499 – By The Numbers

This week on WELSTech, Pastor Jonathan Hein, Director for the Commission on Congregational Counseling, joins the show to discuss the connection between data and ministry. You might be surprised at the things you can learn about yourself, your church and your ministry just by looking at the numbers.

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The interview & discussion:

Church Data – Pastor Jon Hein from Beautiful Savior in Summerville, SC and the Director of the Commission for Congregational Counseling joins Martin and Sallie to talk about the data of the church en masse as well as individually. And, Martin does show and tell about your congregation’s online statistics in the WELS Online Yearbook & Locator.

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 9 (2016) of WELSTech (episodes 426 to 477), with favorite productivity and wearable picks.

News in tech:

USB devices could soon switch over to USB C

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Notepad++

Featured video:

New on the WELSTech Promo playlist is the Martin Luther 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 500! – Martin and Sallie make WELSTech history on a special anniversary episode. Release date: Wednesday, June 7.

Get involved:

Notepad++

My uncle was an upholsterer by trade. With his experience and the proper tools, he could transform furniture from shabby to sheik. In many respects, building or supporting a ministry in the digital age is no different. You must first start with the best tools and gain experience around their optimal and varied usage so you know which tool to use and when, to use it to get the job done. One foundational tool which I make use of daily is Notepad++.

Application/audience

At its core, Notepad++ is a basic text editor, void of the multitude of formatting options in typical word processing software. It is popular with programmers because it has features which detect and highlight coding syntax, making it more obvious to debug. But it has many layers of usefulness for non-programmers as well. One thing that I find most helpful is the ability to have multiple tabs open at the same time. Coupled with auto-save, I can open Notepad++ any time and easily resume work on one or more of the tabs I have open.

A few ideas for use in church and school settings include …

  • Use it as a “quiet” place to draft sermons or newsletter articles.
  • Create templates of text used often, such as a response to inquiries about church or school, and copy it whenever needed.
  • Copy and paste formatted content into Notepad++ and from Notepad++ into a web editor to avoid difficult text format issues.

Related resources

Microsoft Notepad comes baked into Windows. It can serve the same purposes but lacks the auto save and multi-tab functionality. For those in the Mac OS ecosystem, Notepad++ isn’t an option, but TextEdit is available in the Accessories folder.

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498 – Classroom Collaboration

On WELSTech this week, Jason Schmidt wraps up our edtech school year discussion with a look at the many possibilities technology provides for student and classroom collaboration. We also share an NPH survey on “Being Lutheran,” look at an affordable smart lighting option, and explore automated e-mail to church visitors. Oh, and Chuck Norris makes an appearance!

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The discussion:

Collaboration in the connected classroom – Wrapping up the 2016-17 school year edtech discussions on WELSTech, Martin and Sallie are once again joined by Jason Schmidt, Technology Director for Bennington Public Schools near Omaha, NE. From the New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Edition, this week’s discussion spotlight is student collaboration. Whether the project makes use of technology or not, and whether it is is face-to-face or spanning the miles, collaboration initiatives need structure and guidelines for success.

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 8 (2015) of WELSTech, episodes 374 to 425.

News in tech:

Ikea’s cheap smart lighting

WELS now:

Take the Forward In Christ survey on Being Lutheran

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Visitor Follow Up With Mailchimp Email Automation

Featured video:

Learn more about Kingdom Workers Apache efforts in this new addition to the WELSTech “Likes” List on Vimeo.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 499 – Martin and Sallie are together at the CMM to say goodbye to the WELSTech 400s. Release date: Wednesday, May 31.

Get involved:

Visitor Follow Up With Mailchimp Email Automation

Technology has provided many opportunities to improve visitor follow up in churches everywhere. From prospect/visitor databases to easy-to-download new resident lists to wonderful tools like Mailchimp, the Evangelism team at your church has a lot of options and tools available to them. Today I wanted to highlight one pastor’s approach to using one of the most useful features of Mailchimp — Automation.

Please be sure to watch the video below for all the details, but here are some of the reasons I think this “Rookie Preacher” has put together a great approach to visitor follow up through email.

  1. This method uses Mailchimp to send out five strategic emails to visitors over a one month period. The timing is important. Getting an email out the next day, then a few more during the week, and finally some a couple of weeks from the first visit seems like enough to keep your church in front of them, but not overwhelm them or make you appear too “pushy.”
  2. I like the use of a pastor’s welcome message as the main subject of the first email. It makes the contact a little more personal. If they view the video they hear a real person with a real message specifically for the visitor.
  3. The second email makes use of another technology from Survey Monkey. I think a great next contact after a warm welcome is a chance for them to react or respond to a short, non-threatening survey. You get good feedback and leave a positive message that you value what they have to say. You are making a rather sterile encounter more interactive.
  4. In later emails you have a chance to introduce some more personal opportunities for the visitor to connect with your members through invitations to Bible studies, small group studies, etc. Chances are the visitor didn’t make any strong personal connections after a worship service. But if your church has places where this is possible, that might be exactly what some are looking for. In this communication you can list some of those, perhaps with some personal testimonials that again make it more “friendly.”
  5. The fact that this is all automated will make this more feasible for some churches, especially if you have a lot of visitors. This of course may not take the place of personal follow up. But I can see this strategy as something to augment that. People are hard to reach these days. This may be the only contact you have with them.
  6. Mailchimp is such a great tool to consider. It is fairly inexpensive. It has great analytics, so you can tell if your efforts are paying off. And using a subscription service allows anyone to easily “unsubscribe” from any future communication, thus respecting their privacy if they wish to not hear from you again.

Again, be sure to watch the video. It is rather short, but informative and perhaps inspirational if you are looking to improve your visitor follow up.

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497 – Guess Who’s A Pinterest Lover?

This week on WELSTech, there’s a shocking turn of events! Somehow a show filled with some great community feedback turned into an admission by one of the hosts that Pinterest is actually a pretty useful tool. Tune in to find out who and why. Also, Sallie shares an invaluable resource to get you ready for worship this Sunday!

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The discussion:

Community feedback at its finest – WELSTech listeners never disappoint when they share the tips, tricks, and news of technology that assists with ministry.

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 7 (2014) of WELSTech (episodes 323 to 373), when Google Forms, Kanban and Instagram for Churches were the upstarts.

WELS now:

New Shepherd’s Staff WebTools on Sale through May 31

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Worship Helps

Featured video:

New on the WELSTech Music playlist is Koine’s The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 498 – We welcome back Jason Schmidt for our last edtech discussion of the 2016-17 school year. Release date: Wednesday, May 23.

Get involved:

Worship Helps

During weekly worship, Christians join with other believers in prayer and praise to God. More importantly, they join with other believers to hear the Word of God. One way the Word is proclaimed during worship is through the assigned readings from the Bible for the particular day in the church year.

Using WELS Worship Helps, Christians can prepare their hearts for worship by studying the assigned readings in advance. Worship Helps are released weekly, on the Monday prior to worship. They are available on the WELS.net web site as well as via e-mail subscription.

Each week, the Worship Helps introduction identifies a theme that runs through the various Bible readings for the week. Each reading is followed by questions and answers related to the reading, and both traditional and supplemental readings are included in Worship Helps.

Application/audience

Personal and group Bible study can be designed around Worship Helps. Time spent studying the worship passages is later reinforced and magnified in the Christian’s worship experience. Share links to the resource in e-newsletters and via social media channels to encourage others to use it to prepare for worship. Consider using Worship Helps for church and school faculty/staff devotion or family devotion.

We actually use Worship Helps in the WELS Technology office for team devotion to start our weekly staff meetings. Different team members volunteer to read the passages ,and we discuss the questions (before looking at the answers) as a group. When the reading comes up in church the next Sunday, I’m always excited to hear it and learn more about it through the songs and sermon for the week.

Related resources

Additional Bible study and devotional resources from WELS include ..

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496 – Social Media Superstars

On WELSTech this season we’ve been exploring the use of social media in ministry. Today’s episode wraps up that series with a look at great examples of church and school accounts on each of the major social media platforms. We also talk with Pastor James Aderman regarding the WELS Intersections Facebook group, and Martin gives us a tour of the new WELS Locator tool which is integrated into the WELS Online Yearbook.

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The discussion:

Watch and learn – Capping off a season-long focus on Social Media for Ministry, Martin and Sallie identify standout churches and schools who are making excellent use of social media channels. View the Social Media Superstars infographic.

The interview:

Up close with a social media superstar – Meet Retired Pastor James Aderman, the man behind WELS Intersections, a Facebook group which had its start at WELSTech Conference 2015. Almost 2 years later, the group is a great resource for topics at the intersection of technology and ministry.

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 6 (2013) of WELSTech, episodes 269 to 322. This was the year of the “unconference,” and 100+ attended WELSTech Camp, our very own unconference event. Relive the great moments of 2013 with our Best of 2013 episode.

News in tech:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resource:

New WELS Locator Joins Yearbook

Featured video:

MLC Day 2017 is history, but the fun and excitement lives on in this MLC Day Lipdub 2017 video, the newest addition to the WELSTech Likes List on Vimeo.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 497 – We shine the spotlight on WELSTech listeners as we share the latest community feedback! Release date: Wednesday, May 17.

Get involved:

New WELS Locator joins Yearbook

Recently the WELS Locator application was rewritten and enveloped into the existing WELS Online Yearbook. The yearbook has slowly been updated with functions and data to make it a viable replacement for it’s paper sibling. You can search for a called workers name or city and receive a listing of those that match. Clicking on a called worker will reveal a profile that shows contact information, year graduated and what organization they work for.

Where things get even more interesting is on the organization tab. For some time you could search for a church or school by name and/or city. With the inclusion of locator functionality, you can now find a church or school by proximity to criteria you enter. You can enter an address, city, state or zip code and find all organizations within a radius of miles you determine. You may also select the option to find your current location as the search criteria…great if you are traveling and want to find nearby churches.

Also available within the locator functionality is to filter your search results by special criteria including Church, Pre-School, Elementary School, High School, Counseling Center and Care Facility. You can get even more filters related specifically to worship with filters like Signed Services, Hearing Loop, Personal Sound Equipment, Livestreaming, and Languages Offered.

There are a number of ways to find the Yearbook/Locator. You can simply visit the synod’s website at www.wels.net and click on the “Find a Church/School” at the top of the screen. This will take the visitor directly to the Organization tab of the yearbook app. You may also visit the Yearbook site directly at https://yearbook.wels.net, or the Locator portion at https://locator.wels.net. Finally, if you use the WELS Mobile app you can find a link to the Locator in the side menu or the Yearbook itself under the Synod Reports area.

Application/audience

The Yearbook with locator functionality is a useful tool to get in touch with any called worker. Perhaps you have a friend or neighbor moving out of town and you want to contact the local pastor to perhaps get in touch. Simply search for a city in either the People or Organization tab and then reach out to that church or pastor directly to let them know that their might be a family to be in touch with. Studies have shown that if a new resident doesn’t get “connected” with a church in the first 90 days, it is far less likely they will find a church home at all. With the locator functionality you could also pinpoint the nearest church or school to a specific address if you know it. Obviously if you are moving, this would be a great way to determine the proximity of the closest church or school.

If you or someone you know needs to take advantage of special services offered like signed services, or hearing equipment, those filters are available. You can even find the closest services offered in Spanish or whatever other language is needed. And of course with vacation season just around the corner the Yearbook’s locator function will be a great way to find a service close to wherever you are, plus directions with the click of a single button.

It is important to stay connected with a church family. The WELS Yearbook with Locator helps you, or those you know, do that.

Related resources

One related resource that was mentioned above is the WELS Mobile app. It has links to the Yearbook, but also great devotional content you can access wherever your phone or tablet is like Daily Devotions, Bible Readings, Worship Helps, WELSTech and much more. Just search for WELS Mobile in your favorite app store.

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495 – Friends & Family Tech Support

Join this week’s WELSTech for a lively discussion almost all of us “techies” can relate to…providing tech support for friends and family. We walk through several tips and best practices that will make your next “support call” a pleasant one for all involved. Additional discussion includes a discussion of upcoming concerts, graduation, and assignment events at synod schools, multi-media options for your entertainment and a church copyright ministry resource.

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The discussion:

Dedicated to WELSTech Moms – Martin and Sallie explore various hardware and software support tactics which are helpful for supporting family and friends, especially from a distance. Secret weapons include using cell phones or tablets to snap a photo of the problem and keeping solutions simple!

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 5 (2012) of WELSTech, episodes 217 to 268. The top picks of the year included long-standing favorites Raspberry Pi, MathCounts, PicMonkey, Camtasia Studio, Google 2-Step Verification, and Google Hangouts.

News in tech:

Amazon’s new Echo Look has a built-in camera for style selfies

WELS now:

Synod Schools wrap up the school year with graduation and assignment events. Visit their sites for live streaming links:

  • Martin Luther College
    • Commencement Concerts – Friday, May 12 – 4:00 & 7:30 pm
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 13 – 10:00 am
    • Assignments – Saturday, May 13 – 2:30 pm
  • Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
    • Vicar Assignment – Tuesday, May 16 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduate Assignment – Thursday, May 18 – 10:00 am
    • Commencement Concert – Thursday, May 18 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduation – Friday, May 19 – 10:00 am
  • Luther Preparatory School
    • Commencement Concert – Friday, May 19 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 20 – 10:00 am
  • Michigan Lutheran Seminary
    • Commencement Concert – Friday, May 26
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 27

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Church Copyright

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Product Demos YouTube playlist is LastPass 101: Meet the Browser Extension.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 496 – Next week we wrap up the Social Media for Ministry series with a look at some social media superstars and an interview with Pastor James Aderman. Release date: Wednesday, May 10.

Get involved:

Church Copyright

Copyright law exists to protect and ensure those behind creative works are appropriately compensated when the work is reproduced or performed. For churches, regular Sunday worship typically includes a host of creative works which are reproduced and performed. The Bible text, sermon, hymns, liturgy, and choral works often pop to mind, but in this digital age, many forget that copyright law also protects projected lyrics, images, and video, streaming worship (live), and podcasting worship (archived), among other things. The complexities and variations are many and finding clear answers to copyright questions can be challenging.

Application

An article from Christian Copyright Solutions details 6 Myths About Copyright That Puts Your Church At Risk. The key to following copyright law is designating someone in your church to become educated on copyright and obtain proper licensing of the creative works you use. Unfortunately, this isn’t a “one time and done” activity. It requires reviewing and reporting individual music selections which are included in worship each week. Christian Copyright Solutions offers excellent, free copyright education resources for churches including an eight-page toolkit, 57-page eBook, webinar videos and fact sheets. They, along with other companies, also offer performance and streaming licensing for churches.

WELSTech doesn’t endorse one licensing solution over another, but additional insight into licensing options is available on WELSTech 329, Are You Legal. Kristine Laufer, Rights and Permissions Coordinator for Northwestern Publishing House, talks with Martin and Sallie about copyright issues including various use of Christian Worship and Christian Worship Supplement.

Related resources

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