I started a blog to write, but I have become disenchanted with the amount of time to takes to “layout” a blog post. I did not set out to become a master-curator for pictures and headlines. I write because I love to express ideas, because I love ideas. Ideas change things.
Imagine it’s the year 1999 (for some of you, that’s hard to do, I know). But just imagine. There is no social media, we only use the internet for a few things here and there, but we do have a wonder of modern technology: the cell phone. You love your cell phone. This wonder of modern technology keeps you connected to friends and family. No more pay phones for you. No matter where you are, all they need to do is call.
Now imagine that your friends and family – ALL of your friends and family – began to call and text you with updates every 15-30 minutes. Not important updates. Not things that were valuable or really useful to you. Updates like what they had for breakfast; what their 4-year old is wearing to school; that they just got their electric bill in the mail; things like that.
How long would it take you to ask them to stop calling and texting you with this random, useless information? Probably about a day. It would be annoying, distracting, tiring, and ultimately pointless.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is now the reality. It’s called facebook.
My wife is a 3rd generation missionary, her grandfather is entering 50 years on the mission field, and her parents have been missionaries for 25+ years. Now we are missionaries, raising our kids in a foreign country.
Many things have changed about being a missionary over the years. 50 years ago you came across the globe on a boat. It took an entire month. 20 years ago you got 1 phone call back home once a year because of the cost. Life was much different.
What has changed the context of missionary life more than anything? The internet.
Here’s a list of things not possible for a missionary 10 years ago:
- I can text my mom and dad back in the States 24/7. For free.
- I can video chat with my family in the States. On my cell phone. In the car.
- My boys know my parents well, because they video chat every week. Did I mention for free?
- I can watch anything on TV in the States, in my living room in South East Asia. (slingbox.com)
- I can watch live church services from our home church in the States.
- I can see pictures of my niece and nephew in the States practically the moment they are taken.
- You can watch live videos of our ministry in the Philippines. (RIP “prayer letters”).
- After you visit us on a mission trip, you can stay connected to the people you meet here.
- I can give a live video report to your church on our ministry activities. For free.
- I can manage bank accounts, transfer ministry funds, and exchange money. Instantly. For free.
- I can download the latest ministry resources and books straight to my tablet, in under a minute.
No doubt the internet is overused and addictive to some. But for missionaries in the 21st century, I can’t think of a greater thing.
As a missionary and a pastor, I juggle many different responsibilities. My tasks can change from day to day, especially when there is a special event or service planned. But normally, 9 out of 10 times, these tasks fall into a certain category of ministry.
Keeping all of these categories straight in my head proved to be impossible. Knowing what to prioritize or how much work was left on a specific project was as hard, or harder, than the work itself.
Thankfully I found a solution.
For the last year I have been using Action Method by Behance to keep my ministry life organized and in sync.
A big stress in ministry is realizing (or being told) that you need to finish a certain task, but having no good way to record that “to do” for later. So you end up emailing yourself, making a note on your phone, or (cringe) writing a reminder on a scrap of paper. No more. Enter Action Method.
With Action Method you can:
- Record tasks that you must finish later
- Track progress on a specific task or event
- Plan your “To Do” list for the day
- See a snapshot of work to do, by project or by date
Here’s an example of how I use it:
I’m in a meeting for our church plant, and the discussion ends with the realization that I need to produce a new document for internal staff use. I don’t have time to produce it now, but it needs to be completed and emailed to the staff by next Wednesday . I create an action item in Action Method: “create and email new meeting format guide to staff”. I categorize it as “church plant admin”. Then, next Wednesday morning when I am creating my to do list for the day, I open Action Method and see this task. It’s also color coded, so I immediately know at a glance it’s a church plant item that deserves my full attention. When I’ve completed it, I click the check button and it disappears. Ah, satisfaction.
I use Action Method to tell me what I need to do and when I need to do it. It is my guide for accomplishing my goals – both daily and long range. Without it, I would be less effective, unorganized, and frankly a little frazzled.
What do you use to stay organized? Comment and describe your “to do” process below.
I use Bible apps on my iPhone and iPad. I use them for devotional time. I use them in church. Not exclusively, but I use them. So I am not against new technology when it comes to Bible reading.
There is a growing trend among church goers to leave their Bible – in whatever form – at home. In place of it, they simply follow along with the “verse on the screen”. So what’s the big deal with that?
It’s a matter of history. Church history. As people became illiterate in the Dark Ages, the churches during that time (read: the Papacy) began to spread heresy based on the fact that the people in the pews could not fact check. How do we avoid this in our day and age with all of our modern technology? Simple: bring your Bible to church, in whatever form it takes.
I believe this is reason enough to encourage our congregations to bring their Bibles to church.
What is your opinion? Is it okay to just follow the verses on the screen, or should you still take your Bible to church?
I’ve been trying to develop a filing system for preaching notes. If you are a pastor, you know the drill. If you aren’t – basically pastors and other speakers are always on the look out for the next inspiration, sermon illustration, current event topic, etc. These ideas can come from anywhere – and you need a place to keep all the notes, newspaper articles, stats, and pictures.
I was reading an article in Preaching Magazine recently about using Evernote as a sermon-idea filing system. This seemed like just the ticket for me, as Evernote is available on a number of different devices, including the iPhone and iPad (which I use).
I decided to test it out.
I’ve found Evernote to be extremely integrated and easy to use. I use Microsoft Outlook for my email client. Evernote integrates with it. I use Google Chrome as my web browser. Evernote integrates with it. I use an iPhone. Evernote is there. Ipad. Yep. You get the picture.
With Evernote, I can copy any link, picture, or full web page from any device. I can upload hand written notes, documents that I scan in using my iPhone (whoa!), and emails. They all go into customized folders that I’ve created to organize my different sermon topics and research interests. In short – Evernote, and programs like it, may end up being a minister’s best friend.
How do you organize your notes?
It has been said that 2 things determine who you are: the people you meet and the books you read. I’d like to expound on that list for the times we find ourselves in…
You are shaped as a person by…
1) The media you consume
This includes traditional media, social media, books, iPad, iPod, etc, etc. We have so much information available to us. It affects us.
2) The people you communicate with
In our world, it’s not just the people you meet. I meet a lot of people. Offline and on. I communicate with a select few. Why? Because in my world that includes thousands of online friends, followers, and commenters, I have to be selective of who I pay attention too. Maybe I have time to Tweet back at you. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I have time to read your facebook note that you tagged me in for no apparent reason. Maybe I won’t. So I only communicate with a certain number of people each day, some online and some off, and they likewise for the same reason.
What media do you consume? And who do you choose to communicate with? They both impact you!
Your comments below would be appreciated and helpful…
I take a long time to make decisions. Ask my wife. I compare. I think. I re-compare. I think more. Then I decide. Such was the case in selecting a case for my iPad.
First, I had to decide on the type of case.
Would I go with a slip-case, a notebook style, or….no case at all? I elected to go with a slip-case for the iPad for the same reason I have one for my iPhone. Both devices are beautiful. Whatever your opinion of Apple, they create beautiful products. So why would I want to cover up great design with a case that certainly had much less thought go into its design? So slip case it is…
Second, which slipcase?
I scoured the recesses of Google’s web crawler and found several viable options. My dilemma came down to two options:
In comparing the two, the Waterfield case just didn’t seem as durable. I ended up selecting the Saddleback case and I am very pleased with it. The craftsmanship on this thing is impeccable. You really do pay for what you get. From their website, I learned a lot about the different grains of leather. Theirs is top notch. You can just tell when you hold the case that it will last a lifetime….probably longer. It has that “leather smell” that sort of takes your mind to a dude ranch somewhere. The best thing about it? As it gets beat up, it gains character. The scratches and nicks tell stories. Can you say that about your computer case? The only negative? When my iPad is out of date, I’m not sure what I’ll do with the case….
If you are looking for a sweet iPad case, or other leather goods, I would save yourself some time and contact the folks at Saddleback Leather.
Do you have any recommendations on iPad/laptop cases?