and continues to be the mission. People, but Christ followers and those who don't follow Jesus connected with the ministry because they caught the vision. It wasn't until a few years later that the ministry began streaming live services from Austin to both volunteers and the people they served. Church as we know it, where we sing a few songs, hear a good message and then grab lunch before the Baptists, isn't really at the center of who Gateway Branson is. They exist to serve the homeless and the working poor. Everyone helps and serves. Many of the most faithful volunteers every week are homeless and working poor, serving other homeless and working poor. Many of these faithful servants, being the hands and feet of Jesus haven't even actually put their faith in Jesus... yet. Hmmm, that's kind of radical.

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