Peoples is Peoples

Muppets Take Manhattan
Is music! Is dancing! Is potatoes! (click for video)

The Muppets were a large part of my childhood, but I never noticed this scene until I watched Muppets Take Manhattan as an adult. As confusing as Pete’s pep-talk is, people are even more confusing.

Understanding people is a big part of being in church communications. This past Sunday I was reminded how much people can amaze you despite how much you think you know them.

As our pastor began his sermon I stepped away from the soundboard (leaving my wife in charge) to check on things around the church. I like to do this to make sure everything in my ministry is working properly and that none of my volunteers need any help. Before I took two steps into the hall outside the sanctuary I was stunned by what I saw. Someone (a child) had drawn signs with construction paper, crayons and colored pencils and taped them to the walls. The signs simply said “Braids for missions. $1 or more. This way. <—-“.

I was shocked!

Who put these here?

Why didn’t I, as the director of communications, know about this?

Does any of the staff know about this?

It’s a good thing our OCD Executive Pastor is on vacation because he would absolutely lose it if he saw scotch tape on the newly painted walls!

But most importantly, WHO IS THIS? I’m glad they’re specifying that the money goes to missions, but even that is extremely vague!

As I did some investigating I discovered it was two girls from our GAs who were making bracelets to sell after the service. After finding the adults in charge and asking them to relocate the signs that were taped directly on the walls, my mind started wandering (some more).

How do they expect to sell any?

They didn’t say who they were.

They didn’t say what they were selling. (I assumed bracelets, but they didn’t really say)

People won’t know about it until they’re out of the service and ready to leave.

The signs are difficult to read and taped in very random places throughout the halls.

This is going to be a disaster.

Later that night, in the evening service, our pastor announced that the girls made $70 from their bracelets.

SEVENTY. DOLLARS.

SEVEN. ZERO.

I spent a month advertising for a Youth Fundraiser Lunch. It was advertised everywhere and even offered online registration. In the end, it was one of the lowest attended youth fundraisers we’ve ever had.

Am I going to change how I advertise? Not necessarily. But I’m not going to be so quick to assume that someone else’s “bad” decisions or “bad” marketing will lead to failure. I won’t assume that just because they didn’t do it “by the book” it’s a waste of time.

Alternate title for this post: I will never understand people. They’re the worst.

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Peoples is Peoples

Why Do We (churches) Create?

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The simple answer to this question is, “Because God created.”

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what I meant by this question.

Why do we do anything in the church? What is the main purpose for everything that we do?

It all goes back to the vision of the church, and for the vast majority of churches that is derived from two simple things.

  1. Reach the lost.
  2. Disciple the saved.

When new ideas, techniques or resources are added to a church many question the reasoning. Usually this is because those who don’t understand aren’t in the demographic this new thing is intended for. For them, the church was fine without it and doesn’t need it.

But let’s be honest, we don’t need anything for the church body to worship, reach the lost or make disciples. No chairs, no lights, no air conditioning, not even a building. The Holy Spirit can work without these “fancy” things. The Bible even says the rocks will cry out, so why do we bother doing anything?

SIDE NOTE: If I ever have someone say to me, “They didn’t have that in the Bible so we don’t need it in the church now!” I have a great come back.

“By your rules we have to get rid of the toilets too.”

Here’s the point.

We create because there are people who will appreciate the creativity. We create because lack of creativity could be a stumbling block to someone. Just like bad worship or no air conditioning could keep someone from encountering God.

Why Do We (churches) Create?

How I Work: Evernote Part 2

Around the time I wrote my first post about Evernote, those wonderful developers released a huge update that I had no clue about! This update included one specific feature that has changed the way I work.

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REMINDERS!

The reminders feature is really three tools in one beautiful package.

  1. It allows you to assign a due date to notes.
  2. It allows you to keep important notes at the top of your notebook.
  3. It can act as a task manager. (as opposed to a task list inside of a note, which I have never used)

I now use reminders to keep track of everything I need to do, and I organize them based on their category or event.

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This combined with Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome has made Evernote exponentially more useful to me. When someone emails me a request to do something, I simply create a note from the email inside of Gmail. I can even put it in the proper notebook and set it as a reminder!

The one thing it doesn’t do is allow you to create a recurring task. For this reason, I keep my recurring tasks in Any.do.

How I Work: Evernote Part 2

How I Work: The Leftovers

We are nearing the end of my posts about how I use what I use. In this post I’ll be covering the remaining apps very quickly. These are all apps that I love, but don’t merit an entire blog post.

Chrome

If you’re not using Chrome or Firefox you’re doing yourself an injustice. I personally prefer Chrome because of it’s powerful integration with my Google account. My favorite feature is being able to view tabs open in my Chrome browser on other devices. A lot of times I’ll leave something like a UPS shipment tracking page open on my computer at work and I can easily access that page from anywhere I am signed into Chrome.

Trello

If I worked on projects with a team on a regular basis I would use Trello. My initial idea was to use it to track needs for events at church didn’t pan out. It just made more sense to use Evernote for that. Trello is a lot like what Google Wave was. A very visual experience and built well for collaborating with others.

Ideas (iPhone only)

Ideas is really useful for content creators. You type whatever idea you have and it will organize it based on keywords in the idea itself. It’s actually not as complex or sophisticated as it sounds, but it’s very useful. I use it to keep track of blog post ideas. I can easily view all blog posts that have the keyword “productivity” in them, and then look through them to figure out what I want to write about.

30/30 (iOS only)

I wish I worked in an environment that allowed me to follow a specific routine so I could use 30/30 more often. Unfortunately I always have things come up last minute. 30/30 can be used to schedule your day, your work out routine or to keep track of how long you spend on different tasks.

Songza

Some people don’t like Pandora because you can’t choose exactly what you listen to. If you are one of those people, Songza is NOT for you. With Songza you choose what to listen to based on what you are currently doing. Working, studying, partying or sleeping, they have a personally crafted playlist for you! I’m currently listening to this playlist at a low volume while Soundroom is creating an atmosphere for my writing.

Penultimate

Penultimate is a companion for Evernote. If you like using a stylus to handwrite notes on your tablet, Penultimate is a great app to have handy.

Ok, we are almost to the end of this series, I have one more post to make. This post will be an extension correction of a previous post.

How I Work: The Leftovers

How I Work: Twitter

“Learning Twitter.”

That was my first tweet ever. I had no clue what I was doing and I certainly didn’t learn anything.

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I even found my first twitpic.

All of that being said, I’ve come a long way in the last 5 years. So how do I tweet now? It’s simple really.

My Twitter experience boils down to 2 tools. First up. Hootsuite.

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Hootsuite is no secret. I’ve been using it off and on for years and it’s the Twitter client chosen by many, specifically for people who maintain multiple Twitter accounts.

I have Hootsuite linked to my personal Twitter, my church Twitter and Facebook and our youth group Twitter and Facebook. What’s interesting is that I use it completely differently for my personal and business accounts.

For my personal account, Hootsuite is my Twitter reader. Very rarely do I actually tweet from Hootsuite. I have those I’m following split up into 5 lists: Don’t Miss, Pastor, Funny, Worship Leader, Friends. I check my Don’t Miss list every day, and it’s a must have list for anyone interested in using Twitter efficiently. Just be sure to be stingy with who makes the cut.

For my church/business accounts, Hootsuite is my social media scheduler. Every Monday I schedule all of my social media posts for the rest of the week. Being able to plan posts ahead of time is priceless. Before I started doing this my posts were scattered and random at best.

The second tool I use is something fairly new to my arsenal. Buffer.

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Buffer’s only purpose is to schedule your tweets automatically for you.

“But Kyle! Hootsuite does that too!”

You are correct. Hootsuite does have an auto-schedule feature. However, there is one small thing that Buffer does that Hootsuite doesn’t.

With Buffer you create a custom, repeating schedule for your tweets. You don’t have to worry about specifying when to post something, you just send it to Buffer and it puts it in the next available slot. (You can later adjust the order of posts in the browser, or in the app)

And guess what? Feedly and Pocket can both connect to Buffer!

Hootsuite doesn’t have native support for Buffer, but Buffer allows you to email a tweet from Hootsuite (or anywhere) to a special Buffer email address and it will schedule your retweets that way. This takes a very little bit of extra time, but it’s worth it.

You can also add new tweets to your queue directly in the Buffer app.

So, to sum up the last 3 posts.

  • Feedly and Pocket are great for reading articles.
  • It’s easy to share articles from Feedly and Pocket, you can even share them via Buffer.
  • Buffer helps spread out your twitter posts by posting them on a schedule that you set.
  • Hootsuite is unrivaled when it comes to managing multiple accounts and reading your feeds.

 

How I Work: Twitter

How I Work: Reading Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, Feedly is great, but sometimes I just want to skim through articles and I don’t have the time (or the desire) to actually read them.

[Time for a random story]

Growing up our microwave was on the counter a few feet away from the sink. It sat at an angle, and behind it was an organizer of sorts. Now that I think about it, it was actually a napkin holder, like this. Ours didn’t hold napkins, it held papers. Very important papers. Anything from school permission slips to medical bills could be found “behind the microwave”.

For years this was a running gag in my family that if you’re looking for something it’s most likely “behind the microwave”.

Then one day we got a rolling stand, like this, and put the microwave on it. Now the microwave was sitting with it’s back up against a wall. “Behind the microwave” ceased to exist.

Or did it?

The napkin holder filled with papers was still there on the counter. For years when we were looking for something we would still refer to it as “behind the microwave”.

My mom now lives in a completely different house, and she still has an area we refer to as “behind the microwave”.

[End random story]

Enter Pocket!

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Pocket, just like Feedly, is pretty much available for any platform.

Pocket is my digital “behind the microwave”. It’s not a junk-drawer, because the things that go in it are important and will eventually be used. Pocket is where I send articles that I want to read later, and guess what? Feedly can send directly to Pocket!

Pocket does a wonderful job at taking an article from a website and cleaning the clutter. I’d say it does an even better job than Feedly, but not by much.

Oh, and did I mention it makes the articles available offline? Yeah. Awesomesauce.

It also takes advantage of iOS7’s background app refresh, so it downloads them automagically. Yeah. Awesomesaucer.

Next up I think I’ll talk about how I Twitter. Twitter is also considered a verb now, right?

I guess I should be more worried about using the word awesomesaucer.

How I Work: Reading Part 2

How I Work: Reading

I have an extreme dislike for reading. I can count on one hand the books I have actually read.

  1. Matilda
  2. Night
  3. The Scarlet Letter
  4. Hunger Games
  5. Some book about orcs.

Seriously, I hate reading. I have such an addiction to multitasking and I can’t do multiple things while reading a book, therefore I don’t read.

Then I started using Google Reader about 6 years ago and I discovered that I liked reading if it taught me something new. I became obsessed with subscribing to blogs and keeping up with the news, technology trends and ways to improve my life.

Then I bought an iPad and that passion was rekindled. Sadly, shortly after getting my first iPad Google Reader was shut down.

Enter Feedly.

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Feedly quickly became the go-to replacement for Google Reader for pretty much everyone. As soon as the creators of Feedly announced that you could import all of your Google Reader feeds onto their servers before Google Reader bit the dust, everyone flocked to their app.

Come to find out, Feedly (in my opinion) is far better than Google Reader ever was. The design and interface is much nicer, and the sharing options are more robust. The main selling point to me however was that they made a reading service that doesn’t make me feel like I have to read every single article in my feed.

Seriously, the design is beautifully minimal.

Thanks to their default “Today” view, you can just read the most important posts of the day. It’s not a big deal if you don’t have time to read every unread article, just read the most important posts.

I almost forgot to mention another key feature; Feedly is available on every platform you can think of. You have no excuse to not keep up with your favorite blogs anymore, thanks to Feedly.

Feedly is also able to share articles with a plethora of other services, and is compatible with IFTTT.

In my next post I’ll tell you about Feedly’s cousin, the second part to my reading app arsenal.

How I Work: Reading