Figuring out how to use available technology to benefit your ministry and boost church productivity can be tough. It’s a bit hard to keep up with new technology. That’s pretty much a given in today’s tech climate. That’s why today I’m going to focus our attention to a fantastic tool that can help organize your church communications and move your attention away from your email inbox to something different, efficient, and fun.
That something is called Slack.
Why not just use email?
Slack is a platform for messaging and communicating in real-time. Their headline on their homepage defines it as “A messaging app for teams.” This nails it. It’s well-built around the concept of a team. Invite members to your chat team. Invite them to a channel. Done. They get notified with all messages that are sent in that channel.
Slack also keeps simplicity and speed in mind in everything it does.
Using email to communicate simple ideas or thoughts, or even collaborate with groups of people is like using a carrier pigeon to deliver a chain letter that you end up piling up in a cabinet somewhere. It’s slow (not real-time), lacks discoverability, and it’s rather clunky to search through. Should I even mention how much space email bloats your computer with? And how many times have you said to yourself, “Hey I know I got an email with that in it. Let me go find it.”
Not another messaging app
So how does Slack solve these issues? Answering these questions will show you what makes Slack special and why so many people have flocked to it, making it a very successful tool and business.
Simplicity & Speed
Slack is easy. If you have used any instant messaging system, you can probably figure out Slack. Emojis, Channels, Direct Messages are all included and are not buried in any menu. They’re always accessible within a click or just by typing.
Searching is a breeze.
Need to find a message that was sent? The search ability in Slack is super-intuitive and fast.
Channels & Notifications
If you break your ministry teams up into their own channels, you can easily click on a channel from the left side bar and just start typing your message. Everyone invited to that channel will get a notification in their slack app on their desktop computer. What’s also great is that, by default (and this can be modified), if they don’t see or read the message on the desktop app it will then be forwarded to their mobile app in the form of a notification. But it’s also smart enough to not send the mobile notification if you did read it on the desktop app. No more CC’ing everyone on an email of which you’re unsure if it got read. You know when people are on and available.
If it were just a simple messaging app. It would get the job done and do it well. But the icing on the cake for me is all the other hidden features of Slack.
We use Slack internally at By the Book. Because we develop software and services, we have slack integrated with our other systems. For example, when we do something in our task manager, we get notified in Slack when something happens with a task or project. There are over 50 built-in integrations with other services and platforms (like Google Calendar, Google Drive, Dropbox, Twitter, Asana, Trello etc).
I should also mention sharing screenshots and small files is as easy as a drag-n-drop.
Slackbot is one of my underdog features of the app. You can type a forward slash “/” and then Slack will give you a list of available commands that do simple tasks and helpful procedures. For example, I had Slack send me a reminder (which includes a desktop notification) to write this blog post by simply typing “/remind me on 9/17/15 at 8:30am to write blog post“. (Yes, I actually did this.)
I find myself using this tool when I am sure I’ll forget something. I just tell Slackbot to remind me and then I can forget about it. The simplicity of this comes into play in that you can accomplish this from anywhere in the app. Direct message. Group Channel. It doesn’t matter; if it’s a command that starts with “/remind me”, you’re the only one that sees it.
I know this sounds like we are getting a kickback from Slack for writing this post. We’re not. I just wanted to share a tool that can help boost your church productivity and communications within your ministry. That, and we love using Slack at our office. It took a little getting used to as sending email for simple things had become so second-nature to us. Some things are better left in the past. Like Netflix affords you the ability to cut your cable tv, Slack will change the way you email internally. Did I mention it’s Free?