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.

College Computer Buyer's Guide 2014

I am always getting tons of questions around this time of year from parents and students who are heading off to college and they ask me what compute they should buy. My main question is to ask them, "What are you going to use it for?" And English major writing tons of papers isn't going to need the same processing power that an Engineering major might need. 

So, I decided to come up with a simple and straightforward buyers guide for college students. It's not as detailed as I would like, but it will certainly point you in the right direction when buying a computer for your soon-to-be college student. 

Click the image for a larger view or download the PDF to your computer or device

AIM Logo Redesign Process

I'll admit, sometimes I get a little carried away with stuff. 

When I get a good design in my head, it just has to get out. So when Paul Spurlin of Adventures in Ministry (AIM) contacted me about getting Ministry Bits on their podcast network, he wanted to some design assistance as well. 

Paul never approved or asked for a redesign. I was just presumptuous and sent him my idea. Fortunately for me, he really loved it. 

I won't talk about the old design, just the new one. I wanted to first simplify, simplify, simplify. As is with any project I tackle. I haven't done many logo redesigns, so this was rare for me. 

AIM Logo, version 1.0

AIM Logo, version 1.0

AIM 2.0

AIM 2.0

One thing Paul said was that he liked the navy blue and gray colors. I was trying to find a way to incorporate this into the redesign while not taking anything away from the new logo. 

The result was a simple, two-tone effect made possible by the "crosshairs" that center on the "I" in AIM. Slightly slanted to give a alternate, moving effect, the two colors in the logo actually blend nicely. The font used was a standard modern font names Avenir Next, a favorite of typographers and designers lately. I used the "Heavy" weight for all the lettering. The only custom letter is the "A," which I added a missing strip on the left side to distinguish it just a bit more. 

The crosshairs in the new design accomplish three purposes. 1) It gives focus to the new dynamic of the logo, 2) it forms a cross, which is the universal Christian symbol, and 3) It gives an impression of seeking and hitting your mark. This is exactly what the underlying mission of Adventures in Ministry is all about: hitting your mark to make the most impact on spreading the Gospel and bringing people to God. 

The best thing about designing simple things is that most times they're actually simple to design. As I was testing out ideas for the logo, what did I use in Photoshop for the design? The Eraser and Paint Bucket tools. That's right. No fancy drawing in Illustrator, no vectorizing. Just simple typing the A-I-M out, getting my kerning the way I want it, rasterizing the type, and then working to erase the lines of the crosshairs the way I want them to look. 

Detail on the crosshairs.

Detail on the crosshairs.

The most difficult thing to accomplish was the rounded edges on the center of the crosshairs. I had to go in a basically erase pixel by pixel to get the exact curvature I wanted. This gave the crosshairs a "sweeping out" effect, if you will, as if they were moving.

All in all, I'd say the redesign was a smashing success. I'd never intended to come in as the AIM guys had invited me in and make sweeping changes, but I had an idea, ran with it, and took a chance and presented it to Paul. Usually, as a designer, that can go two ways. You're super-excited about an idea and when you pitch it to the client, but they hate it. Or worse, they're indifferent and don't have the gumption to tell you that they hate it. But Paul was honest with me in the design and said "I just want to keep that this way with these colors" and so on. Luckily, he loved the final design, and it is now AIM's official logo, both on the website and the app on iOS and Android. 

I am so very happy to be working with Paul, Eric, Jon, and Andrew on this venture. I see a lot of great things coming down the pipe. 

You can check out Adventures in Ministry, where they have links to the podcast network, devotionals and songs for download, as well as full resources like classes and retreats. Head over there and download some good stuff!

The Ministry Bits Podcast

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One of the things God has blessed me with was the ability to know stuff about technology that most other people don't know. I don't say this because I'm an expert (because I'm not), I say this because every day I come across someone who surprises me with either their knowledge or lack thereof about technology.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Youth Ministry Workshop at the Freed-Hardeman Lectureships this past week - and I was on the other side of the table. I know a lot of stuff about technology - maybe too much. But I learned about new ways of doing things, new apps, new ways to create apps - stuff I had literally never heard before. 

So my new podcast I (re)started about 2 weeks ago is just that. It's about technology - both the tools we can use and the lessons we can learn from it in ministry. It's called Ministry Bits, and you don't have to go too far to listen. 

There are lots of people in the ministry that you and I know that are good at a lot of different things. Some are good at graphics. Some are good at using technology to preach and teach. So how can we use their knowledge to make our ministries better? We can see how they did it. 

If we want to be like Christ, we need to do the things he did. If we want to use technology effectively in our ministries, then we need to do the things that effective people do. 

Ministry Bits is an attempt to cobble together all this knowledge into one weekly podcast, so that everyone can listen and benefit. We will have guests in the coming weeks talk about perspectives on technology in ministry, reading, writing, and teaching and preaching in ministry. I hope that you the listener will benefit greatly from their knowledge and experience. We'll have shows on apps, workflows, and gadgets to use in ministry. 

Thank you in advance for supporting the new podcast. It's going to be a great ride. 

You can check out Ministry Bits right here on the website, or you can subscribe with iTunes in your favorite podcast client for easy listening. Shows run 25-30 minutes, no more. Your time is valuable. If you have a request, a comment, or would even like to be on the show, give me a shout at chad.landman@gmail.com

iPad Mini: The Ultimate Preaching & Teaching Tool

Ever since the "big" iPad debuted in 2010, I'm sure that there were a ton of posts (and probably still are) that the iPad was the ultimate tool for preaching and teaching. 

But I haven't read any of those articles, because for a long time, I didn't have an iPad. In 2012, I picked up an iPad, my wife and son fell in love with it, so I used that excuse to get an iPad mini. 

I love the smaller form factor. I love that its the size of my Bible. I love that the screen is the same resolution as the iPad 2, except packed into a smaller size. 

And I haven't used paper ever since. 

My iPad mini coupled with my Bible is all I need to teach a full-length class or preach a standard 30-minute sermon. I've went through many different workflows to perfect my process. And I'd love to share it with you. 

PDF to Dropbox

My first workflow with the iPad involved me styling a pretty document in Pages on the Mac and exporting it to PDF to a specified folder in my Dropbox. With it there, I could use a variety of apps (including the Dropbox app itself) to view the PDF for teaching my class. 

This was a clunky solution. Although pretty, the PDF wasn't editable. I couldn't add or delete content on the go, I would have to open the original document, edit it, re-export the PDF, and sync the changes across my devices. I grew tired of this workflow very quickly. 

Evernote

The second app/workflow I tried was Evernote. Evernote is an excellent all-capture app for things such as text, photos, and even audio. For a while this worked - I was able to write my class notes in the Evernote app for Mac, and after a few seconds the changes would sync to my devices. The problem here though is that I had a WiFi-only iPad mini. Unless the notes are cached and ready to go, it's not possible to pull them up on the go unless you have tethering to your smartphone. (You also run into roadblocks with this in almost every other syncing method, by the way.)

Had I stuck with my Nexus 7 and with Android, I would have stuck with Evernote, and I probably would have been happy. 

Simplenote

Very similar to Evernote in my opinion, except Simplenote is just for text. There's a couple of ways you could compose your material - through the very nice Simplenote interface on the web or through a number of apps such as Brett Terpstra's NV Alt, or with the dedicated iPhone and iPad apps. I didn't have too good of luck with Simplenote, despite loving the service, because I'm a bit too organized for it. Simplenote maintains that you should organize through a tagging system, and while I love tags, I had no need for it in my folder-by-month file structure for all my class and sermon notes. 

Simplenote is excellent for quick notes, and will even sync via my beloved Drafts app, but  that's all I currently use it for. 

.txt to Elements in Dropbox

My current workflow my not seem as simple as some of the others, but it allows me the most flexibility and is, in fact, incredibly simple and automated. I was hesitant to implement this workflow because I thought it may be too complicated, but it turns out that it's right the opposite. 

I compose my lessons in TextEdit on the Mac (or any other text editor that will save as or export to .txt format) and simply save them into the appropriate sub folder in my Elements folder, which is housed in my main Dropbox folder. Writing in plain text (.txt) allows lots of flexibility - namely file size, transfer times, and the ability to edit pretty much anywhere. 

I use the Elements app on my iPad to display my material to teach my classes. Elements will cache that folder's contents on wifi and will allow you pull up the latest version even if the app hasn't connected for a while. If you make changes though, you will have to refresh the file list. But on wifi and even over cell phone signal, this is incredibly quick considering file sizes are a tenth of the size of Pages or Word files. The app will also allow you to create a new text file in the file directory that you wish and will sync that file with Dropbox once a connection becomes available again. 

Elements does allow limited styling of your text through Markdown. If you don't know what Markdown is, it's just a neat HTML-like way to style plain text, with headline sizes, bold, italics, and bullet points. Elements will also allow you to change font sizes as well as pick from many nice fonts to display your text. 

This current workflow seems to be working, because I haven't changed it in the last 12 months. 

I love my iPad and I love the flexibility it gives me to edit my lessons on the go and compose them wherever I want. With 3 apps - Elements, Dropbox, and Drafts - I control my own creativity when and where I want to edit and create new thoughts. 

What about you? What do you use when you preach or teach? 

 

The Christian Leader in the Digital Age →

Albert Mohler has an excellent post on his site about Christian leaders who may be ignoring modern technology in their ministries. Very telling.

Leaders who talk about the real world as opposed to the digital world are making a mistake, a category error. While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way.
Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web, and on the smart phone in your pocket. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated, faster than ever before. Real conversations are taking place, through voice, words and images, connecting people and conversations all over the world.
If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world, and that population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.

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