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birthday case study church coming soon community conference content contest custom directory discussion event example facebook feature free get started give granger groups how to ideas integration iphone launch map ministry mobile news prayer press profile round table serve setup share social network social networking stories story substance superadmin tips twitter video vision volunteer webinar why you can't do that on facebook
We love the Serve App. It's a little application on the Table that makes it easy to serve, give and share within your church community.
Why is it so cool? Because it gives people a platform to do something like this:
That's one of the coolest things we've seen shared on the Table. What are you sharing? Tell us your stories of serving, giving and sharing with the Table.
You can really make someone's day by going out of your way and showing them some love. Here are 10 ways the Serve App can help:
1. Name a star after someone - This is easier than you think. It starts at $19.95 (seen here) and it could make someone's day. Post on the Serve App that you want to name a star after a member of your church. Then do it!
2. Meals for mommy - When new parents aren't sleeping there's nothing better than a home cooked meal cooked by someone else. The Serve App is perfect for recruiting volunteers to provide meals to new parents.
3. Give away your car - Go big with your serve! You've probably heard of people doing this sort of thing in church communities before. Well, why not you? Make a grand sacrificial gesture like this and truly change someone's life. Rust may someday destroy that old ‘98 Ford Taurus of yours, but showing radical love by giving in epic proportions has no blue book value.
4. Lend a kid - Teach your kids about service and helping others by loaning them out for a day. They may complain about mowing your lawn, but helping someone else can bring out a new attitude. They do some good, someone else gets some needed help and you get a quiet afternoon.
5. Love your pastor day - Gather 10 others from your church and serve your pastor through yard work, window washing, house cleaning, garage organizing, etc.
6. Extra ticket - Got an extra ticket to the big game? Looks like you need a "volunteer" to go with you! Post that need on the Serve App and you'll likely find someone with a servant's heart willing to fill that seat for you.
7. Restore sanity - Frazzled parents could use a night out and a night off, but babysitting ain't cheap. Encourage parents to post their babysitting needs and rally responsible teens to step up and help.
8. Nice ride - You've got that classic car, all shiny and bright, that draws gawkers wherever you go. Offer up the car for special nights, including your own chauffer services (we know you wouldn't let anyone else drive your baby). It could be the car that whisks away the bride and groom or the the killer prom transportation. You get to show off your ride and make someone's day.
9. Home theater - Are you one of those home theater enthusiasts with the projector screen, theater-style folding chairs and Dolby Digital surround sound? Give a couple high school kids an awesomely free date night. You could even make popcorn and wear a striped vest to achieve the full effect.
10. Commissioned Haiku - Offer your amazing haiku writing skills to enrich a church member's life. They pick the subject. You write the Haiku and dedicate it to them.
Try the new Serve App.
It will change the way you think--
About stuff. Share it!
We strongly encourage churches to point their website visitors to your Table sign-up page. More than just a blog or news announcement that you're on the Table, you could consider a homepage highlight, a page explaining what the Table is and adding the Table to your menu.
Here are some suggestions for adding the Table to your church website:
- Feature it on your homepage: Especially during your launch you should make the Table a major highlight on your website. But as time goes on it's helpful to keep some sort of feature drawing attention to the Table. A number of churches highlighted the Table on their home page, including Bethlehem, The Bridge, City Church, First Christian, Fort Scott, Hunter Street, Innovation, St. Andrew Presbyterian, Substance, Trinity Evangel, Twin Cities Church and Venue.
- Explain what it is: Linking to the Table is great, but it helps to to explain what the Table is and why it's helpful. Bethlehem, City Church, Faith Lutheran, First Christian, Highrock, hopecity, Innovation, Journey, Rocky Mountain Community, Seymour Heights, Venue and Woodland Hills all offer something explaining what the Table is all about.
- Give it a permanent place on your site: If you don't give the Table a permanent place on your site then when your highlights and news items get old, new visitors to your site won't be able to find the Table. Some churches add it to the main navigation, others put it in the footer and others add it to a section like ‘Get Connected' or ‘Ministries.' City Church, Colonial Heights, Corner Church, Ebenezer Baptist, Faith Lutheran, First Christian, Highrock, hopecity, Hunter Street, Innovation, Journey, Rocky Mountain Community, Seymour Heights, St. Andrew Presbyterian, Substance, Venue and Woodland Hills all give the Table a permanent link somewhere on their site.
- Point to help: A number of churches made help resources available directly to their users, either by creating their own FAQs or linking to some of our blog posts, FAQs and videos. Helping to answer people's questions can make their experience more successful. Bethlehem, City Church, Highrock, Hunter Street and Twin Cities Church all offer their own FAQs. Seymour Heights, City Church and Rocky Mountain Community all link to some of our help materials.
- Add social media icons: A number of churches have little icons for their social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is an ideal way to highlight your church's Table. Celebration Church, Substance and Trinity Life all use this approach. Twin Cities Church has a whole page listing their social networks and includes the Table there.
We've got a number of banners, icons and buttons you can use to link to the Table from your website:
Banner Images (ZIP, 417 KB)
What about Facebook? That's perhaps the most common question we get when people are first looking into the Table.
A few comments about the Table and Facebook...
The Table Does Not Replace Facebook
The Table is not simply a Christian version of Facebook. We're not here to compete with or replace Facebook (yikes, good luck with that!). We've talked about that at length.
The Table offers a different kind of social network experience. It's private, not public. It's about us, not me. It's designed to serve your church and that means more connection, less junk.
Use the Table & Facebook Together
Your church should use the Table and Facebook together. That's right: Use both. Facebook, the Table and even other social networks each have their own place. Each has their own specialty and focus. Use them for what they're good at:
With 500 million users Facebook is an ideal place for Christians to be. We think ‘go into all the world' includes virtual worlds like Facebook. It's a great place for your church to post events, share news and engage with people in a way that enables evangelism and connection.
The Table, on the other hand, offers something different. It specializes in communication within your church. It makes introductions easier, enables more intimate connections and encourages service and prayer.
We make using Facebook and the Table easy. Our improved Facebook intregration (coming soon!) will let you log in using Facebook. You can sign up using Facebook as well, which will import personal info and your profile picture. That will be a huge help to avoid those dreaded default profile pictures. You'll also be able to add friends from Facebook automatically or have friends recommended based on Facebook connections. You'll also be able to import your Facebook status.
All of that is just the ground floor of our Facebook integration. We plan to roll out more as we go forward, but this gives us a good base to build from.
Using the Tools That Work
As a church you have to use the tools that work to help you accomplish your goals. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and even the Table all do different things and can help your church in different ways. Use what works best. There's sure to be some overlap, but that's OK. Different people use different tools in different ways, and by using multiple tools together you can reach more people.
Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis recently told a story during his sermon about how a woman shared a sensitive struggle on the Table and was lifted up in prayer.
Piper said: “I have been very encouraged since the announcement two weeks ago that so many of you have signed up for “The Table”—Bethlehem’s private online community. And even more than that, I have been encouraged by what is happening there. For example, one of you shared your struggle with infertility, and how hard it is to feel the love of God. The last I looked about 35 people had prayed for you and several had left words of empathy and encouragement that seemed to me amazingly sensitive and biblical."
Watch the video:
Have a story of how the Table is being used at your church? Share it with us!
It's summer time and that means vacation time. The Table is here to help. You can put the Serve App to work making your vacation even easier. Here are 10 ideas to get you thinking:
1. GPS unit - You know your way around town, so that fancy GPS unit doesn't get a lot of use when you're not on vacation. Let someone else use it for their upcoming road trip or even a fun weekend of geocaching.
2. House sitting - Going out of town and need someone to watch the house? That's definitely not something you'd want to post to Facebook, but you can probably trust your church community (though you still might want to be careful about posting the dates).
3. Portable DVD player - You've discovered the secret to cross-country road trips with little kids: Portable DVD players. But not everyone has the luxury and your DVD player sits around for most of the year unused. Share your secret and your sanity.
4. Luggage - Your beautiful collection of matching luggage doesn't get around like it used to. Give it new life and let it see the world again. It's world traveling without the jet lag.
5. Travel tips - Going abroad and need some advice? Ask for volunteers in the Serve App and connect over coffee to pick their brain. You'll get the help you need and it'll be the easiest volunteering they ever did.
6. Pet sitting - Your pets are important to you. When you go out of town you can be facing some difficult options for taking care of your pets. Expensive kennels? Unreliable friends? Post it! There is guaranteed to be a pet lover in your church who would be honored to watch Felix and Fido while you're in Cancun. You get a vacation and your pet gets more attention than normal.
7. Road trip - Whether you need a ride home from college or just want to take a trip, the Serve App is a great place to post your road trippin' needs.
8. Cabin to share - Your cabin sits empty and lonely most of the year. Share the love on the Serve App and make someone's vacation.
9. Lawn mowing - No one looks forward to mowing the knee-high grass when you get back from vacation, so find a volunteer to keep the grass mowed while you're out of town.
10. Couch surfing - Make your vacation dollar go farther by spending a night at a friend's house instead of a hotel. The kids call it couch surfing and they stay with strangers, but you could ask your church community if they have friends or relatives on your route and it's one step closer to home away from home.
The welcome video is the first thing that greets your church members when they sign up to join the Table. It's like a handshake at the door. It's a way to personalize the Table for your church and cast vision for how you're going to use the Table.
The Table intro video is displayed by default so you have something that explains the Table. It's pretty good (if we do say so ourselves), but it's not addressing your church family specifically. We recommend creating a customized, personal video to serve as that handshake. Seeing a familiar face welcoming you to the Table sets the stage for what to expect.
Here are some tips and ideas for making a video:
- Consider making a video of your pastor welcoming people and explaining the vision behind the Table at your church. It will put a recognizable face on the Table and communicate how important this tool is to your church.
- Tell people what to do once they've signed up. Encourage people to fill out their profile, upload a photo, join some groups and post a prayer. Giving them specific things to do will get them using the Table right away and see for themselves how beneficial it can be. Both Pastor Charles at Innovation Church and Pastor Peter at Substance Church encouraged people to complete their profile, upload a picture and then join some groups.
- Give an example of how the Table can help. Brett is a pastor at Christ Community Church and explained how they used the Serve App to coordinate meals for someone who had surgery and talked about how a mother posted on the Prayer Wall and received encouraging emails while she was at work. These examples make the Table real and make the benefits obvious.
- Keep it short. People don't have unlimited patience online, so make your point and move on. Woodland Hills has a great video that's only 36 seconds. Discovery's video is only 55 seconds. It doesn't have to be long.
- Keep it simple. Use a plain background so there's nothing distracting and zoom in on the person talking. You can also get creative with the background: Innovation Church put a green screen behind Pastor Charles and showed screenshots of the Table behind him.
- Keep it fun. Pastor Steve and Pastor Andy at Oakwood Church have a little fun with their video and it keeps it light and engaging. You can tell it reflects the fun, personal, caring vibe at Oakwood.
- One approach is to work our default intro video into your welcome video. The intro video gives a thorough overview of the Table and looks professional. If you sandwich the intro video with someone from your church that can be a powerful combination. That's what Bethlehem Baptist did. Just remember to keep it short—our intro video is already four and a half minutes. (You can download our intro video here.)
- Use good lighting and sound. Especially when a video is posted online so-so sound can suddenly become horrible. Use an external microphone and extra lighting.
- When you're finished you can upload the video to a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo and then post the embed code into the SuperAdmin section of the Table. That's all you have to do.
Here's a sample script you can use as a starting point for your welcome video:
Welcome Video Sample Script (PDF, 170 KB)
We mentioned most of these above, but here's a more complete list of some church welcome videos:
- Bethlehem Baptist Church
- Christ Community Church
- Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church
- Discovery Church
- Innovation Church
- Oakwood Church
- New City Covenant Church
- St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
- Substance Church
- Woodland Hills Church
Did we skip your welcome video? Share your welcome video, let us know how it's working and we'll add it to the list.
Empty amusement parks are creepy. You can't hear the squeals of joy or echoes of laughter. You don't see throngs of people or smell that buttery popcorn. You just hear crickets. You see an empty roller coaster, waiting for riders. There's no activity, no movement, no energy. Every little noise is magnified in the silence and you can't keep from looking over your shoulder wondering who's watching. A piece of trash tumbles through the street, blown by the wind. Yeah, creepy.
That's how the Table can feel when there's nobody in it. OK, maybe not that creepy, but it is pretty boring to log on to the Table for the first time and find it empty. Much like an amusement park, the Table wasn't designed to sit there empty. The Table was designed to be populated with people. That's when it's at its best. Until you get some people in the Table it's going to be an empty amusement park—more creepy than inviting.
That's why we encourage you to get your church leadership on board before you jump in and launch the Table. We also think you should come up with a launch plan to roll the Table out to your church. Use content as a carrot to draw people in.
Avoid the empty amusement park when you launch the Table by greasing the wheels and pre-populating it with people and content:
1. Set a precedent. Be sure that the first few members lay a foundation by completely filling out their profiles. A silent profile and a blank face aren't welcoming. But with faces and details it's suddenly not so lonely.
2. Set up groups. Give people something to join. You don't have to go nuts, but it'd be nice if you could have some of the obvious groups set up: The worship team, the prayer team, the staff, the leadership board, children's ministry, etc. Now you've given people something to do when they visit the Table. Here's a quick video to walk you through it.
3. Create initial content. Post some prayers, add some items to the Serve App, post a question to the discussion board, add a photo. Not only will a little content keep things from being empty, but you'll show people how it's done.
4. Invite people. In our launch plan we recommend setting up some key groups and having those leaders invite their group members. Get those people on the Table and using it before you roll out to your entire church. Suddenly the map view in the directory is peppered with people instead of a lonely one or two.
Now when you launch and people start coming in they won't find a virtual tumbleweed blowing down empty streets. Instead they'll see conversation, interaction, life.
(photo by Keo101)
Next week's Round Table webinar will offer a sneak peek of our iPhone App. We'll give a demo of the app in progress and show you all the cool features.
Our team is currently testing and having way too much fun doing it. We hope to share the fun later this summer—and no, we can't give an exact release date yet (there are too many variables, from unexpected bugs to Apple approval). But do you want an early sneak peek? Check out the screenshots. Come to the webinar to see it in action.
Tune in on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 from 3-4 p.m. CDT. Register now.
If you're busy then, don't worry. We'll record the webinar and post it to our site a few days later. But if you tune in live you can always ask questions and get instant answers.
You may have noticed a small change in the Table: We've changed the title of the "My Page" tab to simply "Me." This is a purely cosmetic change—everything works the same.
There are two basic reasons we made this change:
1) With our coming iPhone App the "My Page" name didn't make sense. "My Page" references the web and the iPhone takes us into new territory, so we thought a name change would better reflect that and enable the content of your space to be more flexible for different formats (web and mobile).
2) "Me" is shorter, simpler and more focused than "My Page." It's also more consistent with our other single-word tabs (Groups, Church).
So if you noticed that little change, that's why we did it.