Category Archives: Technology

5 Reason Church Promotional Videos Are So Valuable

For years, I have wanted to make a promotional video for my youth ministry. I envisions action shots from youth group along with interviews and cool music in the background. Here’s the problem, I don’t know how to do any of that? Or at least not enough to make it not look like the public access channel.

Lo and behold, my brother-in-law starts a cinematography (I can’t even spell that, thank you Microsoft Word) company called 740 films. He graciously agreed to help me with this project. As we talked, I began to expand the vision to the entire church. How cool would it be to have a video for not only the youth ministry, but also a message from our senior pastor, a children’s ministry overview, and another video highlighting the young adult ministry. Why would I go through all this trouble (well, I actually did very little in the production process) to make these videos?

Here are 5 reasons why church promotional videos can be valuable:

  1. Front Door. As you may have heard already, the church website is the new front door for visitors. In 2012, as many as 1/3 of visitors went to the church website before they came to the church. I’m sure that number has gone up since then. So, having a professional video of the ministries of the church will only enhance that first impression.
  2. Awareness.  When we unveiled all 4 of these church promos late last month, it had an interesting reaction from our people. There were several people who came up to me and thanked me for all I did in the youth ministry. Why would they do that now? Well, maybe because they have never visited the youth group.   Maybe they thought all we did was play ultimate Frisbee, put rubber bands around a watermelon until it bursts (which is super cool by the way), and talk about MTV (anyone watch that channel anymore?). But now, seeing the vision and heart of the ministry, it raised the awareness and importance of the children, youth and young adult ministries to the whole church. It raised a whole new level of support.
  3. Advertising.  This basically goes without saying. But in the first day of showing our church vision video, it had over 1,000 views. Being a small church, we rarely see 1,000 anything. This was great to see the word of our great church spreading among our people’s friends and families.
  4. Social Media. This past year, I have had the task of upping our social media network. With the help of some willing teammates, the scope of our Facebook and Twitter has grown from non-existent to somewhat viable. To put it into perspective, the likes on Facebook have grown 5 times what it was a year ago. So with these videos posted on various Facebook pages connected to the church, it will only add to that growth.
  5. Experience.  For some visitors, the unknown makes visiting a church most terrifying. Providing a video of many of ministries along with interviews of the ministry leaders, it provides a number of things. It provides a familiar face when they walk in, even if it just was a face on the computer screen. Also, an explanation and vision behind the ministries here at the church provide reassurance. Our church is not after you money or will do anything that will make you feel uncomfortable when you walk through our doors. This reassurance is vital to anyone that desires to visit the church.

So without further ado…here are the 4 videos (credit:  740 FILMS)

Memorial Baptist Church

Memorial Student Ministries (MSM)

Kaleidoscope Children’s Ministries

Turning Point Young Adult Ministries

 

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What Can Unplugging Your Cell Phone Do For You?

It’s true. I decided to not use my cell phone for 24 hours, and I lived to tell my story. A generation ago, this statement would be ridiculous. A cell phone is a luxury. Even as a high school student, zackmorris_0the only cell phone I knew was the one Zack Morris carried around on the Saved by the Bell set.  It looked more like a VCR than the cell phones of today. That thing was huge!

Now, technology has brought us the internet on our phones. Our phones can track the amount of steps we take, capture moments with video and pictures, and can answer your questions (by the way, ask Siri “What is zero divided by zero”, it’s hilarious). I’ve written on this before, how technology is taking over our lives. So rather than go down that negative road, let’s take a positive spin on this. What if we unplugged? What would happen? Could you live? In a recent survey of 16-22 year olds, over half said they would give up their sense of smell sooner than they would give up their phones. Yes, you just read that correctly. And don’t even get me started on the Petextrians.

You might be thinking this is such a crazy thing to do. What was I thinking? Would I be able to breathe? What happens if there was a question that only Siri could answer? Would I have to talk to my family, play with my kids, and pay attention to my surrounding? I know, this was big time.

What made me to wade into such dangerous waters? What would make me risk my technology life? Well, it started with a simple jab from my 7-year-old daughter. She asked if I would sit by her on my morning off and play games and watch her favorite show…and then she said…and not check your phone. Like a ton of bricks hitting me upside the head. It’s time Jeff. It’s time.

So, as the first man who entered space, I embarked on an adventure, not knowing if I would make it. And, I did not perish from this risky experiment. In fact, I am alive to tell you these lessons I learned from unplugging my phone…

Being Still. Those of us that have smart phones, what is the first thing you do when you are sitting still, bored, or have nothing to do? You pull out your cell phone. You finger flick through Instagram, check your fantasy football team, or check how many likes your Halloween costume selfie got in the past 3 minutes. What if you decided to just “Be Still”? When was the last time you followed God’s advice in Psalm 46:10 and just was still before God? I’m here to tell you, it’s wonderful.

indexYou Have to Communicate. During this hiatus, my wife went to the grocery store while I was home with the kids. She knew I was “unplugged”, which meant I had no idea when she would be back. Home alone with 3 kids, and not knowing when your wife was going to be back. Ahhhh!!!! I told you it was dangerous waters. But seriously, communication becomes a larger factor, and that’s a good thing. A good reminder of how important communication is in relationships.

Quality Time. Quality time with your kids is not quality time if you have your phone out. We are good at holding this rule at the dinner table, but fail during other period of times. For example, during movie night with the kids, I purposefully will keep my phone upstairs so I can make sure the buzz or ding of the phone does not distract from the snuggles and popcorn.

Clear-Headed. There is just so much information to filter on your phones. Social media, news stories, sports information, pictures, texts, voicemail, emails…and the list goes on. Your brain needs time to refresh itself. A good 24 hour phone cleanse can be helpful.

Maybe I’m the only one that spends a little too much time on their phone. By not having a nervous breakdown after 24 hours without my phone shows me it’s not out of control. However, this time away did present some great lessons.

So, I’d encourage you to try the 24 hour challenge. You may learn your children’s names. You may not get hit by a car. You may look up long enough to see the sun is still in the sky. See, the benefits are numerous. But seriously, you may just need to be still, no WiFi and all!slide-to-power-off

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Do Teens Really Care About Social Media?

Registration cards are wonderful.  They accomplish a number of things.  They allow you to gain updated contact information from regular students.  The cards also provide a non-threatening way to gain contact information from visitors.  Typically, these cards are filled out a few time a year for special events.  And to motivate a student to actually write something outside of school, I do a giveaway.

But there is something else I do on the registration cards…I do a small survey.  It allows me to stay connected to students and attempt to stay somewhat relevant.  So this time around, I asked 3 simple questions about vacation, restaurants, and social media.  On the card was a few options, and the students simply had to circle their favorite.

In a contest of Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Europe – it was surprisingly a tie between Hawaii and Europe.  The restaurants, as you could imagine was all over the place.  If you have ever been in a church van and asked “Where do you want to eat?”  You know what I am talking about.

But the social media question surprised me the most.  The options to circle were Facebook, Instagram, Snap chat, and None.  (I was tempted to put MySpace just to confuse some people.   Anyone remember Xanga?)  Do you know which category won?  NONE!  That’s right, the favorite use of social media in our youth ministry is NONE.  Are they just circling that to keep me away from their account?  I think it is more than that.  Teens may be moving along to the next big thing and allowing their parents and grandparents to enjoy Facebook for themselves.  What do you think?  Do teens really care about social media?  I think they may not be pushing the like button anymore.facebook_like_button_big1

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10 Things Teens Won’t Tell You

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, youth worker, youth pastor, or just a curious observer of the cultural shifts in America, this article provides incredible insight into the mind of the teenager, or more importantly the next generation in America. It is interesting the article comes from a financial mindset (www.marketwatch.com), thus it uses the numbers to explain behavior. Tough to argue with that logic. Take a look at the article, and feel free to comment about it below.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-teens-wont-tell-you-2014-08-08?page=1

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What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
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