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Wired Ministry

Ann Diaz

MediaShout and Easy Worship Presentation Software

These software packages enable you to create a flawless, interruption-free worship presentation that will wow kids and grab their attention.

Field Notes: These easy-to-use software packages offer everything you've dreamed of for professional, seamless worship presentations, including songs, slide shows, videos, voice-overs, and more.

"We have a great sound system and a PC-controlled projector which we can use to show videos, add PowerPoint, play music, and project lyrics," explains Kevin Verstegen of Praise Fellowship Assembly of God in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. "A system like ours needs to be expert-installed and set up, but with a little training just about anyone can run the computer and projector." You can also use these programs to provide alerts to parents in your congregation with little or no distractions.

MediaShout offers one-hour online training sessions for each of three levels of training. Sessions include instruction and a live Q&A chat with the trainer. For use with Windows XP and PowerPoint 2003.

Price Tag: Around $400

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Plotter or Large-Format Printer

Print signage, window graphics, and stage sets to enhance your environment.

Field Notes: Save your ministry time and money by investing in a large-format printer. Printers are available for 24-, 36-, and 42-inch widths, and take paper or even vinyl up to 150-feet long. Use your printer with a design program such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia FreeHand, and recruit a gifted individual to give your ministry a distinctive and professional look.

Matt McKee of Horizon Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, found a refurbished printer for $3,500 and uses it regularly. "I print all my own sets, backdrops, signs, and props every six to eight weeks and a new environment for our children's space at least twice a year," he says. "It doesn't take long to learn how to use, and it'll change your image overnight."

Price Tag: $3,000-$20,000

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Security and Church Management Software

Synchronize your database with software that tracks kids' attendance, tracks volunteers, streamlines event registration, and provides a safe checkin/checkout security system.

Field Notes: Options and levels of integration vary from company to company, so consider your needs before you inquire. Some programs allow you to notify parents that they're needed in your children's area with a coded number that flashes on screen during the adult worship service; others use vibrating pagers. Either way, you're giving parents peace of mind. Many offer follow-up features so you're alerted to families who haven't shown up in several weeks. Steven Dilla of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, says, "The most exciting part of the 'misser call' strategy is that over 85 percent of the families we call at the three-week mark return in the next three weeks to church."

Holly Wiley, director of operations for children's ministry at Mariners Church in Irvine, California, says they started using Fellowship One when they opened their children's building in 2005.

"We print two tags for each child, one they wear, and the other goes on the clipboard for the classroom. If we ever had to evacuate for fire or other emergency, the volunteers bring the clipboard with them along with the children so we can facilitate checking kids out to parents and have an accurate count."

You can also use these system to automate background and reference checks.  

Some systems offer other advantages for the classroom, as well, such as TOUCHPage from Seeker Communication. "This allows teachers to call for assistance -- needed supplies, an additional person, or help with a discipline issue. This is done by touching one button and sending one of three preset messages to the children's ministry support team," says Steve Fortner of Seeker Communication.

Price Tag: Varies based on features; often based on attendance numbers

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