Church Snow Day: Theotek Podcast #053

This past weekend many of the churches on the East Coast of the USA had a snow day which cancelled services due to the huge snow storm. But a few churches chose to offer an online alternative using streaming and online giving. Also many churches used unique tech options to notify their members of their service cancellations. We’ll talk about it in this weeks’ first Tuesday Night Theotek Podcast #053.

The Theotek Team introduced a segment we call “Our Favorite Things”. We’ll recommend stuff at the end of the show. These include recommendations for gadgets, software, apps, services or entertainment. We had two this week. See below more information about them.

Snow Day Church Tech

We recommend these services to help get through your church’s snow day.

Call Em All

In the show we recommended a few things. First, if you need to get word out to your congregation, consider using a service like Call Em All. The paid service will call your members and regular attendees with a records message like the school superintendent who announced their school closing with a rip off the Adele song Hello. See the mock video below:

With Call Em All, you can also text people to tell them quickly that you’ve cancelled the services this week.

The service charges either a monthly fee starting around $15/month for a smaller congregation on up to higher fees for very large churches. Alternatively, a church can buy credits and use them as the need them. A credit counts for calling one person or texting two. If a church needs to contact 100 people, 20 of them with a phone call since they don’t text and 80 with text messages, then they will need 20 credits for the calls and 40 credits for the 80 text messages. The credits cost as little as 9 cents bought in a smaller quantity or as little as 9 cents for larger churches.

call em all prices

Users can sing up by sending a text message with your church’s predetermined key word. You share the text number and the key word in your church bulletin, your website, on Facebook or Twitter, or announce it at the next service.

PhoneTree

phonetree device

Another alternative comes from PhoneTree. I don’t know much about this service, but it offers an online option and a device you can buy and hook up to your phone system.

You can always use email, Facebook, Twitter or the old-fashioned phone to cancel services. These seem a little more personal, but they’re harder to do with a larger congregation. If you choose to use Call Em All or PhoneTree limit the number of times you use it and don’t spam the community. Only call your members who opt into receiving the notices. Use it primarily for emergencies or service changes like a snow day or some other cancellation or rescheduling.

Streaming Services

Once the people get the word, you may choose to offer an alternative like streaming the week’s music and message.  Not everyone on our team recommends this, but  if you choose to do this many services can help you stream for free or a low price.

Dacast is a paid service that my church uses. A paid services gives you someone to complain to when it doesn’t work. They’ll hopefully support it when the stream fails. If you don’t want to pay, then use one of the following options:

  • Google Hangouts is a great way to include more than one person like the pastor and a few others to keep it from getting boring with just one talking head.
  • YouTube – just upload a locally recorded video or use the YouTube Capture app on iPhone but not on Android.
  • Ustream or Justin TV work, but we don’t recommend them since they display ads that can be objectionable.

Church Tech Today has a roundup of a bunch of the big players in streaming services catering to churches.

Giving

givelify app

A lot of services offer online giving. We suggested that some can just use their personal bank, most of which will let users send a check to an address. Churches who use a subscription church management service can likely add online giving via credit cards. We’ve talked about Givelify, a service that has an app for giving, but it won’t mail a check and doesn’t offer an online version. This leaves people who don’t use a smart phone out.

Our Favorite Things

nochoice crazy car mount magnetic

Our first edition of “Our Favorite Things” includes two recommendations. First, I suggested the Nochoice Crazy Car Mount. It’s a magnetic mount that fastens to the car’s dash-board with adhesive. Stick a magnet to the back of your phone or case and then snap it into place with the ridiculously powerful magnet. I love it because it’s small and the phone doesn’t fall off thanks to the great magnet. The mount’s cheap at only $20 on Amazon.

aeon timeline

Wes Allen recommended an app for Mac called Aeon Timeline. It’s a timeline app that lest you create historical timelines or any other kind of timeline. He uses is for fiction story lines. It’s pricy at $40 but he says it’s worth it for writers or students dealing with historical dates or any time related use.

CES 2016: Theotek Podcast #052

Last weekend the Consumer Electronics Show did their annual thing. At CES 2016 tech companies show off the upcoming tech and get everyone excited. Of course too many of the products don’t show up ever and some end up being less than promised. Our Theotek Team will look at what they announced and share what excited us, especially as it relates to church and Bible technology.

Theotek Podcast New Time on Tuesday at 9 PM ET

Quick note. Next week we’re moving to a new time to do our live recording. Starting January 19 we will do the live show at 9:00 p.m. EST, still via Google Hangouts. This will allow us to include more guests and to accommodate our regulars who have shifting life situations.

AirStream Line Your Worship: Theotek Podcast #051

We focus on worship tech in this week’s Theotek Podcast. John Linton, the product manager from Seraphim’s new AirStream worship software joined us and talked about the program. AirStream is a complete worship solution from creating your worship presentation and production to presenting it to saving it to your website. Users can also integrate the worship streaming into their site. AirStream brings together worship planning, worship graphics creation, worship presentation and worship streaming all together into one solution. It’s not cheap, but for the large church it looks like a nice all-in-one solution.

Watch the podcast above on YouTube or listen to it below. You can also listen on your favorite podcast app. Find those links on our Theotek podcast links page.

airstream seraphim