Tag Archives: how-to

Video: Automate Id3 Tag Editing With Mp3Tag Actions

This is a video tutorial that explains how you can fill in the static (unchanging) fields of your podcast episode id3 tags automatically using Mp3Tag Actions.

If you have several podcasts or even one regular show typing in the ARTIST, ALBUM, YEAR and other static content can be redundant and if you’re me, outright annoying. Thankfully Mp3Tag (a free download) allows you to set up Actions to automate this process.

The video above shows how to use the TITLE field and a series of format actions to fill in every id3 tag field, including the importation of your podcast cover art. After you’ve set up your first set of actions, creating one per podcast is a snap.

If you have any tips about Mp3Tag or id3 tags in general, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Download Mp3Tag (PC Only)

How To Write Up Stage Game Directions For Volunteers

I’ve talked before about how I use games in my children’s church. Almost without exception they work double duty as fun and an object lesson. This means that I create the games right along with the rest of my service and then share that information with the volunteer leading the game. Continue reading

I’m Building My Own Check-in Station Kiosks

We’ve been using Parent Pager for about two years now and things are going great. The only exception is the way this system is presented each week. From day one I’ve had the computer, label printer, laser printer and finger scanner sitting on 4 foot plastic tables covered with a cloth. This means my top-of-the-line check-in system looks like it’s on display at a yard sale. It’s time to change that.

I’ve seen other churches with nice check in stations with helpful attendants behind the counter ready to help. My church really isn’t set up for a full on Welcome Center style area. I’m dealing with hallways here. I needed some sharp looking kiosks for my check-in computers.

Have you priced these things? I can save you the trouble… they’re way out of our price range ($600-$1000+). And that’s only if you’re looking for a stock solution. If you need anything custom built the prices just go up from there. So I’m building my own check-in kiosks.

With some MDF, 2×2’s, drywall screws and some laminate I’m going to make my own check-in kiosks. They’re not the fanciest things out there… but they meet my needs. And once I’m done I’m going to post my blueprints (plans) here so your church handyman can build you some.

Pictures and more after the jump. Continue reading

Buzz 102 – How To Draw Buzz Lightyear

I’ve been wanting to do a how-to for quite a while. I always had a love hate relationship with how-tos from Highlights and the local newspapers. It always seemed like they started out way too simple then skipped a bunch of steps to get to the finished product. It was almost like the artist wanted me to know that I could copy all I wanted… but I would never learn and possibly take his job some day. I understand the logic… in this economy it makes perfect sense.

This Buzz says, “I don’t have sad eyes!”

Click here so you can actually read what it says.

5 Things You Need On The Front Page of Your Podcast Website

Looking around recently at a few of my fellow podcaster’s websites I was surprised to find how many didn’t have simple ways to subscribe to their show or to get in contact with the hosts.

1. A direct link to your RSS feed.
As a podcaster, your show’s success depends almost exclusively on how many listeners are downloading and listening to your shows. Your site should have an obvious link to your feed.

2. A direct link to your iTunes listing.
Love or hate it, iTunes is #1 when it comes to podcast distribution. Almost 95% of all of my downloads come from iTunes. For the folks who find you in iTunes, no biggie… but when you promo your site, when others link to you, they always send visitors to your main website. When they get there then need

3. A link to a contact page with email, contact form and voice mail line.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to grow your podcast audience is by word of mouth. People will be more likely to tell their friends about your show if their input has been read or played on it. So provide a contact page with an email address, a contact form, and your voicemail line if you have one.

4. A brief description of your show.
When your visitors come to the page, what is going to tell them that you’re not just a blog… that the real feature here is your audio shows? You’ve got to tell them. How you do it is up to you. On Nobody’s Listening’s site I use a subtitle, “A Clean Comedy Podcast” and a small About box in the sidebar that gives a little more information.

5. A link to your promo.
When other podcasters want to promote your show, they’re going to need a promo. Don’t make it hard to find. Provide a direct download link, not just a flash player.

What did I miss? Add your podcast website “must-haves” to the comments.

You can find other great articles on Podcasting here, including How I Podcast.

How I Podcast: 2010 Edition

My first article on this topic was in August of 2007. I updated that article in December of that year. In May 2008 I wrote a new article on how I podcasted when both hosts were in the same room. Finally in June 2009 I wrote one more (How I Podcast: 2009) because of new equipment, different online tools and a simpler process. A lot has changed since then. It’s time to update you on my podcasting methods.

Continue reading

A Prayer Service Display Idea

We recently had a week of prayer here at Suncoast and were encouraged to create an experience for each of the folks who would be praying. This is the display I came up with and I wanted to share it with you.

The idea was to create an interactive object lesson. I wanted the folks praying to 1) get a feel for what we do and 2) open their minds as to what children’s ministry is about.

The concept of using a garden came almost instantly. I knew I wanted to have the people plant a seed in the ground as an example of the seeds of God’s Word that are planted each week in the children’s department.

I tend to think of the programs we provide in four groups: Mentoring, Foundational, Life Application and Godly Care, so I created four rows of plants, each with their own “seed pack” which illustrated this.

I quickly decided that having flower pots was going to work better than just having a bunch of dirt on a table. It might not be clear that it’s supposed to be a garden and I didn’t know how I was going to keep the dirt contained without a large (ugly) pan of some sort.

A quick trip to Home Depot and I had 16 flower pots, 12 perennials, 3 packages of seed, one small pot (to hold the seed), one section of border fence, 4 paint stirrers, cheap gloves, a watering can and some potting soil.

To create the “seed packets” I turned to Google images for inspiration. I took the best elements from several designs and created what you see above in Photoshop. I printed them out on a color printer and cut, folded and pasted them to look just like the real thing (including a little flap at the top). I cut a slot in the top and bottom of each and fed through a paint stick and stuck each into one of the flower pots.

Each of the flowers were transplanted into one of the pots to give it that “just planted” look. The four remaining pots were filled with potting soil and put at the front of each row for planting the seeds. The fence section was simply screwed into the back of a 4-foot plastic table. The green plastic sheeting was a round tablecloth we found in a closet. The seeds were placed in a cute little pot.

Lastly we added the watering can, the gloves (with fresh dirt applied), prayer need cards and a tent-fold card with instructions on how to use the station.

Everyone loved the display. It was a hit with my leaders and the folks who came out to pray. Someone even tried to water the seed they planted (no water in the can). They were really into it I guess.

The instruction card said: Each week we plant the seeds of God’s word into the lives of your children. Take a seed and imagine it is a spiritual truth to be taught to a child. Prayerfully plant the seed in the soil and pray that His Word will grow and be fruitful in the lives of our children.

Pastor even let me come up to explain the inspiration behind the the meaning of each element in the display. It was truly a blessing.

Currently the display is waiting in the children’s church room for Sunday. I’m going to have the kids file past and plant a seed of their own and pray that God’s Word will grow in their own hearts.

I hope this has been an inspiration to you. Feel free to rip it off completely! Just let me know how it turns out! If you have any questions you can email me.

How I Find The Time To Do What I Do


You must have a lot of free time…

How do you get it all done?

These are just a couple examples of the questions and comments that I get here and there throughout the average week. I thought I’d take a moment and address it and tell you a little about how I do 5 podcasts, a webcomic and blog nearly every day and still hold down a job, be a husband and super-involved father of two.

It doesn’t take up as much time as you think.

I do 5 podcasts… and that sounds like it must take forever… but not as much as you might think. From the very beginning I created the shows to be easy to produce and over the years I’ve worked very hard to simplify and streamline the entire process.

I created shows that require very little pre-show prep. The show with the most prep required is Nobody’s Listening and that’s only because there are a ton of email and voicemails that have to be read and added to the show notes. Geek Loves Nerd is super easy as we just pick a topic during the week and just sit and record. Children’s Ministry Monthly is similar in that I just choose a topic and write a few notes of my experiences with the subject and that’s about it. The Gospel of Kennison is recorded in the car on the way to somewhere with a portable audio recorder. I Like Genius’s pre-show prep is all done via emails randomly through the week as I try to get interviews with interesting and creative people.

As for recording, all of the shows, with the exception of GOK, are between 45-60 mins. Add about 15 minutes to that and the front and the back for setup and such and we’re at an hour and a half per show.

Post-production used to take me forever. I once recorded each voice on different tracks and remixed them… it took hours. Now it’s super simple. Everything is recorded in real time down to a single stereo track. Live to hard drive as they say. After we’re done recording I typically only have to trim and dead air off the front and end of the show, Hard Limit and Normalize it, encode it to MP3, upload it and post it. The whole process maybe takes 30 minutes these days.

I do most of it early and late.

I blog in the early morning during breakfast. I record podcasts late at night. Nobody cares what I do with my spare time after the kids are in bed at 9pm. So from 9:30 to 12… it’s my time. Jenn and I record GLN on Monday nights. Tuesday nights are NLCast. I Like Genius are done randomly throughout the week… but typically on Thursday or Friday evenings. GOK is whenever I’m in the car. CMMonthly is once a month on a Sunday evening. No time has been taken away from my family, chores or other responsibilities. The webcomic is done on Sunday evenings… takes about an hour.

So the tricks and tips? The KISS principal comes into play. If you going to do a lot of podcasting and blogging… Keep It Simple Stupid!

Children’s Ministry Raw


This weekend we recorded our JAM City children’s church service using four cameras and an portable audio recorder. I spent most of Sunday afternoon and all day Monday putting it all together and editing it down. The result is a 56 minute video cut into 10 minute segments available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.

No set. No fancy lighting. No amazing costumed characters. Just a bunch of passion and a great group of kids (it was a ‘rain Sunday’ so not even a large group of kids). 😉

I’ve edited out a lot of our more fun segments to focus on the ministry portions… but I plan to make those available as separate clips shortly. Stuff your missing is: Rules & Regs, Jumps, Offering, Praise & Worship, and Game Time.

If you have any questions about anything you see in the video… leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.

Link: JAM City Children’s Church Video

Delegating Is Hard.. But Worth It

Giving away parts of your ministry responsibilities is mandatory if you want a thriving, growing ministry that’s not bound by your limits and abilities. A children’s minister that is secure in their calling can allow others to develop parts of their ministry… even if that volunteer is more talented with it than we are!

If there are so many benefits to delegation… why aren’t more ministers doing it? Other than the common reasons ministers don’t delegate, I think it’s because it’s harder than doing it yourself (at first) and folks simply don’t know how to do it properly.

Delegating is harder than doing it yourself… but it’s worth it.

Training someone else to do your job may sound like a great deal. You give it away and don’t have to worry about it any more. Not true. Giving away a task means you have to train the person… and constantly evaluate what they’re doing to make sure they’re doing it correctly and improving along the way. It won’t always be harder than doing it yourself… but you’ll never want to completely walk away. The ministry is still your responsibility.

Here’s how to delegate properly.

  1. They watch you do it – We must always, always, always display what we want. Folks who have never done an object lesson will never ever learn what you want in a conversation or from a manual. They need to see it in motion.
  2. They help you do it – Bring them up on stage with you and have them help you. There is no time limit on any of these steps. If they need three weeks singing behind you as you lead… give it to them.
  3. You help them do it – It’s a major step… but you’re still there to support and help if they need you. This is a far cry from the typical way folks are dropped head-first into children’s ministry with no training or leadership. Give your volunteers the gift you may have never had yourself.
  4. You watch them do it – This is the step that never ends. Offer a lot of praise. Give constructive feedback. Keep them in the service prep loop. Make them a part of your team. This is more on you than them.

Delegating is harder than doing it yourself… but it’s more than worth it.