Things have really busy since the Thanksgiving holiday, largely due to a group project that I’ve been working on. Our entire staff was divided up into interdepartmental teams to compete against one another as we each worked to come up with solutions to various problems that are facing our church body. (You can get Josh’s perspective here.)
Like normal, I’ve found myself in the position of project manager. The process has been both very fun and very challenging at times.
We’re putting the finishing touches on our presentation now, and I hope to share it in video format once the presentation is over. I was tempted to put a couple of behind-the-scenes photos in with this post, but I don’t want to spoil any surprises (or give away any ideas to the other teams).
Every once in a while, when I’m relaxing in my chair – reading the Bible or some other book on my iPhone, or looking at a map to find the location of something on my phone – I feel like pinching myself to see if I’m dreaming. Technology continues to make so many advances that it really blows my mind.
And then today, I came across this video. It runs on PCs with a multi-touch screen. Not sure how useful it would really be, but it sure looks great!
OK, enough playing around. Today we’re serious, and I’m looking at a the top three web apps that have been especially helpful to me over the past few weeks and months.
1) YouVersion (mostly the iPhone app) – This application continues to be something that I use at least once a day. I’m still doing my daily reading on the iPhone, and they keep making improvements on the .com site as well. Really an amazing resource that you need to check out, if you haven’t already.
2) Mvelopes – This personal finance application is really top knotch. It’s taken the weekly chore of entering and classifying expenses down to the simple process of dropping the expense into the corresponding virtual envelope. I expect that I’ve already saved dozens of hours in the few months I’ve used their system.
3) Freshbooks – This is a time tracking and invoicing application. I’ve always been bad at tracking my freelance time, and many times I’d end up doing updates for free, but now I’m able to easily track my time and produce invoices from the time I’ve spent. I’m still new to this one, but I’ve been very impressed, and the corresponding iPhone time tracking application is very helpful. Best of all, they allow you to manage up to three clients for free.
I thought it would be cool to mention a few web applications that I’ve found to be especially useful over the past few weeks, but I think I’ll save that for tomorrow. Today, instead, I want to mention a useful hilarious web program that had me laughing like a fool at my desk today.
It’s called Translation Party, and what it does is take an English phrase and convert it to Japanese using Google’s translation API. Then, it translates the Japanese back to English. It repeats the process until the two phrases match in English and Japanese (“equilibrium”). Google’s translator is good, so sometimes nothing too interesting happens, but sometimes it gets pretty funny.
I love my job, and one of the things I get to do each day is make decisions. Decisions like:
What new projects will my team take on?
What will be priority?
Where will we focus our time and money?
Should we do option A, B, or C?
I hope that I make good decisions most of the time, but even when I don’t, I often get the opportunity to revisit those decisions again. The Deaf interpretation on the Internet Campus is a good example of this very thing.
You see, when we first launched the Internet Campus, I got a kind email that I quickly dismissed as outside our scope for the Internet Campus. That was three months ago.
Fortunately, our Graphic Artist Heather Burson, mentioned the idea to me a few weeks later and cast a vision for the impact the iCampus could have in the Deaf community. This second time, I listened.
Has that every happened to you? Have you ever dismissed an idea but later come back with a new perspective?
Thanks to the Hurculean efforts of Matt James, and the support of our great tech ministry at Faith Promise, we’re still on course to add an additional feed to the Internet Campus this weekend for the Deaf community.
This is a shot of our recording room. The monitors in the foreground are for recording both of the video streams. The board is for the sound recording, and the monitors in the top right are what the camera director uses to select camera shots. (In case you can’t tell, things are a bit of a mess right now.)
PS – In addition to the new video feed, I think we’ll also see improvements to the audio and video quality online this week, and video on the iPhone should be happening soon as well.
Some are saying that online social networking and virtual sites… may actually be harming genuine community. What do you think?
A lot of people are predicting what consequences online community is going to have. But that happens with every new technology. When the telephone was new in the early 20th century, there were bold predictions that it would negatively impact how people interact. But very few of those predictions came true.
With technology and culture changing so rapidly, how can a church keep pace?
Some organizations take three to five years to change, so to keep pace they would have to predict what things will look like years from now and begin making adjustments now. That’s really inefficient. The alternative is to be an adaptive organization and nimble enough to adjust within a few months to what’s actually happening.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve faced some painful failures. I poured my heart into a ministry, and I watched it crumble before my eyes. Despite my best efforts, things did not go as hoped. People (including myself) walked away disappointed. And in the end, I really began to question a lot of things.
God, am I just in the way of your ministry? Do you really have a plan for me?
Through the brokenness, I began to discover that there is a God who delights in our weakness. He is quite comfortable with us coming to the end of ourselves and facing our fears.
But this time, when I looked at my failure, I realized there was something on the other side. Failure is a doorway to greater things.
Seth Godin, in his book Tribes, puts it this way, “[They] have actively talked themselves out of the fear. I mean, the fear is still there, but it’s drowned out by a different story…. The only thing holding you back is your own fear.”
God is teaching me this lesson in a dozen ways at the same time, but especially through the great leaders around me at Faith Promise. From what I can tell, I’m beginning to make some solid progress. I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m ready to fail, because I realize that failure is a part of making progress.