Category Archives: Random

The Perfect Church Email Solution?

So, I thought this would be easy. I’m looking for a church email list management solution that I thought would be pretty simple. But apparently the features I want aren’t that easy to find. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • The ability to send emails to different segments of a master list (youth, prayer requests, announcements, etc.)
  • An opt-in form online for subscribers with the ability to have users choose from multiple subscription lists and manage their preferences in one place
  • Here’s where I’m having trouble:
    • The ability to send a message to a list segment (i.e. youth only) from my email. I don’t want to have to log in and do a huge HTML email template thing. So, I want to send an email to something like and it automatically initiates an email to everyone in the youth segment of my list.
    • The ability to add people who are allowed to do the above. I want the secretary, the lady who manages our prayer chain, and the youth intern to be able to send out emails to their lists as well.

With all the advanced email marketing solutions out there, I figured this would be no problem. In fact, I don’t really even need a fancy HTML newsletter. I just want to get information out to the appropriate groups. I’ve researched the following options and they don’t work for whatever reason:

  • LISTServ – This is really the solution I am probably looking for, but it’s kinda complex and expensive. I’m still unsure if it has the ease of use for subscribers to manage their preferences, too.
  • MailChimp – Everyone I talk to who has used MailChimp loves it, but it won’t do what I want. I love their subscription forms and user management. It would be easy for anyone to subscribe to and manage different email lists. The problem is that there is no way to send from email directly to a list without logging into the MailChimp website.
  • ListBox – This almost had what I wanted, but there was no way for users to add themselves to multiple lists at one time. Each separate list needed a new form to be filled out.
  • JangoMail – I think this might do what I want, but it’s a bit pricey compared to the others.

I feel like I’m looking in all the wrong places. Surely there’s a way to do what I want to do for a reasonable price. For the amount of functionality a service like MailChimp offers at a great price, I really don’t want to pay through the nose for the simple features I’m looking for.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Friday Frivolty

I’m not feeling too creative today, so here’s a pretty amazing video that probably took way too much time to make.

Come back next week for a series on a trinitarian model of youth ministry.

ELCA Names

I’ve noticed since joining an ELCA church three years ago that the groups in the ELCA do not seem compelled like other Christian groups to come up with cool names for their organizations. You know, some might call their older groups something catchy like “Prime Time.” In the ELCA, it seems like we use only functional, descriptive names. Some are almost comical:

This isn’t an indictment or anything, but an observation. All groups have their quirks. This might be one of ours.

What groups did I leave out?

The Ultimate Ubiquitous Capture Device?

In case you didn’t know, I’m a subscriber (though not necessarily a hardcore enthusiastic legalist) to David Allen’s personal productivity system for Getting Things Done (for an introduction to this system, go here). Over the past couple of years, I’ve played with different ways to implement the system, from an all-paper system to a hybrid electronic/digital system, to where I am now which is almost 100% digital.

However, there are times when you just have to capture an idea on-the-spot, and the most convenient way to do it at that particular time is by writing it down. To do this, you are supposed to use your “Ubiquitous Capture Device,” something you always have with you so you can never miss recording a thought. I’ve tried different ways of doing this, from carrying around note cards to scrap paper to moleskin notebooks. None of my solutions thus far has been satisfactory.

Recently, I came across the new Moleskine Volant (Extra Small) notebook and think this might be the ultimate solution. They are extremely thin and only two and a half by four inches, which means they will slip unnoticeably right into your back pocket. And they also have perforated pages, which is perfect for those times you need a loose sheet of paper. Learn more from the company website.

You can get two of these notebooks for $6, making them a bit pricey, but they might be worth it if they are fun to use. And, hopefully, they will stand up well to wear and tear. I’m going to see how I like using them over the next few weeks. Anyone else have a great solution for a ubiquitous capture device?

Twitter Life for the Week of 2009-05-10 Antisocial Cell Phone Behavior

This is a really short video from (under 4 minutes) on the implications of people always being connected with their phone. Packed into this short talk are some profound topics and assertions:

  • The rise of the culture of availability
  • An expectation of availability
  • An obligation of availability
  • Behaviors we use to hide our addiction to our phones
  • How this deals with creating shared narratives
  • “You are not as important as literally almost anything that could come through this device.”
  • “Our reality is less interesting than the story we are going to tell about it later.”
  • “People aren’t projecting identities, they are creating them.”
  • The gospel tie-in: “Let’s make technologies that make people more human, and not less.”

[RSS & email readers may have trouble viewing the video.]

Twitter Life for the Week of 2009-05-03

Twitter Life for 2009-04-26

  • @YouthMinBlog tatango. #
  • going home to get some reading done #
  • Finally read YM 3.0 by Marko today. Mixed thoughts. Review forthcoming. #
  • Uh oh. Work PC is doing weird things. Don’t ask if I’ve backed up. #
  • If my PC ever fires back up, I’m thinking Mozy. Other recommendations for online backups? #
  • @savagehowie Just think of them as exe-Jesus. Maybe that’ll help. #
  • @EvanCourtney is that like a projector hat or some kind? #
  • Whew. PC is back up. Mozying now. #
  • @rockinyp I think that means she needs an extra birthday present to make up for the lost year. #
  • Just started a Twibe. Visit to join. #
  • YouthMinistry Twibe has gone to #10/41 in Religion category in only 4 hours. ReTweet to join #
  • @blakehuggins never thought of it that way. I think you’re right #
  • seeing if google reader has any presents for me #
  • @YS_Scoop way to “lesson” your impact #
  • Thanks to everyone connecting on ReTweet to join #
  • Going to get the oil changed. Hope the mechanic doesn’t chastise me. #
  • There are more youth ministers than Christians on Twibes. Uh oh. #
  • Want quality seminary degree while keeping your job? …not just for Lutherans #ym #
  • Want a quality seminary degree while keeping your job? …not just for Lutherans #ym #
  • @jakebouma Don’t get me started. I have a post series brewing on the insanity of the ELCA approach leadership in reply to jakebouma #
  • Done with classwork. Not my best effort. Reading in bed. #
  • Just went “scouting” for our prayer walk on Sunday. #
  • Sermonizing, then reading. #
  • Had a few people join today. ReTweet to join up. #
  • On the agenda: lunch, nap, classwork, sermon, plan rest of prayer walk. #
  • Anyone ever fact-checked rob bell’s statement “a quark can disappear and appear in another place without traveling the distance between”? #

Dallas Independent School District is a Joke

I don’t live in the boundaries of DISD, but it is by far the largest school district in our metroplex area, so it gets all of the media coverage. And for good reason. They are clueless. I have lived in the area for less than three years, and in that amount of time, these stories have come to light:

  • Credit Card Fiasco – DISD employees were allowed to use district credit cards for pretty much anything, unchecked. Employees were not required to provide receipts, get approval for purchases, and broke contracts the district had with certain vendors. Click the link. You will be astonished.
  • Boys Basketball Team Forfeits 2005 & 2006 State Championship – After getting caught changing grades for ineligable athletes, the 2006 championship was stripped from South Oak Cliff High School. Apparently their 2007 title is also in question.
  • Giving Employees Fake Social Security Numbers – When hiring people from other countries, DISD couldn’t wait for them to be issued their social security number, so the district gave them fake ones and even ran background checks using the fake numbers. An “independent investigation” found no wrongdoing.
  • $64 Million Disappears – A lot of the good articles on this are archived in member-restricted news sites. But I remember this when it happened, and believe that the number was revised to $84 million. The way the stories read, the district was reviewing end-of-year finances and realized they had overspent $84 million. Ooops. I guess an $84 million hole is kind of difficult to spot coming from a long way off.
  • Cage fighting – Enough said.
  • A Policy to Pad Students’ Grades – Read on.

Believe it or not, there is more, but I’m tired of trying to hunt down the links and stories right now. Education, the future of America.