The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

True Care Is In The Details

Guest post by Taylor Doe from the CareNotebook

People feel genuinely cared for when you remember the details in their lives.  Most pastors have a system for remembering details about relationships, and I’ve taken the time to study how these pastors, chaplains, and leaders keep care details organized. Some of the questions I’ve asked include:
  • How do you stay organized when caring for your congregation?
  • How do you remember conversations and important events in people’s lives?
  • What system do you have in place to quickly recall these events and details?
  • If you have staff members and/or volunteers providing care, how do ensure care is actually taking place and meeting your expectations?
I’ve noticed four primary ways pastors organize care. Listed below are the pros and cons for each approach.

1. Good ol’ pen and paper.

Pro:  Some pastors are comfortable with handwritten notes. Sometimes it’s easier to just keep the analog system that’s already in place.

Con: Trying to locate a name/detail in a spiral notebook or multiple notepads can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Losing the notebook or having it fall into the wrong hands is always a worry. A particular notepad must be within arm’s-length to be of any value.

2. Word or Excel Document.

Pro: Most everyone has access to Word and Excel.  People with varying degrees of computer knowledge are able to use word processors and spreadsheets to catalog care.

Con: “Is this the most recent file?” When updating and sharing Word documents, it’s hard to feel confident everything is up to date. Once someone has received care, they often get erased from the list. This eliminates all care history which could be important in caring for that person’s needs in the future.

3. Basic notes app on smart phone. 

Pro: Your phone and notes are with you wherever you go. It’s easy to copy and paste information into an email if you need to relay information to others. From the palm of your hand, search for names and details quickly. 

Con: Some note apps don’t allow you to backup your information on your computer - it’s only on your mobile device. If the phone is lost, stolen, or broken, there goes everything!  Also, team collaboration proves difficult with this approach.

4. Cloud-based Applications. 

Pro: Cloud-based apps are becoming more and more popular. Evernote and Google Drive are the two most popular in the care industry. All the information is stored online so you can access important details from any device. Team features allow you to share information with others. 

Con: It’s hard to find just the right way to set-up these applications for you and your team’s specific care requirements. Relevant notifications and reminders aren’t available in these applications, so a separate tools are needed to organize date/time specific events in people’s lives.

I have felt the same frustrations as pastors and chaplains I interviewed.I have felt overwhelmed with the pressure of remembering details and important dates. Because of this, I decided to assemble a team and build an app specifically for caring-minded people.

The CareNotebook is a web/mobile application that helps organize details and record the care pastors and chaplains provide to others. Add Care Updates when you have important conversations. Set Care Reminders for important events such as surgery or starting a new job. 

We built this tool to serve people and help continue care legacies for years to come.

Find out more at 

(this post provided as a courtesy of Ministry Best Practices, no renumeration was offered or paid)

Three Steps For Easy Ministry Management

Guest Post by Laura Iancu

Keeping up with all the daily tasks of maintaining a congregation is hard enough. But when you want to implement new projects and activities, things get even more complicated. Thus management becomes one of the main skills which a church leader needs. Some have adapted and understood that the key was to find some tools to ease their work.

Establish your priorities

So the first step would be to find what works for you, which are the areas that need enhancement and what kind of tool would you like to use. Most people tend to adopt online tools. Downloading and installing programs has become a burden which most of us try to escape from. Decide for you own what kind of tool would you need and how should it work.

Gather data

The second step would be to make a list of apps and software which could do the trick for what you need. To filter them and be more efficient you can narrow the list by keeping those tools which could be used for multiple purposes. 

In this step you might want to look into: form builders, management systems and CRMs.

Form builders are a great asset because they are versatile and can provide you solutions for multiple tasks. For example you can handle online donations with custom and branded online donation forms like this one. Likewise, you can handle event registrations with no effort at all. So if you are organizing a camp, a study group, a big conference or a small get-together, you can do the registration seamlessly with such a tool. And that’s not all, think about volunteer recruitment, surveys and all kind of forms to get in touch with your congregation. For simple forms you could try Google Forms and for advanced forms such as donation gathering ones try 123ContactForm.

As for data management, CRMs are great to handle databases and contacts. You can also try Evernote for todos and clipping information from your browser.

Test your choices

After you’ve done this list it might be good to go to step three before implementing them in your management processes. At this step you should allot some time to test these tools because some might surprise you and do more than you expect and other might not be appropriate for what you’re looking for. Testing is always a good idea. Also, at this stage you can compare prices and look for discounts. Keep in mind that some of these providers offer discounts for all nonprofit organizations, including churches. Talk to them and find out.

Do you have your own favorite tools which help you in management?

About the author:

Laura Iancu is a Creative Copywriter and PR at 123ContactForm, the place where you can build great online forms for churches. Try it now for free. 

Why Unplugging May Be Good For You

I have had several conversations recently with friends that have talked about their journey with unplugging. Unplugging from tech. Unplugging from social media. Unplugging from T.V.  Some people have done a complete fast for a season, while others have simply throttled down their online activities. And I can't think of a person who said that they regretted doing it. Personally, I have during different seasons taken a break from social media and online activities, and I know that it can be very hard - especially that withdrawal time. But at the same time it can be very rewarding.

Here are some thoughts from Edudemic on why it is good to unplug!

Why unplugging is good for you!
  • 3 out of 5 people spend more time with their technology than they do with their spouse
  • 81% of people are willing to interrupt a conversation or a meal to check their device
  • The 25% of people who scored best on a multitasking test were those who actually focused on one task at a time
  • Unplugging allows you to de-stress
  • 86% of men and 67% of women work more than 40 hours per week
  • A Harvard study reports that between 12 and 20 million people in the US have ‘at least a mild internet addiction’
  • Those who are dependent lose interest in other activities, experience withdrawal symptoms, and need more and more time to get their ‘high’
  • This often disrupts real life relationships, and forces the individual to use the internet to improve their mood
  • 46% of Britons say they spend more time using their device in bed, while 15% say it affects the amount of sex they have
  • Some ailments from overuse of the internet include eyestrain, back pain, headaches, and itchy, watery eyes
Ways to Unplug
  • Set aside a special time for social media
  • Avoid checking your phone within an hour of waking and an hour of going to bed
  • Move apps away from your home screen
  • Disable notifications
  • Find alternative activities to take up a few minutes, like stretching, prioritizing your to-do list, brushing and flossing your teeth, doing some pushups, or taking a walk
Here is a helpful infographic outlining the benefits of unplugging:

(ht: Edudemic)

Great Ebook Deals!

You don't want to miss this great ebooks at a super great price!

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

Center Church by Tim Keller

For The City by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter

Innovations Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

The Gospel Commission by Michael Horton

How The World’s Most Creative People Lived Their Day

Perhaps you've thought of them as creative superheroes? Well they're not, they are normal people with typical routines like you and me. With this infographic below you'll see how some of the most creative people, who have ever lived, went about their day.

(click for larger)

(ht: ChurchMag)

Great Leadership Helps Others Succeed

Philip Nation's thought certainly reflects a significant facet to great leadership - which is a willingness to go unnoticed while those you lead are successful and shine. Yet let me suggest a addendum to that thought.

Behind that willingness to go unnoticed is a fundamental desire of a great leader to seek to make those on their team successful. A great leader doesn't merely demand that the team main function is to make themselves look good and succeed. Rather, a great leader seeks out how to coach, lead, direct, encourage, resource, cheerlead and pray for their team member's success and growth.

That is the mark of a great leader.

The Most Radical Demand Of Christian Faith

“For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”
― Brennan Manning

The Resurrection - Quote By N.T. Wright

"The resurrection completes the inauguration of God's kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating that God's kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven." -  N.T. Wright

16 Leadership Lessons From A 4-Star General

Excerpted life and leadership lessons from General Stanley McChrystal's memoir: My Share of the Task.

Here is a sample (from Farnam Street Blog):

4. Leaders take us to where we’d otherwise not go.

Although Englishmen rushing into the breach behind Henry V is a familiar image, leaders whose personal example or patient persuasion causes dramatic changes in otherwise inertia-bound organizations or societies are far more significant. The teacher who awakens and encourages in students a sense of possibility and responsibility is, to me, the ultimate leader.

5. Success is rarely the work of a single leader.

… leaders work best in partnership with other leaders. In Iraq in 2004, I received specific direction to track Zarqawi and bring him to justice. But it was the collaboration of leaders below me, inside TF 714, that built the teams, relentlessly hunted, and ultimately destroyed his lethal network.

6. Leaders are empathetic.

The best leaders I’ve seen have an uncanny ability to understand, empathize, and communicate with those they lead. They need not agree or share the same background or status in society as their followers, but they understand their hopes, fears, and passions. Great leaders intuitively sense, or simply ask, how people feel and what resonates with them. At their worst, demigods like Adolf Hitler manipulate the passions of frustrated populations into misguided forces. But empathy can be remarkably positive when a Nelson Mandela reshapes and redirects the energy of a movement away from violence and into constructive nation-building.

7. Leadership is not popularity.

For soldiers, the choice between popularity and effectiveness is ultimately no choice at all. Soldiers want to win; their survival depends upon it. They will accept, and even take pride in, the quirks and shortcomings of a leader if they believe he or she can produce success.

8. The best leaders are genuine.

I found soldiers would tolerate my being less of a leader than I hoped to be, but they would not forgive me being less than I claimed to be. Simple honesty matters.

Can't help think that these and many other's of General McChrystal's leadership lessons are not only transferable but needed in today's church and for today's ministry leader.

Son Of Man

“Son of Man” is a wordless film that connects scenes of Christ's life, death and resurrection in order to immerse the viewer in the beauty and single-mindedness of Christ’s work on earth. A beautifully crafted and inspiring film to use this Passion Week in your church. (link to purchase)

5 Things To Pray For Your Congregation

from GoodBook blog:

I don't wish to make you squirm. I certainly don't want to make you feel guilty. But let me ask you a question: When was the last time you prayed for your congregation? I don't mean praying for specific individuals or events within the congregation but prayed for the congregation as a whole? If you're anything like me, it's the sort of thing that can easily fall off our prayer-lists ... or not even make it on to them in the first place. But our congregation is our family. It's full of the people who the Father has deliberately chosen - the people who God is using to make us more like Jesus. We are called to learn together, share together, encourage together and grow together. And they, without doubt, need prayer! So, why not take a moment now to pray for your congregation as a whole? You might like to use the wonderful words of Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians as a basis:

1. Thank God for your brothers and sisters - for their faith, their love, their work and their perseverance.
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess 1:2-3)

2. Thank God that he is at work and will remain at work in your brothers and sisters - through his word.And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.. (1 Thess 2:13)

3. Ask God to help your brothers and sisters to keep growing - in their faith, wisdom, their love for one another, their love for unbelievers and their holiness.How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (1Thess 3:9-13)

4. Ask God to help your brothers and sisters to keep their eyes on the peace brought by the cross and the hope of Jesus' return and to live faithfully in the light of both those things.May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thess 5:23-24)

5. Ask God to help your congregation remember that Jesus' grace is all they need - today and every day.The grace of our Lord Jesus Church be with you (1 Thess 5:28)

Passion Week Infographic

from ChurchMag:

Passion Week is the week starting on Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday when Christ arose from the grave.

Josh Byers has put together this cool infographic, cross-referencing each event during Passion Week with scripture — including major location changes “as well as the relative possible timing of the Last Supper, Trial and Crucifixion.”

(click on graphic for larger view)

Grab the high-res printable file for printing or purchase a physical copy on Josh’s website.

A Powerful Easter Illustration

On the morning that Jesus rose from the dead, the angels asked a profound question that can still be asked of us today. In this motion graphics piece, we are reminded that Jesus is no longer in the grave- He is here with us! Used as a service opener or part of the worship set, this will be a great part of your Easter service.

Empty - Redefined!

While empty may be perceived as a burden in our lives, empty is what gives us promise for the days ahead. For all who believe Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, empty is redefined.

A thought provoking video to use this Easter Sunday. Go to this link to purchase this video.

E-Book Deals You Can't Miss

Exalting Jesus in Matthew a commentary by David Platt—$2.99
Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler—$2.99
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper—$2.99
HCSB Study Bible—$2.99
The Measure of Success by Carolyn McCulley—$2.99
Manhood Restored by Eric Mason—$2.99
Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax—$2.99
Truth Matters by Andreas Kostenberger—$4.99

Stop Asking Jesus into your Heart by J.D. Greear—$2.99
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear—$2.99
Gray Matters by Brett McCracken—$1.99
The Faithful Preacher by Thabiti Anyabwile—$3.99
A Passion for Faithfulness by J.I. Packer—$3.99
Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology (various authors)—$3.99
Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood edited by Wayne Grudem—$1.99
The Message of the New Testamentby Mark Dever–99¢
Stand by John Piper & Justin Taylor—$3.99

Youth Ministry Burnout

Did you know?

40% of youth workers are burnt out right now!
80% of youth workers believe their work contributes to unhealthy diet and exercise habits

More important information in the infographic below from Smarter Youth Ministry

(ht: Smarter Youth Ministry)