church tech

The eConnect Conference is Back

Back by popular demand this year is Group's eConnect Conference.  This one one of my favorite events to be a part of this last year and so excited to participate again this year!  If for no other reason to attend this conference is the opportunity to visit Group's headquarter's in Loveland, Colorado.  The setting is beautiful and the facility is incredibly inspiring.  

Better than the location though are the presenters at this conference as I'll be joined by my friends Jason Caston, Brian Abbott and the great Bob D'Ambrosio.  These guys are some of the sharpest guys when it comes to church technology, but they are also some of the most humble and down to earth guys I know as well.  

This wo nd  alf ay onference ill rovide ou ith n xpanded nderstanding f ow ocial edia nd nline ools an enefit nd row our inistry. ou’ll earn ow o se hese ools o ave ime, each  roader udience, uild  ell-connected ommunity, nd reate  lace or onstant ommunication n our hurch.

If you have any questions about the conference at all please don't hesitate to Comment or hit the Contact button above as I would love to help.  To learn more and to register for the conference click the graphic above or go here.

RightNow Conference 2014 Panel about Using Technology and Media to Disciple People

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.47.41 AM
Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.47.41 AM

I'm so excited to be participating in the RightNow Conference 2014.  I love this year's theme: His Gospel, His Mission, His Church!

I will be moderating a panel discussion on a topic that I've very passionate about: Using Technology and Media to Disciple People.  This is a topic that for many is confusing and for others controversial.  I love engaging in conversations from both perspectives both helping create clarity where there is confusion and engaging dialogue where there is controversy.  I would love for you to join me at the conference next week in Dallas as I know you will love the whole event.  It's not too late to register!

Here are the 2 other ministry leaders who will be joining me for the panel:

Bill Roberson -Bill has spent the last 15 years trying to learn how to creatively communicate in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. With a background in graphic design and over 10 years experience in faith-based organizations, he has a passion to equip others to live a life of faith action. Bill previously directed communications efforts at Lake Pointe Church and BluefishTV in the Dallas area and is currently Communications Director at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, CO. He has a unique perspective on RightNow Ministries – having served as both a volunteer and on staff. Bill and his wife Jen live in Monument, CO with their three kids Max, Nolan and Abbie. For more info visit: bobcatbill22.com or connect on Twitter @bobcatbill22

Broc Jahnke - Broc is the Spiritual Growth Pastor at Hope Fellowship in Frisco, TX.  Broc oversees all adult discipleship at Hope which includes pastoral care and counseling, home groups, classes and Bible studies and men's and women's events.  Broc has three kids that are involved too heavily in sports and a great wife that is the glue that holds them all together.

P.S. Probably most importantly, my pastor, Robert Emmitt, will be presenting at the conference this year as well!  I hope to see you there!

Using Zoom for Ministry

Zoom
Zoom

If you are not yet familiar with Zoom, I encourage you to quickly become familiar. While I am using technology constantly to connect with people all over the world and I have a greater need than most, I think you will also find great value in Zoom for your organization or ministry.

So what is Zoom? It's many things, but i would compare it most to Skype and Google Hangouts combined except much better. I do a lot of conference calls every day and I prefer for those to be face to face. Beyond just the video conference call, it is very easy to utilize the text chat feature, record the calls and share your screen. You can actually have 20+ people on the call and some can join you by actually calling a phone number or just clicking a link and seeing each other face to face.

So here's what I love the most about Zoom:

  1. Simplicity- it is easy for me to setup a call, invite others, and most importantly for them to join the call
  2. Price- it's FREE to get started, but honestly worth paying $10/month for unlimited calls and recording the calls
  3. Improvements- I have only been using Zoom for 2 months and have already seen improvements in the technology and excited for their webinar feature that is about to release that will allow for 20 presenters and 1,000 viewers.

I could honestly go on about Zoom with their great mobile app, coming conference room integrations, etc.  I will stop here and simply encourage you to give it a try.  Go check it out at http://zoom.us.

Before I end this email I want to encourage you to think about the online small group opportunities around Zoom.  Think online small groups/Bible studies.  You can easily have an online small group of 3 or have an online Bible study where hundreds login to more of a presentation based Bible study that can also be interactive.  The opportunities are limitless, the cost is minimal and the technology is now SIMPLE!

Using Google Drive

It's no secret that I'm a fan of all things Google (except Android devices).  They are incredible and FREE!  Second to GMail Google Drive might be my favorite.  I'm beginning to use Microsoft Word and Excel less and less as I'm embracing Google Drive more and more. It's honestly so easy!  If you haven't yet set up a Google Drive account I encourage you to do that now and begin to test it out.    It's great for personal use and even better for team collaboration.  You can easily store and edit all of your files in one place on any device!  Take a minute to watch this 1 minute video then jump in and get started... I think you will thank me very soon!

 

Dealing with Technical Difficulties

2 weeks ago I experienced more technical difficulties than I have ever had in years.  On the Saturday before the virtual book tour began CommunityBible.com overloaded servers and shut down for about an hour.  There was nothing I could do as I just waited on the hosting company to fix the issue.  Then on my first day of the Virtual Book Tour I could not even login to interact and chat with participants.  I was frustrated to say the least. The reality is that technical difficulties happen to everyone.  While I don't expect to have these same issues again, I will have others that I can't anticipate in advance and I must be ready when they do occur.  Here are some tips to both avoid technical difficulties and effectively respond when they do happen:

  • Double check everything - I have been to many churches who don't even do a sound check before their weekend services.  When it comes to technology double checking systems is ALWAYS a good idea!
  • Create a backup plan - you never want to use it, but think through what could go wrong and always have a backup plan in place.  What would you do if your sound system goes out 10 minutes before the service or a camera malfunctions?  It might not be a perfect solution, but having a backup plan can help you sleep much better at night.
  • Restart often - I'm not an IT guy, but I've found that restarting my computer resolves 95% of computer issues that I have.  This goes for most technology.  Leaving it on and running all of the time is a recipe for disaster.  Restart systems regularly.  
  • Stay calm - when things do go wrong, stay calm.  Honestly, on the Monday of the Book Tour I was tempted to cancel the event and quit.  I had taken vacation time from work and had hundreds trying to login unsuccessfully.  I did not stay calm and any decision I was ready to make in my stress was a bad one.  Luckily I had great people helping me who kept me calm and helped make a smooth transition into day 2.
  • Know who to contact - make a list of anything that can go wrong and who you would contact if it does.  Don't wait until the technical issue happens to figure this out.
  • Be patient - technology solutions are not always fast and immediate like we would hope.  Sometimes you have to wait and this can be the hardest part.  When you have done all that you can, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and be patient.  A lack of patience often leads to even greater issues.     
These are my recommendations from my recent experience, I would love to hear yours.