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Cool Technology

October 28, 2011 — Leave a comment

This is one of the coolest things I have seen in the technology world (no pun intended) How do you make a thermostat sexy? You let a former iPod designer work his magic on something that controls a huge amount of our energy usage. As an engineer, this thing really is genius. It’s a billion dollar idea that is going to jump-start an industry. Nest is the new company that is introducing a programmable thermostat that is super smart. It learns from you as you turn the thermostat up and down, and it is smart enough to adjust the temperature when the house is not occupied. You can even control it from the web or your smartphone.

I really want one of these for my house. With our cold winters, I think this would pay for itself in under one year. The cost is not cheap at $249, but when you watch the video, I think you agree that this is light years beyond your current thermostat. Super Cool or super hot – literally :-)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Where to Find It

If you are at a church with a full staff of graphic designers and videographers, this post probably won’t apply to you. But for the majority of churches, when you want to have great looking graphics for your bulletins, video screens, and website, you turn to the internet for help.

I like preaching in sermon series. It builds continuity from week to week and allows me to teach the Bible as a story. But it also saves time because I don’t have to create new graphics each week. When I’m planning sermon series, I first pick a book of the Bible or a topic and start my preparation. After study and research, I start listing possible series names. I then start looking for graphics that will reinforce what I’m teaching. At times, I can’t find anything and I decide to create the graphics myself, but many times, I find great graphics that are readily available for download and use. My only caution for you is that you should start with what God is teaching you, then find a graphic that works. If you reverse the order you will struggle with connecting the sermon to the topic.

It can be hard to find what you’re looking for, so I wanted to share a few great places to look. Check these links out for sermon graphics. Some even have photoshop files, powerpoint backgrounds, video openers, countdowns, and video loops included.

Free Sermon Graphics

For Purchase

Sermon Series based on Books or Ideas

What else would you add to the list?

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Where to Find It

I’m starting a new series here on the blog to help people find resources. If you’re in a small or medium size church with a small budget, then this series is especially for you. I want to share the sources and companies that have been helpful to us in starting our church. I will focus this series on computer and technology resources, although I will share about facility needs and equipment in later posts.

Look for posts on sermon series resources, video clips, stock photos, a/v equipment, and more. If you have an idea for another post in this series, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

One of the hardest things to find are good quality backgrounds. These are typically used as looping backgrounds behind song lyrics using worship presentation software like ProPresenter, EasyWorship, or Mediashout. But they can also be used as the basis for creating your own countdowns or sermon series graphics. Think outside the box!

 

Free Video Background Loops

 

Where to Purchase 

If you are looking for more and are willing to pay, then check out these sources.

Do you have more suggestions, post a link in the comments below. Since these type of links tend to change quickly, let me know if you find a broken link. Thanks!

The Sticks

October 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

I had the great opportunity to spend a few days at a church conference called The Sticks with a few of our leaders from Cornerstone. This conference is different in that it is geared towards churches in small towns. I’ve been to a lot of different conferences and seminars over the years, but this one had to be one of the best for us.

So much of what is taught at the big conferences are geared toward larger urban and suburban areas. Small towns and rural areas are forgotten and written off. But over the last few days, I was able to learn from and meet many other pastors who are facing similar challenges.Ministry in rural areas can be tough at times, and we face unique problems that only small town pastors understand. I want to give a big thanks to Cornerstone Community Church of Orangeburg, South Carolina for hosting this event. I’m definitely planning on attending again. I’ll try to share some of my thoughts about what I learned over the next few weeks.

Who are you reaching?

October 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

We like to think our churches are places where everyone is welcome. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, the choices we make in structuring our churches will tend to make some people feel more welcome than others. If you give extra attention to people who are well dressed and follow up with the “important” people, but you neglect those who are down and out, who do you think you will attract? If you blast the music so loud that everyone needs earplugs, what effect will that have on how older people feel welcomed and accepted? The truth is that every choice we make will either make people feel welcomed, or it will let them know that your church may not be the best fit.

Recently I was talking with someone at a church that is very focused on reaching their community. They serve their community in numerous ways, and they attract people from all walks of life. In talking with them, they made a statement that has really made me think. In their words, “most church people don’t last long here, because we expect too much.” They went on to say that many of their visitors are people from other churches who are dissatisfied and looking for another church. They come to this church because they hear of all the great things that are happening. But they easily get offended and leave when they realize they aren’t the center of attention. This church is successful because their people have learned to be servants. They know the purpose of church is not to cater to their every desire. Instead, they ask how we can share God’s love to the community in which we live.

Too many churches have structured themselves to make people happy. But once you go down that road, you will start attracting people who can never be pleased.  I’m afraid that in our desire to be welcoming to everyone, we have created a culture of church consumerism. People need Jesus, and when we teach them how to love God and love others, we are taking the focus away from self-centeredness and placing it on the Christ we serve.

My challenge for you:  Think and pray about the choices that you make as a leader of your church. What things lead to self-centeredness, and what things lead to a selfless devotion to Christ?

I needed to do a quick webinar last week for website training. I stumbled on join.me from the logmein team. It’s incredibly easy to setup a webinar and share your screen with others. If you ever need to share what you are working on with someone else, then check out this service. Here’s a video that shows how it works.

Okay, you might read that the wrong way, but this is a good thing. My wife and 13 year old daughter are planning on going on a mission trip to Nicaragua next month. I am super excited for them, because I have been on similar trips for the past two years with Because We Care Ministries. This picture is of a little girl I met at one of the villages. When we arrived to fix a hot meal for the people there, she lined up and waited for her food. So many people are hungry and hurting, and we have a chance to meet both their physical and spiritual needs.

Mission trips really open your eyes to the world around you. I’m excited for both my wife and daughter since neither have traveled outside of the country. I’m also glad they will be learning and serving together. They will be ministering in the northwest part of Nicaragua, reaching out to remote villages to share the love of Christ. Our church has formed a strong partnership with this ministry, and we have sent numerous people there to serve. But the reality is that it’s also expensive to go on a trip like this. We’ve been saving, but we aren’t quite there. Here’s how you can help me send my wife out of the country :-)

Pray: Prayer is powerful and I ask that you pray for their trip (and pray for me at home with two boys for a week)

Cakes, Cheesecakes, & Desserts: My wife is simply incredible in the kitchen. If you are interested in having her prepare a dessert for you, please email her or call her and she will give you a price. All proceeds will go towards the trip. Also, she is a Pampered Chef consultant, so let her know if you would like to do a show.

Websites: Many of you know that I design websites in my spare time. I’m trying to do a few extra websites this month to help raise the money. If you are interested in a site, please go to FEDesign.net to find our more info.

And finally, if you simply want to donate to help us, you can send money through paypal by clicking on the link below.

 

 

I appreciate your help. We’re trusting God to provide the necessary funds to make this trip a reality.

Tony Morgan understands churches, and he has been writing about the organizational details of church for quite some time. Lately, his focus has been on releasing shorter eBooks instead of traditionally published titles. You can download his latest eBook, Hanging Up the Leisure Suit: How to Get Unstuck, by going to http://tonymorganlive.com/hanging-up-the-leisure-suit/

This is the latest in a series of books about the cultural changes taking place in our culture and how these changes affect churches. The first book in the series tackles the reasons why your church is stuck, and now he turns his attention to the solution by discussing how you can turn things around and get unstuck. This is a leadership book about strategy and systems, and it is helpful for pastors and church leaders.

If your church is stuck in the past, maybe it’s time to consider making some changes. Here are some signs from the book that your church is stuck.

  • The church has stopped growing.
  • The congregation is aging.
  • Giving has declined.
  • Spiritual growth has stalled, and people are just “consuming” ministry.
  • People aren’t serving.
  • People have stopped reaching their neighbors.
  • The church isn’t developing leaders.
  • Communications are confusing and lack purpose.

This is a short book (really more of a long article) full of practical advise and wisdom. The page on characteristics of a healthy system is awesome and definitely worth your time to read. You don’t have anything to lose, so go ahead and download it. I really think this is the type of book that will help churches reclaim their mission and break free from the status quo.

Finally, I encourage you to check out all of Tony’s books on his website. While you at it, check out Tony’s blog. If you are not already reading it, you definitely need to add it to your blog reading list.

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