The Genius Blog
SignUpGenius Serving in Liberia
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 5/4/12 04:01 PM EST
In 2007, just about a year before I launched SignUpGenius, my wife and I traveled to Liberia, West Africa to bring home two children via adoption. The kids were living in a children’s home run by an indigenous ministry called Africans Christian Fellowship International (ACFI).
That trip was a life-changing milestone in our lives, and it would take a couple hours at a coffee shop with each of you to truly explain how we got to that point and what God taught us along the way. But the short story is that on that first trip God broke our hearts for the difficulties the beautiful, vibrant people of Liberia are going through after their country was absolutely gutted by fourteen years of civil war. Statistically, Liberia is one of the ten poorest countries in the world, and depending on which ranking system you use, it’s sometimes listed in the bottom three.
After coming back to the States, my wife and I got together with several other U.S. families that wanted to support ACFI in the work they were doing to care for the some of the neediest in their country. We were a rag-tag group with a variety of backgrounds – but we prayed and took one step at a time as God led. One of the things I was able to help with was building a website, AfricanChildSponsorship.com, so that we could establish an online child sponsorship program to help provide enough resources to care for the kids still living in the children’s home. We also started taking periodic mission teams back to Liberia where we were able to support the efforts of the faithful men and women of ACFI.
At the end of this month, my wife and I will be returning to Liberia to lead a mission team of 14. The team will be serving in two ACFI children’s homes providing teacher training, maintenance and repair work, getting sponsorship updates, and running a vacation bible school with the kids. We’ll also be doing some training for the ACFI leaders in small business and technology.
This year, we were excited that SignUpGenius was able to contribute to a project fund that will be used in these efforts. In addition, we’ve used SignUpGenius ourselves to organize donations and responsibilities for the trip!
It’s hard to write a post like this, because it’s not intended to make me look good or to drum up comments from people that it is “so neat” that SignUpGenius is involved in this. I know that there are a lot of different beliefs from the people that read this blog – so without explaining everything completely - let me just say that God has given so much to me (and I’m not primarily referring to physical blessings here) that it’s an honor to follow Him on this crazy adventure. Hopefully our story will inspire others to step out and embark on something that God might lay on your own heart.
We’re thankful for all our users that played a small part in this trip just by helping SignUpGenius grow and making it possible for the company to contribute. I feel like I’ve got the best job in the world, and I am grateful that SignUpGenius can be a small part of the efforts of thousands of churches, nonprofits, schools, and groups - whether you’re making a difference in the middle of Kansas or in a dusty children’s home in Liberia. The rest of our staff will be holding down the fort while we’re gone, and we’ll share more about the trip when we return!
SignUpGenius Joins the Pinterest Craze
Posted by: Angel Rutledge on 3/16/12 01:37 PM EST
Ask anybody how they’re doing these days, and the most common response you’ll get is, “Busy!” So who needs another social network to join, right? That was our first thought when we heard about the new Pinterest craze. Once we checked it out, though, we realized what a great site it is for our core users who love to organize, share ideas, and make everything, including online sign ups, look oh so attractive.
So moving forward, whenever you create a sign up, you’ll have the option to pin it to one of your Pinterest boards. And you know all of those informative planning resource articles on our site that provide you with helpful tips for coordinating school events, family get togethers, and sports activities? Yep, you can pin them, too. You can even follow SignUpGenius on Pinterest and browse through our boards for creative ideas to repin. So what are you waiting for? Let the pinning begin!
SignUpGenius Helps Tornado Victims in Alabama
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 5/17/11 12:10 PM EST
One of the best parts of working at SignUpGenius is seeing how people use our site to make a difference. We're so excited to be able to help churches and schools and non-profits in their efforts. Last week we got this great email from Amber:
How have YOU used SignUpGenius to impact your world? Drop us a note and let us know!
Posted by Almac Group on Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:38 PM EST
Hi Dan, love the signupgenius. I've been using this non stop at my job, and it is easy for everyone to use, up until today. One of the employees are not able to get onto to the signup, and she said she has signed up twice with her name, email and password. I'm not sure what else to try, so I'm hoping you know what the problem is. Thanks for your help! PS....will you be coming up with more designs for the General page? Thanks!
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:02 PM EST
Hi June. Sorry to hear you are having troubles. I will open up a support ticket for you and interact with you that way to make sure we get the issue resolved for you!
Leadership's True Test
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 1/25/11 04:47 PM EST
How exactly do you gauge the effectiveness of a leader? By the attendance at meetings? By the financial growth of the organization? By some kind of satisfaction survey from the membership?
I think that the true test of leadership is something completely different. The real litmus test comes after the leader leaves. What happens to the organization after the leader has moved on speaks volumes about the kind of leader that was running the organization. Were long-term procedures and plans put in place? Was the vision communicated so that other people in the organization truly own the mission? Were other leaders mentored and prepared for taking over? When the leader has moved on -- will the organization continue forward without a hiccup or just dissolve because it was shallow and held together only by the effort of a single person in charge?
For the last couple years, I’ve been leading a small group ministry at the church we attend. I love the way God grows people in the context of community and it’s been exciting to be a part. Recently, though, my wife and I felt that God wanted our family to move to another church. There was nothing wrong with our existing situation or the people there – we just sensed we were being sent to serve elsewhere. While ultimately I know that this small group ministry is God’s and not dependent on anything I did … I can’t help but wonder if I was involved in the kind of leadership that fostered a sustainable ministry or if I was just a shallow organizer.
It was about six months ago that I realized that I had been going about the leadership thing all wrong. I was handling almost everything for this ministry myself, rarely delegating, and working in a completely top-down model.
So for the last half-year, I made a conscious effort to change the structure of the group and my leadership style. I tried to get more feedback on decisions and interact with a small core of leaders rather than deciding everything myself. I recommended that we re-organize the way our teaching was handled - overhauling it so that we got as many people involved in leading/facilitating as possible. We also simplified the whole meeting schedule, making it easier for others to lead and for group members to come if they missed previous weeks. I can only hope that some of those changes laid a foundation that will help this ministry flourish apart from any one person.
I don’t know what kind of group or organization you are leading… but it’s worth asking: Are you burning yourself out doing everything? If you stepped away would everything crash to the ground? Are you the kind of leader that is building a rock-solid organization… or are you just organizing people?
COMMENTS: [View all 4 comments]
Posted by Melissa Enderle on Fri Feb 4, 2011 3:35 AM EST
Greetings from India! I am a teacher coordinating our upcoming professional development day. We used SignUpGenius last time and it was well received - SO much better than paper signups! Creating the signups is easy, especially with the duplication feature. Now, what I'd like to do is publish them in a way so that teachers can quickly (and visually) see what their choice offerings are for period1, period 2, etc. and select one for each period. It would also be nice to have the presenter see (and perhaps change) their session data, along with the coordinator. I like the themes - more education ones perhaps? Thanks again!
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Fri Feb 4, 2011 7:45 AM EST
Hi Melissa. Thanks so much for the comment and we're very excited to have friends in India using our site. I'll send you an email offline with some thoughts on your comments. We have a couple things in the works that may be of use.
Tips for Choosing Church Small Group Curriculum
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 2/16/10 02:25 PM EST
I've been involved in leading church groups for about fifteen years. Whether you lead a Sunday School class, community group, or men's study... finding the right study for your group is always a challenge. You want to find a study that is appealing to your group (so that people show up!), that has the right amount of prep work to fit your group's commitment level (again... so that people show up!), and of course, one that is spiritually significant (so that people actually GROW up!).
Personally, I am not a big fan of "taking a poll" to discuss what the group should study. I find that this can backfire and people start debating what study to the point that you cannot pick something without people being upset. Also, I heard a great tip one time that basically went like this: "The shepherd does not ask the sheep where they want to go to pasture." If you are the leader, then God has entrusted you with the responsibility of helping guide the spiritual growth of your group. Get suggestions if you'd like, but then pray and try to determine what you think God wants your group to be learning.
My last tip... is to purposely choose variety in the type of studies that you do over time. God designs us differently and no study is going to engage everyone. By varying the studies each time, you can minister to everybody. So one time, choose an in-depth Bible study that requires a lot of prep.... then read a popular Christian topical book on something like marriage... and follow that with a Christian Life DVD series, etc.
If you're interested in some recommendations, check out my reviews of 3 Great Small Group Studies that I've used with my church groups!
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Like you need another blog to read, right? Well this one is completely different than anything you've ever read before!! Um... not really. But you can read it if you want to keep up on the latest SignUpGenius news and the off-beat thoughts of our company President, Dan Rutledge.
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