YouSendIt.com

23 07 2008

If you are like me, finding an easy way to get files larger than 5MB to someone by email is difficult. if you don’t have an ftp site set up, you may find yourself trying to get by email file limits. Even if you do have an ftp site, your recipient may not know how to log in.

A year or so ago I stumbled onto a site called YouSendIt.com. I found it again, and have been using it often around church. Basically, for free, you can upload a file up to 100MB and email a simple click and download link to up to 100 people. The file will remain up for 7 days. And you have a maximum of 1GB of bandwidth each month.

If you need more they offer 3 higher levels of service for a fee.

But for my purposes, sending over a picture or video that needs to be reviewed is super simple, and even the most technically challenged people can download the file. Recently, a large team went overseas for a mission trip, and realized that they had forgotten several videos. We converted them to h.264 QT files, and used YouSendIt.com to deliver them around the world.

Check it out at www.yousendit.com





To iPhone or not iPhone…

22 07 2008

So the question started about a month or so ago, and I have to be honest it hasn’t been all apps and games. I’m a hacker from the old windows mobile 5 days. Had a t-mobile mda with every mod hack I could get my hands on. I was like the rest of the world, if it didn’t have push technology and/or exchange server sync I didn’t need it.

Then it happened, iPhone 3g. No, I’m not going to tell you about all the amazing features; this post is about all the amazing dreams I have for the iPhone and how it can impact ministry today.

Imagine life group enrollment, volunteer sign-up, VBS registration, and so many other possibilities in the palm of your hand. Did I mention that the rest of the world can use these features to?

With the launch of the 3g came this new SDK available to anyone. The software development kit for the iPhone means it’s a whole new ball game; yeah, I can copy and paste some code, but I don’t have to anymore. Apple has given the every day guy or gal like you and me the possibility to create web interfaces and applications so easily that anyone can do it…and they are! Just take a look at the ever growing list of apps and web apps on the apple website. Did I mention that research shows the number 1 fastest type of web app is church sites? Or maybe you should just click the link at the top of this page to our downloads page; my first app is sitting there, it’s an rss feed widget, so the user can get pushed info to your dashboard anytime you want. Hmmm, what a novel idea! As Christians we should not be new to this thought; the Word of God is the same way to us. Make it available, make it readable, and finally make it replicable.

So guys, this is my vow, now that the novelty is almost gone and the need sets in, I will use all that He has given me, iPhone included, to make a difference for His pleasure always.

Sean
Sent from my iPhone

photo





Firing People as an Act of Stewardship

21 07 2008

No one likes to fire someone. It’s a hard thing to do. Coming to the place where you decide that a player isn’t working for the team is difficult, and actually letting that person go is not any easier. It is, however, a very important thing to do. If you have a person on staff that isn’t working out, letting them go is actually an act of stewardship.

Every ministry has limited resources. A staff member that isn’t working out not only is taking home a salary that should be going to another person that can do the job, but they are likely creating extra work for other staff, causing friction, and generally hampering efficiency. Firing them is a good thing for the health of the ministry.

But aren’t we a ministry? Shouldn’t we minister to this staff person?

Yes, but if the ministry isn’t effective, you can’t minister to as many people. You can’t do what God has called you to do as well. It is simply poor stewardship to keep a staff member that is hindering ministry. I am not talking about someone that needs a little training, or that could be coached up. I’m talking about someone that you know won’t work out.

Cutting them loose is good for them, allowing them to go on to a place where God can use their talents and abilities. It is also good stewardship for your ministry. For your team to be most effective, you need people that are working together, effectively. Keeping an ill-fitted staff member around will cause all kinds of trouble, and ultimately hinder ministry.

While you may want to help the staff member, you must fire them if they cannot do the job. You can continue to help them after they don’t work for you, but you need to clear their position so you can begin to find someone that can do the job. It’s hard, but it’s true. Anything less is poor stewardship of the resources God has given you.





People vs. Tasks

30 06 2008

Are you a people person? Or do you bury yourself in tasks?

If you are like me, you have a list of things to get done each week. Sundays come around with startling regularity, and making sure everything is set for the weekend is a major task. It’s important. It must be done.

I find myself annoyed when I’m interrupted. Don’t these people know I am busy? I have to get ready for the services. I am doing all this work so they will have a good worship experience. Why won’t they let me get my work done?

I have to stop myself. I have to remind myself that ministry isn’t about doing stuff, it’s about impacting people, helping them grow in their relationship with Christ. I have to remember that ministry doesn’t stop when the service ends. While tasks are important, people are not interruptions… they are the reason I have a job. They are the people God has called me to minister to. My ministry job should never get in the way of actual ministry.





Bare Wire Ministry

13 06 2008

How insulated are you?

A relationship with Christ is like an electric current, but if we keep it insulated, no one else can feel it. It’s time to strip the insulation away. Get out of our protective covering and take a chance.

As Christians, we can easily become insulated from the world we are trying to reach, especially if we work at a church. Before we know it we have surrounded ourselves with only Christian stuff and people. There’s nothing wrong with Christian people and stuff, unless they get in the way of reaching the people who don’t know Christ.

When was the last time you got out of the office, got past the barriers between yourself and the world, and met someone that wouldn’t come to your office? When is the last time you made a friend that didn’t go to your church?

How? How do you break free from the sheath that covers?

The answer is not another church program. The answer is a church with a mind to reach the world. Don’t be “of” the world, but be in it! Get out of the nightly event schedule, and go interact with people.

One way is to seek out people who share the same interests as you do. What are your hobbies? Don’t have any? Get some! Join a book club. Build models. Bake. Play video games. Get a bike. Join a gym. Put yourself into clubs and organizations that are not Christian based, and meet people.

Find a way to electrify the world. Try bare wire ministry.





What Makes a Church Successful?

28 05 2008

A comment on a previous post got me to thinking… How do you define a successful church?

Is it numbers? Are large churches automatically successful? Simply because they draw big crowds? Is it growth? Are churches that show increases in membership successful?

How do you measure a church’s success?

While I can’t cover every aspect of what a healthy church looks like, I will offer a couple of benchmarks. For me, a healthy church is a Great Commission Church. I think the greatest evidence of a Great Commission Church is the presence of changed lives. If people’s lives aren’t being transformed within interaction with the local body of Christ, we aren’t doing what we have been commanded to do. Absent evidence of changed lives, our local body cannot be considered successful.

So how do you measure this? By asking questions that relate to numbers. I know, we hate numbers. Numbers reduce people and their lives to impersonal stats. Every number represents a story of a life that has intersected the ministry of our church. How can a simple number express how a drug addict has overcome obstacles?

And numbers can be misleading. “The American Church in Crisis” by David T. Olson describes the limits of Gallup polls in knowing how many people attend. Olson claims that the American church has not kept pace with the population growth, and our methods of gathering data about numbers are flawed. If a local body has shown a 15% increase in attendance, we might think that would indicate great growth until we learned that the community has grown by 30%. Not to mention the fact that attendance alone does not necessarily constitute a transformed life. In addition, there are plenty of churches preaching a feel-good message that draw huge crowds of untransformed people.

However, if we don’t use numbers there is no way to objectively assess the condition of a local body. So we must look at a wide array of areas to see if we are truly going, baptizing, making disciples and teaching them. We have to take into account changes in the community and culture and how they affect the numbers We have to look objectively at the effectiveness of ministries.

So, what are some questions that can help us?

How many have been baptized? How many attend? How many are active in the life of the church? How many attend small group Bible studies? How many have started to give? How many have started to serve? How many are truly being discipled? And the list goes on…

A word of warning, just because a number comes back negative doesn’t mean our church is ineffective. Every organization will experience ebbs and flows. But, if our attendance drops 50% in one year, we might want to look at why.

The goal of ministry isn’t to draw huge crowds, it’s to make disciples. Numbers alone do not mean anything about a ministry’s success. But numbers, in proper perspective, can bear witness to lives being changed through ministry.





Because we can or because we should?

22 05 2008

I think this question should be in every minister’s vocabulary. I will speak to it regarding use of media, but every area of ministry should ask it of every new idea.

How many times does a new idea come up, and get implemented simply because we have the resources to do it? The conversation normally starts like this, “Hey, I just visited this other church and they did something so cool…” Then, because it’s new and cool, we move forward and do it, without first ever examining whether it is a good idea or our own congregation, for our own culture, for our own community.

So, what’s the big deal, If we have the resources to do it anyway? When we devote resources, time, money, or energy to work that is unnecessary and ineffective we rob those resources from work that is better suited for our mission and ministry.

I know churches that have thrown money and time away in order to do a TV ministry simply because they thought big churches should do it. No one had a vision for extending the ministry of the church through TV, they just wanted to make it happen. How many infrequently updated podcasts are out there, with poor production and content, simply because hip churches do web streaming? With no passion for the work and no calling from God to pursue it, is it any wonder the work fails?

Doing things because we can is a bad thing. Are we doing what we should be doing in our ministry to fulfill our mission? Stop wasting time on the rest.