Posted on December 15, 2012 by servant | Resources
As the year comes to an end, it is time to consider your training needs in the year ahead. Don’t forget to plan on how you will train volunteers. Staff training is a budget item, and a focus among professionals in the Church. But the volunteers also need training to be more effective. Many are willing to serve, but they don’t know how. This applies especially to the technical ministry of the Church. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Build a library of Powerpoint presentations about the technology
- Ask the most active volunteers for links to good training materials – they already have favorites
- Identify areas where you lack training materials – and go create something new
- Survey the volunteers for topics they’d like to know more about
The volunteers who are also IT professionals already know where to find good training materials. Tap into that knowledge, and share it with the amateurs who are eager to learn. If you don’t have a topic covered, start a Powerpoint presentation on it and invite the Tech team to add to it. You’ll get lots of ideas for what should go into it. Then filter that down into a manageable chunk. Find out the topics that the volunteers need to know more about – e.g. how the video switcher is configured. You’ll be surprised what that knowledge will do to enable them to perform better.
Posted on October 19, 2012 by servant | Resources
Everyone wants WiFi these days. And they are easy to setup. But you have to ensure that you establish best practices for utilization of the WiFi network spectrum. Some of these might include:
- Times when the WiFi network is available to everyone
- Location of the Wireless Access Points – the higher the better
- Expose the SSID so that members can find it – i.e. hiding it really doesn’t secure it
It can be exciting to open up a WiFi Hotspot and involve the congregation in the network. But you should always have a distinct purpose in doing so. How can it enhance the worship experience? What limitations do you need to impose on where people can surf? What Church servers will be accessible over the WiFi on Sunday mornings? Thinking through these questions will go a long way towards making WiFi successful.
Posted on March 24, 2011 by servant | Resources| Tags: blogging, social media, social networking
With the rise of Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare), Churches naturally want to establish a presence. But how do you avoid running into ethical and legal issues when you use social media? You can (and probably should) write a Social Media Policy, but you should also train your staff on how to avoid these issues. Here are some tips to consider:
- Always use good etiquette online, which will avoid a lot of issues
- Do not use the Church´s logo on your personal website, unless you get permission
- When you write your own opinion, but you´re a member of the staff, include a disclaimer
- Avoid legal entanglements – i.e. libel – by always speaking the truth
A disclaimer can be a simple postscript like “the views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Church.” This validates your free speech, while noting the fact that you are not speaking for the Church in this context. Free speech issues in social networking settings are starting to appear before the courts.
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
Posted on June 12, 2010 by servant | News, Resources| Tags: reliability, sermon, technical system failure
How reliable are your technical systems in the Church? Before you laugh, consider the embarrassment your senior pastor would feel if everything went off during the middle of a sermon. (I’ve seen this happen, and at the early service, too!) Perhaps we need to think a bit about reliability after all.
In the commercial realm, reliability is measured by the number of Nines. That is, there will be a contract, say with a web hosting firm, that specifies the Service Level Availability in terms of percentage of guaranteed uptime. Here’s a table to help you better appreciate this:
So, if I am guaranteed that my system is up 99% of the time, that means it will be down at most 4 days over the course of a year. If I am guaranteed 99.999% of the time (5 Nines), that means that it will be down at most 5 minutes in a year. If I managed to get to 7 Nines – i.e. 99.99999% of the time – I am guaranteed that the system will at most be down 3 seconds in a year! Believe it or not, the technology is capable of that, but it gets very expensive!
Fortunately, the Church doesn’t need 7 Nines reliability, but your preacher probably expects 6 Nines, and your congregation will start getting anxious at anything less. So what do you do? Start by making an assessment of which systems are required for worship to proceed. For example, if the electricity totally fails, do you go on with no systems working, or jump to the closing prayer. If you had a UPS on everything in the tech closet, then you could continue without main power. Now think through scenarios where each of those systems goes down. What would you do? Is there an alternative that you could quickly deploy? How would you expect the staff to respond? Thinking ahead can go a long ways towards avoiding panic and dealing with the event effectively. And that ultimately will allow worship to go on. You may be wishing that the “rocks will sing out” in the closing song. Maybe they will!
Posted on March 10, 2008 by servant | Resources| Tags: Bible study, Good News Bible, shortcuts
We live in an amazing time. There are so many great Bible study programs available. And the Bible is present on the Internet for anyone to read and study. Mintech has a plugin that retrieves the text for any passage cited in a post, e.g. Psalm 23:1Psalm 23:1
English: Good News Bible (1992) - GNB
23 The Lord Our Shepherd m HEBREW TITLE: A psalm by David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
WP-Bible plugin. You can just hover over the reference, and a window pops up with the passage. Currently those passages come from the Good News Bible, but other translations are available. Where do you go for Bible study on the Internet? Here are some links to check out:
NOTE: If you set a bookmark for these in your Firefox browser, then you can use a shortcut to look up the passage quickly from the browser.
Hope you find these useful in your personal study. Please comment on your favorite site and why you like it so much.
Posted on March 9, 2008 by servant | Resources| Tags: eMail, harried, overload
How does your Church use eMail?
At its best, eMail saves time and effort by letting you communicate more efficiently. But it can also be a real time-waster. One survey concluded that corporate users were getting 126 messages a day. According to the study, that can wind up taking up 40 percent of the work day. If the focus of your job is handling eMail messages, then that is well and good. If those eMails saved you hundreds of phone calls – i.e. you sent an eMail in place of playing phone tag, then you also are more productive as a result. But if your main focus is somewhere else, then all that time at the computer was less than optimum. You may be thus suffering from eMail Overload.
Churches have discovered eMail. It is perfect for distributing newsletters and such – i.e. the savings in postage is awesome. But is a phone call a better means of communication? And eMail may very well communicate information, but it doesn’t enlist support very well. And it doesn’t provide immediate feedback on new ideas. And people that are harried by eMail Overload may only give a passing glance to that message you sent them about the upcoming meeting. So should you really be surprised that they didn’t show up? Of course, we all have busy schedules, and things do come up – i.e. often at the last minute with family. However, there is a difference between a verbal “I’ll be there” over the phone and an eMail “Okay.”
How does your Church use eMail to contact members and staff? Is it effective? Or does it add to the eMail Overload problem?
Posted on March 5, 2008 by servant | Resources
How do you time the worship lyrics? This is a question that I have often pondered as I was running the presentation software. If you change the slide too quickly, then people may get lost. If you change it too late, people will feel confused if they don’t know the song. The timing needs to be close to the mark. But how do you determine where the mark is?
I’d like to find a good psychological study of this question. It would need to address the reading speed of the congregation, since that is a factor. It would also need to address the pacing of the music, since that is also a factor. Would it be possible to come up with a precise rule for timing the slides? What do you think? I have often used the last line or even the last word as the point where I press the down arrow to move forward. And the software has a response time, which is measurable. For that matter, the video projection system has a response time. There ought to be some way to factor all of this together.
Posted on March 4, 2008 by servant | Resources
A lot of Churches are switching from printing their newsletters to eMailing them. This has tremendous advantages:
- Cost: The incremental cost of another paper newsletter is postage and handling, which is going up May 12th. The incremental cost of another eMail newsletter is zero.
- Timeliness: A paper newsletter can get delayed in the mail, arriving days after the target date. An eMail newsletter may get delayed 20 minutes, but still arrives the day it was sent. (However, there are issues with Spam to contend with.)
- Turnaround: To edit a paper newsletter, you have to print it and pass it around so people can add edits. To edit an eMail newsleter, you just eMail the draft to everyone and solicit comments. Then you have to redact the comments and re-edit the original copy. Nothing gets lost.
Given all of these advantages, most people would conclude that it is a no-brainer to switch to eMail Newsletters. However, there is a learning curve involved. You have to learn the software that generates these newsletters. It can get as complicated as writing a web page, since it involves HTML. There are some powerful tools available, but they also tend to be expensive and require training. I wonder if it is worth it. What do you think? Does your Church have a newsletter, and how is it distributed? How many people does it go through on the way out the door? Is there an efficient way to handle this process? Please comment below.
Posted on March 3, 2008 by servant | Resources
What is your favorite Church web site? Which ones do a great job of telling you about the Church? I’m looking for the best example in each of the following classes:
Please comment and let me know what you think.
Posted on March 2, 2008 by BRoberts | Resources
Gone are the days when you had to use transparent plastic sheets on overhead projectors. And that’s a good thing, for you could never get the alignment right. Now there are software packages available to let you present information to the congregation easily. Here is a review, based on my own subjective ratings, of what is available out there:
Worship Presentation Software Review
||Live Video Feed
From time to time, I’ll update this table, so please leave your comments as to which one is your favorite. Be specific as to why you like it best.
Posted on March 1, 2008 by servant | Resources
How do you show prayer using IMAG? Perhaps you show the pastor praying on the video projector, larger than life. Or perhaps you have a still that you use. There are pros and cons to showing the pastor. If the pastor is the type that likes to move around when they’re praying, then you have to follow them on IMAG, and this could be all the way across the stage. If the pastor is the type that stands in one place, or even kneels, then the IMAG probably looks devout and appealing. It just depends on who is praying. What does your church do?
Posted on March 1, 2008 by BRoberts | Resources
Prayer is a topic that gets a lot of attention, and rightly so. But how do you pray? What is the level of fervor that your prayers take? Are they fresh and meaningful, or are they just recitals by rote of previous prayers? Some people even think that you need a prayer mantra, a word or phrase that you repeat over and over again. Here’s a video clip that looks at prayer in a different light. Hopefully, you’ll find it insightful.
How Do You Pray?