This week over at YouthMinistry.com there was a great series of articles on using games in youth ministry.

Part one: GAME ON! how games can enhance your ministry – it’s a great reminder of why we play games in youth ministry.

Part two: GAME OVER! seven game mistakes that will derail your effectiveness – goes over some common mistakes that can derail your games.

Part three: TIME OUT! three practices that will strengthen your game plan – gives some great suggestions about making your games the best they can.

If you are looking for some new games to play, YouthMinistry.com also has some new free game e-books for you.  You can download  Grass Stain: Outdoor Youth Ministry Games or Rugburn: Indoor Youth Ministry Games.  To get the free downloads you need to sign-up for the YouthMinistry.com Daily email from Doug Fields and Matt McGill, but you also get access to some other great e-books as well as content like these articles in your inbox 4 days a week.

This past tuesday I got an email that told me I would be one of the lucky few to receive my iPhone 4 the day before it was released. I was more than a little bit pumped about that fact and waited somewhat patiently for it to arrive. Now that I’ve had it for a week, I feel fairly prepared to answer the question of whether or not you should rush out and get one.

The Basics
The phone is a substantial upgrade from the 3G, but far less of an upgrade from the 3Gs than apple would have you believe.

Topping the list of upgrades is the phone’s camera. Not only is it now 5 megapixels for stills, it added an LED flash. Video taken with the camera is now HD quality and can be illuminated by that same LED in dark situations. I will say that the camera quality is by far the best phone camera I have ever seen. It is on par with any 5 megapixel point and shoot I have used, and the video coming off is just as good, if not better, than any of the Flip models. AND, there is a smaller, lower quality camera that is front facing which will enable you to do easy self-portraits, video chat and FaceTime.

FaceTime is Apple’s video chat service that is built into the phone app, but it only works on WiFi.  In my tests it is good, but nothing to run out and buy a phone over.   As you can expect, it all depends on the quality of your WiFi connection.

One of the biggest updates is the processor. The iPhone 4 now has the same processor in it as the iPad which makes a noticeable difference in app performance and load times. It also ensures that when apps are running in the background that the rest of the phone doesn’t slow to a crawl.

The other big update is the display. It will blow you away. With a pixel density higher than the human eye can perceive at a normal distance, Apple’s “retina” display looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. Perfect shading, incredible viewing radius, and brilliant colors make it the stand out feature for me. I can’t wait until my laptop has one!

Good, Bad, and Ugly
All of those improvements are welcome and follow along with the rest of Apple’s excellence in implementation.  When you combine the video features with the $5 iMovie app, it becomes incredibly compelling.  I have been shooting short clips at our youth events, editing them in about two minutes with iMovie and uploading them to faceboook immediately.  That will rock your face off!  It will also allow you to make parents really feel like they know what’s going on at camps and retreats.

Though the phone is very attractive, it is glass on both sides, and that is a problem.  It will crack if you drop it on the right place at the right speed.  Since the screen is fused to the front glass, replacing the iPhone’s front glass will probably mean replacing the whole glass, screen, digitizer combo.  Pretty, but expensive.

There have been tons of reports about the iPhone 4′s antennae being able to be messed up by holding it a certain way.  That is 100% true.  Ask anyone with an iPhone 4 to hold it by cupping the bottom (usually using your left hand) and you can watch the bars drop to little or nothing at all.  However, you can do this same trick with the 3G or the 3Gs if you hold them properly.  It seems to be more pronounced with the iPhone 4, but is remedied by using a case that covers the edges (which you will need because of the glass design mentioned in the previous paragraph).

Should I Buy One?

Assuming you’ve got the dough, I would say it depends on two factors: what you are using now, and how much you want to use video.  If you, like me, had and liked the 3G and it’s time to upgrade, do it.  You will notice an amazing performance boost along with the incredible new features we discussed here.  If you really want to use video to up the communication in your ministry, do it.  The tools this phone has video-wise are incredible and will be worth every cent if you utilize them to communicate with your kids/parents.

If you have a 3Gs, I’d caution you to be careful.  This is not as much of a performance boost as you might need to justify the expense.  You can probably just update to iOS4 and download the iMovie app.  If you have a 3Gs or an 3G and will have to pay full price because you are not eligible for an upgrade, PUT THE CREDIT CARD DOWN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!  If you are patient there will be another revision next year, and you can save yourself about $400.



New David Crowder Band EP

Chris —  June 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

I love the David Crowder Band and was excited to see they released a new EP today.  It’s a 4 song acoustic set and it’s great.

Track List:

  1. Alleluia, Sing
  2. How He Loves
  3. Oh, Happiness
  4. Shadows

You can get it from iTunes today:
Summer Happiness (Acoustic) – EP – David Crowder Band
Summer

I’ve been involved in a project to provide free Youth Ministry resources online at umyouthpastor.com for a while now.  We thought about doing a training podcast for a while, but wanted to make sure that we were adding something worthwhile rather than just creating more work for ourselves.  After consuming a lot of podcasts, I realized that what I wanted was a periodic training/idea podcast that was short and to the point.  That is where the idea for 10-minute Training (itunes link) began.

Each episode is an interview with a talented youth minister about a specific topic covering everything from having hard conversations to indoor game idea roundups.  Every episode then concludes with a resource recommendation from the guest.  All in about 10 minutes.

I love and listen to tons of long-format podcasts like the SYM podcast (iTunes link), but know very few people who are both entertaining enough to listen to for that long and experienced/talented enough to have that much quality content (Doug and the gang are some of the few in youth ministry).  The point of the podcast is to get you some usable information or idea as quickly as possible, or as the tagline suggests… we get to the point so you get the training. Check it out by going to the website or subscribing via iTunes.

I love the Chronicles of Narnia books, and I can’t wait to see what the film makers do with this book:

I’m hoping they have more on this movie at ComicCon this year.

I’m not quite sure what I can add to this, but my son thought this looked like a good idea.  I think I should be afraid.

Last summer I signed my daughter up for one of the free day-camps they do at the Apple store and she learned all about photography.  She had a great time.  I was excited to get an email this morning about this summers program.  It’s all about making movies this year.  I’ve already signed her up because spaces go fast.  Did I mention it’s FREE?  I thought I’d pass it along to any of you who may have kids between 8-12 who would love a fun activity for a few days this summer. They are even having a film festival for all the films the kids make. Should be fun.

If you’re in San Diego we are doing the early session at Fashion Valley on July 19 – 20. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Find a location in your area.


Today is the last day to enter to win an iPad over at Simply Youth Ministry.

Also it’s the last day to save 40% off on almost 300 resources.  It’s only good till 3 PM PST today, so hurry over.

Simply Youth Ministry 40 40 40 Sale

First Look: Apple iOS 4

Chris —  June 8, 2010 — Leave a comment

I gave into temptation tonight and downloaded and installed the gold master of the new iPhone operating system tonight. I’ve held off on the earlier betas, but after seeing the Apple keynote this week I wanted to check it out for myself. After the first few hours there are a couple of features that are a huge improvement.

1. Folders for apps. I’ve really been annoyed lately with how many apps I’ve had on my phone and how to organize them. This new feature goes a long way to fix it. I think the process of actually making the folders is a little janky though. You create or add an app to a fold by dropping an app on another. The problem with this is the apps like to jump away from each other during this process. I haven’t tried to do this in iTunes, maybe it’s easier there.

2. Background apps. This is one going that people have been asking for since day one of the iPhone. I always hated this on my old windows phones because it constantly caused crashes and battery drains. It was also always a pain to close running apps. Apple really got the implementation of this right, switching is easy and I can see that this will be a huge click saver.

3. UI. They’ve really put some polish on the look of things.  Transitions between screens is nicer.  I like the ability to put pictures as backgrounds behind the app icons, but you really need to be careful what you use, the wrong picture can make it almost un-usable. The visual flow between the new folder apps and background apps works really well.

4. Unified Inbox. I don’t know how many of you have multiple email accounts, but i have 4 setup on my phone and sometimes it was tiring going between each one to check new messages.  Now you can get all your accounts in one central inbox.  But don’t worry, you can still access each one individually also if you like the old way.  The only problem I had with this was looking at my email almost became overwhelming, but I think I deal with more email than the average person.

There are a few things I still wish they would deal with (notifications, more info on the lock screen) but overall it’s a solid upgrade.  I already miss some of the new features when I switch over to my iPad.  Looking forward to that upgrade this fall.

What do you think is still missing?

It’s time for the anual 40 40 40 sale at SimplyYouthMinistry.com.  You can get 40% off tons of great resources.  There’s also $1 off select books. It only lasts for 40 hours so hurry.

There are a couple of other bonuses:

-40 Free Backgrounds – 40 great summer backgrounds for your ministry.

-Win an Ipad – Who doesn’t want this magical device.  Just fill out the form to enter.  Good Luck!