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.

callemall
Use a service like CallEmAll to send mass text messages.

I use CallEmAllĀ 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

airpods

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.

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