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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let the Tablet Wars Commence!

Engadget has a comparison of the four major tablet contenders that will be doing battle for your hard-earned money in the near future. Available now are the Apple iPad, and Dell Streak, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and newly announced Blackberry Playbook coming in the near future.

This means that there will be a lot more choice and a lot more competition around the tablet pc market. As Apple did with the mp3 player and the smart phone, they took a product that already existed, but without a strong market and created a market for it, thus allowing other manufacturers to compete for a share.

Hopefully the glut of new technology will be a boon for bible scholars and presenters everywhere. As prices go down and features increase we will all have the ability to take our full bible software with us to church, or run presentations from a tablet while previewing notes and next slides.

The future looks bright.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Save Blue Like Jazz the Movie

Sorry for the double-post today, but this is time sensitive.

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life (affiliate links)
wrote a screenplay for BLJ to turn it into a movie. However, in the down economy he was unable to secure funding to begin filming, so a few days ago he announced on his blog that the movie would be put on hold indefinitely. The response on his blog was huge and so a campaign was started to fund this movie through donations.

That's where you come in. If you are a fan of Donald Miller or Blue Like Jazz, then you can donate anywhere from one dollar on up to see this movie get made.

Go to to find out how you can help. Hey, if you donate enough you can be an extra in the movie of have Don come to your house and read you to sleep at night.

Satire and Imagery

Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report recently testified before a congressional subcommittee regarding illegal immigration and migrant workers. What he presents is a brilliant piece of satire (regardless of whether or not you agree with his conclusions).

David Philips analyzes the satire thoroughly here. He shows that satire is a valid and historic form of communication that even Jesus was willing to use. I would add that humor allows us to communicate past some natural barriers. There are things that Colbert can say through satire that would be much more difficult to say seriously.

You can watch the video below. What ways could we use satire to communicate difficult truths?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art for the Internet Generation

Wired details the work of artists who cull through images freely available on the web and work them into a collage. I'll be honest, this work doesn't really speak to me, but the way it was created fascinates me. Here is a piece of art that couldn't exist without the contributions of thousands of people shared freely online.

What can we do now that we couldn't do before because of the tools available to us?
"If Not Summer" created from thousands of images shared online.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Logic versus Emotion

Seth Godin said:

"People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery.
Logic is a battering ram, one that might work if your case is overwhelming. Wal-Mart won by logic (cheap!), but you probably won't."

I think I'm often guilty of this. I reason my way through an idea and that gets me excited, but instead of sharing the excitement with others, I share the flow of logic. That's nowhere near as contagious as excitement.

Images convey emotion; charts and bullet points convey logic.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Engage, don't Offend

Over at Slides that Stick they pointed out that some images may be too emotionally charged to use. I pointed out that you should be wary of unintended emotional connections, but you should also be careful with intended emotional connections.

The image to the right is of the former World Trade Center towers with two planes flying over with the caption "Learn to Anticipate" below. This is a powerful, and emotional issue, and should only be used for a point that is equally powerful and emotional. I'm not opposed to using strong imagery, but it needs to be appropriate. For example, I might be willing to show a picture of a concentration camp during the holocaust in order to illustrate the deep emotions of Lamentations. But something like that shouldn't be used in any way that could be perceived as flippant or joking.

How would you use strong, emotional imagery?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

PowerPoint Remote Control - Android Phone Edition

I've covered PowerPoint remotes before, but this time it's different. PowerPoint Remote Controls allows you to use your Android phone as an interactive remote control for your presentation. You can also do this with your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad (but I don't have one of those so I can't review the software).

The things that PPTRemote does that makes me very happy is that it allows the viewing of notes on the phone while the audience sees the presentation. You can also preview the next slide or jump to a specific slide. It looks like the wifi connection is the way to go for speed and reliability. I would also say that your phone should be fully charged if you are going to use this as your primary presenting tool - it would be bad to have your phone die in the middle of a presentation or sermon.

As soon as I get a chance I will give this a more thorough review, until then you can watch the video below showing how it all works.

(Note: links are affiliate links; any purchases made through them earn me a small commission)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Android Phones for PowerPoint Presenting

I recently bought a new phone, the Samsung Epic 4G, which is a top-tier Android phone. I want to take a little bit of time to look at how this (and other Android phones) can be used with PowerPoint.

The first thing that is important is the ability to view PowerPoint presentations on the phone. The cheapest and easiest way to to this is to upload your presentations to Google Docs and then to log into Google through the phone's web browser. You load the presentations in a read-only mode and can review the information on the go.

There are a few PowerPoint viewer apps available which you can download to your phone from the app store. If you aren't willing to pay, you won't get anything better than what you get in Google Docs web interface.

"In the next few weeks" Google will release their own app that will allow editing of Google Docs on iPhones, iPads, and Android phones. If Google stays true to form this will likely be a free app.

However, editing PowerPoint presentations on a phone will never be an ideal option. This would be helpful for changing a few pieces of information, but you won't do your primary document creation on your phone.

Come back tomorrow where I'll look at using my phone as a PowerPoint remote control.

(Note: links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission on any purchases made through them.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Imagery without Images

I've been challenged this month. I'm preaching at the Maui Church of Christ, and they don't have a projector for me to use. I'm without PowerPoint for all of my sermons and classes. Because of that I've been reworking my sermons to provide imagery in the stories.

Brain Rule #4 tell us that: "You’ve got seconds to grab someone’s attention, and only 10 minutes to keep it. At 9 minutes and 59 seconds, something must be done quickly—something emotional and relevant." (from Brain Rules by John Medina - affiliate link)

So every ten minutes or so I try to make a strong, visual point in my sermon. Instead of saying: it's like buying a used car. I tell a story about walking into a car dealership and drinking the stale coffee and waiting while the salesperson "talks to their manager" somewhere. It's a relate-able, vivid, detailed story that allows the audience to build their own visual connection.

How can you build vivid imagery without images?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Where Does it End?

I'm happy to get back to blogging here. We've been without a consistent connection to the internet for a couple weeks and that made blogging difficult. I know that I made promises of posting from my sermons, but it's been a shock to my system. The Maui Church of Christ doesn't have a projector or a screen, so I have no way of using PowerPoint. It's a little funny to me that with all the energy I put into promoting the use of images in preaching that I don't get to use them right now.

The question that has been on my mind recently is this: What is the end of preaching? Or to put it another way: How can I know if I've been successful as a preacher?

What do you think?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I'm without internet service for a short time. I won't be able to post as regularly until it gets fixed. Don't miss me too much. 

Happy Labor Day

I was driving on the Hana Highway today (seen here), so I didn't get much chance to blog about things. I hope you had a great Labor Day - I know we did.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm excited to start preaching regularly again this weekend. For the month of September I will be the guest preacher at the Maui Church of Christ. I'll be posting recordings of my sermons and the PowerPoints that I produce so you can ruthlessly critique me - or learn from my mistakes - whatever works for you.

Either way, I'm excited to be preaching again. I love it and I miss it when I take a break.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Less is More (part 2)

Geoff Surratt posted a blog about how to make a good sermon great - cut it. He shares that the best sermons are ones in which the majority of the research is unseen by the audience. You don't have to expose every detail, every resource, to preach a great sermon. You need to make the Scriptures come alive for your congregation.

The same is true for your images. Don't try to show a picture for every point in your sermon. Don't try to have a caption for every passage. Cut things down. I often preach with less than a half dozen slides. I like to have an opening slide, something like the church logo or the theme logo for the sermon series. This can sit up there while I introduce the sermon and get started. I want a slide for my first point, second point, and third point. Sometimes I will use blank, black slides between points if I have a longer transition and I don't want to distract people. Then I will often end on a conclusion slide or the theme logo again. In either case I put the theme logo at the end so that I can move off my last slide and still have something projected.

How do you cut things down for greater effect?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cool Christianity

The Wall Street Journal has pegged "Cool Christianity" in a recent article. They look at the trend in churches to add "cool" elements to draw in the crowds of young people who are fleeing established (i.e. boring) churches. You can read the article and form your own opinion, this is my blog so I'll share mine. Deal? Deal.

It has always been a problem for the church to attempt to appeal to popular culture. In the first and second centuries they were showing how Christianity really lines up with Greek philosophy. Today they're showing how Christianity is cool (we have Bono, right?). Whatever is the social capital of the time will be used by churches to win people to their position, and it usually fails. Sure it might work for a short while, but like my good friend Kevin Woods said about youth ministry: "We need to win them to Jesus. If we win them to a program we'll have to have a bigger and better program next time or they will go somewhere else, but if we win them to Jesus they'll stay because they love Jesus."

But there are churches that are just cool. They have cool people, they do cool stuff, they have cool music, they're just cool. It's not fair really. The thing is, I've been to some of these cool churches, and what I discovered is a radical call to live out the good news of Jesus that appealed to people (who happened to be cool) and they expressed their faith and worship in church (which happened to be cool). The goal wasn't to be cool and attract cool people. Rather the goal was to love Jesus and love people, and the cool people got loved in too.

What do you think?