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 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.


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

A Thankful Tech Heart: Theotek Podcast #047

What technology are you thankful for this year. We did our favorite tech of the year using thanksgiving as our theme since we recorded the podcast the day after Thanksgiving.

The Tech we're thankful for this year!
The Tech we’re thankful for this year!

We welcomed my son Michael Purcell to the Theotek team for this week’s podcast. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelJ_Purcel.

Here’s our list of our favorite tech for 2015 that we’re thankful for.

google translate for android
Google Translate helps Wes communicate with the Brazilian pastor he works with.

Wes shared Google Translate, which takes voice input from someone and lets him easily translate it to English. He talks to the pastor of an ethnic congregation that’s now part of his church using the app. Find it for iOS and Android.

wifi bible
Antoine likes Wi-Fi Bible which serves up the Bible over Wi-Fi in many formats.

Antoine talked about Wi-Fi Bible, which he shared a few podcasts ago when he returned from Australia.

lg v10 phone
Michael likes his new phone, the LG V10.

Michael Purcell just got the new LG V10. He claimed the battery was bigger. It’s not, but it seems to last longer for him. It’s a rugged phone with a great camera and nice fingerprint reader on the back. The headline about this phone is the second screen where he stores app shortcuts, his name and notifications.

ipad pro apple pencil

My first favorite tool is the iPad Pro. I wrote about how it changed the way I work over at GottaBeMobile.

Next Wes talked about his love for Adobe Creative Cloud’s photo plan, which gives users access to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom for just $10/month. It’s a great deal and he loves using it. It’s awesome for editing photos and organizing them as well in Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile.

See my post about editing photos on the iPad Pro.

verse3 ipad app

A few weeks ago we talked about a new Bible app. Antoine’s a real fan of this little app called Verse3 for iOS. We talked to the developer recently.

Michael's thankful for ChromeOS and really wants a Chromebook Pixel.
Michael’s thankful for ChromeOS and really wants a Chromebook Pixel.

Michael’s second pick was not as much a thing he’s thankful for, but one he’s longing for. He loves ChromeOS and wants a Google Chromebook Pixel. He adjusted his pick to say he’s thankful for ChromeOS, but still really wants one of these. He’s not going get it from me because it’s ridiculously priced at $999 or more.

For Antoine’s second pick he chose FaceTime. That’s Apple’s video chat technology and he enjoys using it to communicate with family.

Black Friday Stroll

Wes’s last pick is his DSLR camera. His form of visual art comes from his Nikon D7000. Check out one of his gallaries at Flickr, “A Black Friday Stroll”.

surface pro 4 type cover
The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover includes a fingerprint in the more expensive version.

The Surface Pro 3 is a great tablet that I love. When Microsoft released the Surface Pro 4 I didn’t think it had enough to warrant an upgrade. I may do some hand-me-down with the 3 and get the 4 next year. Until then, I grabbed the new accessories. The Surface Pen generation 4 and the Surface Type Cover with the fingerprint reader. I love the Pen’s tips which give you a different writing experience. The keyboard is a better keyboard and the fingerprint reader is a nice addition.

The last pick came from Michael. He hopes to go into ministry with the deaf. So he chose an app that helps you communicate with the deaf even if you don’t know sign. The Deaf Bible app includes videos showing someone signing each verse of the Bible. Watch the same above.





Accordance 11.1 Update with Dr. J: Theotek Podcast #045

Accordance users will recognize that Dr. J. isn’t a basketball player from Philadelphia, but the guy who taught them most of what they know about Accordance Bible Software. He joined us to show off the Accordance 11.1 update.

Some of the things in this update include:

  • Users can now more easily edit their User Notes and User Tools since the Edit Window got an overhaul
  • Import Bibles with Unicode and expanded canons as well as non-biblical texts
  • Syntax Tree and Graphical Constructs got an update
  • Interlinear support enhanced
  • Instant Details enhanced
  • Add custom icons to the Accordance Library
  • Link to content with the new URL (accord://) instead of http:// or ftp://
  • Gesture support for trackpads and touchscreens while using images, Atlas or Timeline
  • Print articles from the Table of Contents
  • Incorporate MT-LXX data in Analysis window and related graphics

accordance 11.1 update

Learn more about them at the Accordance blog which also links to a more detailed post about the new features listed above and more.

Verse3 a New iOS Bible App: Theotek Podcast #044

With the new iPad Pro coming out this month and iOS 9 supporting side-by-side windows of 2 apps, a tool like Verse3 makes a lot of sense. This simple Bible app that doesn’t use the same Bible display framework we’re used to. In fact it takes the focus and puts it on the person listening to a sermon or Bible study. The user can open multiple verses on the screen at a time and add their notes inline with those verses.

Here are a few of the benefits of Verse3 ($4.99 in the iTunes app store).

  • Fast and simple to use
  • Minimalistic design
  • Fuzzy search feature where you can search for love and it returns all forms of that word
  • Share your notes and verses in Dropbox as text files

What would you use Verse3 for? Collect a list of verses for a study. Keep one verse on-screen while the speaker or teacher refers to others. Add notes before or after a verse.

Take a look at the app in the screen shot slide show below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to learning about Verse 3 we learned about Antoine’s trip to Australia for two interesting conferences related to church and Bible technology. He told us about an app from 5fish called Gospel in Every Language. Learn more at the 5fish website. The conference he attended can be found here.

wordsearch 11 library windows

WORDsearch 11 Update Demo: Theotek Podcast #040

We were fortunate enough to have Rick Milone from WORDsearch to show off their latest update. WORDsearch 11 came out last week with some awesome new features. Rick showed them off and then talked about what sets WORDsearch apart from other programs.

wordsearch 11 library windows

After talking about WORDsearch we also delved into iOS 9 and the new ad blocking feature that lest third-party ad blockers stop content from littering your Safari pages.

Watch the video above from YouTube or listen to the audio version below. Also look out for my review in Ministry Tech Magazine’s October issue and here on coming soon.

Kevin Surrenders to the Apple Watch: Theotek Podcast #036

After stating on more than one occasion that I’d never get an Apple Watch, guess what I did? I got an Apple Watch. It was under some unusual circumstances and I still don’t think it’s worth the $400 ($350 for the smaller version) price tag Apple put on it. This cost will also run up the price of other Smartwatches, which I don’t like. Find out what I think by watching or listening to episode 36 of the Theotek Podcast below.

The other things we discussed include Logos 6.5, which recently came out. Wes recommended Scapple, a nice mind mapping program. It’s not really mind mapping, but that’s the closest description to what Scapple does.


In a bit of congnitive dissonence I also upgraded to a Google Nexus 6 smartphone. I talk a little about that decision as well. Finally, we chat about Church website SEO based on an article from Church Tech Today.


Backup Strategies: Theotek Podcast #035

Our team discusses backup strategies. What do you do to back up your data so that you can quickly recover from a messed up hard drive, a failure of your phone, loss or theft? Listen to hear our plans for backing up our mobile devices and computers.

windows 10

Theotek Podcast #034: Windows 9, I Mean Windows 10

Windows 10 finally launched with a few upgrade hiccups, but it’s mostly a nice update to the Windows operating system. We talk in this week’s Theotek Podcast #034: Windows 9, I Mean Windows 10 about some of the things we really like and don’t like about the Windows 10 operating system and the update.

Windows 10 is easy to get. Just download the ISO or update media creation tool from Microsoft. The other option means waiting for Microsoft to offer it to you, if you reserved a copy using the little white Windows logo that pops up in the Windows 7 and Windows 8 system tray.

Upgrading to Windows 10

The upgrade goes smoothly for most people, but as always, backup your important data. I recommend doing that and then restoring your computer to factory spec using the recovery tool in Windows 8 or using your computer manufacturer’s recovery system if you’re running Windows 7. This will help you get a better Windows 10 experience. After restoring to Windows 8 or Windows 7 factory spec, then update all the drivers using Windows Update. Finally, after all that, run the update you downloaded using the link above.

windows 10

OneDrive users will find a strange change from Windows 8. In Windows 8, OneDrive would put links to all of your files that aren’t installed locally. In other words, when a user set up OneDrive in Windows 8, they didn’t have to download all their files, but the folder looked like they did. Some of the files would only be placeholders so you knew what files your OneDrive stash contained online even if they didn’t reside on the hard drive. Click on a placeholder and Microsoft would download the file and then open it.

This placeholder method worked great on computers with limited storage. Users knew what they have online, but the file didn’t eat up precious space on a low-end computer or tablet with only 16 or 32GB of local storage, like the HP Stream 13 I own. However, in Windows 10 doesn’t work this way. They removed the placeholders in Windows 10 and only shows the files actually residing on the local hard drive. Some people prefer it this way but many of us like having the placeholders. Microsoft plans to restore the feature in an upcoming update.

Theotek Podcast

We record the Theotek Podcast every Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. using Google Hangouts. Follow me on Google hangouts to get notified when we go live. You can watch it after the fact on YouTube or via iTunes. Podcast app users can also listen by searching for Theotek in the app. Get all the links to the audio on