We're not about global connection, we're about local engagement.
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Our month-long Birthday Video Contest ended last Friday. We've been celebrating our one-year birthday with a contest, asking you to send in video stories of how the Table is impacting you or your church. We've seen some amazing stories and now it's time to pick a random winner.
The winner of the iPad is... Patrick Dierschke of PaulAnn Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas. Check out his video:
Watch Patrick's video (3:25)
Second prize is an iPod Shuffle that goes to... Angela Bengtson of Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minn. Check out her video:
Watch Angela's video (1:53)
A runner up will also receive some Table swag.
Congratulations to the winners and thanks for celebrating with us. While the contest is over, we always encourage you to share your stories (video or not) on our Tumblr site.
St. Paul's Pioneer Press ran a front page story on the Table on Sunday. The story gives an overview of the Table and how it's making a difference in churches. The piece features three of our case study churches giving some great quotes and stories, including Angela Bengtson of Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minn., Jonathan Davis of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and Kem Meyer of Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind. We also hear from our own Vice President Jason Wenell and VP of Development Josh Lewis.
Here are some highlights:
"The people in the pews are the church," [Wenell] said.
He and his colleagues aspire to digitally re-create the early Christian church consisting of friends breaking bread and sharing wine at their dinner tables - hence the project's name. ... As Wenell has put it, "We want to tip Christian churches from being top-down organizations to becoming organic movements."
"With a congregation our size, it is easy for people to get missed and to slide through the cracks here and there," said Davis
Lewis said the Table Project came to his spiritual rescue last March when his 1-year-old son, Jack, fought for every breath in an emergency room because of croup.
"That was very frightening," he recalled. "I posted a prayer request to the Table, and I soon began getting prayers from people I had never met, all via email notifications on my iPhone. This was a wonderful feeling, being surrounded in real time by a physically disparate community, in the midst of a personal crisis. It's something you have to experience to understand."
Granger is active on Facebook, as well, but "the atmosphere of privacy and intimacy in the Table is safer, more personal - people share things on the Table they wouldn't share on Facebook," Meyer said.
For example, "a woman posted a prayer request after losing a child, and six people she had never met before in her own church have connected with her for support through a grief you can only understand if you've been through it," she said.
We owe a big thanks to writer Julio Ojeda-Zapata and the Pioneer Press team for such a complimentary story, and to all the Table champions who spoke with Julio and shared their story. Check out the full article at the Pioneer Press.
Today's your last chance to enter our Birthday Video Contest. We've had some great entries come in and we're excited to announce a winner. But you've still got time. Not much time, but a little.
If the idea of making a video sounds overwhelming, don't worry. Your video can be quick and simple. We even have some helpful tips on making videos. Check out this short, simple video from Josh in Bismark, N.D., talking about small groups:
That's awesome. And Josh just picked up a camera and talked. You could easily do that on your lunch break!
Share a story of how God is working through the Table in your church or in your life. We want to hear about the cool things happening in your churches (like Patrick's story of getting support through baptism or Melissa's story of following through when she say's she'll pray). That's what this contest is all about—these stories are the best way to encourage people to try the Table at your church. So do it to encourage your fellow congregation to get more out of the Table.
Oh, and you could also win a new iPad.
Enter today. It's your last chance.
It's a great example of the church truly being the body.
- All Prayers: You can search through all prayers, adding search terms to find specific needs that are on your heart to pray for. Maybe you search for "hospital" or "family." You could also search for people's names to find prayers posted by specific people. The results will show prayers over time at your church and show how God is working.
- Urgent Prayers: Use the dropdown to select "Urgent Prayers" and leave the search box blank to see all the prayers marked as urgent. This is a quick way to see the urgent needs in your church.
- Not Prayed For: Again you can use the dropdown, select "Not Prayed For" and leave the search box blank to see prayers that haven't been prayed for at all. This means that nobody has clicked the ‘Pray Now' button for these prayers. This is a great way to pray for some neglected requests and give needed encouragement.
Let's pray now.
This Wednesday we're having Office Hours. Join the video conference between 3-4 p.m. CDT to get your questions answered. Stop by and chat about how the Table is working for you, swap ideas with other Table champions, learn new tips and more.
Since this is a meeting instead of our regular webinar, there's no need to register in advance. Just use the link below at 3 p.m. on March 21. Due to the limitations of video conferencing, Office Hours are limited to 16 people at a time. If it's full, you can always come back later.
Join the meeting (use this link the day of—no need to register ahead of time)
Seeing the Table in action—and God at work—is so inspiring. Here's another story about the Serve App coming through in a pinch:
Watch Angela's full video for even more examples of how her church is using the Table. This is also another entry in our Birthday Video Contest. Be sure to create your own video and share your story soon—our contest ends next week.
We also talked with Angela a few months back about how her church launched the Table and how it's going. Be sure to read the case study for Zion Lutheran Church.
The Table is all about connecting people. One simple way you can do that is by adding your skills and interests to your profile. This accomplishes three things:
- It helps people get to know you. When they check out your profile, they get a quick taste of who you are, what you like to do and what you're good at. It can be a helpful conversation starter on Sunday morning.
- It helps people find you. You can search the People Directory for skills and interests and see everyone in your church who likes biking or is good at gardening. You can search or just click on your own skills and interests to find other people with the same skills and interests. Suddenly you've found a bunch of book lovers in your church who might help you start a book club.
- It helps you find ways to serve. When you add the Serve App to your Me page it can pull up volunteer opportunities that might appeal to you. It does this based on location, volunteer categories you choose, and the interests and gifts you list in your profile. This can be a good way to discover more volunteer opportunities in your church and get involved.
But these things only work if you add your skills and interests. Go to your profile, click on "Edit Profile" and then go to "About Me" to add your skills and interests today (watch this video for more help).
We've made some simple changes to our notifications system and given users more control. Unlike email alerts, notifications show up in the "Messages" section of the Table. Notifications let you know what people are doing on the Table—new prayer requests, new photos, a comment on your discussion, etc. We used to send notifications for everything—which meant your messages count would add up pretty quickly. We've made some changes to simplify and improve the experience:
- First of all, you'll see in the Edit Profile > Notifications & Email section that you now have control of your email alerts and your Table notifications.
- We've also simplified this subscription screen to an icon view. To change your Table notifications you select the icon on the left, for emails you use the one on the right. The dropdown at the top gives you access to several different types of subscriptions, giving you control over nearly 30 subscription options.
- Also, we've limited the number of notifications that appear in the "Messages" section of the Table to 25. They're also automatically marked as read when you view them. This way you can be sure the notifications you see are fresh. No more notification pile up!
Hopefully these changes will make notifications more useful and allow you to see at a glance what's happening on your church's Table. These changes also lay the ground work for some more fun improvements that are coming soon.
The Table is a great place to ask questions and get to know your fellow church members. Sometimes people are eager to get to know one another, but they're unsure how to start. Throwing out a simple question can be a good way to break the ice and get people talking. Head over to the discussion board and post your question.
- Did you have a question about the sermon on Sunday? Posting a question to the Table is a great way to tap into the wisdom of your community, whether you missed something or you want to dive deeper.
- Have a good idea but you're not sure how to get started, if it's the right fit, if anybody would care? Crush those doubts by asking your fellow church members what they think. Chances are somebody will think it's a great idea and more than one person needs exactly what you were thinking about.
- Maybe you just want to get to know people. Ice breaker questions are a great way to learn more about people. You can ask what people like about your church, why they started coming, how they became Christians, etc. You could even make them seasonally appropriate: Ask about favorite Easter memories or advice they'd share with this year's graduates.
There's wisdom, support and community in those pews. Just ask some questions.