Cared for, Called & Empowered to Serve

fields-ripe2I was reading Matthew chapters 9-10 this week. I’d like to share 9:36-10:1 with you.

When he {Jesus} saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.’ He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

This passage is rich with encouragement and truth for us today. 

  • Jesus is a compassionate God.
    The word ‘compassionate’ can be defined as ‘feeling/showing sympathy & concern for others.’ Jesus is focused on you and I today, and is aware of our individual circumstances.
  • Without Him, we are harassed & helpless.
    Jesus is our Shepherd and can turn ‘harassed’ into ‘protected’ and ‘helpless’ into ‘empowered’ when we put our faith & trust in Him. Even as believers, we need to be reminded to turn to our Great Shepherd instead of continuing to try and do it all on our own.
  • It is the Lord who sends out workers.
    We do not have the authority to send out people to be His hands & feet. It is the Lord who ultimately calls us to serve in His name. The best we can do is to acknowledge His calling in the lives of others and help them succeed in that calling in whatever way we can.
  • We have the right & authority to ask for workers.
    Wow. This is so empowering for us. We may not be able to ‘send’, but we have the blessing of Jesus Christ to ask for laborers. Whether volunteers in our churches, new hires in our ministries, evangelists in our communities or missionaries in the world – there is an implied promise from God that, when we ask, He will send.
  • We are the answer to the question.
    It is interesting to me that the very next chapter and sentence starts with ‘He called.’ Since you and I are serving in leadership and ministry today, we must be the answer to someone’s request to ‘send out workers’. That means we get to serve as shepherd’s under the Great Shepherd, reaching a world that is ‘harassed & helpless.
  • We are empowered.
    Jesus is not one to send his workers out without the tools they need to succeed. He ‘gave them authority’ and he has ‘given us authority’ to minister to those He has ushered into our spheres of influence and responsibility. We can do it, because He has authorized us to!

Be encouraged! You are cared for, called and empowered to fulfill His purposes today!

Don’t Hit ‘Send’ When It’s Personal

dont-hit-send

I made a leadership mistake last week. I sent an email prematurely. I actually remember pretty vividly having my finger over the ‘Send’ button on my Kindle. I paused a minute and the thought flitted through my mind, “Should I really send this email?”; then I pushed it aside and hit ‘Send’.

It felt good too. I was able to communicate my frustration and disappointment about something someone did that I disagreed with. I set them straight. Told it like it was. That sort of thing. 

It’s not that sending the email, in and of itself, was wrong – and being a writer, it’s not that it wasn’t written well. In fact, in other scenarios I could probably have written something very similar to what I wrote and it would have been totally appropriate. In this case, I messed up. Why?

I shouldn’t have done it because it was personal.

It’s Leadership 101, but it’s also easier said than done. When you’re reacting (via email) to something someone has done or said that is personal, don’t hit ‘Send’ on that email. At least, don’t hit it right away. In my case, I realized after the fact that I was rude and defensive. Ugh.

I’ve often quoted Ambrose Bierce who once said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This is even more true in emails. Once you hit ‘Send’ it’s gone for good and there’s no taking it back. The problem for many of us leaders is, we don’t always know when we’re angry. We confuse anger with our desire to ‘fix’ or ‘help’ others. That’s what I did.

Here are a few pointers I was reminded of while backpedaling and revisiting this experience.

When you should wait to hit ‘Send’.

  • If it hurts you.
    If it hurt you, in any way, you should wait. None of us are immune to pain, and none of us are at our best when dealing with pain. That means we’re probably not saying what we really should say, if we should say anything at all.
  • If you’re mad.
    Similarly, when you are in a state of anger, your brain is quite naturally on the defense. Whatever you communicate in your email (or verbally for that matter) will very likely be defensive. People, in general respond to defensive behavior from others by defending themselves. Now everybody has got their dukes up. Not helpful.
  • If it hurts them.
    It goes without saying that, as leaders and believers, we are above hurting others. It’s the antithesis of what it means to be a Christ-follower and following His great command to love others.
  • If you don’t know them.
    If you have never met, or spoken with, the other party, you need to pause when sending that email. As leaders, we have a certain degree of ‘permission’ to influence and correct those who have given us permission to do so. But if you’re trying to correct someone else on their words or behaviors, and they haven’t given you permission to do so, you’re very likely overstepping your bounds.
  • If it’s long.
    Some of us can be real wordy and get preachy in our emails. Uh, like me at times. If it’s a corrective email and it’s really long, forget it. Don’t hit send. Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting instead.
  • If it’s a big deal.
    If the content of the email is a big deal to someone – either you or them – you need to pause over the ‘Send’ button. The likelihood is real high that if what’s being discussed in the email has a personal bearing on either party or is potentially wrought with emotion, it shouldn’t be said over email.
  • If it’s complicated.
    By complicated, I’m not referring to the issue, I’m referring to the relationship. If the relationship has a history of confusion, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, etc. it’s not really good to do a lot of email communication – at least regarding personal issues.

What to do while you wait.

  • Pray.
    There’s nothing better than asking the All-Knowing God for wisdom and discernment. It goes without saying that He can and likely will shed light on how you should respond and if you should send that email.
  • Get A Second Opinion.
    I’m not talking about counselling. I’m just talking about another opinion, preferably from someone you trust and shares the same values you do about loving others in leadership.
  • Wait.
    This seems redundant to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. Wait for a while. I’m not talking about waiting for an hour or a couple of hours. Usually, it’s good to wait 2 or 3 days minimum. Give yourself time to get some perspective and cool down, if necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if 3/4 of those emails never get sent simply because you waited long enough to realize it’s not worth it.
  • Ask For Time & To Talk Live
    Sometimes it’s not appropriate to leave people hanging. So ask for permission to wait a while, and maybe meet to talk it out live. Keep it down to about 4 sentences that might sound something like this: “I’m going to need some time to think this through first and I’m wondering if email is, perhaps, not the best means of communication for us to use on this topic. Is it possible we could schedule a time to meet over coffee, on Skype or over the phone later this week?”
  • Send A Different Email
    Once you’ve exhausted the above ideas, you may discover that starting from scratch and sending another email will work just fine. Now that you’ve had time to clear your head, you can keep the communication simple and leave out the defensive tone that was in your first email.
  • Drop It
    Sometimes the right thing to do is to just drop it. There are many reasons why this may be the best solution. It could be that the issue is relatively small in the bigger picture and not worth making a big deal about. Often, we may realize that the person wasn’t trying to be mean or hurtful, and we can just let it go. Sometimes it’s plain that there are much bigger issues connected with the situation that should really be addressed before this issue can properly be dealt with. 

What to do if you hit ‘Send’ prematurely.

I think there’s really only one thing to do when you realize you’ve said things that were best left unsaid. Find a way to apologize and ask for forgiveness. This means you:

  • Humbly confess what you did.
    “I sent that email when I was still processing what was said, and I wasn’t really thinking straight.”
  • Acknowledge what you said that was inappropriate.
    “I said some things in that email that were inappropriate, defensive and disrespectful.” 
  • Sometimes you might even point out specific things said as well.
    “…like when I told you ‘That was stupid.'”
  • Ask for forgiveness.
    Would you be willing to forgive me for my hasty words and bad attitude?

And of course, when you are asking forgiveness of the other party, it’s usually not wise to begin defending or explaining yourself – and certainly you shouldn’t start expounding on what the other person(s) did wrong. That should be left for another time.

Check out my other posts regarding confrontation. I particularly recommend: “Four Steps in Healthy Confrontations

How to use Skype for Online Meetings

Skype LogoSkype recently announced that we can now make group calls for free. This is a big deal to those of us who are Skype users – or perhaps Skype wannabe users. We can already do group video chats with Google+, but with Skype Group Calls, we now have a choice over which online meeting platform we want to use. Since I’m a regular Skype user, I thought I’d share a few steps you can take to setup Skype on your computer for the first time and use it for 1 on 1 or group calls.

Simply follow through these steps, in order, and you should be all set! If you have problems, check out the help section on the Skype website. Note: I recommend you also check out my post entitled, ‘Skype Tips’ right here.

1. Does your computer already have Skype installed?

YESNO

Go to the next step.

Follow these instructions:

  • Browse to the following website: www.skype.com.
  • Click ‘Get Skype’ or download Skype from the downloads page.
  • Install Skype by running the installation program from your computer – follow the prompts to install.
    • I don’t recommend you set Skype to run when windows starts.
    • I also don’t recommend you install ‘Skype Click to Call’ unless you know what that is and intend to use it.
    • Uncheck options to install other programs or change your defaults (like making Bing your search engine.)
  • Finish the Skype installation process.
  • Go to the next step.

2. Open Skype.

3. Do you already have a Skype account?

YESNO

Login to your Skype account and go to the next step. If you lost your login information, select the link ‘Can’t access your account?’

Follow these instructions:

  • Select the ‘Create an Account’ link/button on the Skype welcome screen. This will take you to the Skype website where you can create your account.
  • Follow the steps to create an account. If you already have a Google or Facebook account then you can quickly create an account by using your existing accounts with them.
  • Once your account is setup, login to your Skype account and go to the next step.

4. Check for the latest version of Skype.

It’s always best to run the latest version of Skype to ensure everyone has the best possible experience. To quickly check for the latest version, browse to ‘Help/Check for Updates’ from the Skype menu.

5. Test audio & video settings.

  • Browse to Tools/Options in your Skype menu.
  • Select Audio settings.
  • Ensure your preferred microphone is selected in the Microphone option near the top of the screen. 
    (Note: I recommend you purchase a standalone webcam rather than use a built-in webcam that comes with your laptop. The quality and user experience for others will almost always be better.)
  • Test the audio by speaking out loud and observing the volume bar just below the microphone setting. You should see green bars moving up and down while you speak. This indicates your microphone is picking up your voice.
  • If you do not see a green bar, your microphone is not functioning and nobody will be able to hear you. Ensure the microphone is hooked up properly. Visit the Skype support page to diagnose and fix your problem.
  • Select Video settings.
  • Ensure your preferred webcam is selected in the Webcam options.
  • Test your video settings. You should see yourself in the video preview window. If you don’t see yourself, visit the Skype support page to diagnose and fix your problem.

6. Get connected with your friends & colleagues.

You can’t make a call to people until you’ve added them into your Skype contacts and they’ve done the same for you. This isn’t hard to do, but a necessary step before you make your first call. Follow these steps to add contacts to your Skype account:

  • First, you’ll want to find the button on your Skype application that’s labelled ‘Add Contact’ or simply browse to Contacts/Add Contact in your Skype menu.
  • Next, you will need to find the person(s) you want in your contacts. The simplest way to add people into your contact list is to ask them what their Skype username is beforehand and search specifically for that username. You can also search by name or email.
  • Once you’ve identified the correct person(s), select their name from the list and then press the ‘Add to Contacts’ button. This will send that person a request to allow you to add them into your list.
  • You can also make your call right from the search listing without adding them into your Contact list, assuming they are online.

7. Are you calling an Individual or a Group?

I'm Calling a GroupI'm Calling an Individual

Go to the next step.

Follow these instructions:

  • Find the individual by either searching for them using Step 6 above or selecting them from your contact list. 
  • Check to ensure the individual is logged into Skype and available. You can tell by looking for a small check mark next to their name in the list.
  • After you select them, you’ll be given the option to either ‘Call’ or ‘Video Call’. If the ‘Video Call’ is not enabled they may not be online or have video call capabilities. Press ‘Video Call’ or ‘Call’ and wait for them to answer.

7. Are you making the Group Call?

YESNO

Check out this youtube clip.

If you are not making the group call, then you won’t be able to join the group call until you’ve been added to the group.

You’ll know you’ve been added when you receive an invitation. At the beginning of the group meeting, the Group Call organizer will call the group and your Skype app will ring, notifying you that the call is being placed. All you have to do is answer with Video.

If you’re running late or miss the initial call, you can still join the Group Call by simply clicking the ‘Join Call’ button on your Skype display.

I hope you found this short tutorial helpful. Happy Skyping!

Billy Graham’s New Suit

A friend sent me this story in an email this morning. I see the story is already around a lot, but I really enjoyed reading it and thought I’d share it with my readers this week. Enjoy.


graham's suit

Billy Graham is now 92 years-old, and has Parkinson’s disease.

In January, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, ‘We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.’ So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said: “I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train, when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there. He looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

“The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’

“Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

“The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are; no problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.’

Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”

Having said that Billy Graham continued, “See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My children, and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this:

“I not only know who I am. I also know where I’m going.”

May your troubles be less, your blessings more, and may nothing but happiness, come through your door.

“Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point.”

Amen & Peace My Friends

Announcing New Coaching Focus

coachingIn recent years I’ve been so honored to have helped several awesome churches, pastors and ministry leaders through personal and team-oriented coaching. My coaching style is very personal and catered to each and every situation. This is why I will begin every coaching relationship with an interview and recommendations before we dig into content, goals, tasks and ongoing accountability.

Today, I’m proud to announce a brand new lineup of coaching opportunities. If you would like to learn more about connecting up with me for an evaluation and estimate, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 585-582-2790 or by email at whedlund@transformingleader.org. My rates are specifically priced to accommodate small to mid-sized churches. Additionally, if your church is part of the Elim Fellowship Network of Affiliated Churches you will receive a special discount.

Coaching Services Summary


Church Health & Strategic Coaching
The most popular coaching I provide to churches has to do with church health and strategic planning. Church Health & Strategic Coaching takes place in three phases and starts with a 6 month commitment. Most churches choose to participate for 12-18 months in the end.

PHASE 1: Information Gathering
In this phase I will spend time interviewing the key leader(s) of the organization, will review the website and other materials and attend a Sunday service as a “mystery guest”, if applicable.

PHASE 2: Church Health Analysis
In 1-2 sessions I will roll out a general church health analysis of your church, including my recommendations on the primary areas of focus for the duration of the coaching experience. You will make the final call on what areas you would like me to provide strength and support to. I will utilize that information to develop a strategic plan for us to follow together.

PHASE 3: Ongoing Coaching
The remaining coaching sessions will focus on the areas identified in Phase 2. I will offer ongoing strategies for each area of focus as well as accountability with the monthly goals we identify. When appropriate, I will also meet with key leaders in the church to offer supportive teachings to supplement the strategic plans.


Guest Friendly Coaching
When it comes to church strategies and systems, the area of guest friendliness is one of the most important to me, personally. I believe a guest friendly culture and environment will facilitate outreach and evangelism in your community. People need the Lord and I am hopeful they will find them at your church. The problem is that many guests don’t stay long enough to find Him. I have helped many churches strengthen their Guest Friendly strategy and would be very happy to do so for you as well. Guest Friendly Coaching will require a 6 month minimum commitment. After an initial evaluation, I will give some instructions and assign tasks to strengthen this area in your church. Each month we will meet and evaluate your progress and troubleshoot barriers you face together.


Hosting Exceptional Services Coaching
For most churches, the Sunday morning experience is the front door for biblical discipleship for the congregation and community. Supplemental discipleship will take place via classes, small groups, and events, but those will not necessary provide a regular spiritual diet to many of your attendees like the morning service does. So it’s critical that every church hosts exceptional Sunday services every single week. The methods and strategies to prepare for the message, worship, announcements, offering and how to pull it all together will decide whether the services are just ‘good’ or ‘great. My primary responsibility as Executive Pastor at Elim Gospel Church was to strengthen the Sunday morning experience. Since then I have been hired to assist in running conferences and provide coaching to churches who struggle in this area. I believe I can help your church excel in this area as well. Hosting Exceptional Services Coaching will require a 6 month minimum commitment. After an initial evaluation, I will give some instructions and assign tasks to strengthen this area in your church. Each month we will meet and evaluate your progress and troubleshoot barriers you face together.


Leadership Coaching
Leadership Coaching is designed specifically for the primary pastor/director of the organization, or for key leaders within the organization. The focus of leadership coaching will be on strengthening the overall leadership orientation of the individual. After an initial evaluation & questionnaire, we will choose 2 or 3 specific leadership characteristics or skills that need to be developed and focus on them for the duration of the coaching experience. The duration and frequency of coaching sessions will be unique to each individual.


Productivity Coaching
I’ve received a lot of requests, of late, to provide coaching in the area of time-management and productivity. This is certainly an area of strength for me and I know I can help just about any person become more efficient and productive in their work. If you or someone on your team struggles to get things done, has difficulties with priorities and tasks or simply is overwhelmed a lot with the workload, I recommend you consider letting me help. After an initial evaluation, I will give some basic instruction and assign tasks to strengthen time and project management systems. The duration and frequency of coaching sessions will be unique to each individual.

Website Coaching
I believe it’s super important that churches who want to reach the younger generations host a welcoming, good looking website. For most young to middle aged adults, the website represents the first visit to and their first impression of the church . Unfortunately, for many churches, their website is either non-existent or very inadequate for attracting the community. I would be very happy to provide feedback and input regarding what to do with your website. Whether it needs a face-lift, an overhaul or a funeral, I believe I can guide your team towards a final product that you will be proud to send both your church attendees and the community to. Note: I am not offering to create or design your website, though I could potentially do that. I will most likely give your team access to the resources or people they need to get your website up and running effectively. After an initial evaluation, I will give my overall evaluation of your website and recommendations on improving it. The duration and frequency of coaching sessions will likely be limited to two or three sessions, unless you would like more ongoing feedback and accountability along the way.


Pulpit Feedback
Communication & presentation are very important to me. I am continually reading and studying about how I might improve in those areas. I should be. There isn’t a week that goes by that I am not speaking to individuals and groups of people. One of the most effective ways I have grown in this area is through honest feedback from other leaders I trust. Unfortunately, many pastors don’t have access to people who know what and how to evaluate a Sunday morning sermon. I believe I can help. Pulpit Feedback will begin with an initial evaluation, followed by the delivery of either video or audio of a Sunday message of your choice (video is preferred). I will then listen/watch your presentation and provide a written critical evaluation of the content and delivery of the message. Subsequent coaching or feedback will be available afterwards as needed.

Everybody Say ‘asana’!

I sort of consider myself a productivity nut, meaning I like to learn about and find new/better ways to be more productive. Last year I discovered an online task management system that was helping me manage my to do’s, projects, etc. (www.nozbe.com) It had been working well for me, but there’s also a decent learning curve, making it hard for someone who’s not a nut like me to figure it out – this is especially true because for it to be truly useful you had to understand how to use tags properly.

Well, a few weeks ago, my friend, Bob Kniley (another nut), told me he thought he had found a new online task management system (with a great price – FREE) and suggested I check it out. I fell in love with it within 10 minutes of reviewing it. I have now transferred all of my tasks to asana.

What makes it a very effective system is the fact that:

  • It’s very user friendly (easy to learn for the non-nuts).
  • It allows for layered tasks (nut language for, ‘it lets you have a big category of tasks, with a ton of projects in that category, and a ton of tasks for each project, with as many steps as needed for each task’).
  • It emails you your upcoming, due, or overdue tasks if you want it to.
  • It lets you email tasks into your task list from your mail client without going to the site.
  • It allows you to collaborate by assigning tasks to other people – and it’ll keep you informed of their progress if you want it to.
  • Did I mention it’s free (note – it’s free if you have less than 30 people included in any given workspace).

I recommend you check it out! You’ve got nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain!

Skype Tips

Skype LogoI use Skype several times a week to communicate with the various pastors/leaders I provide ongoing coaching to. Once we work out the logistics it is almost always a great way to meet together without the expense and extra time necessary for travel, food and lodging. I highly recommend it. In fact, in the past year I have successfully utilized Skype not only for 1 on 1 coaching, but also for team coaching (2-10 individuals) and workshops for as many as 15 people.

That said, I’ve also discovered a few things that new Skype users should consider and look into before setting up Skype appointments. Feel free to email me with any further questions you may have.

Skype Tips:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of Skype.
    This is important. Skype works hard at fixing call difficulties with every upgrade. If you’re running an older version of Skype, you risk having more difficulties during your call. To check your version, select Help/Check for Update.
  • If possible, don’t use a laptop webcam.
    Laptop webcam’s are traditionally difficult to use for a myriad of reasons. The main reason I don’t recommend laptop webcam’s is the mobility issue. It can be difficult to get your image centered properly for the other skype caller as well as have the picture on the screen where you want it so you can see well. Also, often the microphone on laptop’s can be difficult to work with and will sometimes create feedback for the other user.Webcams are pretty cheap now ($30-$50) and it’s well worth the cost for even just a couple of Skype calls. Your standard webcam will come bundled with a microphone so you’re getting a quality upgrade for both audio and video at the same time.
  • Check Audio/Video settings before your Skype call.
    Go into Tools/Options before each Skype session and ensure your Audio Settings and Video Settings are set to the right webcam.
  • Make sure your computer isn’t doing stuff or using the internet during your call.
    Often, the reason a Skype call is interrupted is because your computer is trying to use the internet or doing other tasks in the background. Make sure these background tasks have been paused during the call. For example, I have both Dropbox and Carbonite backup on my computer. I make sure they are both either paused or closed so they don’t try to sync during the Skype call. Common background tasks to look for include virus scans, Microsoft Security Essentials scans, security update downloads, online backups, and synchronization services like Dropbox, Outlook sync, etc.Finally, close unnecessary programs and browser windows during your phone call. I use Microsoft Outlook a lot and will often close it down during the call so it doesn’t start looking for mail and downloading attachments during the call – taking up internet bandwidth and computer capacity.
  • If possible, don’t use wireless internet during the call.
    You won’t always have this as an option, but if it’s easy to plug in a wired internet connection during your Skype call, do so. 
  • Check your internet plan.
    If you consistently have problems with Skype calls it could be that your internet plan with your service provider needs to be upgraded. Call your Internet provider and find out what your upload/download speeds are and ensure they are fast enough for video calls.
  • If you have echo problems, check the speaker settings.
    Sometimes I’ll experience a problem with echo’s, where I can hear myself through the other user’s speakers or they can hear themselves through my speakers. Often, this is because there are several options for speakers and you must select the appropriate one for Skype to work. For instance, if you have laptop speakers but are also using separate speakers plugged into your laptop or connected to an external monitor. In these scenario’s go into Tools/Options and check Speakers in the Audio Settings.Also, sound problems can be dealt with by ensuring you are in a quiet location. Additionally, the closer your microphone is to your mouth and the further your microphone is from the speakers the better.
  • Spend the first two minutes of your call checking voice/video.
    When you first start the call, ask your caller if the can hear you and see you well. Check the quality on your end as well. If there are problems, check some of your settings on each end. You may want to quickly exchange phone numbers if there seems to be difficulties so you can call each other if the call gets dropped. On occasion, call problems can be fixed by dropping the call and making the call again.
  • Check out the short troubleshooting video’s on the Skype website.
    Skype is committed to helping it’s customers have a positive experience. Check out this page on their website to see if you can learn other tips to ensure your Skype calls work well.
Hope that helps. Happy Skyping!

 

Tactical Tip: Backup Your Files!

You’ve heard the horror stories – maybe you even have one of your own. A computer crashes and everything stored on it gets wiped out. Lost forever. In fact, this story rings true for me very recently. This past year my laptop hard-drive got corrupted and by the time I got things up and running again I discovered that my whole hard drive had been wiped clean. Thankfully, the only stress I carried was the loss of time and energy – I had a solid backup of everything.

I have a very easy, cheap suggestion for you to backup your files. And once you’ve set it up, you’ll never think about it (unless you need it). Before I share my solution for you, I thought you might appreciate this fairly relevant and humorous clip about a time when Pixar almost lost ‘Woody’ during the creation of their hit movie “Toy Story”.

If you can’t see this video, try clicking this link.
Trust me. You don’t want to be caught in this scenario. I’ve discovered a great solution, but it’ll cost you $59/year. That said, the peace of mind you will receive at that cost is well worth it. I’ve successfully restored all of my files this past year alone. I’ve also been able to grab files I accidentally deleted. Even better, there have been a couple occasions when I needed to get a copy of a file from a couple ‘versions’ back – this solution even took care of that!
 
If you balk at the cost, just consider how much time you have spent pulling together the various files you have on that computer. How much would it be worth to you to keep them safe?
 
It’s very simple. You install a program that runs in your computer in the background all the time. You select the files you want backed up – there’s no space limit. It automatically keeps your files backed up all the time.
 
Here’s the solution – I recommend you look into it today (Note: I’m endorsing this company solely because I believe in them, not for any personal gain). Go ahead – give it a try (click the below image).
 

Image compliments of David Castillo Dominici on freedigitalphotos.net.

Turn the Volume UP!

 

Have you ever had anyone threaten to leave the church because the volume was too LOW during worship? Believe it or not, I have. It only happened a couple of times and certainly did not compare with how many complained it was too loud. To this day, I can tell you who in our church wishes we would turn the volume up . . . and no, they aren’t deaf!

Last week I wrote the article ‘Turn the Volume DOWN!‘ Today I would like to similarly share some reasons why people may want the volume turned UP in your Sunday services. You might experience slight deja vu.

  • It’s too quiet. (there is no energy in the room)
    Stating the obvious is always a great way to begin. The Master Volume needs to be turned up and the instruments should be remixed to the new level. When worship is too quiet it can make for a boring worship experience. I’ve been to many churches who mix their worship too quiet. I suppose it appeases a few key leaders (or the pastor), but it also puts a major damper on worship – especially for the younger generations.

As a general rule of thumb, if I can hold a conversation with the person next to me during worship without leaning in and raising my voice to be heard, the sound is probably too soft.

  • Bad mix. (low energy in the room or we can’t hear the worship leader)
    Many times the problem isn’t volume. It’s a bad mix. The instruments are too loud and are drowning out the worship leader; or the keyboard and worship leader is mixed well but everything else is just a low hum in the background; or the drums are drowning everything so all people hear is just enough worship leader and primary instrument to be able to sing. Probably most common is when the kick bass (the deep booming sound from the drums) is turned way down. This can really squash energy in the room and may even make the difference between whether or not people ‘clap’ or not during high energy songs.
  • Hearing loss.
    Another reason why people might want the sound turned up is because they are simply half-deaf and don’t know it. I’m not joking. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for people to have hearing impairment AND to not know it. According to these statistics, people with hearing loss wait on the average of 7 years before seeking help. I better go get my ears checked.
  • Differing opinions.
    Read this same paragraph in my post ‘Turn the Volume Down!‘ That about sums it up! Everyone has different opinions on how loud they like to hear music as well as what the overall mix sounds like. The key is to determine who will be the primary driver for volume/mix (that is, who will represent the values/goals of your church best) and let that individual call the shots. Just a side note – assuming you have a passion to reach the younger generations, I recommend you err on the side of a more aggressive/loud mix than not. I’m not suggesting you drive everyone else out – but that you actively seek to find that balance.
  • Bad equipment or acoustics.
    Your equipment, speaker placement and room acoustics will make a big difference. Often, churches struggle with hot and quiet spots in the room. It’ll be loud in one area and too quiet in others. My church has this issue. I’ve used this fact to my advantage by encouraging those who tend to like it louder or quieter to sit in certain areas. It’s one reason why the young people like to sit near the front. They get both the speakers in the room as well as the stage noise coming off of people’s stage monitors. It’s also usually where the sub-woofers (where all the bass and lows come out making your body vibrate) are located.
I will continue this short series of posts about volume in an upcoming article giving some general advice on how your church might better ensure your worship service has the best possible mix/volume to encourage maximum participation from your worshipers. Stay tuned!

photo credit: ckaiserca via photo pin cc

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