Tag Archives: Fellowship One

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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Systems, Processes and the great F1 outage of 2011

Posted on 31. Jul, 2011 by .

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So, if you use Fellowship One, you know that there were significant issues with Check In today. Even if you don’t use F1, you might have seen the traffic on twitter about the issues. I know that for some churches, the slow-down was crippling. Most of the morning, I was watching the twitter stream and saw all kinds of tweets. Most were encouraging, some were certainly frustrated. I thought that it was interesting that today happened the way that it did because I’m in the process of finalizing my outline for a workshop I’m leading at the Kidmin Conference in Chicago and the subject of the workshop ties into what happened today.

Here at Gateway, check in was as fast as it always is… maybe even faster. It actually didn’t really matter than Fellowship One was down because we had a backup plan. About 2 years ago we bought those over-priced church nursery, two-part stickers to use in the event of an internet outage or issues on F1′s end. In the three years I’ve been at Gateway, this is the first time we’ve not been able to use electronic check-in. Being that this was the first, everything went pretty flawless? Why, because many years ago we put a system in place to anticipate what would happen with a check-in failure and today we put the system in process.

I’m sure there are people who are really upset with Fellowship One right now. I bet they’ve already gotten some mean-spirited phone calls and even a dirty email or two.

Was Fellowship One at fault? For not being able to provide electronic check-in… absolutely!

Were they at fault for churches having a bad check-in experience today? Absolutely not! I’m pretty sure that in documentation and training, they clearly communicate how important it is to have a back-up plan.… Read the rest

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Fellowship One joins Active Network

Posted on 08. Feb, 2011 by .

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If you follow my blog, you’ve heard me sing the praises of F1 on more than one occasion. I’ve used other products and let’s just say I’m immensely happy with Fellowship One (that’s me being very kind, Ha!). Well, good news for the company. This morning it was announced that F1 joined active network. Here’s the press release.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know entirely what that means. However, it seems to be a very big win for Fellowship One as well as all the clients. Fellowship One is the premier Church Management Software (more than 1700 client churches representing 36% of the largest churches in America), yet there are more than 300,000 churches in the US. It’s a huge market and that’s why Active Network was so interested in F1.

Even though F1 is incredible, they hit the limitations of having things they want to do and products they want to innovate, but resources, technology and time aren’t as available to get things done at a speed that they’d like. Partnering with an organization like Active Network has the potential to eliminate some of these limitations. Active Network is a major player in technology resources like online registrations, event resources and so much more for giant companies like Starbucks, Oracle and Ironman. This is huge.

So, this is exciting! Congrats Fellowship One. Can’t wait to reap the benefits!… Read the rest

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Visiting Fellowship Tech

Posted on 07. Dec, 2010 by .

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Last week I got a chance to go up to the Fellowship Technologies offices. You don’t have to read this blog for very long to know that I’m a big fan of F1. Selfishly, I wanted to see the offices and get a look at their operation. However, I did want to say thank you for all the ministry help by taking some F1 people out to lunch.

Wow! I’m not sure I had any real expectations. In reality, the whole visit was very last minute. I was shooting emails and tweets to anyone I knew at Fellowship Tech the day before I would be there. However, the experience was off the charts. It was an incredible time for sure! Seeing their operation was pretty amazing and I’m so impressed by what their doing. It’s funny really. There have been times where I’ve seen a company or organization that has a really great public face, but if you could see things from behind the curtain, you’d be surprised by what was missing or how things are not as organized as you would assume. Again, I’m not sure I really had any expectations, but I was really impressed when I got to look behind the curtain of Fellowship One. I realize that they were birthed out of Fellowship Church many years ago by a lot of creative and very smart people, but I was really impressed by what I saw. I felt like I was in the headquarters of any top web company bring run by a lot of really smart guys who knew what they were doing. The best word I can use to describe the feeling I had walking around their facility was “impressed.”

Being in the ministry world, you don’t always get the training or knowledge that other industries have on project planning, structure and organization… so I learned a lot while I looked around.… Read the rest

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All-In-One check in touch screen computers

Posted on 19. Oct, 2010 by .

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Last week I posted about these $350 All-In-One check in computers that were selling on Amazon. What a great price. All you need to do is plug in a printer and a scanner and you’re ready to go.

So, I ordered two and got them in today. I spent a few hours this afternoon getting acquainted. It is a pretty low-powered machine, but I think it’s going to work fine for check-in. I’m excited to get them installed. I just checked and Amazon seems to still have 4 or 5 left, so I’d take advantage of it if you can. If they still have any by next week, I might even buy another one. :)

So, my friend Rob from Keller, TX bought one too and he saved me a bunch of time telling me how to calibrate for Fellowship one Check in as well as where to get a mounting plate (I’m hanging these suckers on the wall).

So, here’s what he shared:

Screen Calibration
Go to display properties and change the resolution to 800×600 (When I did it, I noticed something still wasn’t right). Then click on “advanced” and change the DPI setting to 96 (this was what I was missing. Once I did this, it all looked great).

Built in Software
Just in case you’re wondering, the machine has a lot of extra built in software that enhances the touch screen functionality. A lot of it is junk, but there’s a great little built in “soft” keyboard that is great. Once you get it all set up, you don’t need a keyboard wired into this thing.

Wall Mount
So you want to mount this to the wall? I couldn’t find out how to do this, but Rob figured it out. You have to buy this plate which you will attach to the back of the machine.… Read the rest

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Have you used pre-designed thermal labels?

Posted on 13. Oct, 2010 by .

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Just a quick question for you. Have you ever used pre-printed color labels for computer check-in?

I’m not talking about solid color labels you can get instead of white, but maybe a white label with our ministry label already printed on it in full color? I don’t think I’d be able to use it in our Children’s Ministry since we print both name tags as well as security tags. However, our guest services team is thinking about using Fellowship One to print name tags for their volunteers and they’s really prefer not to use a generic solid color tag, especially white. Has anyone else done this with the thermal labels?

One way I’m thinking about doing this is kind of a hack. If you turn on your printers after you launch check in with Fellowship One, the ministry logo wont print on the labels. Usually this is an accident. However, if I do this on purpose, we could design a label with some color on it, specifically with the ministry logo on it.

Any thoughts?… Read the rest

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Killer deal on touch screen all-in-computers

Posted on 12. Oct, 2010 by .

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I just bought two Asus all-in-one touch screen computers for my check-in. You can hang them in a wall as it’s the CPU and screen all built in one.

How much did I pay you may ask?

$350

That’s right. I’ve never seen a deal like this.

It’s not a commercial grade computer, but I expect to get a few years our of them. Amazon stock is low, so get them before they’re gone!

You can get a little faster one for $200 more here.… Read the rest

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Is fingerprint check in weird and creepy?

Posted on 12. Oct, 2010 by .

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So, I need your help. I’ve been using Fellowship One for many years now and based on the equipment we have we’ve been doing assisted check in. Essentially, that requires a volunteer to man the computer and check families in. However, I want to move toward self check in because it’s much faster. With Fellowship One, one of the best ways to do self check-in is using bar codes. However, I was talking to a manufacturing sales rep and he was suggesting that I look into fingerprint scanning as an alternative to bar codes. In the long run, it’s easier and faster. It’s not security based or anything like that, it’s just a speed thing and convenience thing (people forget to bring their key fobs, but they usually bring their fingers).

So, my bigger concern is this. Is it creepy? Does it feel too big brother-ish? Would your parents resist? My feeling is that most won’t, but will enough throw a fit to make it less than successful?… Read the rest

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How much do you pay for labels?

Posted on 08. Oct, 2010 by .

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I’ve got a question for you.

How much do you pay for labels for check-in?

Why do I ask?

Well, I know that a lot of you out there are feeling the tight restraint of budget cuts. I don’t care how big your budget is, anyone would love to save a couple of hundred bucks for their ministry, right? Several years ago I moved into a new postion. The budget was a mess as it was one big pot and most expenses were coming out of that. When it was time to budget for the next year I was having to investigate what expenses were being lumped into this pot. I was trying to find all the things we spent money on and work that into the budget. As I was wrapping up the budget, I realized that I hadn’t accounted for labels for check-in. I dug in a little to find out what we had been spending. What I discovered almost made me sick. An administrator from another department had been ordering our labels from Staples or Office Depot and were paying the premium price of $30 per roll (350ish individual tags). THIRTY FREAKING DOLLARS! In 5 minutes of Google searching I found another supplier for $9 a roll. Just a few months later I was actually getting rolls for under $5. A little investigation saved me nearly $5000 a year for silly little stickers.

So, it might be helpful to share some information. How much do you pay for your labels? Are you willing to share your sources?

So, in the comments, tell us the following:

  • What system do you use (i.e. Shelby, Arena, F1)?
  • Where do you buy your labels?
  • How much do you pay per roll?

Here’s what I’m thinking. I know that the best price for rolls come when you buy a lot of them.… Read the rest

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Creative way to get touch screens without buying touch screens

Posted on 31. Aug, 2010 by .

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So I’m excited about this little piece of technology. We currently use Fellowship One for check-in, but we’re only using it as assisted check-in. I want to move toward self check-in stations, but I only have one touch screen. I know that you don’t have to use touch screens, but let’s face it, it’s a better experience. I know that there may be others in a similar situation. You have a lot of monitors already, but you want to move to touch screens. Touch screens cost $500 each (let me know if you know of a better deal) and that’s cost prohibitive for most ministry budgets.

Then I came across Magic Touch, a little device that turns any monitor into a touch screen. It plugs into USB and then calibrates with your screen. I haven’t tested this yet, but I’ve got one on order. In a few weeks I’ll post a review and let you know how it works.

You can get more information on this device here. I actually bought it from here. Check out the video below for and idea of what it looks like. However… although this piece of equipment is pretty innovative and new… the video looks like it was made in the 80′s.

Read the rest

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