Archives For Administration

Tools and tips to help you manage your ministry

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:


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  Right now iTunes has the 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 (usually $19.99).Check out both and see which you like more!  Share in the comments some of your favorite cloud apps.

It’s been a month since this feature has gone live, but I am just now getting to reviewing it: GMail’s multi-account login. It is the perfect feature for those that have two or more GMail accounts that they actively use. I have been running three different accounts, personal, business, and 78P’s, and this feature has removed frustration and mistakes when emailing. Here is a quick How-To in setting it up.

  • Sign in to one of your Gmail accounts.
  • Go to the top right-hand corner of the page where it says the [email protected] and click “Account Settings.”
  • Look to the right side of the page at the end of the list, where it will say “Multiple sign in – off” and click “Edit.”
  • Click the “on” option and click all the boxes, then hit “Save.”
  • Go back to the “Mail” tab and go again to the top right-hand corner where it says the address of the account you’re logged in as.
  • Click that and select “Switch Accounts” and click “Sign in to another account”. It will tell you that the second account will be enabled for multiple sign-in.
  • Whenever you want to switch between the two, click the arrow in the upper right-hand corner again and select “Switch Accounts”, then click the other account you want to switch to.

About Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is a 26 year old youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Counseling in Mental Health. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens.  You can read more from him at

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool, if used correctly, but just using it to link to your website is completely under utilizing the power that social media can provide for you. Social media should not be your only way to get your content to customers, but it can provide wonderful success. Another way to get people to your website is from search engine results which can be improved through SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Until recently, these were two separate marketing streams used to promote your website, but now it is possible for your social media presence to improve your search engine results. Google’s ranking is directly affected by tweeted links and Facebook shares from influential social media people as well as when it comes from multiple sources. That means if Barack Obama who is currently the third most followed person on Twitter retweets your website article on politics or fifty people retweet that same article in a short amount of time, your website will move up on the results pages at Bing and Google.

This does not eliminate good content, being an active social media user, or using SEO tools to improve your website, but it does mean that you will need to do some research on your product or service to produce better results. In future posts we’ll will look at a few ways that we can improve this social media and SEO relationship.


Jeremy Smith is a 26 year old youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Counseling in Mental Health. I have been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely love sharing the life of Jesus with teens.

I have been married to my wonderful wife, Ashley, for two years and try to be the best husband I can be. I enjoy tennis, web designs, and reading books. A secret introvert, you will find many of my ramblings come from weeks and months of thinking about these topics and how they can help ministry today.

Want to Learn to Code?

Chris —  August 29, 2011 — 1 Comment

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to really learn to code.  I feel like I know just enough to know about programming that I don’t know what I’m doing.  This weekend I stumbled upon Codecademy which is a free site that will teach you some basic coding / programming skills.  The lessons start out really easy (can you type your name?), and then get a little more difficult as they teach you some of the fundamentals.   You can also code along with your friends, and earn badges for the lessons you finish (Who doesn’t like badges?).

It might be a great thing for students that might be interested in coding but don’t know quite where to start.

Enjoy, who knows, maybe someday you’ll find yourself turning into a CodeMonkey.


As I wrap up my involvement in a project for a local ministry as their free web consultant, I have some tips that I wanted to pass along to those who use web developers or web consultants. This has been a unique experience for me, as a web consultant does not actually get into the designing or programming process, but simply provides what expertise they can to the project as a whole and lets the clients and web developers use that information as they wish. This provides an outside look into a project that people might need a new prospective or fresh eyes on. Unfortunately, sometimes they cannot let go or still continue bad habits, even after being advised not to continue. Here are four tips from a web consultant.

Leave Your Emotions At The Door
In the last three different projects I have worked on, each team had started arguing with each other or the web developer working on the project. They wanted something that was not possible for the cost that they were willing to pay and started to either whine, get angry, or be defiant and stall the project. That does not mean leave your passion at the door. This is your company and you need to do the best for it, but when emotions stall progress, you need to reevaluate your position.

Remember Who Is The Expert
You know your product or service better than anyone else in the room. This is your baby and you know the whole picture for the project. But do not confuse knowing your product with knowing what is best for the website. If a consultant says you will get better results doing something, hear them out. If it is something small like adding tags to blog posts that does not cripple or alter the project, you might want to let that one go. It comes down to picking your battles wisely and holding on to what God has given you loosely.

Keep The Timeline And Budget In Perspective
Almost nothing is impossible to create on the web. Want to have an ecommerce shopping cart? Got it. Want to use a packaged content management system that gives you lots of options, bells, and whistles? Done. Need a to completely rework one of the components of our project for your specific needs? Can do. Want it all at the original cost and due date? NO DEAL! If you want more, you have to be willing to give somewhere.

Remember The Goal Of The Website
Is it really necessary to have an iPhone app for this website? Will enough value be added if you incorporate a Flash intro? We always need to know what the goal of the website is and not deviate from the final mission. Additions for the website might need to take a backseat until version 2.0. For those that are not a typical web designer, they can get lost in the “possibilities” of what could be and need to focus in on why they wanted a website in the first place and stay true to it.


Jeremy Smith is a 26 year old youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Counseling in Mental Health. I have been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely love sharing the life of Jesus with teens.

I have been married to my wonderful wife, Ashley, for two years and try to be the best husband I can be. I enjoy tennis, web designs, and reading books. A secret introvert, you will find many of my ramblings come from weeks and months of thinking about these topics and how they can help ministry today.

Guest Post: QR Codes

Chris —  August 25, 2011 — 1 Comment

How are you getting information to your students? Years ago you had to stick a piece of paper to a bulletin board and send home a newsletter. Remember having to actually cut clip-art out of a book? That used to be incredibly effective at getting information across to people. Now it’s almost a joke. Students are so wired now, and in some cases so environmentally conscious that to send them a newsletter is slow and a waste of paper.

At my church we have begun using QR codes. You know, those little squarish bar codes that resemble something the UPS man should scan on your box? Basically, a QR Code is a bar code that embeds information such as a web address, and is designed to be “read” by smart phones. Most of our students carry either a smart phone (Android, iPhone, or Blackberry) or an iPod Touch, and they bring them into our worship services. So, instead of forcing students to put their phones away, we ask them to participate in the service with their phones! Each week in the center of the tables that our students sit at we have information pieces about upcoming events with QR Codes on them. Students can scan the code which links to a web address with further information about the event, class, or resource. Sometimes the code takes them to a page with a funny YouTube video, other times it takes them to a page to register for Camp. The great thing about the QR Code is that once a student has scanned it, they can then revisit the information on their mobile device. It’s like a newsletter that follows them around everywhere!

So how do you get a QR Code and then use it? Well, my favorite QR Code generator can be found at QR Stuff. Once you follow the link all you have to do is select the options you want, enter your info, and the website automatically create the code for you. Simply download the code to your computer and attach it to anything you want! There are so many possibilities for using these little guys, and students love them!

Jon Homesley

Jon grew up around Charlotte, NC. He graduated from The College at Southeastern in 2010 with a BA doubling majoring in The History of Ideas and Biblical Studies. In 2008 he married his wife Chelsea.  They currently live just north of Charlotte where Jon serves as the College Pastor, and Youth Ministry Geek (not his real title) at Christ Community Church. He prefers Windows 7 to OSX, Android to iOS, and Walkmans to iPods.

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