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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.