Archive for the 'Digital Pastor' Category

What is the most effective way for a pastor to communicate with his church?

effective-communication The short answer to this question is: Whatever way you’re able to get through.

One of the new responsibilities of pastors, and anyone else in leadership, is not only to communicate with people but to figure out what means to use for that communication.

On February 4, 2004 a small social media company named “The Facebook” began and with that beginning came a revolution in pastoral communication. Today that “small” company is worth over 60 Billion Dollars. The reason for it’s unprecedented growth is that people are using it!

People have more means of communicating today than at any time in history. This can present a particular problem for pastors who are trying to communicate with these people to find out how they can pray for them, to set up a lunch appointment or just to chat. The problem is that if we only use one means of communication (i.e. the telephone) there are a lot of people who we will never be able to communicate with. That’s why it is the pastors / leaders responsibility to figure out what means of communication each individual person prefers and then to utilize that means in order to get their message across.

Of course it would be impossible for a pastor to master every available means of communication in the modern world, but here are the top 5 ways that I communicate with people in my congregation…other than face to face: 1) E-Mail, 2) Text Message, 3) Phone…like actually talking into a telephone :-), 4) Facebook, 5) Hand written notes. This last one may be a surprise to you, but I have found that there are few means of communication that express heartfelt care and affection for the recipient like hand written notes.

August 04 2014 | Blog and Digital Pastor and Pastorals | Comments Off on What is the most effective way for a pastor to communicate with his church?

The Best Thing About Windows 8

windows-8-logoI’ve been using Windows 8 for the past six months and in that time I’ve found that there are a lot of great things to love about this operation system. I love the look of Windows 8, it seems like Microsoft has finally figured out that design does matter. I love the speed of Windows 8, the boot time is amazingly fast. I love the fact that Windows 8 is not Mac OSX Smile, sorry I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that I will never understand how macs work.

With all the great things about Windows 8, I think that the best thing is how “light” the operating system is. In other words, it can be run on a low powered PC and still perform amazingly well.

Case in point, I have a laptop that’s over 3 1/2 years old that I was just about ready to throw out the window because it was so slow with Windows 7 installed on it. Just as I was about to throw up my hands for the last time waiting for it to boot up I remembered that I had a spare copy of Windows 8 in my office, so I decided to update the OS and see what would happen. What happened was simply amazing as everything began to work at lightning speed! I had been thinking about getting another laptop to replace this one, but with the upgrade to Windows 8 I simply bought a new battery and now I have a machine to take with me on the go.

I know this is somewhat anecdotal as it’s just my experience with Microsoft’s newest operating system and I know that Windows 8 does have a steep learning curve and some quirky things to it (especially if you’re using it on a PC and not a tablet). But as far as I’m concerned buying a PC with Windows 8 is a no brainer and if you’re current hardware is getting a little long in the tooth you may want to consider upgrading to Windows 8 to breathe some new life into it.

September 09 2013 | Blog and Digital Pastor | Comments Off on The Best Thing About Windows 8

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones

Bose_QuietComfort_15_headphonesJust before I moved to Cool the church decided to move the pastor’s office downstairs next to the main office. The idea was that it would make the pastor more accessible and give him a better feel for what was happening in the day to day operations of the church.

Now for a lot of guys, this would drive them nuts but I’ve found it to be a significant blessing. I try to maintain an open door policy (as much as possible), so if someone needs to stop by and talk I want to be available to them. The only drawback that I’ve noticed is that a lot of the things that I do require a certain level of silence. It’s hard to dig into a technical commentary when the phone is ringing, the copy machine is running and lots of people are chatting just one paper-thin wall away from you.

That’s why I am so thankful for my Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones. Whenever I need silence to read, to pray or just to think I pull out these amazing headphones turn them on and the whole world just seems to disappear. On the rare occasions when I can still hear the noise in the office, I simply turn on some background audio with the Naturespace app on my phone and all of a sudden I’m sitting at the beach with a copy of the New International Greek Testament Commentary in front of me Smile.

If you’re ever in need of silence and find it hard to come by, these noise-canceling headphones are definitely worth a look.

November 30 2012 | Digital Pastor | Comments Off on Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones

Why Every Church and Every Christian with Internet Access Needs to Install Open DNS

open-dns-logoAlright, the title to this post may be a bit of an overstatement but I’m sure that you can agree that all Christians and especially all churches should give serious thought to how they are filtering their internet connections. The internet can be a helpful place for checking the weather, catching up on the news, or social networking but it is also a very dangerous place filled with pornography, violence and smut. That’s where Open DNS comes in as a tool for cleaning up your internet connection and helping to protect your family / congregation (if you have a WiFi network at church…or any employees) from some of the worst parts of the internet.

I’ve resisted internet filtering software for a long time, because frankly most of it STINKS! It requires you to install cumbersome programs on your PC that slow things down and require constant attention with updates, passwords, etc. For the most part internet filtering software has been an awful pain for a long time. The beauty of Open DNS is that you don’t have to install any software at all, except for a very small piece that runs completely in the background and doesn’t slow things down at all. For churches and families, this is a godsend because it allows us to offer internet connectivity without having to constantly monitor things. Open DNS just filters everything out for you, without you even having to think about it.

The best way to learn about Open DNS is by going to their website, but here’s the basic idea: Every time you go somewhere on the internet, you use a service called DNS to get there. When you signup for Open DNS (which is only $20/year!!!!), you tell your router to use Open DNS to get to the internet which allows them to filter your content in whatever way you want them to. The great thing is that because all of this happens on your router, every single device that connects to your network is automatically filtered. You only have to set this up once and your completely done with it!!!

I will admit that setting up Open DNS can be a little bit scary, because it requires you to log into your router and change the DNS settings on it. But the great thing is that Open DNS provides step by step directions for exactly how to do that. They also have a very good forums section, FAQ’s and if all else fails buy me dinner and I’ll swing by to see if I can get it going for you Smile.

I don’t know of any better technological investment for a church or a family than the $20/year that Open DNS costs. Like everything, it isn’t perfect but it goes a long way to protecting your kids and your family. Be sure to at least check it out at www.opendns.com.

July 16 2012 | Digital Pastor | 5 Comments »

How Can I be More Present?

driver-distracted-by-drinking-iphoneThe other day I was out with my kids when I noticed something about myself. For some reason I kept feeling an irresistible urge to reach into my pocket, to pull out a small piece of glass and plastic in order to see if it had anything to say to me. There I was surrounded by my loved ones, enjoying an ice cream cone and yet a nagging question occupied my mind, “What is waiting for me inside of this phone?” It’s not even that there was anything pressing on my mind. I wasn’t waiting for a response from anyone. I wasn’t looking for any information in particular. I just wanted to know if there was anything waiting for me.

Life is full of questions. Some questions are important, like “Who will I marry?” Some questions are trivial, like “Who will win American idol?” But all questions have one thing in common, they are not neutral. Questions lead our hearts to different conclusions, which is why a large part of wisdom is learning to ask the right questions of yourself.

I’ve been deeply convicted that instead of asking the question, “What’s waiting for me?” in my digital devices, a far better question for me to ask is “How can I be more present where I’m at right now?” Rather than looking for ways to be distracted by the chirps, buzzes, and sirens of modern technology I should be seeking to ways to be more aware, more thoughtful and more engaged right here and right now.

June 11 2012 | Devotional and Digital Pastor | 2 Comments »

Ode to my iPad

iPad-Decal-love_picnikIt’s been about a year since I got my iPad and I have to say that I LOVE IT!!! When I first heard of the iPad it sounded like a really cool toy, something that I would use here or there but not necessarily a power tool for me. After a year with my “toy”, I confess that I was wrong. It’s actually turned into one of the primary tools that I use for biblical studies, general reading, e-mail management, news and entertainment. Here are just a few of the ways that I use my iPad in life and ministry:

  • Current Events – Since I got my iPad I’ve actually started keeping up with the news through a couple of great apps. I use Editions to collect a daily magazine that I browse through. What’s cool about Editions is that it customizes the magazine for my personal tastes, so it only brings me stories that it thinks I will be interested in. I use The Early Edition to collect Newspaper stories from various newspapers that I like to follow. I use the Fox News app as well as the Bing app to stay up to the minute on what’s going on in the world.  I also just started using the Time app, which is a companion to Time Magazine, that gives you even more in depth coverage of the stories that the magazine covers.
  • Reading Books – I never thought that I would be a big e-book fan, but I have completely fallen in love with them. I definitely have not given up on the traditional book and in a lot ways I do think that "real books" are better than e-books, but for light reading e-books are outstanding! I usually have between 4 and 5 e-books that I’m reading at a time (mainly in kindle format). I also use the iPad to read most all of my magazines.
  • Bible Study – I still do most of my Bible Study with "real books" on my desk, in my study but I also find myself doing quite a bit of study using the Logos app that gives me access to thousands of my titles wherever I’m at. I’ve been a logos user for many years but ever since I got my iPad, I’ve become much more of a power user. Nothing beats the convenience of going home after work, playing with the kids, getting everyone to bed and then pulling out my iPad and making my way through a technical commentary. What’s even better is that all of the highlighting and note taking that I do on my iPad syncs wirelessly to my desktop, so all of my notes are there right when I need them.
  • Presentations – I’ve been a PowerPoint user for years, but when Keynote came out for the iPad I had to give it a try and I have to confess that I love it!!! I’m working on a way to use the iPad’s Keynote for a Sunday morning service, but one thing that I already use it for is counseling. I’ve put together a couple of presentations that I use frequently in counseling situations (like Peacemaking and laws of communication), which have turned out beautifully. I will usually face the iPad towards the couple I’m counseling with and use my phone to control the slides as we work our way through the material.
  • Task ManagementI use Awesome Note to do all of my task management, integrating with Evernote on my iPad. This way I have my task list with me, wherever I go.

When the iPad first came out, the question everyone asked was what was it’s purpose. It seemed like a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Having used it for a year, it’s definitely found a good purpose in my digital life and I’m sure over time I’ll find even more uses for it.

June 04 2012 | Digital Pastor | 1 Comment »

Which iPad Should I Get?

question-markIn addition to being the pastor of a wonderful church, I’ve also turned into the resident tech guru. So, whether it’s buying a new laptop or trying to figure out how to get onto the church’s wifi, I’m kind of the default person to ask. One of the most common questions that I get in the tech-arena is which iPad is the best one to get. So, in an effort to cut down on my work load I’ve decided to simply write a blog post that I can direct people to when they’re thinking about taking the leap.

I should begin by saying that the question is a very difficult one because the answer is different for everyone but here are a few principles that might help guide you to the right decision.

  1. Always get the latest version. It’s temping to save some money by getting last year’s version but I promise that you will regret it. As software progresses the older versions end up slowing down and you end up getting frustrated. It’s always best to get the latest version so that you can get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of it before you have to upgrade. On a side note, remember that technology today is very disposable. You will end up having to replace your home PC every 3 – 5 years, your phone every 2 years and your tablet every 2 – 3 years (although the jury is still out on that one). We can bemoan this situation and the loss of quality products that would last a lifetime, but this is just the way that the industry works. Also, don’t forget that every time you upgrade you get something that is so much massively better than what you had (because of the pace that technology is advancing today), it really does make the investment worth it.
  2. If you have an iPhone or other smart phone, I would get the wifi only model of the iPad. Maybe it’s just me, but I just can’t imagine myself paying for a data package on my phone and another one on my iPad. That just seems ridiculous! Although, if the cellular companies do end up going to a system where you can share your data package with different devices that might change the equation enough to make it worth getting the 3G option.
  3. On the other hand, if you don’t have a smartphone with a data package I would get the 3G enabled (or 4G now?) version, because it will make it such a useful tool when you’re out on vacation away from your home network and any other stable internet connection.
  4. I recommend getting the 16GB version, because it seems to be more than enough space for most people. What takes up most of the space on your device is movies and apps. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to have tons of movies and music on your device or if you like to have lots and lots of apps (most of which you probably don’t use) than you might want to get a bigger hard drive, but otherwise 16GB seems to be more than enough.
  5. As far as getting a case goes. I recommend getting one of the smart covers from Apple and then a plastic clam shell for the back of iPad to protect it against drops, accidents, etc. I would also recommend getting some sort of a sleeve for transportation.

I should finish this post up by mentioning how much I love my iPad. I use it constantly throughout the day for reading, counseling presentations, e-mail and a host of other things. If you’re looking to get a full powered tablet, I think the iPad is the only choice. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a simple device that will let you read books, play some games, and do some light web browsing than I would definitely take a look at the Kindle Fire for just $200. It’s not the same experience as an iPad, but for a light user it’s perfect and more than $300 less.

 

May 28 2012 | Digital Pastor | 1 Comment »

Digital Pastor: The “Sumo”

One of the headaches of technology is how to organize all of the wires, plugs, USB Cables, etc. that our devices need w/o making it look like a cluttered mess and without losing them behind the desk, nightstand, etc.

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The best answer for this admittedly first world problem is the “Sumo.” I got my sumo for Christmas and I love it so much, that I’ve ordered two more (one for my wife’s nightstand and one for my desk).

It’s basically a large paper weight for your cables that keeps them organized and prevents them from falling behind your desk or nightstand.

The sumo costs $12 from amazon and you can get more information about it from blueLounge’s website (including a video demonstration).

January 05 2012 | Digital Pastor | Comments Off on Digital Pastor: The “Sumo”