This is a place for me to share and document personal interests such as music, technology, and other writing. Please enjoy; I love to receive comments and hear back from you! And if there is something you'd like me to record or a tech question, please let me know! For more of an overview, see the "Who Am I?" and "Ministry Passions" tabs above.

Cloud Storage for Ministry

MINISTRY TECH

People are increasingly using "cloud storage" for personal and business use, and I have found it to be a very useful tool for ministry as well as for personal use. In this post I want to focus on ministry use. Many churches and ministries pay for cloud storage and don't have a well thought-out approach to its use, so I'm writing to address both those aspects of cloud storage: COST and USE.

I want to focus on three cloud storage services: Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. There are many others, but these are among the largest and are different enough that I would use all three whether I paid for storage or not. Fortunately, each comes with some free storage and, to date, I have not had to expand beyond the no-cost options, either personally or at church.

So I will primarily be giving an overview of the free features of each service and how I use them in ministry. Subsequent posts may go into more specifics for each one.

BOX - Individual Free Plan (https://www.box.com/pricing/individual)
Image result for box.com icon
  • 10 GB storage
  • 250 MB max upload per file
  • Has desktop version that syncs with cloud version
  • Can share files/folders with another box account without counting against that accounts storage limit
  • Can share links to individual files or folders and allow download; can also embed files online
  • File Recovery/Previous Versions: 30 days
Recommended ministry use: long-term archival of files. Each staff member at church has an archive of their ministry files and we share those archives with each other (as appropriate) so that we can all see all archives. So, the admin assistant has all our old newsletters and bulletins archived, but I can see and access them because they are shared with me.
 
DROPBOX - Individual Free Plan (https://db.tt/rJk63xu5 <== that's a referral code so my church will get a little extra storage space!) Related image
  • 2 GB storage (growable up to 16GB through referrals, social media sharing, taking 'tour', installing desktop version, etc...); if you use the code linked above, we'll get 500 MB extra storage! (You can do that once you have an account to grow your free storage space.)
  • Has desktop version that syncs with cloud version
  • Can share files/folders with another dropbox account, but it does count against that account's storage limit
  • Can share links to individual files or folders and allow download
  • Can edit files (Word, PP, Excel, etc...) online, though there are some feature limitations
  • Can not work on a file at the same time as another person (you can, but it will create a separate copy of the file).
  • File Recovery/Previous Versions: 30 days
Recommended ministry use: current files shared by a group (e.g. bulletin, presentation file for worship service, pictures, etc...) that do not require work at the same time.We have 3-4 people that work weekly on the bulletin and the service PP file. Each puts there info in on a certain day (and we can see if someone else has the file open).

GOOGLE DRIVE - Individual Free PlanRelated image
  • 15 GB storage (shared with your Gmail account)
  • Must create or have a Google account to activate (you don't have to use Gmail, but I recommend it!)
  • Can share files/folders with another person who does not have to have a Google account
  • Can store any file type and can edit Google docs, presentation, spreadsheet (this is different than Microsoft Word, Excel, PP) at the same time as another user. This is a game-changer!
  • Has desktop version that syncs with cloud version
  • File Recovery/Previous Versions: 30 days or 100 previous versions
Recommended ministry use: planning docs that would benefit from group collaboration and work but where fine-tuned graphic design is not needed. We use this for worship planning, volunteer lists, officer note-taking, presbytery committee resource hub, etc... This is particularly handy for planning with the music director and pastor, for looking at upcoming service themes and scripture. We put congregational music ideas in on a rolling basis, then touch base the week of the service to finalize. Children's ministry and others can also reference the ongoing planning for things they might be planning in the service.

SUMMARY

Box - archived files
Dropbox - current files; exp. MS Office
Google Drive - current files; esp. for collaborative planning 

 

Cries in the Darkness - choral composition

About a year ago a Presbyterian pastor colleague in East Tennessee (Dwyn Mounger) asked in a music forum I am part of on Facebook if anyone would be willing to compose some music for a hymn text he had written.I offered to look at it - he sent three texts, and I chose one to try to turn into a hymn. That turned out alright, though with six verses it got a little repetitive. I started thinking that it would be much more interesting to write as a choral arrangement. So a year later, that's what I have; an SATB arrangement of his text, "Cries in the Darkness." It's a different take on the nativity scene, in contrast to a "no crying he makes" baby Jesus. And then Dwyn makes a nice turn in the last two verses to our cries in a world full of suffering and pain. It's a nice connection to the incarnate one who came to live among us rather than over or apart from us.

We'd like to offer it to anyone interested in trying it out. If you are a music director, would you consider it? If you are not but know a music or choir director, would you share this e-mail with them? You are free to make copies and we just ask that you include the attributions included in the PDF. We'd also love to know that you used it and what you think! If you have any questions, please reach out to me (robert@robertaustell.com). Dwyn and I would be honored if you would like to use it. The choir at my church is singing it on Dec 8 and I should have a recording after that to share.