519 – Back to the Future

The WELSTech discussion this week focuses on video, the next media frontier. Your social media feeds are dominated by them, and YouTube “channels” have become yesterday’s websites. How will your ministry respond to the video generation? Join Martin and Sallie as they discuss video, channels and how reaching out today seems to mean getting smarter at video creation, curation and presentation.

The discussion:

Video channels – Martin and Sallie consider time travel and decide there’s no time like the present to get serious about beefing up your video channels!

News in tech:

WELS now:

Interactive Faith online Bible Study – Luther’s Lasting Impact – Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Prof. Joel Otto will lead the study on Wednesday’s now through November 8 at 6 pm and 8 pm (central).

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Reformation Fun

Community feedback:

Featured video:

Community feedback spills into our weekly featured video selection thanks to Michael Vlieger from Risen Savior, Mankato, MN. He shared the Explaining Computers YouTube channel and two great videos. First, check out a demo of DaVinci Resolve in DaVinci Resolve 14 Free Video Editor.

And then, get your maker hat on as you watch an overview of Raspberry Pi Google AIY Voice Kit. You can learn more about the kit from the Google AIY site and purchase it from MicroCenter and other retailers.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 520 – Filmmakers Steve and Beth Zambo join the conversation to discuss planning, production, and distribution of video. Release date: Wednesday, October 25.

Get involved:

Reformation Fun

Celebrate the Reformation with this free downloadable group puzzle experience, A Day in the Life of Tölpel, The Luthers’ Dog.

Players will travel around Wittenberg with Martin Luther’s dog, Tölpel, as their tour guide, learning about the city of the Lutheran Reformation. The 28-page download contains everything you need to host a fun puzzle event!

Martin Luther loved his dog, Tölpel, and he mentioned Tölpel throughout his writings. (Really, I didn’t make that part up!) This puzzle is an “historical fiction” narrative in which Tölpel will explore Wittenberg in search of challenges. He’ll discover a challenge at each new destination he visits. Each time he solves a challenge, he’ll earn a puzzle piece. Earn all six puzzle pieces, and Tölpel will be able to solve the puzzle and become a wiser and happier dog.

This game was developed by Kevin & Sallie Draper as part of the ReformationFun.com site. We want to share it freely so WELSTech-ers can enjoy it during this special season of Reformation 500!

Application/audience

The puzzle game can be enjoyed with any group including classroom, catechism class, Sunday school, youth group, family game night, etc.

Typical time to complete​: 30 to 45 minutes

Ages​: 8-108

  • Younger children can play as well, but each group should have at least one strong reader who can read the clues to the others in the group.

Optimal group size​: 4-8

  • Multiple groups can work through the puzzle at the same time. Simply print multiple sets of clues. It would also be a good idea to have the groups play in separate designated areas, for instance, the four corners of a classroom.

Puzzle resources

Download the game resources in PDF format using the links below. Start by reading the instructions. You will then need to print the puzzle resources and either the color or black & white version of the Lutheran Rose.

IMPORTANT​: These documents should only be read by the Puzzlemaster! The Puzzlemaster will prepare and oversee the puzzle for the players. Reading this document will spoil the puzzle for anyone who wants to participate in solving the puzzle

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518 – Video Tech

This week on WELSTech, as part of our month of video for ministry focus, we look at all the many tools available for editing video. For us geeks the tech behind video is as much fun as seeing the content spring to life. There are tools for beginners and pros, those who use PCs and Macs, those who prefer working on tablets or Chromebooks. Martin shares his favorite productivity tip of all time! And Sallie gets serious about security.

The discussion:

Editing & streaming video – Martin and Sallie focus on software and resources around editing video as well as live streaming. Plus, stock video sites are thrown in the mix for good measure!

News in tech:

Visit the Google Store to learn about Google’s latest product announcement, including something for the Trekkie in all of us!

WELS now:

New Interactive Faith online Bible Study – Luther’s Lasting Impact – Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Prof. Joel Otto will lead the study on Wednesday’s now through November 8 at 6 pm and 8 pm (central).

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

My Favorite Productivity Tip!

Community feedback:

How to Make a Video (Part 2) from TechSmith

Featured video:

The newest addition to the WELSTech Product Demos YouTube channel is the Google Pixel 2 event in 19 minutes.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 519 – Learn the ins and outs of creating video channels on next week’s WELSTech. Release date: Wednesday, October 18.

Get involved:

My Favorite Productivity Tip!

Rarely do productivity tips have such an impact on my life as one I picked up years ago from reading David Allen’s excellent book “Getting Things Done.” And rarely do tips I implement stick with me this long. But the tip I call “waiting for” is one I think so highly of, that today I elevate to a ministry resource. It is one of the handiest time stewardship tools I have, and I have found it invaluable in getting projects unstuck, helping co-workers/volunteers and me stay “on task”, and in general one of the only tips I’ve ever found that improves my mental health. It’s easy. Here is how it works…

Every time you ask somebody to do something (answer a question, complete a task, provide feedback, you name it), note in some kind of capture system (electronic or analog):

  1. what you asked/expect,
  2. of whom you asked it, and
  3. when you made the request.

So for instance, I ask one of my staff to email me their budget request for next year. I note the who, the what and the when of that encounter. Then at the end of each week, or more often as I have time, I review this “waiting for” list to clean up those “delegations” that have been completed, or take the opportunity to remind somebody of something I’m still waiting for.

My brain doesn’t have to try and remember the who, what and when. It just has to know I’ve captured it and will be able to review those things to circle back if necessary. One of my biggest sources of stress was always trying to remember not only when I made such a request, but even IF I had. I can’t tell you how many projects have become “unstuck” because I simply was able to return to a key moment that a request was made and others are in a holding pattern until something gets done. That “something” is now concrete, not just a fading memory that my brain churns and worries over unnecessarily.

The question I bet your asking, and perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tip, at least for me anyway is, where do you capture this stuff? Where is this magical “waiting for” list? Well that depends. For me, I’d say 90% of all the items on my list are captured within email. I like to use email because it is “in writing.” Perhaps more for my own sanity than anything else. I have to be clear, can use bulleted text, and can ultimately search it if necessary. What I’m “waiting for” isn’t always a return email, but that’s OK. I do have a record of the request at the very least, which, guess what…has the recipient, the time sent and the request itself in the body of the email. Perfect.

The mechanics of doing this in email is the point of my quick screencast below. But to whet your appetite, it’s super easy. By simply cc’ing yourself you can automate the tucking away of said email for future reference without you having to do anything more than hit send. See the video below for how to set this up in either Outlook or Gmail. It can easily be done in other email clients as well.

If it’s not an email, perhaps a verbal conversation (of all things!), a voicemail left, a post it note left on a desk, an instant message or text message, there are a myriad of options. If it’s digital at all, I use OneNote. I simply have a Notebook with a tab called “Waiting For”. I can take pictures with my phone, copy and paste text, even drag a voice mail. I can also jot down the relevant info with my finger on the phone app version. Sometimes I just leave a voice memo for myself right in OneNote. It is a super tool for this kind of stuff. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of OneNote, but any tool like this would serve you well (Apple Notes, Evernote, Google Keep, etc.). The key is to have as few “inboxes” as possible. For me I have my “waiting for” list in one email folder and one OneNote section. Anything beyond that would get a little complicated.

That is not to say that you couldn’t do this with pen and paper either. The trick is that it needs to be easy and always with you. For years, before I transitioned to the smartphone/OneNote approach, I used a wallet from David Allen called the TriFold Notetaker. Unfortunately it isn’t made anymore. However, for guys, any wallet with a small pad of paper and pen will do. Ladies, same thing. Just find a small notebook as your “capture” device. Then once you have those notes (remember who, what, when), you need a place to store those and then go through the contents each week to review all the week’s “waiting for” items. A file folder would work, but make sure it’s in plain site.

If you’d like to learn more about this “waiting for” list concept, just do a quick Google search on “getting things done waiting for list” and you’ll get hundreds of approaches as examples. You’ll find what works best for you. The important part of this “ministry resource” is to start capturing those “waiting for” items, keep stuff moving forward and comfort your brain that you’ve got things “under control!”

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517 – Taming YouTube Live Streaming

It’s a new month and a new focus for WELSTech. October is all about video month. Your ministry may be missing out if it doesn’t have a video strategy. All month we’ll consider content, tools, and video platforms. Sallie takes her first swing at setting up live streaming on YouTube. It’s easier than you think!

The discussion:

October is for video – Martin and Sallie break the ice on this month’s WELSTech discussion focus, video. Why should congregations and schools consider video for communication? What type of content is appropriate for video delivery?

News in tech:

WELS now:

New Interactive Faith online Bible Study – Luther’s Lasting Impact – starts October 4. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Prof. Joel Otto will lead the study on Wednesday’s October 4 to November 8 at 6 pm and 8 pm (central).

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Getting Started with YouTube Live

Community feedback:

Featured video:

Replay the recent Festival of Hymns by Dr. Martin Luther (service folder), part of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Symposium on Reformation 500.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 518 – Next week we continue the video discussion, looking at the technology of creating video. Release date: Wednesday, October 10.

Get involved:

Getting Started with YouTube Live

Disclaimer: This is one of those Ministry Resources posts where we are going to learn together!

I’ve seen the option and heard of some who are using the live streaming feature on YouTube, but I had never tried it myself. This brought me to the logical (??) decision to give it a test run as a WELSTech Ministry Resource. If you are interested in kicking the tires a bit, my plan was for this post to give enough information to get started. You’ll have to let me know if I succeeded!

A bit of background regarding my live streaming experience to date … For our weekly WELSTech recordings we use Google Hangouts, also integrated into the YouTube live streaming arsenal. They are managed on the YouTube Live Streaming Events page at https://www.youtube.com/my_live_events. I am familiar with it and little has changed since the days when it was part of Google Plus. And I know enough to understand the two-way conversational Hangout experience is very different than traditional one-way live streaming.

As for live streaming, I’ve used the FinalWeb live streaming tool in the past. From that I had learned that live streaming isn’t handled in the browser alone. There is “encoder” software which is installed on the local computer to capture the video and send it to the streaming provider in the appropriate format. YouTube supplies live stream users with a list of potential encoding software solutions. For my test run, I chose to install Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), and had a great experience with it. Check out the video below to see me set up and stream with OBS for the first time.

After doing that one-time installation and setup of encoder software, live streaming on YouTube is super simple. Just visit the live streaming page at https://www.youtube.com/live_dashboard, name your live stream and set security options, and start streaming in your encoder software. When you are done, you’ll stop your stream in the encoder software as well. Then YouTube will automatically add the recording of your stream to your YouTube videos listing at https://www.youtube.com/my_videos.

Boom! Just like that, you’re officially a live streamer!!

Application/audience

There are many possibilities for live streaming in church and school settings. Consider event streaming, including worship, Bible class, school sports and drama, meetings, etc. Live streaming is also a good way to share prepared lessons of any type – daily devotions, special speakers, etc.

Related resources

Of course, the world of live streaming offers many more options than those covered in this getting started overview. Check out these YouTube Help resources to learn about all the possibilities.

And finally, there’s my Getting Started with YouTube Live Streaming video where I demo the setup of my first live stream.

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516 – A Sad Day for Monkey Lovers

WELSTech wraps up our September focus on meetings with tips for great meetings at school. We also share resources to get you out of your seat, learn to teach robotics, make OneNote turn backflips, and color the Reformation. Oh yeah, there’s a monkey frown involved as well.

The interview and discussion:

Welcome Prof. Rachel – It’s EDU week on WELSTech and Martin and Sallie welcome back Martin Luther College’s new Director of Academic Computing and Online Learning, Prof. Rachel Feld. Rachel continues to serve as one of WELSTech’s semi-regular classroom technology correspondents, and this week we pick her brain regarding all things related to school meetings – from faculty meetings to PTO meetings with parent-teacher conferences in the middle.

News in tech:

WELS now:

Take a stand against sitting with ShopWELS

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

OneNote for Meeting Management

Community feedback:

Featured video:

From our friends at PTO Today, learn How To Do a PTO Duct Tape Fundraiser, new on the WELSTech Product Demo Playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 517 – We kick off our October focus on all things VIDEO! Release date: Wednesday, October 4.

Get involved:

OneNote for Meeting Management

Meeting management is a blend of art and science. You need mad “people skills” to bring polar opposites together sometimes. Soft touches. Tough love. And a whole host of other soft skills are an important part of making meetings go. Fortunately the “science” side of meetings is a picture that gets brighter and brighter as technology finds it’s groove in this space. For me an important technical resource for keeping things straight and everybody engaged in a meeting is a tool called OneNote. It’s been around a long time and has just recently been getting the credit it deserves. This Microsoft product comes as a free app on all Windows 10 installations now. I think that has helped. But it is available in a fuller version with Office 365 subscriptions (both pc and mac). It has an online web version, which is pretty good. Microsoft has even created iOS and Android mobile app versions.

Because you can not only create local copies of your OneNote Notebooks, but also store them in a free OneDrive cloud account, it’s utility is somewhat endless. In the screencast at the bottom of the page I walk through an example of using the free OneNote version along with OneDrive to build a nice meeting management solution for collecting and sharing meeting content like agendas, action items and meeting assets.

Application/audience

For those who attend or management meetings for ministry purposes, a digital meeting management tool is a welcome addition to your tool belt. I can see many uses for this approach in situations where staff and volunteers come together to plan, report and just get stuff done. Church councils, boards, school faculties are all groups that meet and could benefit from an online, full featured tool like OneNote. I’d probably even go as far as saying even a better tool than Google’s Docs and other G-Suite products. For church/school leadership teams one of the best features might be OneNote’s ability to embed assets like images, audio files and documents. You can craft one page that could include every imaginable resource that would just be there whenever anybody opens the page. No confusing subfolder names, permissioning issues, or broken links. Literally a one-stop-shop for all your meeting stuff. Super easy!

 

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515 – #Meetings

WELSTech’s month of meetings continues with an interview of New Ulmer, Brian Fischer, who shares his strategic planning experiences in business and the church. Sallie schools Martin on hashtags, and, as usual, they both share some interesting internet resources you can use in your ministry today.

The interview and discussion:

Strategic planning – Brian Fischer, lay member of St. Paul’s, New Ulm, MN and owner of New Ulm’s Design Home Center, visits the WELS Technology West offices to chat with martin and Sallie about a method he uses to facilitate strategic planning, both in the church as well as in the business setting. At it’s core are three important questions:

  1. How are we doing?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. How do we get there?

News in tech:

Trello Desktop for Mac and Windows

WELS now:

Christian Aid and Relief updates on Hurricanes Harvey & IrmaVolunteer

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Ministry resources:

5 ways to let your light shine online

Featured video:

The newest addition to the WELSTech Music Playlist on YouTube is Koine’s Brothers, Sisters, Let Us Gladly.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 516 – We welcome Prof. Rachel Feld back to WELSTech to talk about meetings in the school setting. Release date: Wednesday, September 27.

Get involved:

5 Ways To Let Your Light Shine Online

The appeal of social media in the 21st century is undeniable. The various platforms for sharing, from Facebook to Instagram to WeChat to Pinterest to {insert your favorite here}, offer connection to those we care about, and a channel for self-publication. But do we consciously consider how our social media use fits with our Christian walk?

I recently read the new Churchm.ag eBook The Social Christian. It served as a good reminder of why we do everything we do in this world – to share the Gospel message of the redemptive work of Jesus with everyone. With the reach of social media, many doors are now open to us which didn’t exist a decade ago. Rather than hide the saving Gospel, we can share it via social media in all we do and say.

As you consider how best to use social media, consider these five guidelines for how and what you share:

  1. Be in the Word – If only we had an instruction book for letting our light shine in the digital world. But wait … we do! God’s holy, inerrant Word found on the pages of the Bible is our all-encompassing instruction book. If we struggle with what to say or whether to say anything on social media, we can find the answer in prayerful study of his Word. With the Word nurtured in our hearts, our words and actions – both face-to-face and online – will reflect the joy of salvation we have received freely from Jesus Christ. Consider the amount of time you spend in the Word compared to using social media. Would your postings have a different flavor (perhaps including more “salt” ~ Colossians 4:6) if those times were reversed?

    “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
    ~ Colossians 3:16-17 CSB

  2. Decrease self/Increase God – Often I consider whether my posts on social media are narcissistic or self-absorbed or vain. It’s an easy trap to fall into when my own personal pedestal awaits on my favorite social media platform. Look what I did … Look how adorable my kids are … Look at how lovely my home is …To avoid that trap, consider that most people predominantly post the “highs” of their life on social media. Do we normally see posts about their failures, the times they have to discipline their children, their messy house? Those aren’t the norm. I’ve found it best to just be real. And reality for me is I’m a sinner who needs a savior. My normal is definitely not pedestal worthy. Instead I can elevate Christ alone in the good and bad of my normal life. He is my sure hope in times of sorrow and of blessing.

    “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
    ~ 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

  3. Lift up others – Make it your mission to share your joy in Jesus with your social media contacts. Where there is sorrow, share compassion and strength. Pray for those in need. Share a special verse or song (like the I Will Rise video shared below) that offers comfort. Let them know you care and, more importantly, that your savior Jesus cares.

    “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
    ~ Ephesians 4:2

  4. Share wisely – Perhaps you enjoy sharing things via social media. This tip is here to encourage you to be careful of what you share. Many links today can lead others who may not have faith or whose faith isn’t deeply rooted to explore associated content that isn’t God-pleasing. Satan would like nothing better than to use a Christian to lead someone away from salvation.

    “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
    ~ 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

  5. Give God the glory – I’ll say it again … In all things (including social media posts) give God glory!  One of my favorite ways to do this is through the popular practice of hashtaging posts. Oddly, this running together of words to convey what you are thinking has added another creative layer to our communication. Everyone enjoys coming up with and reading clever hashtags. When I close my post with what I’ve termed #hashtags4Him, I have turned not only my eyes and heart toward Jesus, but also those who read my posts. #salvationthroughJesusiswhatmattersmost

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
    ~ 1 Peter 1:3 NIV

Martin Luther College – I Will Rise.

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