(Thank you @BarbaraGraves for your willingness to share with me and your excitement about Children’s Ministry.)
This past weekend Barbara Graves used Twitter to help check kids into her Children’s Ministry at Momentum Church located in Woodstock, GA.
Now for some of you that statement alone gets you very excited and you have a ton of questions on how can you do the same thing, was it effective, and maybe even a bunch of geek questions about vertical integration, automation, and API. Another set of you are mildly interested because you like to stay up on the latest trends but you tried Twitter and got tired of the “I’m eating a hamburger”, “My son just picked his nose”, and “My dog has a weird smell, anybody wanna help.” Then the last group said who cares, nobody at my church uses Twitter. Before you get to excited, somewhat interested, or if you don’t care I believe we can all learn something from the statement above.
The first question from this statement should be “Who is Barbara Graves?” In her own words, she is a caffeinated lady who loves to cook for her friends and teach kids, life’s two greatest joys. In the time that I’ve known her I can tell that she has an incredible spirit about her and she is always asking questions. She does have a blog and she has been on Twitter for over 2 years. She is not the first person though that I expected to see using Twitter for check-in. I thought Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, Jonathan Cliff, Dan Scott, JC Thompson, or Pudge Huckaby would have beat her to it. Even Barbara said that when she came up with the idea she thought to herself, “What would Sam Luce or Matt McKee do?” (That made me laugh out loud.) Then she said we should be using every tool that God has given us. This is what I love about Barbara. She is not afraid to learn. She is not afraid of the unknown. She is not afraid to fail. That is who Barbara Graves is and what she is about.
The second question is how in the world did she us Twitter for check-in?
First let me say that this is not a program that automatically checks the kids in to classrooms using Twitter. She is not a developer who put hooks into a database and is taking advantage of Twitter’s API. (By the way, there is a business idea for you developers out there. One of the most profitable things in Children’s Ministry is the whole check-in process. Just a little FYI side note. And yes I may even have some guys looking into this already but would love to talk to you if interested) No what Barbara did anyone can do whether they use electronic check-in from a company like Fellowship Technologies or if they use a manual check-in with coins, simple name tags, or some other type of check-in. It also doesn’t matter how big your church is or how small your church is.
So how do you do it? Step by Step
- Set up a separate Twitter Account that will only be used for your check-in. Try and keep it short. Don’t use something like @momentumchurchkidscheckin. Barbara set up @MKCkin instead. Very smart.
- Promote that you are going to use Twitter for check in and give the name of the new Twitter Account.
- Write a step by step guide on how to use Twitter from any phone. This means how to use Twitter over text message so that anyone can use it whether they have smart phone or not. Here is a sample from ehow.com but you will want to write your own. This is one of the beauties of using this technology.
- Set up a station at your church where explaining how to text or send a message to your new Twitter account. This will be a volunteer position and the place where you will hand out your how to guide.
- Have a dedicated computer, smart phone, or iPad that is set up to only watch that account for check-in that is looking for messages, either @ replies or direct messages.
- Set up a “Twitter VIP” lane or area where families can pick up their tags that are already printed, filled out, or marked for that family.
- Finally, encourage parents to send their tweets or text messages on the way out the door of their house. This way, you can check them in plenty of time before they get there. They walk through the Twitter lane and straight to their classroom.
There you have it. You too could be utilizing Twitter to help your check in process in just a couple of weeks. Your church will think you are so high tech and you are able to teach many people along the way that Twitter can be used for more than finding out that someone is wearing a blue shirt today.
As I say in the title, I do believe this is a first step in the process of Twitter Check-in for #kidmin but I think it is a great first step. I’m also really glad that a lady like Barbara Graves is the one championing this movement. Thank you Barbara for all that you do and all of the encouragement that you bring to the church.