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Study the Gospel with Us this Lent

Today we begin Lent, the season in which we imitate Christ’s 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert.

There are many ways to unite ourselves to Christ’s suffering during the Lenten season: some choose a certain food or luxury to give up, while others will give of their time to serve the poor or needy (and Pope Francis has stressed this latter form of sacrifice for this year).

As we offer ourselves up in service to God and others, we also must return to the source of nourishment that gives us strength. We find this nourishment in the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, and in Holy Scripture.

This year, deepen your understanding of Lent as we study the daily Gospel readings. Join Verbum’s Lenten Journey and receive daily Gospel reflections delivered right to your inbox. You’ll also get Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections for free, and you can study alongside others in the Verbum Faithlife group throughout this Lenten season.

Join the Lenten Journey today.

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Join the Verbum Lenten Journey

This Lent (beginning March 5th) we’re doing something special. Until Easter, we’re giving away a free copy of Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections so you can study the daily readings along with us and hundreds of others. Not only can you get this book for free in Verbum, you can have the readings delivered straight to your inbox all through Lent!

To get daily Lenten emails, simply sign up here.

Study with others in the Verbum Faithlife group

Faithlife lets you share notes, collaborate in groups, and discuss what you’re learning with others who are in the same group as you. This year, our Lenten discussion will be held in the Verbum group.

To join the Verbum group, first sign into Faithlife. If you don’t already have an account, simply go to faithlife.com and register (it’s free!)

Once you’ve registered, go here to join the Verbum group. Click “Join,” and you’re in!

signup

Start by connecting to the 2014 Lenten Journey reading plan. Joining the reading plan helps you keep up-to-date with the daily readings, as well as make and read community notes.

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Don’t just study—share.

It’s easy to share with others using the free Verbum App. If you don’t already have Verbum for your phone or tablet, simply type in “Verbum” in your app store and install it.

Apple Store

Once you have Verbum, sign in with your Faithlife credentials and open up to the 2014 Lenten Journey reading plan to start studying. (Keep in mind, the reading plan doesn’t start until Ash Wednesday.)

In Verbum, there are two kinds of notes you can make. The first is a private note, one that is kept on your device(s) and only visible to you. Just like highlighting and adding notes in the margins of your own books, private notes help you engage with and organize whatever you’re studying. Community notes are different in that they are visible to anyone you decide to share them with. So, for example, if I wanted to share a thought from the daily readings in Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel ReflectionsI would simply highlight the text I wanted to share and select “note.”*

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Then, choose “community note” to share it with the Verbum Faithlife group:

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This way anyone in the Verbum group can respond to the notes you’ve made, as well as glean from your own reflections on a verse or topic.

If you want to learn more about using Faithlife, check out this post.

Make this Lent fruitful. Study the Gospel readings each day, then read and share reflections with other users. Join us this Lent as we study God’s word to better prepare our hearts in this season of sacrifice.

*The UI will look different on different devices, but the process is the same. These screenshots were taken on an Android device.

Faithlife 101: Part II

This is part two of a two part series: Faithlife 101. To see the first part, go to Faithlife 101: Part I

In our last post on Faithlife, we covered the basics. This post will guide you through setting up a group and controlling all of the options available to you as a group leader or admin.

Faithlife is a very powerful tool integrated with Verbum. If you haven’t already joined or created a group, try it out today! You can start by joining our Year of Faith group or the Verbum group, or even create your own and invite others to join. If you have a great idea for a new group, feel free to use the comment section below as a free promo platform for whatever group you’d like to get off the ground.

Let’s look at some ways to set up your own group and tailor it to best suit your members’ needs.

Start your own group

Starting your own group gives you full control over the various features of Faithlife. You can add widgets, create calendar events, link affiliate groups and more.

Step 1: create a group

Start by selecting either “New group” or “New event” in your browser’s top right corner. Let’s look at the more limited “New event” option first:

NewEvent

Events:

Faithlife events are built around a one-time event rather than a persistent group. This option is limited in that there is no section for Community Notes, documents, sidebar widgets, or the calendar. Faithlife events are geared toward making people aware of events and giving them basic information about where and when they’re occurring.

Click “New event” to get started.

You’ll first notice that next to every option there is a little green question mark. If you ever need help understanding one of the fields, simply hover over this “?” icon.

Event Type

Let’s take a look at each of the options and how they function:

Event type

The event type has a number of different preset options, ranging from baby showers to retreat workshops. Choose the event that best describes the kind of even you’re hosting!

Event name

Name your event here.

Starting and ending dates:

Here you’ll decide the dates of your event. You can click inside either date field to open up a calendar to select your dates.

August Calendar

Privacy Level

You can choose for your event to be public, private, or secret:

  • Open groups are listed in search results, and allow members to join immediately without approval. Use this for public groups such as churches, organizations, or “fan pages” for authors, bands, ministries etc.
  • Closed groups are listed in search results, but new members must be approved by you. Use this for churches, youth groups, Bible study groups, classes, or moderated discussion groups.
  • Secret groups are hidden from non-members. New members must be invited to the group by the administrator. Use this for prayer groups, family groups, or any other private group.

Step 2: add some details

Location:

Enter where the event will take place. If you want to show a map and directions, enter a specific address, such as “1313 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA.” If you don’t need a map, enter something your attendees will understand, such as “Bob & Tina’s House,” or “Parish hall.”

Phone:

Enter the phone number for the host or other key contact person for the event.

Email:

Enter the email address for the host or other key contact person for the event.

Group affiliations:

List any Faithlife groups that are affiliated with the event. For example, if several parishes put on a charity event, list all of them here.

When you affiliate an event with a group you are also a member of, the event will be listed on that group’s calendar automatically. When you affiliate an event with a group you are not a member of, the event is not added to that group’s calendar.

Affiliating a group to an event does not automatically invite the members of that group to the event.

About:

Write a short sentence or motto that describes what the event is about.

Description:

Write a complete description of the event for the event’s “About” page.

Step 3: invite people

Once you’ve filled in all the information about the event, it’s time to start getting the word out! There are three ways to start looking for people to invite:

1) Start in the “My groupstab. Here, you can add anybody who is already in the same groups as you. You can add certain individuals, or invite the entire group.

adding people

2) In the “Faithlife” tab, you can search for individuals or groups that you may not have already joined.

3) The “Email” tab allows you contact and invite someone via email, even if they don’t already have a Faithlife account.

After you’ve invited your members, your event is all ready to go!

Groups:

Groups allow much more control and versatility than an event in Faithlife. In groups, you can make and read Community Notes, documents, sidebar widgets, or calendar events. Start by clicking “New group” and fill in the basic information. Next, you’ll want to fill out your user permissions.

User permissions

Customize your group to best suit your needs. User permissions lets you determine who can see, write, and interact with the group. For example, if you started a study group and you don’t want students posting documents, you’ll want to modify the documents permissions so that members can’t share them. Let’s run through these permissions briefly and see how they work.

You’ll notice that there are five levels of permissions: admins, moderators, members, followers, and observers.

You are the group’s admin. Set the sliders to grant rights to others:

  • Moderators maintain and manage the group, like deacons. Moderators must first be members, and they must be appointed by admins.
  • Members are part of the group. In “Open” groups, members join without approval. In “Closed” groups, members can be invited or must have their request to join approved by an admin or moderator. In “Secret” groups, members must be invited.
  • Followers are interested people who can read group posts without becoming members.
  • Observers are like followers, but they’re anonymous.

Change the permissions to make your group function in different ways. So, for example, if you’re running an exclusive small group where the discussion is open to observers but you don’t want those observers to be able to see when you host certain events, simply change the calendar permissions so that observers can’t view the calendar.

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If you have any questions about how permissions work, leave a question in the comments.

After you’ve set your permissions, you can edit them any time in the “Group settings” to the right of your news feed.

Group Settings

When you’re finished setting up your group, you can begin to customize the layout. Click on the “Group settings” button (shown above).

There are two tabs in the group settings menu: “Group details” and “Sidebar.” In “Group Details,” you can change the name of your group, its location, its description, and more. Clicking on the “Sidebar” tab allows you to see and organize what kind of widgets you have in your group’s sidebar.

Let’s take a look at what each of these widgets does.

Group widgets:

These widgets help you organize and build your group over time. Adding a widget is simple: just drag and drop the widget you want into the “Active” pane and you’re ready to go. Here’s how the widgets work and what they do:

Calendar:

The calendar widget allows the users in your group to view a calendar with all of your group’s activities and events right in the sidebar. Users can read through your posts and quickly see upcoming events.

Group readings:

The group readings widget shows all your reading plan selections scheduled for the day. This way, all members can see what books or studies you’re reading and what chapter or verses they need to read for the day. You can start a default reading plan right in Faithlife, or create a custom one in Verbum and then share it with whatever group you like.

Community Notes:

This section displays any Community Notes made inside your group in a feed, featuring the most recent notes at the top.

Contact info:

This feature simply lists your contact information for everyone to see—a helpful sidebar to have, especially if you have a lot of newcomers to your group.

Group prayers:

The group prayers widget lists any of your group’s prayer requests right in the sidebar. Listing all your prayer items for the day, you can check off the items to help you keep track of your intentions.

Verse of the Day:

The Verse of the Day feature is a simple widget that gives you a newly selected verse each day.

Media widgets:

The media widgets help you integrate various social media and networking tools right into your sidebar. Add as many social widgets as you like. Here’s what you can do:

Recommended links:

Recommended links lets you show a list of links to your favorite websites in the sidebar. You can add an unlimited number of links.

RSS feed:

The RSS feed widget allows you to show the last three entries from any given RSS feed. This feature is helpful for anyone who wants to link their Faithlife group to an external blog or news source.

Survey:

Set up a quick survey and let your group members provide input on any question you want to ask. You can add any number of answer options and get feedback instantly.

Twitter:

The Twitter widget lets you link any Twitter account right to your Faithlife group.

If you want to see what a widget will look like when you make it active, there’s already a built-in live preview feature to make sure the widget is exactly want you want.

Engage others around you!

And encourage others to do so as well! Faithlife is a powerful way to engage the different communities around you all around a study, text, or group topic you want explore. Start a Faithlife group today to begin studying with others!

Faithlife 101: Part I

This is part one of a two part series: Faithlife 101. To see the second part, go to Faithlife 101: Part II

We’ve done some exciting things with Faithlife this year—we have over 250 participants in our Year of Faith group alone (If you’re not a member, join today!).

If you haven’t set up your profile yet, you’ll want to right away. Signing up for Faithlife takes only seconds, and if you already own and use Verbum, all you need is your account’s email address and password to get started.

Start by going to Faithlife.com and simply sign in or sign up:

Faithlife Splash

We have some cool new user groups popping up, accompanied by a number of unanswered questions. I’m going to try to answer these in two parts: one for the general user, and one for those looking to start their own groups. This first post will cover just the basics of Faithlife. Keep an eye out for the second post to see how to really implement the full power of Faithlife.

Join a group

After initially signing up for Faithlife, you’ll be given the option to join various groups based on your location. Faithlife automatically connects you to people near you, so you can spend less time searching for relevant groups and more time interacting.

When joining a Faithlife group, you have three options: Join, Follow, or Observe. Basically, each of these options gives you different ways to participate in a group.

The administrator of a group decides how much access a member, follower, or observer has in their particular group. This means, for example, that followers in some groups may have fewer or more privileges than followers in others. But barring administrative preferences, here’s how each of these permissions work:

Joining a group makes you a group member, which means you can see others members in the group, invite new members to the group, and have admin-granted access to  things like documents and calendar events. Join a group if you want to participate in the fullest way possible.

Following a group allows you to see all of the group activity, but does not allow you to see or invite other members. However, as a follower you can still comment and be seen by the administrator of the group.

Observing a group makes you anonymous. No one knows you are an observer except for you. This means that you can view group activity (and even participate, depending on the group’s permissions) without being seen by others. (Of course, if you choose to participate in discussions, you will be visible to other users.)

Tabs

Once you’ve joined the group, you’ll notice the tabs above the news feed. These tabs help you navigate within a group, starting with an About tab and ending with a Groups tab that you can access via drop-down menu. Let’s take a brief look at each of these tabs:

About

The About section is pretty self-explanatory. Here the group’s creator or admin will give a description of the group. Text here can be hyperlinked and formatted. We’ll talk more about formatting in the second part of this series.

News

News is the default tab that is displayed when you open or join a group. The news feed includes all the posts that the users of this group have made. Near the top is a field where you post your own messages. When you post something to the news feed, everyone in your group can read and interact with your content. This, along with the Community Notes section, is where most of your interaction will happen.

Calendar

The Calendar section allows you to view events set up by users in the group. You can even download calendar items from Faithlife and add them to your own calendar application like Exchange or iCal. You can do this simply by clicking on the event you want to add to your personal calendar and selecting “Download to Exchange.

Download to Exchange

Members

The Members section allows you to see and search for any group member. Sort members by list view or data grid view. List view allows you to see everyone and their profile pictures in a straight list, while data grid view allows you to sort by name and see each user’s public contact information. Remember, if you haven’t joined a group, this tab won’t be accessible to you.

Documents

The Documents section allows you view and download documents of any type. Depending on permission, anyone can post documents. Download any document that is available for viewing, including Logos documents like prayer lists and reading plans. This tab is especially helpful for small groups or classes where there are a lot of files being exchanged between teachers, students, and members.

Community Notes

Share notes you’ve made in Verbum with others in Community Notes. Whenever you make a Community Note in a text you’re studying, it’s automatically synced with Faithlife so others can interact with it. It works the other way around too—read and reply to notes that other members in your group think are worthwhile. Take a peek at how this works by joining the Year of Faith group or the Verbum group and scrolling through the Community Notes tab.

Groups

Finally, in the drop-down tab on the far right, you’ll find the Groups section. This section allows you to see what other groups are affiliated with the group you’re currently in. For instance, if you joined the Year of Faith group, you’ll note that it is affiliated with the main Verbum group. This just means that the two groups are connected and share some kind of theme or user base. Think of this as a recommended groups section, and consider joining the groups you find here!

Main navigation

My Faithlife

Now that you’re familiar with the tab menu, let’s take a look at the surrounding columns. To the left is the primary menu bar where you’ll find five main menu items. The first of these is the My Faithlife section. My Faithlife lets you see all your posts along with other posts that group members have made to their Faithlife accounts. This is an open space where anyone subscribed to the same groups can communicate in a more public setting.

Notifications

Right under My Faithlife is the Notifications section. This lets you know whenever anyone posts something or joins a group you’re already in. Once you’ve selected this section, you can choose Notifications settings on the right, such as how many and which kinds of notifications you get.

Notification Settings

Messages

The Messages section is a simple and useful feature that allows you to see all the private messages sent between you and other Faithlife users.

Calendar & Community Notes

The Calendar and Community Notes tabs collate all of your Community Notes and events from the groups you’re in and let you see them all in the same place. These are especially helpful if you’re in multiple groups and want to make sure your events don’t overlap.

Below the five main tabs are all of the groups you participate in. If you are in a lot of groups, there is a drop-down icon at the bottom of the column that allows you to view all of your groups on a separate page. Plus, you can pin groups to the sidebar for easy access.

 

Pin it

Those are the basics!

Faithlife is easy to navigate and was built to help you start sharing and studying with others as quickly as possible.

Are you already in a group? Do you want to start your own? Let others know right here on the blog and give others the opportunity to join your study! Also, feel free to post general questions and comments about Faithlife below. Or, join a Faithlife group today and interact with other experienced Faithlife users!

Stay tuned for “Part II: Starting Your Own Group.

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