How to use the Vision 100 IT Calendar Feature

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Vision 100 IT website make a calendar feature available so that your website can make your church members and possible visitors aware of what's coming up.

A few things to bear in mind:

  • Make sure that all your events are put on the website. Not only does this build confidence that your webiste has all the information, but it also shows online that your church is active.
  • Make sure you have all the relevant details of your event: venue, time (start and end), cost, order of events, registration process (if any). For guest events, it can be helpful to help them know what to expect.
  • Make sure you edit events if details change. Probably most people will be aware of the change, but it would be awful for someone to find out about your event online and then turn up at the originally advertised venue even though "everyone" knows that the venue moved.
  • Visual images can make an event page on a website all the more striking: so if you have any branding, or even some more generic images, make sure these are added. Talk to it@vision100.org if you need help with graphic design and images.
  • Publish your event on all your communication platforms: don't just have your event on your website, or just in your bulletin, or just on Facebook. Make sure that all major events are on all these platforms.
  • Point people to the website event for more information.

Finally, note that our website calendar feature has a few added benefits:

  • You can create recurring events, so you don't need to add them multiple times. You can even have a weekly event that meets every week EXCEPT 2 or 3 particular occasions.
  • Your leaders and members can import your website calendar into their iCal or Google Calendar, so you are up to date with what's coming up.
  • You can tag events to a particular ministry, so that, for example, the Youth Ministry page on the website can list only those events tagged 'Youth Ministry'

Vision 100 IT's Approach to Consultancy

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In addition to our general services and products, members of our team are also available to provide tailored help to ministry leaders and/or ministry admins use IT in the service of the mission of their ministry.  We long to help ministries become efficient and effective by doing things in the clearest, easiest and fastest way possible

What is a consultancy for?

A consultancy is a more detailed way to help on a range of issues:

  • developing a new IT tool: social media, website
  • rolling out Elvanto or equivalent church management software
  • marketing, privacy, admin AV or other technical systems
  • overall assessment of how you manage information, communication and data

What options are there?

There are a few options depending on your needs and budget:

  • A series of coaching sessions, whether face to face or online
  • A large, 3 day, immersive, on-site process of observation, training and recommenadtions

What is our consultancy process?

The process we go through in helping churches in a consultancy is as follows:

  • Initial conversation: in our initial conversation, we seek to discover the context, history, felt needs and existing strategies of the ministry. After this initial conversation we cover the following areas, with a focus on those which are most significant.
  • Information flow:the way that information is gathered, updated, shared and erased within the ministry. This also includes attention to conformity with the Australian Privacy Principles and any denominational privacy policies.
  • Alignment: the way IT is being used works with rather than against your philosophy of ministry, strategy and ministry structures
  • Integration: all your IT and other tools working together in the most efficient and effective way. Removing any unnecessary steps, improving automation.
  • Training and management processes: how volunteers and staff are equipped to use IT tools and helped over time to continue to use them well.
  • Feature maximisation: using IT solutions to get the best possible advantages from them. Discovering features that are not yet being used to their full capacity, using features correctly, avoiding unnecessary features.
  • Communications plan: how is vision and practical information communicated clearly and consistently to staff, leaders, volunteers, members and outsiders?
  • Updating and assessing: setting to keep new patterns working well, and planning to regularly assess and improve.

 

Using video content to promote your church

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Increasingly video is a large part of how people consume stuff online and so it is very important for how we plan our church promotions these days.
Our bottom line answer is:
1) It's pretty hard to get reliable and adequate quality video work done for free, especially for public promotions. It is far easy and more reliable to pay for it.  Let us know if you would like the names of a few Christian-run media companies who could do you a good rate.
2) However for more informal and indirect promotions stuff, the amateur 'You Tube' video can be very effective and is a great way to start building video content.
But here's a bit more detailed advice:

1. Promotional videos are hard to do well: best option is to pay someone to do it
  • Video is a very very hard format to do well: if it's done well it's amazing, if it's done even just not-super-well it can be painful.
  • By far the best path to go down is to pay a media company to do this for you. Vision 100 IT knows a few Christian media companies who would be willing to do the work at a cheaper price (perhaps $500-1000 for 60 seconds, to give you an idea).
  • This might sound like a lot, but a really really good promotional video will be used for a long time and have a great impact in multiple contexts, so it's a real investment.
  • Going down this path still requires work from the ministry requesting the video: you need to plan the content, the angle, the words that will be said, the setting, etc. I would think a 6 week lead time would be generously realistic.
  • I recommend avoiding a straight 'talk to camera' video, as these are hard to watch. I also recommend not much longer than 60 seconds, absolutely no more than 3 minutes.
  • An example of this kind of thing is here: https://vimeo.com/83813991
  • A lot of work goes into this kind of thing, so it's rare to find someone who will do it for free, and if they do you run the risk of the job getting delayed as the rest of their life gets busy

2. You can do a more lo-fi video work with a few tweaks
  • You CAN get an amateur to make videos, but you need to be really careful and confident they are capable. Lots of little things need to be right, even on an amateur video, for it not to be inadequate:
    • good lighting
    • very good sound
    • still camera
    • smooth editing
  • There are a few things that you can do that can make a more amateur video work, with someone who has basic video skills:
    • inserting background music
    • insert well designed text to appear on screen
    • insert an opening and closing panel
  • As a result, this really still requires significant expertise and time... so it's unlikely to find someone who will reliably do it for free, I'm afraid. It's a 'big ask' :-)

3. More lo-fi talk-to-camera videos is an easy baseline for occasional promotional stuff

  • I think the great thing is we can embrace the 'youtube' format to get away with a lower quality that still works. This means the videos can be ok and people realise what the genre is.
  • Again, these are best if they are short, and not too talky. I don't think these are so great for generic promotion, because they are by nature more casual and informal... rather than formal. 
  • The videos we've made the last few years with students talking to camera fit into this format - and they've always been well received on Facebook (https://vimeo.com/ufcutas/videos)
  • A variation of this could be an interview format...I found these old videos I did for Vision 100 about 5 years ago with David Jones (https://vimeo.com/12885751) and Brian Vaatstra (https://vimeo.com/11711056) that show how that can work alrightish.



Have you updated your website for the new year?

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The year has begun! Has your website caught up with that yet?

Out of date or incomplete information on your church website can weaken people's trust in the website... or even in your ministry! So it's worth taking time to check:

 

 

  • Are staff and leaders who have finished up/started been updated on the website (remember to get good quality photos, not just stealing things off Facebook!)
  • Are last year's small groups removed and new ones added?
  • Have you added all the major events and preaching series to the website calendar?
  • Have you revoked admin privileges (and social media privileges) to leaders who are no longer serving?

 

How to feature content on your website

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Your website is not just a big library of stuff. It is also a shopfront. Using a website well, means figuring out which stuff you want to jump out to people when they visit it. This is called 'featured content'.

There are some simple ways to do this on your website, and if you get stuck, just email it@vision100.org for help!

  • Have an automatic 'current content' area: We normally set up websites to have the most recent sermon appear somewhere on the front page of your website. This ensures that there is always something new there every week!
  • Have a blog / twitter feed: this means that some more regular content can appear on the front page of your website, that keeps getting updated.
  • Set up a rotating series of banner advertisements: see for example the Soul Church website. This means you can regularly choose which important events or resources you want to draw attention to.
  • Add a custom banner/footer strip or pop-up window for a special event: we don't recommend doing this too often, but for super-special events, you can get a strip running along the top or bottom of your website (or in a pop-up window) alerting people to this special event.

How would you like to feature stuff on your website? Email it@vision100.org today if you would like help doing one of these things or something else entirely!

High Quality images to use for Sermon Series, Website Banners and other purposes

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As a team helping small churches without the funds to do high quality photography, we're always on the lookout for high quality images that churches can use for their sermon series backgrounds or camp brochures or website backgrounds.

Sources like flickr.com often are hard to search through and just using Google Image Search can often lead to you unwittingly breaking copyright law as these are not considered fair use exemptions.

Unsplash is a great resource for visual imagery, particularly as it focuses on nature photography, and all images on the site are high resolution and able to be used for whatever you want.  We're particularly impressed by the fact that these images often leave plenty of space to put text (like Sermon Series titles), so it's well worth a look.

Check it out at http://unsplash.com/, I've included a sample image below to show you what I mean.

 

 

Exporting Running Sheets from Elvanto to Excel

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At a recent IT training night talking about Elvanto, a question arose about being able to export running sheets to Excel.

The basic problem is that Elvanto's running sheet format is quite rigid, and it's difficult to do things like put the Bible reading next to the person doing the Bible reading.

While there isn't an officially supported way to do this, there is a way to export a running sheet in Elvanto and then modify it in Excel.

In order to achieve this, print the running sheet, and in the top left, choose "Web Page" in Output.  Choose all the options you normally would and then click print.  At this point, you should have a web page opened in the browser with the running sheet showing.  You'll then need to right-click anywhere on the page and choose "Save As..." (in Chrome, in other browsers, could be something like Save Page As..), then save the page to a known location, like your Desktop or My Documents.

After that, open Excel and choose  "Open..", choosing the file you saved in the previous step.  You may get a warning about a missing file, which you can safely ignore, but from there, you can move things around, change the format, add or delete rows as you need, and then print it.

This will also work with Word, in which case the last step should be to open the file in Word instead of Excel.

Event Registration now live for Challenge Conference

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Over the last few months, we've been developing a registration process for the Challenge Conference that we're now able to roll out across all the different events that Vision 100 run.

This registration process allows people to register for events, pay through Paypal, receive confirmation emails when payment has been received, and also allows you track payments made, supplying direct deposit references for you to cross reference, and even allowing for automatic emails to registrants when their direct deposits have been paid.

This process takes a lot of hassle out of collecting money for events, and online registrations means that people who are thinking of coming require a lot less action to make it happen.  We think it'd be ideal for church camps, events and other things that churches need people to register for.

If you want us to roll this out for you when your events are happening, let us know at it@vision100.org

Wireless Microphone Upgrade Reminder

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In case you hadn't already noticed, it's possible that the wireless microphones you or your church are using are actually illegal, and have been from January 1st.  If you want more information about this, then you can find it here:

http://www.acma.gov.au/~/media/Spectrum%20Engineering/Information/pdf/AC...

It's important to note that you may not need to throw out your equipment, but legally, you should change the frequency for your device.  If you need any help with this, please contact us at it@vision100.org and we can help you with the following:

  • Helping you check if your device is transmitting on an illegal frequency
  • Help you find out how to retune your device if it's possible
  • Give you advice about purchasing new equipment if it is necessary.

Any queries about this, please let us know at it@vision100.org

 

New Vision 100 IT Philosophy - Update

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Last November the Vision 100 IT Team 'board' (Christian de Kievit, Mikey Lynch, Jason Imms and Alan Reader) went away for a night and a day to think through what is in store for the future of Vision 100 IT.

There was lots of coffee, unhealthy snacks and we filled a whiteboard with Mikey's illegible handwriting ten times over. Out the end we figured out a way forward for the Vision 100 IT Team. We believe we are doing something unique that can serve not only The Vision 100 Network, but churches and ministries across Tasmania and Australia!

Some important objectives for the Vision 100 IT Team were discussed:

  1. We were able to really clarify what we are really good at and passionate about as the Vision 100 IT team
    1. We are passionate about philosophy of use, not just about providing a 'product', but training churches to use IT really well for the ministry of the gospel.
    2. We are uniquely equipped to help small churches and ministries that don't have the people or the money to provide top quality, sustainable IT.
    3. We are committed to mobilising a network of IT volunteers in churches to serve a wider network of churches.
  2. What we are hoping and praying to do next
    1. We want to begin working really really hard to train in our IT philosophy every chance we get: in our emails, IT Team Sprints, Training Nights and over social media.
    2. We want to tighten up our systems and core services (such as perfecting modules for websites, setting up smooth event registration and payment) so that we can be super efficient and deliver really awesome stuff for churches in a shorter time frame.
    3. We are gathering financial support to enable us to employ a 'Client Manager' 2-3 days a week to help us find more churches we can serve, and help us serve our existing churches better.
    4. Improve the quality and professionalism of our biannual IT Training Nights - covering topics like 'Church Database Software' and 'Using Social Media Well'.
    5. Start running quarterly Client Orientation Sessions to equip ministry leaders in our churches know how to use the basic IT stuff, like upload sermons on their website, or add people to the mailing list.
  3. We also dreamed about other things we could do
    1. Producing an app that could allow different churches to pull in information from all the different missionaries and organisations that they support to help them best support them in an integrated way.
    2. Eventually organising a National Church IT Conference.
    3. Providing a basic portable AV pack for church conferences to make it easy for them to do powerpoint, sound and sermon recording.
    4. Help churches get access to really good graphic design and video design from volunteers and Christian design companies - and help them communicate really productively with these designers to get what will help the church without burning out designers in the process.

A lot has changed in the last 12 months, but we're still excited about the opportunities that this vision presents.  Some of these things have happened and our IT Training nights are a high quality presentation, and useful for churches.  We've also made a lot of progress on moving towards having a "Client Manager".

If you want to know any more about what we're trying to do with Vision 100 IT, or for any other reason, let us know at it@vision100.org.

 

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