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This week on the Round Table webinar we covered how to populate apps. We'll show you how to add a video feed, set up a podcast and import an RSS feed. We'll also dive into the some of the unique features of our custom apps, like the discussion board. It'll be a practical, get your hands dirty kind of session.
You can watch the archived video here:
Watch: Populating Apps (27:11)
Don't forget to register for our upcoming Round Table webinars. We'll be talking about how to launch the Table for your church, Facebook integration, how to make the most of your profile and giving a tour of our coming iPhone App.
What do you think of when you see the word "sharing"? It's a bit elementary, right? We tell our kids to share their toys but at some point we graduate from this moral principle and start owning stuff. We share roads, public spaces, city utilities and such but when it comes to our stuff? Whoa, that's mine. Sharing is for the library.
My 16-month-old doesn't get ownership. If he has a toy in public he'll hand it off to a stranger with a smile. It's just a "thing" and he likes the reaction when he gives it away. It's fun to him. I wish it was more like that with us grown ups (and I'm told it won't last much longer with my boy). It is fun to share. It is fun to give someone something they need. So what happened? Where did we go wrong?
Our Stuff Owns Us
Owning stuff isn't the problem. The problem is that our stuff ends up owning us.
In the book All Consuming, Neal Lawson says, "The more we consume the less space we have to be anything other than consumers." Similarly, the more space and time we spend dedicated to accumulating stuff in our lives, the less room we have for other people. Our drive for material wealth excludes some of our most basic social needs, such as family and community bonds, personal passions and social responsibility.
Don't believe we have a problem?
Some data on our consuming habit:
We store our stuff: There are more than 53,000 personal storage facilities in the U.S. That's seven times the number of Starbucks. It is a $22 billion dollar industry and has grown 740% in the last two decades. Even though the average size of our homes and personal garages have doubled over the last 50 years and the average number in each house has declined from 4.5 in 1916 to 2.6 today.
We throw away our stuff: There is a giant floating landfill in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas and more than 100 feet deep. It contains almost 3.5 million tons of garbage and is growing by the day.
We kill for more stuff: In 2008, a 34-year-old Wal-Mart security guard named Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death by a stampede of rabid shoppers pushing down the doors to get plasma TVs on sale for $798.
We buy stuff with other people's money: The average American has $8,000 of credit card debt and the average we each pay in interest and fees every year for those cards is equal to the average amount each of us donates ($1,000).
Our stuff outnumbers us: In 2004, our consumerism passed a new threshold. TVs out-populate people. That's right, there are 3 TVs for every 2.55 people in the United States.
(Much of this data is taken from What's Mine is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers.)
Maybe Sharing Isn't So Elementary
The point of this blog post is not to say we can't own stuff or to even spit in the face of consumerism but instead to cast a different vision. What if we shared as much as we consumed? Sharing is already making a comeback in our nation, what about in your church?
The switch from "what's in it for me" to "what's in it for us" is gaining popularity. We are starting to understand that the value of an item is not the "owning" of it but the "using" of it and the relationships that come along with sharing are a bonus.
Sharing is a new habit, at least for us. For a new habit to stick you need a network and platform that takes the idea of sharing and scales it to actually being as easy, if not easier, than buying. The Table excels as this network because of two primary things: Trust and location. In general, we trust the people at our church or in our small group more than random strangers and because of the physical nature of our community, we all live in close proximity to each other and see each other once a week.
Think about it. What would you be willing to share? I know. It's tough at first because we don't think this way, but give it a try.
- How often do you use your trailer?
- How about your power drill?
- How much does your bike sit in the garage collecting dust?
- What about your chain saw?
- How often do you watch your movies?
- When did you last use your step-ladder?
I challenge you to look around your house and garage and see everything that could be getting used. Your stuff has idling capacity. It has value but the value is not being used.
And it's not just about everyday goods. What about things you get to experience that you would like to share with someone? What about letting someone use your motorcycle for a weekend or letting a young family stay at your lake cabin for a week in the summer? Sharing those things doesn't have to cost you anything, but it could give so much joy to someone else.
It's fun, I promise. Post those items to the "share" component of the Serve App on your church page or group page and see who needs it. We can serve each other many ways, and one is in sharing. And once you do, tell us your stories and we'll share them here on the blog to encourage others.
Together we can break the hold our stuff has on us and get back to sharing. It's elementary.
This week on the Round Table webinar we'll focus on custom apps. We'll show you how to add a video feed, set up a podcast and import an RSS feed. We'll also dive into the some of the unique features of our custom apps, like the discussion board. It'll be a practical, get your hands dirty kind of session.
Tune in on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 from 3-4 p.m. CDT. Register now.
If you can't make it live, don't worry. We'll record the webinar and post it to our site a few days later.
When you first visit the "People" tab on the Table, you may have noticed that people are sorted randomly.
Why sort people randomly by default? Good question.
There are three ways people can be sorted—random, newest and alphabetical. Sorting people alphabetically may be the standard approach for a directory, but that's not what we did by default. If you sort people alphabetically you'll almost always be looking at the same crowd. That's great for the Maya Adamson's of the world, but it doesn't introduce you to new people all the time.
That's what sorting randomly accomplishes—every time you click to browse people, you get a random selection of 12 people from your church. That means you're always seeing different names and faces.
- You may discover people in your church you don't even know. But now you have a name and face so you can say hello on Sunday.
- You may recognize some faces but you never knew their names. Now you do. On Sunday you can put that little bit of knowledge to the test and start a conversation.
- You may see an old friend you haven't talked to in a while. Send 'em a quicknote and reconnect.
That's just three positive outcomes from random sorting. As practical as it is, you don't get that with alphabetical sorting. That's why we do it randomly by default—we think it's that important for the Table to help you connect with people. After all, it's all about community.
If you need to get things done, you can still browse people alphabetically. We just wanted the default to be about connection, not utility.
You can also sort by "newest" and see who's joined your Table recently. It's fun to see who's new and welcome them to the Table.
So next time you browse people, take a minute to meet a random new face.
This week on the Round Table webinar we gave a tour of our new Serve App. We've talked a lot about the Serve App lately and we're really excited about its potential. Mobilizing your church has never been so easy. During the webinar we walk through the Serve App's features, talk about unique ways to use it and also talk about some upgrades we have planned for the next version of the Serve App.
You can watch the archived video here:
Watch: Serve App (53:28)
Our blog posts at the Table generally come from the voice of the organization as a whole. But today I want to get personal. We are real people making this software, not some faceless corporation.
I'm Jason Wenell, the lead idea guy behind the Table. I started creating the Serve App concept more than a year ago. As it developed, God seemed to be whispering to me: "You need this."
You see, I struggle with apathy. Seth Godin refers to it as our "Lizard Brain" or to be more technical, our "amygdala"—a fear-wielding collection of complex nuclei focused on keeping us snug and warm. Our lizard brain makes us stay put and tells us not to stretch ourselves. In short, it conflicts with kingdom work such as helping others, speaking out about our faith and sharing our resources. It is easier to do nothing.
I want to serve. I want to help the people of my community. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ. But I don't. The truth is, I rarely help my neighbor. I rarely help at church and I rarely actually donate to the missions that I talk about. I promote these activities and love to cheer them on but when it comes down to it, I sit.
Have you experienced this in your own life or at your church? We're excited about the idea of serving but in the end, apathy wins and our reputation for hypocrisy is reinforced.
I believe there are three primary reasons that apathy wins:
1) Our Heart - Self interest and our selfish nature continue to fight back and only God can condition our heart to be self-less and interested in truly helping others. There is no software that can cure this.
2) Awareness - Although hundreds of people in our community and in our church need help, we don't know it. We don't see the opportunities all around us. Lack of awareness is an easy excuse and turns into a simple shrug: I want to help, I just don't know how.
3) Permission - People don't like to ask for help. There's something socially awkward about admitting that you need help, or worse, implying that someone else might need help. We think we need permission. Someone feels odd asking for help and I assume they have what they need or they'd ask. We both go our own way and nothing gets done.
The Serve App can't do anything about #1. That, my friends, is between us and God. But, the Serve App was specifically designed to take out the second and third weapons of apathy and that's a start.
If your people want to serve, if they want to consume less and give more and if you want a missional church, I can't wait to see what you do with this application. Here's how it will help:
You Are Now Aware
The Serve App fights the lack of awareness by empowering the entire church community to post a need they have, champion a need for a neighbor or greater community and organize an initiative for the church. Not only will your church members be able to browse all of the different opportunities to serve but we actually serve up opportunities for them based on their gifts, interests and location. We isolate the signal from the noise and put the perfect service opportunity right in front of them in their My Page tab. Apathy's greatest quote, "I want to help, I just don't know how," just got extinguished.
The Serve App makes asking for help and committing to help easier and less awkward. When everyone is asking for help and helping each other, a new social interaction is created. Serving becomes a way of life. We help each other because we are the body and that is what we are supposed to do.
Encourage your church to dream big. Mobilize your people to serve the community. Can it work? Sure it can. Here's why:
Your community shares the same belief: God calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Your church body shares the same geographical location: Your city.
And now the Table brings the collaborative power and awareness together in one place. It's up to you. Cast the vision and get serving. I commit to letting apathy win no more, and together we can help the church be the church.
The next edition of our bi-weekly Round Table webinar will cover the long-awaited Serve App. It's a simple application that makes it easy to match skills and items with people in need. Help is a click away. We launched the Serve App last week and blogged about all the fancy features here.
During the next Round Table webinar we'll walk through all the features and answer questions. We'll show you how the Table can help you mobilize your church. Apathy doesn't stand a chance.
Tune in on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 from 3-4 p.m. CDT. Register now.
If you can't make the webinar, don't sweat. We're now recording and archiving our webinars. Check out our webinar page to access archived webinars.
The Table just took a giant leap toward enabling real life interaction. We just launched the long-awaited Serve App.
What's the Serve App?
Glad you asked. It's a simple application that makes it easy to match skills and items with people in need. Help is a click away. People can browse volunteer opportunities within their community or view items available to share. They can also post needs and offer up items they're willing to loan or give to the community.
The digital world meets real world. It's an echo of the healthy faith community found in Acts 2.
Apathy doesn't stand a chance.
Let's Take a Closer Look:
So let's say your grandma needs someone to mow her lawn. You can post that need in the Volunteer tab. You can include how many people are needed for the job and a day it needs to be completed on or by.
You can also list specific tasks that people can sign up for. So say the Cortez family needs help after their new baby is born. You could list several tasks including provide a meal, babysit the older kids and give a ride to the doctor.
"I want to serve but don't know how," is a thing of the past.
Give & Share Items
In addition to volunteer opportunities, the Serve App also makes it easy to give and share items within the community. So if you have a baby crib in the attic you don't need any more, you could offer to give it away to your church community. Or maybe you have a table saw that doesn't get much use—you can make it available for fellow church members to borrow.
Remember sharing in kindergarten? The church can bring it back.
And it all happens within your Table's intimate, authentic community. You're not sharing your beloved crockpot with the entire world—just your church community. There's a level of safety there you won't find when you post items to Craigslist. Sensitive volunteer needs don't have to be blasted across Facebook—you can limit it to your trusted church community.
It's feasible your church community could grow thanks to the Serve App. It starts with a neighbor asking to borrow a wrench and you tell them how your church shares stuff with the Serve App. Next they're visiting your church, joining the Table and posting items in the Serve App right along with you. No need to keep the Table (and your church) all to yourself. In the end the Serve App is just a tool and a conversation starter, but your faith community is the real attraction. (Note: We recommend loaning out that wrench without the Serve App. Don't make your neighbor go to church just to use your wrench!)
How Do I Get Started?
If you're a new church on the Table the Serve App will be installed by default. Churches that are already on the Table can add it from the app menu.
You can also add the Serve App to your My Page tab and it will serve up opportunities that match your location and interests. Serving your neighbor just got easier.
We're super excited about the Serve App, but it's important to remember that it's only version 1.0. We've got lots of tweaks and improvements in mind that we'll roll out over time.
Yes, serving one another will get an upgrade. But for right now we wanted to get the basic functionality out there and let churchgoers begin serving their communities.
If you have ideas for features and improvements we should add to the Serve App, please share them in Get Satisfaction.
We may offer a high tech, digital tool, but encouraging local and authentic community has always been one of our goals. Connecting online is great, but getting people face to face is even better. That's one of the major bonuses of the Serve App. It's just a tool to help us connect in real life.
That's why we're so excited about it—the software fades to the background as we connect skills and resources with community needs. Mobilizing your church to serve has never been so easy. Hello Serve App, goodbye apathy.
This week's Round Table webinar covered SuperAdmin training. We talked about the role and functionality of the super admin, the set up and approval guru for your church's Table. We walked through how to delegate responsibility (yes!), change settings, promote events, edit information, customize the system and much more.
You can watch the archived webinar here. It's a long video (1 hour, 14 minutes), but super admin training is super cool.
Check it out:
Watch: SuperAdmin Training (1:14:47)