It was only a matter of time before someone did this.

I can’t wait for this thing to be over.

Do you use countdown videos?  Have you ever wanted to make your own? The fine people over at Digitalstache have now made it super easy, and it’s FREE: Ready, Set, Go!

From their site:

Do you love countdown videos? Do you dream in descending digits? Can you grow mustache? Well check out the newest addition to the Digital Stache Gameshow Family: Ready, Set, Go! Ready, Set, Go! gives you 6 themes to choose from and let’s you set the countdown (or up), from one second to an hour! But here is the best part: we’re giving it away. That’s right, for an unlimited time, Ready, Set, Go! Is absolutely free! So download your copy today!

Download your free copy while you can.

Ready, Set, Go!

Every time we have been gearing up for some fundraiser or another, I think (at the last minute), “It sure would be convenient if we could take credit card donations/payments easily. A couple weeks later I have the same thought about registrations for camp. Each time I remember my research into the cost of machine with the receipt paper, the percentage off each sale it takes as well as the per transaction fee and decide it is not worth the hassle.

Then I stumbled upon Square.

Square is simple. From the little one inch by one inch plastic reader that plugs into the headphone jack on your phone (iOS or android) to the flat 2.75% fee per swipe to the super-straightforward, free app there is one word to describe it: simple.

Did I mention cheap? All you have to do to get the reader is give them basic accounting information and they mail it, at no charge, to your home or office a couple days later. How do they make money? Most places charge variable rate fee from 2.5%-5% per transaction and a $0.15 per transaction fee. Some level the percentage to three or three and a half, but square is cheap and simple. 2.75% per card swipe transaction.

The Square app is super easy to use. All you do is download the app, plug in the dongle, log in and you are ready to take a payment. To do that, you enter the amount and an optional description (we put the budget line item and the event) and swipe their card. They are then taken to a signature screen where they can sign with a finger or stylus if you have one. When they press the continue button, they are prompted to enter a cell number or email address where the app immediately sends a link to a receipt for the transaction. The money is then deposited (one lump sum deposit per day) into whichever account you provide.

You then have access to all that data (minus the full card number) in their clean, user friendly site which will allow you to download it in excel format with a ton of data attached to each transaction.

A couple of weeks ago I was stopped on Sunday morning on my way to the youth area by a member who said that he was sorry that he had not yet brought me his donation for a fundraiser.  He never has his checkbook at church.  I told him that I could take a credit card, and he was relieved.  I plugged in the square dongle, opened the app, swiped his card and it was done.  Brilliant.

Simple, cheap and brilliant, but not perfect. If you want to use this for multiple ministries, it may get difficult. You will have to sort through all the transactions to figure out which one went to which ministry. It would be nice if they could have sub-accounts to break things out easily.

Overall, I am telling everyone I meet to stop whatever they are doing, go to the Square website and start making life easier for them and their members.

A friend of mine showed this to me and I thought it could make a great display in your youth room.  I might want to gather up a couple old computers or laptops and create a cool art piece for your stage or room.  Sounds crazy but I bet if you put the word out you could find some old machines to use.  Watch the video, it’s pretty cool.

Best part, the software is free.
Check it out: Junkyard Jumbotron

Many of you liked the digital nativity video from Christmas.  Igniter video has now done one for Easter.

If you want to use it for your services, you can pick it up HERE.

Description from their site:

Throughout the course of his public ministry, Jesus knew both the adoration and desertion of the crowds. Today, just as 2,000 years ago, the gospel asks a question that demands an answer: Will we follow? This video illustrates this truth through the dynamic lens of a 21st-century social network.



I recently discovered this interesting Google Labs project called Google Ngram Viewier that piggy backs on the data Google is collecting via Google books.  You probably already know that Google books is is not only adding new texts, but scanning (and OCRing) all the books currently available in print at massive libraries all over the world.  You can imagine the interesting types of things you could do with that massive data set.  When you combine all the world’s digitized books with a google algorhythm and their massive amounts of processing power, you get Ngram Viewer.

It is pretty basic right now.  You put in a list of terms separated by commas, and it gives you a line graph showing how popular those words were in print from 1500 on (or any subset of years).  Turning our attention towards our graph of Heaven and hell from 1800-2000, we can see that, with a few exceptions, heaven was firmly in the lead until it took a turn around 1930 from which point hell has been on the rise and not looking back.

I look forward to seeing the interesting sets of terms you come up with!

Want a Sneak Peek at the newest issue of Group Magazine?  The new issues isn’t out yet, but here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming soon.  Unfortunately I heard of too many people the “I Just Got Fired” applies too.

If you don’t subscribe yet, now’s a great time to sign up: Group Magazine Subscription.  In addition to the great content like posted above, you get tons of ministry ideas and help.  And for the techie in you, every issue has a great column from Brandon Early, whom contributes to this blog. I highly recommend it.

For all you Android users out there, Amazon launched their long rumored Android AppStore.  I was able to do a little browsing and bought a couple of apps from it. I found it a little easier to use than the regular android marketplace.  It seemed easier to find things, but that could be because the catalog is definitely smaller. I also appreciated that when i searched for “Live Wallpapers” to use on my Nexus S I didn’t get a bunch of soft porn offerings.

One thing they are doing that I’m sure will drive traffic is everyday they are going to offer one paid app for free.  Today is Angry Birds Rio, and I a huge Angry Birds fan, so that just makes it all the better.

If you’re an Android user, it’s worth checking out.  Also pick up the new Angry Birds Rio for free.

I saw a link to this site over at MoreThanDodgeball, and I thought it would be good to pass along.  It’s a site that YouTube has put together to for people to see what popular and follow the trends on the popular video site.  Sometimes in Youth Ministry is hard to keep up with what’s popular with students, but this might help tip you off to what they are watching online so you are ready to talk (or laugh) about it with them.

Check it out at


What’s in Your Bag?

Brandon —  March 14, 2011 — 4 Comments

Last week i was sitting in my room at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference and I thought it might be cool to dump my back pack and show you what I keep in there.

1. My Mac power chord
2. Retractable 6’ extension chord
3. Mini-DVI to VGA adapter
4. SHEMA Braclet ( Deuteronomy 6:4-6)
5. Power supply, three plugs and a USB charger in one
6. Two Headphone splitters
7. USB SD card reader
8. iPad pencil
9. Universal keychain remote
10. Five USB Thumb drives
11. 1 TB Western Digital USB powered hard drive
12. Post-it Note tabs
13. Micro USB Cable (and some change)
14. Pens (metallic silver writes on anything)
15. iPad/iPod charger
16. Elgato Eye TV USB dongle (made by Pinnacle)
17. Droid X (main cell phone)
18. iPod (80gb classic)
19. Droid (Original, backup when/if Droid X battery dies)
20. Notes to edit from a few messages I taught.
21. Two Chapstick tubes (Don’t know why there’s two), and Dramamine.
22. Targus Matrix backpack
23. Three packs of gum
24. Travel Kleenex
25. iPad
26. Letter from Doug Fields to 2009 SYMC speakers (I am not creepy, it just has good leadership insights)
27. Mac Book Pro, 2.8 GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB, 1067MHz DDR3
28. iPad SD card reader
29. My business cards (Postcards).
30. Bose Comfort fit noise cancelation headphones
31. Three Note books; a Moleskin, a Dare2Share (Moleskin look-a-like), and the top one is from the Apple Store (yes, from the mother ship in Califirnia).
32. Some booklets from recent conferences and workshops (Gurus of Tech, Dare2Share, Willow Creek).

Chris is going to post his later this week, and we’d love to know what’s in your bag. Post your pictures or list in the comments or on our Facebook page.