Should your Church Offer Closed Captions for Online Services?

As churches shift their perspectives to optimize online content, should your church offer closed captions for online services? Christian shares three reasons why your church should offer closed captions. Watch to learn why, and learn practical tips to offer closed captions with ease.

3 Reasons to Offer fill-in-the-blank Sermon Notes to your Congregation

We are always searching for new and exciting ways to engage congregations in ministry. You’ve done the hard work of preparing your sermon, so how do you ensure it is heard? One of the best ways to increase retention is by offering fill-in-the-blank sermon notes for the congregation to follow along. Here are 3 reasons to offer fill-in-the-blank sermon notes.

Fill-in-the-blank Sermon Notes Engage your Congregation

Taking notes during a sermon is the best way to stay engaged and hear the message clearly. Some members will take notes on their own, but some members may not take notes unless they are encouraged to do so. Offering fill-in-the-blank notes gives your congregation an easy way to get involved while giving them a chance to take additional notes if they choose to. Actively taking fill-in-the-blank notes is a way to keep your brain listening and ready to hear the next point, allowing you to fully take in the message.

Taking Notes Helps you Remember Sermons

It’s an age-old but true fact: taking notes will help you remember things naturally! Because you are engaged when taking fill-in-the-blank sermon notes, you think about what’s being said when you jot it down. This not only keeps your congregation engaged (as talked about previously), but it also ensures they will remember the sermon in the days to come.

Members Can Go Back to Notes at Any Time

A huge advantage to guided notes is that note-takers can refer back to them at any time! Your sermons don’t need to be just a memory, they can be a tool for people to refer back. If someone is thinking about a sermon you preached a few months back, they can simply pull up their sermon notes and reflect on it.

This also means that pastors will have more time due to fewer inquiries about past sermons. You won’t be getting as many messages asking “what was that sermon on that topic?” Now, your church members can refer back to their notes at all times.

My Sermon Notes Makes Fill-in-the-blank Notes Easy

Want a digital way for your church to take fill-in-the-blank notes? My Sermon Notes offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to build your notes. Notes are saved both in the cloud and offline, and our search feature lets users find past sermons instantly, even without an internet connection. My Sermon Notes also has features like a customizable connection card, interactive prayer requests, events with responses, and more. Get started with a 30-day free trial here!

Introducing Announcements

My Sermon Notes released their brand new Announcements tab, available now to all churches. This tab builds on push notification announcements to create the ultimate communication experience.

Connect with your congregation from anywhere

Send announcements using the online admin portal, or add a new announcement right from the app (coming May, 2020). A push notification is instantly sent to your church, and they can tap the notification to open the announcement details. Utilize the Announcements tab to send devotionals, event reminders, podcast upload notifications, and more.

Send now. Or schedule for later.

Send announcements now, schedule them to automatically go out later, or save drafts. You decide exactly how announcements are managed.

Add an image, link, contact info, and comments.

Announcements support images, links, and contact information. If you add an email or phone number, a “Call” or “Email” button appears for easy accessibility. Choose to enable or disable the comments section, giving you complete control over how your congregation can respond.

NOTE: Church members will need version 2.1 of the app to access the Announcements tab. The app update is available now in the App Store and Google Play store.

To get started with Announcements, watch the tutorial below:

If you have any questions, reach out to [email protected]

How to Watch Church on your TV

As churches around the nation opt for a digital experience to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may be wondering how to stream your church’s live service to your TV. While the methods vary based on your TV model, here are the most popular streaming options for your living room church service.

YouTube

Many churches stream services to YouTube. You’ll be able to stream it to any modern TV or streaming device. If your TV has a YouTube app, simply search for your church’s YouTube channel and select the live stream. If you are using a Chromecast or Roku TV, you may be able to initiate the stream from a smartphone or tablet. Look for the Cast icon Inactive cast extension on the YouTube app and select your TV or streaming device from the list. For detailed instructions on your specific TV or streaming device, see this tutorial on Google’s website.

Facebook Live

You can view Facebook Live streams on most smart TVs or streaming devices. You can initiate the stream by tapping the Cast icon Inactive cast extension  on your Facebook app, or by downloading the Facebook Watch app for your TV. For more information, see this tutorial on Facebook’s website.

Livestream.com

Some churches use Livestream.com to stream their services. Livestream.com offers apps for Roku TV and Apple TV. If you have a Chromecast or other icon, you can watch livestreams with the Cast icon Inactive cast extension . For more information, see this tutorial on Livestream’s website.

Other

If your church uses a platform to live stream that is not listed, look for the Cast icon Inactive cast extension in the live stream window, or ask other members of your church congregation if they know how to stream it to a TV.

If your church has the My Sermon Notes app

You will still be able to take fill-in-the-blank sermon notes from home as you follow along with the sermon. The My Sermon Notes app will continue to function as normal. Our team is working remotely and available during our standard support hours.

Introducing My Sermon Notes 2.0

When we launched the first version of My Sermon Notes last year, we started with the mission of making digital fill-in-the-blank sermon notes accessible to churches of all sizes. As we developed the platform, we realized the opportunity to create so much more. We added features like interactive prayer requests, an events calendar, and push notification announcements.

Today, we’re introducing My Sermon Notes 2.0

My Sermon Notes 2.0 adds a brand new, fully customizable Church screen. Choose from several pre-made templates, or upload your own custom images. We’ve added the ability to sort, edit, delete, and add sections. The sky is the limit with how you can customize it.

The new Church screen also brings support for integration with other platforms. Now, you can integrate systems like CCB or Planning Center to link to forms or calendars you may already have in those systems. Image blocks can link to native features, outside URLs, and emails or phone numbers.

Images. Large or small.

To offer more flexibility, we’ve added two image sizes. Add large, featured sections anywhere you’d like. The sky is the limit with what you can do!

Large “Events” image on the Church tab

My Sermon Notes 2.0 keeps the same fill-in-the-blank sermon notes experience you know and love and everything else works exactly as it always has. We are thrilled about this update, and we can’t wait to see what you do with it.

My Sermon Notes 2.0 will be available via an App Store and Play Store update today. The Church tab editor in the admin portal is live under Admin > Features.

If you are a church wanting assistance setting up your new customized church screen, please reach out to us at [email protected] We are happy to help.

If you are a user and have any questions, you can also reach out to [email protected] at any time.

My Sermon Notes vs. YouVersion Notes

Our top priority at My Sermon Notes is creating a platform to keep your church members engaged. When we looked at how we would do this, we quickly realized the importance of fill-in-the-blank sermon notes.

We believe that having an interactive note-taking experience will keep your audience focused during your sermons. This equips them with the best level of discipleship a church can provide. Because of our focus on sermon notes, people often ask, “How does My Sermon Notes compare to YouVersion notes?” We’re glad you asked!

 

Engagement

My Sermon Notes offers fill-in-the-blank notes to keep your audience tuned in. When church members have a fill-in-the-blank template to follow, they are more likely to stay tuned in simply because they are listening for the next blank.

Look. Here’s the thing… While YouVersion notes give your congregation an outline, there’s nothing that encourages interaction or additional note-taking. YouVersion does not offer fill-in-the-blank notes, and users have to tap a note block to take additional notes.

We think of it like giving students the answers to the test instead of the study guide.

If you want church members to be tuned in to your sermons, they need a reason to keep listening. Fill-in-the-blank notes and infinitely expandable note boxes are a great way to accomplish this.

 

My Sermon Notes Saves Notes Instantly

A big quirk of YouVersion notes is that notes are not saved unless a user taps “save” when they are done typing. In a world where Google Docs and note apps save automatically, users might exit the app or accidentally hit “cancel” instead of saving their notes.

My Sermon Notes saves automatically, as soon as the user types them. We don’t even have a save button! Simply type your notes and return to them at any time on any device.

 

Search for Past Notes at Any Time

If you’re taking notes, there’s a good chance you’ll want to review them later. What if you want to find notes on that sermon about prayer six months ago? My Sermon Notes has an instant search feature, giving church members the power to find old sermon notes in a pinch.

YouVersion notes do not offer a search feature of any kind, so your church members might be scrolling awhile…

 

Get Church Members on an Engaging Platform

After users take sermon notes on YouVersion, there’s nothing more you can do to interact with them. When users join My Sermon Notes, you can send them push notification announcements, prayer requests, and more! My Sermon Notes is so much more than a note-taking app. It’s a church app platform that unlocks a new level of engagement.

City Gate’s Story

Watch Pastor Howie Cantrell share his experience with My Sermon Notes. City Gate Church’s members have loved utilizing fill-in-the-blank sermon notes. City Gate also enjoys using the Prayer Requests tab to stay connected with each other.

“My Sermon Notes allows me to keep our people engaged, simply by knowing they’re filling in the blanks on their phones, adding notes, and staying in touch with what’s going on during the sermon.”

Ready to unlock a new level of engagement with your congregation?

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My Sermon Notes Introduces Dark Mode and Prayer Request Approval

Prayer requests are a great way to stay up to date with the needs of your church family. Since the first version of My Sermon Notes, we’ve offered a powerful interactive prayer request system in our app. Today, we’re excited to announce a highly requested feature: prayer request approvals!

How Prayer Request Approvals Work

When you go to the “Church Profile” tab in the admin portal, you’ll now see a checkbox to toggle approvals. When the feature is enabled, prayer requests submitted to the entire church will first need to be approved by church staff. You’ll receive a push notification to let you know that a new prayer request was submitted for approval. You can approve the prayer request through the admin portal, or you can edit the prayer request before approving it. You can learn more about how approvals work here. If you don’t want prayer requests to be approved, simply disable the feature and prayer requests will be sent to the entire church upon submission.

Dark Mode on iOS 13

We’re also happy to announce that we’ve added dark mode to iOS 13. Whether you are a dark mode fanatic, or your church dims the lights during the service to create an immersive environment, dark mode is easy on the eyes and looks awesome. It’s available for all iPhones and iPads running iOS 13. Simply enable dark mode in the Settings app, and enjoy.

If you have any questions or comments about version 1.2, please email [email protected].

Top 3 Email Marketing Solutions for Churches

Email marketing is an effective way to connect with your church. With so many options on the market, which one is right for you?

Why email marketing?

Before we discuss the best email marketing solutions, it’s important to understand why email marketing is important. While email may seem like an “outdated” communication network, there are a lot of hidden benefits it brings.

First, email inboxes have no algorithm. When you send an email to a first-time guest, you know they are going to receive it without a doubt. Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram control feeds using algorithms, meaning your content may not reach every person who follows your church account. Sending emails ensures that your message will arrive in front of your audience. Guaranteed!

Next, emails feel more personal. It’s easy to automate emails for efficiency, but they still feel more personal. When you receive an email, you feel like it was sent just to you — even if it was sent to thousands of people. Emails are a great way to make a connection with visitors and make them feel welcome.

Finally, emails are more exclusive. If you have a critical prayer request for your church to pray for, you may want to limit who can see it. Social media posts are visible to everyone, but an email marketing solution allows you to send private info such as prayer requests only to members of your church and not guests or those simply interested in joining your church. Email marketing gives you complete control over what goes where — a privilege that is not found through many other communication systems.

How do I set up an email marketing list for my church?

If you’re researching the best option to set up an email list for your church, you’re in the right place! There are thousands of companies offering email marketing, but we’ve narrowed it down to our three favorites for churches.

#1 – Mailchimp

Mailchimp is arguably the most popular service for church email marketing. This is because Mailchimp has a free plan, allowing you to add up to 2,000 contacts. This plan is perfect for church plants getting started, and Mailchimp’s powerful platform allows you to add “tags” to segment your email list by members, occasional attenders, visitors, and more. Mailchimp lets new users sign up through an online form, or emails can be added manually with the person’s consent.

When your church requires more than 2,000 contacts, Mailchimp offers reasonably priced paid plans. A list of up to 5,000 contacts on the Essentials plan is $49.99 per month. Plans and pricing scale up from there depending on the size of your list.

#2 – Aweber

Aweber is another popular service for church email marketing. While Aweber has no free plan, they offer the best prices for churches requiring large lists of 7,500 contacts or more. Aweber comes with all the features you would expect such as a drag-and-drop email builder, online sign-up forms, and analytics. Aweber doesn’t make the most sense for church plants who can utilize Mailchimp’s great free plan, but it’s worth a try for large churches. They offer a 30-day free trial and discounts on the first year of service.

#3 – Constant Contact

Constant Contact is the oldest company on this list, operating since 1995. They offer advanced features like surveys and polls directly in emails and access to an online donations page. Constant Contact is by far the most expensive option on this list, charging $20/month for a small list of 500 contacts. A 5,000 contact list would cost $65/month or $95/month depending on the plan you select. With that being said, Constant Contact offers ultimate flexibility with their advanced features, and they offer non-profits up to 30% off for pre-paying.

If your church is looking for something different and has already tried Mailchimp and Aweber, Constant Contact is a great option.

How else can I connect with my congregation?

Email marketing is critical, but you can also connect with your congregation through social media, a text message list, and push notifications. Unlock features like unlimited push notification announcements, interactive prayer requests, fill-in-the-blank sermon notes, and more. My Sermon Notes is the ultimate church engagement platform! Click here to learn more.

My Sermon Notes announces Sign Up with Google and other features

Gladeville, TN | June, 2019 — My Sermon Notes launched version 1.1 of their interactive church app platform on the App Store and Google Play Store. In this release, the company is expanding on their powerful feature set by including easier ways for your congregation to get started in the app and improved note-taking functionality.

iPad and tablet support

My Sermon Notes knows that many users prefer to take sermon notes on an iPad or Android tablet, so they are excited to offer tablet support in version 1.1. Tablet users will now enjoy a newly optimized view of the Church screen to give users the best possible experience on a large screen.

Church screen on iPad

Church screen on iPad

Sign Up with Facebook and Google

This release features an all new sign up screen with new “Continue with Facebook” and “Continue with Google” options. These new options allow new users to get started on the app right away without the need to enter their name, email, and a new password. Church members and guests can now download the app and get started in just 60 seconds! The app only requests the user’s name, email, and profile picture from Facebook or Google, and all user data is stored securely.

Continue with Google

Continue with Google demonstrated on iPad

Smart Expand note boxes

Users taking sermon notes can now use the new Smart Expand note boxes. In addition to fill-in-the-blank notes, many users like to add additional notes and comments to their sermon notes in between sermon points. In version 1.1, new and existing note files will now have Smart Expand note boxes that will expand and get larger as you type! Now users can type on and on without the need for a scroll bar in the notes box.

Smart Expand note boxes

Smart Expand note boxes in action on iPad

Other improvements

Additional improvements include support for swiping to go back to the previous page, syncing your notes between devices, and various bug fixes. Cliff McMahel, the company’s co-founder, said,

“We are so excited for the release of version 1.1! Our team has been hard at work on these powerful new features. New users will be able to get started much faster, and the app is smoother and improved for everyone.”

For questions or comments, contact Christian Taylor – [email protected]