Archives For Administration

Tools and tips to help you manage your ministry

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.

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 seventy8productions.com.

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.

Jon’s church- www.ccchuntersville.com
Jon’s personal site- www.jonhomesley.com

I saw this article over on theNextWeb: Playing with Lego helps you create better websites, apparently.

From the article:

Can playing with Lego help you design better websites? A new, entirely serious, document from a Swiss team claims it can. URL – User Requirements with Lego is a process that creative teams can go through to help work out the best ways of communicating online.

Why Lego? Apparently because it’s simple to use; is known by most people; offers shapes and colours to aid with inspiration; can be built into simple or complex forms and is used in many different cultures. The process is based on an official Lego initiative called Serious Play, which looks to get all kinds of businesses using Lego to enhance their innovation and performance.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

I love the idea of helping teams work out solutions using Lego models.  The article talks about using it for web projects, but i wonder if you could use the same ideas for other projects.  Anyone want to plan their Fall Retreat this way?

I’m not sure it will work, but I’d love to try.  Can I buy Legos as a work expense?

Evernote…Again

Brandon —  July 20, 2011 — 4 Comments

I may be late to the game but did you know you can email notes to Evernote? They have created a slick way to not only send your notes to your account but also to tag and place them in folders.

Here’s a clip from their site:

How it works
First, find your Evernote incoming email address. It’ll look something like [username].[email protected]. The address is located under Account Info in the desktop versions of Evernote, under Settings in Evernote Web, and in the Sync tab of Evernote for iPhone. We recommend adding this email address to your address book or contact list.

Next, try emailing something into Evernote. In the subject line of your email, write the title of the note as you want it to appear in your account. In the same subject line, add one or both of the following:

  • Use @ for notebooks: Use an @ symbol followed by the name of your destination notebook
  • Use # for tags: Use a # symbol followed by the tag or tags you wish to assign. You can have multiple tags just make sure each one starts with an #

For example, Subject: Trip to Florida @travel #expense report

Would create a note titled Trip to Florida in my travel notebook, tagged with expense report.

This has been a useful new discovery for me, I hope it helps you in your note taking. To read more check out their blog at: blog.evernote.com/2010/03/16/emailing-into-evernote-just-got-better/

Simply Youth Ministry has always been about saving youth workers’ time. I too love efficiency. I want my computer to run faster. I organize files like an archivist. I even plan my calendar down to the day and hour I’m going to fill up my car with gas. Well, not that last one, but I LOVE being efficient. And the same goes for when I want to get the word out on a youth ministry event.

There are so many different social media routes to do ministry on, and you can spend/waste a lot of hours just keeping up with facebook, twitter, and now Google +. So here’s my philosophy on the proper role of social networks in youth ministry, and how to use them efficiently.

Social Networking is supplemental.

What I mean is that I believe social networking can only accomplish so much. I can keep in touch with hundreds of students, but those relationships must have a “real life” component for meaningful discipleship to occur. In other words, you have to have face time with individual students! Social networking is a bonus to, not the foundation of, a relationship. Therefore I will use social networking for a limited number of tasks.

  • sharing event info
  • writing quick notes of encouragement to students and volunteers
  • checking a student’s wall to gather info that will help me minister to them
  • making fun of students by posting pictures of them with panty hose on their heads

I really only spend 10-15 minutes a day on facebook. I see it as being supplemental to all of the other relationship building I do throughout the week. Now, how do we make it efficient?

Let technology work for you!

When I first began using social networks I would waste so much time writing individual posts for a blog, facebook, twitter etc. To be an efficient social networker you have to learn how to link accounts. When you link accounts, any information you share on one network gets automatically copied and pasted to the linked account. I began doing this with twitter and facebook. I love the brevity of twitter (you have to be efficient with 140 characters) so I linked twitter to my facebook using the facebook twitter app. Now when I tweet it instantly posts to facebook. Pretty cool huh? But I didn’t stop there…

Our youth ministry also uses the mass text messaging service SimplyText (now Communicate) from Simply Youth Ministry. When you create a text message in SimplyText you have the option to link to your twitter account. This means that every time I send a mass text message close to 300 students who subscribe instantly receive the message on their phones, and the message goes to twitter. Because my twitter is linked to my facebook account my status is also instantly updated. Plus, Simply Text allows me to set up multiple texts and assigned them to be sent at different times and dates. In one 20 minute sitting I can set up 2-3 weeks’ worth of text messages and forget about it. I know that every day for the next month close to 300 students will get daily contact from me, not to mention the 1000 people who follow me on twitter and facebook. Doing a month of social networking in 20 minutes… now that’s efficient!

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