We're not about global connection, we're about local engagement.
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The future is mobile.
If you've looked at any mobile usage stats, they're ridiculous.
- 63 million smart-phone users in the U.S. at the end of 2010, a 60% jump from 2009 (Clickz).
- Mobile Internet use has quadrupled in the last four years (Fixed Mobile Convergence) and will overtake desktop Internet use by 2014 (Morgan Stanley).
- One out of three smart-phone users would give up chocolate to keep their mobile device (Google). That's dedication.
Mobile is coming and it's not just for businesses.
That's why we've made mobile an integral part of our strategy for the Table.
Real World Connection
Mobile technology increases real world connections, and that's what we're all about at the Table. It's not about people hiding behind their devices, but it's the technology allowing us to better connect while we're on the go.
Look at what you can do with the Table's iPhone app:
1) Pray On the Go
You can post prayer needs on the go, like on your way to the hospital, when you can't access a computer. That's powerful.
2) Remember Names
If you're at church and you forget someone's name, you can pull out your iPhone and look them up. Oh yeah, that's Maria. Here's her profile: She likes knitting. Instant conversation starter.
3) Serve One Another
You can respond to needs in real time. Steve just had a baby and they need meals. Sign up to help out and pick something up on the way home.
The examples are endless. We're convinced that mobile technology makes the Table exponentially more valuable to churches. That's why it's a priority.
The Great Commission & Technology
The majority of your congregation may not have smart-phones yet, but they will. And we want the Table to be on the cutting edge of mobile adoption, so the church can be on the cutting edge of technology. From the printing press to the radio, the church was there early on, understanding the seismic shift that was coming and using it to spread the gospel. Today churches are being left behind as technological innovation is happening everywhere but in our congregations.
It doesn't have to be that way.
That's why we released our iPhone app earlier this month. That's why we'll continue to roll out mobile options as we move forward. That's why mobile is core to our strategy.
Your church has a story. You share it when people walk in the door. You show it when you work in your community. You tell it through communication efforts, from your Sunday bulletin to your Twitter feed and website. What story are you telling?
Speak is a free conference coming to Minneapolis (and streaming online) on Sept. 8 that will explore how your church communicates online. The Table is sponsoring Speak and the guest speakers include our own Jason Wenell and Kevin D. Hendricks (that's me), as well as an impressive cast of folks including Carl Nelson from the Minnesota Association of Evangelicals, social media expert Justin Wise, Moody Bible professor Bobby Moss and YouVersion's Adam Bouse.
We think this is an important event because it can show your church how to make an impact online. Research shows that online connections translate into real life connections. Those connections and conversations can become community and eventually there can be conversion.
So how you tell your story is important, even online. It's the command Jesus left us with: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel," (Mark 16:15) "and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).
How does the Table fit into all of this? Good question:
Preaching the gospel is what your church should be doing on Facebook, Twitter and your website.
Making disciples is what your church can do on the Table.
The Table really isn't on the front lines of your church telling its story online. That's what Facebook, Twitter, your website and all kinds of other platforms are for. But the Table is a place where that story can be lived out. You can share your testimony in the discussion boards, your Prayer Wall is an on-going story of God working and the Serve App tells a story of need and provision.
Let's live our story online. Check out the Speak Conference. It'll be streaming online on Sept. 8 for free. And if you're in the Minneapolis area, you can register for free (physical space is limited, so register now).
Google Calendar users rejoice! We just created a new app that lets you embed a Google Calendar within the Table. If your church uses Google Calendar—which is a great, free calendar solution—this could be a good way to tie your events and the Table together.
While this app does offer a quick, convenient solution, we understand that it's not ideal. Full integration between the Table calendar and Google Calendar is ideal and that's what we're working on. But that's a pretty complicated integration and we want to take the time to get right. We rolled out this embeddable Google Calendar app in response to customer suggestions, to give you something you can use right now while we work on the fully integrated calendar.
SuperAdmins can click on "Add Apps" and search for "Google Calendar" to add this app to your Church page. Group owners can also add it to their groups and Members can add it to their Me page.
A common complaint we get is that people are getting too much email from the Table. We can help.
The Table sends out a number of different emails, from quicknotes to email alerts about new prayer requests, comments on discussion threads and more. All that activity means that community is happening. That's pretty cool. But a flood of email can be a nuisance, so we give you the power to turn these emails on and off.
Here's how it works:
You'll find all the settings for email alerts in your profile. There are nearly 30 different options, so you have plenty of control.
Click on "Howdy [Your Name]" at the top of the Table to access your profile. Under your profile picture, click on "Edit Profile." There are several tabs down the left side that let you edit various options in your profile.
The big one is "Notifications & Email." This is the motherlode of email alert options. Use the dropdown to choose what type of content you're setting email alerts for (Prayer Wall, Discussion Board, Photo App, Serve App, Profile, Groups and, for those with access, Admin).
These settings control email alerts as well as notifications (which only appear on the Table under "Messages"). Click on the appropriate icon for email alerts or notifications next to each type of content to turn the setting on or off (green is on, gray is off). Click "Save" when you're done. You'll get a message confirming that your changes were saved.
You can also go to the "Personal Information" tab on the left for another opportunity to crank down the number of emails you receive from the Table. On the right side it asks, "Where do you want to receive your quicknotes?" They'll show up on the Table under "Messages" no matter what, but you can also choose to receive them via email or text. If you have the "By email and on the Table" option selected and you're getting too many quicknotes in your email, you can select "Only on the Table." Be sure to click ‘Save' when you're done.
When you choose your email alert settings, you can also choose your notification settings. So even if you decide to shut off all of your email alerts, you can still find out what's happening on the Table by keeping your notifications on and visiting the "Messages" section. This is where you can access your quicknotes and see all your notifications.
All these notification and email choices—nearly 30!—puts the power in your hands. If your church is really active and you're getting too many emails for prayers or volunteer opportunities, you can turn those off. But maybe your small group is still important to you, so you can leave group emails turned on. Choose the option that works best for you and feel free to tweak it as you go.
We designed the email alerts so you don't have to continually visit the Table to see what's going on. But you need to find your own balance between too much email and not enough.
(Note: This post was updated on March 12, 2012 to reflect notifcation upgrades and changes to the Notifications & Email screen)
This spring Bethlehem Baptist Church came to the Table. The Minneapolis congregation, led by John Piper, has had tremendous ministry success with the Table. We've pointed to them for examples, including welcome videos, website links & help, and even their own help videos.
In this edition of the Round Table webinar one of Bethlehem's Table champions, Jonathan Davis, joined us to share their journey with the Table. He explains how they got leadership on board, the things they did to launch it as well as the impact the Table has had already with their community. This is a must see for any church on the fence about launching the Table!
Watch: How They Did It: Bethlehem Baptist Church Case Study (1:09:31)
Highlights from the Video:
Jonathan says that Bethlehem draws 4,000 to 5,000 people every weekend to nine services across three campuses. At the time of this interview they were at 1,700 members on the Table and steadily rising, which was surpassing their launch expectations.
Why a social network?
Bethlehem wanted to do social networking because they realized that it's a big part of people's lives and they want to redeem all things for God's glory. They also recognize that it's easy to be anonymous in a large church and this is another, less intimidating way to encourage interaction.
Why the Table?
Bethlehem took their time getting on board with social media because they wanted to get it right the first time. They explored a number of different options, including building it themselves, but ultimately settled on the Table. They thought it was simple, worked well and being free helped with the budget.
What helped secure leadership buy-in?
Three things made leadership buy-in easy:
1) An online picture directory that people kept updated themselves was a huge draw.
2) The way the Prayer Wall allowed people to engage with one another was a massive part of convincing leadership.
3) The Serve App was the final piece. For a big church it made it easy for people to make real life connections.
One surprise with the Table?
That so many volunteer needs have been posted in the Serve App. Jonathan expected to see a lot more items given away or shared, but the volunteer needs have surpassed giving or sharing stuff by far.
How many staff hours did it take to launch?
They had four people (three staff, one volunteer) spending roughly an hour a day to prepare for the launch. So it doesn't require a full time person, but it was still a significant investment. Jonathan comments that he appreciates how the Table runs itself once it's launched.
What are you doing to keep the momentum rolling?
Campus pastors shared personal stories from the Table. They also plan to do more videos to highlight testimonies of how the Table has helped people.
Advice for churches getting ready to launch?
Take your time and do it right. You can literally set up and launch the Table in minutes, but you need to put a lot more work into it. Do your research and when people aren't on board answer their questions and help them see the value. You may only get one shot to show them how the Table can be effective, so do it right.
We've created some announcement slides you can use to announce the new iPhone app to your congregation. Just download the slides, pick the size and look that works for you and add them to the announcement slides for your next service.
Set of 5 iPhone Slides (3 MB ZIP file)
Earlier this year Bethlehem Baptist Church, the Minneapolis congregation led by John Piper, launched the Table. They've had tremendous ministry success and generated some great stories. We've looked to them for quality examples, including welcome videos, website links & help, and even creating some of their own help videos.
For this week's Round Table webinar we'll talk with one of Bethlehem's Table champions, Jonathan Davis, about the launch, what worked, what didn't and what he's learned since then. Attend the live webinar to ask your own questions and learn how another church is using the Table.
It's this Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. CDT. Register now for the free webinar.