If you’ve done any reading up at all, you know that the best time to start pretty much anything is within the confines of natural life patterns. Fall is a great time to plant. So, that means instead of slowly sliding into Summer, you’re probably ramping up some huge plans for the fall. I wanted to take some time to show you the tech setup I have at Missio Dei in hopes that you too can benefit from free/cheap tech that will really impact your community for the better.
Note: This article comes from a “live and learn perspective.” I’ve never been the best at planning ahead, so it’s a little difficult for me to encourage church planters to do what I am not the best at accomplishing myself. However, that doesn’t make it any less important to do! The categories we’ll look at in this article are presentation, communication, and documentation.
1) Presentation: Proclaim by Logos
One thing almost every church has is some form of presentation. In our case, we set up and tear down in a dance studio each week. We use an HD TV and run HDMI cables to it for our presentations. For our software, we have always used Proclaim.
It’s cheap enough (at $20/mo) for church plants to afford day 1 and it has some awesome features that will connect with a wide audience, as well as tools for sermon preparers.
Proclaim comes with free media templates for all major holidays and some generic ones as well. They offer a premium media package that might be useful if you don’t have an in house designer. It operates completely in the cloud, so your worship leader, teacher, and tech team all have access from wherever they’re at. They also offer signals, which are basically specific actions you can set up for any slide such as a giving prompt, calendar event or website. These integrate into their Faithlife and Logos Bible apps so your congregants can be updated with new information each slide, and jump to references in app as they appear on the big screen.
For the teacher, Proclaim integrates with Logos Bible Software directly so they can send notes, images, and quotes right to Proclaim from within Logos. This saves a ton of time!
You can download and play with all their software at their website, you’ll just have to subscribe for their On Air license if you want to use the product live.
2) Communication: Google Hangouts
There’s a lot that goes on day to day in any church, but especially a church plant. A small church is like a speedboat zooming around in the seas of the community getting a lot of things done, where as larger churches are more like aircraft carriers acting as huge resource for the community, but slower to steer the waters and make decisions. We need both of these models for our communities to be best served, and that requires a lot of moving pieces.
Group texts are a pain. They’re hard to keep track of, and depend heavily on user carriers and rates for people to adopt. That’s why group messaging services are thriving, and right now, Hangouts is one of your best bets. It’s on virtually every smartphone and operating system around. It’s searchable via Gmail on the desktop. You can see who’s writing and when which helps users “wait their turn” and not just flood a stream with nonsense.
I recommend setting up separate hangouts with different teams so it’s a little more organized. For instance, we have a hangout for our Elder team, Deacon team, Finance team and Tech team. This will allow you to address the appropriate people at the appropriate time without flooding everyone’s inbox with information they don’t need to know.
There are other fantastic free services out there that get the job done. While we don’t use it personally (we were already heavily invested in Hangouts when the recommendation came along), I’ve heard great things about Slack (that’s what ChurchMag uses) as well if you wanted to check them out if you’re just getting started.
3) Documentation: Google Drive
A church plant has a ton of paperwork to keep track of (learned that one the hard way). We immediately picked up Google Drive as our free “storage locker” for all our important stuff, as well as our go to for document creation.
Elder meetings. Member meetings. Training meetings. We always use Google Drive. The collaboration is top notch, the amount of storage is near impossible to use up, It’s on every major platform and on the web to boot.
It practically sells itself.
And even if you can’t afford Proclaim software to present with, just make a presentation on Drive, grab a Chromecast, and cast it to your screen. Boom. Instant presentation to boot and cheap as free…well, as cheap as a Chromecast ($35).
The Wrap Up
So we took a look at three-ish cheap or free ways to help your plant get ready to roll in the fall. But don’t wait til then to get started. Everything listed above is free to try. Download Proclaim to your laptop and mess around with the features. Install some Google apps on your phone and start using them to see what you think. Who knows? You might just find everything you need right there.