Apple TV + Roku – VERSION 2!

PocketPlatform announces the release of fully rewritten versions of the Apple TV and Roku apps.  These set-top TV apps have been redesigned and rewritten from the ground up and we’re excited to make these updates available to our existing Apple TV and Roku customers with no additional fees.

Both apps utilize the same MinistryPlatform data, allowing you to easily manage the lists of Sermon Series and Sermons across all platforms with ease from MP.  When combined with the PocketPlatform Media Manager and/or the Sermon Widget, you can create, manage and distribute your media to your congregation wherever and whenever it’s most convenient for them.

Livestreaming is also featured at the top of both apps, making it easy for users to know right where to click on Sundays.  In addition, the new apps support multiple livestreams so you can broadcast multiple services, kids content, alternate language services and more.




FAQ:

  • What are the rows of tiles on the new apps?  The top row features larger tiles and is used to display your livestream tiles.  Livestream tiles can be scheduled to appear when you are broadcasting live or to be always available.  Below the livestreams row, the new apps display a horizontally scrolling row for each Category.  Sermon Series can appear in one or more Categories.  This layout is designed to allow you organize your media to allow your users to more easily find the content they’re looking for.  You can create Categories for Sunday Sermons, Kids Ministry content, Small Group videos, et al.  For more info, check our KB article on Sermon Series Categories.
  • How do I get the new apps?  If you have an existing PocketPlatform Roku / Apple TV app, we’ve already built an updated version for you.  You should have received information from us with links to install the beta versions for testing.  If you need help with installing the beta versions, we have KB articles for Apple TV / TestFlight and Roku.  If you don’t already have a PocketPlatform Roku or Apple TV app, we’d love to get one setup for you.  Reach out to us and we’ll get you on the onboarding schedule.
  • What do I need to do before launching the new apps?  This is up to you; we’re happy to launch them as soon as you’re ready!  We recommend reviewing the beta versions to make sure everything looks good.  This is also a good time to review your Sermon content and confirm it’s all appearing the way you want.  Remember, with the new Sermon Series Categories structure, you may need to spend some time updating your content to make it appear in the new apps.  For more info, check our KB article on Sermon Series Categories.
  • How long does it take to launch the new apps?  Apple review typically takes at least 48 hours, but typically no more than a week.  Roku review is typically 2-3 weeks.
  • When does my livestream information appear in the apps?  This is configured specifically for each church and so there’s no one size fits all answer to this question.  If you think the livestream should be appearing and isn’t, submit a ticket to our Helpdesk with the schedule and other info and we’ll take a look.
  • Why aren’t my sermons appearing in the new apps?  The new apps display a horizontally scrolling row for each Category.  Sermon Series can appear in one or more Categories.  This layout is designed to allow you organize your media to allow your users to more easily find the content they’re looking for.  You can create Categories for Sunday Sermons, Kids Ministry content, Small Group videos, et al.  For more info, check our KB article on Sermon Series Categories.
  • Will my videos work on Roku / Apple TV?  Generally speaking the answer should be yes.  If you use MP4 links, you will have some issues on Roku; we recommend that you use M3U8 links as they work best on all platforms.



When app users download your app and login to the app, they have a variety of methods for authenticating:

  1. If they know their MP Username + Password, this is a quick and easy way to authenticate.
  2. If they choose to authenticate using their Phone Number or Email Address, this is another quick and easy way to authenticate. Using this method, PocketPlatform will attempt to find the person in the database and match them up.
  3. If the user doesn’t know their username + password, or if no match can be made, then they can always create an account. When creating an account, PocketPlatform will again attempt to find the person in the database and match them up.

In all the scenarios above, our goal is to match the data provided by the user to the right person in MinistryPlatform. Based on Think Ministry best practices, we match on the First Name, Last Name and either the Mobile Phone Number or Email Address. In many cases, we find that duplicates are created when users are providing phone numbers or email addresses that are different from the data in MP because they’ve changed / updated their phone number or email address.

We recommend that you communicate to your church members which data is most likely to already be in your database when they download and install your app for the first time. For example, if you have a very accurate and current email list that you maintain via MP, then encouraging your church members to authenticate via email address could be very effective at avoiding duplicates. On the other hand, if you think many Contacts in the database share email addresses or have old email addresses, but you’re more confident that mobile phone numbers are up to date, then encouraging your church members to authenticate via phone number could be more effective.

Whatever choice you make, it’s important to remember that duplicates will always be created, and there will always be some cleanup that is required. The good news is that each month when Think Ministry publishes their Data Honor Roll for MP customers with the “cleanest” data, the list includes several PocketPlatform customers that have been working with their church members in similar ways.

Want to promote your App?

You’ve invested the time and effort to build an incredible new PocketPlatform App.  Now you want people to know about it!  Apple and Google offer some simple and straight forward ways to promote your App on your website(s).  Best of all, these methods pull information from the store that’s relevant to the device (Apple App Store for iOS devices, Google Play Store for Android devices) and users can quickly click on the install link to get the App.

Apple Devices

In the Apple method, you need to take a quick step to find out the App Store ID for your App and then drop a meta tag on your website.  You can find out all the details in this developer article on Apple’s website.  Bear in mind you’ll need:

  • Access to edit the HTML for your website or administrator access to the website’s CMS where you can edit the meta tags on the whole site.
  • Knowledge of which App in the App Store is yours so that you can find the App Store ID.

Google Devices

In the Google method, you’ll need a little more technical ability in order to create a couple of new features for your website.  Check out this developer article on Google’s website to see the details.  Bear in mind you’ll need:

  • Access to edit the HTML for your website or administrator access to the website’s CMS where you can edit the meta tags on the whole site.
  • Ability to create / modify the website’s manifest file (this is a simple text file located in the root directory of your website).
  • Ability to create a simple JavaScript function on your website to display the banner and button.

Adding the Sermon Widget to your website

You’ve created a Sermon Series, and you’re using Sermons and Sermon Series in your App.  How do you get those same great sermons onto your website?  We have a widget for that 🤓 !

You can use the sample embed code below anywhere on your website and you’ll immediately see the published Sermon Series and Sermons the same as you would see in your App:

Please note: If you don’t know the base API domain for your PocketPlatform app, just reach out to us and we’ll get you the info.


<div id="pocketplatform-sermons">
<h5>Loading sermons...</h5>
</div>


<script src="https://MYCHURCH.api.pocketplatform.io/app/PocketPlatform.js"></script>
<script>
  PocketPlatform.sermons().then(function(sermons) {
    sermons.init('#pocketplatform-sermons');
  });
</script>


Available Podcast Feeds

Your PocketPlatform subscription includes support for automatically generated podcast feeds.  If you haven’t already, please fill out the Podcast Information Form and provide the requisite information.  Once we’ve received the information, we will configure things and let you know the base URL for your Podcast Feed.  4 Podcast Feeds are available for your use as needed.  Let’s assume that your base URL for Podcasts is https://mychurch.api.pocketplatform.io/.  The following feeds are available to you:

  • https://mychurch.api.pocketplatform.io/v1/podcasts/feed.xml
    • A list of all published Sermons in all published Series
  • https://mychurch.api.pocketplatform.io/v1/podcasts/seriestype/123/feed.xml
    • A list of all published Sermons in all published Series in Series Type = 123.
    • You can substitute any valid ID for 123.
  • https://mychurch.api.pocketplatform.io/v1/podcasts/congregation/456/feed.xml
    • A list of all published Sermons in all published Series for Congregation ID = 456.
    • You can substitute any valid ID for 456.
  • https://mychurch.api.pocketplatform.io/v1/podcasts/congregation/456/seriestype/123/feed.xml
    • A list of all published Sermons in all published Series for Congregation ID = 456 in Series Type = 123.
    • You can substitute any valid ID for 123 or 456.


Required Data

The following conditions must be fulfilled for items to appear in the Podcast feeds.

  1. Series – The sermon series must be published
  2. Sermon – The sermon must be published
  3. Sermon Link – The sermon link must be published, must be an audio file ending in .mp3, and the Video Duration field must be > 0

If you use the Media Manager, the Video Duration value will be automatically set for you.

User Specific Navigation

Last Updated: Apr 13, 2020 @ 9:41 pm

PocketPlatform apps include two navigation menus, one static navigation that directs users to the main features of the app and a second user specific navigation.  The User Specific Navigation is accessible from the upper right corner of the app and is available for both logged out and logged in users.

Guest Users

A user that is not logged into the app will see links to:

  • Login (the app’s primary login screen with options to login with phone number, email or password)
  • Settings (the screen where a user can toggle notifications and analytics on/off)
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Service

Logged In Users

Logged in users will see, at minimum, links to the following:

  • Manage My Profile (the screen where a user can update their profile photo, username, password, et al.)
  • Settings (the screen where a user can toggle notifications and analytics on/off)
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Service

In addition, users can be presented with other links as determined by a customizable stored procedure running on your MinistryPlatform server.  By default, the stored procedure is configured to conditionally show users links to the following:

  • My Favorite Sermons (list of sermons where the user has clicked the favorite icon ♥)
  • My Groups (list of Groups for which the user is a member and the Group has been enabled for Group Management)
  • My Badges (list of Gamified Journeys and Milestone Badges earned by the user)
  • My Group Chat (list of Groups for which the user is a member and the Group has been enabled for the Group Chat Tool)


TIP: You can customize the User Specific Navigation by editing the api_PocketPlatform_getRightNav Stored Procedure.  Use your own custom logic to determine what links are shown to your users based on the data available about the user in MinistryPlatform.  Reference the App Links KB Article for ideas on what screens can be loaded.

PocketPlatform Analytics

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2020 @ 8:39 am

The Analytics features of PocketPlatform allow you to quickly see how users are engaging with your app, right in MinistryPlatform! The full capabilities of MP are available to you as well, from charting to reports, so you can see user engagement, on your terms, without logging into other systems or relying on third-party toolsets.

How Analytics works:

The PocketPlatform Analytics track screen views and other selected actions (such as event registrations) so when your users interact with your app, you’ll be able to identify where your users spend most of their time.

Reviewing analytics data in MinistryPlatform

Each analytics record in MinistryPlatform is broken up into two main sections, each of which has several columns of information

Core Analytics Information:

  1. Analytics GUID: A unique identifier that ensures that this analytics event is unique.
  2. Device ID: The device identifier for the user’s phone or tablet.
  3. User: The UserID for the event. This value may be empty if no one was logged into the app at the time of the event
  4. Event Type: A text field that indicates what the user did in the app; e.g. “Screen Load” and “Event Registration”
  5. Previous Screen: A text field that indicates what screen the user came from to get to the current screen; not always tracked
  6. Screen Name: A text field that indicates what the user did in the app; e.g. “Screen Load” and “Event Registration”
  7. Analytics Data: Raw analytics information for the event; primarily used for reference and troubleshooting
  8. Timestamp: Date and time of the event
  9. Platform: The device type the user was on at the time of the event, iOS or Android
  10. Screen Size: The physical dimensions of the device
  11. OS Version: The operating system version
  12. Language: UN standard two letter code indicating the user’s language.

Related Records:
When available or necessary, we also keep track of specific items in MinistryPlatform that have been loaded.


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
1

A unique identifier that ensures that this analytics event is unique.

2

The device identifier for the user’s phone or tablet.

3

The UserID for the event. This value may be empty if no one was logged into the app at the time of the event

4

A text field that indicates what the user did in the app; e.g. “Screen Load” and “Event Registration”

5

A text field that indicates what screen the user came from to get to the current screen; not always tracked

6

A text field that indicates what the user did in the app

7

Raw analytics information for the event; primarily used for reference and troubleshooting

8

Date and time of the event

9

The device type the user was on at the time of the event, iOS or Android

10

The physical dimensions of the device

11

The operating system version

12

UN standard two letter code indicating the user’s language.

13

When available or necessary, specific records in MinistryPlatform that were loaded in the App are recorded here


Help!  I can’t delete this (event, opportunity, something else)!

PocketPlatform Analytics uses Foreign Keys in SQL to help make sense of the data that it collects and presents to you.  Depending on your security roles in MinistryPlatform, you may only have “read” rights (or none at all) to records in PocketPlatform Analytics, which could throw an error indicating that records can not be moved when you try to delete an item in MP that has been viewed or interacted with by your app’s users.

A great example of this would look something like:

Your church has decided to cancel an event that you’ve already publicized and put on the dashboard of your app. Many users have viewed that event, adding new records to the Analytics Table. You go to the event to delete it in MP and are informed that you cannot.

To rectify this solution, add a Role to the user that needs Analytics deletion rights that grants enough access to delete records.  Please note that deleting analytics records deletes all reference to that analytics event and this data cannot be recovered. We also do not recommend moving analytics records to another event, opportunity, etc, as this would make your analytics data very inaccurate.

PocketPlatform Connection Card

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2020 @ 2:26 pm

Basics

The Connection Card allows you to promote and highlight different engagement data points for a user at the same time. This is most commonly used to replace a paper bulletin with a digital format that is immediately actionable.

Through the Connection Card, one individual can:

  • view unlimited active Opportunities (for example: visitor, first impressions, service opportunities)
  • view unlimited active Events
  • submit a Prayer Request or other Feedback Entry with a Note

Configuration

In order for options to show up on the Connection Card, the following needs to be setup:

  • Create or update desired Opportunity records, and set the On Connection Card field to YES.The Opportunity must also be current – either no date specified or a future date in the Opportunity Date field.
  • Create or update desired Event records, and setup the On Connection Card field to YES.  Events will appear if the Start Date is between “now” and 7 days from “now”.
  • Create or update desired Feedback Types in Lookup Values > Feedback Types (for example: Comment, Prayer Request).
  • Edit the Configuration Setting with Application Code “POCKETPLATFORM” and Key Name “ConnectCardIntro”


PRO TIP:

Information logged in MinistryPlatform via the Connection Card Tool can be used with MP Processes to automatically contact the individual the information is logged for, or to cue a staff person or volunteer to follow-up with the individual


Ideas for Using the Connection Card

Dashboard Recipes

Create a Dashboard Recipe that appears during your worship services times and encourage your members to connect with their church.  An articulate call to action will stimulate users to click the button and follow the steps.  If the Connection Card can be announced from the stage or included in on-screen announcements, users will be even more likely to engage.

User Navigation

Add the Connection Card link to your User Specific Navigation so that users have a convenient way to access the Connection Card from anywhere in the App.

PocketPlatform Push Notifications

Global Push Notification Tool Overview

Last Updated: Mar 19, 2020 @ 11:53 am

Want to send a push notification to your users? Good news – you can do that! The Global Push Notification tool for PocketPlatform lets you send notifications to all devices with your app installed, right from MinistryPlatform!

PocketPlatform Push Notifications

Sending a Push Notification to a selection of users

  1. In the MinistryPlatform Nouns, navigate to Administration > Users
  2. Open the Tools Menu, and select “Global Push Notifications”
  3. Fill out the fields in the window that appears
  4. Click “Send Message”

Please Note: You may also have a Tool titled “Targeted Push Notifications”.  This tool can be used to send a push notification to a selection of your PocketPlatform users.  For more info, see the KB Article.

1
2
1

Administration > Users in the MinistryPlatform Nouns

2

Choosing “Targeted Push Notifications”


Sending a push notification.

PocketPlatform Group Management

Last Updated: Jun 21, 2021 @ 2:47 pm

Your church members use PocketPlatform to sign up for Events, engage in serving Opportunities, and take Sermon Notes.  With PocketPlatform’s Group Management tools, your Group Leaders and Group Members can use PocketPlatform to engage foster community, communicate with the group, and dive deeper in their spiritual journey.

Groups List with Graphics

Group Member Features


  • View Members

    View Name, Photo, Email Address, Phone Number for other Group Members.  Email and Phone links available for quickly contacting another group member.

  • Contact Leader

    Send an email directly to your Group Leader with a simple form within the App.

  • Group Calendar

    View a calendar of upcoming Group Meetings with date, time, and location / address.

  • Manage Privacy

    Manage the information you are comfortable sharing with including Email, Phone, Full Name / First Name only, and Photo.

  • Group Communication

    Communicate directly with your Group by chatting inside the App.

Group Leader Features


  • View Members

    View Name, Photo, Email Address, Phone Number for other Group Members.  Email and Phone links available for quickly contacting another group member.

    Leaders can also edit group member’s info, upload a photo, or change the Group member’s role / remove them from the Group.

  • Add Group Member

    Group Leaders can add new members to the Group quickly and easily.

  • Contact Leaders / Members

    Group Leaders can select one or more Group Members / Leaders and send an email to all of them using a single form.

  • Manage Inquiries

    Group Leaders can view Inquiries for their Group, contact inquirers via email, and optionally add inquirers directly to their Group.

  • Group Calendar

    Group Leaders can manage their Group’s calendar of Group Meetings with feature for adding, editing or cancelling meetings.

  • Take Attendance

    Group Leaders can quickly and easily take attendance for a Group Meeting.

  • Group Curriculum

    Group Leaders can access Group Curriculum delivered through MinistryPlatform.  Curriculum includes group leader / facilitator instructions and links to videos, audio files, PDFs, scripture, et al.

  • Manage Privacy

    Manage the information you are comfortable sharing with including Email, Phone, Full Name / First Name only, and Photo.

  • Group Communication

    Communicate directly with your Group by chatting inside the App.


Setting up Groups

Setting up your Groups is essentially the same as configuring groups for use in the Think Ministry Portal.  Once your Group is configured in MinistryPlatform, you can set the Available On App to Yes for it to be available in your App.

For more information on setting up Group Curriculum, reference the Group Curriculum KB article.


Configuring Group Management

To provide churches with more control over the tools available to Group Leaders, the latest version of the API includes three configuration settings. These settings are controlled behind the scenes, so please submit a request to the help desk if you’d like to request any modifications.

  • Edit Contact Info: When enabled, this allows Group Leaders to edit a member’s contact information (e.g. nickname, email address, phone number). It also enables Group Leaders to upload a photo for a member. This is disabled by default.Note: Changes here are reflected in the member’s Contact record in MinistryPlatform.
  • Inquiries Tab: When enabled, this allows Group Leaders to view group inquiries and convert the inquirer to a participant.
  • Cancel Meetings: When enabled, this allows Group Leaders to cancel Group Meetings

Please note that, when enabled, these features are only available for users whose Group Role = Group Leader.