wes allen painfullyhopeful

Theotek Extra: Wes Allen Pastor and Tech Consultant

Wes Allen is one of our regulars on the Theotek Podcast. In this Theotek Extra I go one on one with Wes. We talked about his entry into tech, his church ministry and his work with the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey as their Communications Consultant.

Wes blogs at Painfullyhopeful.me where he posts frequently.

wes allen painfullyhopeful

Wes talked about his Smugmug portfolio of photos.


How to Start a Podcast: Theotek Podcast #092

This week we talk about how to start a podcast with tips for getting started, where to host it and how to handle the workflow. We used LaRosa Johnson’s Devos.hiphop podcast as our case study. Make sure you check it out.

devos.hiphop podcast

Would you like to post your sermons online or maybe create a weekly show to tell members of your church about upcoming news. Maybe you’ve got something you want to say the Christian world or just want to give tips for how to make mac and cheese. An audio podcast can bring your message to the greater world in a fun and interesting way. Watch the video below to learn more about how LaRosa creates and Devos.hiphop podcast. And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel as well.

Podcast Recording Hardware

In the video we talked first about the tools needed for recording a podcast. You can record on your computer with a mic hooked up to it. That’s how LaRosa records his podcast. He and Rick Mansfield both use the Blue Yeti microphone.


The mic will plug into your computer’s USB port. It’s got a number of modes great for using solo, with 2 people on either side of the mic, or with a group of users. It’s noise cancelling too, so you get a pretty good recording.

zoom recorder

Some people record their podcast using their iPhone or Android phone. Others use a tablet like an iPad or Android tablet. We also talked about using the Zoom Recorder, which records to flash storage. Then you can copy it over to a computer or mobile device.

The computer used doesn’t need to break the bank. Most basic machines work great. Any Mac or Windows computer made in the last five years will work. It’s the same for phones or tablets.

Podcast Recording Software


A great piece of software called Audacity records audio and makes for easy editing. It’s free and open source, has a great community of users supporting it and is both easy to learn and powerful enough for complex multi-track recording.

Other recording options include the high-end tools like Pro Tools or Adobe Audition. On a Mac, use Garage Band. Most phones or tablets have an audio recording app either pre-installed or available in the app stores. We talked about Ferrite Recording Studio, a great iOS app.

Hosting Your Podcast

Lybsyn is a great service for hosting your podcast. It costs $5/month to upload up to 50mb/month. If that’s not enough, you can pay $15/month for 250mb. Our podcast runs about an hour and takes up about 20-25mb each file. Since we do more than 2/month we’d need the 250mb/month tier.

seriously simple podcasting

Theotek uses a host and WordPress to run our site. I upload the file to our host and link to it in WordPress using a plugin called Seriously Simple Podcasting. It puts a section at the bottom of your WordPress screen where you can either upload the MP3 file or past the link, if you use something like Lybsin. Then add other information. Notice in the screenshot above you can add the following info:

  • Episode Type – click audio or video.
  • Podcast file – either paste the link here or click on Upload File and choose the MP3 file on your hard drive and it uploads it for you.
  • Duration – this will fill in automatically when you save the page or publish it.
  • File size – this also will fill in automatically like the duration.
  • Date recorded – click the box and a calendar pop lets you choose the date you recorded the podcast.
  • Explicit – hopefully churches or ministers won’t need to check this.
  • Block – if you don’t want this one to show up in iTunes for some reason check this.

You could upload the files to the Internet Archive or to YouTube. The first will host your files. LaRosa used to use that for his Blaizin’ Faith podcast. With YouTube, you’re really creating a video, but the focus will be on audio. Just use your album cover art as the image.

Tips for Podcasting

Finally, we’ve got a few tips for a successful podcast.

  • Pick a topic that’s interesting and that you’re passionate about so you can keep going.
  • Edit your ID3 Tags, so your podcast has the details embedded in the MP3 files (title, artist, description, copyright, etc).
  • Share your podcast on iTunes and Google Play Store podcasts (follow Libsyn’s How To).
  • Make an attractive cover art, which shows up in your podcast app or the podcast service like iTunes.
  • Use Google’s Feedburner to make a good RSS feed that will work with iTunes and the other services.

Favorite Things

Rick Mansfield shared his Favorite Things – the KDLinks Dash Cam. Find out more about it at their website. Here’s a couple of samples of the video you get from the camera.

Antoine Wright joined us at the tail end of the podcast because he was travelling. His favorite thing was more of a tip. He suggested using something like Impact Hub, a coworking space. This is an office for those who don’t have one. It provides a workspace with Internet, a mailbox and address for deliveries, and camaraderie of being with others even if you work alone. This might offer a nice option for solo pastors or those who are planting a church and don’t own property yet.

Stop Killing Dead Trees: Theotek Podcast #091

The church uses a lot of paper to share its message, whether that message tells members and attendees what’s happening this week, the order of worship that day, or asks them to sign up for activities. In this episode of the Theotek Podcast we talk about using digital alternatives to paper bulletins, newsletters and even sign-up sheets.

Watch the podcast below from our YouTube Channel. The end includes a review of my Apple AirPods.

Digital Alternatives to Bulletins or Newsletters

In the episode above we talked about a few options for digital alternatives to paper communication tools. For example, if you want to text your entire congregation or even send up a voice mail over the Internet consider a service like CallEmAll.

Use a service like CallEmAll to send mass text messages.

I use CallEmAll at my church, High Peak Baptist Church. We only use it for emergencies, but it’s reliable and easy to use. You could send weekly reminders about events, activities or worship times. You can also categorize members into groups like your choir, youth group, parents, seniors, or Sunday school teachers. Only contact them. The service isn’t free, but it’s also not expensive. It costs 9 cents for credits and a text message is a single credit while voicemail counts as two credits.

Wes Allen said he used to create an eBook for his weekly church bulletin. People could download it from the website. They also put announcements on their WordPress Blog. Another alternative is SquareSpace, a web hosting and content management solution that a lot of people are using instead of WordPress.

Two other services that include digital bulletin alternatives are YouVersion’s Bible app and Logos/Proclaim from Faithlife. We’ve talked about this before on Theotek. You can put your bulletin, order or service, scriptures and more in these apps. If people install the mobile version, they can use open the bulletin on the phone. Some of the things these services handle include:

  • Bible readings in the service
  • Announcements
  • Images
  • Links to the website or other sites
  • YouTube videos
  • Giving
  • Surveys
  • Sign-ups
  • And more

YouVersion’s Bible app offers YouVersion events to the church. The church signs up and then someone from the church creates a weekly event for your worship service. The above video explains more about how it works.

The Faithlife Bulletins service works with Proclaim and Logos. Users can join an online social media group at Faithlife’s website where they’re receive the bulletins. Also, Proclaim offers live signals which get sent to the mobile Logos app on a phone or tablet. See my recent review of Proclaim 2.0 at Church Tech Today.

Don’t forget services like Mail Chimp for sending out email newsletters. Also, consider using a Facebook Group as your primary way of getting news out about your church.

Digital Sign-ups

As mentioned above people can sign up for events or to volunteer in the mobile apps from YouVersion and Faithlife. We also talked about using a kiosk system where people sign up at a computer or tablet in the church. Set up a Google Form to do this and it sends the list to you automatically in a spreadsheet.

WordPress and SquareSpace offer online forms for sign-ups. Search for a form plugin in WordPress or SquareSpace.

What About People Without Computers, Smartphones or Tablets?

The question arose in our discussion. What do you do for those in your congregation who don’t use or own a computer, a tablet or a smartphone? Maybe they do, but don’t feel comfortable using them for the above solutions. This is where community comes in.

Announce occasionally that such people should pair up with someone who does use these tools. Maybe a senior adult can have their son or daughter or a good friend print the digital email newsletter or bulletin. Those with these tools can look out for things their non-technical friends or family would find interesting. They can share it when appropriate.

Try to make a limited number of paper version available if possible. For example, you’ve already got the graphics and copy for a newsletter in email form or on a website. Why not just copy/paste to a document and print off just enough for this group?

Apple AirPods Review


At the end of the show, I reviewed my Apple AirPods. Here’s my bullet list review:

  • They sound great.
  • Pairing with an iPhone is awesome and easy; just open the lid and a dialog box offers to pair.
  • Once you pair with one Apple device iCloud syncs the pairing with others so you don’t have to pair again to an iPad or Mac.
  • They fit my ears better than the Apple earbuds in the iPhone box.
  • The battery life is good.
  • You can use one AirPod at a time to double your battery life if you don’t mind forgoing stereo sound.
  • Open the lid on the AirPods and a window pops up showing battery life.
  • They’re way too expensive at $159, but I’m sure glad I bought them.
antoine wright

Antoine Wright from the Future: Theotek Extra

I interviewed Antoine Wright, one of the co-hosts of the Theotek Podcast. Antoine’s a mobile tech and mobile ministry expert. He’s a consultant to believers and churches in using mobile tech to communicate the Gospel. He also helps people and companies with their user-interface design and other general tech topics.

This is the first in a 5-part interview series with our co-hosts on the Theotek Podcast.

Be sure to listen or watch all the way to the end since we ended with our Theotek Quiz, a 7-part questionnaire meant to help people learn more about the subject being interviewed. It’s a fun way to get to know our guests.

Follow Antoine on Twitter at @arjwright.


Take Note of Note Taking Apps and Tools: Theotek Podcast 090

Do you use your iPad, iPhone, Android device or Windows tablet for digital note taking? Then we have the show for you! We discussed our tools and techniques for digital note taking in this edition of the Theotek Podcast.

Note taking is a very personal thing, so our crew shared their favorite apps and tools for taking notes. This includes everything from handwritten notes using the Apple Pencil, Surface Pen or a stylus, to typed notes and even some mind mapping. Watch the video below or scroll down to listen to the audio version at the bottom.

Note Taking Apps

note taking with notability on ipad
Notability on the iPad

The apps we use for taking handwritten notes mostly include the following:

antoine sketchnotes paper 53 visual note taking
A “sketchnote” of one of my sermons by Antoine Wright using Paper and Pencil from 53.

If you’re going to type your notes then consider …

Wes Allen mentioned a mind-mapping app called iThoughts. Mind-mapping takes your ideas and puts them down on paper or on the screen in a graphical way using shapes, arrows and lines. Think of a flow chart for ideas. Take a look at the iPad app in action in the video below. They offer a macOS version too.

The Best Stylus for Taking Notes

adonit snap
Adonit Snap stylus is super thin

What’s the best stylus for taking notes. The first on all our lists is the Apple Pencil. It’s almost perfect. For Windows users, the Surface Pen’s just about as good.

pencil by fiftythree

In addition we like the following stylus options:

adonit snap camera shutter button
The Adonit Snap button works as a camera shutter button too.

Adonit makes a bunch of these. The kind with the clear plastic disc at the end of the stylus doesn’t work that well, so we don’t recommend them. My personal favorites include the Pixel and Snap. The Snap looks like a carpenter’s pencil, much like the Pencil by 53 does. It has a button that doubles as a camera shutter button on both iPhone and Android. Both of these work with both iOS and Android.


We also talked about the wonderful artwork that Antoine Wright does when he takes notes. He calls them Sketchnotes and has a whole album of them on Flickr. Here’s the slide show of his beautiful notes.

antoine sketchnote

Theotek Extra Live at CES 2017

Antoine Wright went to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and Wes Allen and I caught up with him during a Theotek Extra. These are shows outside or normal weekly podcast. We’ll have more Theotek Extras coming soon. Here’s the YouTube video.

change your password to ward off hackers

Tech New Years Resolutions: Theotek Podcast #089

Every year in January people make New Year’s Resolutions, and often break them by the end of the month. Still we do it.

Our team made some resolutions for our technology lives in the areas of general tech, church and Bible tech. We shared them in this week’s episode of the Theotek Podcast. Watch it below and please consider clicking on the YouTube link and subscribing to our YouTube channel.

Here are the tech resolutions we made and shared in this video.

Wes Allen’s Resolutions

Wes decided to switch his Bible reading app from the YouVersion Bible app back to Olive Tree’s Bible Reader. He likes it better and enjoys not getting a bunch of unnecessary notifications like who started or finished what reading plan. He could just turn off the Bible app notifications, but he also likes the way Bible Reader handles devotional readings.

wes allen openclipart.org images

The Adobe Capture CC app lets Wes capture an image and then turn it into a black and white image, which he then turns into clip art using his Apple Pencil to colorize or touch it up. So this year he’s going to share them on OpenClipart.org to share with others. You can find his uploads at the site.

For churches, Wes suggests they know their limitations and not try to do too much. Just because the big mega church uses the most expensive church database software or worship representation tool doesn’t mean we have to in our small churches.


LaRosa Johnson’s Resolutions

ipad pro apple pencil

We all talked about curbing the amount of tech we have in our lives. Since LaRosa just replaced his computer, tablet and watch with Apple products, he’s going to put the brakes on buying new expensive tech this year. His resolution is to made do with what he has and learn to use it more efficiently.

Our group suggested ways to meet this goal. Here’s out list of tips for remaining satisfied with what you have and avoiding shattering the tenth commandment:


  • Ask “What are you going to use it for” before buying new tech.
  • Does it improve your life in a real way that you can define?
  • If you can’t answer these two questions definitively, then definitively say no to new tech.
  • Another question to ask: Do I have something that will do this and if so why do I need this new item?
  • Have a friend who can say no to your buying to keep you accountable.

The second part of his is to figure out how to get most out of what you already have. Again, here’s a list of suggestions:

  • What are ways I can make better use of what I have?
  • Push to make them more useful by doing more with what you have.
  • Use software and apps you own and become more proficient with them, like the Scrivenor app in LaRosa’s case.

Third, LaRosa wants to also help others do more with their tech and software, specifically using Scrivener in his writing workflow.

wordpress.com is a great hosting site for simple websites

LaRosa wanted to suggest that churches take inventory of their online presence. He said something like this: if you’re church website looks like it did in the 90s, then get it updated. Wes chimed in suggesting that people use free or low-cost services that can help them make their site look more up to date, like WordPress.com or SquareSpace.com.

LaRosa then ended with the suggestion to share your sermons online using sites like YouTube or SoundCloud.

Antoine Wright’s Resolutions

Antoine doesn’t make resolutions, but thinks people need to just change behavior when they see need or learn to use new tools and skills as soon as they acquire them. However, some may like resolving to improve their lives at this time of year, so he still suggested some things we can do.

change your password to ward off hackers
Change your password to ward off hackers.

Like LaRosa, Antoine wants to emphasize helping others in two specific areas:

  • Remind people to change their passwords due to all hacking of site like Yahoo.
  • Keep your eyes on what’s coming in tech so you are ready for big shifts.

He also suggested that the people in the church branch out and get to know the rest of the body of Christ. We’re very parochial in our local congregations, in our denominations and connecting with other members of the body can help you grow in your appreciate for the whole church and for God’s people. As it relates to tech, we talked about using tech to experience new traditions even if we can’t leave our churches to worship with other believers on Sunday or Wednesdays.

Kevin Purcell’s Resolutions

I agreed with LaRosa about becoming more proficient with tech. I’m focusing on my Bible study software and other tools I already own. Lynda.com is one tool to help become more proficient with technology software and services.

My second commitment is to get organized and de-clutter my life by organizing and getting rid of gadgets I don’t use or need.

Related to the above notion of changing your password, which Antoine suggested, I talked about doing a tech security audit. Make sure your Wi-Fi passwords are good and secure and change them often. Protect your computers and especially your church’s membership data.

Rick Mansfield’s Resolutions

Rick joined us late since he was traveling home with his roller scooter after the holidays, but he reiterated the security suggestions and also plans to pare down his tech and simplify in the new year.

If you want to listen to our podcast, use the player below or subscribe using iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

Is Apple Ruining Bible Software: Theotek Podcast #087

It seems that Apple is moving away from macOS towards an iOS-centric future. If the iPhone and iPad replaces the Mac, what does that mean for the church, Bible software and companies that make tools and software to help the church and believers make disciples? That’s our discussion as we focused on the question, “Is Apple moving in that direction? If they are does that affect Windows, Mobile devices, and other platforms? What is the future of church software and technology in light of this possibility?”

The conversation began, however, with our Christmas tech toys. The gifts we got for Christmas included some fun things like the following:

  • Michael Purcell – my son joined us for this episode and got the Surface Pro 4, Type cover and Surface Pen. He explains why he loves his.
  • Wes AllenThinkGeek toys like the BB8 Waffle Maker and the R2D2 Coffee Press. He also got an Apple Pencil.
  • LaRosa Johnson – one of LaRosa’s co-workers sold him the Blue Yeti mic.
  • Antoine Wright – one of Antoine’s Kickstarter campaign investments actually came through in a positive way. He got the Lumos Bike Helmet.
  • Kevin Purcell – I got myself a Kindle Fire with the gift card for Amazon that my wife bought me.

You can always listen to the Theotek Podcast using the built-in player below or subsribe to us in iTunes and leave comments if you like us. We’re also on other podcasting apps thanks to Stitcher Radio.

What’s New in Accordance 12 and MacBook Pro with Touchbar: Theotek #086

Accordance 12’s been out for a little while, but we got a chance to see all the new features demonstrated by Mark Allison, an official trainer for Accordance Bible Software. He showed off the new things like Stacks, Paper and more.

Also, Rick Mansfield gave us his mini review of the new MacBook Pro with Touchbar. I showed off my Olloclip for iPhone 7. The shot below shows a wide-angle shot.

Here's a wide-angle shot using the Olloclip on an iPhone 7 Plus.
Here’s a wide-angle shot using the Olloclip on an iPhone 7 Plus.

Here’s what it looks like without the Olloclip using only the iPhone 7 Plus camera.

Here's a regular shot not using the Olloclip on an iPhone 7 Plus.
Here’s a regular shot not using the Olloclip on an iPhone 7 Plus.

The Fish-eye is my favorite.

olloclip fish-eye lesn
The Olloclip for iPhone 7 Fish-eye lens creates this cool effect.

Olloclip gives you a macro lens in the kit too.

macro lens olloclip
This is a drop of water on a table shot with the macro lens on the Olloclip for iPhone 7 Plus.

Wes Allen’s favorite thing comes from Edovia. It’s an app called Screens that lets you remotely control your computer from an iPad. He loves using it with the iPad Pro.

Mark Allison gave us a recommendation called Quad Lock for iPhone. It’s a case and mounting system for your phone and it attaches to bikes, a tripod and more.

You can listen to the podcast below and the intro music comes from Incompetech.com. Please consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

What’s In My Bag: Theotek Podcast 085

Our team talks about the tech gear we use in ministry and life. In this edition of “What’s in my bag?” we’ll talk about laptops, tablets, phones, favorite accessories and maybe even the bags themselves.

This edition won’t come in an audio version because it’s such a visual show. Come back next week if you prefer to listen.

MacBook Pro vs Surface: Theotek Podcast 084

Last week Apple and Microsoft unveiled new computers. Apple showed off a newly designed MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID while Microsoft refreshed their Surface Book and introduced a professional creativity focused all-in-one system called the Surface Studio. It will run the new Windows Creative Edition coming out next year. We talk about the two companies and their vision for what customers want in hardware. Watch the podcast below or listen at the bottom of this page.

Microsoft Surface Studio and Windows Creative Edition

We took the two announcements events in the order they came, starting with Microsoft’s unveiling of Windows Creative Edition. Most of what they covered focused on creating content using Windows. They were enamored with 3D since Paint gets an update to include 3D. My colleague Travis Pope of GottaBeMobile tells you all about the new version.


The SurfaceBook gets an update to the SurfaceBook 2 (starts at $2,399). It’s a two-in-one mobile device that’s mostly a laptop, but with a detachable screen. Microsoft first released it last year, but it was extremely buggy. They fixed the bugs and now they put in new processors and upped the video graphics chip for better overall performance and great battery life.


The biggest news of their event centered around the new desktop all-in-one. It’s called the Surface Studio (starts at $2,999) and comes with a huge 28-inch touchscreen that the user can adjust to use upright like a traditional desktop system or fold it down to work on it like a drafting table. Again, check out the GottaBeMobile post about it.

2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar


The biggest controversy in our discussion centered around the gimmicky nature of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Apple unveiled this updated MacBook. I don’t like that it comes with only USB-C ports. They’re great ports and I love them, hoping that in a few years that’s what everyone uses to sync and charge and connect peripherals, including the iPhone. However, we’re not there yet and we need things like an HDMI port or SD card slots. The other guys disagreed with me because they’re mostly Apple Fanboys (just kidding, sort of). Read more about it in my post for Notebooks.com.


Our Favorite Things

We ended with Our Favorite Things!

ALIWELL Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

My favorite thing was an adapter for the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus that lets users both charge and listen to their phone at the same time. The ALIWELL Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter ($18) has a Lightning connector on one end and on the other there’s a place to plug both a Lightning charging or syncing cable in and 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has volume keys and a button for answering the phone or play/pause.

ALIWELL Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter in black

It’s not perfect since it slows down fast charging adapters. I plugged my iPad charger that usually boosts the iPhone battery 10% in about 5 minutes. With this it takes longer.


Rick picked a nice iPad Pro case that comes with a sturdy secure Apple Pencil holder. The Poetic QuarterBack Case for iPad Pro 12.9 with Apple Pencil Holder ($15) covers the back of the iPad and holds your Apple Pencil in place. He loves it and convinced me to get one too. I ordered the Green and Gold version so I can run around with Green Bay Packer colors on my iPad.


It’s compatible with the Apple Smart Keyboard Cover. It also includes all the other button and port cutouts or access.

LaRosa ordered an Apple Watch 2 (starts at $369 for 38mm Series 2), so we’ll hear more about that when he gets it.