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Roku. The little box that lets you stream movies, shows and music on your TV. In a post on Churchcrunch.com from a few months ago, I learned about how Northland, A Church Distributed, was the first to pave the way for a live church channel on Roku. They found a way to use this new technology to reach thousands of people who want an easier way to worship outside of the church. All of Roku’s content is sent over the internet and some of it is available at no cost, while others require a cost per video or a subscription. With the price starting at $59.00, it is yet another new and inexpensive way for technology and churches to reach those who cannot physically attend a service.  Some people have even started hosting the services on Roku from their homes. Sounds like this could be the next big thing in the church world! Due to the simplicity of Roku, Northland has successfully created its own channel and hopes that more people from around the globe can take part in its mission.


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And I think you’ll like it, too. Every day, if time allows, I go to Google Reader and catch up on the latest church and tech blogs that I follow. Many are very entertaining, many are very informative, and many are very moving… but they don’t always bring about the inspiration for my next post. As I started writing this, I realized that it might be a little embarrassing to admit where I finally found today’s inspiration. As you may remember, I wrote a post recently about a story in Outreach magazine’s January/February issue, but I hadn’t had time to read the mag all the way through so I had closed it and set it aside on my desk. Well, a few pages and a couple of weeks later, I found some time to read the rest of the way through and I stumbled upon this really cool story. The title of the article was, “Lovin’ It at This McDonald’s Coffee Club”. A pastor named George Johnston from Calvary Baptist Church in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada has made a habit of meeting at his local McDonald’s every weekday morning. He said the morning meetings in the corner of the restaurant (dubbed the “Christian Corner” by the McDonald’s employees) are full of different people each day… some Baptists, Anglicans, and even non-Christians. The coolest thing that I got out of it was the impact that the meetings are having on the community. For instance, once a year, this group has their charity fundraiser called “McHappy Day”, which is where Johnston gets behind the counter to help out. When speaking with the manager one day, they were informed of the hardships that one employee was going through to find a home for her family with special needs, so they helped her move into their Habitat for Humanity house. They also raised money for an employee whose car broke down and needed a new one. It’s stories like these that remind us of the good in this world and the ways that we can all turn something like a minor fast food meeting into something that can impact a lot of people. McDonald’s and good Christian conversations in the morning? Sounds like my kind of meeting!

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Have you seen the Best Buy commercial that pokes fun at the ever-changing world of technology? It shows scenarios of peoples’ hilarious reactions after they have just purchased what they thought was the latest gadget, only to be shown the newer and better version that’s already out on the market. I love the part where a family is moving in their new 3D TV and a truck drives by advertising the newest 4D TV that requires no special glasses (which, don’t worry… doesn’t actually exist yet). This always makes me laugh because it seems like that’s exactly what happens with technology on a daily basis. As a church management software company that has been in business for 35 years, Shelby understands that technology is always changing and that it is essential to keep up. Our browser-based software,branded as Shelby Arena, is accessible from any location with internet access, as well as from an app on your smartphone. Here is a list of some cool things that it can help you to:
  • Manage membership & contact information
  • Send out bulk text messages or emails to staff, members, visitors, etc.
  • Allow people to locate & join small groups near them
  • Receive email notifications when members show interest in joining a small group
  • Make contributions and prayer requests available online
  • Design your customized website and event pages
  • Allow people to sign up & make payments online for events & mission trips
  • Set up various check in locations for church events
  • Track volunteer involvement
  • Create lists & reports on all of your data
  • Create assignments & workflows for your staff & volunteers
  • Run & recording background screenings on staff & volunteers
  • Assign security roles to users or to lock down access to confidential information
  • Schedule notification emails about the weekly visitor attendance, monthly contributions, etc.

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Maggie Canady is my next victim in “The Shelby Team” series. These posts are where I am highlighting different people from every department here at Shelby Systems and finding more out about their deep, dark secrets.

Maggie Canady

Well OK, maybe not going that deep… but Maggie is definitely a fun one to write about because:
  1. She is my manager and gave me free reign to write this
  2. She is quite possibly the biggest Dolly Parton fan in the world
  3. … and a University of Alabama fan (next to me… Roll Tide!)
  4. She is my manager and gave me free reign to write this
Maggie is a lot of things. She is hard working, creative, a red head, and the owner of a very cute Yorkshire Terrier (who she so conveniently named Bear, after legendary Alabama football coach, Bear Bryant). I’m telling you, she’s passionate. When you walk into Maggie’s cubicle, you will see pictures of three things: Bear, her family, or Dolly Parton. When she was two, Maggie even had a rabbit that she named Dolly. The things she loves most are her family, the mountains, Alabama football, and Shelby Systems. The company is such a big part of Maggie’s life because she quite literally grew up around all things Shelby. Her father, Frank Canady, started working here 35 years ago as the first employee. She spent many years watching her dad and helping him around the office. She has been on staff full time for over three years now and was recently promoted to Marketing and Communications Manager. She has really made a name for herself and goes above and beyond to keep Shelby Systems ahead of the curve. Maggie’s love for working at Shelby goes deeper than the family connection because she feels that this is not just an experienced software company, but a ministry helping many churches and non-profits around the world. Follow her on twitter @maggiecanady.


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Remember the game Telephone? Remember how a bunch of people would sit in a large circle, one person would whisper a sentence to the person sitting next to them, and by the time the sentence traveled through the whole circle, it would be a completely different sentence? Have you ever thought about how Christianity can be skewed a lot like the messages in that game? I think C.S. Lewis said it perfectly with, “What we want is not more books about Christianity, but more books by Christians on other subjects”. So many of those books have been written, and over time, we have accumulated hundreds of different ideas about what the Bible really says (many of which are not so good). We don’t need more ways to interpret it… we need to see the ways that other Christians are applying it to their lives. I’m not saying that interpretive or knowledgeable books are a bad thing, but the more interpretations that we have, the more skewed our religion could become. How do you feel about Lewis’ quote? Do you agree?


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Yesterday was the first day of Spring! For me, this means sunshine, plants blooming, and good things ahead. I didn’t mind this past winter, even though we had more snowfall in Memphis than we’ve had in a very long time. I figure if it’s going to be cold, it might as well snow. Then again, driving in snow and ice takes all of the fun out of it, so… I’m officially over winter. Warm weather is more of my thing anyway, which is good since we live in such a hot and humid city in the summertime. Easter is a little over a month away and Shelby will be attending the Northwest Ministry Conference between then and now. The week after Easter, we will be at 3 conferences! Count them… 3… in one week! It’ll be hard to miss us between the Orange Conference, NASBS (National Association of Southern Baptist Secretaries), and NAOC (National Advisory Organizations Conference). Are you excited about Springtime? What is your favorite time of the year?


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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Much like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people of all races and religions, but was actually started hundreds of years ago from… you guessed it… a saint. St. Patrick is probably the most widely recognized saint of Ireland. According to History.com, he held religious feasts each year on March 17, which also happens to be the day that he died. The holiday comes during the time of Lent, a Christian tradition that lasts about 40 days and leads up to the Easter holiday. Lent represents the time that Jesus spent in the desert fighting temptations. Oddly enough, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade (in 1762) was held in the United States. The first Irish immigrants in the U.S. were mostly Protestant until the Irish Catholics came over because of the Great Potato Famine. It’s funny how some long standing religious traditions have become widely celebrated today by both the religious and the non-religious. Are you doing anything to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Photo from Creation Swap

Sometimes we’ll do a post about products, apps or websites that can be beneficial to your church. Today we’re doing one of those posts because we are big fans of a site called Creation Swap and we want to tell you all about it. It’s a website made for ministries with royalty-free stock photos, church bulletins, sermon art, and logos. They also allow you to post jobs and connect with artists for free. This site is great because it provides for some unique needs for Christians and has some really awesome content. They have done a great job of inventing a website for other Christians to use and benefit from. It makes it easy for people in a church setting, for example, to find pictures to promote an upcoming event or class. We love Creation Swap and are sure that you will, too!


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I was inspired to write today’s post after reading an article about an evangelical pastor in Las Vegas, who, from the death of her son, found a way to lead dozens of other people to salvation through faith in Jesus. Forgiveness can be a hard pill to swallow because it demands humility and the grace of God. In an article in Outreach Magazine from January & February of this year, Jayne Post talks about the day she came home to find that her 16 year-old son had been accidentally killed on his bicycle by a 16 year-old driver, who happened to be one of his classmates. The story instantly impacted me because a similar incident had happened to two boys from my high school years back. At her son’s funeral, Post was confronted by Tommy, the driver of the car. He apologized for what had happened and she handed him her son’s ring and said, “This is so you know that I forgive you and God loves you. It was a terrible accident, and if you could take it back, you would. I know you would.” After that encounter, Post and Tommy met regularly… and on the one year anniversary of her son’s death, she helped 24 kids (including Tommy) come to know faith in Jesus. She even took her story of forgiveness to a Valentine’s banquet soon after her son’s death and led 30 women to faith in Jesus as well. This touching story shows just how positive the power of forgiveness can be. I was always taught that forgiveness was less for the person that you are forgiving, and more about the peace that you will find in yourself. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” -(Matthew 5:7) 7

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Whether you are hoping to convert from one software system to another, or even trying church management software for the first time, you probably know by now that it takes a lot of planning and consideration before you and your church finally decide. Below is a list of what we consider to be the eight most important questions to ask in order to find what the best fit is for your church needs. What are your staff needs? Start by gathering the most important needs of each ministry at your church. While very few software companies can meet every need, it’s best to know where the gaps reside. Where are you going/growing as a church? Talk to the leaders of your church to get a better understanding of the vision and goal for the next 5-10 years. Try looking at software that offers features like Background Screenings for a growing staff or Events Management to provide members and visitors with more opportunities to get involved. Features like these can better prepare everyone for growth. What is your member “type” & what are their needs/expectations? Take note of the demographics in your congregation and focus on what would improve their connection with your church. Visitors are always important to focus on, but current members are the foundation of the church, so keeping them happy is something that your church software should help with. How much support do you need from your software vendor? This can be tricky since some companies can have great support but a product that is pretty complex. Other companies might label themselves as “simple” but they provide low-level support. Just remember: Simple can be good, but it can also mean that it lacks many important features. Talk to the rest of your church staff about support because this decision will make a big difference down the road. Can the application you purchase grow with you? With smaller churches, a system that can manage small amounts of data might be all that is needed… but once the church starts growing, it’ll be necessary to find a more advanced and structured software system. If you see your church growing in the next few years, take that vision and focus on the software that is most capable of handling changes, growth, and involvement. Is your prospective software vendor an established company with a good track record? Knowing a company’s history and experience is a great indicator of how well their software and support function. If the company’s history doesn’t make you feel completely confident with your decision, keep looking. Do you require consultation from your vendor? If you do require consultation, make sure you find a trustworthy company who understands what it takes to manage a church.  Again, check the background of the company and talk to someone there about their services. What is the cost of the software package? Purchasing software with the possibility of hidden fees is one of those important things that you might forget to plan out before you buy. Make sure that this is something you consider so that your final price is not different from what you budgeted for. And remember, the ‘cost’ of your software isn’t always measured in dollars and cents. Thanks everyone! Hope you have a great day.