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If you have noticed the strange black and white squares showing up on a lot of the ads and household products around you- and you have no idea what they are- I’ve got your answer for you. If you haven’t noticed… maybe you will now. And you’ll be ahead of the curve, since it is still a new idea to most people. Actually, these were created in 1994, but it seems like a lot of the world is still unfamiliar. That’s my take at least. Here is my best explanation… These squares (as pictured) are called QR codes. A QR code stands for Quick Response… and it is actually a two-dimensional barcode. The information encoded in the QR code can be a URL or text and it can be read on your smartphone (or phone with a camera) or a QR scanner. If you want to read one from your phone, you simply get an app that can read the codes and hold your phone about six inches away from it. It will take you to the website that is embedded in the code. Short and sweet. I love the technologically advanced things that people create. Seems a lot like the new way to pay for something by using your phone. Smart AND dangerous since most of us have our phones glued to the palms of our hands…

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I recently read an article in “Mission” magazine entitled “Matt Carter and the Austin Stone Community Church“. It first caught my attention because I realized that this church is a friend of Shelby Systems and a user of our software. It intrigued me to write this post, however, because of the message within the article… Matt Carter is the founder and spiritual leader of the Austin Stone Community Church and he talks about the decision to build the church in a poorer neighborhood where he says, “We believe that God calls us to be more than a Christian country club for a few believers to come and hang out.” This statement stood out to me because, as a writer on a faith-based blog, I spend a lot of time following other faith-based blogs, and the comments sections can bring in a lot of faithless people. A lot of the non-believers are cynical about Christians and the way we portray ourselves in society. In my opinion, a lot of their ideas of Christian actions are true. Of course, I do not share their main “beliefs” with them, but many of their examples come from the mistakes that some Christians have made. Reading what Matt Carter had to say about Christianity and his mission for his church was reassuring, uplifting and interesting. Matt’s goal was to create a church where people will always feel welcomed and where they can be missionaries to those around them. In the interview with Matt, the writer of the article asked,
The Barna Group has given the statistic that 4 out of 10 people who don’t attend church do not attend because of negative experiences in the past with church people (i.e. legalism, judgment, lack of grace, hypocrisy, etc.). How are you discipling your people in becoming attractive for the gospel?
Matt’s answer? “This is simple: Jesus said when I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself. When a congregation exalts Jesus instead of themselves, they will be much more attractive to the world.” I had a great time reading this article and learning more about a church that we work with, and I admire the foundation that they are based on. Each church has its own idea about how to reach its community, and one idea is not any better than the next, but it was refreshing to read about one that is making such an impact in an area of Austin that was doubted so much in the beginning. After all, Jesus didn’t surround himself with the wealthy, but with those who needed Him the most.

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Maybe some of you think you are already doing great by following a blog and you are sick of hearing about the “new wave of social media” that is taking over the marketing world. My job is social media and blogging, and even I get sick of hearing about it. Being in elementary school when the internet took off and being the college student on Facebook (when only college students were allowed on Facebook), I really don’t know much else. With that being said, constantly reading about the statistics associated with social media and its effects can even wear me out. I love social media, but who wants to read every day about the effectiveness of Twitter and the statistics on how Facebook has skyrocketed in its 6 year existence? It’s true. Social media is huge and a lot of churches and non-profit organizations are jumping on board to connect with their congregations… and as it turns out, this information can be VERY important to your ministry. If you are part of a church that is still holding out on this idea, maybe this one fact will change your mind… Facebook. is. bigger. than. Google. Let that sink in for a minute… Think of all the times you have relied on Google or heard someone say, “Lets Google it.” Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is something I constantly use, too, but to realize that it was visited more in 2010 than was Google. Crazy. If this hasn’t convinced you of the huge opportunities that might be available to you on Facebook, I don’t know what will! Shelby Systems is a part of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and of course… we have our blog. We have seen a lot of great responses from these, and we think churches and non-profits could have the same (or possibly better) results. What do you think?

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If you’ve been keeping up with the technological world in the past couple of weeks, you have probably heard about CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) that is happening this Thursday-Sunday in Las Vegas. This show is great because it announces the new ideas and products that various electronics companies will be launching in 2011. If you are an electronics fanatic, this is your week. This year’s CES is rumored to be larger than last year, with many companies needing the exposure to show off their new gadgets. Last year’s launch of Apple’s iPad has lit the fire under a lot of competing companies to make a tablet of their own, many of them to be announced this week. Vizio just leaked that they will be unveiling their new Android smartphone and tablet at CES. Why try an Android when Apple has already been selling the iPad for a year now? Well, we aren’t clear on that, yet… but more details will be available at this show. Strangely enough, however, it looks as if Apple, the newly named leader in technology, will be missing out this year. Maybe Apple feels like they don’t need to be there because they have been the innovators for a lot of our current electronics. Maybe they feel that they can stand alone without CES. My guess is: they would probably be right.

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Believe it or not, even as the main writer for this site, I was new to RSS feeds just a few months ago. If you are following our blog, you might already know what an RSS feed is. If not, this post will be most beneficial to you. I’ll divide this into 2 sections so I can quickly catch you up with how to keep in touch with the blogging world. Here goes… What is an RSS feed? An RSS feed.. or Really Simple Syndication (no, really)… is a group of web feed formats that work to display frequently updated items online such as: blog posts, videos and news updates. This orange box is the commonly used button that indicates an RSS feed. How do I follow my favorite blogs without tuning in to each website every day? Something that has changed my blogging life is Google Reader, which is a “feed aggregator”. I’m convinced Google is taking over the world and yes… I’m participating in it. Anyway, there are tons of feed aggregators out there that work just as great as the Google Reader, so if you have your own preference… then by all means. You can sign up for your very own feed aggregator and add all of your favorite blogs to it. As many as you want! I have church blogs, technological blogs, cooking blogs, funny blogs, etc. And how do you do this? I’m glad you asked! Go to the website of the blogs that you want in your aggregator and click on the RSS feed button. If you can’t find it, just copy the website address and click “Add a subscription” on the top left-hand side of your Reader. Paste the address and voila! You are now an experienced blog follower. You can separate your blogs into different categories, choose favorite posts so you can easily find them later, and do so much more. I hope you got what you needed from this post and if not, post a comment and I will try to help! Thanks!

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2011 - Woop!Well, Christmas is over and 2011 is quickly approaching… in like 3 days. I don’t know about you, but for me, the year seemed to fly by all too quickly. On behalf of everyone here at Shelby, we hope that 2010 was a happy, fulfilling year for everyone and that 2011 is even better. Best wishes and blessings to you all!
    2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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The information taken for the article was based upon the Barna Poll; a poll taken in 2010 among over 1000 randomly selected people. The word for a while now has been “change”. Change in society, change with our government, change in religious practices. As a “young adult” reading the article entitled,Six Megathemes Emerge from Barna Group Research in 2010″, I found it painful that their study has determined that my generation is greatly undereducated about theology, as compared to the older generations. The Busters and Mosaics, as we are called, are the largest group of people who do not understand a lot of the basic truths about the Bible. My translation: We are in big trouble as the future leaders of our churches. The ways that Christian theology is translated nowadays is completely different than it was 50 years ago. Whether that is good or bad is up to each individual church, but the outlines of theology are being skewed so much by society that the article goes on to say, “The theological free-for-all that is encroaching in Protestant churches nationwide suggests the coming decade will be a time of unparalleled theological diversity and inconsistency.” I know that in my church, the younger adults have been encouraged to be more involved in order to ensure a stable and knowledgeable leadership for the future. However, it is not just involvement that will help you keep up with the demands of your church. Creating new missions or ministries that reach the community in a different way is what we need to focus on. As the world changes, we need to make sure that the Word of God and theology do not get pushed aside. The rest of the article goes on to say that fewer people than in the past are interested in spiritual principles (again, young adults). Pragmatic solutions are what are more desired now. This is an issue that I’m sure many of you are struggling with in your ministry, since with the changing viewpoints of society bring changes in how churches need to appeal to people. What are ways your church has kept up with the Busters and Mosaics in your community?

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Well, it’s Christmas in only three days and I hope everyone has avoided the stress and crowds that come along with this special holiday. It’s a great feeling when you have everything done and you can sit down with family and friends and finally celebrate what the season is really about: the birth of Christ. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the chaos, but this is a time to take a deep breath, get closer to God, and rejoice in the blessings that you have. Below are two things that I thought you might like. The first is a link to what I thought was a very creative interpretation of the nativity in modern times with social media. The second thing is the link to our Shelby Christmas card (video), in case you missed it. The third thing is part of the Christmas story as it is written in the Bible. From everyone at Shelby Systems, we hope you all have a safe and very merry Christmas!
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkHNNPM7pJA
  • /2010/12/15/merrychristmas/
  • Matthew 1:18-25
  • This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

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Cell phone photoTechnology is fast-moving and so advanced nowadays, especially with the anticipation of paying for your belongings by using your phone. Near Field Communication, or NFC, allows mobile devices and payment terminals to communicate with each other and read special tags. This new technology is soon going to hit every person with a cell phone and our flimsy credit cards will be out. Samsung’s Nexus S was released December 16, 2010 and Nokia has said that they will have the NFC technology on all of their phones in 2011. This technology will allow you to walk into Starbucks and swipe your mobile device over their NFC devices, essentially charging your cup o’ joe to your phone. Scratch Google taking over the world. Cell phones are taking over the world. (I know we all know this, but did you ever think that so much of your life would be invested in your phone?) I even read an article recently on the M2SYS Blog site that mentioned the use of biometric phones now. Calls, texting, games, video, camera, apps, and now… your wallet as well. What if we treated the Bible the way we treat our phones? (Always in hand or purse paying constant attention to it and freaking out if we leave it somewhere.) We would all be different people, I assume. What will that mean for the credit card companies? What will that mean for us?

“Do you have a Gap card yet, ma’am?”

“Why no… no I don’t… let me add that to my phone real quick…”

What do you think?