The Sermon Podcasting Toolbox

Since this week marks 10 years of podcasting on the iTunes Store, I thought it was great to share this from ChurchMag:

According to Edison Research, 15% of Americans (39 million people) listen to podcasts at least monthly, with 13 million people tuning in to podcasts on any given day.

Chances are good that your church members are subscribing to, downloading, and listening to podcasts throughout the week. Are they listening to your message?

Some great tips for ministry podcasting, including hardware, software, where to host, and how to distribute. If your congregation isn't podcasting, they should be. Take a look at the full article over at ChurchMag.

5 Things You Need to Know About Bible Translations

Excellent point about Bible translations that I'd never thought about from Wes McAdams:

Because our English language is constantly changing, we will ALWAYS need new translations that help the text to maintain the correct meaning in the current vernacular. One hundred years from now, if the Lord hasn’t come back, we will need new translations because the English language will have changed.

Read the entire post over at Radically Christian.

Daily Devotionals with Remind + Day One [VIDEO]

Apps these days, man. It's amazing what they can do. Now you can do a daily devotional that people can subscribe to with nothing more than your iPhone. 

We started a Daily Devotional called 15for15 - we take the first 15 minutes of every day of 2015 and spend it with the Word. I wanted to think of a super-simple way to get kids in the Word every single day. Something where they could just pick up their phone and a message was waiting right there for them. 

That's when I started to use Remind for this. Remind was originally a service designed for teachers to communicate with classes but has evolved into so much more. And the best part is that anyone with a phone that sends and receives text messages can subscribe - they don't have to have a smartphone with Remind installed. Day One is a simple journaling app for OSX/iOS that lets you publish entries as nicely-formatted web pages. 

I've made a screencast below that I think you'll enjoy. If you would like to start a daily devotional for your ministry or congregation and you have an iOS device, this would be the way to do it. 

Note: the Publish feature is currently only available on iOS from Day One. No idea why you can't do it yet from the desktop version, but you can't. You can, however, compose your devos in the desktop app and then pull them up on your phone and publish them there. 

Introducing Squarespace 7

Squarespace today introduced their new version of their content management system. I'm composing this new post in it, and while different, I must say that it is fantastic. I manage lots of sites on Squarespace and this will help me a lot.

From Squarespace themselves:

Squarespace 7 is the result of a year-long effort to refine the simplicity of our platform while retaining its power. The biggest change you’ll notice is in our interface; you can now make live edits in your website without switching back and forth between preview mode and your Website Manager, and we've annotated every editable element on your site to make everything easier than ever. We've also reorganized our menus to create a more intuitive experience overall.

We’ve made great efforts to solve some real pain points for anyone that’s building a website. Often, a great website relies on great imagery – with our new Getty Images integration, you now have access to tens of millions of premium creative and editorial images, all starting at $10 per image. For those of you who want personalized email, you can sign up for Gmail for Work and other Google Apps features right within Squarespace (starting at just $5/user per month). When you don’t necessarily need a full-fledged website for your idea, you can use our Cover Pages tool to create a beautiful landing page.

The new platform will be available to groups of existing Squarespace customers starting today in a controlled public beta format.

For more information, including how to gain access to Squarespace 7, please visit our launch site at www.squarespace.com/seven. For specific questions, see our Squarespace 7 FAQ www.squarespace.com/seven/faq.

To find SS7, just look for 'Squarespace 7' under your Settings tab and enable it. Squarespace promises that you can go back if you don't like it, but I doubt you won't. 

If you're looking for a great website building, I can't recommend Squarespace enough. It's less than $100 a year for a great website that will function on anything and look great on mobile devices. And as you can see, they keep making their platform better and better. 

Email me at chad.landman@gmail.com and ask any questions about it you want. I would love to help you find a web solution for your church, business, or organization. 

 

The M2Y Conference: A Review

I'll readily admit that I was very skeptical about the Ministering 2 Youth Conference in Orlando, Florida. I didn't know who had thought up the idea, who put it into motion, but I did know some of the players and a few members of the board. I was ready to give the conference the benefit of the doubt, and my congregation was gracious enough to sponsor me to go. 

I made the decision with my wife that I would not bring our family. Even though Disney was mere miles away, our boys were too small (a 3 year old and a 5 month old) to even remember it, and our second child was being difficult by not sleeping well at night. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't, because I would have wanted to be with them more than be sitting in sessions and my mind would not have been on what I was trying to learn. 

So what was I trying to learn? What did I want this conference to help me with?

I wanted a few things:

  • Ideas about how to make our ministry more God-centered
  • Ideas about how to make our  ministry more vibrant (i.e. more involving, engaging)
  • Lesson/cirriculum ideas
  • Fun activity and game ideas
  • Encouragement

So what did I find?

Looking at the schedule of talks and keynotes, you may not see a youth-centered cirriculum, but that could be deceptive. EVERYTHING was about kids. EVERYTHING was about focusing on young people. Keynotes by David Shannon and Kirk Brothers were focused on how we can impact young people and get them back in the Bible and back to God. Classes - most were open to discussion - focused on everything from handling crises in youth ministry to ethical and legal concerns. 

For the first year of a conference, I was impressed with the quality of speakers and teachers as well as the content. There were over 150 in attendance, which was also impressive for the first year. Childcare was provided (noted by myself even if I didn't use it), and two wonderful meals were provided on Friday and Saturday for lunch. 

Thursday morning, registration began at noon and the first session at 1:30. On Friday and Saturday, the sessions began a 8:30. Each session was an hour with a half-hour break in between, and a two hour break for lunch. The last session ended at 4PM to let people have the evening to themselves or with their families. 

Sessions I attended:

  • Building Faith in Youth - David Shannon (Keynote)
  • Maintaining Faith in Youth - David Shannon (Keynote)
  • Apologetics - Kyle Butt
  • Developing a Family Ministry - Tim Frizzel
  • Equipping Parents as Spiritual Leaders - Tim Frizzel
  • Developing A Vision In Youth Ministry - Craig Evans
  • Dealing with Crisis In Youth Ministry - Jerry Elder
  • Youth Minister Care for Elders - Jerry Elder
  • Exposing Darkness & Evil - Kirk Brothers (Keynote)
  • Developing Teens that Shine - Kirk Brothers (Keynote)

Overall, it was an outstanding conference, especially for the first year. The only negative factors were the location - although I think for bringing a family along it was great, and a good start for the conference. The hotel was marvelous and centrally located to all attractions and food. The conference fee was very modest for the quality of speakers and teachers that were there. 

I do not say this lightly or for dramatic flair either - but speaking just for myself, the ideas and concepts taught have and will change my ministry and how I minister to teens. 

I will definitely be going back to M2Y next year in Chattanooga, and I will be inviting as many people as I can to go with me. What a great start for a much-needed conference. 

Audio and notes will be posted to my blog here in the coming days of nearly every session at M2Y, and also at their website. Be sure to check back soon!

The Moment You Realize It's Deleted

Four times. Four times in the past few weeks a young person or college student has come up to me at church and said something like, "I think my computer crashed."

"Well, do you have a backup?" 

"Umm...no." 

"Why not?" I ask. 

What follows is a look of I know I should be doing that but I don't.

Why don't people back up their stuff?

My wife and I were attending Polishing the Pulpit two years ago and my wife was trying to clear up some space on the hard drive on her computer when she accidentally deleted the photo library. 

This was the photo library that contained nearly every photo from the first ten months of our firstborn son's life. 

My wife was obviously completely distraught, and so was I. Fortunately, I was able to procure a sketchy program to retrieve deleted files and was able to salvage about 80% of those photos. 

But you won't be so lucky, especially if you hard drive stopped working. Or if you had a fire. Or you dropped your phone in the toilet that had 6 months of pictures on it because you don't ever plug your phone up to a computer. 

Here's what you can do today. 

Start making regular backups. If you can't remember, set a calendar alert. Plug your phone into iTunes and let it do its thing and backup once a week. Make sure Auto Backup is enabled on your Android device - all your files, photos and settings will be backed up to the cloud. That way you're only out the last 7 days of photos or files if you're making regular backups. Conversely, you need to make a backup of your computer. This requires an external hard drive. I recommend the Seagate Slim 2TB - just about a hundred bucks. This is easy to do if you have a Mac - just plug your Time Machine drive in every ten days when it reminds you to. Then you can also use an app called SuperDuper to make a literal bootable copy of your hard drive in case something bad happens. Do that every month at least.  

For the Windows people, Windows' built-in Backup and Restore [video] is actually pretty good. First of all it's free and built-in, so all you have to do is search in the Windows Menu to find it. You can set timed backups, which files to backup, and how often to do it. You can also use the lightweight DriveImage XML to make a full bootable backup of your PC. 

This all sounds complex, but it really isn't. Just a few minutes a week and a few more a month could really save you a lot of trouble if your hard drive fails, you have a accident with your computer or you get a virus and your files are corrupted. 

Making a big image copy of your hard drive? Just set it before bed, plug in the external HD, and it'll be done when you wake up. 

Making a weekly backup? Set your reminder alarm to remind you to do it just before you go to lunch. Incremental backups (like Time Machine) only take a really long time the first time they back up. Then they are done in minutes on every sequential backup. 

Get an external HD and keep it in a safe place when not using it. I wouldn't recommend using your backup drive to store other files on, by the way. Only use that drive for backups. 

Backing up isn't for the paranoid, it's for people who don't want to lose their stuff. 

The Golden Age of Podcasting [Video]

Since my friend Adam Faughn started his Legacy of Faith podcast a week or two ago, it's really brought to my attention two things: 1) There's never been a better time to become a podcast listener, and 2) there's never been a better time to start your own. 

Podcasts have actually been around for over a decade, getting their name from some of Apple's first iPods back in 2001-02. But I think we may be ushering in the golden age of podcasting, both in listening and producing. 

If you've never listened to any podcasts, it's a perfect time to start. There's some great apps (both paid and free) for iPhone and Android to get you listening today. Podcasts are great for commutes - I don't have a commute but I do take long trips and they help pass the time very well. 

The best part is that podcasts are free. All of them. Some apps to manage them can range up to five or ten dollars, but that's a small price to pay for great organization and access to content. 

And podcasts have a incredible wide variety of content. You can listen to shows about Christianity, Science, Mathematics, Star Trek, Technology, Cooking - anything you can imagine and there's probably a podcast for it. And some podcasts aren't shows at all - they're merely recordings of sermons or speeches that have a serialized format. Here at Church Street, for instance, we don't stream our sermons live but they are available in audio form or on our podcast feed

The best and easiest way to get your feet wet in podcasts is to download the free Podcasts app for iOS. You can discover and find a few podcasts to listen to and search them via the iTunes Podcast Directory

And if you want to give your hand a try at actually podcasting yourself, all you need is microphone, an audio editing program (Audacity is free and great), and an iTunes Podcast RSS feed (instructions) and you're good to go. 

So whether it's listening or producing your own, there has never been a better time to step into the podcasting world. There's a whole wealth of knowledge out there for you to discover. 

If you're curious as to some of the many podcasts and networks I listen to, check out my Favorite Things page and look under Podcasts. My long-standing favorite app is Instacast, but I've recently switched to the excellent Overcast on my iPhone. 

Below is an excellent video rundown on some of the most popular podcast-catching apps to discover, download, and listen to new podcasts. After the video go check out Robert McGinley Myer's site Anxious Machine


The Best Bible I've Ever Owned

I have a lot of Bibles. I kind of collect them. All different form factors, all different translations. Big ones, thick ones, thin ones, small ones (and some as big as your head, haha). But I have never come across a Bible that I love as much as the one I purchased three weeks ago. 

I'm a Bible design newbie of sorts, so some of you that are more experienced with Bible design, binding, layout and text may find this review a bit elementary. I think it lets me look at design with a fresh perspective. 

I've been looking for the perfect Bible for me for a long time, probably about 3 years. I had some requirements for my perfect Bible:

1) It had to be an ESV. I've been using the English Standard Version for over 10 years, and it, to me, reflects a "best of both worlds" kind of approach. It has complexities and tradition of old King James Bibles, but nuances and flair of modern English like newer translations. Plus, I believe it to be the most accurate of the translations, along with the 1901 ASV. 

2) It had to be black. Not super-hard to find I know, but I think you'd be surprised if you looked at certain styles of Bibles that weren't available in black. 

The Cambridge ESV Bible (bottom) in size as compared to other objects. Click for larger view.

3) It had to be thin and compact(ish). I didn't want a super-small Bible, but I didn't want one that was big and thick either. Finding a thin and small Bible was challenging. For the past ten years I've used an ESV Thinline, which has been great. The only problem was that it was bonded imitation leather and didn't last very long (yes, I'm aware I could have just re-bound the cover for my current ESV, but I wanted something different). 

4) It had to have cross-references. Not a lot, but I wanted at least a good number of cross-references, whether at the bottom or in a center column on each page. 

My search finally ended while perusing through a Lifeway Christian store while looking for some study Bibles for some recent young men who had been baptized. 

I came across the Cambridge ESV black goatskin Bible. I had seen Cambridge Bibles before - there were some for sale at the FHU Campus Bible Bookstore that I could never afford, at least at the time - but never one that met all my previously stated requirements. 

The Cambridge Bible wasn't cheap - mine retailed for over $100 on Amazon - but it is the highest-quality Bible I've ever used. 

A sample of the inside. The font is small but not so small that you can't read it. 

The first thing you notice is the feel of the leather. It is actual goatskin, no bonded leather that you find in 95% of other Bibles. It's soft and great to touch. The spine is sewn rather than glued, giving the binding great flexibility. It lays flat on a desk from the first time I opened it. The pages are thin but opaque, and they're lined on the outside with a red-gold color, giving it a very old-school look. 

Moving inside, the page layout is wonderful, with a serif font that's easy on the eyes. Some might find the font too small, but for me it's just right. Cross-references are at the bottoms of pages as well as in the center column - a lot of references for a Bible this size. At the end there are 10 full-color maps as well as really good concordance. 

Overall, I think this Bible is perfect for me and I look forward to using it for many, many years to come. This won't be my reading Bible (I can thank Bibliotheca for that soon), but it will be my working Bible. 

It isn't cheap, but it's a little more manageable cost over at Amazon. For a Bible you might use for the rest of your life, I'd say that the price isn't all that bad. 

Bibliotheca

Bibliotheca is a great Kickstarter project started by Adam Greene. It's the Bible, American Standard Version (modified), in four volumes. It's a "readers Bible," meaning it doesn't have the typical cross references or chapter breaks of a regular Bible. It looks more like a novel that one might read here in 2014. The custom typography is beautiful and the cloth binding looks amazing. 

Apparently the project has already met its threshold, which is great. I'll be picking these up as soon as they're available, if I don't already change my $5 donation to get the four-volume set right now. 

With a culture that is increasingly making the Bible irrelevant, it's very refreshing to see someone making the Bible more relevant. Greene explains in the video about his choice of the ASV as the translation - and to me, the coolest part is that he's replacing some of the terminology (thee, thou, hast, etc.) with up-to-date terms such as you, I, and me. Some conservatives may balk at this - especially since he's also stated he's replacing and augmenting some of the text with Young's Literal Translation - but I see it as a step forward. 

This argument is a microcosm of the church as a whole today - how can we make the Word of God more relevant without changing the message? 

Anyways, I implore you to check out the video below. It's got some really cool stuff and it will have you saying "Take my money" in no time. 

Update: After seeing this post, Adam emailed me. He wanted me to make sure that this is a limited edition kind of thing, and may not be available after the initial run. He says:

A lot of people are wondering if this product will be available to purchase after the Kickstarter campaign. Although I would be thrilled to make a second printing available for purchase after the campaign, I cannot guarantee it by any stretch. I am trying to get the word out that this is not a campaign to make the product available to buy indefinitely. Rather, it is essentially a limited pre-order that will end when the campaign is over. As of now, the only guaranteed way to own the set is by pre-ordering on the Kickstarter page.

Thanks, Adam!


What's On Your Home Screen?

Click to enlarge

It's always cool to see other people's home screens - it's like peering into their living room. So I present my current home screen. What I'm using and how I'm using it. 

First of all, I don't have folders on my home screen. Why? I think a home screen should be reserved for those apps that one uses every day. I want to get to the info or app when I want to as fast as possible. 

Starting with the dock, I use a three-app setup for the apps I use the most: Silo, Calendars 5, and OneNote. 

Silo is an excellent To-Do list app and has a native iPad and Mac app as well, which is essential for me. You can make multiple lists and Silo's signature feature is sharing those lists. This app is great for task management within groups. 

I've raved about Calendars 5 from Readdle. Lots of people love Fantastical, but I prefer Calendars 5 because it just works best for what I need. I need to see a month a time in meetings and talking to people about scheduling, and I need to do it quickly. C5 offers that and a very quick entry of new events into my calendar. 

OneNote has become my default app for everything. I love the design, I love the updated iOS apps, and I love how it handles documents to and from devices (it maintains layouts and fonts across all platforms). It's a great project management tool - not just for notes. 

Back up to the top, I use the Ascend Federal Credit Union app to keep track of my bank account. It's a small local bank here in Tennessee but have just added mobile check deposits through the apps. Nice. 

I use the standard Apple Maps app because it has pretty good integration with iOS. The Weather Channel is also pretty standard, but their recent iOS 7 update made it way more like Yahoo Weather, except with the accuracy of The Weather Channel. 

Scanbot has become a new favorite of mine for scanning documents with my phone, which is surprisingly great. You would think that would be cumbersome, but it's not. 

Tweetbot is my Twitter client of choice. It is magnitudes better than the standard Twitter app. I love the user muting feature - comes in handy when you've got those people that you follow that tweeting just a little too much. 

Paper has actually made me like Facebook again. It's a real pioneering app that uses "sloppy swiping" to navigate. It works really well and I like this Facebook app a lot better. 

Reeder is my RSS reader of choice, and I sync through Feedly. I don't have a ton of feeds, but it's nice and handy when standing in the checkout line and you can quickly skim your feeds. 

Dropbox is a staple. While I don't have as much storage space on DB as I do with Google Drive or Box, I still find it more useful and less irritating than other services. 

Mailbox is my favorite email client on iOS. It's basically email triage. I talked about this app on episode 16 of Ministry Bits. I have it set to display a numbered notification badge on the app if there's messages in there, so for me it's almost like a task list, because I know if I see a badge there that I need to act on something. I hear there's also a Mac app in the works as well. 

1Password is probably my most essential app. While not cheap, I know that my passwords are secure and every one of them is unique and very difficult to break because I have this app. You have a master password to unlock the app, and then you can copy any of those password into other apps or other sites using the built-in and very capable browser. 

Pedometer++ is great for tracking your steps every day. It's simple and effective. 

Instacast is my podcast catcher of choice. It's great, and I use it on iPad as well. You can subscribe to podcasts directly within the app, and download podcasts for later viewing. 

The ESV Bible is the simplest Bible app out there, and it's the version I prefer. 

Evernote I mainly use for taking pictures and scanning business cards, all of which are searchable. Evernote can be used for lots of things, but that's what I use it for. 

Last but not least, Day One is a journaling app that I use to keep track of what I've done - as a youth minister I need accountability, and I log every event from phone calls to conversations I've had to ball games I go to. It comes in handy if I ever need to remember what I did on a particular day. 

So that's it! Let me know if you would like YOUR home screen featured on the site. We'd love to see your home screen!