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Although Valentine’s Day is not thought to be a religious holiday… (and can be celebrated and respected by anyone that is not currently scorned by love) it was in fact named after the Catholic priest, St. Valentine. Unsure of what the true story is, there are a few interpretations of how St. Valentine came to represent such a beloved holiday (pun intended):
  • One rumor states that St. Valentine helped tortured Christian citizens escape from Roman prisons.
  • He was also said to have performed private marriage ceremonies to young couples during a time when Emperor Claudius II banned young men from marrying due to the need for more soldiers in the Roman army.
  • Interestingly enough, it is thought that Valentine’s Day takes place in February because it was either: when St. Valentine died… or… to Christianize the Lupercalia festival (which took place to celebrate spring and to give men the chance to draw a name from an urn and ultimately marry the woman whose name he pulled). This ritual was not thought to be very “Christian”, so “Valentine’s Day” was named after him to “Christianize” the festival.

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Yay!

Many of you are probably conducting events at your church for Valentine’s Day next week, and much like you, we will be having ourselves a fun-filled week next week. On Tuesday, we will be starting our giveaway on the Christian Web Trends blog, where we will be giving away a brand new iPod Touch. Once you have visited their blog site and followed the 3 simple instructions, you will be in the running to win. The drawing will end a week later (2/22/11), and the winner will be announced on their site! On Thursday, two of our sales guys will be in Houston, TX to exhibit at the Texas Ministry Conference. This conference is a great way to meet other church leaders and the people who support them. With over 70 workshops, you are bound to leave with lots of great information and a chance to speak with us one on one about Shelby!

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Ben Lane and His Family In Hawaii

I sat down the other day with one of our Arena trainers, Ben Lane, to get a better idea about what he does, who he is, and why working with Shelby customers has made such an impact in his life. Within 30 minutes, I had already learned a lot about the Arena trainer, youth leader, French horn-player, puppeteer, and former EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). After working at Shelby for 14 years, Ben had a lot to say about his experiences and the people he has met along the way. Back to the puppeteer thing… he has two puppets and their names are Sparky and Mark. His actual human son, Mark, was born after the puppet was named. I was told that his son holds some resentment thinking he was named after a puppet. Mark is a good name though, so… no harm, no foul. Ben is a puppeteer for puppet ministry at his church, and if you aren’t too familiar, it is a more interactive way to teach younger audiences about the Bible. It can help connect with them in a totally different way than traditional teachings. A fun thing to do while Ben is on the road for work is to find good restaurants with interesting foods. One thing that he found in Cedar Rapids, IA, called the Pony, is a giant sandwich that includes a large bun, meat, cheese, fries and gravy… all piled together (half is called the Horseshoe, which is all that Ben could stomach). Don’t you just love stuff like that? You have to have good food to make a fun road trip, right? Ben said he has traveled all over the country and some into Canada to teach churches and non-profits more about Shelby’s software. He hosts an Arena training week in-house (in Memphis) about once a month and said he has made some great friends doing it. One week he had about 6 ladies in a class who joked around with him by sneaking out of the Training Room one day and blowing bubbles in class the next. He said things like that always make teaching more fun and it makes a week of learning a little easier for customers. I asked Ben if he keeps in touch with a lot of people that he has met through training and he said that that is definitely one of his favorite things about his job. He told me about a trip that he and his family took recently to St. Louis, MO to see a customer that he had become good friends with. They went and saw a parade there, fully equipped with a four-story Schnuck’s shopping cart. What fun things do you love about your job?

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There are tons of conferences every year that offer opportunities for churches to learn more about software, leadership, and the happenings in the church world. This year, Shelby Systems is exhibiting in a number of conferences around the country. I want to share with you all that we have signed up for so far… just in case one might be valuable to you. Also, we would love to have the opportunity to meet with you, so take a look and sign up for one of these great conferences if you haven’t already! Texas Ministry Conference (Co-Op)– February 17th in Houston, TX Preschool/Children’s Ministry Metro– February 21-24 in Arlington, TX CITRT (Church IT RoundTable)– February 23-25 in West Melbourne, FL Unleash 2011– March 10th in Anderson, SC Northwest Ministry Conference– April 7-9 in Seattle, WA Orange Conference– April 27-29 in Duluth, GA NASBS– April 27-30 in Sevierville, TN NAOC– April 27-30 in Orlando, FL PCA General Assembly– June 7-10 in Virginia Beach, VA ISC (International Shelby Conference)– June 15-17 in San Antonio, TX NACBA– July 1-5 in Washington D.C. Church Weekday Education Workshop- July 22 & 23 in Oklahoma City, OK Catalyst– October 5-7 in Atlanta, GA

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Do you have a smartphone? If not, you know it’s only a matter of time before you either: A) take the plunge B) wait so long that you have no other options There are a lot of cool things about a smartphone, but one of them that is so appealing to me is the ability to download apps (even better when they are free)! One of the apps that I find most valuable is the YouVersion Bible App. Remember when I mentioned in a recent post that if we all carried around our Bibles like we do our phones, we might have our priorities better aligned? Well, others had the same idea and created this app to give you your own hand-held, fit-for-your-pocket Bible. It’s awesome because you can set up different plans for yourself such as devotional plans, topical plans, whole Bible plans, and more. Everything is digital nowadays, so why shouldn’t your Bible be, too?

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Part 2 of a 2 part series on the value of using biometric technology with Shelby Systems’, written by John Trader, Communications Specialist with M2SYS Technology. Quick Recap Of Biometric Technology’s Value In the first post of our series, we discussed the value of using biometric technology with Shelby’s church management software. We talked about how biometrics can:
  • Increase speed of check-in
  • Tighten security
  • Boost productivity of staff
  • Reduce waste and conserve resources by eliminating paper or barcode cards
  • Establish a tracking mechanism to keep accurate records
We made the case that using biometric technology for check-in is something to think about. However, you may be wondering, “Who is currently using biometrics for check-in and is it really paying dividends?” Glad you asked. Let’s take a closer look at a Shelby customer who is currently using it with their ARENA software and how it has helped with check-in for the Student Ministry program. New Covenant Baptist Church – Cedar Rapids, IA Austin Spooner, from New Covenant Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, IA, recently began using Shelby’s ARENA check-in software (which includes biometric technology) for check-in at their Student Ministry. Prior to using ARENA, Austin and his staff spent a lot of effort printing name tags and looking up students manually in their system, a procedure that was resource draining and time consuming. Since implementing ARENA and establishing fingerprint check-in for the Student Ministry, Austin observed that, “…our attendance data is more accurate and we have reduced waste by not printing name tags for students that do not attend for the night. Our staff no longer needs to manually enter attendance data after the event.” Austin has been so impressed with the biometric technology’s ability to save resources and staff time that he plans to expand the deployment to New Covenant’s new facility with additional Student Ministry check-in and family registration kiosks. Now Is the Time To Take A Closer Look At Biometric Technology Biometric technology is becoming ubiquitous as the trusted identification resource for churches all over the country. The value of including it as part of your check-in procedure and the fact that the Shelby staff is always happy to provide you with additional information and resources for understanding this unique technology is second to none!

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There are not enough words to explain how truly amazing it is to look back and see how Shelby Systems has grown in the last 35 years. With the early, uncommon use of computers, the internet not having been invented yet, and the nonexistence of church software altogether, Shelby Systems was started with an idea all its own. Frank Canady (President and CEO) started working at Shelby at the ripe old age of 17, when he was asked by founder Ernie Hamilton to be his software developer. Since 1976, Frank has worked hard to build Shelby to a 100+ employee company that serves about 9,000 churches and non-profits in more than 40 countries. The goal of Shelby Systems has been to advance and support churches and non-profit organizations so that we can provide smart and innovative software to help them thrive. We are so honored to have the clients that we have, and if you haven’t tried Shelby’s software yet, we hope you will check us out!

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Part I of a 2 part series on the value of using biometric technology with Shelby Systems’ church management software, written by John Trader, Communications Specialist with M2SYS Technology. Most Church Check-In Software Doesn’t Cut The Mustard “Fee-fi-fo-fum, my current check-in procedure is making me glum.” Ever catch yourself muttering this phrase? Ok, so maybe you don’t say these exact words, but something to that effect. In a day and age when successful church management software is defined by its ability to combine speed and precision with enhanced security and waste reduction, churches across the country are seeking the perfect melting pot of all these characteristics at an affordable price. Presto! That’s where Shelby’s innovative biometric identification option comes in. Why Is Biometric Technology Becoming The Check-In Procedure Of Choice? As Shelby has evolved, they have added biometric identification technology to their optional check-in/check-out features, which offers churches an opportunity to take advantage of all the distinct benefits that biometric identification presents. What are some of those benefits? Let’s take a look:
  • Speed – In less time that it takes to write down a person’s name, a child or young adult can be accounted for and verified using biometric identification at check-in. Currently using a PIN system for check-in? Ever had someone forget their PIN and clog up the flow? No PIN’s to forget when you are using biometric technology. Biometrics makes check-in faster and eliminates lines.
  • Security – Parents can rest assured that their children are leaving with the correct person. Sometimes check-in staff and check-out staff may not be familiar with the faces of all parents or guardians so biometrics offers a level of security which leaves no doubt that the identity of an adult picking up a child is accurate. Biometrics boosts security.
  • Productivity – The time that biometric check-in and check-out saves for staff can allow them to refocus on more productive tasks. Biometrics increases productivity.
  • Reduces Waste/Saves Resources – How much do you spend each year on paper for check-in? How about barcode cards? Perhaps you pre-print name tags prior to a Student Ministry meeting? Do you end up throwing labels away for students who don’t attend? Biometric check-in can be customized to only print a child or student’s name tag that actually attends a service or meeting. In addition, the technology eliminates purchasing and replacing barcode cards. Biometrics reduces waste and saves resources.
  • Tracking – Biometrics establishes concrete tracking mechanisms to keep accurate records of parishioners coming and going to map out peak times and make staff adjustments. Biometric technology can help accurately track a child’s meal choices, allergies, activity choices, etc. so the proper child receives the proper care. Biometrics improves tracking.
These are all compelling reasons to consider biometric technology as part of your Shelby software. In part 2 of 2 in our series, we will turn the spotlight on a church in Iowa that is successfully using biometric identification. We will discuss the reasons they decided to use biometrics and what benefits they have found with it.

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Have you ever heard something as simple as one sentence or one question and had it make a huge impact on your perspective of something? You know when someone does a card trick and you are completely mystified by it until they finally show you how it’s done? Like that “Ah hah!” moment? That happened to me recently when my Sunday School leader asked us something about the impact of prayer. I’m paraphrasing a little, but this was how it went… He asked, “Think about the prayers that you usually pray. Who would be most affected by your prayers? The poor? The sick? The unreached?’ One girl responded, “I hate to say this, but I guess my typical prayers would really only affect my family members.” Another said, “I try to think of others, but I’d say that I don’t think of strangers nearly as often as I should.” His point? “Imagine if all of your prayers that you pray every day suddenly came true. Imagine those prayers never had to be made again. Now… think about how that would make an impact on the world.” The room was quiet. Funny how a question as simple as that made such a large impact on the people in that room, including myself. I knew I could relate to the two girls’ statements and I realized that my prayers for the world are far less common than my own selfish prayers. He had asked this question during a message about global missions and the many unreached people around the world that have never heard the Word of God. Don’t they need prayer as much, if not more than we do? How would your prayers impact the world?