Technology | Category Archive
Everyone is busy, busy, busy.
Ask someone how their week was, and you’ll probably hear the word “busy” somewhere in their description. And honestly, the same would probably be true for you and I. Why do we feel the need to sound busy? “Just staying busy,” is suppose to be a good answer, right?
Being busy isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but the question is- what are we so busy doing? Are we being efficient with our time? Are there other methods or tools that we could be using to better do the tasks we do everyday? Are we letting inefficient methods take up out time, or worse, cause a distraction from what’s important?
Let me give you an example:
When I first started working in social media, I did everything manually. As in, I did every post, tweet and pin the moment before it posted. That really meant 2 thing:
1. I was constantly distracted from whatever else I was doing to go post or tweet something. I looked busy, but I was not getting as much done as I could.
Constant interruptions break your concentration. When you constantly break your concentration, you are making your job way harder than it has to be. Studies have shown that it takes approximately 15 minutes to reach a place of focused concentration. Thus, constant interruptions will stop you reaching that place. Now, I’m not talking about the breaks you needto take to clear your mind and get refocused. Things like getting a snack, going for a short walk, or reorganizing your space can definitely be good. No, I’m talking about the counterproductive interruptions that could have been easily avoided by a little bit of pre-planning on your part. Writing a blog post that should only take me about an hour has ended up taking me at least twice that long. Interruptions may seem harmless, but freeing yourself up from distractions that you can control and allowing yourself to concentrate can do wonders to your productivity!
2. I was inconsistent. Not that I have it totally nailed down to a science just yet, but I’ve come a long way.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the best tweets are the ones you think of the on spur of the moment, but you also need consistency. Being consistent across your different social media channels helps you make a reliable name for yourself in your industry, a constant channel for engagement, and a trustworthy source as a brand.
It’s not that I am any less busy now, but my social media work is more efficient. My quality of time is on the up and up, and my so-called “busy” work is on the down and down (I know, not a real phrase, but why not?)
When we become efficiently busy with an unbroken focus, a powerful thing happens. And when we join forces with technology built specifically for better time management, a really powerful thing happens. You see, when we take the time to evaluate what we are doing now, determine the right tools for the job, and make the necessary changes to do that which we are doing better, we form healthy habits for success. We start taking time to assess productivity, and in turn, find ourselves freeing up time for more important tasks. It seems our efficiency can always be improved upon, and it’s up to us to make it happen!
But here’s the question: Do you have the right tools? Do you even know the tools available to you?
When it comes to productivity tools for social media, there are manysocial media aggregators available for free. HootSuite and Sprout Socialare two of the most popular, so we won’t discuss them today. However, check out this social media aggregators article if you want to read more about them.
Below I’ve listed social media tools that let you plan, schedule, manage, or track your posts, tweets, or pins.
Being a pinterest fanatic, I recently started using Pingraphy. You can upload pins in one big batch, and then schedule them in your Pinterest feed to go out throughout the day, week, or whenever you prefer. Keep in mind though, research by Pinerly, the Pinterest analytics tool, says the optimal time for pinning is Saturday mornings and late weekday evenings between 8pm – 1am EST.
Read more helpful tips about Pingraphy here.
Tweetdeck lets you to monitor and manage a large number of Twitter streams at once. I like the ability to pick and choose which feeds I want to see at once, side by side. The activity column delivers real-time engagement news on the recent follows and favorites from the accounts I follow, which I love because I’m always looking for good new connections. It wasn’t for Tweetdeck, I’d probably never see these new connections.
Features: Plan, schedule, manage
Read more helpful tips about Tweetdeck here.
3. Post Planner
Some of you may enjoy Facebook’s option to schedule a post, by clicking on this button on your Facebook page:
However, did you know there are even more ways to plan facebook posts? Post Planner lets you put together schedule posts in the same format that Facebook does. What’s different and neat about Post Planner is the “suggestions” feature, which really comes in handy on those days that you can’t get your mind in gear; it gives you ideas from a wide variety of categories to help you decide what to post about.
Read more tips about Post Planner here.
Originally posted February 15, 2013, on Roar.pro, by Summer Pridemore. Used with permission.
Anthony Coppedge has poured through dozens of statistics and aggregated the most recent trends on social media usage (in the U.S.). The result is a new infographic created specifically to help church leaders understand the most important trends and apply them in their communications.
As you read through the statistics and information, consider what this means for your communication strategy. Will you change anything about the way you communicate with volunteers, staff and church members based on these trends? Do you already utilize technology and social media in your ministry?
Anthony Coppedge is known for building powerful relationships and has exemplary communication skills that foster collaborative processes between leaders and teams. Over the years, Anthony has worked for a diverse group of organizations and is a renowned speaker and trainer at conferences. Anthony’s e-book,“The Reason Your Church Must Twitter,” was released in January of 2009. His new book, on strategic social media for churches, is due to be released in early 2013.
A few months ago, our friend Rick Smith, gathered up some information and voiced the question: “How much time do people in your church spend on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?” Check out what he learned.
It’s no surprise that people in your church body are spending a lot of time online engaging with their various social networks. Wise churches and non-profits know that they should be spending time connecting with people where they live, work, and play, and in this day and age “online” falls into 2 out of 3 of those categories. (So I hope your church is spending time in that ever growing area.)
But with only so many hours in a day how should churches prioritize their online efforts? One excellent way for ministries to budget their online time is in order of where people are spending their online time. Here are a few statistics to help you out.
Where are people spending their online time?
The average American spends:
- 7 hours a month on Facebook
- 90 minutes a month on Pinterest
- 90 minutes a month on Tumbler
- 21 minutes a month on Twitter
- 17 minutes a month on Linkedin
- 3 minutes a month on Google +
Keep in mind these numbers are national averages and we all know averages can be greatly skewed by anomalies. Depending on where you live and the age of your church body these numbers will be much higher (I’m sure some people spend 90 minutes a day just on Pinterest alone!) However, they still give you an idea of where people are spending the majority of their online time (Hello, Facebook and Pinterest.)
How does your church / ministry decide how to budget their online efforts? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Rick Smith is passionate about the intersection of faith, technology, and helping churches see the importance of using online tools to reach offline people. He shares what he’s learning at MinistryTips.com and he’s telling the story of a beautiful life here —> http://NoahsDad.com. Let’s be friends!
Looking for a tool that will help the parents in your church engage in your children’s ministry? Suggest they download Orange’s Parent CUE App on their smartphone, available for iOS and Android.
What’s a CUE? It’s a prompt. A nudge to talk about God, faith, life or to just have fun together.
It’s a way to incorporate conversations about God and His big story into everyday moments—during mealtime, while playing a game outside, and in the car.
These CUEs will help parents do three things:
Connect to God’s story.
Uncover something about life.
Experience something together.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Orange’s Parent CUE App provides parents with simple cues throughout the week that remind them to pause and make the most of everyday moments. But here’s something important to remember—parents don’t have to do all of these cues.
They don’t have to do everything. How about just doing one more thing—not five more. It will make a huge difference in their lives and in the lives of their children.
Every month, this Parent CUE App will focus on one specific theme. Parents will receive prompts for videos, activities, discussion questions and more. These prompts will come in the form of “times” that are a part of everyday life. There’s even a section called ParentTime that’s filled with parent blogs, podcasts and more.
To make the most of the Parent CUE App, parents should leave push notifications on, and they will get daily prompts reminding them to connect with their child. Or, parents can set up a time when they open the app on a regular basis to take advantage of the consistently updated content.
If your church uses the First Look or 252 Basics curriculum, you’ll notice that the content in this app lines up with what the children are learning at church. It’s a great way to reinforce these great truths.
Many of us at Orange really enjoy photography—with the DSLR camera bodies and the lenses and the flash units. And some of us (Reggie Joiner) are quite good at it! A lot of the time, most of us use the camera we have most handy—our phone camera. We snap pictures with our phone, maybe run them through some sort of filter, then post them to one or 12 social media outlets. Mobile photography and sharing has exploded in the last few years. Especially at Christmas, many of us will be loading our online news feeds with photos of dinner plates, random gifts, babies wrapped in lights, or snow falling on Christmas day. Check out this infographic about mobile photography. It raises the question: Is photography dead? It doesn’t look like to me. It looks like it’s thriving!
by Stacy Hodge
As I sip a warm Starbucks on a chilly morning, hear Christmas music playing in the background, and see all the decorations, I can’t help but get excited for the Christmas season! By this time, most people have already begun their shopping, and I bet someone in your family has an Apple device on their wish list. These are great devices that I have come to depend on daily for communication, at-my-fingertips information, and of course, entertainment. For children and students with special needs, these tools can be a key aid in their spiritual development. Let’s unwrap some apps that can be used in the church setting or by parents to help kids with learning differences grow in their faith.
Read and Share Bible
Free app; in-app purchase of each Bible story is $2.99 (Current sale: $.99-$2.99)
For younger learners, the Read and Share Bible app is wonderful. While there are in-app purchases, they are worth it and packed with extras. For example, included in the Christmas story, “Jesus is Born,” you get a narrated (and captioned!) illustrated story of Jesus’ birth, complete with questions and videos dispersed throughout the Scripture. You might recommend that participants’ families repeat and reinforce the same Bible lesson at home. Parents can also personalize the story by recording their own voices to take the place of the narrator’s voice. There are other extras, including picture puzzles, coloring pages, and a video of the story.
Free app; in-app purchase of premium edition is available for $34.99
For older students (and even adults), the Glo Bible is a great app. It is jam-packed with media that helps visual learners jump into Scripture. The NIV Glo Bible is now free(!) and it includes a taste of the pictures, artwork, virtual tours, maps, and videos that the premium edition includes. The feature that I love the most about this app is how you can look up a Scripture, and as you’re reading you can see the supplemental media. With just a tap, all sorts of pictures and videos enhancing the selected Scripture are at your disposal. As an added bonus, the font size is adjustable with the capability of changing it to white text on a black background (read-accessibility for everyone!). This app is a must-have for teachers who have visual learners! (You could gift this app to your teachers as a Christmas-time “Thank you” to use as they study and utilize when they teach!)
Answers HD is a simple, programmable app for communication. It comes loaded with a screen with two choices, “YES” and “NO.” Then, within the app, a teacher can program up to six different two-choice “favorite” pages, and also have up to six lesson “plans” that each have six two-choice pages. The choices resemble buttons, and can be customized using color, pictures and text. Then, a teacher can record themselves, voicing the choice on the buttons. The joy you see as a teacher after a student is able to successfully communicate is priceless!
Smule Auto Rap
This last app is a fun way to encourage those who are verbal to speak up clearly. The older participants in our church’s special needs ministry LOVE this app. This tool has become our favorite way to learn each Sunday’s Bible verse. You open the app, choose one of the songs, and speak the verse. The app then takes your voice and sets it to a rap and plays it back for the class. It’s great because it’s a fun way to recite the verse, and then as it plays back, everyone hears the verse another two or three times. (Repetition!) Everyone anxiously awaits their turn to recite the verse now.
I hope that by unwrapping these apps your ministry can find new ways to spur families on to focus on Christ during this Christmas season as well as ease communication and increase understanding for your members with special needs. Merry Christmas to all!
Stacy Hodge is the minister to special needs at Hunters Glen Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, where she has served since the CARE Ministry’s beginning in June of 2008. Hunters Glen is a church with just over 1,100 active members, and in four years God has grown the ministry to welcome an average of 25 children, students, and adults with special needs on Sunday mornings. HGBC also welcomes 10 adults from a local day-habilitation program on to their campus twice a week for Bible study. In order to minister to the entire family, the CARE Ministry offers sibling workshops, a mother’s group, a father’s group, family fellowships, and inclusion within existing church ministries such as Disciple Now and Vacation Bible School. Stacy serves alongside her 30 amazing volunteers, which make this ministry happen!
This week, I thought I’d highlight some favorite apps related to the various themes I like to cover on my blog. The following is a repost of “Top 10 Apps for Pastors & Ministry Leaders” that my ROAR team collaborated on and that appeared on the website of Technologies For Worship Magazine.
Top 10 Apps for Pastors & Ministry Leaders
Mobile technology has its good and bad points, just like everything in life. Although it can prove to be a distraction or frustration, mobile tech can also be really helpful to pastors and those in leadership at houses of worship by increasing organization and productivity. Here’s a list of my 10 favorite apps (in no particular order) for those in ministry leadership:
YouVersion – One of the best Bible-reading apps out there. It has a huge amount of free versions, along with several great reading plans that will help you track your progress. There is built-in social sharing to easily share what you’re reading or learning. And it syncs across devices so you can pick up where you left off no matter what you’re reading on.
Evernote – This app is your one-stop place for gathering information of all kinds. You can gather files, images, audio, websites, anything all in one place, and you can sort them into folders to keep it all organized. You can also type right into Evernote, so putting all your thoughts in one place is simple. It also syncs across devices so you can use it for file sharing as well. Use Evernote to get sermon notes from your computer to your iPad. You can also use it to record an audio note while you’re driving in case you have a killer idea that you don’t want to get away. So many cool uses for this app.
Flipboard – This beautiful app turns your RSS, Twitter, and Facebook feeds into a magazine-style reader. It will aggregate your feeds all in one place, and make it so simple to just flip through to scan content for items of interest. You can either read them right there or mark them to read later. It can also bring in other content that has been read or shared by your friends, and it is one-tap simple to share your content on your linked social accounts as well. This app can save you a lot of time catching up on your reading, as well as providing a beautiful, eye-friendly way to do it.
Clips – This unique and stellar app is a database that helps you find a movie clip to use in your speaking. You can search for clips by topic or by movie. It will then tell you what movie to find the clip in, where to start and stop the movie, and it even suggests discussion questions. This is a huge time-saver for pastors who like to use movie clips as illustrations!
Bump – Sharing just got a whole lot simpler. This exceedingly cool technology allows you to share contact information or photos with another person simply by bumping your phone with theirs. No more awkward repeating of phone numbers, no more entering in info from a business card by hand, no more forgetting to send them an email with your contact info. If you both have Bump on your phone, just bump and go. You can also easily transfer photos from your phone to a friend’s phone or to your computer with this same app. This would be very helpful after a large ministry event.
BC Reader – For those who do a lot of networking but find someone who doesn’t have Bump installed on their phone (see above), use this handy app to scan in information from business cards.
Dragon Dictation – This talk-to-text app allows you to just speak what you want to type and it transcribes it for you. It’s amazingly accurate in several languages, and can be a real time saver when you want to type out something long and all you have is your iPhone’s on-screen keyboard.
IMDb – The International Movie Database is a great website, but their app is really awesome on the go, too. One of the best parts for pastors and leaders is the Parent’s Guide, which will help you gauge how family-friendly a movie is. So if you hear some parents say they’re going to take their kids to the next blockbuster, you can just open up IMDb right there and help them decide if it’s a wise choice for their kids.
Air Sketch – This cool app can turn your iPad into a portable whiteboard, with your drawings being projected to a screen via wifi. It can completely revolutionize your presentations, teaching, and meetings!
HootSuite – There are several good apps out there for gathering your social media feeds in one place. My personal favorite is HootSuite, but what I think is most important is that pastors and ministry leaders stay involved in social media, regardless of what app they use to do it. Facebook keeps you connected with your congregation and community, and Twitter gives you real-time information. Both are essential for a thriving ministry.
Matt is a speaker, writer, strategist and entrepreneur. Formerly with Fellowship Church in Texas, he now leads a company, ROAR, focused on mobile apps and social media for churches. He also does social media and helps write a curriculum for leaders called YouLead for Orange. You can find his ebook Be Social: The Social Media Handbook for Churches in the Amazon Kindle Store. Matt resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Jessica and two boys, Patriot and Azlan.