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Viewing entries tagged with 'prayer'
Watch Substance: Prayer Story (1:02)
As Peter says, "It's happening all by itself!"
Redeemer Church is a newly planted church in Round Rock, Texas, that's officially launching Jan. 15, 2012. For the past year the church's core team has been growing, led by Pastor Josh Reeves. They'll have about 60 people when they launch. Josh is the lead pastor and the primary champion for the Table.
Why did you decide you needed a tool like the Table?
Josh Reeves: We had a similar tool we had used at our sending church and it really helped organize and streamline communication. We liked that particular tool but didn't have the extra funds to spend during our first few months. The Table had a polished professional look and the price was certainly right.
When did you launch and how did that process go?
Josh: We launched the Table as soon as we got our invite. At that point we only had 10-12 people so it was fairly straightforward getting them signed up. As we met new people we simply invited them to sign up.
Does having the Table ingrained in your culture before your church even launches make it easier for new people to jump on board and assimilate into the life of your church?
Josh: I think it helps quite a bit. Instead of having 200 people trying to get on board with the Table at one time, we have two to three every couple weeks. They see that everyone else is bought in and in most cases request to be added before we can get them on there. It is definitely an important part of assimilating people into our community. Once they are on the Table they have a community group and also have access to everything that is going on church wide. So if they are looking to get connected they're now able to see when one of the moms posts about a play date or the guys are playing football in the park.
What has your church's reaction been to the Table? How much are they using it?
Josh: I think there will always be a small percentage of technology rebels who refuse to do more than sign into their email (if that). Other than those few people, most people are using it fairly regularly. We plan all our community group meals through the Table so that forces people to get on. I think the iPhone app has helped.
Can you share a story or two of how people are using the Table and being impacted?
Josh: We had several people on our core team who were able to keep up with the new people we met through the Table. As we posted various prayer requests it was a great way to connect our people waiting to move here to the people already here in Round Rock.
We have had several times where we needed our people to pray specifically for a situation in the church. Just a few weeks ago one of our families had a newborn baby and there was a health issue that kept the baby in the hospital longer than normal. It was great to be able to put up a prayer request and then give updates all in one place. There is something really encouraging about seeing that people are actually praying for you. The newborn ended up going home completely healthy a few days later and I know the prayers seen through the Table meant a ton to the family.
What advice do you have for other churches considering the Table?
Josh: As a church plant we had no prior expectations in place, so implementing the Table quickly was easy. I think if other pastors are considering implementing the Table they need to phase it in. You need to think through the way that you are going to use it and commit to sticking with it even if people don't get it for a while. It takes time for people to see the value in it. Many people think it is some kind of Facebook alternative and therefore they see it as just another social media site to log in to. I think with solid training and well thought out use of the Table they will catch on at some point. Find a small segment of people who are making it work and let them help you bring others into it.
As a church plant, how has the Table been uniquely helpful for your situation?
Josh: People are sometimes wary of church plants early on. For us the Table (along with our website) brought some early credibility. It is also a great way to connect with all the new people we meet. Email was typically the first thing we sent to visitors, and after a few visits most people would ask to be added to the Table. When people asked to be added on the Table it gave us an idea of their initial commitment to the church plant.
What's your favorite feature of the Table?
Josh: My favorite feature is the prayer app. It is a great way to put specific needs out to the church and see people committing to pray together. When we pray for each other we often neglect to share that and the app allows people to be aware of the people praying for their need. It also helps that the prayer app is integrated into the Table's iPhone app allowing you to use it from anywhere.
Thanks for sharing Josh!
One of the beautiful things about the Table is the ability to receive encouragment in the moment of need. Anke experienced a great example of that:
Zion Lutheran Church, just west of the Twin Cities in Buffalo, Minn., launched the Table in the fall of 2011. We talked with Table champion Angela Bengtson about their experience. Angela has worked at Zion for 10 years and currently handles communications. The church has around 600 attending on an average Sunday.
Why did you think your church needed a social network like the Table?
Angela Bengtson: I didn't really get that we needed it until after we got started. It didn't take long in our trial to see the the potential for new and deeper connections between members.
Why did you choose the Table?
Angela: Honestly, the biggest factor was that I didn't have to worry about budget.
How did you get your church's leadership on board with the Table?
Angela: Got key staff involved early on in the trial. I was extremely lucky that the timing happened to fit in nicely with a vision process that includes a 'Connecting with Care' initiative.
When did you launch the Table and how did it go?
Angela: October 2, the same day the worship services/sermon was based on the 'Connecting with Care' initiative. The Table was mentioned in the sermon, and we timed an email blast so that most people would receive it while they were at worship. We had not huge but steady sign ups for a week or two, but that's dropped off now and we need to come up with something to widen the circle.
Did you do anything else besides the sermon mention and an email blast for your launch Sunday?
- "I [Heart] Table" and "Got Table?" stickers on those who were already signed up on launch day.
- An info table in the narthex throughout October on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights with a volunteer or two available to help, intro video playing nearby. T-shirts on the volunteers.
- Postcards that were handed out in a few places like choirs, Wednesday supper, etc.
- The two-month vision sermon series included an extra weekly bulletin insert each week featuring a member testimony and sermon related resources. Table info was included as a major item on launch Sunday and a small item maybe two other weeks.
Did you run into any roadblocks as you launched? How did you deal with them?
Angela: I'm a little disappointed with the sign-up rate post-launch. We had about 100 users pre-launch from test groups, and six weeks after launch we only have just over 200 users. I had expected more growth following the launch.
I think one of the problems is people seeing the Table as 'like Facebook'. Some of this is our own fault for using the familiar Facebook to help describe what a social network is. Unfortunately we seem to have many members who are perfectly happy with Facebook, and a lot more members who want nothing to do with Facebook or, by extension, any other social network. I'm thinking we need to find a way to not even describe the Table as a 'social network'. Maybe focus on it as more a 'member portal' or something. I'm thinking a sort of re-launch/renewed sign up focus is in order for January (it is just too busy with everything else at this time of year).
With slower adoption than you expected, why is it worth it to keep pushing the Table?
Angela: The Table has been a wonderful tool for those who have chosen to jump in. Our challenge is to find ways to communicate that to the rest of the congregation who have a pre-conceived notion of what a social network is.
What are some ways you've encouraged people to use the Table?
- I did a demo between services (there were six attendees, all age 60+, who had already signed up but had questions).
- We tried the Christmas photo suggestion with limited response.
- One pastor started to blog and we are promoting the Table as the place to find that using the RSS app (although he has not been consistent with posting yet).
Can you share some stories of how the Table is being used?
Angela: Lots of prayer. Limited use of the Serve App so far, but where it has been used we have had people sign up for volunteer positions they otherwise hadn't or wouldn't have gotten involved with. One member needed 20 people to take a survey for a class she was in and had 10 commit within a few hours of posting her request.
What's one thing about the Table that's surprised you?
Angela: How quickly prayer requests are responded to.
Can you tell us more about your experience with the Prayer Wall?
Angela: We've had anything from one to two requests a week to one to three requests a day for several consecutive days. Most requests have had 15-20 people praying and one or more comments. One user in particular (who wouldn't know many of the others personally) often takes the time for an eloquent prayer in the comments. One prayer I noticed had 30 different people praying (the count was higher with some duplicates, but that is counting pics on the response page). If 30 of 200 users are clicking the 'Pray Now' button (and maybe another 30 are receiving a notification and joining in prayer without clicking the button), that in itself makes the Table worthwhile.
What advice do you have for other churches considering launching the Table?
Angela: Use all the great resources available: read the blog, watch the videos, frequent the Get Satisfaction forum. Really know where the 'edges' of your community will be as far as inactive members—we're wrestling with some of that already.
What's your favorite feature of the Table?
How do you see the Table changing things at your church?
Angela: I see people who are using the Prayer Wall being more connected to each other.
I see some Serve opportunities being filled by people we wouldn't necessarily expect, or maybe wouldn't even think to ask if we were asking for help in another way.
From one user: "I, too, feel more connected to my Zion family as a result of our sharing together and praying together, here at The Table."
Thanks for sharing Angela!
When life gets turned upside down we often turn to prayer. And prayer works! The Table encourages prayer in your church and it's a powerful way to build connections, especially with people new to your church.
The Table removes the barriers to interaction in your community and makes it easier for people to encourage one another. Just ask Jean:
It's always fun to see churches getting excited about the Table, and even cooler to see people praying daily for each other.
stories of how the Table is impacting people or share your own.
The Table is a great way for missionaries to connect with their home church. Many missionaries struggle with posting sensitive details of their work online and often can't share their true struggles on public sites like Facebook. Being away for several years can also mean they lose touch. People come and go and pretty soon their home church doesn't feel like home.
But the privacy and community-building power of the Table can be just what missionaries need. Invite your church's missionaries to join the Table:
- Encourage them to post prayer requests and keep your congregation updated.
- Use groups to support your missionaries. Maybe you create a single group for all your missions work and encourage missionaries around the world to connect and share packing tips and visa woes. Or you could create a group for each missionary and encourage church members to rally around each one and give them individual attention, prayer and support.
- The Serve App could be a great way to meet needs when missionaries are home on furlough. A place to stay, a car to borrow and babysitting are just a few of the needs they might have.
Since your missionaries are likely overseas (duh), they've understandably missed all your Table promotion. Make a special effort to invite them to the Table. Make a quick pitch of the benefits for them and let them know you're available to answer any questions.
Establishing these kinds of connections can be lifesavers for your missionaries and give your congregation a broader understanding of the world. Pakistan, Haiti or Sudan don't seem so far away when you're praying and interacting with your missionaries.
It's Thanksgiving this week and it's a good reminder to say thanks. Every week is a good week to give thanks, but this week we get an extra special reminder in the form of delicious eats and that post-meal nap/coma.
The Table encourages giving thanks with the option to post praise updates to the Prayer Wall. This week is a good time to exercise that feature and give thanks. We all have things we can be thankful for. Post a few to your Prayer Wall and as a church body say thank you to God.
In case you need a few ideas of things to be thankful for...
- Family and friends.
- Food on the table.
- Your church and the hardworking (overworked?) staff.
- Sometimes a child's answer is the best. Go on, name the ridiculous stuff you're actually very thankful for: Down blankets, Pixar movies, Jell-O—whatever floats your boat.
- In this economy we should all be thankful for our jobs.
- Technology—we're especially grateful for the wonders of technology that offer us maps to get to Grandma's house, cell phones to call when we're late and the Internet to look up last minute recipes.
- A country where we have the freedom to worship as we see fit.
- The Table (we're certainly thankful for the opportunity to work here).