God isn't bland. The Church shouldn't be, either.
A Cheap (and fast) Way to Display Live Texts

NOTE:

After this article was written, TextMarks updated their interface. In order for this tutorial to make sense to you and utilize incoming messages, the good folks at TextMarks say you just need to go to http://lite.textmarks.com.

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There are some pretty expensive solutions out there that allow you to display texts during gatherings. I’ve priced and used several of them.

If you like to do things on the cheap, while maintaining quality, I’ve found an alternative that works beautifully.

We used this method recently at The Chapel during a worship and communion service. We asked folks to text “How have you experienced God’s goodness?” It really enhanced the worship service and provided a new dimension.

Overview

Here’s the high-level flow…

  1. Decide on what you want to display during the gathering — comments, questions, response to a general question, etc.
  2. You provide a number [and keyword] for folks to text to, and display and promote it at the start of the gathering.
  3. Folks text in, and they are held in queue.
  4. A moderator handles and approves the texts that display on the live screen.
  5. The live screen displays the texts in a rotation.

What You’ll Need

Here’s everything you’ll need to pull this off…

  • A textmarks.com account and keyword- free or basic (19.99/month and you can cancel at anytime). This used to be way cheaper. I was surprised to see they recently hiked up the pricing.
  • An install of WordPress
  • Download and install the WordPress plugin, Flexi Quote Rotator.
  • A custom-themed wordpress page to display your quotes on your sidescreen(s) in full-screen mode. This way you strip out all of the nav, footer, and other on-screen elements not needed.
    Example here
    Download the code

Settings

I’ll try to cover everything in detail, but I know some things will be left out. Please email me (hello@mediasalt.com) if you have any specific questions.

TextMarks

  1. Create an account and a keyword, or “textmark.”
  2. Click the “manage” tab and click “edit” on the keyword you just created.
  3. “TextMark Response” tab: Leave blank
  4. “Configuration” tab:
    textmark-config

WordPress

Flexi Quote Rotator WP Plugin

  • Activate the plugin.
  • Settings -> Quote Rotator
    rotator-options

Go Time!

Here’s how you make it work when you’re ready for prime time. You’ll probably need to open three browser tabs.

Publicly:

  • Ultimately, here’s and example of  the page you’ll need to display on the screens during the gathering: http://chapelfamily.org/txt-to-screen/rediscover.php
  • Folks will be asked to text in their response: In our case, “txt ‘TheChapel’ [SPACE] your comments to 41411.” Make a slide to display.

TextMarks:

  • To access and copy the texts, you’ll need to log into your account on textmarks.com.
  • Click the “manage” tab.
  • Click the “edit” button under your keyword.
  • Click the “show” button under “messages”. This will display all txts submitted to that keyword. Copy one at a time.
    review-messages

Paste into WordPress:

Add the txts so they will appear on the live screen.

  • Log in to the WP-admin.
  • On the left nav, under “Tools,” click “Quotes”
  • Add, edit, or delete per this admin screen. Don’t worry about entering a name into the “author” field.
    add-quote

That’s it. Try it out, and let me know what questions you have. I’m happy to help.

Example Text Display Page

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  1. Eric Granata (Reply) on January 5th, 2011

    Hah! Very clever.

  2. Claygirlsings (Reply) on January 5th, 2011

    This is great! Thanks for the step by step.

    One question: I’ve seen this done where instead of texts, you send out a tweet w/a specific hashtag. Only those hashtags are pulled in the rotation. Is that option more expensive to pull off?

  3. Eric Granata (Reply) on January 5th, 2011

    @Claygirlsings: You might find an app called Twistori helpful for displaying hashtags. It can be downloaded here: http://twistoridesktop.com/

    Additionally, the app can be customized for look and feel via CSS.

  4. Claygirlsings (Reply) on January 7th, 2011

    Thanks, Eric.
    My question was actually answered on Twitter today. It’s a site called visibletweets.


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