Archives For Administration

Tools and tips to help you manage your ministry

A few weeks back I was visiting my friends at Download Youth Ministry and Doug asked if I would film an episode of 5-Minute Youth Ministry with him about my favorite apps.  I decided to go with the tried and true because I’m constantly surprised how many people still haven’t heard of them.  Enjoy the show:

Links to what we talk about:

What are your favorite apps right now?

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly adding things from my email into my calendar.  It doesn’t take long but just the cutting and pasting from an email into a calendar appointment can slow me down enough to take me out of the “Zone” when I’m working on a project.  That’s why I was excited to try a new service that called Super.CC and allows you to add an appointment to your calendar with just an email.  You use it just like Tripit, another service I love (you can read more about that HERE).

Here’s how it works:

1. send an email or copy [email protected] on the email with the appointment name in the subject and the details in the body. You can even put @ “meting location” in the body and it will put the location in the appointment so you can pull up the map on your phone.

super.cc email2. In a few minutes you’ll get a confirmation with the details of the appointment you created.

You can learn more about the different feature on their FAQ page.

It’s super easy and works pretty well.  It doesn’t always get the location right, but it seems to be getting better.  The location is still a new feature they are playing with.

It works with a variety of calendars, I’ve been using it with my Google calendar, so I’m not quite sure how well it works with some of the others, but I’m sure it’s great.

The best part it the service is free, so what do you have to lose. It’s lists itself as “Early Access” so I’m not sure if they plan on charging for it in the future.

Check it out at Super.CC

Productivity Tips from Star Wars

Chris —  February 17, 2014 — 4 Comments

I read a great post over at 99u.com about 7 productivity tips you can gleam from Star Wars.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Rest when you have nothing to do.

When Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn is fighting Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, a transparent door closes, dividing them (see in video above). Darth Maul paces back and forth ready to continue their battle while Qui-Gon simply sits and rests, seemingly doing nothing.

In modern society we all feel like we have to be like Darth Maul. Pacing, finding a “purpose,” being anxious, stressed, waiting for doors to open. But it is great to just rest and be happy and not move when you don’t have to. I will tell you those doors will open, and it’s great.

I know for myself that when i don’t spend time to rest my productivity nosedives.  Sometimes we get under so much pressure that we feel like that time to rest will hurt, but usually the opposite is true. I also find my problem solving and creativity are so much higher after a little rest.

2) Rid yourself of everything you don’t need.

Obi-Wan lives a simple life in exile for 40 years when he’s on Tatooine. Yoda, Jedi Master, lives in a simple swamp hut after he loses his battle with the Emperor. They were still capable of laughing, of living, of staying healthy, and were able to train the next generation. They didn’t need anything to keep them entertained. It’s a story. But this is the way I would like to live: with my friend and my health intact, and not a material care in the world.

Clutter can be such a distraction to me.  Simple almost always helps me focus and get more done.

5) Be around other Jedis.

Once Anakin Skywalker starts hanging out with Darth Sidious he becomes a bad guy (see above). Here are some things that are hard in life: being honest, being kind, and trying to add value to others. These things take time and energy. When you are around people who steal your energy then those things become even harder. As a wise man once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Just like we teach our students being around those that have the traits we wish to have helps build those habits.  When I’m around those that are creative and productive it helps to inspire those traits in me as well.  I recommend finding those people around you and schedule time to be hang around them.  Even if it’s just for coffee, discussing what you are working can with them can be a huge lift to you, especially if you are feeling stuck.

Read the entire list of tips HERE.

social-media-survey

My buddy Jeremy needs your help with a survey to help him in a class for Denver Seminary.  The survey is about what Youth Ministry and Social Media looks like across the nation.  There’s also $40 worth of swag for you for taking the time to fill it out.  It will only take a few minutes, I promise.

Take the Survey

 

Cloud Storage: Copy.com

Chris —  June 12, 2013 — 5 Comments

Almost everyone I know uses cloud storage now for making sure they have files on all their devices, sharing docs between friends and co-works, or backing up.  Dropbox is great, but the free 2 GBs isn’t enough for most people.  I just found a new options that is giving 10x that for a limited time: Copy.com.

Click here to sign-up, install the app and enjoy 20 GBs of free space. (The standard account is only 15, but this Friend link, will get us both the bonus 5 GBs.)

How it works:

apple-siriA couple weeks ago I purchased my first iOS device with Siri, and she has been making me look much better and more thoughtful in ministry.  In case you haven’t begun to leverage her skills for ministry, here’s how I have been using her to make my ministry more successful and organized.

  1. Lists – Any list you create in reminders can be added to using Siri.  For example, I have a staff list to keep up with the things I need to bring up in staff meetings.  So, when I remember something for staff meeting while I’m on my way to a soccer game I say “Siri, add ‘egg nogg chug mess’ to my staff list.  I have tons of lists: shopping, pastor, staff, study, books, etc.  Now that my brain has been uploaded to the cloud, I am getting more done on time.
  2. Reminders – After someone grabs me in church to tell me about an upcoming job interview on Monday, I often think: I need to call them and ask how that went on Tuesday.  Now I duck into an office or empty room and say “Siri, Remind me to call James about his job interview Tuesday at 5pm.”  Then, my phone reminds me to be a caring pastor at the right time.
  3. Not Dying – Why is it that everyone decides to text me when I’m driving.  Now, I would never have read and responded while driving in the past, but I know people who do.  Now, I ask Siri to read the texts to me and can respond without ever taking my eyes off the road.

What feels great is that these things that I truly wanted to do that were missed are getting done.  Mainly because Siri has made the tools I already had easily accessible.  How has Siri helped your ministry?

Weekend Worship Review #2

Jon —  October 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

This past Sunday marked week 3 of our series, “How To Annoy Your Family”. It’s a Doug Fields/Simply Youth Ministry series on family relationships.

What Worked:

For the past weeks we have had students on stage for interview style testimonies. We set up black leather club chairs and a coffee table on the side stage and feature the interviews as you would see on a late night tv show (Letterman, Conan). These interviews have been stellar. You can find the slide that we use for these interviews here.

We have students sit at table. We call it “doing church face to face.” At every table is an adult leader who gets a “Table Leader Card.” This card has a Table Talk activity and tips for our leaders. It’s a way to do training without doing training. Here is a sample:

TTC

What Sipped:

The team who used the worship room before us unplugged our linked hard-drive and no one thought to check everything out before the service started. The song had no lyrics. It was a huge reminder to never assume that everything is where it needs to be in a multi-purpose room.

Cue Sheet:

Cue Sheet October 21, 2012

If you all have any questions about our services/programming I always love chatting it up.

Email is a constant struggle for me.  Not matter how hard I try to keep up with my inbox it’s constantly over flowing.  Not long ago I saw this infographic over at Lifehacker.  It hit a little too close to home.

Should I Check My Email?

Click for larger version

(Original Post: When You’re Constantly Checking Your Email, You’re Putting Your Needs Behind Everyone Else’s.)

In a light hearted way it’s reminding us that the people in our lives are so much more important than our email, although in this age of smartphones where our email is always waiting for us in our pockets, it’s not always as easy as it should be to stay away from it.  I often find myself checking my email on my phone without even realizing I’m doing it.

So how do you take control of the email beast?  Here are some tips I saw over on the Harvard Business Review Blog.  It outlines a 30 minute process for tackling that inbox.  It recommends planning the 30 minute block once in the morning, midday and afternoon.  This way you are controlling your email time and you aren’t constantly being interrupted.

Here are the steps outlined in the post:

1. Send: I start my timer and begin by writing emails I had planned to send. This often includes follow-ups to meetings, thank-you notes, questions, and scheduling and other requests. I do this first so that if someone gets back to me immediately I have time to respond while I’m still in my 30-minute email period.

2. Delete: Next, I quickly glance through the “subject” and “from” lines on the emails in my inbox and immediately delete the ones I know I don’t want to waste time reading, including marketing emails and impersonal blasts I haven’t requested. This step just takes a few seconds but drastically reduces my email bulk.

3. Respond: I do my best to answer every single email that comes directly to me, even if it means just writing “Thank you.” Since picking through emails to choose which to answer first wastes time, I start with the most recent and work my way down. At this point I don’t click on any links in emails and I don’t read lengthy articles; I save that for step 5 below.

4. File: Once I open an email, I don’t leave it in my inbox. I found that when I did leave emails in my inbox, I’d re-read them repeatedly each time I opened my email, and each time I’d waste more time trying to decide how to handle it. So I either delete it or move it to another folder I’ve set up — waiting, read, someday, travel, client-specific. Every time I go through my email, my goal is to empty my inbox.

5. Read and follow up: In whatever time I have left before my timer goes off, I go through my non-inbox folders, reading through newsletters, clicking on links, and following up on emails in my “waiting” file.

End: When my countdown timer sounds, I close out my email program. Once I’m done, I don’t return to my email — on any device — until my next scheduled session.

It also gives some great other reminders about email:

As I go through this process, I try not to use email to give someone negative feedback, and I rarely respond to negative feedback over email. Email is a great tool for transactional conversations (Where should we have lunch?), sharing information (Here’s that file, there’s someone I want you to meet), or showing appreciation (You spoke powerfully in that meeting, I’m touched by your support — thank you). For anything else, you’re better off calling or talking to someone face to face. I also do my best never to go back and forth with someone on email about something more than two or three times. If it’s gone that far, it’s usually a better idea to pick up the phone.

Also don’t forget these tools in your toolbox to help get through your email:

Signatures: Most email programs have the capability to create multiple signatures that you can choose to appear at the bottom of an email. I have customized several signatures that I use as responses to common emails I receive. For example, I have a pre-written reply to people who ask about joining my company, want me to review their book, express appreciation for something I’ve written, etc. I often customize those emails based on the sender, but the bulk of my response is already written.

Rules: Most email programs also have rules in which you can automatically send emails that fit certain criteria directly to other folders. For example, when I send out my weekly email linking people to a new article I’ve written, I receive several “out of office” replies. I set up a rule that sends any email with “out of office” in the subject line directly to trash. That way I don’t have to spend any time processing it.

Click here to read the entire post to learn more about email efficiency.

What tools do you use to battle email?

DRIVEN Magazine

Jon —  May 9, 2012 — 9 Comments

We killed the bulletin, and started a magazine!

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I love “The Cloud.”  Apps like Evernote, GoogleDocs, iCloud, and Flickr are great for share and freeing up space on your hard drive through free online storage.  One of my favorite cloud apps is dropbox.  Dropbox is a free app and online site that lets you store pics, docs, and videos and access them from any device. In addition to accessibility and its freeness I can easily share folders and files with other dropbox users or with a link from my dropbox “public” folder.  If you want to check out dropbox click this link and install the app.

If you don’t think dropbox has enough storage space for you check out BOX.net.  Right now iTunes has the BOX.net app (iPhone & iPad) for Free downloaded. You have today until December 2, 2011 to register or sign in to your account from the app to receive 50GB of lifetime storage on Box.net (usually $19.99).Check out both and see which you like more!  Share in the comments some of your favorite cloud apps.