I am constantly amazed at the tools that lifechurch.tv produces.  This morning I found out about what is quite possibly the most useful of them all: Open.  What is it?  It’s thousands of top-quality resources for churches available for free download.  It’s not just youth resources!  Everyone can find something from adults to children and youth to pet ministry (I may have gone a little overboard on the pet ministry).

To begin, you simply sign up for an account and voila, the world of Open resources is at your fingertips.  Browse through the files to find videos of messages, background loops, small group curriculum, skits and video illustrations.

Don’t have a great worship band?  No problem, you can download worship sets to project on a screen with a band, lyrics, the whole deal.  There’s even forms and training.  Like I said, it’s awesome!  The only problem I could find with the well-designed site is that some of the video files require you to burn them on a dvd to play them which for a novice (especially one using a pc) could get a little hairy.

That being said, it’s all there, and it’s all free.  Next time you need help on a message or small group your first stop simply has to be Open.

Want to Replace iTunes?

Chris —  October 7, 2009 — 5 Comments

Sync, Play & Send to BlackBerry, PSP, iPod, iPhone with doubleTwist

First I want to say.  I like iTunes, it syncs content great to my iPhone and Apple TV.  I also love the genius feature, it creates great playlists.  But when it comes to getting content onto my sons PSP, I’m out of luck.  That was until doubleTwist.

DoubleTwist gives you an alternative to iTunes (that can still access you iTunes library).  It’s still pretty basic, but it does offer some great features that iTunes lacks.

  1. Sync – it syncs with a lot more devices (including PSP, Blackberrys, Android, Kindle and more).  See the complete list here.
  2. Amazon mp3 store.  You can directly access the Amazon mp3 and all the free content they offer.
  3. Share with others.  It gives an easy way to share with your friends.

It’s still early in development, and I’m sure they will fill out the missing features in time.  It’s a great start, and I look forward to future releases.  And at FREE, it’s worth a try.  Right now it’s only Mac, but a PC version is coming.

UPDATE: It looks like the PC version is available for download now.

Check it out: doubleTwist.

I Love DropBox

Chris —  October 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

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I’ve mentioned DropBox before as a replacement for iDisk, but recently I’ve been reminded about what a great service it is.

What is it?  Dropbox is an online file storage / sharing service.  When you install the software it creates a fold on your computer.  Once you put files in that folder it automatically syncs them to their server so you can access your files from their website.  If you have it installed on multiple computers it will automatically download those files to the other computers keeping them all in sync.  I use this to keep certain files that I want access to where ever I am up to date.  It also allows you to share files or folders with others.  I use this all the time to share files with co-workers that are too large to email.  It’s so much easier than trying to upload files to an FTP server or many of the other services I’ve tried.

Another killer feature is the recently launched iPhone app (link opens iTunes).  It gives you a great interface to access all your files, but the killer feature of this app is it allows viewing of pictures and playback of music or video files directly from the app.  It works over wifi or 3g.  It’s just great, now I have easy access to my files, even away from my computer.  And did I mention it’s FREE?

The free account gives you 2 GBs of space, but if you use this link you’ll get bonus space: Dropbox Sign-Up.

Bonus Tip:

Most of the time I skip the getting started guides, but if you complete the steps you’ll get more bonus space.

I don’t know if you have ever been to a large youth ministry training conference, but they are awesome. I have been to quite a few over the years, and it’s always a great time coming together with a bunch of other people that totally understand what you do, and why you do it. It’s also a great time to grow as a youth worker both spiritually and vocationally through the sessions, seminars, and just spending time with other youth pastors.

If you’re thinking about going to one, I want to recommend the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Feb 2010 in Chicago. I’ll be there and we’ll have a room dedicated to tech seminars and workshops. It will be a great time to hang out with me and a bunch of other geeks. There’s also a Tech Affinity group if you really want to spend time talking about technology and youth ministry. Here’s the brochure for the event:

You can also find out more by visiting: YouthMinistry.com/SYMC.  Why I am telling you about this now?  Because if you register by 10/31/09 you save some serious money.  I hope to see you there.

Have you ever needed to get something accomplished, known the application you needed, but been short of the cash needed to buy said necessary app?  Lament no longer, AlternativeTo is here!  A quick surf over to the simple website gives you more options than you need.  Looking for a cheaper Photoshop?  Why not try Gimp, Pixelmator, Photoshop Elements, Acorn, Pixel…  you get the point.  Not only is it a great place to find alternative software, but its homepage allows you to browse by OS and number of views, likes, recent, or no alternatives.  Hopefully this will save you some cash and make your search for the right app a bit shorter.  Check it out: www.alternativeto.net

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I must confess, I’m a David Crowder*Band fanboy, but when I first pressed play on this album, I thought, “What’s happening here, did David Crowder just make a dance album and call it Church Music?”  It really caught me off guard, and not what I expected an album by the name Church Music to sound like.  You’re hit with loops and rhythms that sound more like they belong in a club, than a church, and I think that’s part of the beauty of the record.

That doesn’t mean that this album is missing the classic songs that all our worship teams will soon to learning, and hopefully not botching on Wednesday night. Songs like Alleluia, Sing and How He Loves are destined to be on the playlist of our worship leaders for some time to come.

The album also just has some great, fun songs to lift your spirits.  The funk of Church Music, Dance and the 80’s stylings of Oh Happiness just make me smile.

Give it a listen and I think you will like it.

Preview Now:

Available today on iTunes or at Amazon:
Download at iTunes:
David Crowder Band - Church Music
(Click to open iTunes)

Buy the CD:

Or MP3 Download:

Youth Minister Rap (with poll)

Chris —  September 18, 2009 — 7 Comments

A friend of mine sent me this video… Hilarious. Thought we might do a quick survey to see how close this one hits to home.

There’s an App for That

Chris —  September 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

Here’s a funny promotion for a series on some of the more interesting scriptures in the Bible.

I recently ran across a pretty incredible site: Wing Clips. The site focuses on providing clips for download from top movies that you can use as an illustration in your talks/sermons.  What’s amazing, is that they have clips available from first-run movies that are still in the theatres!  Right now they even have clips for a couple of films that have not even been released.

The clips are categorized by title, theme, and some even have full sermon outlines available for download (premium only).  What is interesting, and convenient, is that they have worked out a deal with the studios to allow you to not need a CVLI license to display them.   They provide 320×240 versions for free, and offer a subscription for unlimited 640×480 resolution for $15.95 a month or $139.00 a year (which works out to $11.59 a month).

YouVersion Live

Chris —  September 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

YouVersion announced an interesting new feature called Live.  Though it will not be “live” until October, the product is supposed to be focused on letting you interact with live events on your mobile phone.

According to their promotional material, it will allow you to follow along with message outlines and take notes, read related Bible verses and click through to the expanded passage, vote on a poll and see the results live, respond to questions anonymously, request prayer, and take it all home with you on your phone.

This promises to be an incredible tool if they deliver on all these feature.  Be sure that we will have a full review once the product launches.  Until then, you can click here to check out their site for all the information.