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Viewing entries tagged with 'ideas'
Here is a list of 10 unique ways to use the Table during the Holiday season.
What does your family do special for Christmas or Advent?
1) Create a discussion category or photo album titled: Christmas Traditions.
2) Promote the conversation on Sunday and via the Broadcast message announcement bar.
Share Christmas card pics
You send them out to family and friends, why not let the church in on the goodness?
1) Create a Christmas Cards album on the Photo app.
2) Encourage your community to upload their images.
3) Highlight a few before sermon on Sunday.
3. Christmas Lights contest
Whether it's bright lights or great manger scenes, it is fun to see how everyone gets into the spirit.
1) Choose a prize: Maybe front row seats at your Christmas play or pastoral staff singing you carols.
2) Add a category on the photo app entitled Christmas Lights Contest.
3) Promote via Sunday service, announcement bar on the Table or via quicknote.
4) Tell people to vote by Commenting "My vote" in the comments of the picture.
4. Serving challenge
Many people are in need of help duing the holiday season, urge your community to be a light in the darkness.
1) Publically challenge the congregation to serve 1 person of the community during Christmas.
2) Encourage people to find a need in their neighborhood, community or region. Give some simple examples.
3) Take 3 minutes during a Sunday service to show people how to post a service opportunity. And fufull the ones listed.
5. Organize a community potluck
Breaking bread is a big part of the holidays. Do it as a church! There are many people that can't make it home and would love to enjoy a feast together.
1) Add the event to the Table calendar.
2) Post a serve opportunity with the things needed to pull it off - food, drinks, utencils, childcare etc.
3) Promote it through the announcement bar and on Sunday.
6. Organize a Giving tree
With 8 days left to complete your giving tree, use the Table to make sure all the items get assigned.
1) Collect specific gift needs from the families you are serving.
2) Create a Giving Tree account to facilitate the needs.
3) Post the specific needs on the Serve App.
4) Promote the giving tree via quicknote, announcement bar and on Sunday.
7. Suprise the Kids
Yes, it's a bummer that our wee ones can't join the Table. But this gives us the perfect opportunity to spring an awesome holiday suprise on them. Perhaps santa shows up during sunday school with all his reindeer in tow (picture your elder board in the costumes).
1) Send a quicknote to your elders group with the details.
2) Create a Calendar Event on the Table Calendar alerting the parents of your plot.
3) Make those kiddos laugh!
8. Offer up your favorite holiday recipe
It's time to fork over your secret ingredient to those Christmas cookies. Share your favorite recipes on the Serve app and give everyone a shot at the delights.
1) Create Discussion Topic titled "My Favorite X-Mas recipe."
2) Type your recipe into the text field or attach it in PDF form to the topic.
3) Encourage folks to post their feedback.
9. Campaign for your favorite charity
The Serve app is a great place to raise awareness about a particular charity. Make an organizations needs known via the Serve app. Give details on what they need and how someone can serve them. Be their voice!
1) Google the charity and get all the info you need (address, hours of operation, etc.). You could even call them and see if they have holiday-specific needs.
2) Create Serve Opportunity based on a need or multiple needs that charity has. Upload their logo as the photo.
3) Create tasks for everything the charity needs.
10. Invite an out-of-towner
Chances are someone who goes to your church has nowhere to go for holidays. Why chance it?
1) Create a Serve Item and title it something like "A Home for the Holidays."
2) In the description, make it clear that you wish to host anyone who doesn't have a place to go.
3) Upgrade to the 15 lb. turkey. :)
In the final days before Easter the church staff is busy with last minute preparations. But don't forget the Table. It's a great way to engage your congregation and help them celebrate Easter. Here are some ideas to involve your congregation and celebrate our risen Lord:
Easter Dinner - Unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, people don't always travel at Easter and that can mean a quiet and lonely Easter dinner. Make an open invitation to Easter dinner at your church, especially welcoming people who don't have family in town. You could post it to the Calendar and ask people to RSVP, then send them over to the Serve App to volunteer to bring a specific dish or help out.
Easter Stories - Use the Discussion Board to do some Easter sharing. Share your favorite Easter memory or celebrate Easter by sharing how you became a Christian. Sometimes it's easier to open up and share stories in an online forum.
Easter Photos - Encourage your church to share Easter photos, whether they're candid shots from your Easter service or those family portraits everyone attempts before church when the kids' shirts are still tucked in.
Easter Invite - Statistics show that people are more than willing to come to church, they just need to be invited. Send your entire church a quicknote encouraging them to invite people to church this Easter. That quick reminder might be just the thing they need to invite their coworker or friend. You could also use the tip bar to spread the word and encourage invites.
Easter Prayer - Use the Prayer Wall to pray for those who might be visiting your church for the first time this Easter. Your church has put a lot of work into preparing for Easter and you can use the Table to mobilize your congregation to support all that effort with prayer.
We wish you and your church family a happy Easter.
Quicknotes are mini messages you can send through the Table. People can receive them via email, text message and on the Table. The idea is to facilitate quick conversations and introductions (you're limited to 140 characters). If you want longer conversations, that's what email is for. Watch this video for more on how to send a quicknote.
One easy way for Table champions to encourage activity is to send a quicknote high five. Whenever you see someone new jump on the Table or someone create a new group or post a Serve item for the first time, send them a quicknote to say thanks. You an also offer to help if they have any questions.
A quicknote high five is a nice gesture, it reinforces activity on the Table and it also demonstrates how quicknotes work. You encourage people to keep using the Table, you interact more and you get to say thanks. Wins all around.
On Sunday I hosted a Table demonstration for my church during the adult education hour. I don't just blog about the Table, I'm helping to run it at my church. Which means I'm running into a lot of the same issues you are.
I learned a few things from doing the demo that might be helpful for your church:
- Giving people a place to ask questions is always helpful. I tried to anticipate the common questions, but unique stuff always comes up. So give people that opportunity to ask questions.
- At our church we didn't do a formal launch Sunday (bad move), so we've been struggling to get people on board. This was a good chance to show people how it works and answer questions. It would have been better if we did it when we launched, but late is better than never.
- I'm not a public speaker or a presenter, so this was a stretch for me, but standard advice on public speaking is always helpful: Test out your equipment ahead of time; pre-load any videos, pages or searches you plan to do; prepare an outline and practice it a few times. I caught myself gesturing to my laptop and realized too late that I needed to point to the screen (and even better, use the mouse to point out items on the screen).
- Talk about why your church is using the Table. We have a lot of blog posts that cover this and it helps to give people that vision for what the Table can do. In my presentation I backed it up with three real examples of how people in our church have already used the Table. Gives it some real world punch.
- Get some help. Have another person who is familiar with the Table there to help you answer questions. My wife has also been an avid Table user and I had her on hand. It was a big help when she jumped in to answer questions and give examples.
- If you're an Admin or SuperAdmin it's a good idea to log out and sign in as a regular Member. There are some differences in the user interface between Admin/SuperAdmin and Members that might trip you up. I was signed in as an Admin and tried to show people the ‘Flag' option for content, but since I'm an Admin the ‘Delete' option shows up instead. Oops.
- At the end be available with a laptop to answer detailed questions, show people how things work one-on-one and be ready to help people take and upload their own profile photo.
I'd also recommend giving people something to take home. I put together a handout that gave a basic overview of what I presented. I'm not much of a designer, so I just slapped together a quick one-page handout in Google Docs. Since it's already created, I'm making it available to share:
If you have a free Google Account, you can click on ‘File: Make a copy' to save your own version of the document and then customize it for your church. I highlighted all the areas that you'll need to edit. And of course feel free to change anything else to make it your own.
The easiest way to start conversation is with a question. You can't expect conversation to take off on its own. So if you want to generate conversation on your Table's discussion board, you need to prime the pump with some engaging questions.
The first thing to do is answer the question yourself. Never ask a question that you're afraid to answer. Plus your answer will encourage others to chime in.
And feel free to stack the deck—ask a few staff members or friends to answer the question and get the ball rolling. People are more likely to respond to an active thread than one so lacking in replies that you can hear the crickets.
Another key is to stick to questions that people can easily answer. Anyone can answer questions about their opinion or their experience. But if you get too specific or too deep then people have to think too hard or don't have an answer. Your goal is to ask engaging, inviting questions.
Here are some general types of questions you can use to get things started. Run one every week or every month to keep discussion rolling. You'll be amazed at how you can get to know your fellow church members. And as people see activity in the discussion board they'll be more likely to start their own discussions.
1. What about our church? People like to talk about their own experiences and asking about the shared experience of your church can get some good responses. Plus it's a good way to build community. Reflecting on why people first decided to come to your church or their favorite church memory is a good way to remind people why they love your church. That can be especially helpful when you're about to do an outreach event and are trying to encourage people to invite their friends.
2. Were you sleeping during the sermon? If you're unsure what kind of questions to ask, a sure-fire approach is to ask questions about the sermon. It's regular weekly content and asking questions about it will help your congregation get more out of it. This one is ideal to do every week in order to get people in the habit of doing it. But if you do it every week, be sure to ask questions unique to the sermon. Don't just ask what their favorite part was or what stuck out to them. Ask them what they think the parable of the seeds means or how as a church you can learn from the example of Acts 2. Make it specific.
3. How can we do this better? Churches are notorious for having outdated processes that were set up three volunteers ago and no longer efficient or productive. Before diving in with yet another system, tap into the expertise within your church and ask how you can do something better. Be sure to relate this one to people's experience—don't ask the best way to set up a new church calendar, ask how people track church events at home.
4. Getting to know you. A couple years ago on Facebook there was a popular message making the rounds that consisted of 25 random things. People would share 25 things their friends probably didn't know about them, and then their friends would do the same. It spread like wildfire. Why? People loved to read them because they could get to know their friends better and people loved posting them because they could talk about themselves. Posting a series of ‘get to know you' type questions and asking people to respond with their answers could be a good way to get conversation rolling.
5. Groups are a chance to get specific. A children's ministry might ask questions about parenting, an outreach ministry might ask for evangelism resources and a football group might ask about the best place to watch the big game.
6. What do you think about change? People have very strong opinions when it comes to change ("but that's how we've always done it!") and will be happy to share. Two discussion threads that prompted the greatest response at my church were changing the service times and ditching the weekly bulletin for PowerPoint. Nothing brings the lurkers out of the woodwork like proposing change. Just be sure you're asking for real input and you actually care about the input. Don't ask people just to ask them and then ignore their feedback. And don't manufacture a controversy just to get a discussion going. That's lame.
7. Share your story. Once upon a time the testimony was a powerful force in the church. It still can be. Ask people to share how they came to Christ or how they've responded to a crisis of faith. The bonus of these kinds of questions is that they don't require an advanced degree in theology. People can speak from their own experience.
8. What should we do for an event? Another great way to generate discussion is to ask for input on an upcoming event. If it's a regular event, ask what worked and what didn't on the last event and see what you can improve. People will be happy to share their opinions and you can make your event better.
9. Quiz time! Everybody loves a good quiz. The age of Google and Wikipedia make it harder to stump people online, but you could stick to the honor system or go with questions unlikely to be answered online (how many rows are in your sanctuary?). Questions that encourage guessing are probably better than stumpers as the goal is to get people to speak up and interact. You don't want to shut down the conversation with a total brain stumper. Something like who is Pastor Jessie's favorite Bible hero might be a fun, guessable way to start.
10. True or False? Another fun discussion starter is to throw out some historical facts about your church and play a little game of true or false. Was your church really founded in someone's basement in the 1950s? Did your church's most recent performance of the Easter Cantata really feature the youth pastor as Judas? Did your pastor really moonwalk across the platform during a sermon in the 1980s? Photographic proof is strongly encouraged.
There's a reason why they call them ice breakers. Try a few out with your church and get some discussion going.
Back in April we said hello to the Serve App and goodbye to apathy. The Serve App is a simple application on the Table that makes it easy to match skills and items with people in need. Help is a click away. It easily enables serving, sharing and giving in your church. It helps us overcome apathy and make better use of our stuff.
The Serve App offers so many ways to help that we thought we'd offer a few suggestions. Over the past 10 weeks we've offered 10 new ways the Serve App can help each week and we're thrilled to present the full list, 100 ways to use the Serve App:
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Get You Serving
- 10 Ways You Can Give it Away with the Serve App
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Get You Sharing
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Change Your Community
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Help You Move
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Help Your Church
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Help This Summer
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Help with Vacation
- 10 Ways the Serve App Can Make Someone's Day
- 10 Ways to Use the Serve App You Probably Haven't Thought Of
Check out our archived webinar to learn more about how to use the Serve App.
Share your stories of using the Serve App.
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!
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.
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)
Summer is almost here and the Serve App can help you make the most of it. Here are 10 ways you can start serving, giving and sharing this summer:
1. Backyard party supplies - Your garage is stocked with all the backyard fun: tiki torches, chairs, mosquito fogger, lawn games and more. Offer them up to your church community so anyone can host a backyard bash.
2. Canoe or kayak - You're an outdoor adventurer who braves the rapids and the portages, but not every single weekend. Take a weekend off and let someone else put your gear to good use.
3. Lawn care - Tired of mowing the lawn? Find someone in your church to pick up the lawn care duties you're too busy to tackle. You can even "volunteer" to pay them if it doesn't feel like a real volunteer need.
4. Gardening - Some people love gardening. Some people hate it. That sounds like a perfect opportunity for the Serve App. If you've got gardening needs you can request volunteers. If you're ripping up bushes or hostas you can give them away. If you've got a green thumb you can offer to share it.
5. Camping gear - As much as you'd love to, you can't go camping every weekend. So let someone else. Offer up your tent, camping chairs, portable grill, sleeping bags, camping mat and all the goodies that make for an amazing camping weekend.
6. Landscaping materials - Pea gravel, retaining wall blocks, fence materials—you always end up with leftovers. Instead of throwing them out or or letting them sit in your garage, offer them up to someone who could use them.
7. Party planning job assignments - If you're throwing a party you can request volunteers to tackle certain jobs. Set up a volunteer opportunity for your event and then add tasks for each volunteer need: Chips & dip, drinks, snacks, clean up, invitations, decorations, etc.
8. Tandem bicycle - Let's be honest: That tandem bicycle is not getting as much use as it could. Offer it up for awesome daytime dates.
9. Community tool shed - Hedge trimmers, chain saws, and post-hole diggers don't get a lot of use throughout the year. Launch a group for your neighborhood or community and set up a community tool shed with the Serve App to share these limited-use tools.
10. Create a lawn sports enthusiasts club - OK, this one may seem like a long shot but rest assured the Serve App is perfect for it. Say your family likes playing lawn sports but you want to expand your lawn sport horizons. Create a group and invite people from around your church to join. Use the Serve app with your group to figure out who has what lawn games and then start lending and borrowing! Your garage will thank you.