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3 Ideas for Women’s Small Groups

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Thinking of starting a women’s small group? Need some ideas? Women’s small groups are important for spiritual growth and take leadership, faith-focus, and age integration to help them thrive.

Take the lead

Leadership is one of the most important elements of a women’s small group. Your leader can make the group dissolve or grow. A common mistake that people make when doing a small group is they get overloaded and aren’t there for their members. Be sure to take time to hang out with the ladies in your small group individually. A one on one coffee hour or lunch at a fun restaurant can show your women that you really care. For any of those shy or introverted females, a one on one time with you may be essential to get them out of their shell. I am not saying that you have to hang out with these ladies outside of the group every week, but do make a concerted effort to spend time with each small group member at least once. That one time will at least help them feel connected and comfortable and will encourage them to reach out to their fellow members.

Another part of being there for your ladies is to offer help when someone is in need. If a girl is moving into a new apartment, get the group together and go help her! If a baby shower or birthday is coming up, try to attend or celebrate to help that woman feel special. Don’t view your small group as purely a do-gooder activity; get excited about building real relationships and helping girls because you want to. People can tell if you are just trying to be nice and if you don’t really care. Small groups are about building the church community, so don’t treat your members as people who just come and go. Reach into their lives.

Focus on faith

Just as you are focusing on being a real friend to the women in your small group, also be intentional about the ministry side of this meeting. Whether you decide to make a Bible study-focused or socially-focused small group, the whole idea is that you are part of women’s ministry at your church. Whether it’s praying at the beginning or end of your meeting or even talking about what God has been showing you in your life, your group should have some spiritual element to it. A Bible study group is great to go through different scriptures or even through a study book. An activity-based group can have an advantage, too, as you can more easily get unchurched women involved. Women’s small group time may be the only church that some women experience. This is why it is crucial to not assume that everyone is reading her Bible or going to Sunday’s sermon. We are all human and we all need to be reminded of Christ as the center of our lives. Be that spiritual encouragement and reminder to your ladies.

Age is just a number so mix it up

One last characteristic of a small group that can be a challenge is the age factor. If your church has high attendance, separating groups by age may be the best way to make these groups work. If your church is smaller, you may have a group or two that encompasses all women in the church. However you structure your groups, be sure that you take an intergenerational approach on some level. The Bible calls for older women to teach the younger women. We all can learn and benefit from one another, so find ways to get women of different ages together. Perhaps you can bring all women’s small groups together for a Saturday morning brunch or a women’s conference. Leadership comes in once again as getting leaders of each group involved can encourage all of your church ladies to attend. I have a few retired women from my church that I talk to and I love receiving their encouragement and wisdom. A couple of these women help lead a small group for all ages and it has worked out great.

I hope you will be encouraged to start a small group at your church or at least to get involved in one. Sometimes it can be scary to take on that responsibility or even to meet new people. Take that first step and just try it out! You’re not alone–God is with you–and He will take care of you. He will send people to help you and give you and your fellow ladies great ideas. Women at your church all need girl time, so have some fun by getting these ladies together!

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6 Things to Consider When Upgrading Your Sound System

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If you’re a house technician, chances are you’ve been in a position to re-evaluate your sound system or a piece within it.  Whether you’re looking at a complete overhaul or simply updating some components, I’ve found that these 6 things help to guide you to getting the equipment you NEED.

1. Evaluate your needs/current deficiencies

Where do we start?  Typically, there are obvious deficiencies in performance or features that lead us to consider an upgrade. From large touring stops to small churches, each venue will have certain needs and requirements in order to run efficiently. It’s very important to narrow down needs so money is not spent needlessly, or in the wrong areas.

A common trend I’ve seen in recent years is not that churches are replacing equipment that is failing, but they’ve outgrown the systems which were designed and installed to meet simpler needs. Technicians are trying to make a system that was designed for light music and voice reproduction keep up with full rock band set ups. We now find ourselves running out of channels on our mixers, short on stage monitors and running out of steam in our PA’s. It’s important to know exactly why you’re looking for upgrades so you can make an effective case for your cause.

2. Consider all available products – don’t fall into trends 

Once you’ve defined the areas that need to be upgraded and why, it’s important to consider all available products. Sometimes budget can be saved in one area to make sure you maximize in another area.  One example is a recent client of mine who wanted to move to a digital console. Upon visiting and sitting in on a few services to get a feel for their needs, it quickly became apparent that dropping in a $25k console would be somewhat like dropping a V8 engine into a compact hatchback from the 80’s. I had to inform them that though I would happily integrate a console of their choice, the sounds they were looking for wouldn’t be supported by their current system. In the end, we made a case for-replacing the PA, installed a budget-friendly, yet effective digital console, as well as some economical solutions for in ear monitoring and the clients have been thrilled with the results.

Another consideration is to ensure the right product is spec’d for your space. Just because a certain speaker format works for touring bands in arenas, doesn’t mean it is right for your venue. That same client had been told they really needed to go with a line array speaker system as it was the latest and greatest, when the room simply didn’t require it and wouldn’t benefit from it. We stuck with a high performance point source system and it’s a great venue to mix in.

3. Get help – find a reliable and resourceful installer/ consultant

I’m a member of a few Facebook groups related to church technology and I’m amazed at how many of the other members don’t seem to have a “go to”  AV supplier/consultant. While there are plenty of resources online, it’s very hard to keep track of all the new products and upcoming product without the help of a reputable AV supply house.

I’m not suggesting you find the closest, cheapest or most expensive guys around, they should earn your business and build trust and rapport with your venue. They should have the inside scoop on upcoming product and should be able to provide multiple options for any project and explain the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Without the help of someone who can potentially offer solutions outside of conventional thinking, you may not be getting the most of out of your budget. There are plenty of very qualified AV suppliers out there, and it’s important to find a supplier who is likeminded and can help you grow.

Anyone can sell you gear — it’s the relationship that counts.

4. Evaluate your space

I’m sure we’ve all been to venues that suffer from too little PA, and I’ve seen my share that suffer from too much! When thinking about upgrades, it’s important to evaluate the meeting space. I realize that in some cases churches may be in transition and could be considering products they can use in a new space, and also use currently. When analyzing your space, it is important to consider acoustic treatment as part of any upgrade project. While we likely aren’t going to be changing any architecture of the building, some well-planned treatment will go farther than any console/ PA combo will to help you get better sound in a non-treated environment. Considering things like in ear monitors/ electronic/hybrid kits to keep stage level down, or at least smaller compact monitors and proper drums skins/ cymbals will help keep your space under control. There are companies that will help you source the proper drum skins and cymbals for the size of room you have, considering items like volume and decay times.

5. Prioritize your needs

As previously mentioned, it’s important to get the proper pieces in place in the right order. Getting the appropriate PA for your application is the most important step in achieving your goals. Once again, dropping in that digital console you have your eye on isn’t going to improve your coverage issues, or extend the range of your speakers.

In some scenarios you can start your upgrade by simply replacing power amplifiers or adding processing to the system as these are pieces that will make a difference (not all amplifiers are equal) and they are items that can be carried over when you are ready to purchase new speakers. Prioritizing your needs is important, and will help build your budget. Perhaps going with an in ear monitoring set up is the right next step, or perhaps the integration of a new/better subwoofer will help you achieve the sound you’re after. Perhaps getting those guitar amplifiers off stage, mic’ing them up and finally being able to mix properly is the way to go. As you can imagine there are lots of possibilities, so figuring out what you are missing in your set up and at what stage these things make sense to implement are very important.

6. Create a realistic budget/ plan

Obviously none of this gear comes free, unless you’re fortunate to have inherited some past equipment that suits your needs! Once you’ve prioritized your needs and enlisted the help of a trusted AV provider or consultant, you can proceed to evaluate the available products that will meets your needs. Once these steps have been completed you’ll be in a much better place to create a realistic budget and plan. Far too often random budgets are placed for specific purchases and then the tech team or budget manager are tasked with finding solutions to fit within this budget. It’s been my experience that doing the research ahead of time, getting proper input and budgetary quotes from your AV supplier results in a far better result and less money spent on things that may not have been required, or were a Band-Aid solution.

It can be daunting sometimes to make these decisions, and we all sleep better if we feel we’ve done our research. Try not to use Band-Aid solutions unless you see the potential of using these purchases somewhere else down the road when you get a little more budget to invest! Ultimately, you’re going to be the one left to use the gear, so make sure you are satisfied with equipment you invest in!

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DIY Church Media

When looking to enhance your services with visuals, purchasing media from sites like WorshipHouseMedia.com and SermonSpice.com is almost always the best and fastest route. Occasionally though, it’s fun and/or necessary to personalize the church experience with your own homemade design.

The next time you’re looking to promote an upcoming event or sermon series and can’t find what you need on WorshipHouse or SermonSpice, don’t rely on stock photography sites! Instead, try incorporating photos of fellow church members into your media. Why is this a fantabulous idea? In large part because recognizable faces can resonate with your congregation, making it more likely that they’ll remember and relate to what they’re viewing.

In this four part series, we’ll discuss some tips and general guidelines to consider when creating your homegrown media. You won’t need a fancy camera, photography classes or any special expertise, just follow along with this series and rev up your imagination. The first step in the process is to plan your composition(s) in preparation for a D.I.Y. photo shoot.

Know Your Why

Make sure that you’re not using photos of church members just for the sake of doing so. The imagery should always support the theme of the service, sermon or event. The last thing you want to do is distract from the intended message by adding irrelevant or excessive imagery. Staying focused on the theme is critical, and this is where brainstorming and planning make all of the difference.

It’s OK to be Sketchy

Start your design by sketching some concepts, always keeping in mind the question: “What am I trying to communicate with this piece of media?” You don’t have to be Andy Warhol for this step, just try to get some ideas on paper that can help you frame your design. Here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind:
faith-image (1)If your imagery wasn’t accompanied by text, would it still tell a compelling story about the theme of the service, sermon or event? If not, keep brainstorming!

Bowling-image (1)Your congregation’s first reaction to the design shouldn’t be “Hey! That’s Larry!” Instead, plan the focal point around the part of your design that best represents the theme. The fact that the model is a fellow church member should be a subtle tip of the hat, not the main focus.

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Your brainstorming sketches should (almost) always provide ample text space. Accounting for where your text will be placed later on will save you headaches in the long run.

What’s Next?

In the second post of this series, we’ll look at tips on how to compose and shoot photographs like a pro, even if you’re not one. We’ll also discuss the importance of selecting the right church members for your designs. So, what are your thoughts on personalizing media for your church? Have we missed an important Do or Don’t so far? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Salt Conference Giveaway from WorshipHouse Media and SermonSpice

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Feelin’ lucky? The ultimate VIP experience is ready to be won by you. Worship House Media is giving away a Grand Prize package for the Salt Conference that will have your media mind reeling with possibilities. Come participate in the best Creative Arts Conference around and hear from speakers like Blaine Hogan, Erwin McManus and Gary Molander.

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Grand-prize

One lucky winner will be granted an exclusive VIP experience at SALT 2015. This winner will receive the following:

 

(2) VIP All Access Behind the Scenes passes

(2) Tickets to SALT 2015 Full-Conference

(2) Tickets to SALT 2015 Pre-Conference

(2) T-shirts from SALT Store

(2) Journals from SALT Store

(1) SALT University Membership

(1) Behind the Scenes tour from Experience Director

(1) Meet and Greet with Conference Director and Executive Team

 

*Winner must provide their own transportation and lodging for the duration of the event.

 

2ndprize

One lucky winner will be granted a pair of tickets to experience SALT 2015. This winner will receive the following:

 

(2) Tickets to SALT 2015 Full-Conference

(2) Tickets to SALT 2015 Pre-Conference

(1) SALT University Membership

(1) Behind the Scenes tour from Experience Director

(1) Meet and Greet with Conference Director and Executive Team

 

*Winner must provide their own transportation and lodging for the duration of the event.

 

everyone-gets

Don’t worry everyone who registers wins! Here’s what we’ll email everyone after the contest ends:

Glenn Packiam’s SALT 2014 Keynote (Video & MP3)

Service Pack of Free Media from Playback Media.

CLICK TO WIN!

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Setting Up A Successful Kids Church

IMG_0895How do you set up your kids service in church? Do you, or your Kid’s Pastor, give as much attention to your kids service as you would your adult service? As I took on our Kids Ministry at my church, I realized that most of the time the kids were sat in front of a movie, given some snacks, and would play a game here and there. This sounds fine for the first couple of weeks, but eventually the kids get bored, tune out, start acting up and the volunteers find themselves simply being babysitters.

After visiting some other churches and watching them do great Kids Ministry, I realized how much of a disservice we were doing not only to our kids, but to our families. I caught the vision quickly that by developing a dynamic, fun, exciting, kids ministry you set up these children to love going to church and succeed spiritually.

Here is how we set up our time for 5 years old through 5th grade for a 75 minute service:

Free Time / Game Room
This lasts about 15 minutes with the sole purpose of connecting with their peers and making new friends. This also allows for those kids whose family is running late not to miss any of the service.

Worship
We then immediately start out with worship for about 7-10 minutes. The beginning worship is always energizing, lots of dancing, lots of jumping, and we utilize our church youth to help the kids with fun motions throughout.

Announcements
We break our worship up half way through to take up offering, introduce any new series, go over any rules, and welcome new people. After praying, we roll back into worship again.

Bible Story (normally video based)
As soon as the worship ends we immediately play a Bible Story. This usually lasts about 4-5 minutes and sets the foundation for our lesson, something we can refer back to during our teaching, and provides a different type of media to keep it interesting.

Teaching
During the teaching, we mix it up with object lessons, volunteers from the crowd, and silly skits that get the kids laughing and engaged all the way through. The teaching, though, is centered around the biblical lessons and builds on what they just learned in the Bible story. We write our own lessons for church but there are also many resources for Kids Curriculum available.

Small Group
After the teaching we take time to break into small groups of about 10 kids each. We split them based on ages and have appropriate questions for each group. This allows them to apply the lesson from the day to their lives and we have found this is where kids will open up personally about their home or school life.

Game
After prayer, we gather back into our big group again and play a game until it’s time for parents to pick up.

Every week we are talking about what to teach the kids, what songs we should learn, how to best explain Biblical truths to our kids in digestible ways, all the while preparing them for the next stage of their lives. We focus on getting them ready for Youth so that our Youth Pastor has a solid foundation on which to build and to not have to start from scratch. It is our hope that these kids will continue to go to church and grow spiritually the older they get!

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