Daily Archives: 2013/03/10

Brigada Today — 2013-03-10

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Wall of Unreached Peoples
In this edition:

1) Your Invitation to a “Global PrayerCast”
2) Improvements at Brigada.org: Goodbye Captcha, and Old Server
3) Can Cross-cultural Workers “Learn” to be Happy?
4) Like a “Thompson Chain Reference Bible” on Steroids
5) Give the gift of insight (The Future of the Global Church)
6) Get 3 Free Missions Skits from Brigada
7) From Yemen: The Project Outside the Project
8) Can A Pregnancy Crisis Center be a Means of Outreach?
9) Loved my New International Phone Sim Card
10) What’s the Best CRM for Non-Profits, Missions Agencies, etc.
11) Don’t Worry; Be Hopeful
12) I’m Not Color-Sophisticated
13) Free book available on Amazon.com
14) The BackPage: ION’s Thoughts on Best Practices; Let’s Join Them
15) Closing Stuff

1) Your Invitation to a “Global PrayerCast”

DSCN1102-webresMark your calendar now for a planet-wide event. There’s already a 3-minute “teaser” video (to explain the basic concepts) at…

http://www.U4theU.com

The Unleashed for the Unreached initiative (the same group that is staging the “Wall of Unreached Peoples” as a traveling exhibit around the country) is coordinating the “live” prayer event in conjunction with other world Christians, no matter where they live on the planet. (Will there be dozens?… or scores? or hundreds?) It’s happening on April 17, 2013, 8:30pm (EDT), 7:30pm (CDT). (That’s 12:30am UCT on Apr. 18th.) Legacy Christian Church (Overland Park, KS, USA) has graciously agreed to stream the event “live” to the entire planet, with live footage from as many as 50 simul-sync’d remote prayer sites throughout the USA and the world. To learn more, watch the 3-minute video and keep watching the U4theU site throughout the coming week for more details and the link for live-streaming. Make it an event for your church or group. You’re invited! Take part in this event so you’ll know how to replicate it for your agency, church, denomination, or movement. (We’re not worried about being copied. We’re PRAYING somebody will!) If all goes well, the PrayerCast concept will be used as an anchor to a global convention at the Kansas City Convention Center in November (the International Conference on Missions). This is like a proof of concept and a “dress rehearsal,” all at the same time. The technology is there. We just need to utilize it to make it happen. “Lord, please make us one so that the world may be won!”

2) Improvements at Brigada.org: Goodbye Captcha, and Old Server

no-more-captchaFor years now, the web version of Brigada has relied on CAPTCHA testing to prevent spammers from plastering our comment boxes with spam. (Captcha testing is the deal where you see a warped word and try to guess the letters. We’ve never liked it; but we figured it was necessary to prevent all those “bots” from filling in our comment boxes.) But we want to encourage all the more participants to comment on our items. So starting today, we’re trying only Akismet spam prevention. We’ve actually been using Akismet in the background for some time. In fact, Akismet has intercepted nearly 1/4 million attempted spam comments so far at Brigada.org alone. We’re thankful. We hope they can keep up now, without Captcha pitching in. We’ll see.

Another improvement this week: If you’ve tried to log on at Brigada during the past week or so, you might have noticed things were beginning to slow down a bit. As our user load increased (or maybe as we picked up some denial-of-service attacks from non-like-minded folks?), our site was beginning to experience incredible strain. So this week, we swallowed hard then moved the entire site to a new cluster-driven set of servers. Things are humming again. And you’ll note: the site remains ad-free: Never have we served up Google ads, and we hope to stay ad-free and clean for your reading convenience, for as long as we can. Haven’t seen a Google-ad-free site in a while? We encourage you to visit Brigada.org. (We think it’s quite a different experience to see a site that doesn’t flash or wave banner ads in your face.) Brigada is completely supported by gifts from people like you, and by churches and agencies like yours. We’re grateful for your help that makes our work possible. God be praised.

3) Can Cross-cultural Workers “Learn” to be Happy?

happyIt’s an honest question. Are certain workers unhappy because of certain skills, views, or behaviors that they’ve learned? If they learned different ways, could their level of happiness, and even job satisfaction, improve? I considered this question recently after receiving an email from Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell, in which they referred to an article about “10 Things Happy People Do Differently,” by Paula Davis-Laack (featured in the Huffington Post, 3 Jan 2013). See the original article here…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-davislaack/happiness-tips_b_2325700.html

So how ’bout you? Do you think our peers could LEARN to be happier and/or more fulfilled in ministry? If so, should we include these kinds of training materials in our orientations? (Please click “Comment” below the web version of this item to give your feedback, anonymous or otherwise. Thanks.)

4) Like a “Thompson Chain Reference Bible” on Steroids

Remember the good ole days, when we turned to our “Thompson Chain Reference Bibles” to look up everything related to a particular verse or topic? Another approach was to use Nave’s Topical Bible, or a Bible Dictionary or Encyclopedia. Nowadays, those who own a good piece of Bible software might find that their Bible software becomes a “Thompson’s” on steroids. For example, Logos 5 features a new Topic Guide that connects to the Logos system (if Internet is available) to find every single nugget of related knowledge about a particular theme or issue, and it does it in seconds rather than minutes. You can find related media, lists of verses, profiles of related people, places, things or events. Learn more about Logos at

http://www.logos.com/brigada

I think if you buy using that link, in fact, they give you a 15% discount off the standard pricing (and they make a gift to Brigada too; not sure how that math works, but it apparently does).

5) Give the gift of insight (The Future of the Global Church)

The Future of the Global Church Digital Collection from Patrick Johnstone is packed with powerful insights that visually show where the church has been and where we are headed. Recently, Global Mapping made available a free graphic as an encouragement for you to buy the Digital Collection for your missionary, church or pastor. Honestly, it’s great stuff — possibly the most in-depth research you’ll find anywhere worldwide. Learn more at the GMI link below, which gives you the graphic and refers you to the link for the Johnstone resource…

http://www.gmi.org/connections/newsletter/connection/9/

6) Get 3 Free Missions Skits from Brigada

Maybe you’re promoting a missions conference, or a new Kairos or Perspectives class, or maybe your church has decided to host “The Wall of Unreached Peoples.” Now you can download for free the scripts for 3 skits that can promote, communicate, and inspire your church to get on board. Just browse to this link:

http://www.brigada.org/mission-skits

(These skits are courtesy Peg and Garen, members at Fern Creek Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks Peg and Garen!)

7) From Yemen: The Project Outside the Project

What began as a way to pass time during child development sessions has turned into a regular meeting for mothers to connect with their daughters.  HISG supports learning and therapy sessions for children with physical and developmental disabilities in Yemen.  A new development in the project is that the mothers who brought their children to the learning center wanted something to do, and asked if they could learn to knit.  The group met diligently each week to learn new techniques and finish their projects.  This new activity has given the mothers a new sense of accomplishment, a shared identity with the other knitters, and a venue to spend time with their daughters.  The original scope of the project had nothing to do with knitting, yet the team in Yemen made it work because they understood that they had a unique chance to build a new sense of community around a new purpose. Learn more about this project and others like it at

http://www.HISG.org

8) Can A Pregnancy Crisis Center be a Means of Outreach?

Our new friends in Serbia think so. Our good friend, Wade, from College Heights Christian Church in Joplin, MO, introduced us to the coordinators. And last week, I had the chance to visit the center and hear the story. In fact, I’m kind of surprised we haven’t heard more stories about other, similar pregnancy crisis centers around the world. Do you know of one? Maybe we can help link them together? Got a website or a publicly-circulated email address (something like “infoatcenterdotorg”)? If so, please post it under “Comments” below the web version of this item. We’ll try to get them all in touch!

9) Loved my New International Phone Sim Card

Last week while traveling in Europe, I packed an upgraded sim card from Go-Sim…

http://www.gosim.com

The “new” capabilities deal with making it easier to deal with the call-back concepts used by Go-Sim and other vendors like them. The assigned number they gave me this time was a British number (rather than the Estonian number that I’ve been using with them for a number of years.) It was, in a word, EASY. The rates were great, coverage was wide (both voice and text), and the customer service (and infrastructure) was excellent. Highly recommended, affordable, and practical in scores of lands. Watch for the term “ekit” — because that’s a sign that they’ve shipped you one of the new sim cards.

10) What’s the Best CRM for Non-Profits, Missions Agencies, etc.

For some time now, we’ve used a SugarCRM spin-off called InfoAtHand, hosted internally but available globally, as our Constituent Relation Managing software or CRM. We expect a lot of it. We not only use it to help us remember the addresses for new prospective recruits, but also as a holding tank for data about our current members, donors, vendors, and more. But, we’ve used it since 2006 or so without much modification and, frankly, we’re beginning to feel some pressure to switch. Some of the pieces have now gone south (like the connector to Microsoft Outlook, which we were using to transfer contacts to our smartphones). What’s more, with spam email saturating as much as 1/3 of all internet traffic, today’s spam filters are becoming stricter about what they allow through the pipeline. Nowadays, it’s more and more common that we invest hours on a particular report or bulletin, only to find out that it’s not reaching 1/3 to 1/2 of its intended audience because of a picky filtering system. So we probably need to link more effectively with one of the major email distributors like iContact, Constant Contact, or MailChimp (rather than use our CRM to send the mail out directly). We’re also doing more and more events, which prompted us to need an online solution for registration and online payments. This resulted in adding yet another component (we’re using Wild Apricot, but there are several other equally capable options). What’s more, our CRM lags behind in collaborative tools, so we’ve added Podio to the mix (and we love it, by the way) for team communication and file-sharing. And at the end of the day, the truth is, our workers are no longer jazzed about trying to tweak our SugarCRM spin-off into handling all the nuggets of information we want to keep about every single type of volunteer to whom we relate.

The bottom line is — we probably need to switch. (The pressure under the volcano is mounting. :-) ). So may I ask — what has worked for you? Have you found an affordable solution for tracking contacts in a team environment, cross-pollinated with event registration (without having to double-enter or import-export), interlaced with personnel information as well? Obviously, it should be secure, easy, and affordable.

We’re currently considering:

CiviCRM — http://www.civicrm.org (I fear it will be too technical?)

Donor Tools — http://www.donortools.com/ (no event management)

Non-Profit Easy — http://www.nonprofiteasy.com (seems most promising?)

Non-Profit DB — http://www.nonprofitdb.org (does this seem quirky?)

Your thoughts? Anybody have any experience with any of the programs I mention above? Any other options out there that seem more promising to you? Please use the comments below to clue us in on your best recommendations.

11) Don’t Worry; Be Hopeful

The new book by John K. Wine is now available worldwide in all e-reader formats as well as pdf and plain text formats. “Don’t Worry; Be Hopeful” is a daily devotional with a global message and is full of powerful spiritual truths that will forever change your quality of life. It is not just a one-time read but will be a constant companion and is a great tool for missionaries in helping to fulfill The Great Commission. It’s available for instant download (and a free preview sample) in whatever format you need for virtually any e-reader or desktop/laptop computer from Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords. Direct links are available at

http://www.dontworrybehopeful.org

12) I’m Not Color-Sophisticated

By the time I was 9, I was so color deficient, Indiana University used me in a nationwide study on color blindness. So I’m probably the last person you want developing your color templates for the web. But thankfully, Brigada reader, Eric, has pointed us to…

http://www.DOT.lighthouse.org/accessibility/design/accessible-print-design/effective-color-contrast

Web designers there, who can detect color combinations much more effectively than I, tell us basically what works and what doesn’t. I like it. And by the way, if you have trouble seeing any of the colors or combinations you see on Brigada’s online web version, please tell us. If you like, just use the comments below this item to point out our mismatch(es).

14) The BackPage: ION’s Thoughts on Best Practices; Let’s Join Them

ionI think Samuel E. Chiang is doing a great job leading the International Orality Network. I usually always glean something from each of his monthly ION Newsletters. (Learn more at

http://www.oralbible.com

For example, his latest newsletter carried a brief article by Jerry Wiles on “Discovering Best Practices” in the field of orality. Much of his summary you can read in sites like

http://www.oralbible.com

and

http://www.oralitystrategies.com

where you’ll find many links and resources. He reminds us that there is no single method that is the best for all people and every place. And, fittingly, in the same issue, Mark Snowden’s brief article suggested five research techniques that one can utilize to learn more about what’s working and what’s not in a particular culture or sub-culture:

*** Existing research — what’s already been done and what bearing does it bring on the Main Thing
*** Observation research — looking specifically for literate media, oral media, who reads what on the bus/subway
*** Quantitative research — random sampling as much as possible
*** Qualitative research — dialogue groups filtering the survey data
*** Interviews with leaders

Since the days of Donald McGavran and the Church Growth Movement, I’ve been fascinated by the simple concepts of trying to study how God seems to be moving in and among a certain people group and/or nation. It just makes sense that, in each sphere where we work, we ought to be looking for those common threads to find out what will help knock down obstacles for the Spirit to move among the people He wants to reach.

Your thoughts? Just click the link below to get to the web version of this item, then use the “Comments” below to share your own thoughts, opinions, or objections. We’d love to hear your view.

Doug

15) Closing Stuff

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